NORMA f English, Italian, Literature
Created by Felice Romani for the main character in the opera 'Norma' (1831). He may have based it on Latin norma
"rule". This name is also frequently used as a feminine form of NORMAN
NORMAN m English, Ancient Germanic
From an old Germanic byname meaning "northman", referring to a Viking. The Normans were Vikings who settled on the coast of France, in the region that became known as Normandy. In England the name Norman
was used before the Norman conquest, first as a nickname for Scandinavian settlers and later as a given name. After the Conquest it became more common, but died out around the 14th century. It was revived in the 19th century, perhaps in part due to a character by this name in C. M. Yonge's novel 'The Daisy Chain' (1856).
NORTON m English
From a surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "north town" in Old English.
NORWOOD m English
From a surname which was originally taken from a place name meaning "north wood" in Old English.
NOVA f English
Derived from Latin novus
meaning "new". It was first used as a name in the 19th century.
NUADA m Irish Mythology
Possibly means "protector" in Celtic. In Irish myth he was an Irish god and a leader of the Tuatha De Danann. He was killed in battle against the Fomorii.
NUAN f Chinese
From Chinese 暖 (nuǎn)
meaning "warm, genial" or other characters with a similar pronunciation.
NUBIA f Various
From the name of the ancient region and kingdom in Africa, south of Egypt. It possibly derives from the Egyptian word nbw
NUNO m Portuguese, Medieval Portuguese
Medieval Portuguese and Spanish name, possibly from Latin nonus
"ninth" or nunnus
"grandfather". Saint Nuno was a 14th-century Portuguese general who defeated a Castilian invasion.
NUNZIO m Italian
Masculine short form of ANNUNZIATA
. It also coincides with the related Italian word nunzio
"messenger" (ultimately from Latin nuntius
NUR AD-DIN m Arabic
Means "light of religion", from Arabic نور (nur)
meaning "light" combined with دين (din)
NÚRIA f Catalan, Portuguese
From a Catalan title of the Virgin Mary
, Nostra Senyora de Núria
, meaning "Our Lady of Nuria". Nuria is a sanctuary in Spain in which there is a shrine containing a famous statue of Mary.
NURISLAM m Kazakh
From Kazakh nur
meaning "light" (of Arabic origin) combined with Islam
, the name of the religion (ultimately from Arabic إسلام
NURIT f Hebrew
Means "buttercup flower" in Hebrew (genus Ranunculus).
NYALA f Various
From the name of a type of African antelope, ultimately derived from the Bantu word nyálà
NYDIA f English (Rare), Spanish, Literature
Used by British author Edward Bulwer-Lytton for a blind flower-seller in his novel 'The Last Days of Pompeii' (1834). He perhaps based it on Latin nidus
NYNNIAW m Ancient Celtic
Meaning unknown, presumably of Welsh origin. According to the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, this was the name of a Welsh prince who fought against the invading forces of Julius Caesar. It was also borne by an 8th-century Welsh historian, usually known by the Latinized form Nennius
NYOMAN m & f Indonesian, Balinese
Possibly from a Balinese word meaning "end, remainder". This name is traditionally bestowed upon the third-born child.
NYSSA f Various
From the name of an ancient town of Asia Minor where Saint Gregory was bishop. Nyssa is also the genus name of a type of tree, also called the Tupelo.
NYX f Greek Mythology
Means "night" in Greek. This was the name of the Greek goddess of the night, the daughter of Khaos and the wife of Erebos.
OANEZ f Breton
Derived from Breton oan
"lamb" (ultimately from Latin agnus
) and used as a Breton form of AGNES
OBADIAH m Biblical
Means "servant of YAHWEH
" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of one of the twelve minor prophets, the author of the Book of Obadiah, which predicts the downfall of the nation of Edom.
OBDULIA f Spanish
Meaning unknown. This was the name of a saint from Toledo, Spain. The details of her life are unknown.
OBERON m Literature
Variant of AUBERON
. Oberon was the king of the fairies in Shakespeare's comedy 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (1595). A moon of Uranus bears this name in his honour.
OBRAD m Serbian
Possibly derived from Serbian obradovati
"to make happy".
OCEAN m & f English (Rare)
Simply from the English word ocean
for a large body of water. It is ultimately derived from Greek Ωκεανος (Okeanos)
, the name of the body of water thought to surround the Earth.
OCTAVIA f English, Spanish, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of OCTAVIUS
. Octavia was the wife of Mark Antony and the sister of Roman emperor Augustus. In 19th-century England it was sometimes given to the eighth-born child.
OCTAVIAN m History, Romanian
From the Roman name Octavianus
, which was derived from the name OCTAVIUS
. After Gaius Octavius (later Roman emperor Augustus
) was adopted by Julius Caesar he took the name Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus.
OCTAVIUS m Ancient Roman
Roman family name meaning "eighth" from Latin octavus
. This was the original family name of the emperor Augustus (born Gaius Octavius). It was also rarely used as a Roman praenomen, or given name.
