BARNABAS m German (Rare), English (Rare), Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Greek form of an Aramaic name. In Acts in the New Testament the byname Barnabas was given to a man named Joseph
, a Jew from Cyprus who was a companion of Paul
on his missionary journeys. The original Aramaic form is unattested, but it may be from בּר נביא (bar naviya')
meaning "son of the prophet", though in Acts 4:36 it is claimed that the name means "son of encouragement". As an English name, it came into occasional use after the 12th century.
BARTHOLOMEW m English, Biblical
From Βαρθολομαιος (Bartholomaios)
, which was the Greek form of an Aramaic name meaning "son of TALMAI
". In the New Testament Bartholomew
is the byname of an apostle, possibly the same person as the apostle Nathanael
. According to tradition he was a missionary to India before returning westward to Armenia, where he was martyred by flaying. Due to the popularity of this saint the name became common in England during the Middle Ages.
BARUCH m Biblical, Hebrew
Means "blessed" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of a companion of the prophet Jeremiah, acting as his scribe and assistant. The deuterocanonical Book of Baruch was supposedly written by him. A famous bearer was Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), a Dutch-Jewish rationalist philosopher.
BASIL (1) m English
From the Greek name Βασιλειος (Basileios)
which was derived from βασιλευς (basileus)
meaning "king". Saint Basil the Great was a 4th-century bishop of Caesarea and one of the fathers of the early Christian church. Due to him, the name (in various spellings) has come into general use in the Christian world, being especially popular among Eastern Christians. It was also borne by two Byzantine emperors.
BATHSHEBA f Biblical
Means "daughter of the oath" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of a woman married to Uriah
the Hittite. King David
seduced her and made her pregnant, so he arranged to have her husband killed in battle and then married her. She was the mother of Solomon
BATRAZ m Ossetian, Caucasian Mythology
Possibly from Turkic bagatur
meaning "hero, warrior, brave". This is the name of the leader of the superhuman Narts in Caucasian mythology.
BEATRICE f Italian, English, Swedish
Italian form of BEATRIX
. Beatrice Portinari (1266-1290) was the woman who was loved by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. She serves as Dante's guide through paradise in his epic poem the 'Divine Comedy' (1321). This is also the name of a character in Shakespeare's comedy 'Much Ado About Nothing' (1599), in which Beatrice and Benedick are fooled into confessing their love for one another.
BEATRIX f German, Hungarian, Dutch, English (Rare), Late Roman
Probably from Viatrix
, a feminine form of the Late Latin name Viator
which meant "voyager, traveller". It was a common name amongst early Christians, and the spelling was altered by association with Latin beatus
"blessed, happy". Viatrix or Beatrix was a 4th-century saint who was strangled to death during the persecutions of Diocletian.... [more]
BĚLA f Czech
Derived from the old Slavic word белъ (belu)
BELI m Welsh Mythology
Probably a Welsh derivative of BELENUS
. Beli Mawr was a Welsh ancestor deity who established several royal lines in Wales.
BELIAL m Biblical, Biblical Latin, Judeo-Christian Legend
Means "worthless" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this term is used to refer to various wicked people. In the New Testament, Paul uses it as a name for Satan. In later Christian tradition Belial became an evil angel associated with lawlessness and lust.
BELSHAZZAR m Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical
From בֵּלְשַׁאצַּר (Belshatzzar)
, the Hebrew form of the Akkadian name Bel-sarra-usur
protect the king". This was the name of the son of Nabonidus, the last king of the Babylonian Empire before it was conquered by the Persians in the 6th century BC. In the Old Testament Book of Daniel Belshazzar is the last king of Babylon who sees the mystical handwriting on the wall, which is interpreted by Daniel to portend the end of the empire.
BENDEGÚZ m Hungarian
Hungarian variant of the Turkic name Mundzuk
, possibly from mončuq
meaning "jewel, bead". This was the name of Attila
the Hun's father.
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.
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
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).
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).
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.
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.
BIANCA f Italian, Romanian
Italian cognate of BLANCHE
. Shakespeare used characters named Bianca in 'Taming of the Shrew' (1593) and 'Othello' (1603).
BILAL m Arabic, Urdu
Means "wetting, moistening" in Arabic. This was the name of a companion of the Prophet Muhammad
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
BO (1) m Swedish, Danish
From the Old Norse byname Búi
which was derived from Old Norse bua
meaning "to live".
BOGUSŁAW m Polish
Means "glory of God" from the Slavic elements bogu
"god" and slava
"glory". This name was borne by several dukes of Pomerania, beginning in the 12th century.
BOLESŁAW m Polish
Derived from the Slavic elements bolye
"more, greater" and slava
"glory". This was the name of kings of Poland, starting in the 11th century with the first Polish king Bolesław the Brave.
