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.
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.
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).
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).
BIRGITTA f Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Finnish
Most likely a Scandinavian form of BRIDGET
via the Latinized form Brigitta
. Alternatively it could be a feminine derivative of BIRGER
. This is the name of the patron saint of Europe, Birgitta of Sweden, the 14th-century founder of the Bridgettine nuns. Her father's name was Birger.
BIRUTĖ f Lithuanian
Possibly from Lithuanian birti
meaning "to scatter, to pour out" combined with a diminutive suffix. This name was borne by the mother of the 15th-century Grand Duke Vytautas
BITHIAH f Biblical
Means "daughter of YAHWEH
" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of a daughter of Pharaoh. She is traditionally equated with the pharaoh's daughter who drew Moses
from the Nile.
BLAIR m & f Scottish, English
From a Scottish surname which is derived from Gaelic blár
meaning "plain, field, battlefield".
BLANCHE f French, English
From a medieval French nickname meaning "white, fair". This name and its cognates in other languages are ultimately derived from the Germanic word blanc
. An early bearer was the 12th-century Blanca of Navarre, the wife of Sancho III of Castile. Her granddaughter of the same name married Louis VIII of France, with the result that the name became more common in France.
BLANDINE f French
French form of the Roman name Blandina
, which was the feminine form of Blandinus
, which was itself a derivative of the cognomen BLANDUS
. Saint Blandina was a 2nd-century slave from Lyons who was martyred by being thrown to wild beasts.
BLÁTHNAT f Irish, Irish Mythology
Means "little flower" from the Irish word blath
"flower" combined with a diminutive suffix. In Irish legend she was a maiden abducted and married by Cú Roí. She was rescued by Cúchulainn
, who killed her husband, but she was in turn murdered by one of Cú Roí's loyal servants.
BLODEUWEDD f Welsh, Welsh Mythology
Means "face of flowers" in Welsh. In a story in the Mabinogion, she is created out of flowers by Gwydion
to be the wife of his nephew Lleu
Llaw Gyffes. She is eventually changed into an owl for her infidelity.
BLODWEN f Welsh
Means "white flowers" from Welsh blodau
"flowers" combined with gwen
"white, fair, blessed".
BLONDIE f English (Rare)
From a nickname for a person with blond hair. This is the name of the title character in a comic strip by Chic Young.
BLOSSOM f English
From the English word blossom
, ultimately from Old English blóstm
. It came into use as a rare given name in the 19th century.
BO (2) m & f Chinese
From Chinese 波 (bō)
meaning "wave", as well as other characters with a similar pronunciation.
BOGLÁRKA f Hungarian
Means "buttercup" in Hungarian, derived from the archaic word boglár
BONITA f English
Means "pretty" in Spanish, ultimately from Latin bonus
"good". It has been used as a name in the English-speaking world since the beginning of the 20th century.
BONNIE f English
Means "pretty" from the Scottish word bonnie
, which was itself derived from Middle French bon
"good". It has been in use as an American given name since the 19th century, and it became especially popular after the movie 'Gone with the Wind' (1939), in which it was the nickname of Scarlett's daughter.
BOPHA f Khmer
Means "flower" in Khmer, ultimately from Pali.
BOUDICCA f Ancient Celtic
Derived from Brythonic boud
meaning "victory". This was the name of a 1st-century queen of the Iceni who led the Britons in revolt against the Romans. Eventually her forces were defeated and she committed suicide.
BRANDY f English
From the English word brandy
for the alcoholic drink. It is ultimately from Dutch brandewijn
"burnt wine". It has been in use as a given name since the 1960s.
BRANWEN f Welsh, Welsh Mythology
Means "beautiful raven" from Welsh bran
"raven" and gwen
"fair, white, blessed". In the Mabinogion, a collection of tales from Welsh myth, she is the sister of the British king Bran
and the wife of the Irish king Matholwch.
BRENDA f English
Possibly a feminine form of the Old Norse name Brandr
, meaning "sword", which was brought to Britain in the Middle Ages. This name is sometimes used as a feminine form of BRENDAN
BRETT m & f English
From a Middle English surname meaning "a Breton", referring to an inhabitant of Brittany. A famous bearer is the American football quarterback Brett Favre (1969-).
BRIALLEN f Welsh
Derived from Welsh briallu
meaning "primrose". This is a modern Welsh name.
BRIANA f English
Feminine form of BRIAN
. This name was used by Edmund Spenser in 'The Faerie Queene' (1590). The name was not commonly used until the 1970s, when it rapidly became popular in the United States.
BRIDGET f Irish, English, Irish Mythology
Anglicized form of the Irish name Brighid
which means "exalted one". In Irish mythology this was the name of the goddess of fire, poetry and wisdom, the daughter of the god Dagda. In the 5th century it was borne by Saint Brigid, the founder of a monastery at Kildare and a patron saint of Ireland. Because of the saint, the name was considered sacred in Ireland, and it did not come into general use there until the 17th century. In the form Birgitta
this name has been common in Scandinavia, made popular by the 14th-century Saint Birgitta of Sweden, patron saint of Europe.
BRIELLE f English (Modern)
Short form of GABRIELLE
. This is also the name of towns in the Netherlands and New Jersey, though their names derive from a different source.
BRÍGH f Irish
Derived from Irish brígh
meaning "power, high".
BRISEIS f Greek Mythology
Patronymic derived from Βρισευς (Briseus)
, a Greek name of unknown meaning. In Greek mythology Briseis (real name Hippodameia) was the daughter of Briseus. She was captured during the Trojan War by Achilles
. After Agamemnon
took her away from him, Achilles refused to fight in the war.
BRITANNIA f English (Rare)
From the Latin name of the island of Britain, in occasional use as an English given name since the 18th century. This is also the name of the Roman female personification of Britain pictured on some British coins.
BRITTANY f English
From the name of the region in the northwest of France, called in French Bretagne
. It was named for the Britons who settled there after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the invasions of the Anglo-Saxons. As a given name, it first came into common use in America in the 1970s.
BROGAN m & f Irish
Derived from Gaelic bróg
"shoe" combined with a diminutive suffix. This was the name of several Irish saints, including Saint Patrick
BRÓNACH f Irish
Derived from Irish Gaelic brón
meaning "sorrow". Saint Brónach was a 6th-century mystic from Ireland.
BRONTE m & f English (Rare)
From a surname, an Anglicized form of Irish Ó Proinntigh
meaning "descendant of Proinnteach". The given name Proinnteach
meant "bestower" in Gaelic. The Brontë sisters - Charlotte, Emily, and Anne - were 19th-century English novelists. Their father changed the spelling of the family surname from Brunty
, possibly to make it coincide with Greek βροντη
BRONWEN f Welsh
Derived from the Welsh elements bron
"breast" and gwen
"white, fair, blessed".
BROOK m & f English
From an English surname which denoted one who lived near a brook.
BROOKE f English
Variant of BROOK
. The name came into use in the 1950s, probably influenced by American socialite Brooke Astor (1902-2007). It was further popularized by actress Brooke Shields (1965-).
BROOKLYN f English (Modern)
From the name of the borough of New York City, originally derived from Dutch Breukelen
meaning "broken land". It can also be viewed as a combination of BROOK
and the popular name suffix lyn
BRÜNHILD f German, Germanic Mythology
Derived from the Germanic elements brun
"armour, protection" and hild
"battle". It is cognate with the Old Norse name Brynhildr
(from the elements bryn
). In Norse legend Brynhildr
was the queen of the Valkyries who was rescued by the hero Sigurd
. In the Germanic saga the 'Nibelungenlied' she was a queen of Iceland and the wife of Günther
. Both of these characters were probably inspired by the eventful life of the 6th-century Frankish queen Brunhilda (of Visigothic birth).
BRYN m & f Welsh, English
Means "hill, mound" in Welsh. It is now used as a feminine name as well.
BRYNHILDR f Norse Mythology, Ancient Scandinavian
Old Norse cognate of BRÜNHILD
. In the Norse legend the 'Volsungasaga' Brynhildr was rescued by the hero Sigurd
in the guise of Gunnar
. Brynhildr and Gunnar were married, but when Sigurd's wife Gudrun
let slip that it was in fact Sigurd who had rescued her, Brynhildr plotted against him. She accused Sigurd of taking her virginity, spurring Gunnar to arrange Sigurd's murder.
BRYONY f English (Rare)
From the name of a type of Eurasian vine, formerly used as medicine. It ultimately derives from Greek βρυω (bryo)
BUFFY f English
Diminutive of ELIZABETH
, from a child's pronunciation of the final syllable. It is now associated with the main character from the television series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (1997-2003).
BURGUNDY f English (Rare)
This name can refer either to the region in France, the wine (which derives from the name of the region), or the colour (which derives from the name of the wine).
CADENCE f English (Modern)
From an English word meaning "rhythm, flow". It has been in use only since the 20th century.
CALLA f English
From the name of a type of lily. Use of the name may also be inspired by Greek καλλος (kallos)
CALYPSO f Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From Greek Καλυψω (Kalypso)
which probably meant "she that conceals", derived from καλυπτω (kalypto)
"to cover, to conceal". In Greek myth this was the name of the nymph who fell in love with Odysseus
after he was shipwrecked on her island of Ogygia. When he refused to stay with her she detained him for seven years until Zeus
ordered her to release him.
CAMBRIA f Various
Latin form of the Welsh Cymru
, the Welsh name for the country of Wales, derived from cymry
meaning "the people". It is occasionally used as a given name in modern times.
CAMELLIA f English (Rare)
From the name of the flowering shrub, which was named for the botanist and missionary Georg Josef Kamel.