AGAMEMNON m Greek Mythology
Possibly meaning "very steadfast" in Greek. In Greek mythology he was the brother of Menelaus
. He led the Greek expedition to Troy to recover his brother's wife Helen
. After the Trojan War Agamemnon was killed by his wife Clytemnestra
AGRIPPA m & f Ancient Roman, Biblical
Roman cognomen of unknown meaning, possibly from Greek αγριος (agrios)
"wild" and ‘ιππος (hippos)
"horse" or possibly of Etruscan origin. It was also used as a praenomen, or given name, by the Furia and Menenia families. In the New Testament this name was borne by Herod Agrippa (a grandson of Herod the Great), the king of Israel who put the apostle James to death. It was also borne by the 1st-century BC Roman general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.
AJAX m Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From the Greek name Αιας (Aias)
, perhaps deriving from Greek αιαστης (aiastes)
"mourner" or αια (aia)
"earth, land". In Greek mythology this was the name of two of the heroes who fought for the Greeks in the Trojan War, the son of Telamon and the son of Oileus. When the armour of the slain hero Achilles
was not given to Ajax Telamonian, he became mad with jealousy and killed himself.
ANTHONY m English
English form of the Roman family name Antonius
, which is of unknown Etruscan origin. The most notable member of the Roman family was the general Marcus Antonius (called Mark Antony in English), who for a period in the 1st century BC ruled the Roman Empire jointly with Augustus. When their relationship turned sour, he and his mistress Cleopatra were attacked and forced to commit suicide, as related in Shakespeare's tragedy 'Antony and Cleopatra' (1606).... [more]
ANTONIO m Spanish, Italian, Croatian
Spanish and Italian form of Antonius
). A famous bearer was the Italian Renaissance painter Antonio Pisanello (c. 1395-1455). It is also the name of the main character in 'The Merchant of Venice' (1596) by William Shakespeare.
ARIEL m & f Hebrew, English, French, Spanish, 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).
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]
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).
AUGUSTUS m Ancient Roman, Dutch
Means "great" or "venerable", derived from Latin augere
"to increase". Augustus was the title given to Octavian
, the first Roman emperor. He was the adopted son of Julius Caesar who rose to power through a combination of military skill and political prowess. This was also the name of three kings of Poland.
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.
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).
BIANCA f Italian, Romanian
Italian cognate of BLANCHE
. Shakespeare used characters named Bianca in 'Taming of the Shrew' (1593) and 'Othello' (1603).
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.
BRANDON m English
From a surname which was derived from a place name meaning "hill covered with broom" in Old English. It is sometimes also used as a variant of BRENDAN
CASSANDRA f English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From the Greek name Κασσανδρα (Kassandra)
, derived from possibly κεκασμαι (kekasmai)
"to excel, to shine" and ανηρ (aner)
"man" (genitive ανδρος
). In Greek myth Cassandra was a Trojan princess, the daughter of Priam
. She was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo
, but when she spurned his advances he cursed her so nobody would believe her prophecies.... [more]
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]
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]
CICERO m Ancient Roman
Roman cognomen which meant "chickpea" from Latin cicer
. Marcus Tullius Cicero (known simply as Cicero) was a statesman, orator and author of the 1st century BC.
CLARENCE m English
From the Latin title Clarensis
which belonged to members of the British royal family. The title ultimately derives from the name of the town of Clare in Suffolk. As a given name it has been in use since the 19th century.
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).
CLAUDIUS m Ancient Roman
From a Roman family name which was possibly derived from Latin claudus
meaning "lame, crippled". This was the name of a patrician family prominent in Roman politics. The ancestor of the family was said to have been a 6th-century BC Sabine leader named Attius Clausus, who adopted the name Appius Claudius upon becoming a Roman citizen. The family produced several Roman emperors of the 1st century, including the emperor known simply as Claudius. He was poisoned by his wife Agrippina in order to bring her son Nero (Claudius's stepson) to power. The name was later borne by several early saints, including a 7th-century bishop of Besançon.
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.
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
CRESSIDA f Literature
Medieval form of CHRYSEIS
. Various medieval tales describe her as a woman of Troy, daughter of Calchus, who leaves her Trojan lover Troilus for the Greek hero Diomedes. Shakespeare's play 'Troilus and Cressida' (1602) was based on these tales.
