ACHILLES m Greek Mythology (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.
AELIUS m Ancient 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.
AFËRDITA f Albanian
Means "daybreak, morning" in Albanian, from afër
"nearby, close" and ditë
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.
ALAN m English, 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]
ALPIN m Scottish
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.
ANAKIN m Popular 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.
ANDRASTE f Celtic Mythology
Possibly means "invincible" in Celtic. This was the name of a Briton goddess of victory who was invoked by Boudicca
before her revolt.
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]
AONGHUS m Irish, 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.
APHRODITE f Greek Mythology
Meaning unknown, possibly of Phoenician origin. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love, equal to 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.
ARA m Armenian, 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.
ARLO m English
Meaning uncertain. It was perhaps inspired by the fictional place name Arlo Hill from the poem 'The Faerie Queene' (1590) by Edmund Spenser. Spenser probably got Arlo by altering the real Irish place name Aherlow, which is Gaelic meaning "between two highlands".
ARLOTTO m Medieval Italian
Medieval Italian name, recorded in Latin as Arlotus
. It is possibly from Old French herlot
meaning "vagabond, tramp".
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]
ASEN m Bulgarian
Meaning unknown, probably of Turkic origin. This was the name of a 12th-century Bulgarian emperor (Ivan Asen I) and several of his successors.
ATLAS m Greek 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.
AVE f Estonian
Possibly from the name of the prayer Ave Maria
, in which Ave
is Latin meaning "greetings, salutations".
AVIS f English
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
BEDIVERE m Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
From the Welsh name Bedwyr
, which is of unknown meaning. In Arthurian legends Bedivere was one of the original companions of King Arthur
. He first appears in early Welsh tales, and his story was later expanded by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century. He is the one who throws the sword Excalibur into the lake at the request of the dying Arthur.
BEOWULF m Anglo-Saxon Mythology
Possibly means "bee wolf" (in effect equal to "bear") from Old English beo
"bee" and wulf
"wolf". This is the name of the main character in the anonymous 8th-century epic poem 'Beowulf'. Set in Denmark, the poem tells how he slays the monster Grendel and its mother at the request of king Hroðgar
. After this Beowulf becomes the king of the Geats. The conclusion of the poem tells how Beawulf, in his old age, slays a dragon but is himself mortally wounded in the act.
BERAT m Turkish
Possibly from Turkish berat
meaning "letters patent".
BESSARION m Late 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.
BORIS m Bulgarian, Russian, Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Georgian, German, History
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.
BRENDA f English
Possibly a feminine form of the Old Norse name Brandr
, meaning "sword", which was brought to Britain in the Middle Ages. This name is sometimes used as a feminine form of BRENDAN
BRIAN m Irish, English, 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.
CALEB m English, Biblical
Most likely related to Hebrew כֶּלֶב (kelev)
meaning "dog". An alternate theory connects it to Hebrew כָּל (kal)
"whole, all of" and לֵב (lev)
"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]
CAMILLUS m Ancient 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.
CARSON m & f Scottish, English
From a Scottish surname of uncertain meaning. A famous bearer of the surname was the American scout Kit Carson (1809-1868).
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]
CASSIUS m Ancient 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).
CEALLACH m Irish
Irish name of uncertain origin, traditionally said to mean "bright-headed". Alternatively it could be derived from Old Irish ceallach
"war, strife" or ceall
CERI (1) m Welsh
Possibly derived from Welsh caru
meaning "to love".
CERIDWEN f Welsh
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
CHAD m English
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.
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.
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
CYBELE f Near 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.
DECLAN m Irish
Anglicized form of Irish Deaglán
, which is of unknown meaning. Saint Declan was a 5th-century missionary to Ireland.
EA (1) m Near Eastern Mythology
Meaning unknown, perhaps from Sumerian meaning "house of water". This was the Akkadian and Babylonian name of the Sumerian water god Enki
EDDA (2) f Icelandic, 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.
EMER f Irish, 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.
EMLYN m Welsh
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
EMMERICH m German, 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
"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.
ESTHER f English, 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
ÉTAÍN f Irish, 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.
EVADNE f Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From Greek Ευαδνη (Euadne)
, which is of unknown meaning, though the first element is derived from Greek ευ (eu)
"good". 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.
