LONDON f & m English (Modern)
From the name of the capital city of the United Kingdom, the meaning of which is uncertain. As a surname it was borne by the American author Jack London (1876-1916).
LORENA (2) f English
Latinized form of LAUREN
. This name was first brought to public attention in America by the song 'Lorena' (1856), written by Joseph Webster, who was said to have created the name as an anagram of LENORE
(from the character in Poe's poem 'The Raven').
LORNA f English
Created by the author R. D. Blackmore for the title character in his novel 'Lorna Doone' (1869), set in southern England, which describes the dangerous love between John Ridd and Lorna Doone. Blackmore may have based the name on the Scottish place name Lorne
or on the title 'Marquis of Lorne' (see LORNE
LORRAINE f English
From the name of a region in France, originally meaning "kingdom of LOTHAR
". Lothar was a Frankish king, the great-grandson of Charlemagne
, whose realm was in the part of France that is now called Lorraine
, or in German Lothringen
(from Latin Lothari regnum
). As a given name, it has been used in the English-speaking world since the late 19th century, perhaps due to its similar sound with Laura
. It became popular after World War I when the region was in the news, as it was contested between Germany and France.
LOTUS f English (Rare)
From the name of the lotus flower (species Nelumbo nucifera) or the mythological lotus tree. They are ultimately derived from Greek λωτος (lotos)
. In Greek and Roman mythology the lotus tree was said to produce a fruit causing sleepiness and forgetfulness.
LOU f & m English, French
Short form of LOUISE
. Famous bearers include the baseball player Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) and the musician Lou Reed (1942-2013).
LOUISA f English, German, Dutch
Latinate feminine form of LOUIS
. A famous bearer was the American novelist Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), the author of 'Little Women'.
LOVE (2) f English
Simply from the English word love
, derived from Old English lufu
LUANA f English, Italian, Portuguese
From the movie 'Bird of Paradise' (1932), in which it was borne by the main character, a Polynesian girl. The movie was based on a 1912 play of the same name set in Hawaii.
LUANN f English
Either a combination of LOU
or a variant of LUANA
. It was popularized in the 1950s by the singer Lu Ann Simms (1933-2003).
LUCETTA f English
Diminutive of LUCIA
. Shakespeare used this name for a character in his play 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' (1594).
LUCIA f Italian, German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Romanian, Slovak, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of LUCIUS
. Saint Lucia was a 4th-century martyr from Syracuse. She was said to have had her eyes gouged out, and thus she is the patron saint of the blind. She was widely revered in the Middle Ages, and her name has been used throughout Christian Europe (in various spellings). It has been used in the England since the 12th century, usually in the spellings Lucy
LUCINDA f English, Portuguese, Literature
An elaboration of LUCIA
created by Cervantes for his novel 'Don Quixote' (1605). It was subsequently used by Molière in his play 'The Doctor in Spite of Himself' (1666).
LYNETTE f English
Form of LUNED
first used by Alfred Lord Tennyson in his poem 'Gareth and Lynette' (1872). In modern times it is also regarded as a diminutive of LYNN
LYNN f & m English
From an English surname which was derived from Welsh llyn
"lake". Before the start of the 20th century it was primarily used for boys, but it has since come to be more common for girls. In some cases it may be thought of as a short form of LINDA
or names that end in lyn
MABEL f English
Medieval feminine form of AMABILIS
. This spelling and Amabel
were common during the Middle Ages, though they became rare after the 15th century. It was revived in the 19th century after the publication of C. M. Yonge's novel 'The Heir of Redclyffe' (1854), which featured a character named Mabel (as well as one named Amabel).
MABELLE f English
Variant of MABEL
. It also coincides with the French phrase ma belle
meaning "my beautiful".
MACKENZIE f & m English
From the Gaelic surname Mac Coinnich
, which means "son of COINNEACH
". A famous bearer of the surname was William Lyon MacKenzie (1795-1861), a Canadian journalist and political rebel. As a feminine given name, it was popularized by the American actress Mackenzie Phillips (1959-).
MACY f English
From an English surname which was from various towns named Massy
in France. The towns themselves were originally named from a Gallo-Roman personal name that was Latinized as Maccius
. This is the name of a chain of American department stores founded by Rowland Hussey Macy (1822-1877).
MADELINE f English, French
English form of MAGDALENE
. This is the name of the heroine in a series of children's books by Ludwig Bemelmans, first published 1939.
