Names Categorized "uncertain etymology"

This is a list of names in which the categories include uncertain etymology.
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ACHILLESmGreek Mythology (Latinized), Ancient Greek (Latinized)
From the Greek Αχιλλευς (Achilleus) which is of unknown meaning, perhaps derived from Greek αχος (achos) "pain" or else from the name of the Achelous River. This was the name of a warrior in Greek legend, one of the central characters in Homer's 'Iliad'. The bravest of the Greek heroes in the war against the Trojans, he was eventually killed by an arrow to his heel, the only vulnerable part of his body.... [more]
ADALIAmBiblical
Meaning unknown, possibly of Persian origin. In Book of Esther in the Old Testament this is the name of a son of Haman the Agagite.
AELIUSmAncient Roman
Roman family name which was possibly derived from the Greek word ‘ηλιος (helios) meaning "sun". This was the family name of the Roman emperor Hadrian.
AENORfAncient Germanic (Latinized)
Probably a Latinized form of a Germanic name of unknown meaning. This was the name of the mother of Eleanor of Aquitaine.
AFËRDITAfAlbanian
Means "daybreak, morning" in Albanian, from afër "nearby, close" and ditë "day".
AGAMEMNONmGreek 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.
AGRIPPAm & fAncient 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.
AIFRICfIrish, Scottish
Possibly means "pleasant" in Irish.
AILSAfScottish
From Ailsa Craig, the name of an island off the west coast of Scotland, which is of uncertain derivation.
AITORmBasque
Possibly means "good fathers" from Basque aita "father" and on "good". This was the name of a legendary ancestor of the Basques.
AJAXmGreek 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.
ALANmEnglish, Scottish, Breton, French
The meaning of this name is not known for certain. It was used in Brittany at least as early as the 6th century, and it possibly means either "little rock" or "handsome" in Breton. Alternatively, it may derive from the tribal name of the Alans, an Iranian people who migrated into Europe in the 4th and 5th centuries.... [more]
ALBENAfBulgarian
Created by Bulgarian writer Yordan Yovkov for the heroine in his drama 'Albena' (1930). He may have based it on ablen, the name of a type of peony (a flowering plant).
ALDONAfLithuanian, Polish
Meaning unknown. This was the name of a 14th-century Polish queen, the daughter of a Grand Duke of Lithuania.
ALDOUSmEnglish (Rare)
Probably a diminutive of names beginning with the Old English element eald "old". It has been in use as an English given name since the Middle Ages, mainly in East Anglia. The British author Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) was a famous bearer of this name.
ALESIAfEnglish
Possibly a variant of ALICIA, or maybe from the ancient Gaulish city of Alesia.
ALODIAfAncient Germanic (Latinized)
Possibly from a Visigothic name derived from the Germanic elements alja "other, foreign" and aud "riches, wealth". Saint Alodia was a 9th-century Spanish martyr with her sister Nunilo.
ALPINmScottish
Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ailpein, possibly derived from a Pictish word meaning "white". This was the name of two kings of Dál Riata and two kings of the Picts in the 8th and 9th centuries.
ANAKINmPopular Culture
Meaning unknown. This is the name of a character (also known as Darth Vader) in the 'Star Wars' movie saga, created by George Lucas. Lucas may have based it on the surname of his friend and fellow director Ken Annakin.
ANDRASTEfCeltic Mythology
Possibly means "invincible" in Celtic. This was the name of a Briton goddess of victory who was invoked by Boudicca before her revolt.
ANTHONYmEnglish
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]
ANUBISmEgyptian Mythology (Latinized)
Latinized form of Ανουβις (Anoubis), the Greek form of Egyptian Inpw (reconstructed as Anapa) which possibly meant "royal child". Anubis was the Egyptian god who led the dead to the underworld. He was often depicted as a man with the head of a jackal.
ANZORmGeorgian, Chechen
Possibly derived from the Georgian noble title აზნაური (aznauri), ultimately from Middle Persian aznawar meaning "noble".
AONGHUSmIrish, Scottish, Irish Mythology
Possibly meaning "one strength" derived from Irish óen "one" and gus "force, strength, energy". Aonghus (sometimes surnamed Mac Og meaning "young son") was the Irish god of love and youth. The name was also borne by an 8th-century Pictish king and several Irish kings.
APHRODITEfGreek Mythology
Meaning unknown, possibly of Phoenician origin. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and beauty, identified with the Roman goddess Venus. She was the wife of Hephaestus and the mother of Eros, and she was often associated with the myrtle tree and doves. The Greeks connected her name with αφρος (aphros) "foam", resulting in the story that she was born from the foam of the sea. Many of her characteristics are based on the goddess known as Ashtoreth to the Phoenicians and Ishtar to the Mesopotamian Semitic peoples, and on the Sumerian goddess Inanna.
APPHIAfBiblical
Greek form of a Hebrew name which possibly meant "increasing". This is a name mentioned in Paul's epistle to Philemon in the New Testament.
ARAmArmenian, Armenian Mythology
Meaning unknown, possibly of Sumerian origin. In Armenian legend this was the name of an Armenian king who was so handsome that the Assyrian queen Semiramis went to war to capture him. During the war Ara was slain.
ARAMINTAfEnglish (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.
ARAWNmWelsh Mythology
Meaning unknown. This was the name of the god of the underworld, called Annwfn, in Welsh mythology.
ARETHUSAfGreek Mythology (Latinized)
From Greek Αρεθουσα (Arethousa), which is possibly derived from αρδω (ardo) "water" and θοος (thoos) "quick, nimble". This was the name of a nymph in Greek mythology who was transformed into a fountain.
ARLENmEnglish
Meaning unknown, possibly from a surname.
ARLENEfEnglish
Variant of ARLINE.
ARLOmEnglish
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".
ARLOTTOmMedieval Italian
Medieval Italian name, recorded in Latin as Arlotus. It is possibly from Old French herlot meaning "vagabond, tramp".
ARTHURmEnglish, 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]
ARVELmEnglish
Meaning unknown, possibly a variant of ARWEL.
ARWELmWelsh
Old Welsh name of unknown meaning.
ASENmBulgarian
Meaning unknown, probably of Turkic origin. This was the name of a 12th-century Bulgarian emperor (Ivan Asen I) and several of his successors.
ASLAUGfNorwegian
Derived from the Old Norse elements áss meaning "god" and laug possibly meaning "betrothed woman".
ASTONm & fEnglish (Rare)
From a surname which was originally derived from either a place name meaning "east town" in Old English or from the given name ÆÐELSTAN.
ATLASmGreek Mythology
Possibly means "enduring" from Greek τλαω (tlao) meaning "to endure". In Greek mythology he was a Titan punished by Zeus by being forced to support the heavens on his shoulders.
AVA (3)fGerman, Ancient Germanic
Originally a short form of Germanic names beginning with the element avi, of unknown meaning, possibly "desired". This was the name of a 9th-century Frankish saint. It was also borne by a 12th-century poet from Melk, Austria.
AVEfEstonian
Possibly from the name of the prayer Ave Maria, in which Ave is Latin meaning "greetings, salutations".