CUPID m Roman Mythology (Anglicized)
From the Latin Cupido
meaning "desire". This was the name of the Roman god of love, the son of Venus
. He was portrayed as a winged, blindfolded boy, armed with a bow and arrows which caused the victim to fall in love. His Greek equivalent was Eros
CURTIS m English
From an English surname which originally meant "courteous" in Old French.
DEMETRIUS m Ancient Greek (Latinized)
Latinized form of the Greek name Δημητριος (Demetrios)
, which was derived from the name of the Greek goddess DEMETER (1)
. Kings of Macedon and the Seleucid kingdom have had this name. This was also the name of several early saints including a Saint Demetrius who was martyred in the 4th century.
DION m Ancient Greek, English
Short form of DIONYSIOS
and other Greek names beginning with the Greek element Διος (Dios)
meaning "of ZEUS
". This was the name of a 4th-century BC tyrant of Syracuse. It has been used as an American given name since the middle of the 20th century.
DOMITIUS m Ancient Roman
Roman family name which was probably derived from Latin domitus
meaning "having been tamed".
DORCAS f Biblical
Derived from Greek δορκας (dorkas)
meaning "gazelle". This is the Greek translation of the name Tabitha
in the New Testament (see Acts 9:36).
DUNCAN m Scottish, English
Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Donnchadh
, derived from Gaelic donn
"brown" and cath
"battle". This was the name of two kings of Scotland, including the one who was featured in Shakespeare's play 'Macbeth' (1606).
EDMUND m English, German, Polish
From the Old English elements ead
"wealth, fortune" and mund
"protection". This was the name of two Anglo-Saxon kings of England. It was also borne by two saints, including a 9th-century king of East Anglia who, according to tradition, was shot to death with arrows after refusing to divide his Christian kingdom with an invading pagan Danish leader. This Old English name remained in use after the Norman conquest (even being used by king Henry III for one of his sons), though it became less common after the 15th century.... [more]
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]
EMMANUEL m Biblical, French, English
From the Hebrew name עִמָּנוּאֵל ('Immanu'el)
meaning "God is with us". This was the foretold name of the Messiah in the Old Testament. It has been used in England since the 16th century in the spellings Emmanuel
, though it has not been widespread. The name has been more common in continental Europe, especially in Spain and Portugal (in the spellings Manuel
FLAVIUS m Ancient Roman
Roman family name which meant "golden" or "yellow-haired" from Latin flavus
"yellow, golden". Flavius was the family name of the 1st-century Roman emperors Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. It was used as a personal name by several later emperors, notably by Constantine
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]
GAIUS m Ancient Roman, Biblical Latin, Biblical
Roman praenomen, or given name, of uncertain meaning. It is possibly derived from Latin gaudere
"to rejoice", though it may be of unknown Etruscan origin. This was a very common Roman praenomen, the most famous bearers being Gaius Julius Caesar, the great leader of the Roman Republic, and his adopted son Gaius Octavius (later known as Augustus), the first Roman emperor. This name also appears in the New Testament belonging to a bishop of Ephesus who is regarded as a saint.
GALLUS m Ancient Roman
Roman family name which meant "rooster" in Latin. This was the name of a 7th-century Irish saint, a companion of Saint Columbanus, who later became a hermit in Switzerland.
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]
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).
GRAY m & f English
From an English surname meaning "grey", originally given to a person who had grey hair or clothing.
GREGORY m English
English form of Latin Gregorius
, which was from the Late Greek name Γρηγοριος (Gregorios)
, derived from γρηγορος (gregoros)
meaning "watchful, alert". This name was popular among early Christians, being borne by a number of important saints including Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus (3rd century), Saint Gregory the Illuminator (4th century), Saint Gregory of Nyssa (4th century), Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (4th century), and Saint Gregory of Tours (6th century). It was also borne by the 6th-century pope Saint Gregory I the Great, a reformer and Doctor of the Church, as well as 15 subsequent popes.... [more]
HAMLET m Literature, Armenian
Anglicized form of the Danish name Amleth
. Shakespeare used this name for the Prince of Denmark in his play 'Hamlet' (1600), which he based upon earlier Danish tales.
