ALICE f English, French, Portuguese, Italian, Czech
From the Old French name Aalis
, a short form of Adelais
, itself a short form of the Germanic name Adalheidis
). This name became popular in France and England in the 12th century. It was borne by the heroine of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' (1865) and 'Through the Looking Glass' (1871).
ANN f English
English form of ANNE (1)
. In the English-speaking world, both this spelling and Anne
have been used since the Middle Ages, though Ann
became much more popular during the 19th century.
ANNA f English, Italian, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Estonian, Latvian, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Icelandic, Faroese, Catalan, Occitan, Breton, Biblical, Old Church Slavic, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Form of Channah
) used in the Greek and Latin Old Testament. Many later Old Testament translations, including the English, use the Hannah
spelling instead of Anna
. The name appears briefly in the New Testament belonging to a prophetess who recognized Jesus
as the Messiah. It was a popular name in the Byzantine Empire from an early date, and in the Middle Ages it became common among Western Christians due to veneration of Saint Anna (usually known as Saint Anne in English), the name traditionally assigned to the mother of the Virgin Mary
. In the English-speaking world, this form came into general use in the 18th century, joining Ann
ARETHA f English
Possibly derived from Greek αρετη (arete)
meaning "virtue". This name was popularized in the 1960s by American singer Aretha Franklin (1942-).
ARTEMISIA f Ancient Greek
Feminine form of ARTEMISIOS
. This was the name of the 4th-century BC builder of the Mausoleum, one of the seven wonders of the world. She built it in memory of her husband, the Carian prince Mausolus.
ASMAA f Arabic
Means "appellations, names" in Arabic. This was the name of a daughter of Abu Bakr
, the first caliph of the Muslims.
ASPASIA f Ancient Greek
Derived from Greek ασπασιος (aspasios)
meaning "welcome, embrace". This was the name of the lover of Pericles (5th century BC).
AYN f Various
This name was assumed by Ayn Rand (1905-1982), originally named Alice Rosenbaum, a Russian-American writer and philosopher. She apparently based it on a Finnish name she had heard, but never seen written.
BERENICE f English, Italian, Ancient Greek (Latinized)
Latinized form of Βερενικη (Berenike)
, the Macedonian form of the Greek name Φερενικη (Pherenike)
, which meant "bringing victory" from φερω (phero)
"to bring" and νικη (nike)
"victory". This name was common among the Ptolemy ruling family of Egypt, a dynasty which was originally from Macedon. It occurs briefly in Acts in the New Testament (in most English Bibles it is spelled Bernice
) belonging to a sister of King Herod Agrippa II. As an English name, Berenice
came into use after the Protestant Reformation.
BOUDICCA f Ancient Celtic (Latinized)
Derived from Brythonic boud
meaning "victory". This was the name of a 1st-century queen of the Iceni who led the Britons in revolt against the Romans. Eventually her forces were defeated and she committed suicide. Her name is first recorded in Roman histories, as Boudicca
by Tacitus and Βουδουικα (Boudouika)
by Cassius Dio.
CHRISTABEL f English (Rare)
Combination of CHRISTINA
and the name suffix bel
. This name occurs in medieval literature, and was later used by Samuel Coleridge in his poem 'Christabel' (1800).
CORETTA f English
Diminutive of CORA
. It was borne by Coretta Scott King (1927-2006), the wife of Martin Luther King.
CORNELIA f German, Romanian, Italian, Dutch, English, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of CORNELIUS
. In the 2nd century BC it was borne by Cornelia Scipionis Africana (the daughter of the military hero Scipio Africanus), the mother of the two reformers known as the Gracchi. After her death she was regarded as an example of the ideal Roman woman. The name was revived in the 18th century.
DAISY f English
Simply from the English word for the white flower, ultimately derived from Old English dægeseage
meaning "day eye". It was first used as a given name in the 19th century, at the same time many other plant and flower names were coined.
DOROTHY f English
Usual English form of DOROTHEA
. It has been in use since the 16th century. The author L. Frank Baum used it for the central character in his fantasy novel 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' (1900).
EMILY f English
English feminine form of Aemilius
). In the English-speaking world it was not common until after the German House of Hanover came to the British throne in the 18th century; the princess Amelia Sophia (1711-1786) was commonly known as Emily
in English, even though Amelia
is an unrelated name.... [more]
EMMELINE f English
From an Old French form of the Germanic name Amelina
, originally a diminutive of Germanic names beginning with the element amal
meaning "work". The Normans introduced this name to England.
ERZSÉBET f Hungarian
Hungarian form of ELIZABETH
. This is the native name of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. It was also borne by the infamous Erzsébet Báthory, a 16th-century countess and murderer.