AVILAfAncient Germanic
Derived from the Germanic element avi, of unknown meaning, possibly "desired". This name is also given in honour of the 16th-century mystic Saint Teresa of Ávila, Ávila being the name of the town in Spain where she was born.
AVISfEnglish
Probably a Latinized form of the Germanic name Aveza, which was derived from the element avi, of unknown meaning, possibly "desired". The Normans introduced this name to England and it became moderately common during the Middle Ages, at which time it was associated with Latin avis "bird".
BARNABASmGerman (Rare), English (Rare), Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Greek form of an Aramaic name. In Acts in the New Testament the byname Barnabas was given to a man named Joseph, a Jew from Cyprus who was a companion of Paul on his missionary journeys. The original Aramaic form is unattested, but it may be from בּר נביא (bar naviya') meaning "son of the prophet", though in Acts 4:36 it is claimed that the name means "son of encouragement". As an English name, it came into occasional use after the 12th century.
BASTfEgyptian Mythology
Possibly means "fire, heat" or "ointment jar" in Egyptian. In Egyptian mythology Bast was a goddess of cats, fertility and the sun who was considered a protector of Lower Egypt. She was often depicted with the head of a lioness or a house cat. As her role in the Egyptian pantheon diminished, she was called Bastet.
BASTETfEgyptian Mythology
Variant of BAST. This form of the name, a diminutive, was given to her after the similar goddess Sekhmet (protector of Upper Egypt) became more important.
BATRAZmOssetian, Caucasian Mythology
Possibly from Turkic bagatur meaning "hero, warrior, brave". This is the name of the leader of the superhuman Narts in Caucasian mythology.
BECKETTmEnglish (Modern)
From an English surname which could be derived from various sources, including from Middle English beke meaning "beak" or bekke meaning "stream, brook".
BEDIVEREmWelsh 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.
BELENUSmCeltic Mythology
Probably from a Celtic word meaning "bright, brilliant". This was the name of a Gaulish solar god who was often equated with Apollo.
BELINDAfEnglish
The meaning of this name is not known for certain. The first element could be related to Italian bella "beautiful". The second element could be Germanic lind meaning "flexible, soft, tender" (and by extension "snake, serpent"). This name first arose in the 17th century, and was subsequently used by Alexander Pope in his poem 'The Rape of the Lock' (1712).
BEOWULFmAnglo-Saxon Mythology
Possibly means "bee wolf" (in effect equal to "bear") from Old English beo "bee" and wulf "wolf". Alternatively, the first element may be beadu "battle". 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.
BERATmTurkish
Possibly from Turkish berat meaning "letters patent".
BERLINfVarious
From the name of the city in Germany, which is of uncertain meaning.
BESSARIONmLate Greek
Meaning uncertain, possibly from Greek βησσα (bessa) "wooded valley". This was the name of a 5th-century Egyptian hermit who was a disciple of Saint Anthony the Great. It was later adopted by the scholar Basilios Bessarion (1403-1472), a Greek born in Byzantine Anatolia who became a Roman Catholic bishop.
BIBIANAfItalian, Spanish, Late Roman
Possibly an early variant of VIVIANA. Alternatively, it may be a feminine derivative of the earlier Roman cognomen VIBIANUS.
BIRGERmSwedish, Norwegian, Danish
From the Old Norse name Birgir, probably derived from bjarga meaning "help, save, rescue".
BORISmBulgarian, Russian, Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Georgian, German
From the Turkic name Bogoris, perhaps meaning "short" or "wolf" or "snow leopard". It was borne by the 9th-century King Boris I of Bulgaria who converted his country to Christianity, as well as two later Bulgarian emperors. The name was popularized in the Slavic world due to the 11th-century Saint Boris, who was a Russian prince martyred with his brother Gleb. His mother may have been Bulgarian. Another famous bearer was the 16th-century Russian emperor Boris Godunov, later the subject of a play of that name by Aleksandr Pushkin.
BRÁDACHmIrish
Possibly derived from a Gaelic word meaning "large-chested".
BRAITHmEnglish (Australian)
Meaning uncertain, perhaps from Welsh brith, braith meaning "speckled".
BRENDAfEnglish
Possibly a feminine form of the Old Norse name Brandr, meaning "sword", which was brought to Britain in the Middle Ages. This name is sometimes used as a feminine form of BRENDAN.
BRENNAfEnglish
Possibly a variant of BRENDA or a feminine form of BRENNAN.
BRENTmEnglish
From an English surname, originally taken from various place names, perhaps derived from a Celtic word meaning "hill".
BRIANmEnglish, Irish, Ancient Irish
The meaning of this name is not known for certain but it is possibly related to the old Celtic element bre meaning "hill", or by extension "high, noble". It was borne by the semi-legendary Irish king Brian Boru, who thwarted Viking attempts to conquer Ireland in the 11th century. He was slain in the Battle of Clontarf, though his forces were decisively victorious. The name was common in Ireland before his time, and even more so afterwards. It came into use in England in the Middle Ages, introduced by Breton settlers. It subsequently became rare, but was revived in the 20th century.
BRICEmFrench, English
From the name Bricius, which was probably a Latinized form of a Gaulish name meaning "speckled". This was the name of a 5th-century saint, a disciple of Saint Martin of Tours.
BRODYmEnglish
From a surname which was originally derived from a place in Moray, Scotland. It probably means "ditch, mire" in Gaelic.
CALEBmEnglish, Biblical
Most likely related to Hebrew כֶּלֶב (kelev) meaning "dog". An alternate theory connects it to Hebrew כָּל (kal) meaning "whole, all of" and לֵב (lev) meaning "heart". In the Old Testament this is the name of one of the twelve spies sent by Moses into Canaan. Of the Israelites who left Egypt with Moses, Caleb and Joshua were the only ones who lived to see the Promised Land.... [more]
CAMILLUSmAncient Roman
Roman cognomen, which is probably of Etruscan origin and unknown meaning. It is probably not related to Latin camillus "a youth employed in religious services". This name was borne by the 16th-century Italian monk Saint Camillus de Lellis.
CARSONm & fScottish, English
From a Scottish surname of uncertain meaning. A famous bearer of the surname was the American scout Kit Carson (1809-1868).
CASSANDRAfEnglish, 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 and Hecuba. 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]
CASSIUSmAncient Roman
Roman family name which was possibly derived from Latin cassus "empty, vain". This name was borne by several early saints. In modern times, it was the original first name of boxer Muhammad Ali (1942-2016), who was named after his father Cassius Clay, who was himself named after the American abolitionist Cassius Clay (1810-1903).
CASTORmGreek Mythology (Latinized)
From the Greek name Καστωρ (Kastor), possibly related to κεκασμαι (kekasmai) meaning "to excel, to shine" (pluperfect κεκαστο). In Greek myth Castor was a son of Zeus and the twin brother of Pollux. The constellation Gemini, which represents the two brothers, contains a star by this name.
CATHERINEfFrench, English
French form of KATHERINE, and also a common English variant.
CAVANmEnglish
Either from the name of the Irish county, which is derived from Irish cabhán "hollow", or else from the Irish surname CAVAN.
