ADELAIDE f English, Italian, Portuguese
From the French form of the Germanic name Adalheidis
, which was composed of the elements adal
"noble" and heid
"kind, sort, type". It was borne in the 10th century by Saint Adelaide, the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great. The name became common in Britain in the 19th century due to the popularity of the German-born wife of King William IV, for whom the city of Adelaide in Australia was named in 1836.
AGNES f English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Ancient Greek (Latinized)
Latinized form of the Greek name ‘Αγνη (Hagne)
, derived from Greek ‘αγνος (hagnos)
meaning "chaste". Saint Agnes was a virgin martyred during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Diocletian. The name became associated with Latin agnus
"lamb", resulting in the saint's frequent depiction with a lamb by her side. Due to her renown, the name became common in Christian Europe, being especially popular in England in the Middle Ages.
AHAB m Biblical, Biblical Latin
Means "uncle", from Hebrew אָח ('ach)
"brother" and אֲב ('av)
"father". This was the name of a king of Israel, the husband of Jezebel
, as told in the Old Testament. He was admonished by Elijah
for his sinful behaviour. This name was later used by Herman Melville in his novel 'Moby-Dick' (1851), where it belongs to a sea captain obsessively hunting for a white whale.
ALFRED m English, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Polish, Dutch
Derived from the Old English name Ælfræd
, composed of the elements ælf
"elf" and ræd
"counsel". Alfred the Great was a 9th-century king of Wessex who fought unceasingly against the Danes living in northeast England. He was also a scholar, and he translated many Latin books into Old English. His fame helped to ensure the usage of this name even after the Norman conquest, when most Old English names were replaced by Norman ones. It became rare by the end of the Middle Ages, but was revived in the 18th century.... [more]
ALICE f English, French, Portuguese, Italian
From the Old French name Aalis
, a short form of Adelais
, itself a short form of the Germanic name Adalheidis
). This name became popular in France and England in the 12th century. It was borne by the heroine of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' (1865) and 'Through the Looking Glass' (1871).
AMARYLLIS f Literature
Derived from Greek αμαρυσσω (amarysso)
"to sparkle". This was the name of a heroine in Virgil
's epic poem 'Eclogues'. The amaryllis flower is named for her.
AMBER f English, Dutch
From the English word amber
that denotes either the gemstone, which is formed from fossil resin, or the orange-yellow colour. The word ultimately derives from Arabic عنبر ('anbar)
. It began to be used as a given name in the late 19th century, but it only became popular after the release of Kathleen Winsor's novel 'Forever Amber' (1944).
AMELIA f English, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Dutch, German, Ancient Germanic
Variant of AMALIA
, though it is sometimes confused with EMILIA
, which has a different origin. The name became popular in England after the German House of Hanover came to the British throne in the 18th century - it was borne by daughters of George II and George III. Another famous bearer was Amelia Earhart (1897-1937), the first woman to make a solo flight over the Atlantic Ocean.
ANNE (1) f French, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, German, Dutch, Basque
French form of ANNA
. In the 13th-century it was imported to England, where it was also commonly spelled Ann
. The name was borne by a 17th-century English queen and also by the second wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn (the mother of Queen Elizabeth I), who was eventually beheaded in the Tower of London. This is also the name of the heroine in 'Anne of Green Gables' (1908) by Canadian author L. M. Montgomery.
ANTIGONE f Greek Mythology
Derived from Greek αντι (anti)
"against, compared to, like" and γονη (gone)
"birth, offspring". In Greek legend Antigone was the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta. King Creon of Thebes declared that her slain brother Polynices was to remain unburied, a great dishonour. She disobeyed and gave him a proper burial, and for this she was sealed alive in a cave.
ANTONIA f Italian, Spanish, English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Polish, Romanian, Greek, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of Antonius
ARAMINTA f English (Rare)
Meaning unknown. This name was (first?) used by William Congreve in his comedy 'The Old Bachelor' (1693) and later by Sir John Vanbrugh in his comedy 'The Confederacy' (1705). This was the real name of abolitionist Harriet Tubman (1820-1913), who was born Araminta Ross.
ARIEL m & f Hebrew, English, French, Biblical, Biblical Greek
Means "lion of God" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament it is used as another name for the city of Jerusalem. Shakespeare used it as the name of a spirit in his play 'The Tempest' (1611), and one of the moons of Uranus bears this name in his honour. As an English name, it became more common for females in the 1980s, especially after it was used for the title character in the Walt Disney film 'The Little Mermaid' (1989).
ARLO m English
Meaning uncertain. It was perhaps inspired by the fictional place name Arlo Hill from the poem 'The Faerie Queene' (1590) by Edmund Spenser. Spenser probably got Arlo by altering the real Irish place name Aherlow, which is Gaelic meaning "between two highlands".
ARTHUR m English, French, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
The meaning of this name is unknown. It could be derived from the Celtic elements artos
"bear" combined with viros
"man" or rigos
"king". Alternatively it could be related to an obscure Roman family name Artorius
. Arthur is the name of the central character in Arthurian legend, a 6th-century king of the Britons who resisted Saxon invaders. He may or may not have been a real person. He first appears in Welsh poems and chronicles (some possibly as early as the 7th century) but his character was not developed until the chronicles of the 12th-century Geoffrey of Monmouth.... [more]
ATTICUS m Literature
From a Roman name meaning "from Attica" in Latin. Attica is the region surrounding Athens in Greece. The author Harper Lee used this name in her novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (1960).
BAMBI f English
Derived from Italian bambina
meaning "young girl". The American novelist Marjorie Benton Cooke used it in her novel 'Bambi' (1914). This was also the name of a male deer in a cartoon by Walt Disney, which was based on a 1923 novel by Swiss author Felix Salten.
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.
BEAU m English
Means "beautiful" in French. It has been occasionally used as an American given name since the late 19th century. It appears in Margaret Mitchell's novel 'Gone with the Wind' (1936) as the name of Ashley and Melanie's son.