FLORENCE f & m English, French
From the Latin name Florentius
or the feminine form Florentia
, which were derived from florens
"prosperous, flourishing". Florentius
was borne by many early Christian saints, and it was occasionally used in their honour through the Middle Ages. In modern times it is mostly feminine.... [more]
GERMAINE f French
French feminine form of GERMAIN
. Saint Germaine was a 16th-century peasant girl from France.
HATSHEPSUT f Ancient Egyptian
Means "foremost of noble women" in Egyptian. This was the name of a pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. She may have been the first woman to take the title of Pharaoh.
HERLEVA f Ancient Germanic
Germanic name, possibly a derivative of hari
"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.
HERTHA f German
Form of NERTHUS
. The spelling change from N
resulted from a misreading of Tacitus's text.
HYPATIA f Ancient Greek
Derived from Greek ‘υπατος (hypatos)
meaning "highest, supreme". Hypatia of Alexandria was a 5th-century philosopher and mathematician, daughter of the mathematician Theon.
ISABELLA f Italian, German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Romanian
Latinate form of ISABEL
. This name was borne by many medieval royals, including queen consorts of England, France, Portugal, the Holy Roman Empire and Hungary, as well as the powerful ruling queen Isabella of Castile (properly called Isabel
JANE f English
Medieval English form of Jehanne
, an Old French feminine form of Iohannes
). This became the most common feminine form of John
in the 17th century, surpassing Joan
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.
MABEL f English
Medieval feminine form of AMABILIS
. This spelling and Amabel
were common during the Middle Ages, though they became rare after the 15th century. It was revived in the 19th century after the publication of C. M. Yonge's novel 'The Heir of Redclyffe' (1854), which featured a character named Mabel (as well as one named Amabel).
MARGARET f English
Derived from Latin Margarita
, which was from Greek μαργαριτης (margarites)
meaning "pearl", probably ultimately a borrowing from Sanskrit मञ्यरी (manyari)
. Saint Margaret, the patron of expectant mothers, was martyred at Antioch in the 4th century. Later legends told of her escape from a dragon, with which she was often depicted in medieval art. The saint was popular during the Middle Ages, and her name has been widely used in the Christian world.... [more]
MAYA (1) f Hinduism, Indian, Hindi, Marathi
Means "illusion" in Sanskrit. In Buddhist tradition this is the name of the mother of Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha). This is also another name of the Hindu goddess Durga
NEFERTARI f Ancient Egyptian
From Egyptian Nfrt-jrj
meaning "the most beautiful". This was the name of an Egyptian queen of the New Kingdom, the favourite wife of Rameses II.
NEFERTITI f Ancient Egyptian
From Egyptian Nfrt-jytj
meaning "the beautiful one has come". Nefertiti was a powerful Egyptian queen of the New Kingdom, the principal wife of Akhenaton
, the pharaoh that briefly imposed a monotheistic religion centered around the sun god Aton
OPRAH f Various
In the case of television personality Oprah Winfrey, it was a childhood mispronunciation of her real name ORPAH
that became permanent.
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.
ROSWITHA f German
Derived from the Germanic elements hrod
"fame" and swinth
"strength". This was the name of a 10th-century nun from Saxony who wrote several notable poems and dramas.
SANDRA f Italian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Czech, Romanian
Short form of ALESSANDRA
. It was introduced to the English-speaking world by author George Meredith, who used it for the heroine in his novel 'Emilia in England' (1864) and the reissued version 'Sandra Belloni' (1887). A famous bearer is the American actress Sandra Bullock (1964-).
SHIRLEY f & m English
From a surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "bright clearing" in Old English. This is the name of the main character in Charlotte Brontë's semi-autobiographical novel 'Shirley' (1849). The child actress Shirley Temple (1928-2014) helped to popularize this name.
SOPHIA f English, Greek, German, Ancient Greek
Means "wisdom" in Greek. This was the name of an early, probably mythical, saint who died of grief after her three daughters were martyred during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. Legends about her probably arose as a result of a medieval misunderstanding of the phrase Hagia Sophia
"Holy Wisdom", which is the name of a large basilica in Constantinople.... [more]
SUSAN f English
English variant of SUSANNA
. This has been most common spelling since the 18th century. A notable bearer was the American feminist Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906).
TERESA f Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Finnish, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English
Cognate of THERESA
. Saint Teresa of Ávila was a 16th-century Spanish nun who reformed the Carmelite monasteries and wrote several spiritual books. It was also borne by the beatified Albanian missionary Mother Teresa (1910-1997), who worked with the poor in Calcutta. She adopted the name in honour of the French saint Thérèse de Lisieux, who is the patron of missionaries.
ZENAIDA f Late Greek
Apparently a Greek derivative of Ζηναις (Zenais)
, which was derived from the name of the Greek god ZEUS
. This was the name of a 1st-century saint who was a doctor with her sister Philonella.