GAËL m French, 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
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.
GALAHAD m Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown. In Arthurian legend Sir Galahad was the son of Lancelot
. He was the most pure of the Knights of the Round Table, and he was the only one to succeed in finding the Holy Grail. He first appears in the medieval French 'Lancelot-Grail' cycle.
GARETH m Welsh, English (British), Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown. It first appears in this form in Thomas Malory's 15th-century compilation of Arthurian legends 'Le Morte d'Arthur', in which Gareth was a Knight of the Round Table, the brother of Sir Gawain
. Malory based the name on Gahariet
, which was the name of a similar Arthurian character in French sources. It may ultimately have a Welsh origin, possibly related to gwaredd
GARSEA m Medieval Spanish
Meaning unknown, possibly related to the Basque word hartz
meaning "bear". This was the name of several medieval kings of Navarre and Leon.
GAWAIN m Welsh, Arthurian Romance
Meaning uncertain, from the Latin form Walganus
used by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth. This was the name of a nephew of King Arthur
and one of the Knights of the Round Table in Arthurian legend. He can be identified with the earlier Welsh hero Gwalchmei, and it is likely that the name derives from GWALCHMEI
. Alternatively it may have a different Celtic or even a Germanic origin. Gawain was a popular hero in medieval stories such as the 14th-century romantic poem 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'.
GERA m Biblical
Possibly means "a grain" in Hebrew. This was the name of several members of the tribe of Benjamin in the Old Testament.
GERVASIUS m Ancient 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.
GRÁINNE f Irish, 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
HAYK m Armenian
Possibly derived from the Armenian word հայ (hay)
meaning "Armenian". This was the name of the legendary forefather of the Armenian people, supposedly a great-great-grandson of Noah
HERA f Greek 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.
HORATIUS m Ancient 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.
ICARUS m Greek 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.
IGNATIUS m Late 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.
IGRAINE f Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown, from Igerna
, the Latinized form of Welsh Eigyr
. In Arthurian legend she is the mother of King Arthur
by Uther Pendragon and the mother of Morgan
le Fay by Gorlois. The Welsh form Eigyr
was rendered into Latin as Igerna
by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth.
ISOLDE f English (Rare), German, Arthurian Romance
The origins of this name are uncertain, though some Celtic roots have been suggested. It is possible that the name is ultimately Germanic, perhaps from a hypothetic name like Ishild
, composed of the elements is
"ice, iron" and hild
ISSACHAR m Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Possibly means "man of hire" or "there is reward", from Hebrew שָׁכַר (shakhar)
"hire, wage, reward". In the Old Testament this is the name of one of the twelve sons of Jacob
and the founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. A justification for the name's meaning is given in Genesis 30:18.
IVAYLO m Bulgarian
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) m German, 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
JACOB m English, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Jewish, Biblical
From the Latin Iacobus
, which was from the Greek Ιακωβος (Iakobos)
, which was from the Hebrew name יַעֲקֹב (Ya'aqov)
. In the Old Testament Jacob (later called Israel
) is the son of Isaac
and the father of the twelve founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. He was born holding his twin brother Esau
's heel, and his name is explained as meaning "holder of the heel" or "supplanter", because he twice deprived his brother of his rights as the firstborn son (see Genesis 27:36). Other theories claim that it is in fact derived from a hypothetical name like יַעֲקֹבְאֵל (Ya'aqov'el)
meaning "may God protect".... [more]
JUNO f Roman 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.
KATHERINE f English
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 reflect this.... [more]
KAY (2) m Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
From the Welsh name Cai
, 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.
KEITH m English, 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.
KYLER m English (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.
LANCELOT m Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown, possibly an Old French diminutive of Lanzo
). In Arthurian legend Lancelot was the bravest of the Knights of the Round Table. He became the lover of Arthur
's wife Guinevere
. His earliest appearance is in the works of the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes.
LARISA f Russian, 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
LEMMINKÄINEN m Finnish 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
LEVI m Hebrew, 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 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
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.
LOIS (1) f English, 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.
LOKI m Norse 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.
