MINERVAfRoman 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.
Derived from the element mio
, a Serbo-Croatian form of the Slavic element milu
meaning "dear", combined with dragu
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.
Romanian form of MIRČE
. This name was borne by a 14th-century ruler of Wallachia.
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".
MIRIAMfHebrew, 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 & fHinduism, 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.
MOIRAfIrish, 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)fIrish, 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").
MONICAfEnglish, 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.
MONIKAfGerman, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Slovene, Croatian, Lithuanian, Latvian
Form of MONICA
MORANAfSlavic Mythology, Croatian
From a Slavic root meaning "death, plague". In Slavic mythology this was the name of the goddess of winter and death.
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 & fWelsh, 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-).
Means "maiden" in Cornish (related to the Welsh word morwyn
). This was the name of a 6th-century Cornish saint.
MOSESmEnglish, 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]
MUHAMMADmArabic, Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Bengali, Tajik, Indonesian, Malay, Avar
Means "praiseworthy", derived from Arabic حمد (hamid)
meaning "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]
MURIELfEnglish, 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).
Possibly from a Dravidian word meaning "youth". This is the name of a Tamil war god identified with Skanda
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.
MYRONmEnglish, 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.
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.
NADABmBiblical, 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.
Means "drinking companion", derived from Arabic ندم (nadima)
meaning "to drink together".
NAGENDRAmHinduism, 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.
Means "comforter" in Hebrew, from the root נָחַם (nacham)
. 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.
NANDAmHinduism, 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.
NAOISEmIrish, 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.
Means "little saint", derived from Irish naomh
"saint" combined with a diminutive suffix.
NAOMI (1)fEnglish, Hebrew, Biblical
From the Hebrew name נָעֳמִי (Na'omi)
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]
From the old Italian name Napoleone
, used most notably by the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821), who was born on Corsica. The etymology is uncertain, but it is possibly derived from the Germanic Nibelungen
meaning "sons of mist", a name used in Germanic mythology to refer to the keepers of a hoard of treasure (often identified with the Burgundians). Alternatively, it could be connected to the name of the Italian city of Napoli (Naples).
NARCISSEm & fFrench
French masculine and feminine form of NARCISSUS
. This is also the French word for the narcissus flower.
NATALIAfPolish, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, English, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Greek, Georgian, Russian, Ukrainian, Late Roman
Latinate form of Natalia
NATALIEfEnglish, German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian
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.
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.
Variant of NATHANAEL
. It has been regularly used in the English-speaking world since the Protestant Reformation. This has been the most popular spelling, even though the spelling Nathanael
is found in most versions of the New Testament. The American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), author of 'The Scarlet Letter', was a famous bearer of this name.
Turkish form of NAZLI
. This name is spelled with a Turkish dotless i
, as Nazlı
Italian form of the Late Latin Nazarenus
, which meant "from Nazareth, Nazarene". Nazareth was the town in Galilee where Jesus
lived. According to the New Testament, the phrase Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum
meaning "Jesus the Nazarene, king of the Jews", was inscribed on the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.
NEBUCHADNEZZARmAncient Near Eastern (Anglicized), Biblical
From the Akkadian name Nabu-kudurri-usur
preserve my firstborn son". This name was borne by a 12th-century BC king of the Babylonian Empire. It was also borne by a 6th-century BC king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. He captured Jerusalem, and ultimately destroyed the city's temple and deported many of its citizens, as told in the Old Testament.
NECHTANmIrish Mythology, Ancient Celtic
Celtic name of uncertain meaning, possibly meaning "damp" (cognate with NEPTUNE
). In Irish mythology Nechtan was the husband of Boand, the goddess of the River Boyne. This name was also borne by the 5th-century Saint Nectan of Hartland in Devon, who was supposedly born in Ireland. It was also the name of several kings of the Picts.
comforts" in Hebrew, derived from נָחַם (nacham)
meaning "to comfort" and יָה (yah)
referring to the Hebrew God. According to the Book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament he was a leader of the Jews who was responsible for the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the return from the Babylonian captivity.
NEILmIrish, Scottish, English
From the Gaelic name Niall
, which is of disputed origin, possibly meaning "champion" or "cloud". This was the name of a semi-legendary 4th-century Irish king, Niall of the Nine Hostages.... [more]
Created by French author Marie d'Agoult for her semi-autobiographical novel 'Nélida' (1846), written under the name Daniel Stern. It was probably an anagram of her pen name DANIEL
NEREUSmGreek Mythology, Ancient Greek, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Derived from Greek νηρος (neros)
meaning "water". In Greek myth this was the name of a god of the sea, the father of the Nereids. It is mentioned briefly in the New Testament, belonging to a Christian in Rome. This was also the name of a Roman saint of the 1st century, a member of the army, who was martyred with his companion Achilleus because they refused to execute Christians.
Armenian form of Narseh
). Saint Nerses was a 4th-century patriarch of the Armenian Church.
Latinized form of Nerþuz
, the Germanic (feminine) equivalent of Njörðr
). Nerthus was a Germanic goddess of fertility as described by the Roman historian Tacitus in the 1st century.
NESTORmGreek Mythology, Russian
Means "homecoming" in Greek. In Homer
's 'Iliad' this was the name of the king of Pylos, famous for his great wisdom and longevity, who acted as a counselor to the Greek allies.
has given" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of the father of Ishmael
(the assassin of Gedaliah), as well as other minor characters.
Italian form of the Roman family name Naevius
, which was derived from Latin naevus
"mole (on the body)". A famous bearer was the 3rd-century BC Roman poet Gnaeus Naevius.
Italian form of NICHOLAS
. A famous bearer was Niccolò Machiavelli, a 16th-century political philosopher from Florence.
From the Greek name Νικολαος (Nikolaos)
which meant "victory of the people" from Greek νικη (nike)
"victory" and λαος (laos)
"people". Saint Nicholas was a 4th-century bishop from Anatolia who, according to legend, saved the daughters of a poor man from lives of prostitution. He is the patron saint of children, sailors and merchants, as well as Greece and Russia. He formed the basis for the figure known as Santa Claus (created in the 19th century from Dutch Sinterklaas
), the bringer of Christmas presents.... [more]
NICOLEfFrench, English, Dutch, German
French feminine form of NICHOLAS
, commonly used in the English-speaking world since the middle of the 20th century. A famous bearer is American-Australian actress Nicole Kidman (1967-).
Danish form of NICHOLAS
. A famous bearer was Niels Bohr (1885-1962), a Danish physicist who investigated the structure of atoms.