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.
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
BISHOP m English
Either from the English occupational surname, or else directly from the English word. It is ultimately derived from Greek επισκοπος (episkopos)
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.
BLAINE m English
From a Scottish surname which was derived from the given name Bláán
, which meant "yellow" in Gaelic. Saint Bláán was a 6th-century missionary to the Picts.
BLAIR m & f Scottish, English
From a Scottish surname which is derived from Gaelic blár
meaning "plain, field, battlefield".
BLAISE m French
From the Roman name Blasius
which meant "lisping" from Latin blaesus
. A famous bearer was the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).
BLAKE m English
From a surname which was derived from Old English blæc
"black" or blac
"pale". A famous bearer of the surname was the poet and artist William Blake (1757-1827).
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.