ODED m Biblical
Means "to restore" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of a prophet from Samaria.
ODELL m & f English
From a surname which was originally from a place name meaning "woad hill" in Old English. A woad is a herb used for dying.
ODESSA f Various
From the name of a Ukrainian city that sits on the north coast of the Black Sea. This name can also be used as a feminine form of ODYSSEUS
ODETTE f French
French diminutive of ODA
. This is the name of a princess who has been transformed into a swan in the ballet 'Swan Lake' (1877) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
ODHARNAIT f Irish
Means "little pale green one", derived from Irish odhra
"pale green, sallow" combined with a diminutive suffix.
ODHRÁN m Irish
Means "little pale green one", derived from Irish odhra
"pale green, sallow" combined with a diminutive suffix. This was the name of a saint who travelled with Saint Columba through Scotland.
ODILIA f Ancient Germanic
Derived from the Germanic element odal
meaning "fatherland" or aud
meaning "wealth, fortune". Saint Odilia (or Odila) was an 8th-century nun who is considered the patron saint of Alsace. She was apparently born blind but gained sight when she was baptized.
ODIN m Norse Mythology, English (Modern)
Anglicized form of Old Norse Óðinn
which was derived from óðr
"inspiration, rage, frenzy". It ultimately developed from the early Germanic *Woðanaz
. In Norse mythology Odin was the highest of the gods, presiding over art, war, wisdom and death. He resided in Valhalla, where warriors went after they were slain.
ODOVACAR m Ancient Germanic
From the Germanic name Audovacar
meaning "wealthy and vigilant", derived from the elements aud
"wealth" and wacar
"vigilant". Odovacar, also called Odoacer, was a 5th-century Gothic leader who overthrew the last Western Roman emperor and became the first barbarian king of Italy.
ODYSSEUS m Greek Mythology
Perhaps derived from Greek οδυσσομαι (odyssomai)
"to hate". In Greek legend Odysseus was one of the Greek heroes who fought in the Trojan War. In the 'Odyssey' Homer
relates Odysseus's misadventures on his way back to his kingdom and his wife Penelope
OEDIPUS m Greek Mythology (Latinized)
Latinized form of Greek Οιδιπους (Oidipous)
, meaning "swollen foot" from οιδεω (oideo)
"to swell" and πους (pous)
"foot". In Greek mythology Oedipus was the son of the Theban king Laius
and his wife Jocasta
. Laius received a prophesy that he would be killed by his son, so he left the newborn to die of exposure. Oedipus was however rescued and raised in the home of the Corinthian king Polybus. After he had grown and learned of the same prophesy, Oedipus left Corinth so that he would not be a danger to Polybus, who he assumed was his father. On the road to Delphi he chanced upon his real father Laius and slew him in a petty disagreement, thus fulfilling the prophecy. He then correctly answered the Sphinx's riddle, winning the now vacant throne of Thebes and marrying the widowed queen Jocasta, his own mother. Years later they learned the truth of their relationship, prompting Jocasta to commit suicide and Oedipus to blind himself.
OENONE f Greek Mythology (Latinized)
Latinized form of the Greek Οινωνε (Oinone)
, derived from οινος (oinos)
meaning "wine". In Greek mythology Oenone was a mountain nymph who was married to Paris before he went after Helen.
OFER m Hebrew
Means "fawn" in Hebrew. This makes it a modern variant of the Classical Hebrew name Ophrah
OFRA m & f Hebrew
Hebrew form of OPHRAH
. Originally it was a masculine name, but it is now used for females too.
OGDEN m English
From a surname which was derived from a place name meaning "oak valley" in Old English. A famous bearer was the humourous American poet Ogden Nash (1902-1971).
OHAD m Biblical
Means "united" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament he is the third son of Simeon
OISÍN m Irish, Irish Mythology
Means "little deer", derived from Irish os
"deer" combined with a diminutive suffix. In Irish legend Oisín was a warrior hero and a poet, the son of Fionn
OKEANOS m Greek Mythology
From the name of the river or body of water thought by the ancient Greeks to surround the Earth. In Greek mythology Okeanos was the Titan who personified this body of water.
OLAF m Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, Polish
From the Old Norse name Áleifr
meaning "ancestor's descendant", derived from the elements anu
"ancestor" and leifr
"descendant". This was the name of five kings of Norway, including Saint Olaf (Olaf II).
OLEG m Russian
Russian form of HELGE
. The Varangians brought this name from Scandinavia to Russia. It was borne by an important 10th-century Grand Prince of Kiev.
OLEGARIO m Spanish
Spanish form of a Germanic name, possibly Aldegar
, derived from the elements ald
"old" and ger
"spear". This was the name of a 12th-century saint, a bishop of Barcelona.