BEDIVERE m Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
From the Welsh name Bedwyr
, which is of unknown meaning. In Arthurian legends Bedivere was one of the original companions of King Arthur
. He first appears in early Welsh tales, and his story was later expanded by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century. He is the one who throws the sword Excalibur into the lake at the request of the dying Arthur.
BELLA f English
Short form of ISABELLA
and other names ending in bella
. It is also associated with the Italian word bella
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.
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).
BIANCA f Italian, Romanian
Italian cognate of BLANCHE
. Shakespeare used characters named Bianca in 'Taming of the Shrew' (1593) and 'Othello' (1603).
BONNIE f English
Means "pretty" from the Scottish word bonnie
, which was itself derived from Middle French bon
"good". It has been in use as an American given name since the 19th century, and it became especially popular after the movie 'Gone with the Wind' (1939), in which it was the nickname of Scarlett's daughter.
BRONTE m & f English (Rare)
From a surname, an Anglicized form of Irish Ó Proinntigh
meaning "descendant of Proinnteach". The given name Proinnteach
meant "bestower" in Gaelic. The Brontë sisters - Charlotte, Emily, and Anne - were 19th-century English novelists. Their father changed the spelling of the family surname from Brunty
, possibly to make it coincide with Greek βροντη
BRYONY f English (Rare)
From the name of a type of Eurasian vine, formerly used as medicine. It ultimately derives from Greek βρυω (bryo)
CARADOG m Welsh
Welsh form of CARATACOS
. This is the name of several figures in Welsh history and legend, including a 6th-century king of Gwent and a Knight of the Round Table in Arthurian romance.
CELIA f English, Spanish
Feminine form of the Roman family name CAELIUS
. Shakespeare used it in his play 'As You Like It' (1599), which introduced the name to the English-speaking public at large. It is sometimes used as a short form of CECILIA
CHARLES m English, French
From the Germanic name Karl
, which was derived from a Germanic word meaning "man". However, an alternative theory states that it is derived from the common Germanic name element hari
meaning "army, warrior".... [more]
CHRISTABEL f English (Rare)
Combination of CHRISTINA
and the name suffix bel
. This name occurs in medieval literature, and was later used by Samuel Coleridge in his poem 'Christabel' (1800).
CHRISTOPHER m English
From the Late Greek name Χριστοφορος (Christophoros)
meaning "bearing CHRIST
", derived from Χριστος (Christos)
combined with φερω (phero)
"to bear, to carry". Early Christians used it as a metaphorical name, expressing that they carried Christ in their hearts. In the Middle Ages, literal interpretations of the name's etymology led to legends about a Saint Christopher who carried the young Jesus
across a river. He has come to be regarded as the patron saint of travellers.... [more]
CINDERELLA f Literature
From the French name Cendrillon
which means "little ashes". This is best known as the main character in the fairy tale 'Cinderella'.
CLARIBEL f English
Combination of CLARA
and the popular name suffix bel
. This name was used by Edmund Spenser in his poem 'The Faerie Queene' (in the form Claribell
) and by Shakespeare in his play 'The Tempest' (1611). Alfred Lord Tennyson also wrote a poem entitled 'Claribel' (1830).
CLEOPATRA f Ancient Greek (Latinized)
From the Greek name Κλεοπατρα (Kleopatra)
which meant "glory of the father", derived from κλεος (kleos)
"glory" combined with πατηρ (pater)
"father" (genitive πατρος
), This was the name of queens of Egypt from the Ptolemaic royal family, including Cleopatra VII, the mistress of both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. After being defeated by Augustus she committed suicide by allowing herself to be bitten by an asp. Shakespeare's tragedy 'Antony and Cleopatra' (1606) is based on her.
CORA f English, German, Greek Mythology (Latinized)
Latinized form of KORE
. It was not used as a given name in the English-speaking world until after it was employed by James Fenimore Cooper for a character in his novel 'The Last of the Mohicans' (1826). In some cases it may be a short form of CORDULA
or other names beginning with a similar sound.
CORDELIA f English
, possibly a Celtic name of unknown meaning. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Cordeilla was the youngest of the three daughters of King Lear and the only one to remain loyal to her father. When adapting the character for his play 'King Lear' (1606), Shakespeare altered the spelling to Cordelia
CORINNA f English, German, Ancient Greek (Latinized)
Latinized form of the Greek name Κοριννα (Korinna)
, which was derived from κορη (kore)
"maiden". This was the name of a Greek lyric poet of the 5th century BC. The Roman poet Ovid
used it for the main female character in his book 'Amores'. In the modern era it has been in use since the 17th century, when Robert Herrick used it in his poem 'Corinna's going a-Maying'.
COSETTE f French, Literature
From French chosette
meaning "little thing". This is the nickname of the illegitimate daughter of Fantine in Victor Hugo's novel 'Les Misérables' (1862). Her real name is Euphrasie
, though it is seldom used. In the novel young Cosette is the ward of the cruel Thénardiers until she is retrieved by Jean Valjean.
CUTHBERT m English (Rare)
Derived from the Old English elements cuþ
"famous" and beorht
"bright". Saint Cuthbert was a 6th-century hermit who became the bishop of Lindisfarne, an island off the coast of England. He was known as performer of healing miracles. Because of the saint, this name remained in use in England even after the Norman conquest. It became rare after the Protestant Reformation, but it was (briefly) revived in the 19th century.
DAISY f English
Simply from the English word for the white flower, ultimately derived from Old English dægeseage
meaning "day eye". It was first used as a given name in the 19th century, at the same time many other plant and flower names were coined.
DAVID m English, Hebrew, French, Scottish, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Czech, Slovene, Russian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Romanian, Biblical, Biblical Latin
From the Hebrew name דָּוִד (Dawid)
, which was probably derived from Hebrew דוד (dwd)
meaning "beloved". David was the second and greatest of the kings of Israel, ruling in the 10th century BC. Several stories about him are told in the Old Testament, including his defeat of Goliath
, a giant Philistine. According to the New Testament, Jesus
was descended from him.... [more]
DEMELZA f English (British)
From a Cornish place name meaning "fort of Maeldaf". It has been used as a given name since the middle of the 20th century. It was popularized in the 1970s by a character from the British television series 'Poldark', which was set in Cornwall.
