AGATHA f English, Ancient Greek (Latinized)
Latinized form of the Greek name Αγαθη (Agathe)
, derived from Greek αγαθος (agathos)
. Saint Agatha was a 3rd-century martyr from Sicily who was tortured and killed after spurning the advances of a Roman official. The saint was widely revered in the Middle Ages, and her name has been used throughout Christian Europe (in various spellings). The mystery writer Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was a famous modern bearer of this name.
ANASTASIA f Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, English, Spanish, Italian, Georgian, Ancient Greek
Feminine form of ANASTASIUS
. This was the name of a 4th-century Dalmatian saint who was martyred during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Diocletian. Due to her, the name has been common in Eastern Orthodox Christianity (in various spellings). As an English name it has been in use since the Middle Ages. A famous bearer was the youngest daughter of the last Russian tsar Nicholas II, who was rumoured to have escaped the execution of her family in 1918.
AUDREY f English
Medieval diminutive of ÆÐELÞRYÐ
. This was the name of a 7th-century saint, a princess of East Anglia who founded a monastery at Ely. It was also borne by a character in Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It
(1599). At the end of the Middle Ages the name became rare due to association with the word tawdry
(which was derived from St. Audrey
, the name of a fair where cheap lace was sold), but it was revived in the 19th century. A famous bearer was British actress Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993).
CLARE f English
Medieval English form of CLARA
. This is also the name of an Irish county, which was itself probably derived from Irish clár
meaning "plank, level surface".
CLARICE f English
Medieval vernacular form of the Late Latin name Claritia
, which was a derivative of CLARA
CLARISSA f English, Italian
Latinate form of CLARICE
. This was the name of the title character in a 1748 novel by Samuel Richardson. In the novel Clarissa is a virtuous woman who is tragically exploited by her family and her lover.
CYNTHIA f English, Greek Mythology (Latinized)
Latinized form of Greek Κυνθια (Kynthia)
, which means "woman from Kynthos"
. This was an epithet of the Greek moon goddess Artemis
, given because Kynthos was the mountain on Delos on which she and her twin brother Apollo
were born. It was not used as a given name until the Renaissance, and it did not become common in the English-speaking world until the 19th century.
ELENA f Italian, Spanish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovak, Lithuanian, Russian, Greek, German, English, Medieval Slavic
Form of HELEN
used in various languages, as well as an alternate transcription of Russian Елена
EUROPA f Greek Mythology (Latinized)
Latinized form of Greek Ευρωπη (Europe)
, which meant "wide face"
from ευρυς (eurys)
meaning "wide" and οψ (ops)
meaning "face, eye". In Greek mythology Europa was a Phoenician princess who was abducted and taken to Crete by Zeus
in the guise of a bull. She became the first queen of Crete, and later fathered Minos
by Zeus. The continent of Europe is named for her. This is also the name of a moon of Jupiter.
EVA f Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, English, Czech, Slovak, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Greek, Slovene, Bulgarian, Croatian, Russian, Georgian, Old Church Slavic, Biblical Latin
Form of EVE
used in various languages. This form is used in the Latin translation of the New Testament, while Hava
is used in the Latin Old Testament. The name appears in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin
(1852) belonging to the character Little Eva, whose real name is in fact Evangeline.... [more]
IRENE f English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, German, Dutch, Ancient Greek (Latinized), Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From Greek Ειρηνη (Eirene)
, derived from a word meaning "peace"
. This was the name of the Greek goddess who personified peace, one of the ‘Ωραι
(Horai). It was also borne by several early Christian saints. The name was common in the Byzantine Empire, notably being borne by an 8th-century empress, who was the first woman to lead the empire. She originally served as regent for her son, but later had him killed and ruled alone.... [more]
JEAN (2) f English, Scottish
Medieval English variant of Jehanne
). It was common in England and Scotland during the Middle Ages, but eventually became rare in England. It was reintroduced to the English-speaking world from Scotland in the 19th century.
MINERVA f Roman Mythology, English
Possibly derived from Latin mens
, 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.
NINA (1) f Russian, Italian, English, German, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Polish, Slovene, Czech, Slovak, Croatian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Belarusian
Short form of names that end in nina
, such as ANTONINA
. It was imported to Western Europe from Russia and Italy in the 19th century. This name also nearly coincides with the Spanish word niña
meaning "little girl"
NORMA f English, Italian, Literature
Created by Felice Romani for the main character in the opera Norma
(1831). He may have based it on Latin norma
"rule". This name is also frequently used as a feminine form of NORMAN
OCTAVIA f English, Spanish, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of OCTAVIUS
. Octavia was the wife of Mark Antony and the sister of the Roman emperor Augustus. In 19th-century England it was sometimes given to the eighth-born child.
OPHELIA f English, Literature
Derived from Greek οφελος (ophelos)
meaning "help, advantage"
. This name was probably created by the 15th-century poet Jacopo Sannazaro for a character in his poem Arcadia
. It was borrowed by Shakespeare for his play Hamlet
(1600), in which it belongs to Hamlet
's lover who eventually goes insane and drowns herself. In spite of this, the name has been used since the 19th century.
RACHEL f English, Hebrew, French, German, Dutch, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek, Biblical Hebrew
From the Hebrew name רָחֵל (Rachel)
. In the Old Testament this is the name of the favourite wife of Jacob
. Jacob was tricked by her father Laban
into marrying her older sister Leah
first, though in exchange for seven years of work Laban allowed Jacob to marry Rachel too. Initially barren and facing her husband's anger, she offered her handmaid Bilhah
to Jacob to bear him children. Eventually she was herself able to conceive, becoming the mother of Joseph
SOPHIA f English, Greek, German, Ancient Greek
in Greek. This was the name of an early, probably mythical, saint who died of grief after her three daughters were martyred during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. Legends about her probably arose as a result of a medieval misunderstanding of the phrase Hagia Sophia
"Holy Wisdom", which is the name of a large basilica in Constantinople.... [more]
TABITHA f English, Biblical, Biblical Greek
in Aramaic. Tabitha in the New Testament was a woman restored to life by Saint Peter
. Her name is translated into Greek as Dorcas
(see Acts 9:36
). As an English name, Tabitha
became common after the Protestant Reformation. It was popularized in the 1960s by the television show Bewitched
, in which Tabitha (sometimes spelled Tabatha) is the daughter of the main character.
TERESA f Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan, Polish, Finnish, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English
Form of THERESA
used in several languages. Saint Teresa of Ávila was a 16th-century Spanish nun who reformed the Carmelite monasteries and wrote several spiritual books. It was also borne by the Albanian missionary Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), better known as Mother Teresa, who worked with the poor in India. She adopted the name in honour of the French saint Thérèse of Lisieux, who is the patron of missionaries.
UNDINE f Literature
Derived from Latin unda
. The word undine
was created by the medieval author Paracelsus, who used it for female water spirits.
VERONICA f English, Italian, Romanian, Late Roman
Latin alteration of BERENICE
, the spelling influenced by the ecclesiastical Latin phrase vera icon
meaning "true image"
. This was the name of a legendary saint who wiped Jesus
' face with a towel and then found his image imprinted upon it. Due to popular stories about her, the name was occasionally used in the Christian world in the Middle Ages. It was borne by the 17th-century Italian saint and mystic Veronica Giuliani. As an English name, it was not common until the 19th century, when it was imported from France and Scotland.
VIOLET f English
From the English word violet
for the purple flower, ultimately derived from Latin viola
. It was common in Scotland from the 16th century, and it came into general use as an English given name during the 19th century.