MADISON f & m English
From an English surname meaning "son of MAUD
". It was not commonly used as a feminine name until after the movie 'Splash' (1984), in which the main character adopted it as her name after seeing a street sign for Madison Avenue in New York City. A famous bearer of the surname was James Madison (1751-1836), one of the authors of the American constitution who later served as president.
MADONNA f English
From a title of the Virgin Mary
meaning "my lady" in Italian. A famous bearer of the name is American singer Madonna Ciccone (1958-), known simply as Madonna.
MAE f English
Variant of MAY
. A famous bearer was American actress Mae West (1893-1980), whose birth name was Mary.
MAGDALENA f Polish, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Spanish, Occitan, Slovene, Czech, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Croatian, Serbian, Romanian, Finnish, English
Latinate form of MAGDALENE
MAGDALENE f German, English, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
From a title which meant "of Magdala". Mary
Magdalene, a character in the New Testament, was named thus because she was from Magdala - a village on the Sea of Galilee whose name meant "tower" in Hebrew. She was cleaned of evil spirits by Jesus
and then remained with him during his ministry, witnessing the crucifixion and the resurrection. She was a popular saint in the Middle Ages, and the name became common then. In England it is traditionally rendered Madeline
, while Magdalene
is the learned form.
MAGNOLIA f English
From the English word magnolia
for the flower, which was named for the French botanist Pierre Magnol.
MAHALA f English
Variant of MAHALAH
. It has occasionally been used as an English Christian name since the Protestant Reformation.
MALLORY f English (Modern)
From an English surname which meant "unfortunate" in Norman French. It first became common in the 1980s due to the television comedy 'Family Ties', which featured a character by this name.
MALVINA f Scottish, English, Literature
Created by the poet James MacPherson in the 18th century for a character in his Ossian poems. He probably intended it to mean "smooth brow" in Gaelic.
MARGARET f English
Derived from Latin Margarita
, which was from Greek μαργαριτης (margarites)
meaning "pearl", probably ultimately a borrowing from Sanskrit मञ्यरी (manyari)
. Saint Margaret, the patron of expectant mothers, was martyred at Antioch in the 4th century. Later legends told of her escape from a dragon, with which she was often depicted in medieval art. The saint was popular during the Middle Ages, and her name has been widely used in the Christian world.... [more]
MARIA f & m Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Occitan, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Faroese, Dutch, Frisian, Greek, Polish, Romanian, English, Finnish, Corsican, Basque, Russian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Biblical Greek, Biblical Latin, Old Church Slavic
Latin form of Greek Μαρια
, from Hebrew מִרְיָם
is the usual form of the name in many European languages, as well as a secondary form in other languages such as English (where the common spelling is Mary
). In some countries, for example Germany, Poland and Italy, Maria
is occasionally used as a masculine middle name.... [more]
MARIAH f English
Variant of MARIA
. It is usually pronounced in a way that reflects an older English pronunciation of Maria
. The name was popularized in the early 1990s by the American singer Mariah Carey (1970-).
MARIAN (1) f English
Variant of MARION (1)
. This name was borne in English legend by Maid Marian, Robin Hood's love. It is sometimes considered a combination of MARY
MARIE f French, Czech, German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
French and Czech form of MARIA
. A notable bearer of this name was Marie Antoinette, a queen of France who was executed by guillotine during the French Revolution. Another was Marie Curie (1867-1934), a physicist and chemist who studied radioactivity with her husband Pierre.
MARIEL f English
Diminutive of MARY
influenced by MURIEL
. In the case of actress Mariel Hemingway (1961-), the name is from the Cuban town of Mariel.
MARILYN f English
Combination of MARY
. It has been used since the start of the 20th century. A famous bearer was the American actress Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962).
MARINA f Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, English, Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Serbian, Slovene, Macedonian, Georgian, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of MARINUS
MARIS f English (Rare)
Means "of the sea", taken from the Latin title of the Virgin Mary
, Stella Maris
, meaning "star of the sea".
MARJORIE f English
Medieval variant of MARGERY
, influenced by the name of the herb marjoram
. After the Middle Ages this name was rare, but it was revived at the end of the 19th century.
MARLENE f German, English
Blend of MARIA
. It refers, therefore, to Mary Magdalene, a character in the New Testament. The name was popularized by the German actress and singer Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992), whose real name was Maria Magdalene von Losch.