DORIAN m English, French
The name was first used by Oscar Wilde in his novel 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' (1891), which tells the story of a man whose portrait ages while he stays young. Wilde may have taken it from the name of the ancient Greek tribe the Dorians, or from the surname DORAN
DOROTHEA f German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, English, Late Greek
Feminine form of the Late Greek name Δωροθεος (Dorotheos)
, which meant "gift of God" from Greek δωρον (doron)
"gift" and θεος (theos)
"god". The name Theodore
is composed of the same elements in reverse order. Dorothea was the name of two early saints, notably the 4th-century martyr Dorothea of Caesarea. It was also borne by the 14th-century Saint Dorothea of Montau, who was the patron saint of Prussia.
DOROTHY f English
Usual English form of DOROTHEA
. It has been in use since the 16th century. The author L. Frank Baum used it for the central character in his fantasy novel 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' (1900).
EBENEZER m Biblical
Means "stone of help" in Hebrew. This was the name of a monument erected by Samuel
in the Old Testament. Charles Dickens used it for the miserly character Ebenezer Scrooge in his novel 'A Christmas Carol' (1843).
EDITH f English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch
From the Old English name Eadgyð
, derived from the elements ead
"wealth, fortune" and gyð
"war". It was popular among Anglo-Saxon royalty, being borne for example by Saint Eadgyeth;, the daughter of King Edgar the Peaceful. The name remained common after the Norman conquest. It became rare after the 15th century, but was revived in the 19th century.
ELAINE f English, Arthurian Romance
From an Old French form of HELEN
. It appears in Arthurian legend; in Thomas Malory's 15th-century compilation 'Le Morte d'Arthur' Elaine was the daughter of Pelleas, the lover of Lancelot
, and the mother of Galahad
. It was not commonly used as an English given name until after the appearance of Tennyson's Arthurian epic 'Idylls of the King' (1859).
ELEANOR f English
From the Old French form of the Occitan name Aliénor
. Among the name's earliest bearers was the influential Eleanor of Aquitaine (12th century), who was the queen of Louis VII, the king of France, and later Henry II, the king of England. She was named Aenor
after her mother, and was called by the Occitan phrase alia Aenor
"the other AENOR
" in order to distinguish her from her mother. However, there appear to be examples of bearers prior to Eleanor of Aquitaine. It is not clear whether they were in fact Aenors who were retroactively recorded as having the name Eleanor, or whether there is an alternative explanation for the name's origin.... [more]
ELIZABETH f English, Biblical
From Ελισαβετ (Elisabet)
, the Greek form of the Hebrew name אֱלִישֶׁבַע ('Elisheva')
meaning "my God is an oath" or perhaps "my God is abundance". The Hebrew form appears in the Old Testament where Elisheba is the wife of Aaron
, while the Greek form appears in the New Testament where Elizabeth is the mother of John
the Baptist.... [more]
ELLEN (1) f English
Medieval English form of HELEN
. This was the usual spelling of the name until the 17th century, when Helen
became more common.
ELOISE f English
From the Old French name Héloïse
, which is probably from the Germanic name Helewidis
, composed of the elements heil
"hale, healthy" and wid
"wide". It is sometimes associated with the Greek word ‘ηλιος (helios)
"sun" or the name Louise
, though there is not likely an etymological connection. This name was borne in the 12th century by Saint Eloise, the wife of the French theologian Peter Abelard. She became a nun after her husband was castrated by her uncle.... [more]
EMMA f English, French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Finnish, Dutch, German, Ancient Germanic
Originally a short form of Germanic names that began with the element ermen
meaning "whole" or "universal". It was introduced to England by Emma of Normandy, who was the wife both of king Ethelred II (and by him the mother of Edward the Confessor) and later of king Canute. It was also borne by an 11th-century Austrian saint, who is sometimes called Hemma
EMMELINE f English (Archaic)
From an Old French form of the Germanic name Amelina
, originally a diminutive of Germanic names beginning with the element amal
meaning "work". The Normans introduced this name to England.
ÉOWYN f Literature
Means "horse joy" in Old English. This name was invented by J. R. R. Tolkien who used Old English to represent the Rohirric language. In his novel 'The Lord of the Rings' (1954) Eowyn is the niece of King Theoden of Rohan. She slays the Lord of the Nazgul in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
EPONINE f Literature
Meaning unknown. Victor Hugo used this name in his novel 'Les Misérables' (1862) for a daughter of the Thénardiers. Her mother got her name from a romance novel.
ESMERALDA f Spanish, Portuguese, English, Literature
Means "emerald" in Spanish and Portuguese. Victor Hugo used this name in his novel 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (1831), in which Esmeralda is the Gypsy girl who is loved by Quasimodo. It has occasionally been used in the English-speaking world since that time.
ESTELLA f English
Latinate form of ESTELLE
. This was the name of the heroine, Estella Havisham, in Charles Dickens' novel 'Great Expectations' (1860).
ETHEL f English
Short form of names beginning with the Old English element æðel
meaning "noble". It was coined in the 19th century, when many Old English names were revived. It was popularized by the novels 'The Newcomes' (1855) by William Makepeace Thackeray and 'The Daisy Chain' (1856) by C. M. Yonge. A famous bearer was American actress and singer Ethel Merman (1908-1984).
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
Latinate form of EVE
. This form is used in the Latin translation of the New Testament, while Hava
is used in the Latin Old Testament. It is also a variant transcription of Russian YEVA
. This 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.
EVANGELINE f English
Means "good news" from Greek ευ (eu)
"good" and αγγελμα (angelma)
"news, message". It was (first?) used by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his epic poem 'Evangeline' (1847). It also appears in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' (1852) as the full name of the character Eva.