BONIFACE m French, English (Rare)
From the Late Latin name Bonifatius
, which meant "good fate" from bonum
"good" and fatum
"fate". This was the name of nine popes and also several saints, including an 8th-century Anglo-Saxon missionary to Germany (originally named Winfrid) who is now regarded as the patron saint of that country. It came into use in England during the Middle Ages, but became rare after the Protestant Reformation.
BORIS m Bulgarian, Russian, Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Georgian, German
From the Turkic name Bogoris
, perhaps meaning "short" or "wolf" or "snow leopard". It was borne by the 9th-century king Boris I of Bulgaria who converted his country to Christianity, as well as two later Bulgarian emperors. The name was popularized in the Slavic world due to the 11th-century Saint Boris, who was a Russian prince martyred with his brother Gleb. His mother may have been Bulgarian. Another famous bearer was the 16th-century Russian emperor Boris Godunov, later the subject of a play of that name by Aleksandr Pushkin.
BOŘIVOJ m Czech
Derived from the Slavic elements borti
"battle" and voji
"soldier". This name was borne by a 9th-century duke of Bohemia.
BOYKO m Bulgarian
Originally a diminutive of names containing the Slavic element boji
BRECHT m Dutch
Short form of names containing brecht
, often derived from the Germanic element beraht
BRENDA f English
Possibly a feminine form of the Old Norse name Brandr
, meaning "sword", which was brought to Britain in the Middle Ages. This name is sometimes used as a feminine form of BRENDAN
BRENDAN m Irish, English
, the Latinized form of the Irish name Bréanainn
which was derived from a Welsh word meaning "prince". Saint Brendan was a 6th-century Irish abbot who, according to legend, crossed the Atlantic and reached North America with 17 other monks.
BRIAN m English, Irish, Ancient Irish
The meaning of this name is not known for certain but it is possibly related to the old Celtic element bre
meaning "hill", or by extension "high, noble". It was borne by the semi-legendary Irish king Brian Boru, who thwarted Viking attempts to conquer Ireland in the 11th century. He was slain in the Battle of Clontarf, though his forces were decisively victorious. The name was common in Ireland before his time, and even more so afterwards. It came into use in England in the Middle Ages, introduced by Breton settlers. It subsequently became rare, but was revived in the 20th century.
BRICE m French, English
From the name Bricius
, which was probably a Latinized form of a Gaulish name meaning "speckled". This was the name of a 5th-century saint, a disciple of Saint Martin of Tours.
BRIDGET f Irish, English, Irish Mythology
Anglicized form of the Irish name Brighid
which means "exalted one". In Irish mythology this was the name of the goddess of fire, poetry and wisdom, the daughter of the god Dagda. In the 5th century it was borne by Saint Brigid, the founder of a monastery at Kildare and a patron saint of Ireland. Because of the saint, the name was considered sacred in Ireland, and it did not come into general use there until the 17th century. In the form Birgitta
this name has been common in Scandinavia, made popular by the 14th-century Saint Birgitta of Sweden, patron saint of Europe.
BRONISŁAW m Polish
Derived from the Slavic elements borna
"protection" and slava
"glory". A famous Polish anthropologist, Bronisław Malinowski (1884-1942), has borne this name.
BRÜNHILD f German, Germanic Mythology
Derived from the Germanic elements brun
"armour, protection" and hild
"battle". It is cognate with the Old Norse name Brynhildr
(from the elements bryn
). In Norse legend Brynhildr
was the queen of the Valkyries who was rescued by the hero Sigurd
. In the Germanic saga the 'Nibelungenlied' she was a queen of Iceland and the wife of Günther
. Both of these characters were probably inspired by the eventful life of the 6th-century Frankish queen Brunhilda (of Visigothic birth).
BRYNHILDR f Norse Mythology, Ancient Scandinavian
Old Norse cognate of BRÜNHILD
. In the Norse legend the 'Volsungasaga' Brynhildr was rescued by the hero Sigurd
in the guise of Gunnar
. Brynhildr and Gunnar were married, but when Sigurd's wife Gudrun
let slip that it was in fact Sigurd who had rescued her, Brynhildr plotted against him. She accused Sigurd of taking her virginity, spurring Gunnar to arrange Sigurd's murder.
BURKHARD m German, Ancient Germanic
Derived from the Germanic elements burg
meaning "protection" and hard
"brave, hardy". Saint Burkhard was a bishop who founded several monasteries in Germany in the 8th century.
ÇAĞATAY m Turkish
From the Mongolian name Tsagadai
(of unknown meaning), which was borne by the second son of Genghis
Khan, known as Chagatai
CAIN m Biblical, Biblical Latin
Means "acquired" in Hebrew. In Genesis in the Old Testament Cain is the first son of Adam
. He killed his brother Abel
after God accepted Abel's offering of meat instead of his offering of plant-based foods. After this Cain was banished to be a wanderer.