LONDON f & m English (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) m Arthurian Romance
From the name of the region of Lothian in southern Scotland, of unknown meaning. A king of Lothian by this name appears in early Latin and Welsh texts (as Leudonus
respectively). He was inserted into Arthurian legend by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, who makes him the father of Gawain
MARDUK m Near Eastern Mythology
Possibly from Sumerian amar-Utu
meaning "calf of UTU
". In Babylonian mythology he was the chief 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.
MARNIE f English
Possibly a diminutive of MARINA
. This name was brought to public attention by Alfred Hitchcock's movie 'Marnie' (1964), itself based on a 1961 novel by Winston Graham.
MARS m Roman 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.
MARY f English, Biblical
Usual English form of Maria
, the Latin form of the New Testament Greek names Μαριαμ (Mariam)
and Μαρια (Maria)
- the spellings are interchangeable - which were from Hebrew מִרְיָם (Miryam)
, a name borne by the sister of Moses
in the Old Testament. The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including "sea of bitterness", "rebelliousness", and "wished for child". However it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry
"beloved" or mr
MATH m Welsh 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
MICHAL (2) f Biblical, 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.
MINERVA f Roman 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.
MINOS m Greek 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
. 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
MIRIAM f Hebrew, 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
. 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.
MIRSAD m Bosnian
Meaning unknown, possibly derived from Arabic meaning "watchtower" or Persian meaning "ambush".
MONICA f English, 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.
MORDRED m Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
From Welsh Medraut
, meaning uncertain. In Arthurian legend Mordred was the illegitimate son (in some versions nephew) of King Arthur
. Mordred first appears briefly (as Medraut
) in the 10th-century 'Annales Cambriae', but he was not portrayed as a traitor until the chronicles of the 12th-century Geoffrey of Monmouth. While Arthur is away he seduces his wife Guinevere
and declares himself king. This prompts the battle of Camlann, which leads to the deaths of both Mordred and Arthur.
MORGAN (2) f Arthurian Romance
Modern form of Morgen
, which was used by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century for the Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay, who was unnamed in earlier stories. Geoffrey probably did not derive it from the Welsh masculine name Morgan
, which would have been spelled Morcant
in his time. He may have based it on the Irish name MUIRGEN
NABU m Near Eastern Mythology
Possibly from a Semitic root meaning "to announce". This was the name of an Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom, letters and writing.
NAPOLEON m History, English
From the old Italian name Napoleone
, used most notably by the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821), who was born on Corsica. It is possibly derived from the Germanic Nibelungen
, the name of a race of dwarfs in Germanic legend, which meant "sons of mist". Alternatively, it could be connected to the name of the Italian city of Napoli (Naples).
NEASA f Irish, 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.
NEIL m Irish, Scottish, English
From the Gaelic name Niall
, which is of disputed origin, possibly meaning "champion" or "cloud". This was the name of a semi-legendary 4th-century Irish king, Niall of the Nine Hostages.... [more]
NEPTUNE m Roman 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.
NIMUE f Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown. In Arthurian legends this is the name of a sorceress, also known as the Lady of the Lake, Vivien, or Niniane. Various versions of the tales have Merlin
falling in love with her and becoming imprisoned by her magic. She first appears in the medieval French 'Lancelot-Grail' cycle.
NINIAN m Scottish, 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.
NIOBE f Greek 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
killed her 14 children with poison arrows. In grief, Niobe was turned to stone by Zeus
NUNO m Portuguese, 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.
NYNNIAW m Ancient 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
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]
ORION m Greek Mythology
Meaning unknown, but possibly related to Greek ‘οριον (horion)
"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 killed by a scorpion sent by Gaia
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
OTHO m Ancient Roman
Roman cognomen of unknown meaning. This was the name of a short-lived 1st-century Roman emperor.
OVID m History
From the Roman family name Ovidius
, which was possibly derived from Latin ovis
"a sheep". Alternatively, it could have a Sabellic origin. Publius Ovidius Naso, better known as Ovid, was a 1st-century BC Roman poet who often wrote on the subjects of love and mythology. He was sent into exile by emperor Augustus for no apparent reason.