EVE f English, Biblical
From the Hebrew name חַוָּה (Chawwah)
, which was derived from the Hebrew word חוה (chawah)
"to breathe" or the related word חיה (chayah)
"to live". According to the Old Testament Book of Genesis, Eve and Adam
were the first humans. God created her from one of Adam's ribs to be his companion. At the urging of a serpent she ate the forbidden fruit and shared some with Adam, causing their expulsion from the Garden of Eden
EVELINA f English, Italian, Swedish
Latinate form of AVELINE
. It was revived by the author Fanny Burney for the heroine of her first novel 'Evelina' (1778). It is often regarded as a variant of the related name EVELYN
or an elaboration of EVE
FAY f English
Derived from Middle English faie
meaning "fairy", ultimately (via Old French) from Latin fata
meaning "the Fates". It appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Arthurian legends in the name of Morgan le Fay. It has been used as a given name since the 19th century. In some cases it may be used as a short form of FAITH
FELICITY f English
From the English word felicity
meaning "happiness", which ultimately derives from Latin felicitas
"good luck". This was one of the virtue names adopted by the Puritans around the 17th century. It can sometimes be used as an English form of the Latin name FELICITAS
. This name was revived in the late 1990s after the appearance of the television series 'Felicity'.
FIAMMETTA f Italian
Derived from Italian fiamma
"fire" combined with a diminutive suffix.
FIONA f Scottish, English
Feminine form of FIONN
. This name was (first?) used by Scottish poet James Macpherson in his poem 'Fingal' (1762).
FLEUR f French, Dutch, English (Rare)
Means "flower" in French. This was the name of a character in John Galsworthy's novels 'The Forsyte Saga' (1922).
FRANCIS m & f English, French
English form of the Late Latin name Franciscus
which meant "Frenchman", ultimately from the Germanic tribe of the Franks, who were named for a type of spear that they used. This name was borne by the 13th-century Saint Francis of Assisi, who was originally named Giovanni but was given the nickname Francesco by his father, an admirer of the French. Francis went on to renounce his father's wealth and devote his life to the poor, founding the Franciscan order of friars. Later in his life he apparently received the stigmata.... [more]
FREDERICK m English
English form of a Germanic name meaning "peaceful ruler", derived from frid
"peace" and ric
"ruler, power". This name has long been common in continental Germanic-speaking regions, being borne by rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia, and Prussia. Notables among these rulers include the 12th-century Holy Roman Emperor and crusader Frederick I Barbarossa, the 13th-century emperor and patron of the arts Frederick II, and the 18th-century Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great.... [more]
GALADRIEL f Literature
Means "maiden crowned with a radiant garland" in Sindarin. Galadriel was a Noldorin elf princess renowned for her beauty and wisdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels. The elements are galad
"radiant" and riel
"garlanded maiden". Alatáriel
is the Quenya form of her name.
GALAHAD m Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown. In Arthurian legend Sir Galahad was the son of Lancelot
. He was the most pure of the Knights of the Round Table, and he was the only one to succeed in finding the Holy Grail. He first appears in the medieval French 'Lancelot-Grail' cycle.
GARETH m Welsh, English (British), Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown. It first appears in this form in Thomas Malory's 15th-century compilation of Arthurian legends 'Le Morte d'Arthur', in which Gareth was a Knight of the Round Table, the brother of Sir Gawain
. Malory based the name on Gahariet
, which was the name of a similar Arthurian character in French sources. It may ultimately have a Welsh origin, possibly related to gwaredd
GAWAIN m Welsh, Arthurian Romance
Meaning uncertain, from the Latin form Walganus
used by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth. This was the name of a nephew of King Arthur
and one of the Knights of the Round Table in Arthurian legend. He can be identified with the earlier Welsh hero Gwalchmei, and it is likely that the name derives from GWALCHMEI
. Alternatively it may have a different Celtic or even a Germanic origin. Gawain was a popular hero in medieval stories such as the 14th-century romantic poem 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'.
GEORGE m English, Romanian
From the Greek name Γεωργιος (Georgios)
which was derived from the Greek word γεωργος (georgos)
meaning "farmer, earthworker", itself derived from the elements γη (ge)
"earth" and εργον (ergon)
"work". Saint George was a 3rd-century Roman soldier from Palestine who was martyred during the persecutions of emperor Diocletian. Later legends describe his defeat of a dragon, with which he was often depicted in medieval art.... [more]
GERALD m English, German
From a Germanic name meaning "rule of the spear", from the elements ger
"spear" and wald
"rule". The Normans brought this name to Britain. Though it died out in England during the Middle Ages, it remained common in Ireland. It was revived in the English-speaking world in 19th century.
GERTRUDE f English, Dutch
Means "spear of strength", derived from the Germanic elements ger
"spear" and thrud
"strength". Saint Gertrude the Great was a 13th-century nun and mystic writer. It was probably introduced to England by settlers from the Low Countries in the 15th century. Shakespeare used the name in his play 'Hamlet' (1600) for the mother of the title character. A famous bearer was the American writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946).
GLORIA f English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German
Means "glory" in Latin. The name (first?) appeared in E. D. E. N. Southworth's novel 'Gloria' (1891) and subsequently in George Bernard Shaw's play 'You Never Can Tell' (1898). It was popularized in the early 20th century by American actress Gloria Swanson (1899-1983). Another famous bearer is feminist Gloria Steinem (1934-).
GREGOR m German, Scottish, Slovak, Slovene
German, Scottish, Slovak and Slovene form of GREGORY
. A famous bearer was Gregor Mendel (1822-1884), a Czech monk and scientist who did experiments in genetics.
GUINEVERE f Arthurian Romance
From the Norman French form of the Welsh name Gwenhwyfar
, derived from the elements gwen
meaning "fair, white" and sebara
meaning "phantom, magical being". In Arthurian legend she was the beautiful wife of King Arthur
. According to the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, she was seduced by Mordred
before the battle of Camlann, which led to the deaths of both Mordred and Arthur. According to the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes, she engaged in an adulterous affair with Sir Lancelot
GWALCHMEI m Welsh Mythology
Derived from Welsh gwalch
"hawk", possibly combined with mei
"May (the month)". This is the name of a character in Welsh legend. He is probably the antecedent of Gawain
from Arthurian romance.