HARRY m English
Medieval English form of HENRY
. In modern times it is used as a diminutive of both Henry
. A famous bearer was American president Harry S. Truman (1884-1972). It is also the name of the boy wizard in J. K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' series of books, first released in 1997.
HERMIA f Literature
Feminine form of HERMES
. Shakespeare used this name in his comedy 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (1595).
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.
HERO (1) f Greek Mythology
Derived from Greek ‘ηρως (heros)
meaning "hero". In Greek legend she was the lover of Leander, who would swim across the Hellespont each night to meet her. He was killed on one such occasion when he got caught in a storm while in the water, and when Hero saw his dead body she drowned herself. This is also the name of a character in Shakespeare's play 'Much Ado About Nothing' (1599).
HORATIO m English
Variant of HORATIUS
. It was borne by the British admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), famous for his defeat of Napoleon's forces in the Battle of Trafalgar, in which he was himself killed. Since his time the name has been occasionally used in his honour.
HUBERT m English, German, Dutch, French, Polish, Ancient Germanic
Means "bright heart", derived from the Germanic elements hug
"heart, mind" and beraht
"bright". Saint Hubert was an 8th-century bishop of Maastricht who is considered the patron saint of hunters. The Normans brought the name to England, where it replaced an Old English cognate Hygebeorht
. It died out during the Middle Ages but was revived in the 19th century.
HUGH m English
From the Germanic element hug
, meaning "heart, mind, spirit". It was common among Frankish and French nobility, being borne by Hugh Capet, a 10th-century king of France who founded the Capetian dynasty. The Normans brought the name to England and it became common there, even more so after the time of the 12th-century bishop Saint Hugh of Lincoln, who was known for his charity. This was also the name of kings of Cyprus and the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. The name is used in Ireland and Scotland as the Anglicized form of Aodh
HUMPHREY m English
Means "peaceful warrior" from the Germanic elements hun
"warrior, bear cub" and frid
"peace". The Normans introduced this name to England, where it replaced the Old English cognate Hunfrith
, and it was regularly used through the Middle Ages. A famous bearer was the American actor Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957), who starred in 'The Maltese Falcon' and 'Casablanca'.
IAGO m Welsh, Galician, Portuguese
Welsh and Galician form of JACOB
. This was the name of two early Welsh kings of Gwynedd. It is also the name of the villain in Shakespeare's tragedy 'Othello' (1603).
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
ISABELLA f Italian, German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Romanian
Latinate form of ISABEL
. This name was borne by many medieval royals, including queen consorts of England, France, Portugal, the Holy Roman Empire and Hungary, as well as the powerful ruling queen Isabella of Castile (properly called Isabel
JACK m English
Derived from Jackin
), a medieval diminutive of JOHN
. It is often regarded as an independent name. During the Middle Ages it was very common, and it became a slang word meaning "man". It was frequently used in fairy tales and nursery rhymes, such as 'Jack and the Beanstalk', 'Little Jack Horner', and 'Jack Sprat'. American writers Jack London (1876-1916) and Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) were two famous bearers of this name. It is also borne by American actor Jack Nicholson (1937-).
JESSICA f English, French, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Italian, Spanish
This name was first used in this form by Shakespeare in his play 'The Merchant of Venice' (1596), where it belongs to the daughter of Shylock. Shakespeare probably based it on the biblical name ISCAH
, which would have been spelled Jescha
in his time. It was not commonly used as a given name until the middle of the 20th century. Notable bearers include actresses Jessica Tandy (1909-1994) and Jessica Lange (1949-).
JOHN m English, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Biblical
English form of Iohannes
, the Latin form of the Greek name Ιωαννης (Ioannes)
, itself derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan)
is gracious". The Hebrew form occurs in the Old Testament (spelled Johanan
in the English version), but this name owes its popularity to two New Testament characters, both highly revered saints. The first is John the Baptist, a Jewish ascetic who is considered the forerunner of Jesus
. He baptized Jesus and was later executed by Herod
Antipas. The second is the apostle John, who is traditionally regarded as the author of the fourth gospel and Revelation. With the apostles Peter
(his brother), he was part of the inner circle of Jesus.... [more]
JULIA f English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Spanish, Polish, Finnish, Russian, Ukrainian, Ancient Roman, Biblical
Feminine form of the Roman family name JULIUS
. Among the notable women from this family were Julia Augusta (also known as Livia Drusilla), the wife of Emperor Augustus, and Julia the Elder, the daughter of Augustus and the wife of Tiberius. A person by this name has a brief mention in the New Testament. It was also borne by a few early saints and martyrs, including the patron saint of Corsica. Additionally, Shakespeare used it in his comedy 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' (1594).... [more]
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-).