MARLEY f English (Modern)
From a surname which was taken from a place name meaning either "pleasant wood", "boundary wood" or "marten wood" in Old English. A famous bearer of the surname was the Jamaican musician Bob Marley (1945-1981).
MARNIE f English
Possibly a diminutive of MARINA
. This name was brought to public attention by Alfred Hitchcock's movie 'Marnie' (1964), itself based on a 1961 novel by Winston Graham.
MARTHA f English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, German, Greek, Biblical, Old Church Slavic, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
From Aramaic מַרְתָּא (marta')
meaning "the lady, the mistress", feminine form of מַר (mar)
"master". In the New Testament this is the name of the sister of Lazarus
of Bethany (who is sometimes identified with Mary Magdalene). She was a witness to Jesus
restoring her dead brother to life.... [more]
MARTINA f German, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Czech, Slovak, Croatian, Slovene, English, Swedish, Dutch, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of Martinus
). Saint Martina was a 3rd-century martyr who is one of the patron saints of Rome.
MARY f English, Biblical
Usual English form of Maria
, the Latin form of the New Testament Greek names Μαριαμ (Mariam)
and Μαρια (Maria)
- the spellings are interchangeable - which were from Hebrew מִרְיָם (Miryam)
, a name borne by the sister of Moses
in the Old Testament. The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including "sea of bitterness", "rebelliousness", and "wished for child". However it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry
"beloved" or mr
MATILDA f English, Swedish, Finnish
From the Germanic name Mahthildis
meaning "strength in battle", from the elements maht
"might, strength" and hild
"battle". Saint Matilda was the wife of the 10th-century German king Henry I the Fowler. The name was common in many branches of European royalty in the Middle Ages. It was brought to England by the Normans, being borne by the wife of William the Conqueror himself. Another notable royal by this name was a 12th-century daughter of Henry I of England, known as the Empress Matilda because of her first marriage to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V. She later invaded England, laying the foundations for the reign of her son Henry II.... [more]
MAUD f English, Dutch
Usual medieval form of MATILDA
. Though it became rare after the 14th century, it was revived and once more grew popular in the 19th century, perhaps due to Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem 'Maud' (1855).
MAURA (2) f Irish, Scottish, English
Anglicized form of MÁIRE
. It has also been associated with Gaelic mór
meaning "great". This was the name of an obscure 5th-century Irish or Scottish martyr.
MAVIS f English
From the name of the type of bird, also called the song thrush, ultimately derived from Old French. It was first used as a given name by the British author Marie Corelli, who used it for a character in her novel 'The Sorrows of Satan' (1895).
MAXINE f English
Feminine form of MAX
. It has been commonly used only since the beginning of the 20th century.
MAY f English
Derived from the name of the month of May, which derives from Maia
, the name of a Roman goddess. May is also another name of the hawthorn flower. It is also used as a diminutive of MARY
MAYA (2) f English
Variant of MAIA (1)
. This name can also be given in reference to the Maya peoples, a Native American culture who built a great civilization in southern Mexico and Latin America.
MEADE m & f English (Rare)
From an English surname which indicated one who lived on a meadow (from Middle English mede
) or one who sold or made mead (an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey; from Old English meodu
MEGAN f Welsh, English
Welsh diminutive of MARGARET
. In the English-speaking world outside of Wales it has only been regularly used since the middle of the 20th century.
MELANIE f English, German, Dutch
, the French form of the Latin name Melania
, derived from Greek μελαινα (melaina)
meaning "black, dark". This was the name of a Roman saint who gave all her wealth to charity in the 5th century. Her grandmother was also a saint with the same name.... [more]
MELBA f English
From the surname of the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba (1861-1931). This was a stage name that she got from the name of the city Melbourne, where she was born.
MELINA f English, French, Greek
Elaboration of Mel
, either from names such as MELISSA
or from Greek μελι (meli)
meaning "honey". A famous bearer was Greek-American actress Melina Mercouri (1920-1994), who was born Maria Amalia Mercouris.
MELINDA f English
Combination of Mel
(from names such as MELANIE
) with the popular name suffix inda
. It was created in the 18th century, and may have been inspired by the similar name Belinda
MELISSA f English, Dutch, Ancient Greek, Greek Mythology
Means "bee" in Greek. This was the name of a nymph that cared for young Zeus
in Greek mythology. It is also the name of the fairy who helps Rogero escape from the witch Alcina in Ludovico Ariosto's poem 'Orlando Furioso' (1516). As an English given name, Melissa
has been used since the 18th century.