GWENDOLEN f Welsh
Means "white ring", derived from the Welsh elements gwen
"white, fair, blessed" and dolen
"ring". This was the name of a mythical queen of the Britons who defeated her husband in battle, as told by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
GYNETH f Literature
Perhaps a variant of GWYNETH
. Sir Walter Scott used this name for the daughter of King Arthur
in his work 'The Bridal of Triermain' (1813).
HARPER f & m English
From an Old English surname which originally belonged to a person who played the harp or who made harps. A notable bearer was the American author Harper Lee (1926-2016), who wrote 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.
HECTOR m English, French, Greek Mythology (Latinized), Arthurian Romance
Latinized form of Greek ‘Εκτωρ (Hektor)
, which was derived from ‘εκτωρ (hektor)
"holding fast", ultimately from εχω (echo)
meaning "to hold, to possess". In Greek legend Hector was one of the Trojan champions who fought against the Greeks. After he killed Achilles
' friend Patroclus
in battle, he was himself brutally slain by Achilles, who proceeded to tie his dead body to a chariot and drag it about. This name also appears in Arthurian legends belonging to King Arthur
's foster father.... [more]
HEIDI f German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, English
German diminutive of ADELHEID
. This is the name of the title character in the children's novel 'Heidi' (1880) by Johanna Spyri. The name began to be used in the English-speaking world shortly after the 1937 release of the movie adaptation, which starred Shirley Temple.
HERMIONE f Greek Mythology
Derived from the name of the Greek messenger god HERMES
. In Greek myth Hermione was the daughter of Menelaus and Helen. This is also the name of the wife of Leontes in Shakespeare's play 'The Winter's Tale' (1610). It is now closely associated with the character Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series of books, first released in 1997.
HESTER f English, Biblical Latin
Latin form of ESTHER
. Like Esther
, it has been used in England since the Protestant Reformation. Nathaniel Hawthorne used it for the heroine of his novel 'The Scarlet Letter' (1850), Hester Prynne.
HOLDEN m English (Modern)
From a surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "deep valley" in Old English. This is the name of the main character in J. D. Salinger's novel 'The Catcher in the Rye' (1951), Holden Caufield.
HROÐGAR m Anglo-Saxon
Old English cognate of Hrodger
). The name became unused after the Normans introduced Hrodger
after their invasion. In the Old English poem 'Beowulf' this is the name of the Danish king.
ICHABOD m Biblical
Means "no glory" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament he is the grandson of Eli
and the son of Phinehas
. This name was also used by Washington Irving for Ichabod Crane, the main character in his short story 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' (1820).
IDA f English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Slovene, Croatian, Ancient Germanic
Derived from the Germanic element id
meaning "work, labour". The Normans brought this name to England, though it eventually died out there in the Middle Ages. It was strongly revived in the 19th century, in part due to the heroine in Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem 'The Princess' (1847), which was later adapted into the play 'Princess Ida' (1884) by Gilbert and Sullivan.... [more]
IGRAINE f Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown, from Igerna
, the Latinized form of Welsh Eigyr
. In Arthurian legend she is the mother of King Arthur
by Uther Pendragon and the mother of Morgan
le Fay by Gorlois. The Welsh form Eigyr
was rendered into Latin as Igerna
by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth.
IMOGEN f English (British)
The name of a princess in the play 'Cymbeline' (1609) by Shakespeare. He based her on a legendary character named Innogen
, but the name was printed incorrectly and never corrected. The name Innogen
is probably derived from Gaelic inghean
INDIA f English
From the name of the country, which is itself derived from the name of the Indus River. The river's name is ultimately from Sanskrit सिन्धु (Sindhu)
meaning "body of trembling water, river".
ISOLDE f English (Rare), German, Arthurian Romance
The origins of this name are uncertain, though some Celtic roots have been suggested. It is possible that the name is ultimately Germanic, perhaps from a hypothetic name like Ishild
, composed of the elements is
"ice, iron" and hild
JACOB m English, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Jewish, Biblical
From the Latin Iacobus
, which was from the Greek Ιακωβος (Iakobos)
, which was from the Hebrew name יַעֲקֹב (Ya'aqov)
. In the Old Testament Jacob (later called Israel
) is the son of Isaac
and the father of the twelve founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. He was born holding his twin brother Esau
's heel, and his name is explained as meaning "holder of the heel" or "supplanter", because he twice deprived his brother of his rights as the firstborn son (see Genesis 27:36). Other theories claim that it is in fact derived from a hypothetical name like יַעֲקֹבְאֵל (Ya'aqov'el)
meaning "may God protect".... [more]
JANE f English
Medieval English form of Jehanne
, an Old French feminine form of Iohannes
). This became the most common feminine form of John
in the 17th century, surpassing Joan
JANICE f English
Elaborated form of JANE
, created by Paul Leicester Ford for his novel 'Janice Meredith' (1899).
JAY (1) m English
Short form of names beginning with the sound J
, such as JAMES
. It was originally used in America in honour of founding father John Jay (1749-1825), whose surname was derived from the jaybird.
JESSE m English, Dutch, Biblical
From the Hebrew name יִשַׁי (Yishay)
which possibly means "gift". In the Old Testament Jesse is the father of King David
. It began to be used as an English given name after the Protestant Reformation. A famous bearer was Jesse James (1847-1882), an American outlaw who held up banks and stagecoaches. He was eventually shot by a fellow gang member for a reward. Another famous bearer was the American athlete Jesse Owens (1913-1980), whose real name was James Cleveland (or J. C.) Owens.
JOLYON m English (Rare)
Medieval form of JULIAN
. The author John Galsworthy used it for a character in his 'Forsyte Saga' novels (published between 1906 and 1922).
KATE f English, Croatian
Diminutive of KATHERINE
, often used independently. It has been used in England since the Middle Ages. This was the name of the woman who Petruchio marries and tries to tame in Shakespeare's comedy 'Taming of the Shrew' (1593). A famous bearer is the British actress Kate Winslet (1975-).