OLGA f Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Latvian, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Czech, Slovene, Serbian, Bulgarian, Greek
Russian form of HELGA
. The Varangians brought it from Scandinavia to Russia. The 10th-century Saint Olga was the wife of Igor I, Grand Prince of Kievan Rus (a state based around the city of Kiev). Following his death she ruled as regent for her son for 18 years. After she was baptized in Constantinople she attempted to convert her subjects to Christianity.
OLIVA f Late Roman
Late Latin name meaning "olive". This was the name of a 2nd-century saint from Brescia.
OLIVE f English
From the English word for the type of tree, ultimately derived from Latin oliva
OLIVER m English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Estonian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Czech, Slovak
, a Norman French form of a Germanic name such as ALFHER
or an Old Norse name such as Áleifr
). The spelling was altered by association with Latin oliva
"olive tree". In the Middle Ages the name became well-known in Western Europe because of the French epic 'La Chanson de Roland', in which Olivier was a friend and advisor of the hero Roland.... [more]
OLIVETTE f Literature
Feminine form of OLIVER
. This was the name of the title character in the French opera 'Les noces d'Olivette' (1879) by Edmond Audran.
OLIVIA f English, Italian, Spanish, German, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
This name was first used in this spelling by William Shakespeare for a character in his comedy 'Twelfth Night' (1602). Shakespeare may have based it on OLIVER
, or perhaps directly on the Latin word oliva
meaning "olive". In the play Olivia is a noblewoman who is wooed by Duke Orsino but instead falls in love with his messenger Cesario.... [more]
OLWEN f Welsh
Means "white footprint" from Welsh ol
"footprint, track" and gwen
"white, fair, blessed". In Welsh legend Olwen was a beautiful maiden, the lover of Culhwch
and the daughter of the giant Yspaddaden. Her father insisted that Culhwch complete several seemingly impossible tasks before he would allow them to marry, and Culhwch was successful with all of them.
OLYMPIAS f Ancient Greek
Feminine form of OLYMPOS
. This was the name of the mother of Alexander the Great. It was also borne by a 4th-century saint.
OLYMPOS m Ancient Greek
From a Greek personal name which was derived from the place name OLYMPOS
, the name of the mountain home of the Greek gods.
OM m Indian, Hindi, Marathi
From the Sanskrit ओम् (om)
, considered to be a sacred syllable because it represents the range of sounds that can be made by the human voice.
OMAR (1) m Arabic, English
Variant transcription of UMAR
. This is the usual English spelling of the 12th-century poet Umar Khayyam's name. In his honour it has sometimes been used in the English-speaking world, notably for the American general Omar Bradley (1893-1981).
OMAR (2) m Biblical
Means "speaker" in Hebrew. This was the name of a son of Eliphaz in the Old Testament.
OMEGA m & f Various
From the name of the last letter in the Greek alphabet, Ω
. It is often seen as a symbol of completion.
OMRI m Biblical, Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew
Possibly means "life" or "servant" in Hebrew (or a related Semitic language). This was the name of a 9th-century BC military commander who became king of Israel. He appears in the Old Testament, where he is denounced as being wicked.
ONEIDA f English
From the name of a Native American tribe, perhaps meaning "standing rock".
ONESIMUS m Biblical, Biblical Latin
Latinized form of the Greek name Ονησιμος (Onesimos)
, which meant "beneficial, profitable". Saint Onesimus was an escaped slave of Philemon
who met Saint Paul
while in prison and was converted by him. Paul sent him back to Philemon carrying the epistle that appears in the New Testament.
ONESIPHORUS m Biblical, Biblical Latin
Latinized form of the Greek name Ονησιφορος (Onesiphoros)
, which meant "bringing advantage, beneficial". This name is mentioned briefly in Paul
's second epistle to Timothy
in the New Testament. According to tradition he was martyred by being tied to horses and then torn apart.
OPAL f English
From the English word opal
for the iridescent gemstone, the birthstone of October. The word ultimately derives from Sanskrit उपल (upala)
OPHELIA f English, Literature
Derived from Greek οφελος (ophelos)
meaning "help". This name was probably created by the 15th-century poet Jacopo Sannazaro for a character in his poem 'Arcadia'. It was borrowed by Shakespeare for his play 'Hamlet' (1600), in which it belongs to Hamlet
's lover who eventually goes insane and drowns herself. In spite of this, the name has been used since the 19th century.
OPHIR m Biblical
Meaning unknown. This is the name of a son of Joktan in the Old Testament (where it is also used as a place name).
OPHIUCHUS m Astronomy
Latinized form of Greek Οφιουχος (Ophiouchos)
meaning "serpent bearer". This is the name of an equatorial constellation that depicts the god Asklepios holding a snake.
OPHRAH m Biblical
Means "fawn" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of both a man mentioned in genealogies and a city in Manasseh.
OPRAH f Various
In the case of television personality Oprah Winfrey, it was a childhood mispronunciation of her real name ORPAH
that became permanent.
ORA (1) f & m English
Perhaps based on Latin oro
"to pray". It was first used in America in the 19th century.