CEALLACHmIrish
Irish name of uncertain origin, traditionally said to mean "bright-headed". Alternatively it could be derived from Old Irish ceallach "war, strife" or ceall "church".
CELINDAfEnglish (Rare)
Probably a blend of CELIA and LINDA. This is also the Spanish name for a variety of shrub with white flowers, known as sweet mock-orange in English (species Philadelphus coronarius).
CERDICmAnglo-Saxon
Earlier form of CEDRIC, possibly of Brythonic origin.
CERI (1)mWelsh
Possibly derived from Welsh caru meaning "to love".
CERIDWENfWelsh
Possibly from Welsh cyrrid "bent" or cerdd "poetry" combined with ven "woman" or gwen "white, fair, blessed". According to medieval Welsh legend this was the name of a sorceress or goddess who created a potion that would grant wisdom to her son Morfan. The potion was instead consumed by her servant Gwion Bach, who was subsequently reborn as the renowned bard Taliesin.
CHADmEnglish
From the Old English name Ceadda which is of unknown meaning, possibly based on Welsh cad "battle". This was the name of a 7th-century English saint. Borne primarily by Catholics, it was a rare name until the 1960s when it started to become more common amongst the general population. This is also the name of a country in Africa, though it originates from a different source.
CHARMAINEfEnglish
Meaning unknown, perhaps a combination of CHARMIAN or the English word charm with the aine suffix from LORRAINE. It was (first?) used for a character in the play 'What Price Glory' (1924), which was made into a popular movie in 1926.
CHAUNCEYmEnglish
From a Norman surname of unknown meaning. It was used as a given name in American in honour of Harvard president Charles Chauncey (1592-1672).
CHESTIRADmMedieval Slavic (Hypothetical)
Possible medieval Slavic form of CTIRAD.
CILLIANmIrish
Probably from Gaelic ceall "church" combined with a diminutive suffix. This was the name of a 7th-century Irish saint who evangelized in Franconia. He was martyred in Würzburg.
CIRCEfGreek Mythology (Latinized)
Latinized form of Greek Κιρκη (Kirke), which possibly meant "bird". In Greek mythology Circe was a sorceress who changed Odysseus's crew into hogs but was forced by him to change them back.
CLAUDIUSmAncient 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.
CLÍODHNAfIrish, Irish Mythology
Possibly means "shapely" in Irish Gaelic. In Irish legend this was the name of a beautiful goddess. She fell in love with a mortal named Ciabhan and left the Land of Promise with him, but when she arrived on the other shore she was swept to sea by a great wave.
CLYDEmEnglish
From the name of the River Clyde in Scotland, which is of unknown origin. It became a common given name in America in the middle of the 19th century, perhaps in honour of Sir Colin Campbell (1792-1863) who was given the title Baron Clyde in 1858.
CONWAYmEnglish
From a surname which was derived from the name of the River Conwy, which possibly means "holy water" in Welsh.
CORDELIAfEnglish
From Cordeilla, 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.
COREYmEnglish
From a surname which was derived from the Old Norse given name Kóri, of unknown meaning. This name became popular in the 1960s due to the character Corey Baker on the television series 'Julia'.
CORMACmIrish
Possibly derived from Irish Gaelic corb "raven" or "wheel" and mac "son". This was the name of a 3rd-century king of Ireland.
COURTNEYf & mEnglish
From an aristocratic English surname which was derived either from the French place name Courtenay (originally a derivative of the personal name Curtenus, itself derived from Latin curtus "short") or else from a Norman nickname meaning "short nose". As a feminine name in America, it first became popular during the 1970s.
CYBELEfNear Eastern Mythology (Hellenized)
Meaning unknown, possibly from Phrygian roots meaning either "stone" or "hair". This was the name of the Phrygian mother goddess associated with fertility and nature. She was later worshipped by the Greeks and Romans.
CYRUSmEnglish, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Ancient Greek (Latinized)
From Κυρος (Kyros), the Greek form of the Persian name Kūrush, which may mean "far sighted" or "young". The name is sometimes associated with Greek κυριος (kyrios) "lord". It was borne by several kings of Persia, including Cyrus the Great, who conquered Babylon. He is famous in the Old Testament for freeing the captive Jews and allowing them to return to Israel. As an English name, it first came into use among the Puritans after the Protestant Reformation.
DARIANm & fEnglish
Probably an elaborated form of DARREN.
DARNELLmEnglish
From a surname, possibly derived from Old French darnel, a type of grass. Alternatively it may be derived from Old English derne "hidden" and halh "nook".
DARRENmEnglish
The meaning of this name is not known for certain. It could be from a rare Irish surname or it could be an altered form of DARRELL. It was first brought to public attention in the late 1950s by the American actor Darren McGavin (1922-2006). It was further popularized in the 1960s by the character Darrin Stephens from the television show 'Bewitched'.
DASHIELLmEnglish (Rare)
In the case of American author Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961), it is an Anglicized form of his mother's surname De Chiel, which is of unknown meaning.
DATHANmBiblical
Possibly means "fountain" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of one of the conspirators against Moses.
DAVIDmEnglish, 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 derived from Hebrew דּוֹד (dod) meaning "beloved" or "uncle". 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]
DAXmEnglish
From an English surname which was derived either from the town of Dax in France or else from the Old English given name Dæcca (of unknown meaning).
DECLANmIrish
Anglicized form of Irish Deaglán, which is of unknown meaning. Saint Declan was a 5th-century missionary to Ireland.
DEIRDREfEnglish, Irish, Irish Mythology
From the older Gaelic form Derdriu, meaning unknown, possibly derived from Old Irish der meaning "daughter". This was the name of a tragic character in Irish legend who died of a broken heart after Conchobhar, the king of Ulster, forced her to be his bride and killed her lover Naoise.... [more]
DELFINAfItalian, Spanish
Italian and Spanish form of DELPHINA.
DELPHIAfEnglish
Possibly from the name of the Greek city of Delphi, the site of an oracle of Apollo, which is possibly related to Greek δελφυς (delphys) "womb". It was used in the play 'The Prophetess' (1647), in which it belongs to the title prophetess.
DELPHINAfLate Roman
Feminine form of the Latin name Delphinus, which meant "of Delphi". Delphi was a city in ancient Greece, the name of which is possibly related to Greek δελφυς (delphys) "womb". The Blessed Delphina was a 14th-century Provençal nun.
DEMETER (1)fGreek Mythology
Possibly means "earth mother", derived from Greek δα (da) "earth" and μητηρ (meter) "mother". In Greek mythology Demeter was the goddess of agriculture, the daughter of Cronus, the sister of Zeus, and the mother of Persephone. She was an important figure in the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were secret rites performed at Eleusis near Athens.
DESISLAVmBulgarian, Medieval Slavic
Derived from Slavic elements, possibly deseti meaning "ten", combined with slava "glory".
DEVINm & fEnglish, Irish
From a surname, either the Irish surname DEVIN (1) or the English surname DEVIN (2).
DIARMAIDmIrish, Irish Mythology
Perhaps means "without envy" in Irish. In Irish mythology this was the name of a warrior who became the lover of Gráinne. It was also the name of several ancient Irish kings.