KENNETH m Scottish, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
Anglicized form of both COINNEACH
. This name was borne by the Scottish king Kenneth (Cináed) mac Alpin, who united the Scots and Picts in the 9th century. It was popularized outside of Scotland by Sir Walter Scott, who used it for the hero in his novel 'The Talisman' (1825). A famous bearer was the British novelist Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932), who wrote 'The Wind in the Willows'.
KIM (1) f & m English
At the present it is usually considered a short form of KIMBERLY
, but it in fact predates it as a given name. The author Rudyard Kipling used it for the title hero of his novel 'Kim' (1901), though in this case it was short for KIMBALL
. In her novel 'Show Boat' (1926) Edna Ferber used it for a female character who was born on the Mississippi River and was named from the initials of the states Kentucky, Illinois and Mississippi. The name was popularized in America by the actresses Kim Hunter (1922-2002) and Kim Novak (1933-), both of whom assumed it as a stage name.
LANCELOT m Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown, possibly an Old French diminutive of Lanzo
). In Arthurian legend Lancelot was the bravest of the Knights of the Round Table. He became the lover of Arthur
's wife Guinevere
. His earliest appearance is in the works of the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes.
LAURA f English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, Polish, Slovene, Croatian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, Late Roman
Feminine form of the Late Latin name Laurus
, which meant "laurel". This meaning was favourable, since in ancient Rome the leaves of laurel trees were used to create victors' garlands. The name was borne by the 9th-century Spanish martyr Saint Laura, who was a nun thrown into a vat of molten lead by the Moors. It was also the name of the subject of poems by the 14th-century Italian poet Petrarch.... [more]
LAYLA f Arabic, English
Means "night" in Arabic. This was the name of the object of romantic poems written by the 7th-century poet known as Qays. The story of Qays and Layla became a popular romance in medieval Arabia and Persia. The name became used in the English-speaking world after the 1970 release of the song 'Layla' by Derek and the Dominos, the title of which was inspired by the medieval story.
LENORE f English
Short form of ELEANOR
. This was the name of the departed love of the narrator in Edgar Allan Poe's poem 'The Raven' (1845).
LEOPOLD m German, Dutch, English, Slovene, Polish
Derived from the Germanic elements leud
"people" and bald
"bold". The spelling was altered due to association with Latin leo
"lion". This name was common among German royalty, first with the Babenbergs and then the Habsburgs. Saint Leopold was a 12th-century Babenberg margrave of Austria, who is now considered the patron of that country. It was also borne by two Habsburg Holy Roman Emperors, as well as three kings of Belgium. Since the 19th century this name has been occasionally used in England, originally in honour of Queen Victoria's uncle, a king of Belgium, after whom she named one of her sons. It was later used by James Joyce for the main character, Leopold Bloom, in his novel 'Ulysses' (1920).
LOT (2) m Arthurian Romance
From the name of the region of Lothian in southern Scotland, of unknown meaning. A king of Lothian by this name appears in early Latin and Welsh texts (as Leudonus
respectively). He was inserted into Arthurian legend by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, who makes him the father of Gawain
LOUIS m French, English, Dutch
French form of Ludovicus
, the Latinized form of LUDWIG
. This was the name of 18 kings of France, starting with Louis I the son of Charlemagne
. Others include Louis IX (Saint Louis) who led two crusades and Louis XIV (called the Sun King) who was the ruler of France during the height of its power, the builder of the Palace of Versailles, and the longest reigning monarch in the history of Europe. It was also borne by kings of Germany (as Ludwig
), Hungary (as Lajos
), and other places.... [more]
MADELINE f English, French
English form of MAGDALENE
. This is the name of the heroine in a series of children's books by Ludwig Bemelmans, first published 1939.
MARGARET f English
Derived from Latin Margarita
, which was from Greek μαργαριτης (margarites)
meaning "pearl", probably ultimately a borrowing from Sanskrit मञ्यरी (manyari)
. Saint Margaret, the patron of expectant mothers, was martyred at Antioch in the 4th century. Later legends told of her escape from a dragon, with which she was often depicted in medieval art. The saint was popular during the Middle Ages, and her name has been widely used in the Christian world.... [more]
MARIA f & m Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Occitan, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Faroese, Dutch, Frisian, Greek, Polish, Romanian, English, Finnish, Corsican, Sardinian, Basque, Russian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Biblical Greek, Biblical Latin, Old Church Slavic
Latin form of Greek Μαρια
, from Hebrew מִרְיָם
is the usual form of the name in many European languages, as well as a secondary form in other languages such as English (where the common spelling is Mary
). In some countries, for example Germany, Poland and Italy, Maria
is occasionally used as a masculine middle name.... [more]
MARIUS m Ancient Roman, Romanian, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, French
Roman family name which was derived either from MARS
, the name of the Roman god of War, or else from the Latin root mas, maris
meaning "male". Gaius Marius was a famous Roman consul of the 2nd century BC. Since the start of the Christian era, it has occasionally been used as a masculine form of MARIA
MARNIE f English
Possibly a diminutive of MARINA
. This name was brought to public attention by Alfred Hitchcock's movie 'Marnie' (1964), itself based on a 1961 novel by Winston Graham.
MARY f English, Biblical
Usual English form of Maria
, the Latin form of the New Testament Greek names Μαριαμ (Mariam)
and Μαρια (Maria)
- the spellings are interchangeable - which were from Hebrew מִרְיָם (Miryam)
, a name borne by the sister of Moses
in the Old Testament. The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including "sea of bitterness", "rebelliousness", and "wished for child". However it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry
"beloved" or mr
MATILDA f English, Swedish, Finnish
From the Germanic name Mahthildis
meaning "strength in battle", from the elements maht
"might, strength" and hild
"battle". Saint Matilda was the wife of the 10th-century German king Henry I the Fowler. The name was common in many branches of European royalty in the Middle Ages. It was brought to England by the Normans, being borne by the wife of William the Conqueror himself. Another notable royal by this name was a 12th-century daughter of Henry I of England, known as the Empress Matilda because of her first marriage to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V. She later invaded England, laying the foundations for the reign of her son Henry II.... [more]
MAVIS f English
From the name of the type of bird, also called the song thrush, ultimately derived from Old French. It was first used as a given name by the British author Marie Corelli, who used it for a character in her novel 'The Sorrows of Satan' (1895).