LAUNCE m Literature
Short form of Launcelot
, a variant of LANCELOT
. This was the name of a clownish character in Shakespeare's play 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' (1594).
LAVINIA f Roman Mythology, Romanian
Meaning unknown, probably of Etruscan origin. In Roman legend Lavinia was the daughter of King Latinus, the wife of Aeneas
, and the ancestor of the Roman people. According to the legend Aeneas named the town of Lavinium in honour of his wife.
LENNOX m Scottish, English (Rare)
From a Scottish surname which was derived from the name of a district in Scotland. The district, called Leamhnachd
in Gaelic, possibly means "place of elms".
LORENZO m Italian, Spanish
Italian and Spanish form of Laurentius
(see LAURENCE (1)
). Lorenzo de' Medici (1449-1492), known as the Magnificent, was a ruler of Florence during the Renaissance. He was also a great patron of the arts who employed Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli and other famous artists.
LUCETTA f Italian
Diminutive of LUCE
. Shakespeare used this name for a character in his play 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' (1594).
MACBETH m History
Anglicized form of the Gaelic given name Mac Beatha
meaning "son of life", implying holiness. This was the name of an 11th-century Scottish king. Shakespeare based his play 'Macbeth' loosely on this king's life.
MARCIUS m Ancient Roman
Roman family name which was a derivative of the praenomen MARCUS
. This was the name of an early, possibly legendary, king of Rome.
MARCUS m Ancient Roman, Biblical Latin, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
Roman praenomen, or given name, which was probably derived from the name of the Roman god MARS
. This was among the most popular of the Roman praenomina. Famous bearers include Marcus Tullius Cicero (known simply as Cicero), a 1st-century BC statesman and orator, Marcus Antonius (known as Mark Antony), a 1st-century BC politician, and Marcus Aurelius, a notable 2nd-century emperor. This was also the name of a pope of the 4th century. This spelling has occasionally been used in the English-speaking world, though the traditional English form Mark
has been more common.
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]
MATTHEW m English, Biblical
English form of Ματθαιος (Matthaios)
, which was a Greek form of the Hebrew name מַתִּתְיָהוּ (Mattityahu)
meaning "gift of YAHWEH
". Matthew, also called Levi
, was one of the twelve apostles. He was a tax collector, and supposedly the author of the first gospel in the New Testament. He is considered a saint in many Christian traditions. The variant Matthias
also occurs in the New Testament belonging to a separate apostle. The name appears in the Old Testament as Mattithiah
MICHAEL m English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Czech, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
From the Hebrew name מִיכָאֵל (Mikha'el)
meaning "who is like God?". This is a rhetorical question, implying no person is like God. Michael is one of the seven archangels in Hebrew tradition and the only one identified as an archangel in the Bible. In the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament he is named as a protector of Israel. In the Book of Revelation in the New Testament he is portrayed as the leader of heaven's armies in the war against Satan, and is thus considered the patron saint of soldiers in Christianity.... [more]
MIRANDA f English, Dutch
Derived from Latin mirandus
meaning "admirable, wonderful". The name was created by Shakespeare for the heroine in his play 'The Tempest' (1611), about a father and daughter stranded on an island. It did not become a common English given name until the 20th century. This is also the name of one of the moons of Uranus, named after the Shakespearian character.
NERISSA f Literature
Created by Shakespeare for a character in his play 'The Merchant of Venice' (1596). He possibly took it from Greek Νηρεις (Nereis)
meaning "nymph, sea sprite", ultimately derived from the name of the Greek sea god NEREUS
, who supposedly fathered them.
NESTOR m Greek 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.
OBERON m Literature
Variant of AUBERON
. Oberon was the king of the fairies in Shakespeare's comedy 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (1595). A moon of Uranus bears this name in his honour.
OCTAVIA f English, Spanish, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of OCTAVIUS
. Octavia was the wife of Mark Antony and the sister of Roman emperor Augustus. In 19th-century England it was sometimes given to the eighth-born child.
