MIRABELLE f French (Rare), English (Rare)
Derived from Latin mirabilis
"wonderful". This name was coined during the Middle Ages, though it eventually died out. It was briefly revived in the 19th century.
MIRACLE f English (Modern)
From the English word miracle
for an extraordinary event, ultimately deriving from Latin miraculum
MIRANDA f English, Dutch
Derived from Latin mirandus
meaning "admirable, wonderful". The name was created by Shakespeare for the heroine in his play 'The Tempest' (1611), about a father and daughter stranded on an island. It did not become a common English given name until the 20th century. This is also the name of one of the moons of Uranus, named after the Shakespearian character.
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.
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.
MODESTY f English (Rare)
From the English word modesty
, ultimately from Latin modestus
"moderate", a derivative of modus
MOIRA f Irish, Scottish, English
Anglicized form of MÁIRE
. It also coincides with Greek Μοιρα (Moira)
meaning "fate, destiny", the singular of Μοιραι
, the Greek name for the Fates. They were the three female personifications of destiny in Greek mythology.
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.
MONA (1) f Irish, English
Anglicized form of MUADHNAIT
. It is also associated with Greek monos
"one" and Leonardo da Vinci's painting the 'Mona Lisa' (in which case it is a contraction of Italian ma donna
meaning "my lady").
MONDAY f English (Rare)
From the English word for the day of the week, which was derived from Old English mona
"moon" and dæg
"day". This was formerly given to girls born on Monday.
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.
MONROE m Scottish, English
From a Scottish surname meaning "from the mouth of the Roe". The Roe is a river in Ireland. Two famous bearers of the surname were American president James Monroe (1758-1831) and American actress Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962).
MONTANA f & m English (Modern)
From the name of the American state, which is derived from Latin montanus
MONTE m English
Either a diminutive of MONTGOMERY
or from the Spanish or Italian vocabulary word meaning "mountain".
MONTGOMERY m English
From an English surname meaning "GUMARICH
's mountain" in Norman French. A notable bearer of this surname was Bernard Montgomery (1887-1976), a British army commander during World War II.
MORGAN (1) m & f Welsh, English, French
From the Old Welsh masculine name Morcant
, which was possibly derived from Welsh mor
"sea" and cant
"circle". Since the 1980s in America Morgan
has been more common for girls than boys, perhaps due to stories of Morgan
le Fay or the fame of actress Morgan Fairchild (1950-).
MORIAH f Biblical, Biblical Hebrew, English (Modern)
Possibly means "seen by YAHWEH
" in Hebrew. This is a place name in the Old Testament, both the land where Abraham
is to sacrifice Isaac
and the mountain upon which Solomon
builds the temple. They may be the same place. Since the 1980s it has occasionally been used as a feminine given name in America.
MORLEY m English (Rare)
From a surname which was originally from an Old English place name meaning "marsh clearing".
MORTIMER m English
From an English surname which was derived from a place name meaning "still water" in Old French.
MORTON m English
From a surname which was originally from a place name meaning "moor town" in Old English.
MOSES m English, 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]
MURIEL f English, 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).
MYRA f English
Created by the 17th-century poet Fulke Greville. He possibly based it on Latin myrra
meaning "myrrh" (a fragrant resin obtained from a tree). Otherwise, he may have simply rearranged the letters from the name MARY
. Although unrelated etymologically, this is also the name of an ancient city of Anatolia.
MYRON m English, Ancient Greek
Derived from Greek μυρον (myron)
meaning "sweet oil, perfume". Myron was the name of a 5th-century BC Greek sculptor. Saints bearing this name include a 3rd-century bishop of Crete and a 4th-century martyr from Cyzicus who was killed by a mob. These saints are more widely revered in the Eastern Church, and the name has generally been more common among Eastern Christians. As an English name, it has been used since the 19th century.
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
NANCY f English
Previously a medieval diminutive of ANNIS
, though since the 18th century it has been a diminutive of ANN
. It is now usually regarded as an independent name. During the 20th century it became very popular in the United States. A city in the Lorraine region of France bears this name, though it derives from a different source.