MELODY f English
From the English word melody
, which is derived (via Old French and Late Latin) from Greek μελος (melos)
"song" combined with αειδω (aeido)
MERCIA f English (Rare)
Latinate form of MERCY
. This was also the name of an old Anglo-Saxon kingdom, though it has a different origin.
MERCY f English
From the English word mercy
, ultimately from Latin merces
"wages, reward", a derivative of merx
"goods, wares". This was one of the virtue names adopted by the Puritans in the 17th century.
MEREDITH m & f Welsh, English
From the Welsh name Maredudd
, possibly meaning "great lord" or "sea lord". Since the mid-1920s it has been used more often for girls than for boys in English-speaking countries, though it is still a masculine name in Wales. A famous bearer of this name as surname was the English novelist and poet George Meredith (1828-1909).
MERLE f & m English
Variant of MERRILL
. The spelling has been influenced by the word merle
meaning "blackbird" (via French, from Latin merula
MERLYN m & f English
Variant of MERLIN
, sometimes used as a feminine form. It has perhaps been influenced by the Welsh word merlyn
MERRY (1) f English
From the English word merry
, ultimately from Old English myrge
. This name appears in Charles Dickens' novel 'Martin Chuzzlewit' (1844), where it is a diminutive of MERCY
MERYL f English
Variant of MURIEL
, influenced by the spelling of the name CHERYL
. A famous bearer is American actress Meryl Streep (1949-), whose real name is Mary Louise Streep.
MICKEY m & f English
Diminutive or feminine form of MICHAEL
. This was the name that Walt Disney gave to Ub Iwerks' cartoon character Mickey Mouse, who was originally named Mortimer Mouse. Another famous bearer was the American baseball player Mickey Mantle (1931-1995).
MILDRED f English
From the Old English name Mildþryð
meaning "gentle strength", derived from the elements milde
"gentle" and þryð
"strength". Saint Mildred was a 7th-century abbess, the daughter of the Kentish princess Saint Ermenburga. After the Norman conquest this name became rare, but it was revived in the 19th century.
MILEY f English (Modern)
In the case of actress and singer Miley Cyrus (1992-), it is a shortened form of the nickname Smiley
, given to her by her father because she often smiled. Although it was not at all common before she brought it to public attention, there are some examples of its use before her time, most likely as a diminutive of MILES
MILLICENT f English
From the Germanic name Amalasuintha
, composed of the elements amal
"work, labour" and swinth
"strong". Amalasuintha was a 6th-century queen of the Ostrogoths. The Normans introduced this name to England in the form Melisent
. Melisende was a 12th-century queen of Jerusalem, the daughter of Baldwin II.
MINERVA f Roman Mythology, English
Possibly derived from Latin mens
meaning "intellect", but more likely of Etruscan origin. Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and war, approximately equivalent to the Greek goddess Athena
. It has been used as a given name in the English-speaking world since after the Renaissance.
MIRABELLE f French (Rare), English (Rare)
Derived from Latin mirabilis
"wonderful". This name was coined during the Middle Ages, though it eventually died out. It was briefly revived in the 19th century.
MIRACLE f English (Modern)
From the English word miracle
for an extraordinary event, ultimately deriving from Latin miraculum
MIRANDA f English, Dutch
Derived from Latin mirandus
meaning "admirable, wonderful". The name was created by Shakespeare for the heroine in his play 'The Tempest' (1611), about a father and daughter stranded on an island. It did not become a common English given name until the 20th century. This is also the name of one of the moons of Uranus, named after the Shakespearian character.
MIRIAM f Hebrew, English, German, Biblical, Biblical Hebrew
Original Hebrew form of MARY
. It is used in the Old Testament, where it belongs to the elder sister of Moses
. She watched over the infant Moses as the pharaoh's daughter drew him from the Nile. The name has long been popular among Jews, and it has been used as an English Christian name since the Protestant Reformation.
MISTY f English
From the English word misty
, ultimately derived from Old English. The jazz song 'Misty' (1954) by Erroll Garner may have helped popularize the name.
MODESTY f English (Rare)
From the English word modesty
, ultimately from Latin modestus
"moderate", a derivative of modus
MOIRA f Irish, Scottish, English
Anglicized form of MÁIRE
. It also coincides with Greek Μοιρα (Moira)
meaning "fate, destiny", the singular of Μοιραι
, the Greek name for the Fates. They were the three female personifications of destiny in Greek mythology.
