AGATHA f English, Ancient Greek (Latinized)
Latinized form of the Greek name Αγαθη (Agathe)
, derived from Greek αγαθος (agathos)
meaning "good". Saint Agatha was a 3rd-century martyr from Sicily who was tortured and killed after spurning the advances of a Roman official. The saint was widely revered in the Middle Ages, and her name has been used throughout Christian Europe (in various spellings). The mystery writer Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was a famous modern bearer of this name.
ANASTASIA f Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, English, Spanish, Italian, Georgian, Ancient Greek
Feminine form of ANASTASIUS
. This was the name of a 4th-century Dalmatian saint who was martyred during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Diocletian. Due to her, the name has been common in Eastern Orthodox Christianity (in various spellings). As an English name it has been in use since the Middle Ages. A famous bearer was the youngest daughter of the last Russian tsar Nicholas II, who was rumoured to have escaped the execution of her family in 1918.
ASHLEY f & m English
From an English surname that was originally derived from place names meaning "ash tree clearing", from a combination of Old English æsc
. Until the 1960s it was more commonly given to boys in the United States, but it is now most often used on girls.
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
COCO f Various
Diminutive of names beginning with Co
, influenced by the word cocoa
. However, this was not the case for French fashion designer Coco Chanel (real name Gabrielle), whose nickname came from the name of a song she performed while working as a cabaret singer.
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
FIONA f Scottish, English
Feminine form of FIONN
. This name was (first?) used by Scottish poet James Macpherson in his poem 'Fingal' (1762).
HAZEL f English
From the English word hazel
for the tree or the light brown colour, derived ultimately from Old English hæsel
. It was coined as a given name in the 19th century.
HECATE f Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From the Greek ‘Εκατη (Hekate)
, possibly derived from ‘εκας (hekas)
meaning "far off". In Greek mythology Hecate was a goddess associated with witchcraft, crossroads, tombs, demons and the underworld.
HERMIONE f Greek Mythology
Derived from the name of the Greek messenger god HERMES
. In Greek myth Hermione was the daughter of Menelaus and Helen. This is also the name of the wife of Leontes in Shakespeare's play 'The Winter's Tale' (1610). It is now closely associated with the character Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series of books, first released in 1997.
KRIEMHILD f German (Rare), Germanic Mythology
Derived from the Germanic elements grim
"mask" and hild
"battle". Kriemhild was a beautiful heroine in the Germanic saga the 'Nibelungenlied', where she is the sister of Günther
and the wife of Siegfried
. After her husband is killed by Hagen
with the consent of Günther, Kriemhild tragically exacts her revenge.
MADISON f & m English
From an English surname meaning "son of MAUD
". It was not commonly used as a feminine name until after the movie 'Splash' (1984), in which the main character adopted it as her name after seeing a street sign for Madison Avenue in New York City. A famous bearer of the surname was James Madison (1751-1836), one of the authors of the American constitution who later served as president.
MALLORY f English (Modern)
From an English surname that meant "unfortunate" in Norman French. It first became common in the 1980s due to the television comedy 'Family Ties', which featured a character by this name.
MARIE f & m French, Czech, German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
French and Czech form of MARIA
. A notable bearer of this name was Marie Antoinette, a queen of France who was executed by guillotine during the French Revolution. Another was Marie Curie (1867-1934), a physicist and chemist who studied radioactivity with her husband Pierre.... [more]
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.
MATILDA f English, Swedish, Finnish
From the Germanic name Mahthildis
meaning "strength in battle", from the elements maht
"might, strength" and hild
"battle". Saint Matilda was the wife of the 10th-century German king Henry I the Fowler. The name was common in many branches of European royalty in the Middle Ages. It was brought to England by the Normans, being borne by the wife of William the Conqueror himself. Another notable royal by this name was a 12th-century daughter of Henry I of England, known as the Empress Matilda because of her first marriage to the Holy Roman emperor Henry V. She later invaded England, laying the foundations for the reign of her son Henry II.... [more]
MEDEA f Greek Mythology (Latinized), Georgian
From Greek Μηδεια (Medeia)
, possibly derived from μηδομαι (medomai)
"to think, to plan". In Greek mythology Medea was a sorceress from Colchis (modern Georgia) who helped Jason
gain the Golden Fleece. They were married, but eventually Jason left her for another woman. For revenge Medea slew Jason's new lover and also had her own children by Jason killed.
MILDRED f English
From the Old English name Mildþryð
meaning "gentle strength", derived from the elements milde
"gentle" and þryð
"strength". Saint Mildred was a 7th-century abbess, the daughter of the Kentish princess Saint Ermenburga. After the Norman Conquest this name became rare, but it was revived in the 19th century.