DIEGOmSpanish
Possibly a shortened form of SANTIAGO. In medieval records Diego was Latinized as Didacus, and it has been suggested that it in fact derives from Greek διδαχη (didache) "teaching". Saint Didacus (or Diego) was a 15th-century Franciscan brother based in Alcalá, Spain. Other famous bearers of this name include Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (1886-1957) and Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona (1960-).
DIGGORYmEnglish (Rare)
Probably an Anglicized form of Degaré. Sir Degaré was the subject of a medieval poem set in Brittany. The name may mean "lost one" from French égaré.
DOMITIUSmAncient Roman
Roman family name which was probably derived from Latin domitus meaning "having been tamed".
DORIAfEnglish (Rare)
Possibly a feminine form of DORIAN or an elaboration of DORA.
DORIANmEnglish, 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.
DROUSILLAfBiblical Greek
Form of DRUSILLA used in the Greek New Testament.
DRUSAfAncient Roman
Feminine form of DRUSUS.
DRUSILLAfBiblical, Ancient Roman, Biblical Latin
Feminine diminutive of the Roman family name DRUSUS. In Acts in the New Testament Drusilla is the wife of Felix.
DRUSUSmAncient Roman
Roman family name, also sometimes used as a praenomen, or given name, by the Claudia family. Apparently the name was first assumed by a Roman warrior who killed a Gallic chieftain named Drausus in single combat. Drausus possibly derives from a Celtic element meaning "strong".
DWYNmCeltic Mythology
Meaning unknown. This was the name of the Celtic god of love.
EA (1)mSemitic Mythology
Meaning unknown, perhaps from Sumerian meaning "house of water", or perhaps of Akkadian or Hurrian origin. This was the Akkadian, Assyrian, Hurrian and Babylonian name of the Sumerian water god Enki.
EBBA (2)fEnglish
From the Old English name Æbbe, meaning unknown, perhaps a contracted form of a longer name. Saint Ebba was a 7th-century daughter of King Æthelfrith of Bernicia and the founder of monasteries in Scotland. Another saint named Ebba was a 9th-century abbess and martyr who mutilated her own face so that she would not be raped by the invading Danes.
EDDA (2)fIcelandic, Ancient Scandinavian
Possibly from Old Norse meaning "great-grandmother". This was the name of two 13th-century Icelandic literary works: the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda. This is also the name of a character in the Poetic Edda, though it is unclear if her name is connected to the name of the collection.
EINOmFinnish
Meaning unknown, possibly a Finnish form of a Scandinavian name.
ELAINAfEnglish
Variant of ELAINE.
ELAINEfEnglish, 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).
ELAMmBiblical
Possibly means either "hidden" or "eternity" in Hebrew. This was the name of several characters in the Old Testament, including a son of Shem who was the ancestor of the Elamite peoples.
ELEANORfEnglish
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]
ELERIfWelsh
Meaning unknown. In Welsh legend she was the daughter of the chieftain Brychan.
ELIDIfVarious
Meaning unknown, possibly of Greek or Welsh origin. It may have been inspired by the name of the Ηληδα (Ilida) Valley in western Greece.
ELITAfLatvian
Meaning unknown.
ELOISEfEnglish
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]
EMBLAfNorse Mythology, Icelandic, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
Meaning uncertain, perhaps related to Old Norse almr "elm". In Norse mythology Embla and her husband Ask were the first humans. They were created by three of the gods from two trees.
EMERfIrish, Irish Mythology
Possibly from Gaelic eimh "swift". In Irish legend she was the wife of Cúchulainn. She was said to possess the six gifts of womanhood: beauty, voice, speech, needlework, wisdom and chastity.
EMLYNmWelsh
Probably from the name of an ancient region in Wales, its name meaning "around the valley". It has also been suggested that this name is a Welsh form of Aemilianus (see EMILIANO).
EMMERICHmGerman, Ancient Germanic
Germanic name, in which the second element is ric meaning "power". The first element may be ermen "whole, universal" (making it a relative of Ermenrich), amal "work, labour" (making it a relative of Amalric) or heim "home" (making it a relative of Henry). It is likely that several forms merged into a single name.
ENOLAfEnglish
Meaning unknown. This name first appeared in the late 19th century. The aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was named 'Enola Gay' after the mother of the pilot.
ENYOfGreek Mythology
Meaning unknown. She was a blood-thirsty Greek war goddess and a companion of Ares.
ÉRIUfIrish Mythology
From the name of an Irish goddess, who according to legend gave her name to Ireland (which is called Éire in Irish). In reality, the goddess probably got her name from that of the island, which may mean something like "abundant land" in Old Irish.
ESTHERfEnglish, French, Spanish, Dutch, German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Jewish, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Possibly means "star" in Persian. Alternatively it could be a derivative of the name of the Near Eastern goddess ISHTAR. The Book of Esther in the Old Testament tells the story of Queen Esther, the Jewish wife of the king of Persia. The king's advisor Haman persuaded the king to exterminate all the Jews in the realm. Warned of this plot by her cousin Mordecai, Esther revealed her Jewish ancestry and convinced the king to execute Haman instead. Her original Hebrew name was Hadassah.... [more]
ÉTAÍNfIrish, Irish Mythology
Possibly derived from Old Irish ét "jealousy". In Irish mythology she was a sun and horse goddess who was the lover of Midir.
EVADNEfGreek Mythology (Latinized)
From Greek Ευαδνη (Euadne), from ευ (eu) meaning "good" possibly combined with Cretan Greek αδνος (adnos) meaning "holy". In Greek legend Evadne was the wife of Capaneus. After Capaneus was killed by a lightning bolt sent from Zeus she committed suicide by throwing herself onto his burning body.
FRASERmScottish, English (Rare)
From a Scottish surname which is of unknown meaning. A famous bearer of the surname was Simon Fraser (1776-1862), a Canadian explorer.
GAËLmFrench, Breton
Meaning uncertain. It possibly derives from the ethno-linguistic term Gael, which refers to speakers of Gaelic languages. Alternatively it may be a variant of GWENAËL.
GAIUSmAncient 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.
GALAHADmArthurian Romance
Meaning unknown. In Arthurian legend Sir Galahad was the son of Lancelot and Elaine. 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.
GANImFilipino, Tagalog
Short form of ISAGANI.
GANYMEDEmGreek Mythology (Anglicized)
From Greek Γανυμηδης (Ganymedes), which was possibly derived from γανυμαι (ganymai) "to be glad" and μηδομαι (medomai) "to think, to plan". In Greek mythology this was the name of a beautiful boy who was abducted by Zeus to become the cupbearer to the gods, the successor of Hebe. A moon of Jupiter is named after him.
GARETHmWelsh, 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 meaning "gentleness".
GARSEAmMedieval Spanish
Meaning unknown, possibly related to the Basque word hartz meaning "bear". This was the name of several medieval kings of Navarre and Leon.
GAWAINmWelsh, 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'.
GENTIUSmAlbanian
Possibly means "to beget" in Illyrian. This was the name of a 2nd-century BC Illyrian king who went to war with Rome.
GERAmBiblical
Possibly means "a grain" in Hebrew. This was the name of several members of the tribe of Benjamin in the Old Testament.