MOLLY f English
Diminutive of MARY
. It developed from Malle
, other medieval diminutives. James Joyce used this name in his novel 'Ulysses' (1920), where it belongs to Molly Bloom, the wife of the main character.
MONA (1) f Irish, English
Anglicized form of MUADHNAIT
. It is also associated with Greek monos
"one" and Leonardo da Vinci's painting the 'Mona Lisa' (in which case it is a contraction of Italian ma donna
meaning "my lady").
MONDAY f English (Rare)
From the English word for the day of the week, which was derived from Old English mona
"moon" and dæg
"day". This was formerly given to girls born on Monday.
MONICA f English, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Late Roman
Meaning unknown, most likely of North African or Phoenician origin. In the 4th century this name was borne by the North African saint Monica of Hippo, the mother of Saint Augustine, whom she converted to Christianity. Since the Middle Ages it has been associated with Latin moneo
"advisor" and Greek monos
"one". As an English name, Monica
has been in general use since the 18th century.
MONTANA f & m English (Modern)
From the name of the American state, which is derived from Latin montanus
MORGAN (1) m & f Welsh, English, French
From the Old Welsh masculine name Morcant
, which was possibly derived from Welsh mor
"sea" and cant
"circle". Since the 1980s in America Morgan
has been more common for girls than boys, perhaps due to stories of Morgan
le Fay or the fame of actress Morgan Fairchild (1950-).
MORIAH f Biblical, Biblical Hebrew, English (Modern)
Possibly means "seen by YAHWEH
" in Hebrew. This is a place name in the Old Testament, both the land where Abraham
is to sacrifice Isaac
and the mountain upon which Solomon
builds the temple. They may be the same place. Since the 1980s it has occasionally been used as a feminine given name in America.
MURIEL f English, French, Irish
Medieval English form of a Celtic name which was probably related to the Irish name MUIRGEL
. The Normans brought it to England from Brittany. In the modern era it was popularized by a character from Dinah Craik's novel 'John Halifax, Gentleman' (1856).
MYRA f English
Created by the 17th-century poet Fulke Greville. He possibly based it on Latin myrra
meaning "myrrh" (a fragrant resin obtained from a tree). Otherwise, he may have simply rearranged the letters from the name MARY
. Although unrelated etymologically, this is also the name of an ancient city of Anatolia.
MYRTLE f English
Simply from the English word myrtle
for the evergreen shrub, ultimately from Greek μυρτος (myrtos)
. It was first used as a given name in the 19th century, at the same time many other plant and flower names were coined.
NAN f English
Originally a diminutive of ANN
. It may have originated with the affectionate phrase mine Ann
, which was later reinterpreted as my Nan
. It is now also used as a short form of NANCY
NANCY f English
Previously a medieval diminutive of ANNIS
, though since the 18th century it has been a diminutive of ANN
. It is now usually regarded as an independent name. During the 20th century it became very popular in the United States. A city in the Lorraine region of France bears this name, though it derives from a different source.
NAOMI (1) f English, Hebrew, Biblical
From the Hebrew name נָעֳמִי (Na'omiy)
meaning "pleasantness". In the Old Testament this is the name of the mother-in-law of Ruth
. After the death of her husband and sons, she returned to Bethlehem with Ruth. There she declared that her name should be Mara
(see Ruth 1:20).... [more]
NARELLE f English (Australian)
Meaning unknown. It was borne by the wife of Umbarra, who was a 19th-century leader of the Yuin, an Aboriginal people.
NATALIE f French, English, German
From the Late Latin name Natalia
, which meant "Christmas Day" from Latin natale domini
. This was the name of the wife of the 4th-century martyr Saint Adrian of Nicomedia. She is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church, and the name has traditionally been more common among Eastern Christians than those in the West. It was popularized in America by actress Natalie Wood (1938-1981), who was born to Russian immigrants.
NATASHA f Russian, English
Russian diminutive of NATALYA
. This is the name of a character in Leo Tolstoy's novel 'War and Peace' (1865). It has been used in the English-speaking world only since the 20th century.
NELDA f English
Possibly an elaboration of NELL
using the popular name suffix da
NELL f English
Medieval diminutive of names beginning with El
, such as ELEANOR
, ELLEN (1)
. It may have arisen from the medieval affectionate phrase mine El
, which was later reinterpreted as my Nel
NEVADA f English
From the name of the American state, which means "snow-capped" in Spanish.