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.
MISTY f English
From the English word misty
, ultimately derived from Old English. The jazz song 'Misty' (1954) by Erroll Garner may have helped popularize the name.
MOLLY f English
Diminutive of MARY
. It developed from Malle
, other medieval diminutives. James Joyce used this name in his novel 'Ulysses' (1920), where it belongs to Molly Bloom, the wife of the main character.
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
MYRTLE f English
Simply from the English word myrtle
for the evergreen shrub, ultimately from Greek μυρτος (myrtos)
. It was first used as a given name in the 19th century, at the same time many other plant and flower names were coined.
NAN f English
Originally a diminutive of ANN
. It may have originated with the affectionate phrase mine Ann
, which was later reinterpreted as my Nan
. It is now also used as a short form of NANCY
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.
NYX f Greek Mythology
Means "night" in Greek. This was the name of the Greek goddess of the night, the daughter of Khaos and the wife of Erebos.
PATRICIA f English, Spanish, German, Late Roman
Feminine form of Patricius
). In medieval England this spelling appears in Latin documents, but this form was probably not used as the actual name until the 18th century, in Scotland.
ROSE f English, French
Originally a Norman form of a Germanic name, which was composed of the elements hrod
"fame" and heid
"kind, sort, type". The Normans introduced it to England in the forms Roese
. From an early date it was associated with the word for the fragrant flower rose
(derived from Latin rosa
). When the name was revived in the 19th century, it was probably with the flower in mind.
SABRINA f English, Italian, German, French
Latinized form of Habren
, the original Welsh name of the River Severn. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Sabrina was the name of a princess who was drowned in the Severn. Supposedly the river was named for her, but it is more likely that her name was actually derived from that of the river, which is of unknown meaning. She appears as a water nymph in John Milton's masque 'Comus' (1634). It was popularized as a given name by Samuel A. Taylor's play 'Sabrina Fair' (1953) and the movie adaptation that followed it the next year.
SAMANTHA f English, Italian, Dutch
Perhaps intended to be a feminine form of SAMUEL
, using the name suffix antha
(possibly inspired by Greek ανθος (anthos)
"flower"). It originated in America in the 18th century but was fairly uncommon until 1964, when it was popularized by the main character on the television show 'Bewitched'.
STACY f & m English
Either a diminutive of ANASTASIA
, or else from a surname that was derived from Stace
, a medieval form of EUSTACE
. As a feminine name, it came into general use during the 1950s, though it had earlier been in use as a rare masculine name.
TABITHA f English, Biblical, Biblical Greek
Means "gazelle" in Aramaic. Tabitha in the New Testament was a woman restored to life by Saint Peter
. Her name is translated into Greek as Dorcas (see Acts 9:36). As an English name, Tabitha
became common after the Protestant Reformation. It was popularized in the 1960s by the television show 'Bewitched', in which Tabitha (sometimes spelled Tabatha) is the daughter of the main character.
URSULA f English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, Finnish, Late Roman
Means "little bear", derived from a diminutive form of the Latin word ursa
"she-bear". Saint Ursula was a legendary virgin princess of the 4th century who was martyred by the Huns while returning from a pilgrimage. In England the saint was popular during the Middle Ages, and the name came into general use at that time.
VÄINÄMÖINEN m Finnish Mythology
Derived from Finnish väinä
"wide and slow-flowing river". In Finnish mythology Väinämöinen was a wise old magician, the son of the primal goddess Ilmatar
. He is the hero of the Finnish epic the 'Kalevala'.
VIRGINIA f English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Romanian, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of the Roman family name Verginius
, which is of unknown meaning, but long associated with Latin virgo
"maid, virgin". According to a legend, it was the name of a Roman woman killed by her father so as to save her from the clutches of a crooked official.... [more]
WENDY f English
In the case of the character from J. M. Barrie's play 'Peter Pan' (1904), it was created from the nickname fwendy
"friend", given to the author by a young friend. However, the name was used prior to the play (rarely), in which case it could be related to the Welsh name GWENDOLEN
and other names beginning with the element gwen
meaning "white, fair, blessed". The name only became common after Barrie's play ran.
ZOE f English, Italian, German, Ancient Greek
Means "life" in Greek. From early times it was adopted by Hellenized Jews as a translation of EVE
. It was borne by two early Christian saints, one martyred under Emperor Hadrian, the other martyred under Diocletian. The name was common in the Byzantine Empire, being borne by a ruling empress of the 11th century. As an English name, Zoe
has only been in use since the 19th century. It has generally been more common among Eastern Christians (in various spellings).