OLIVIA f English, Italian, Spanish, German, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
This name was first used in this spelling by William Shakespeare for a character in his comedy 'Twelfth Night' (1602). Shakespeare may have based it on OLIVER
, or perhaps directly on the Latin word oliva
meaning "olive". In the play Olivia is a noblewoman who is wooed by Duke Orsino but instead falls in love with his messenger Cesario.... [more]
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.
ORLANDO m Italian
Italian form of ROLAND
. A city in Florida bears this name, as does a character in Shakespeare's play 'As You like It' (1599).
ORSINO m Italian
Italian form of the Roman name Ursinus
, itself derived from Ursus
). This is the name of a character in Shakespeare's play 'Twelfth Night' (1602).
OTHELLO m Literature
Perhaps an Italian diminutive of OTHO
. Shakespeare used this name in his tragedy 'Othello' (1603), where it belongs to a Moor who is manipulated by Iago
into killing his wife Desdemona
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).
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]
PHOEBE f English, Greek Mythology (Latinized), Biblical, Biblical Latin
Latinized form of the Greek name Φοιβη (Phoibe)
, which meant "bright, pure" from Greek φοιβος (phoibos)
. In Greek mythology Phoibe was a Titan associated with the moon. This was also an epithet of her granddaughter, the moon goddess Artemis
. The name appears in Paul
's epistle to the Romans in the New Testament, where it belongs to a female minister in the church at Cenchreae. In England, it began to be used as a given name after the Protestant Reformation. A moon of Saturn bears this name (in honour of the Titan).
PORTIA f English
Variant of Porcia
, the feminine form of the Roman family name PORCIUS
, used by William Shakespeare for the heroine of his play 'The Merchant of Venice' (1596). In the play Portia is a woman who disguises herself as a man in order to defend Antonio
in court. It is also the name of a moon of Uranus, after the Shakespearian character.
PROSPERO m Italian
Italian form of PROSPER
. This was the name of the shipwrecked magician in 'The Tempest' (1611) by Shakespeare.
PUBLIUS m Ancient Roman
Roman praenomen, or given name, meaning "public" in Latin. This was among the more common of the Roman praenomina, being borne by (among others) the emperor Hadrian and the poet Virgil.
PUCK m & f Anglo-Saxon Mythology, Dutch
Meaning unknown, from Old English puca
. It could ultimately be of either Germanic or Celtic origin. In English legend this was the name of a mischievous spirit, also known as Robin Goodfellow. He appears in Shakespeare's play 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (1600).
QUINTUS m Ancient Roman
Roman praenomen, or given name, meaning "fifth" in Latin. It was traditionally given to the fifth child, or possibly a child born in the fifth month. This was a common praenomen, being more popular than the other numeric Roman names. A notable bearer was the poet Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus).
RALPH m English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German
Contracted form of the Old Norse name RÁÐÚLFR
(or its Norman form Radulf
). Scandinavian settlers introduced it to England before the Norman conquest, though afterwards it was bolstered by Norman influence. In the Middle Ages it was usually spelled Ralf
, but by the 17th century it was most commonly Rafe
, reflecting the normal pronunciation. The Ralph
spelling appeared in the 18th century. A famous bearer of the name was Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), an American poet and author who wrote on transcendentalism.
REGAN f English
Meaning unknown, probably of Celtic origin. Shakespeare took the name from earlier British legends and used it in his tragedy 'King Lear' (1606) for a treacherous daughter of the king. In the modern era it has appeared in the horror movie 'The Exorcist' (1973) belonging to a girl possessed by the devil. This name can also be used as a variant of REAGAN
RICHARD m English, French, German, Czech, Slovak, Dutch, Ancient Germanic
Means "brave power", derived from the Germanic elements ric
"power, rule" and hard
"brave, hardy". The Normans introduced this name to Britain, and it has been very common there since that time. It was borne by three kings of England including Richard I the Lionheart, one of the leaders of the Third Crusade in the 12th century.... [more]
ROGER m English, French, Catalan, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch
Means "famous spear" from the Germanic elements hrod
"fame" and ger
"spear". The Normans brought this name to England, where it replaced the Old English cognate Hroðgar
(the name of the Danish king in the Anglo-Saxon epic 'Beowulf'). It was a common name in England during the Middle Ages. By the 18th century it was rare, but it was revived in following years. The name was borne by the Norman lords Roger I, who conquered Sicily in the 11th century, and his son Roger II, who ruled Sicily as a king.