OWAIN m Welsh, Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
Probably a Welsh form of EUGENE
, though it might be derived from Welsh eoghunn
meaning "youth". This was the name of several figures from Welsh history and mythology. In Arthurian legend Owain (also called Yvain
in French sources) was one of the Knights of the Round Table, the son of King Urien and husband of the Lady of the Fountain. His character was based on that of Owain ap Urien, a 6th-century Welsh prince who fought against the Angles. This name was also borne by Owain Glyndwr, a 14th-century leader of Welsh resistance against English rule.
PÉPIN m History
Frankish name of unknown meaning. It possibly means "awe-inspiring" from Frankish bib-
"to tremble". This was the name of three majordomos of Austrasia including Pépin III the Short, who became the first Carolingian king of the Franks. He was the father of Charlemagne
PERCIVAL m Arthurian Romance, English
Created by the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes for his poem 'Perceval, the Story of the Grail'. In the poem Perceval was one of King Arthur
's Knights of the Round Table who was given a glimpse of the Holy Grail. The character (and probably the name) of Perceval was based on that of the Welsh hero PEREDUR
. The spelling was perhaps altered under the influence of Old French percer val
"to pierce the valley".
PERCY m English
From an English surname which was derived from the name of a Norman town Perci
, which was itself perhaps derived from a Gaulish given name which was Latinized as Persius
. The surname was borne by a noble English family, and it first used as a given name in their honour. A famous bearer was Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), an English romantic poet whose works include 'Adonais' and 'Ozymandias'. This name can also be used as a short form of PERCIVAL
PEREDUR m Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
Possibly means "hard spears" in Welsh. This was the name of several figures from Welsh mythology. It was later used by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Arthurian tales. The character of Percival
was probably based on him.
PONTIUS m Ancient Roman, Biblical Latin, Biblical
Roman family name. The family had Samnite roots so the name probably originated from the Oscan language, likely meaning "fifth" (a cognate of Latin Quintus
). Alternatively, it could be derived from the name of the ancient province of Pontus
in Asia Minor, itself probably from Greek ποντος (pontos)
"sea". A notable bearer of this name was Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea who appears in the New Testament.
POSEIDON m Greek Mythology
Possibly derived from Greek ποσις (posis)
"husband, lord" and δα (da)
"earth". In Greek mythology Poseidon was the unruly god of the sea and earthquakes, the brother of Zeus
. He was often depicted carrying a trident and riding in a chariot drawn by white horses.
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
REILLY m & f English (Modern)
From an Irish surname which was derived from the given name Raghailleach
, meaning unknown.
RHONA f Scottish
Possibly derived from the name of the Hebridean island Rona
, which means "rough island" in Gaelic.
RHONDA f English
Probably intended to mean "good spear" from Welsh rhon
"spear" and da
"good", but possibly influenced by the name of the Rhondda Valley in South Wales, which means "noisy". It has been in use only since the 20th century. Its use may have been partially inspired by Margaret Mackworth, Viscountess Rhondda (1883-1956), a British feminist.
ROLAND m English, French, German, Swedish, Dutch, Hungarian, Medieval French
From the Germanic elements hrod
meaning "fame" and land
meaning "land", though some theories hold that the second element was originally nand
meaning "brave". Roland was a semi-legendary French hero whose story is told in the medieval epic 'La Chanson de Roland', in which he is a nephew of Charlemagne
killed in battle with the Saracens. The Normans introduced this name to England.
RUARC m Irish
Probably an Irish form of HRŒREKR
, introduced by Scandinavian settlers and invaders. Alternatively it may be derived from Irish ruarc
SAMO m Slovene, Medieval Slavic
Meaning uncertain. This was the name of a 7th-century ruler of the Slavs, who established a kingdom including parts of modern Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. He was possibly of Frankish origin.
SANCHO m Spanish
Possibly a Spanish form of the Late Latin name Sanctius
, which was derived from the word sanctus
meaning "saintly, holy". Alternatively, Sancho
may be derived from an older Iberian name. This was the name of a 9th-century saint who was martyred by the Moors at Cordoba. It was also borne by several Spanish and Portuguese kings. Miguel de Cervantes used it in his novel 'Don Quixote' (1605), where it belongs to the squire of Don Quixote.
SÉAGHDHA m Irish
Possibly means "admirable" or "hawk-like" in Gaelic.
