BEATRICE f Italian, English, Swedish
Italian form of BEATRIX
. Beatrice Portinari (1266-1290) was the woman who was loved by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. She serves as Dante's guide through paradise in his epic poem the 'Divine Comedy' (1321). This is also the name of a character in Shakespeare's comedy 'Much Ado About Nothing' (1599), in which Beatrice and Benedick are fooled into confessing their love for one another.
BEATRIX f German, Hungarian, Dutch, English (Rare), Late Roman
Probably from Viatrix
, a feminine form of the Late Latin name Viator
which meant "voyager, traveller". It was a common name amongst early Christians, and the spelling was altered by association with Latin beatus
"blessed". Viatrix or Beatrix was a 4th-century saint who was strangled to death during the persecutions of Diocletian.... [more]
BEATUS m Late Roman
Masculine form of BEATA
. According to legend, Saint Beatus was ordained a priest by Saint Peter
and evangelized in Switzerland. Another saint by this name was an 8th-century Asturian theologian.
BEAU m English
Means "beautiful" in French. It has been occasionally used as an American given name since the late 19th century. It appears in Margaret Mitchell's novel 'Gone with the Wind' (1936) as the name of Ashley and Melanie's son.
BÉBINN f Irish, Irish Mythology
Means "fair lady" in Irish Gaelic. This name was borne by several characters in Irish mythology, including a goddess of childbirth.
BECKETT m English (Modern)
From an English surname which could be derived from various sources, including from Middle English beke
meaning "beak" or bekke
meaning "stream, brook".
BEDE m History
Modern form of the Old English name Baeda
, possibly related to Old English bed
"prayer". Saint Bede, called the Venerable Bede, was an 8th-century historian, scholar and Doctor of the Church.
BEDIVERE m Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
From the Welsh name Bedwyr
, which is of unknown meaning. In Arthurian legends Bedivere was one of the original companions of King Arthur
. He first appears in early Welsh tales, and his story was later expanded by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century. He is the one who throws the sword Excalibur into the lake at the request of the dying Arthur.
BEELZEBUB m Biblical
From Hebrew בַּעַל זְבוּב (Ba'al Zevuv)
meaning "lord of flies", intended as a mocking alteration of בּאל זבל (Ba'al Zevul)
"Ba'al the exalted", one of the Canaanite names for their god BA'AL
. In Milton's 'Paradise Lost' (1667) this is the name of Satan's chief lieutenant.
BEHAR m Albanian
From the archaic Albanian word behar
BEHNAM m Persian
Means "reputable" (literally "good name") in Persian.
BÉLA m Hungarian
The meaning of this name is not known for certain. It could be derived from a Slavic word meaning "white" or a Hungarian word meaning "within". This was the name of four Hungarian kings.
BĚLA f Czech
Derived from the old Slavic word белъ (belu)
BELÉN f Spanish
Spanish form of Bethlehem
, the name of the town in Judah where King David
were born. The town's name is derived via Greek from Hebrew בֵּית לָחֶם (beit lachem)
meaning "house of bread".
BELENUS m Celtic Mythology
Probably from a Celtic word meaning "bright, brilliant". This was the name of a Gaulish solar god who was often equated with Apollo
BELI m Welsh Mythology
Probably a Welsh derivative of BELENUS
. Beli Mawr was a Welsh ancestor deity who established several royal lines in Wales.
BELIAL m Biblical, Biblical Latin, Judeo-Christian Legend
Means "worthless" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this term is used to refer to various wicked people. In the New Testament, Paul uses it as a name for Satan. In later Christian tradition Belial became an evil angel associated with lawlessness and lust.
BELINDA f English
The meaning of this name is not known for certain. The first element could be related Italian bella
"beautiful". The second element could be related to Germanic lind
"serpent, dragon" or linde
"soft, tender". This name first arose in the 17th century, and was subsequently used by Alexander Pope in his poem 'The Rape of the Lock' (1712).
