NIMUE f Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown. In Arthurian legends this is the name of a sorceress, also known as the Lady of the Lake, Vivien, or Niniane. Various versions of the tales have Merlin
falling in love with her and becoming imprisoned by her magic. She first appears in the medieval French 'Lancelot-Grail' cycle.
NINA (1) f Russian, Italian, English, German, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Polish, Slovene, Czech, Slovak, Croatian, Serbian
Short form of names that end in nina
, such as ANTONINA
. It was imported to Western Europe from Russia and Italy in the 19th century. This name also nearly coincides with the Spanish word niña
meaning "little girl".
NINA (2) f Near Eastern Mythology
Meaning unknown. This was the name of a Babylonian and Assyrian fertility goddess who was identified with Ishtar
. She was the patron goddess of the city of Nineveh. Her name was written using a character representing a fish surrounded by a character representing a house.
NINEL f Russian
Reversal of the name Lenin
. Lenin was the founder of the former Soviet state. This name was created by Communist parents who were eager to reject traditional names.
NING f & m Chinese
From Chinese 宁 (níng)
meaning "peaceful, calm, serene", as well as other characters pronounced in a similar way.
NIOBE f Greek Mythology
Meaning unknown. In Greek mythology Niobe was the daughter of Tantalos, a king of Asia Minor. Because she boasted that she was superior to Leto
, Leto's children Apollo
killed her 14 children with poison arrows. In grief, Niobe was turned to stone by Zeus
NITYA f & m Indian, Hindi
Means "always, eternal" in Sanskrit. This is a transcription of both the feminine form नित्या
(an epithet of the Hindu goddess Durga
) and the masculine form नित्य
NJERI f Eastern African, Kikuyu
Means "travelling one" in Kikuyu. Njeri (or Wanjeri) is the name of one of the nine daughters of Mumbi
in the Kikuyu origin legend.
NNENNA f Western African, Igbo
Means "father's mother" in Igbo. This name is sometimes given to a child when it is believed that she is a reincarnation of her paternal grandmother.
NNENNE f Western African, Igbo
Means "mother's mother" in Igbo. This name is sometimes given to a child when it is believed that she is a reincarnation of her maternal grandmother.
NOA (2) f Japanese
From Japanese 乃 (no)
, a possessive particle, and 愛 (a)
meaning "love, affection". This name can also be constructed from other kanji or kanji combinations.
NOAH (2) f Biblical
Derived from the Hebrew name נֹעָה (No'ah)
meaning "motion". In the Old Testament this is the name of a daughter of Zelophehad.
NOAM m & f Hebrew
Means "pleasantness" in Hebrew. A famous bearer is Noam Chomsky (1928-), an American linguist and philosopher.
NOELANI f Hawaiian
Means "heavenly mist" from Hawaiian noe
"mist" and lani
"heaven, sky, royal, majesty".
NOKOMIS f New World Mythology
Means "my grandmother" in Ojibwe. In Anishinaabe mythology this is the name of Nanabozho
's grandmother. It was used by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the grandmother of Hiawatha
in his poem 'The Song of Hiawatha' (1855).
NOLWENN f Breton
From the Breton phrase Noyal Gwenn
meaning "holy one from Noyal". This was the epithet of a 6th-century saint and martyr from Brittany.
NON f Welsh
Possibly derived from Latin nonna
meaning "nun". This was the name of the mother of Saint David.
NONA (1) f Roman Mythology
Derived from Latin nonus
meaning "ninth", referring to the nine months of pregnancy. This was the name of a Roman goddess of pregnancy. She was also one of the three Fates (or Parcae).
NORIKO f Japanese
From Japanese 法 (nori)
meaning "law, rule" or 典 (nori)
meaning "rule, ceremony" combined with 子 (ko)
meaning "child". Other kanji combinations are possible.
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
NOVA f English
Derived from Latin novus
meaning "new". It was first used as a name in the 19th century.
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
NURAY f Turkish
Means "bright moon" in Turkish, ultimately from Arabic نور (nur)
meaning "light" and Turkic ay
NURGÜL f Turkish
Means "radiant rose" in Turkish, ultimately from Arabic نور (nur)
meaning "light" and Persian گل (gol)
meaning "flower, rose".
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.
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
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
OBDULIA f Spanish
Meaning unknown. This was the name of a saint from Toledo, Spain. The details of her life are unknown.
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.
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.
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.
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.
OFRA m & f Hebrew
Hebrew form of OPHRAH
. Originally it was a masculine name, but it is now used for females too.
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
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.
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.
ONEIDA f English
From the name of a Native American tribe, perhaps meaning "standing rock".
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.
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.
ÓRFHLAITH f Irish
Means "golden princess" from Irish ór
"gold" combined with flaith
"princess". This was the name of a sister of the Irish king Brian
ORIANA f Italian, Spanish
Possibly derived from Latin aurum
"gold" or from its derivatives, Spanish oro
or French or
. In medieval legend Oriana was the daughter of a king of England who married the knight Amadis.
ORINDA f English (Rare)
Probably an elaboration of Spanish oro
"gold". This was the pseudonym of the English poet Katherine Philips (1631-1664).
ORINTHIA f Literature
Possibly related to Greek ορινω (orino)
meaning "to excite, to agitate". George Bernard Shaw used this name in his play 'The Apple Cart' (1929).
ORNELLA f Italian
Created by the Italian author Gabriele d'Annunzio for his novel 'La Figlia di Jorio' (1904). It is derived from Tuscan Italian ornello
meaning "flowering ash tree".
ORPAH f Biblical
Means "back of the neck" in Hebrew. Orpah was Naomi's second daughter-in-law in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament.