FRANCIS m & f English, French
English form of the Late Latin name Franciscus
which meant "Frenchman", ultimately from the Germanic tribe of the Franks, who were named for a type of spear that they used. This name was borne by the 13th-century Saint Francis of Assisi, who was originally named Giovanni but was given the nickname Francesco by his father, an admirer of the French. Francis went on to renounce his father's wealth and devote his life to the poor, founding the Franciscan order of friars. Later in his life he apparently received the stigmata.... [more]
FREYA f Norse Mythology, English (British, Modern), German
From Old Norse Freyja
meaning "lady". This was the name of the goddess of love, beauty, war and death in Norse mythology. She claimed half of the heroes who were slain in battle and brought them to her realm of Fólkvangr. Along with her brother Freyr
and father Njord
, she was one of the Vanir (as opposed to the Æsir). Some scholars connect her with the goddess Frigg
FRIDA f Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Ancient Germanic
Germanic name, originally a short form of other feminine names containing the Germanic element frid
meaning "peace". This is also the Scandinavian equivalent, from the Old Norse cognate Fríða
. A famous bearer was Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954).
GABIJA f Lithuanian, Baltic Mythology
Probably from Lithuanian gaubti
meaning "to cover". In Lithuanian mythology this was the name of the goddess of fire and the home.
GAIA f Greek Mythology, Italian
From the Greek word γαια (gaia)
, a parallel form of γη (ge)
meaning "earth". In Greek mythology Gaia was the mother goddess who presided over the earth. She was the mate of Uranus
and the mother of the Titans and the Cyclopes.
GARGI f Hinduism, Indian, Hindi, Bengali
Meaning unknown. This was the name of a 7th-century BC Indian philosopher who appears in the Upanishads, which are parts of Hindu scripture.
GAYATRI f Hinduism, Indian, Marathi, Hindi
From Sanskrit गायत्र (gayatra)
which refers to a type of song or hymn with a particular meter. It is also the name of a Hindu goddess who is a personification of this song.
GENEVIÈVE f French
From the medieval name Genovefa
, which is of uncertain origin. It could be derived from the Germanic elements kuni
"kin, family" and wefa
"wife, woman". Alternatively it could be of Gaulish origin, from the related Celtic element genos
"kin, family" combined with a second element of unknown meaning. This name was borne by Saint Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris, who inspired the city to resist the Huns in the 5th century.
GERMAINE f French
French feminine form of GERMAIN
. Saint Germaine was a 16th-century peasant girl from France.
GERTRUDE f English, Dutch
Means "spear of strength", derived from the Germanic elements ger
"spear" and thrud
"strength". Saint Gertrude the Great was a 13th-century nun and mystic writer. It was probably introduced to England by settlers from the Low Countries in the 15th century. Shakespeare used the name in his play 'Hamlet' (1600) for the mother of the title character. A famous bearer was the American writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946).
GILDA f Italian, Portuguese
Originally an Italian short form of names containing the Germanic element gild
meaning "sacrifice, value".
GINEVRA f Italian
Italian form of GUINEVERE
. This is also the Italian name for the city of Geneva, Switzerland. It is also sometimes associated with the Italian word ginepro
GIOCONDA f Italian
From the Late Latin name Iucunda
which meant "pleasant, delightful, happy". Leonardo da Vinci's painting the 'Mona Lisa' is also known as 'La Gioconda' because its subject is Lisa del Giocondo.
GISELLE f French, English (Modern)
Derived from the Germanic word gisil
meaning "hostage" or "pledge". This name may have originally been a descriptive nickname for a child given as a pledge to a foreign court. It was borne by a daughter of the French king Charles III who married the Norman leader Rollo in the 10th century. The name was popular in France during the Middle Ages (the more common French form is Gisèle
). Though it became known in the English-speaking world due to Adolphe Adam's ballet 'Giselle' (1841), it was not regularly used until the 20th century.
GLADYS f Welsh, English
From the old Welsh name Gwladus
, possibly derived from gwlad
"country". It has historically been used as a Welsh form of CLAUDIA
. This name became popular outside of Wales after it was used in Ouida's novel 'Puck' (1870).