BELLA f English
Short form of ISABELLA
and other names ending in bella
. It is also associated with the Italian word bella
BELLATRIX f Astronomy
Means "female warrior" in Latin. This is the name of the star that marks the left shoulder of the constellation Orion.
BELLE f English
Short form of ISABELLA
or names ending in belle
. It is also associated with the French word belle
meaning "beautiful". A famous bearer was Belle Starr (1848-1889), an outlaw of the American west, whose real given name was Maybelle.
BELLONA f Roman Mythology
Derived from Latin bellare
meaning "to fight". This was the name of the Roman goddess of war, a companion of Mars
BELPHOEBE f Literature
Combination of belle
"beautiful" and the name PHOEBE
. This name was first used by Edmund Spenser in his poem 'The Faerie Queene' (1590).
BELSHAZZAR m Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical
From בֵּלְשַׁאצַּר (Belshatzzar)
, the Hebrew form of the Akkadian name Bel-sarra-usur
protect the king". This was the name of the son of Nabonidus, the last king of the Babylonian Empire before it was conquered by the Persians in the 6th century BC. In the Old Testament Book of Daniel Belshazzar is the last king of Babylon who sees the mystical handwriting on the wall, which is interpreted by Daniel to portend the end of the empire.
BENEDICT m English
From the Late Latin name Benedictus
which meant "blessed". Saint Benedict was an Italian monk who founded the Benedictines in the 6th century. After his time the name was common among Christians, being used by 16 popes. In England it did not come into use until the 12th century, at which point it became very popular. This name was also borne by the American general Benedict Arnold (1741-1801), who defected to Britain during the American Revolution.
BENIGNO m Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Italian, Spanish and Portuguese form of the Late Latin name Benignus
which meant "kind, friendly" in Latin. This was the name of several saints including a 5th-century disciple of Saint Patrick
who later became the chief Bishop of Ireland.
BENITO m Spanish, Italian
Spanish form of BENEDICT
. This name was borne by Mexican president Benito Juárez, and also by Benito Mussolini (who was named after Juárez), the fascist dictator of Italy during World War II.
BENJAMIN m English, French, German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Biblical
From the Hebrew name בִּנְיָמִין (Binyamin)
which means "son of the south" or "son of the right hand". Benjamin in the Old Testament is the twelfth and youngest son of Jacob
and the founder of one of the southern tribes of the Hebrews. He was originally named בֶּן־אוֹנִי (Ben-'oniy)
meaning "son of my sorrow" by his mother Rachel
, who died shortly after childbirth, but it was later changed by his father (see Genesis 35:18).... [more]
BENNETT m English
Medieval form of BENEDICT
. This was the more common spelling in England until the 18th century. Modern use of the name is probably also influenced by the common surname Bennett
, itself a derivative of the medieval name.
BENNO m German
Short form of German names containing the element bern
BENTLEY m English
From a surname which was from a place name, itself derived from Old English beonet
"bent grass" and leah
"woodland, clearing". Various towns in England bear this name.
BENTON m English
From a surname which was derived from a place name, composed of Old English beonet
"bent grass" and tun
BENVENUTO m Italian
Means "welcome" in Italian. A famous bearer was the Italian Renaissance sculptor and writer Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571).
BEOWULF m Anglo-Saxon Mythology
Possibly means "bee wolf" (in effect equal to "bear") from Old English beo
"bee" and wulf
"wolf". This is the name of the main character in the anonymous 8th-century epic poem 'Beowulf'. Set in Denmark, the poem tells how he slays the monster Grendel and its mother at the request of king Hroðgar
. After this Beowulf becomes the king of the Geats. The conclusion of the poem tells how Beawulf, in his old age, slays a dragon but is himself mortally wounded in the act.
BERACH m Irish
Derived from Gaelic biorach
meaning "sharp". This was the name of a 6th-century Irish saint.