ROMEO m Italian
Italian form of the Late Latin name Romaeus
meaning "a pilgrim to Rome". Romeo is best known as the lover of Juliet
in Shakespeare's tragedy 'Romeo and Juliet' (1596).
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).
ROSALINE f English
Medieval variant of ROSALIND
. This is the name of characters in Shakespeare's 'Love's Labour's Lost' (1594) and 'Romeo and Juliet' (1596).
SEBASTIAN m German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Finnish, Romanian
From the Latin name Sebastianus
which meant "from Sebaste". Sebaste was the name a town in Asia Minor, its name deriving from Greek σεβαστος (sebastos)
"venerable" (a translation of Latin Augustus
, the title of the Roman emperors). According to Christian tradition, Saint Sebastian was a 3rd-century Roman soldier martyred during the persecutions of the emperor Diocletian. After he was discovered to be a Christian, he was tied to a stake and shot with arrows. This however did not kill him. Saint Irene of Rome healed him and he returned to personally admonish Diocletian, whereupon the emperor had him beaten to death.... [more]
SILVIA f Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, English, German, Late Roman, Roman Mythology
Feminine form of SILVIUS
Silvia was the mother of Romulus
, the founders of Rome. This was also the name of a 6th-century saint, the mother of the pope Gregory the Great. It has been a common name in Italy since the Middle Ages. It was introduced to England by Shakespeare, who used it for a character in his play 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' (1594). It is now more commonly spelled Sylvia
in the English-speaking world.
SILVIUS m Late Roman, Roman Mythology
Derived from Latin silva
"wood, forest". This was the family name of several of the legendary kings of Alba Longa. It was also the name of an early saint martyred in Alexandria.
STEPHEN m English, Biblical
From the Greek name Στεφανος (Stephanos)
meaning "crown", more precisely "that which surrounds". Saint Stephen was a deacon who was stoned to death, as told in Acts in the New Testament. He is regarded as the first Christian martyr. Due to him, the name became common in the Christian world. It was popularized in England by the Normans.... [more]
THESEUS m Greek Mythology
Possibly derived from Greek τιθημι (tithemi)
meaning "to set, to place". Theseus was a heroic king of Athens in Greek mythology. He was the son of Aethra, either by Aegeus or by the god Poseidon
. According to legend, every seven years the Cretan king Minos
demanded that Athens supply Crete with seven boys and seven girls to be devoured by the Minotaur, a half-bull creature that was the son of Minos's wife Pasiphaë. Theseus volunteered to go in place of one of these youths in order to slay the Minotaur in the Labyrinth where it lived. He succeeded with the help of Minos's daughter Ariadne
, who provided him with a sword and a roll of string so he could find his way out of the maze.
THOMAS m English, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Greek, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Greek form of the Aramaic name תָּאוֹמָא (Ta'oma')
which meant "twin". In the New Testament this is the name of an apostle. When he heard that Jesus
had risen from the dead he initially doubted the story, until Jesus appeared before him and he examined his wounds himself. According to tradition he was martyred in India. Due to his renown, the name came into general use in the Christian world.... [more]
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.
TITUS m Ancient Roman, English, Biblical, Biblical Latin
Roman praenomen, or given name, which is of unknown meaning, possibly related to Latin titulus
"title of honour". It is more likely of Oscan origin, since it was borne by the legendary Sabine king Titus Tatius.... [more]
TOBY m & f English
Medieval form of TOBIAS
. It was sometimes used as a feminine name in the 1930s and 40s due to the influence of American actress Toby Wing (1915-2001).
TOM (1) m English, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish
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-).
VALENTINE (1) m English
From the Roman cognomen Valentinus
which was itself from the name Valens
meaning "strong, vigourous, healthy" in Latin. Saint Valentine was a 3rd-century martyr. His feast day was the same as the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, which resulted in the association between Valentine's day and love. As an English name, it has been used occasionally since the 12th century.
VERNON m English
From a Norman surname which was from a French place name, ultimately derived from the Gaulish word vern
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.