GLENDA f Welsh, English
A name created in the 20th century from the Welsh elements glân
"pure, clean" and da
GORMLAITH f Irish, Scottish
Derived from Irish gorm
"blue" or "illustrious" and flaith
"princess, lady". This was the name of a wife of the 11th-century Irish ruler Brian
GRISELDA f English, Scottish, Spanish, Literature
Possibly derived from the Germanic elements gris
"grey" and hild
"battle". It is not attested as a Germanic name. This was the name of a patient wife in medieval tales by Boccaccio and Chaucer.
GUDRUN f Norse Mythology, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German
From the Old Norse name Guðrún
meaning "god's secret lore", derived from the elements guð
"god" and rún
"secret lore". In Norse legend Gudrun was the wife of Sigurd
. After his death she married Atli, but when he murdered her brothers, she killed her sons by him, fed him their hearts, and then slew him.
GUIOMAR f & m Portuguese, Spanish, Arthurian Romance
Possibly derived from the Germanic name Wigmar
, which is formed of the elements wig
"war, battle" and meri
"famous". In the medieval 'Lancelot-Grail' cycle he plays a minor role as a cousin of Guinevere, who banishes him after he becomes a lover of Morgan le Fey. In modern Portugal and Spain it is a feminine name.
GUNBORG f Swedish
From the Old Norse name Gunnbjörg
, derived from the elements gunnr
"war" and björg
"help, save, rescue".
GWENDA f Welsh, English
Derived from the Welsh elements gwen
"white, fair, blessed" and da
"good". This name was created in the 20th century.
GYTHA f English (Archaic)
, an Old Norse diminutive of GUÐRÍÐR
. It was borne by a Danish noblewoman who married the English lord Godwin of Wessex in the 11th century. The name was used in England for a short time after that, and was revived in the 19th century.
HAGAR f Biblical, Biblical Hebrew
Possibly means "flight" in Hebrew, though it could also be of unknown Egyptian origin. In the Old Testament she is the concubine of Abraham
and the mother of Ishmael
, the founder of the Arab people. After Abraham's wife Sarah
finally gave birth to a child, she had Hagar and Ishmael expelled into the desert. However, God heard their crying and saved them.
HAGGITH f Biblical
Means "festive" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of one of King David
HANNA (1) f Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Polish, Ukrainian, Belarusian, German, Dutch, Icelandic, Hungarian
Cognate of HANNAH
HARRIET f English
English form of HENRIETTE
, and thus a feminine form of HARRY
. It was first used in the 17th century, becoming very common in the English-speaking world by the 18th century. A famous bearer was Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), the American author who wrote 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'.
HAYDÉE f Spanish, French (Rare)
Spanish and French form of HAIDEE
, from Byron's 'Don Juan' (1819). It was later used by Alexander Dumas for a character in 'The Count of Monte Cristo' (1844).
HEDWIG f German
From the Germanic name Hadewig
, derived from the Germanic elements hadu
"battle, combat" and wig
"war". This was the name of a 13th-century German saint, the wife of the Polish duke Henry the Bearded. It was subsequently borne by a 14th-century Polish queen (usually known by her Polish name Jadwiga
) who is now also regarded as a saint.
HEIDI f German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, English
German diminutive of ADELHEID
. This is the name of the title character in the children's novel 'Heidi' (1880) by Johanna Spyri. The name began to be used in the English-speaking world shortly after the 1937 release of the movie adaptation, which starred Shirley Temple.
HEIDRUN f Norse Mythology, German
Derived from Old Norse heiðr
meaning "bright, clear" and rún
meaning "secret". In Norse mythology this was the name of a goat that would eat the leaves from the tree of life and produce mead in her udder.
HELENA f German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Finnish, Estonian, Slovene, Croatian, English, Ancient Greek (Latinized), Greek Mythology (Latinized)
Latinate form of HELEN
HERODIAS f Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Feminine form of HEROD
. This was the name of a member of the Herodian ruling family of Judea, a sister of Herod Agrippa and the wife of Herod Antipas. She appears in the New Testament, where she contrives to have her husband Antipas imprison and execute John the Baptist.
HERTHA f German
Form of NERTHUS
. The spelling change from N
resulted from a misreading of Tacitus's text.