NAOMI (1) f English, Hebrew, Biblical
From the Hebrew name נָעֳמִי (Na'omiy)
meaning "pleasantness". In the Old Testament this is the name of the mother-in-law of Ruth
. After the death of her husband and sons, she returned to Bethlehem with Ruth. There she declared that her name should be Mara
(see Ruth 1:20).... [more]
NAPIER m English (Rare)
From an English and Scots surname which meant "linen keeper" in Middle English, from Old French nappe
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).
NARELLE f English (Australian)
Meaning unknown. It was borne by the wife of Umbarra, who was a 19th-century leader of the Yuin, an Aboriginal people.
NASH m English (Modern)
From a surname which was derived from the Middle English phrase atten ash
"at the ash tree". A famous bearer of the surname was the mathematician John Nash (1928-2015). The name was popularized in the 1990s by the television series 'Nash Bridges'.
NATALIA f Polish, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, English, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Greek, Georgian, Russian, Ukrainian, Late Roman
Latinate form of Natalia
NATALIE f English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian
From the Late Latin name Natalia
, which meant "Christmas Day" from Latin natale domini
. This was the name of the wife of the 4th-century martyr Saint Adrian of Nicomedia. She is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church, and the name has traditionally been more common among Eastern Christians than those in the West. It was popularized in America by actress Natalie Wood (1938-1981), who was born to Russian immigrants.
NATASHA f Russian, English
Russian diminutive of NATALYA
. This is the name of a character in Leo Tolstoy's novel 'War and Peace' (1865). It has been used in the English-speaking world only since the 20th century.
NATHANIEL m English, Biblical
Variant of NATHANAEL
. It has been regularly used in the English-speaking world since the Protestant Reformation. This has been the most popular spelling, even though the spelling Nathanael
is found in most versions of the New Testament. The American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), author of 'The Scarlet Letter', was a famous bearer of this name.
NED m English
Diminutive of EDWARD
. It has been used since the 14th century, and may have had root in the medieval affectionate phrase mine Ed
, which was later reinterpreted as my Ned
NEELY m English
From a Scottish surname, an Anglicized form of Mac an Fhilidh
meaning "son of the poet" in Gaelic.
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]
NELDA f English
Possibly an elaboration of NELL
using the popular name suffix da
NELL f English
Medieval diminutive of names beginning with El
, such as ELEANOR
, ELLEN (1)
. It may have arisen from the medieval affectionate phrase mine El
, which was later reinterpreted as my Nel
NELSON m English
From an English surname meaning "son of NEIL
". It was originally given in honour of the British admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805). His most famous battle was the Battle of Trafalgar, in which he destroyed a combined French and Spanish fleet, but was himself killed. Another notable bearer was the South African statesman Nelson Mandela (1918-2013). Mandela's birth name was Rolihlahla
; as a child he was given the English name Nelson
by a teacher.
NEVADA f English
From the name of the American state, which means "snow-capped" in Spanish.
NEVAEH f English (Modern)
The word heaven
spelled backwards. It became popular after the musician Sonny Sandoval from the rock group P.O.D. gave it to his daughter in 2000.
NEVILLE m English (British)
From an English surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "new town" in Norman French. As a given name it is chiefly British and Australian.
NEWTON m English
From a surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "new town" in Old English. A famous bearer of the surname was the English physicist Isaac Newton (1643-1727).
NICHOLAS m English
From the Greek name Νικολαος (Nikolaos)
which meant "victory of the people" from Greek νικη (nike)
"victory" and λαος (laos)
"people". Saint Nicholas was a 4th-century bishop from Anatolia who, according to legend, saved the daughters of a poor man from lives of prostitution. He is the patron saint of children, sailors and merchants, as well as Greece and Russia. He formed the basis for the figure known as Santa Claus (created in the 19th century from Dutch Sinterklaas
), the bringer of Christmas presents.... [more]
NICOLE f French, English, Dutch, German
French feminine form of NICHOLAS
, commonly used in the English-speaking world since the middle of the 20th century. A famous bearer is American-Australian actress Nicole Kidman (1967-).
NIGEL m English
, a medieval Latinized form of NEIL
. It was commonly associated with Latin niger
"black". It was revived in the 19th century, perhaps in part due to Sir Walter Scott's novel 'The Fortunes of Nigel' (1822).