GERAINTmWelsh, Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown, possibly a Welsh form of GERONTIUS. This was the name of a figure various Welsh legends. He was also incorporated into later Arthurian tales as one of the Knights of the Round Table and the husband of Enid.
GERSHOMmBiblical, Biblical Hebrew
Probably means "exile" in Hebrew, though the Bible explains that it derives from גֵּר שָׁם (ger sham) meaning "a stranger there" (see Exodus 18:3). This is the name of a son of Moses in the Old Testament.
GERVASIUSmAncient Germanic (Latinized)
Probably a Latinized form of a Germanic name with a first element deriving from ger "spear". Saint Gervasius was an early martyr from Milan whose remains were discovered in the 4th century.
GILGAMESHmSumerian Mythology, Semitic Mythology
Possibly means "the ancestor is a hero", from Sumerian 𒉋𒂵 (bilga) meaning "ancestor" and 𒈩 (mes) meaning "hero, young man". This was the name of a Sumerian hero, later appearing in the Akkadian poem the 'Epic of Gilgamesh'. Gilgamesh, with his friend Enkidu, battled the giant Humbaba and stopped the rampage of the Bull of Heaven, besides other adventures. Gilgamesh was probably based on a real person: a king of Uruk who ruled around the 27th century BC.
GIOTTOmItalian
Possibly from Ambrogiotto, a diminutive of AMBROGIO, or Angiolotto, a diminutive of ANGIOLO. This name was borne by Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), an Italian painter and architect.
GOLIATHmBiblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
From Hebrew גָּלְיָת (Golyat), possibly derived from גָּלָה (galah) meaning "uncover, reveal". This is the name of the giant Philistine who is slain by David in the Old Testament.
GRAHAMmScottish, English
From a Scottish surname, originally derived from the English place name Grantham, which probably meant "gravelly homestead" in Old English. The surname was first taken to Scotland in the 12th century by the Norman baron William de Graham. A famous bearer was Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), the Scottish-Canadian-American inventor who devised the telephone.
GRÁINNEfIrish, Irish Mythology
Possibly derived from Gaelic grán meaning "grain". This was the name of an ancient Irish grain goddess. The name also belonged to the fiancée of Fionn mac Cumhail and the lover of Diarmaid in later Irish legend, and it is often associated with gráidh "love".
GRISELDAfEnglish, Scottish, Spanish, Literature
Possibly derived from the Germanic elements gris "grey" and hild "battle". It is not attested as a Germanic name. This was the name of a patient wife in medieval tales by Boccaccio and Chaucer.
GRUFFUDDmWelsh
From the Old Welsh name Griphiud, the second element deriving from Welsh udd "lord, prince" but the first element being of uncertain meaning (possibly cryf "strong"). This was a common name among medieval Welsh royalty. Gruffudd (or Gruffydd) ap Llywelyn was an 11th-century Welsh ruler who fought against England.
GUSTAVmSwedish, Norwegian, Danish, German
Possibly means "staff of the Goths", derived from the Old Norse elements Gautr "Goth" and stafr "staff". However, the root name Gautstafr is not well attested in the Old Norse period. Alternatively, it might be derived from the Slavic name GOSTISLAV. This name has been borne by six kings of Sweden, including the 16th-century Gustav I Vasa.
HAIDEEfLiterature
Perhaps intended to derive from Greek αιδοιος (aidoios) "modest, reverent". This name was created by Byron for a character in his poem 'Don Juan' (1819).
HAMANmBiblical, Biblical Hebrew
Meaning uncertain, of Persian origin. In the Book of Esther in the Old Testament Haman, called the Agagite, is an adviser to the Persian king. He plots to have all the Jews in the realm executed, but is foiled by Queen Esther.
HARANmBiblical, Biblical Hebrew
Possibly means "hill, mountain" in Hebrew. This is the name of the brother of Abraham and father of Lot in the Old Testament.
HAVILAHmBiblical
Probably means "to dance, to circle, to twist" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is both a place name and a masculine personal name.
HAYKmArmenian
Probably from the Armenian word հայ (hay) meaning "Armenian", although some hold that the ethnic name is in fact derived from the given name. This was the name of the legendary forefather of the Armenian people, supposedly a great-great-grandson of Noah.
HECUBAfGreek Mythology (Latinized)
Latinized form of Greek ‘Εκαβη (Hekabe), which is of uncertain meaning. In Greek mythology this is the name of the wife of Priam of Troy.
HELENfEnglish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Greek Mythology (Anglicized)
English form of the Greek ‘Ελενη (Helene), probably from Greek ‘ελενη (helene) "torch" or "corposant", or possibly related to σεληνη (selene) "moon". In Greek mythology Helen was the daughter of Zeus and Leda, whose kidnapping by Paris was the cause of the Trojan War. The name was also borne by the 4th-century Saint Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, who supposedly found the True Cross during a trip to Jerusalem.... [more]
HEMMINGmSwedish, Norwegian, Danish
Perhaps derived from Old Norse hamr "shape", and possibly originally a nickname for a person believed to be a shape changer.
HERAfGreek Mythology
Uncertain meaning, possibly from either Greek ‘ηρως (heros) "hero, warrior"; ‘ωρα (hora) "period of time"; or ‘αιρεω (haireo) "to be chosen". In Greek mythology Hera was the queen of the gods, the sister and wife of Zeus. She presided over marriage and childbirth.
HERLEVAfAncient Germanic
Germanic name, possibly a derivative of hari "army", era "honour", or erla "noble" (or their Old Norse cognates). This was the name of the mother of William the Conqueror, who, according to tradition, was a commoner.
HERSILIAfRoman Mythology
Meaning unknown. In Roman legend this was the name of a Sabine woman who became the wife of Romulus.
HIRAMmBiblical, Biblical Hebrew, English
Probably of Phoenician origin, though it could be from Hebrew meaning "exalted brother". This was the name of a king of Tyre in the Old Testament. As an English given name, Hiram came into use after the Protestant Reformation. In the 17th century the Puritans brought it to America, where it gained some currency.
HORATIAfAncient Roman
Feminine form of HORATIUS.
HORATIUSmAncient Roman
Roman family name which was possibly derived from Latin hora "hour, time, season", though the name may actually be of Etruscan origin. A famous bearer was Quintus Horatius Flaccus, a Roman lyric poet of the 1st century BC who is better known as Horace in the English-speaking world.
HORSTmGerman
Means "wood, thicket" in German. Alternatively, it may derive from the Germanic element hros or hors meaning "horse".
HUDDEmMedieval English
Medieval diminutive of HUGH or possibly RICHARD.
ICARUSmGreek Mythology (Latinized)
From the Greek Ικαρος (Ikaros), of unknown meaning. In Greek myth Icarus was the son of Daedalus, locked with his father inside the Labyrinth by Minos. They escaped from the maze using wings devised from wax, but Icarus flew too close to the sun and the wax melted, plunging him to his death.
IDONEAfEnglish (Archaic)
Medieval English name, probably a Latinized form of IÐUNN. The spelling may have been influenced by Latin idonea "suitable". It was common in England from the 12th century.