SEMELE f Greek Mythology
Meaning unknown, possibly of Phrygian origin. In Greek mythology she was one of the many lovers of Zeus
, being jealous, tricked Semele into asking Zeus to display himself in all his splendour as the god of thunder. When he did, Semele was struck by lightning and died, but not before giving birth to Dionysos
SERGIUS m Ancient Roman
Roman family name, possibly meaning "servant" in Latin but most likely of unknown Etruscan origin. Saint Sergius was a 4th-century Roman officer who was martyred in Syria with his companion Bacchus. They are the patron saints of Christian desert nomads. Another saint by this name (in the Russian form Sergey
) was a 14th-century Russian spiritual leader. The name was also borne by four popes.
SHAMGAR m Biblical
Possibly means "sword" in Hebrew. Shamgar was one of the Old Testament judges.
TAFARI m Eastern African, Amharic
Possibly means "he who inspires awe" in Amharic. This name was borne by Lij Tafari Makonnen (1892-1975), also known as Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. Rastafarians (Ras Tafari
meaning "king Tafari") revere him as the earthly incarnation of God.
TERENCE m English
From the Roman family name Terentius
which is of unknown meaning. Famous bearers include Publius Terentius Afer, a Roman playwright, and Marcus Terentius Varro, a Roman scholar. It was also borne by several early saints. The name was used in Ireland as an Anglicized form of TOIRDHEALBHACH
, but it was not in use as an English name until the late 19th century.
THADDEUS m English, Biblical, Biblical Latin
From Θαδδαιος (Thaddaios)
, the Greek form of the Aramaic name Thaddai
. It is possibly derived from a word meaning "heart", but it may in fact be an Aramaic form of a Greek name such as Θεοδωρος
). In the Gospel of Matthew, Thaddaeus is listed as one of the twelve apostles, though elsewhere in the New Testament his name is omitted and Jude
's appears instead. It is likely that the two names refer to the same person.
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.
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]
TRAJAN m History, Macedonian
From the Roman cognomen Traianus
, which is of unknown meaning. The Roman emperor Trajan (full name Marcus Ulpius Traianus) is considered among the most capable men to have led the empire. His military accomplishments include victories over Dacia and Parthia.
ÚNA f Irish
Possibly derived from Irish uan
VERENA f German, Late Roman
Possibly related to Latin verus
"true". This might also be a Coptic form of the Ptolemaic name BERENICE
. Saint Verena was a 3rd-century Egyptian-born nurse who went with the Theban Legion to Switzerland. After the legion was massacred she settled near Zurich.
VIVIEN (2) f Literature
Used by Alfred Lord Tennyson as the name of the Lady of the Lake in his Arthurian epic 'Idylls of the King' (1859). Tennyson may have based it on VIVIENNE
, but it possibly arose as a misreading of NINIAN
. A famous bearer was British actress Vivien Leigh (1913-1967), who played Scarlett O'Hara in 'Gone with the Wind'.
WIELAND m German, Germanic Mythology
Derived from the Germanic elements wela
possibly meaning "skill" and land
meaning "land". In Germanic mythology Wieland (called Völundr in Old Norse) was an unequaled smith and craftsman.
XIMENO m Medieval Spanish
Medieval Spanish or Basque name of uncertain meaning. It is possibly a form of SIMON (1)
, though it may in fact derive from Basque seme
ZANE (1) m English
From an English surname of unknown meaning. It was introduced as a given name by American author Zane Grey (1872-1939). Zane was in fact his middle name - it had been his mother's maiden name.
ZARATHUSTRA m History
Possibly means "golden camel" in Old Iranian, derived from zarat
meaning "golden" combined with ushtra
meaning "camel". Zarathustra was the Persian prophet who founded the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism about the 10th century BC.
ZEBULUN m Biblical
Possibly derived from Ugartic zbl
meaning "prince". In the Old Testament Zebulun is the tenth son of Jacob
(his sixth son by Leah
) and the ancestor of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Genesis 30:20 implies two different roots for the name: זָבַל (zaval)
"to dwell" and זֵבֵד (zeved)
"gift, dowry". These are probably only folk etymologies.