BERARD m Ancient Germanic
Variant of BERNARD
using the related root bera
"bear" as the first element. This was the name of a 13th-century saint who was martyred in Morocco.
BERAT m Turkish
Possibly from Turkish berat
meaning "letters patent".
BERENGAR m Ancient Germanic
Germanic name derived from the elements bern
"bear" and ger
"spear". This was the name of two medieval kings of Italy and a Holy Roman Emperor.
BERENICE f English, Italian, Ancient Greek (Latinized)
Latinized form of Βερενικη (Berenike)
, the Macedonian form of the Greek name Φερενικη (Pherenike)
, which meant "bringing victory" from φερω (phero)
"to bring" and νικη (nike)
"victory". This name was common among the Ptolemy ruling family of Egypt, a dynasty which was originally from Macedon. It occurs briefly in Acts in the New Testament (in most English Bibles it is spelled Bernice
) belonging to a sister of King Herod Agrippa II. As an English name, Berenice
came into use after the Protestant Reformation.
BERGLJOT f Norwegian
From the Old Norse name Bergljót
, which was composed of the elements berg
"protection, help" and ljótr
BERLIN f Various
From the name of the city in Germany, which is of uncertain meaning.
BERNADETTE f French, English
French feminine form of BERNARD
. Saint Bernadette was a young woman from Lourdes in France who claimed to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary
BERNARD m English, French, Dutch, Polish, Croatian, Slovene, Czech, Ancient Germanic
Derived from the Germanic element bern
"bear" combined with hard
"brave, hardy". The Normans brought it to England, where it replaced the Old English cognate Beornheard
. This was the name of several saints, including Saint Bernard of Menthon who built hospices in the Swiss Alps in the 10th century, and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a 12th-century theologian and Doctor of the Church. Other famous bearers include the Irish playwright and essayist George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) and the British World War II field marshal Bernard Montgomery (1887-1976).
BERRY (2) f English (Rare)
From the English word referring to the small fruit. It is ultimately derived from Old English berie
. This name has only been in use since the 20th century.
BERTHA f German, English, Ancient Germanic
Originally a short form of Germanic names beginning with the element beraht
meaning "bright, famous". It was borne by the mother of Charlemagne
in the 8th century, and it was popularized in England by the Normans. It died out as an English name after the Middle Ages, but was revived in the 19th century. The name also appears in southern Germanic legends (often spelled Perchta
) belonging to a goddess of animals and weaving.
BERTRAM m English, German, Ancient Germanic
Means "bright raven", derived from the Germanic element beraht
"bright" combined with hramn
"raven". The Normans introduced this name to England. Shakespeare used it in his play 'All's Well That Ends Well' (1603).
BERTRAND m French, English, Ancient Germanic
Derived from the Germanic elements beraht
meaning "bright" and rand
meaning "rim (of a shield)". From an early date it has been confused with BERTRAM
and the two names have merged to some degree. A famous bearer was English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970).
BERWYN m Welsh
Means "white head" from the Welsh elements barr
"head" and wyn
BERYL f English
From the English word for the clear or pale green precious stone, ultimately deriving from Sanskrit. As a given name, it first came into use in the 19th century.
BESSARION m Late Greek
Meaning uncertain, possibly from Greek βησσα (bessa)
"wooded valley". This was the name of a 5th-century Egyptian hermit who was a disciple of Saint Anthony the Great. It was later adopted by the scholar Basilios Bessarion (1403-1472), a Greek born in Byzantine Anatolia who became a Roman Catholic bishop.
BETELGEUSE m Astronomy
The name of the star that marks the right shoulder of the constellation Orion. It is derived from Arabic يد الجوزا (yad al-Jawza)
meaning "the hand of Jawza". جوزا (Jawza)
meaning "central one" was the old Arabic name for the constellation Orion (also for Gemini).