IGNATIUSmLate Roman
From the Roman family name Egnatius, meaning unknown, of Etruscan origin. The spelling was later altered to resemble Latin ignis "fire". This was the name of several saints, including the third bishop of Antioch who was thrown to wild beasts by Emperor Trajan, and by Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founder of the Jesuits, whose real birth name was in fact Íñigo.
IGRAINEfArthurian 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 or Eigr was rendered into Latin as Igerna by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth.
ILDIKÓfHungarian
Possibly a form of HILDA. This name was borne by the last wife of Attila the Hun.
ILEANAfRomanian, Spanish, Italian
Possibly a Romanian variant of ELENA. In Romanian folklore this is the name of a princess kidnapped by monsters and rescued by a heroic knight.
ILONAfHungarian, German, Finnish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Czech
Meaning uncertain, possibly a Hungarian form of HELEN.
IOfGreek Mythology
Meaning unknown. In Greek mythology Io was a princess loved by Zeus, who changed her into a heifer in order to hide her from Hera. A moon of Jupiter bears this name in her honour.
IOLAfEnglish
Probably a variant of IOLE.
IRELANDfEnglish (Modern)
From the name of the European island country, derived from Irish Gaelic Éire, which may mean something like "abundant land" in Old Irish.
ISAGANImFilipino, Tagalog
Meaning unknown. This is the name of a character in the novel 'El Filibusterismo' (1891) by José Rizal.
ISHILDfAncient Germanic (Hypothetical)
Germanic name, a hypothetical early form of ISOLDE.
ISOLDEfEnglish (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 "battle".... [more]
ISSACHARmBiblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Possibly means "man of hire" or "there is reward", from Hebrew שָׁכַר (shakhar) meaning "hire, wage, reward". In the Old Testament this is the name of one of the twelve sons of Jacob and Leah and the founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. A justification for the name's meaning is given in Genesis 30:18.
IVAYLOmBulgarian
Perhaps derived from an old Bulgar name meaning "wolf". This was the name of a 13th-century emperor of Bulgaria. It is possible that this spelling was the result of a 15th-century misreading of his real name Vulo from historical documents.
IVO (1)mGerman, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Czech, Ancient Germanic
Germanic name, originally a short form of names beginning with the Germanic element iv meaning "yew". Alternative theories suggest that it may in fact be derived from a cognate Celtic element. This was the name of several saints (who are also commonly known as Saint Yves or Ives).
JACOBmEnglish, 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 Rebecca 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]
JARETHmPopular Culture
Probably a blend of JARED and GARETH. This was the name of the Goblin King, played by David Bowie, in the movie 'Labyrinth' (1986).
JARON (2)mEnglish (Modern)
Invented name, probably based on JARED and DARREN.
JERICHOmEnglish (Modern)
From the name of a city in Israel which is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. The meaning of the city's name is uncertain, but it may be related to the Hebrew word יָרֵחַ (yareach) meaning "moon", or otherwise to the Hebrew word רֵיחַ (reyach) meaning "fragrant".
JESSEmEnglish, Dutch, Biblical
From the Hebrew name יִשַׁי (Yishai) 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.
JUNOfRoman Mythology
Meaning unknown, possibly related to an Indo-European root meaning "youth", or possibly of Etruscan origin. In Roman mythology Juno was the wife of Jupiter and the queen of the heavens. She was the protectress of marriage and women, and was also the goddess of finance.
KAI (1)mFrisian, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Dutch
Meaning uncertain, possibly a Frisian diminutive of GERHARD, NICOLAAS, CORNELIS or GAIUS.
KATHERINEfEnglish
From the Greek name Αικατερινη (Aikaterine). The etymology is debated: it could derive from the earlier Greek name ‘Εκατερινη (Hekaterine), which came from ‘εκατερος (hekateros) "each of the two"; it could derive from the name of the goddess HECATE; it could be related to Greek αικια (aikia) "torture"; or it could be from a Coptic name meaning "my consecration of your name". In the early Christian era it became associated with Greek καθαρος (katharos) "pure", and the Latin spelling was changed from Katerina to Katharina to reflect this.... [more]
KAY (2)mWelsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
From the Welsh name Cai or Cei, possibly a form of the Roman name GAIUS. Sir Kay was one of the Knights of the Round Table in Arthurian legend. He first appears in Welsh tales as a brave companion of Arthur. In later medieval tales, notably those by the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes, he is portrayed as an unrefined boor.
KEISHAfAfrican American
Recent coinage, possibly invented, possibly based on KEZIAH.
KEITHmEnglish, Scottish
From a Scottish surname which was originally derived from a place name, itself probably derived from the Brythonic element cet meaning "wood". This was the surname of a long line of Scottish nobles. It has been used as a given name since the 19th century.
KELDAfEnglish (Rare)
Possibly derived from Old Norse kildr meaning "a spring".
KENANmBiblical
Possibly means "possession" in Hebrew. He is a son of Enosh and a great-grandson of Adam in the Old Testament.
KENTmEnglish
From a surname which was originally derived from Kent, the name of a county in England, which may be derived from a Brythonic word meaning "coastal district".
KISHANmIndian, Hindi, Gujarati
Possibly a variant of KRISHNA.
KYLERmEnglish (Modern)
Probably a variant of KYLE, blending it with TYLER. It also coincides with the rare surname Kyler, an Anglicized form of Dutch Cuyler, which is of uncertain meaning.
KYLIEfEnglish
This name arose in Australia, where it is said to mean "boomerang" in an Australian Aboriginal language. It is more likely a feminine form of KYLE, and it is in this capacity that it began to be used in America in the 1970s. A famous bearer is the Australian singer Kylie Minogue (1968-).
LAARNIfFilipino, Tagalog
Meaning unknown.
LAMECHmBiblical
Possibly means "to make low" in Hebrew. This is the name of two characters in Genesis in the Old Testament: a descendant of Cain and the father of Noah.
LANCELOTmArthurian Romance
Meaning unknown, possibly an Old French diminutive of Lanzo (see LANCE). 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.
LARISAfRussian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Latvian, Greek Mythology
Possibly derived from the name of the ancient city of Larisa in Thessaly, which meant "citadel". In Greek legends, the nymph Larisa was either a daughter or mother of Pelasgus, the ancestor of the mythical Pelasgians. This name was later borne by a 4th-century Greek martyr who is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Church. The name (of the city, nymph and saint) is commonly Latinized as Larissa, with a double s.
LAVINIAfRoman 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.
LEBRONmAfrican American (Rare)
Meaning unknown, probably an invented name. This is the name of basketball player LeBron James (1984-).
LEDAfGreek Mythology
Meaning unknown. In Greek myth she was the mother of Castor, Pollux, Helen and Clytemnestra by the god Zeus, who came upon her in the form of a swan.
LELA (1)fGeorgian
Meaning uncertain, possibly from the name of a type of plant.
LEMMINKÄINENmFinnish Mythology
Meaning unknown, possibly related to Finnish lempi "love". In the Finnish epic the 'Kalevala' this is the name of an arrogant hero. After he was killed his mother fetched his body from the River of Death and restored him to life. He is sometimes identified with the god Ahti.
