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.
MENAHEM m Biblical, Hebrew
From the Hebrew name מְנַחֵם (Menachem)
meaning "comforter". This was the name of a king of Israel, appearing in the Old Testament. His reign was noted for its brutality.
MERAB (1) f Biblical
Means "abundant" in Hebrew. This was the name of a daughter of Saul in the Old Testament.
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).
MERLIN m Arthurian Romance, English
Form of the Welsh name Myrddin
(meaning "sea fortress") used by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his 12th-century Arthurian tales. Writing in Latin, he likely chose the form Merlinus
in order to prevent associations with French merde
MERVYN m Welsh, English
From the Welsh name Merfyn
, which possibly meant "marrow famous". This was the name of a 9th-century Welsh king, Merfyn Frych.
METHUSELAH m Biblical
Means "man of the dart" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament he is the father of Lamech
and the grandfather of Noah
. He lived to age 969, making him the longest-lived person in the Bible.
MICAH m Biblical, English
Contracted form of MICAIAH
. Micah is one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament. He authored the Book of Micah, which alternates between prophesies of doom and prophesies of restoration. It was occasionally used as an English given name by the Puritans after the Protestant Reformation, but it did not become common until the end of the 20th century.
MICAIAH m & f Biblical
Means "who is like YAHWEH
?" in Hebrew. This name occurs in the Old Testament belonging to both males and females.
MICHAEL m English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Czech, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
From the Hebrew name מִיכָאֵל (Mikha'el)
meaning "who is like God?". This is a rhetorical question, implying no person is like God. Michael is one of the seven archangels in Hebrew tradition and the only one identified as an archangel in the Bible. In the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament he is named as a protector of Israel. In the Book of Revelation in the New Testament he is portrayed as the leader of heaven's armies in the war against Satan, and is thus considered the patron saint of soldiers in Christianity.... [more]
MICHAL (2) f Biblical, Hebrew
Possibly means "brook" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament she is a daughter of Saul
. She was married to David
, but after David fled from Saul he remarried her to someone else. Later, when David became king, he ordered her returned to him.
MICHEL m French, German, Dutch
French form of MICHAEL
. Michel de Notredame, also known as Nostradamus, was the 16th-century French astrologer who made predictions about future world events. This is also the German diminutive form of MICHAEL
MIGUEL m Spanish, Portuguese
Spanish and Portuguese form of MICHAEL
. A notable bearer of this name was Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), the Spanish novelist and poet who wrote 'Don Quixote'.
MIHAI m Romanian
Romanian form of MICHAEL
. Mihai the Brave was a prince of Wallachia who united Romania in the early 17th century.
MIKHAIL m Russian, Bulgarian
Russian form of MICHAEL
, and a variant transcription of Bulgarian MIHAIL
. This was the name of two Russian tsars. It was also borne by the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-).
MILADA f Czech
Originally a diminutive of Slavic names containing the element milu
"gracious, dear". It has become associated with Czech mladý
MILAN m Czech, Slovak, Russian, Serbian, Croatian, Slovene, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Dutch
From the Slavic element milu
meaning "gracious, dear", originally a short form of names that began with that element. A city in Italy bears this name, though it originates from a different source.
MILENA f Bulgarian, Czech, Serbian, Croatian, Slovene, Macedonian, Polish, Russian, Italian
Feminine form of MILAN
. It began to be used in Italy in honour of Milena Vukotić (1847-1923), mother of Helen of Montenegro, the wife of Italian king Victor Emmanuel III. In Italy it can also be considered a combination of MARIA
MILES m English
From the Germanic name Milo
, introduced by the Normans to England in the form Miles
. The meaning is not known for certain. It is possibly connected to the Slavic name element milu
meaning "gracious". From an early date it was associated with Latin 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.
MILO m English, Ancient Germanic
Old Germanic form of MILES
, as well as the Latinized form. This form of the name was used in official documents during the Middle Ages, and it has been used independently since the 19th century.
MILOJE m Serbian
From the Slavic element milu
meaning "gracious, dear", originally a diminutive of names that began with that element.
MILOŠ m Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Slovene, Croatian, Macedonian
Originally a diminutive of names beginning with the Slavic element milu
"gracious, dear". This was the name of a 14th-century Serbian hero who apparently killed the Ottoman sultan Murad I at the Battle of Kosovo.
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.
MIODRAG m Serbian, Croatian
Derived from the element mio
, a Serbo-Croatian form of the Slavic element milu
meaning "dear", combined with dragu
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.
MIREILLE f French
From the Occitan name Mirèio
, which was first used by the poet Frédéric Mistral for the main character in his poem 'Mirèio' (1859). He probably derived it from the Occitan word mirar
meaning "to admire".
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.
MITRA (1) m & f Hinduism, Indian, Hindi
Means "friend" in Sanskrit, a cognate of MITHRA
. This is a transcription of both the feminine form मित्रा
and the masculine form मित्र
, which is the name of a Hindu god of friendship and contracts who appears in the Rigveda.