BETHANY f English, Biblical
From the name of a biblical town, possibly derived from Hebrew בֵּית־תְּאֵנָה (beit-te'enah)
meaning "house of figs". In the New Testament the town of Bethany was the home of Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha. It has been in use as a rare given name in the English-speaking world since the 19th century, used primarily by Catholics in honour of Mary of Bethany. In America it became moderately common after the 1950s.
BETHEL f Biblical
From an Old Testament place name meaning "house of God" in Hebrew. This was a town north of Jerusalem, where Jacob
saw his vision of the stairway. It is occasionally used as a given name.
BETHUEL m Biblical
Means "man of God" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of the father of Rebecca
BEULAH f Biblical, Biblical Hebrew, English
Means "married" in Hebrew. The name is used in the Old Testament to refer to the land of Israel (Isaiah 62:4). As an English given name, Beulah
has been used since the Protestant Reformation.
BEVAN m Welsh
From a Welsh surname which was derived from ap Evan
meaning "son of EVAN
BEVERLY f & m English
From a surname which was originally derived from the name of an English city, itself meaning "beaver stream" in Old English. It came into use as a masculine given name in the 19th century, and it became common as an American feminine name after the publication of George Barr McCutcheon's novel 'Beverly of Graustark' (1904).
BEVIS m English (Rare)
From an English surname which is possibly derived from the name of the French town Beauvais
BHARATA m Hinduism
Means "being maintained" in Sanskrit. This is one of the names of Agni
, the Hindu god of fire, and is also the name of the brother of Rama
in the Hindu epic the 'Ramayana'. It was also borne by a legendary king, the son of Dushyanta
. The official name of the country of India, Bharat, derives from him.
BHASKARA m Hinduism
Means "shining", derived from a combination of Sanskrit भास (bhasa)
meaning "light" and कर (kara)
meaning "maker". This is another name of the sun and the Hindu god Shiva
. It was additionally borne by a 12th-century Indian astronomer, also known as Bhaskaracharya.
BHIMA m Hinduism
Means "terrible, formidable" in Sanskrit. In the Hindu epic the 'Mahabharata' this is the name of the second son of Pandu, and thus one of the five Pandavas. He was known for his terrific strength and skill as a warrior.
BHUMI f Hinduism
Means "earth, soil" in Sanskrit. This is the name of a Hindu earth goddess. She is the wife of Varaha, an avatar of Vishnu.
BIANCA f Italian, Romanian
Italian cognate of BLANCHE
. Shakespeare used characters named Bianca in 'Taming of the Shrew' (1593) and 'Othello' (1603).
BIDZINA m Georgian
Possibly from Georgian ბიძა (bidza)
meaning "uncle". This was the name of a 17th-century Georgian saint and martyr.
BIFF m English (Rare)
From a nickname which was based on the English word biff
, which means "punch, hit, strike".
BILAL m Arabic, Urdu
Means "wetting, moistening" in Arabic. This was the name of a companion of the Prophet Muhammad
BILBO m Literature
This was the name of the hero of 'The Hobbit' (1937) by J. R. R. Tolkien. His real hobbit name was Bilba
, which is of unknown meaning, but this was altered by Tolkien in order to use the more masculine o
ending. In the novel Bilbo Baggins was recruited by the wizard Gandalf
to join the quest to retake Mount Erebor from the dragon Smaug.
BILE m Irish Mythology
Possibly an Irish form of BELENUS
, though it may derive from an Irish word meaning "hero". In Irish mythology this was the name of one of the Milesians who was drowned while invading Ireland.
BILL m English
Short form of WILLIAM
. This spelling was first used in the 19th century. The change in the initial consonant may have been influenced by an earlier Irish pronunciation of the name. Famous bearers include basketball player Bill Russell (1934-), comedian Bill Cosby (1937-), American president Bill Clinton (1946-), and Microsoft founder Bill Gates (1955-).
BILLY m English
Diminutive of BILL
. A notable bearer was the American outlaw Billy the Kid (1859-1881), whose real name was William H. Bonney.