LESTATmLiterature
Name used by author Anne Rice for a character in her 'Vampire Chronicles' series of novels, first released in 1976, where it belongs to the French vampire Lestat de Lioncourt. Rice possibly intended the name to appear derived from Old French or Occitan l'estat "state, status", though apparently her husband's name Stan was inspiration.
LETHAfEnglish
Possibly a short form of ALETHA.
LEVImHebrew, English, Dutch, Biblical, Biblical Latin
Possibly means "joined, attached" in Hebrew. As told in the Old Testament, Levi was the third son of Jacob and Leah, and the ancestor of one of the twelve tribes of the Israelites, known as the Levites. This was the tribe that formed the priestly class of the Israelites. The brothers Moses and Aaron were members. In the New Testament this is another name for the apostle Matthew. As an English Christian name, Levi came into use after the Protestant Reformation.
LIBITINAfRoman Mythology
Meaning unknown. Libitina was the Roman goddess of funerals, corpses and death.
LILLIANfEnglish
Probably originally a diminutive of ELIZABETH. It may also be considered an elaborated form of LILY, from the Latin word for "lily" lilium. This name has been used in England since the 16th century.
LIVIUSmAncient Roman
Roman family name which may be related to either Latin liveo "to envy" or lividus "blue, envious". Titus Livius, also known as Livy, was a Roman historian who wrote a history of the city of Rome.
LLYWELYNmWelsh
Possibly a Welsh form of the old Celtic name Lugubelenus, a combination of the names of the gods LUGUS and BELENUS. Alternatively it may be derived from Welsh llyw "leader". This was the name of several Welsh rulers, notably the 13th-century Llywelyn the Great who fought against England.
LOIS (1)fEnglish, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Possibly derived from Greek λωιων (loion) meaning "more desirable" or "better". Lois is mentioned in the New Testament as the mother of Eunice and the grandmother of Timothy. As an English name, it came into use after the Protestant Reformation. In fiction, this is the name of the girlfriend of the comic book hero Superman.
LOKImNorse Mythology
Meaning unknown, possibly derived from the Indo-European root *leug meaning "to break". In Norse legend Loki was a trickster god associated with magic and fire. Over time he became more and more evil, and he was eventually chained to a rock by the other gods.
LONDONf & mEnglish (Modern)
From the name of the capital city of the United Kingdom, the meaning of which is uncertain. As a surname it was borne by the American author Jack London (1876-1916).
LOT (2)mArthurian 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 and Lewdwn respectively). He was inserted into Arthurian legend by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, who makes him the father of Gawain.
LUDIVINEfFrench
Possibly from a feminine form of LEUTWIN. It was popularized in the 1970s by a character from the television miniseries 'Les Gens de Mogador'.
LUKEmEnglish, Biblical
English form of the Greek name Λουκας (Loukas) which meant "from Lucania", Lucania being a region in southern Italy (of uncertain meaning). Luke was a doctor who travelled in the company of the apostle Paul. According to tradition, he was the author of the third gospel and Acts in the New Testament. He was probably of Greek ethnicity. He is considered a saint by many Christian denominations.... [more]
LUVENIAfEnglish
Possibly a form of LAVINIA. It has been used in America since the 19th century.
MAHLAHf & mBiblical
From the Hebrew name מַחְלָה (Machlah), possibly from חָלָה (chalah) meaning "weak, sick". This name is used in the Old Testament as both a feminine and masculine name. In some versions of the Bible the masculine name is spelled Mahalah.
MAHULENAfCzech
Possibly inspired by MAGDALENA. The Czech author Julius Zeyer created it for a character in his play 'Radúz and Mahulena' (1898).
MANIUSmAncient Roman
Roman praenomen, or given name, which was possibly derived from Old Latin manus "good".
MARDUKmSemitic Mythology
Probably from Sumerian amar-Utuk meaning "calf of Utu", derived from amar combined with the name of the sun god UTU. This was the name of the chief Babylonian god, presiding over heaven, light, sky, battle, and fertility. After killing the dragon Tiamat, who was an old enemy of the gods, he created the world and sky from the pieces of her body.
MARINDAfEnglish
Either a diminutive of MARY or a variant of MIRANDA.
MARLINmEnglish
Possibly a variant of MERLIN.
MARLONmEnglish
Meaning unknown. This name was popularized by the American actor Marlon Brando (1924-2004), who was named after his father.
MARNIEfEnglish
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.
MARSmRoman Mythology
Possibly related to Latin mas "male" (genitive maris). In Roman mythology Mars was the god of war, often equated with the Greek god Ares. This is also the name of the fourth planet in the solar system.
MARYfEnglish, 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 "love".... [more]
MATHmWelsh Mythology
Possibly from Celtic matu meaning "bear". According to the Mabinogion, Math ap Mathonwy was a king of Gwynedd and a magician. He was the uncle of the hero Gwydion.
MELUSINEfMythology
Meaning unknown. In European folklore Melusine was a water fairy who turned into a serpent from the waist down every Saturday. She made her husband, Raymond of Poitou, promise that he would never see her on that day, and when he broke his word she left him forever.
MERLEf & mEnglish
Variant of MERRILL or MURIEL. The spelling has been influenced by the word merle meaning "blackbird" (via French, from Latin merula).
MERYLfEnglish
Variant of MURIEL, influenced by the spelling of the name CHERYL. A famous bearer is American actress Meryl Streep (1949-), whose real name is Mary Louise Streep.
MESHACHmBiblical
Possibly means "who is what Aku is?" in Akkadian, Aku being the name of the Babylonian god of the moon. In the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament this is the Babylonian name of Mishael, one of the three men cast into a blazing furnace but saved from harm by God.
MICHAL (2)fBiblical, Hebrew
Possibly means "brook" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament she is a daughter of Saul. She was married to David, but after David fled from Saul he remarried her to someone else. Later, when David became king, he ordered her returned to him.
MILDAfLithuanian, Baltic Mythology
Meaning unknown. This was the name of the Lithuanian goddess of love.
MILESmEnglish
From the Germanic name Milo, introduced by the Normans to England in the form Miles. The meaning is not known for certain. It is possibly connected to the Slavic name element milu meaning "gracious". From an early date it was associated with Latin miles "soldier".
MILODRAGmMedieval Slavic (Hypothetical)
Possible medieval Slavic form of MIODRAG.
MINERVAfRoman Mythology, English
Possibly derived from Latin mens meaning "intellect", but more likely of Etruscan origin. Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and war, approximately equivalent to the Greek goddess Athena. It has been used as a given name in the English-speaking world since after the Renaissance.
MINOSmGreek Mythology
Possibly from a Cretan word or title meaning "king". This was the name of a king of Crete in Greek mythology. He was the son of Zeus and Europa. Because Minos had refused to sacrifice a certain bull to Poseidon, the god had caused his wife Pasiphaë to mate with the bull, which produced the half-bull creature called the Minotaur. Minos had Daedalus construct the Labyrinth to house the beast, but it was eventually slain by Theseus.