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.
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").
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.
MONIKA f German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Slovene, Croatian, Lithuanian, Latvian
Form of MONICA
MORANA f Slavic Mythology, Croatian
From a Slavic root meaning "death, plague". In Slavic mythology this was the name of the goddess of winter and death.
MORDECAI m Biblical, Hebrew
Means "servant of MARDUK
" in Persian. In the Old Testament Mordecai is the cousin and foster father of Esther
. He thwarted a plot to kill the Persian king, though he made an enemy of the king's chief advisor Haman.
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.
MORWENNA f Cornish, Welsh
Means "maiden" in Cornish (related to the Welsh word morwyn
). This was the name of a 6th-century Cornish saint.
MOSES m English, Jewish, Biblical, Biblical Latin
From the Hebrew name מֹשֶׁה (Mosheh)
which is most likely derived from Egyptian mes
meaning "son", but could also possibly mean "deliver" in Hebrew. The meaning suggested in the Old Testament of "drew out" from Hebrew משה (mashah)
is probably an invented etymology (see Exodus 2:10). The biblical Moses was drawn out of the Nile by the pharaoh's daughter and adopted into the royal family, at a time when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. With his brother Aaron
he demanded the pharaoh release the Israelites, which was only done after God sent ten plagues upon Egypt. Moses led the people across the Red Sea and to Mount Sinai, where he received the Ten Commandments from God. After 40 years of wandering in the desert the people reached Canaan, the Promised Land, but Moses died just before entering it.... [more]
MUHAMMAD m Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Bengali, Tajik, Indonesian, Malay
Means "praiseworthy", derived from Arabic حمد (hamid)
"to praise". This was the name of the prophet who founded the Islamic religion in the 7th century. According to Muslim belief, at age 40 Muhammad was visited by the angel Gabriel
, who provided him with the first verses of the Qur'an. Approximately 20 years later he conquered Mecca, the city of his birth, and his followers controlled most of the Arabian Peninsula at the time of his death in 632.... [more]
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).
MURUGAN m Hinduism, Tamil
Possibly from a Dravidian word meaning "youth". This is the name of a Tamil war god identified with Skanda
MUSTAFA m Arabic, Turkish
Means "the chosen one" in Arabic, an epithet of Muhammad
. This was the name of four Ottoman sultans. Another famous bearer was Mustafa Kemal (1881-1938), also known as Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.
MYRON m English, Ancient Greek
Derived from Greek μυρον (myron)
meaning "sweet oil, perfume". Myron was the name of a 5th-century BC Greek sculptor. Saints bearing this name include a 3rd-century bishop of Crete and a 4th-century martyr from Cyzicus who was killed by a mob. These saints are more widely revered in the Eastern Church, and the name has generally been more common among Eastern Christians. As an English name, it has been used since the 19th century.
NAAMAH f Biblical, Hebrew
Means "pleasant" in Hebrew. This name is borne in the Old Testament by both a daughter of Lamech
and a wife of Solomon
. Some later Jewish texts give Naamah as the name of Noah
's wife, even though she is not named in the Old Testament.
NADAB m Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Means "generous" in Hebrew. This is the name of a son of Aaron
in the Old Testament. He was consumed by flames and killed when he offered unauthorized fire to God. It was also the name of the second king of Israel.
NADIM m Arabic, Urdu
Means "drinking companion", derived from Arabic ندم (nadima)
"to drink together".
NAGENDRA m Hinduism, Indian, Kannada, Telugu
Means "lord of snakes" from Sanskrit नाग (naga)
meaning "snake" (also "elephant") combined with the name of the Hindu god INDRA
, used here to mean "lord". This is another name for Vasuki, the king of snakes, in Hindu mythology.
NAHUM m Biblical
Means "comforter" in Hebrew. Nahum is one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament. He authored the Book of Nahum in which the downfall of Nineveh is foretold.
NANDA m Hinduism, Indian, Kannada, Tamil
Means "joy" in Sanskrit. In Hindu texts this is a name of both Vishnu
and the foster-father of Krishna
, as well as various other characters. In Buddhist texts this is the name of a god and a disciple of Buddha. Nanda was also the name of a 4th-century BC king who founded a dynasty in Magadha in India.
NAOISE m Irish, Scottish, Irish Mythology
Meaning unknown, presumably of Gaelic origin. In Irish legend he was the young man who eloped with Deirdre
, the beloved of Conchobhar
the king of Ulster. Conchobhar eventually succeeded in having Naoise murdered, which caused Deirdre to die of grief.
NAOMHÁN m Irish, Scottish
Means "little saint", derived from Irish naomh
"saint" combined with a diminutive suffix.
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]
NAPOLEON m History, English
From the old Italian name Napoleone
, used most notably by the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821), who was born on Corsica. It is possibly derived from the Germanic Nibelungen
, the name of a race of dwarfs in Germanic legend, which meant "sons of mist". Alternatively, it could be connected to the name of the Italian city of Napoli (Naples).
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.