HESTER f English, Biblical Latin
Latin form of ESTHER
. Like Esther
, it has been used in England since the Protestant Reformation. Nathaniel Hawthorne used it for the heroine of his novel 'The Scarlet Letter' (1850), Hester Prynne.
HILARY f & m English
Medieval English form of HILARIUS
. During the Middle Ages it was primarily a masculine name. It was revived in Britain at the beginning of the 20th century as a predominantly feminine name. In America, this name and the variant Hillary
seemed to drop in popularity after Hillary Clinton (1947-) became the first lady.
HILLARY f English
Variant of HILARY
. A famous bearer of the surname was Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008), the first man to climb Mount Everest.
HILTRUD f German
Means "strength in battle", derived from the Germanic elements hild
"battle" and thrud
HONORINE f French
French form of Honorina
, a feminine form of the Roman name Honorinus
, a derivative of HONORIUS
. Saint Honorina was a 4th-century martyr from the Normandy region in France.
HONOUR f English (Rare)
From the English word honour
, which is of Latin origin. This was one of the virtue names adopted by the Puritans in the 17th century. It can also be viewed as a form of HONORIA
, which are ultimately derived from the same source.
HULDAH f Biblical
Means "weasel, mole" in Hebrew. This name appears in the Old Testament belonging to a prophetess.
IDA f English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Slovene, Croatian, Ancient Germanic
Derived from the Germanic element id
meaning "work, labour". The Normans brought this name to England, though it eventually died out there in the Middle Ages. It was strongly revived in the 19th century, in part due to the heroine in Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem 'The Princess' (1847), which was later adapted into the play 'Princess Ida' (1884) by Gilbert and Sullivan.... [more]
IDONEA f English (Archaic)
Medieval English name, probably a Latinized form of IÐUNN
. The spelling may have been influenced by Latin idonea
"suitable". It was common in England from the 12th century.
IEVA f Lithuanian, Latvian
Lithuanian and Latvian form of EVE
. This is also the Lithuanian and Latvian word for a type of cherry tree (species Prunus padus).
ILEANA f Romanian, Spanish, Italian
Possibly a Romanian variant of ELENA
. In Romanian folklore this is the name of a princess kidnapped by monsters and rescued by a heroic knight.
IME (2) m & f Frisian
Short form of names beginning with the Germanic element ermen
INGE f & m Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, German, Dutch
Short form of Scandinavian and German names beginning with the element ing
, which refers to the Germanic god ING
. In Sweden and Norway this is primarily a masculine name, elsewhere it is usually feminine.
INGRID f Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German
From the Old Norse name Ingríðr
meaning "Ing is beautiful", derived from the name of the Germanic god ING
combined with fríðr
"beautiful". A famous bearer was the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982).
IOLANTHE f Various
Probably a variant of YOLANDA
influenced by the Greek words ιολη (iole)
"violet" and ανθος (anthos)
"flower". This name was (first?) used by Gilbert and Sullivan in their comic opera 'Iolanthe' (1882).
IONA (1) f English, Scottish
From the name of the island off Scotland where Saint Columba founded a monastery. The name of the island is Old Norse in origin, and apparently derives simply from ey
IONE f Greek Mythology, English
From Greek ιον (ion)
meaning "violet flower". This was the name of a sea nymph in Greek mythology. It has been used as a given name in the English-speaking world since the 19th century, though perhaps based on the Greek place name Ionia
, a region on the west coast of Asia Minor.
IRENE f English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, German, Ancient Greek (Latinized), Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From Greek Ειρηνη (Eirene)
, derived from a word meaning "peace". This was the name of the Greek goddess who personified peace, one of the ‘Ωραι
(Horai). It was also borne by several early Christian saints. The name was common in the Byzantine Empire, notably being borne by an 8th-century empress, who was the first woman to lead the empire. She originally served as regent for her son, but later had him killed and ruled alone.... [more]
IRIA f Portuguese, Galician
Possibly a Portuguese and Galician form of IRENE
. This was the name of a 7th-century saint (also known as Irene) from Tomar in Portugal. This is also the name of an ancient town in Galicia (now a district of Padrón).