MIRIAMfHebrew, English, German, Biblical, Biblical Hebrew
Original Hebrew form of MARY. It is used in the Old Testament, where it belongs to the elder sister of Moses and Aaron. She watched over the infant Moses as the pharaoh's daughter drew him from the Nile. The name has long been popular among Jews, and it has been used as an English Christian name since the Protestant Reformation.
MIRSADmBosnian
Meaning unknown, possibly derived from Arabic meaning "watchtower" or Persian meaning "ambush".
MIRUNAfRomanian
Possibly derived from the Slavic word mir meaning "peace".
MONICAfEnglish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Late Roman
Meaning unknown, most likely of North African or Phoenician origin. In the 4th century this name was borne by the North African saint Monica of Hippo, the mother of Saint Augustine, whom she converted to Christianity. Since the Middle Ages it has been associated with Latin moneo "advisor" and Greek monos "one". As an English name, Monica has been in general use since the 18th century.
MORDREDmWelsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
From Welsh Medraut, possibly from Latin moderatus meaning "controlled, moderated". 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)fArthurian 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.
MOSESmEnglish, Jewish, Biblical, Biblical Latin
From the Hebrew name מֹשֶׁה (Mosheh) which is most likely derived from Egyptian mes meaning "son", but could also possibly mean "deliver" in Hebrew. The meaning suggested in the Old Testament of "drew out" from Hebrew משה (mashah) is probably an invented etymology (see Exodus 2:10). The biblical Moses was drawn out of the Nile by the pharaoh's daughter and adopted into the royal family, at a time when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. With his brother Aaron he demanded the pharaoh release the Israelites, which was only done after God sent ten plagues upon Egypt. Moses led the people across the Red Sea and to Mount Sinai, where he received the Ten Commandments from God. After 40 years of wandering in the desert the people reached Canaan, the Promised Land, but Moses died just before entering it.... [more]
MURIELfEnglish, French, Irish
Medieval English form of a Celtic name which was probably related to the Irish name MUIRGEL. The Normans brought it to England from Brittany. In the modern era it was popularized by a character from Dinah Craik's novel 'John Halifax, Gentleman' (1856).
MURIELLEfFrench
French variant of MURIEL.
MYLES (2)mGreek Mythology
Probably from Greek μυλη (myle) meaning "mill". This was the name of a king of Laconia in Greek mythology.
NABUmSemitic Mythology
Possibly from a Semitic root meaning "to announce". This was the name of an Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom, letters and writing.
NAPOLEONmHistory, English
From the old Italian name Napoleone, used most notably by the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821), who was born on Corsica. The etymology is uncertain, but it is possibly derived from the Germanic Nibelungen meaning "sons of mist", a name used in Germanic mythology to refer to the keepers of a hoard of treasure (often identified with the Burgundians). Alternatively, it could be connected to the name of the Italian city of Napoli (Naples).
NEASAfIrish, Irish Mythology
Meaning uncertain. In Irish legend she was the mother of Conchobhar, king of Ulster. According to some versions of the legend she was originally named Assa meaning "gentle", but was renamed Ni-assa "not gentle" after she sought to avenge the murders of her foster fathers.
NEIFIONmWelsh
Welsh form of NEPTUNE.
NEILmIrish, Scottish, English
From the Gaelic name Niall, which is of disputed origin, possibly meaning "champion" or "cloud". This was the name of a semi-legendary 4th-century Irish king, Niall of the Nine Hostages.... [more]
NEILINAfScottish
Feminine form of NEIL.
NEITHfEgyptian Mythology (Hellenized)
Greek form of Egyptian Nit, possibly meaning "water". This was the name of an early Egyptian goddess of weaving, hunting and war. Her character may have some correspondences with the goddesses Tanith, Anat or Athena.
NEPTUNEmRoman Mythology (Anglicized)
From the Latin Neptunus, which is of unknown meaning, possibly related to the Indo-European root *nebh "wet, damp, clouds". Neptune was the god of the sea in Roman mythology, approximately equivalent to the Greek god Poseidon. This is also the name of the eighth planet in the solar system.
NERIDAfIndigenous Australian
Possibly means "water lily" in an Australian Aboriginal language.
NERO (1)mAncient Roman
Roman cognomen, which was probably of Sabine origin meaning "strong, vigourous". It was borne most infamously by a tyrannical Roman emperor of the 1st century.
NERYSfWelsh
Perhaps an elaboration of Welsh ner "lord", with the intended meaning of "lady".
NIMRODmBiblical
Meaning unknown, possibly of Akkadian origin or possibly meaning "rebel" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament Nimrod is a renowned hunter, the great-grandson of Noah. He was the founder of Babylon.... [more]
NIMUEfArthurian 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.
NINIANmScottish, Irish, Ancient Celtic
Meaning unknown. It appears in a Latinized form Niniavus, which could be from the Welsh name NYNNIAW. This was the name of a 5th-century British saint who was apparently responsible for many miracles and cures. He is known as the Apostle to the Picts.
NINLILfSumerian Mythology
Derived from Sumerian 𒊩𒌆 (nin) meaning "lady" and possibly 𒆤 (lil) meaning "wind". This was the name of a Sumerian goddess, the consort of Enlil.
NINOSLAVmSerbian, Croatian, Medieval Slavic
From a Slavic element, possibly nyni "now", combined with slava "glory".
NIOBEfGreek Mythology
Meaning unknown. In Greek mythology Niobe was the daughter of Tantalos, a king of Asia Minor. Because she boasted that she was superior to Leto, Leto's children Apollo and Artemis killed her 14 children with poison arrows. In grief, Niobe was turned to stone by Zeus.
NUNOmPortuguese, Medieval Portuguese
Medieval Portuguese and Spanish name, possibly from Latin nonus "ninth" or nunnus "grandfather". Saint Nuno was a 14th-century Portuguese general who defeated a Castilian invasion.
NYNNIAWmAncient Celtic
Meaning unknown, presumably of Welsh origin. According to the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, this was the name of a Welsh prince who fought against the invading forces of Julius Caesar. It was also borne by an 8th-century Welsh historian, usually known by the Latinized form Nennius.
OLIVIAfEnglish, 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 OLIVA, 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]
OMRImBiblical, Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew
Possibly means "life" or "servant" in Hebrew (or a related Semitic language). This was the name of a 9th-century BC military commander who became king of Israel. He appears in the Old Testament, where he is denounced as being wicked.
ONEIDAfEnglish
From the name of a Native American tribe, perhaps meaning "standing rock".
ORA (1)f & mEnglish
Perhaps based on Latin oro "to pray". It was first used in America in the 19th century.
ORALmEnglish
Meaning uncertain. This name was borne by the influential American evangelist Oral Roberts (1918-2009), who was apparently named by his cousin.
ORIANAfItalian, Spanish
Possibly derived from Latin aurum "gold" or from its derivatives, Spanish oro or French or. In medieval legend Oriana was the daughter of a king of England who married the knight Amadis.
ORIONmGreek Mythology
Meaning unknown, but possibly related to Greek ‘οριον (horion) meaning "boundary, limit". Alternatively it may be derived from Akkadian Uru-anna meaning "light of the heavens". This is the name of a constellation, which gets its name from a legendary Greek hunter who was killed by a scorpion sent by the earth goddess Gaia.