MELANIE f English, German, Dutch
, the French form of the Latin name Melania
, derived from Greek μελαινα (melaina)
meaning "black, dark". This was the name of a Roman saint who gave all her wealth to charity in the 5th century. Her grandmother was also a saint with the same name.... [more]
MERCY f English
From the English word mercy
, ultimately from Latin merces
"wages, reward", a derivative of merx
"goods, wares". This was one of the virtue names adopted by the Puritans in the 17th century.
MOLLY f English
Diminutive of MARY
. It developed from Malle
, other medieval diminutives. James Joyce used this name in his novel 'Ulysses' (1920), where it belongs to Molly Bloom, the wife of the main character.
MORDRED m Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
From Welsh Medraut
, meaning uncertain. In Arthurian legend Mordred was the illegitimate son (in some versions nephew) of King Arthur
. Mordred first appears briefly (as Medraut
) in the 10th-century 'Annales Cambriae', but he was not portrayed as a traitor until the chronicles of the 12th-century Geoffrey of Monmouth. While Arthur is away he seduces his wife Guinevere
and declares himself king. This prompts the battle of Camlann, which leads to the deaths of both Mordred and Arthur.
MORGAN (2) f Arthurian Romance
Modern form of Morgen
, which was used by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century for the Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay, who was unnamed in earlier stories. Geoffrey probably did not derive it from the Welsh masculine name Morgan
, which would have been spelled Morcant
in his time. He may have based it on the Irish name MUIRGEN
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).
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.
NEIL m Irish, 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]
NEMO m Literature
Means "nobody" in Latin. This was the name used by author Jules Verne for the captain of the Nautilus in his novel 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea' (1870).
NIGEL m English
, a medieval Latinized form of NEIL
. It was commonly associated with Latin niger
"black". It was revived in the 19th century, perhaps in part due to Sir Walter Scott's novel 'The Fortunes of Nigel' (1822).
NIMUE f Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown. In Arthurian legends this is the name of a sorceress, also known as the Lady of the Lake, Vivien, or Niniane. Various versions of the tales have Merlin
falling in love with her and becoming imprisoned by her magic. She first appears in the medieval French 'Lancelot-Grail' cycle.
OPHELIA f English, Literature
Derived from Greek οφελος (ophelos)
meaning "help". 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.
OWAIN m Welsh, Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
Probably a Welsh form of EUGENE
, though it might be derived from Welsh eoghunn
meaning "youth". This was the name of several figures from Welsh history and mythology. In Arthurian legend Owain (also called Yvain
in French sources) was one of the Knights of the Round Table, the son of King Urien and husband of the Lady of the Fountain. His character was based on that of Owain ap Urien, a 6th-century Welsh prince who fought against the Angles. This name was also borne by Owain Glyndwr, a 14th-century leader of Welsh resistance against English rule.
PAMELA f English
This name was invented in the late 16th century by the poet Sir Philip Sidney for use in his poem 'Arcadia'. He possibly intended it to mean "all sweetness" from Greek παν (pan)
"all" and μελι (meli)
"honey". It was later employed by author Samuel Richardson for the heroine in his novel 'Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded' (1740), after which time it became used as a given name. It did not become popular until the 20th century.
PERCIVAL m Arthurian Romance, English
Created by the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes for his poem 'Perceval, the Story of the Grail'. In the poem Perceval was one of King Arthur
's Knights of the Round Table who was given a glimpse of the Holy Grail. The character (and probably the name) of Perceval was based on that of the Welsh hero PEREDUR
. The spelling was perhaps altered under the influence of Old French percer val
"to pierce the valley".
PERDITA f Literature
Derived from Latin perditus
meaning "lost". Shakespeare created this name for the daughter of Hermione in his play 'The Winter's Tale' (1610).
PEREDUR m Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
Possibly means "hard spears" in Welsh. This was the name of several figures from Welsh mythology. It was later used by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Arthurian tales. The character of Percival
was probably based on him.
PETER m English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Slovene, Slovak, Biblical
Derived from the Greek Πετρος (Petros)
meaning "stone". This is a translation used in most versions of the New Testament of the name Cephas
, meaning "stone" in Aramaic, which was given to the apostle Simon
(compare Matthew 16:18 and John 1:42). Simon Peter was the most prominent of the apostles during Jesus' ministry and is often considered the first pope.... [more]
PHILIP m English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Biblical
From the Greek name Φιλιππος (Philippos)
which means "friend of horses", composed of the elements φιλος (philos)
"friend, lover" and ‘ιππος (hippos)
"horse". This was the name of five kings of Macedon, including Philip II the father of Alexander the Great. The name appears in the New Testament belonging to two people who are regarded as saints. First, one of the twelve apostles, and second, an early figure in the Christian church known as Philip the Deacon.... [more]
PIP m & f English
Diminutive of PHILIP
. This was the name of the main character in 'Great Expectations' (1860) by Charles Dickens.
QUENTIN m French, English
French form of the Roman name QUINTINUS
. It was borne by a 3rd-century saint, a missionary who was martyred in Gaul. The Normans introduced this name to England. In America it was brought to public attention by president Theodore Roosevelt's son Quentin Roosevelt (1897-1918), who was killed in World War I.
RAMONA f Spanish, Romanian, English
Feminine form of RAMÓN
. It was popularized in the English-speaking world by Helen Hunt Jackson's novel 'Ramona' (1884), as well as several subsequent movies based on the book.
ROSALIND f English
Derived from the Germanic elements hros
"horse" and linde
"soft, tender". The Normans introduced this name to England, though it was not common. During the Middle Ages its spelling was influenced by the Latin phrase rosa linda
"beautiful rose". The name was popularized by Edmund Spencer, who used it in his poetry, and by William Shakespeare, who used it for the heroine in his comedy 'As You Like It' (1599).
ROSS m Scottish, English
From a Scottish and English surname which originally indicated a person from a place called Ross
(such as the region of Ross in northern Scotland), derived from Gaelic ros
meaning "promontory, headland". A famous bearer of the surname was Sir James Clark Ross (1800-1862), an Antarctic explorer.
SANCHO m Spanish
Possibly a Spanish form of the Late Latin name Sanctius
, which was derived from the word sanctus
meaning "saintly, holy". Alternatively, Sancho
may be derived from an older Iberian name. This was the name of a 9th-century saint who was martyred by the Moors at Cordoba. It was also borne by several Spanish and Portuguese kings. Miguel de Cervantes used it in his novel 'Don Quixote' (1605), where it belongs to the squire of Don Quixote.
SAWYER m English (Modern)
From a surname meaning "sawer of wood" in Middle English. Mark Twain used it for the hero in his novel 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' (1876).
SCARLETT f English
From a surname which denoted a person who sold or made clothes made of scarlet (a kind of cloth, ultimately derived from Persian سقرلاط (saghrilat)
). Margaret Mitchell used this name for Scarlett O'Hara, the main character in her novel 'Gone with the Wind' (1936). Scarlett's name came from her grandmother's maiden name.
SCOUT f English (Rare)
From the English word scout
meaning "one who gathers information covertly", which is derived from Old French escouter
"to listen". Harper Lee used this name in her novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (1960).
SHERLOCK m Literature
Used by Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for his character Sherlock Holmes, who was a detective in Doyle's mystery stories beginning in 1887. The character's name was from an English surname meaning "shear lock", originally referring to a person with closely cut hair.
SIAVASH m Persian, Persian Mythology
Means "possessing black stallions" in Avestan. This is the name of a prince in the 11th-century Persian epic the 'Shahnameh'.
SØREN m Danish, Norwegian
Danish form of SEVERINUS
. Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish philosopher who is regarded as a precursor of existentialism.
SUSAN f English
English variant of SUSANNA
. This has been most common spelling since the 18th century. A notable bearer was the American feminist Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906).
TARA (1) f English
Anglicized form of the Irish place name Teamhair
, which possibly means "elevated place" in Gaelic. This was the name of the sacred hill near Dublin where the Irish high kings resided. It was popularized as a given name by the novel 'Gone with the Wind' (1936) and the subsequent movie adaptation (1939), in which it is the name of the O'Hara plantation.
TEAGAN m & f English (Modern)
From an Irish surname, an Anglicized form of Ó Tadhgáin
meaning "descendant of Tadhgán". The given name Tadhgán
is a diminutive of TADHG
TIFFANY f English
Medieval form of THEOPHANIA
. This name was traditionally given to girls born on the Epiphany (January 6), the festival commemorating the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus
. The name died out after the Middle Ages, but it was revived by the movie 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (1961), the title of which refers to the Tiffany's jewelry store in New York.
TITANIA f Literature
Perhaps based on Latin Titanius
meaning "of the Titans". This name was (first?) used by Shakespeare in his comedy 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (1595) where it is the name of queen of the fairies. This is also a moon of Uranus, named after the Shakespearian character.
TOM (1) m English, Dutch
Short form of THOMAS
. Tom Sawyer was the main character in several of Mark Twain's novels, first appearing in 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' (1876). Other famous bearers include American actors Tom Hanks (1956-) and Tom Cruise (1962-).
TOPSY f English (Rare)
From a nickname which is of unknown meaning, perhaps deriving from the English word top
URAL m Bashkir, Turkish
From the name of the Ural Mountains, of uncertain meaning, possibly from Turkic aral
meaning "island, boundary". This is the name of the title character in the Bashkir epic 'Ural-batyr'.
UTHER m Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
From the Welsh name Uthyr
, derived from Welsh uthr
"terrible". In Arthurian legend Uther was the father of King Arthur
. He appears in some early Welsh texts, but is chiefly known from the 12th-century chronicles of Geoffrey of Monmouth.
VANESSA f English, Italian, Portuguese, German, Dutch
Invented by author Jonathan Swift for his poem 'Cadenus and Vanessa' (1726). He arrived at it by rearranging the initial syllables of the first name and surname of Esther
Vanhomrigh, his close friend. Vanessa was later used as the name of a genus of butterfly. It was a rare given name until the mid-20th century, at which point it became fairly popular.
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.
VIVIEN (2) f Literature
Used by Alfred Lord Tennyson as the name of the Lady of the Lake in his Arthurian epic 'Idylls of the King' (1859). Tennyson may have based it on VIVIENNE
, but it possibly arose as a misreading of NINIAN
. A famous bearer was British actress Vivien Leigh (1913-1967), who played Scarlett O'Hara in 'Gone with the Wind'.
WALTER m English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Italian, Ancient Germanic
From a Germanic name meaning "ruler of the army", composed of the elements wald
"rule" and hari
"army". The Normans brought it to England, where it replaced the Old English cognate Wealdhere
. A famous bearer of the name was Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), a Scottish novelist who wrote 'Ivanhoe' and other notable works.
WENDY f English
In the case of the character from J. M. Barrie's play 'Peter Pan' (1904), it was created from the nickname fwendy
"friend", given to the author by a young friend. However, the name was used prior to the play (rarely), in which case it could be related to the Welsh name GWENDOLEN
and other names beginning with the element gwen
meaning "white, fair, blessed". The name only became common after Barrie's play ran.
WILBUR m English
From an English surname which was originally derived from the nickname Wildbor
meaning "wild boar" in Middle English. This name was borne by Wilbur Wright (1867-1912), one half of the Wright brothers, who together invented the first successful airplane. Wright was named after the Methodist minister Wilbur Fisk (1792-1839).
WINSTON m English
From a surname derived from an English place name, which was in turn derived from the Old English given name WYNNSTAN
. A famous bearer was Winston Churchill (1874-1965), the British prime minister during World War II. This name was also borne by the fictional Winston Smith, the protagonist in George Orwell's 1949 novel '1984'.