NINA (1) f Russian, Italian, English, German, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Polish, Slovene, Czech, Slovak, Croatian, Serbian
Short form of names that end in nina
, such as ANTONINA
. It was imported to Western Europe from Russia and Italy in the 19th century. This name also nearly coincides with the Spanish word niña
meaning "little girl".
NOAH (1) m English, Biblical
Derived from the Hebrew name נֹחַ (Noach)
meaning "rest, comfort". According to the Old Testament, Noah was the builder of the Ark that allowed him, his family, and animals of each species to survive the great Flood. After the Flood he received the sign of the rainbow as a covenant from God. He was the father of Shem
NOBLE m English
From an English surname meaning "noble, notable". The name can also be given in direct reference to the English word noble
NOLAN m Irish, English
From an Irish surname which was derived from Ó Nualláin
meaning "descendant of NUALLÁN
". The baseball player Nolan Ryan (1947-) is a famous bearer of this name.
NORMA f English, Italian, Literature
Created by Felice Romani for the main character in the opera 'Norma' (1831). He may have based it on Latin norma
"rule". This name is also frequently used as a feminine form of NORMAN
NORMAN m English, Ancient Germanic
From an old Germanic byname meaning "northman", referring to a Viking. The Normans were Vikings who settled on the coast of France, in the region that became known as Normandy. In England the name Norman
was used before the Norman conquest, first as a nickname for Scandinavian settlers and later as a given name. After the Conquest it became more common, but died out around the 14th century. It was revived in the 19th century, perhaps in part due to a character by this name in C. M. Yonge's novel 'The Daisy Chain' (1856).
NORTON m English
From a surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "north town" in Old English.
NORWOOD m English
From a surname which was originally taken from a place name meaning "north wood" in Old English.
NOVA f English
Derived from Latin novus
meaning "new". It was first used as a name in the 19th century.
NYDIA f English (Rare), Spanish, Literature
Used by British author Edward Bulwer-Lytton for a blind flower-seller in his novel 'The Last Days of Pompeii' (1834). He perhaps based it on Latin nidus
OCEAN m & f English (Rare)
Simply from the English word ocean
for a large body of water. It is ultimately derived from Greek Ωκεανος (Okeanos)
, the name of the body of water thought to surround the Earth.
OCTAVIA f English, Spanish, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of OCTAVIUS
. Octavia was the wife of Mark Antony and the sister of Roman emperor Augustus. In 19th-century England it was sometimes given to the eighth-born child.
ODELL m & f English
From a surname which was originally from a place name meaning "woad hill" in Old English. A woad is a herb used for dying.
ODIN m Norse Mythology, English (Modern)
Anglicized form of Old Norse Óðinn
which was derived from óðr
"inspiration, rage, frenzy". It ultimately developed from the early Germanic *Woðanaz
. In Norse mythology Odin was the highest of the gods, presiding over art, war, wisdom and death. He resided in Valhalla, where warriors went after they were slain.
OGDEN m English
From a surname which was derived from a place name meaning "oak valley" in Old English. A famous bearer was the humourous American poet Ogden Nash (1902-1971).
OLIVE f English
From the English word for the type of tree, ultimately derived from Latin oliva
OLIVER m English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Estonian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Czech, Slovak
, a Norman French form of a Germanic name such as ALFHER
or an Old Norse name such as Áleifr
). The spelling was altered by association with Latin oliva
"olive tree". In the Middle Ages the name became well-known in Western Europe because of the French epic 'La Chanson de Roland', in which Olivier was a friend and advisor of the hero Roland.... [more]
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]
OMAR (1) m Arabic, English
Variant transcription of UMAR
. This is the usual English spelling of the 12th-century poet Umar Khayyam's name. In his honour it has sometimes been used in the English-speaking world, notably for the American general Omar Bradley (1893-1981).
ONEIDA f English
From the name of a Native American tribe, perhaps meaning "standing rock".
OPAL f English
From the English word opal
for the iridescent gemstone, the birthstone of October. The word ultimately derives from Sanskrit उपल (upala)
OPHELIA f English, Literature
Derived from Greek οφελος (ophelos)
meaning "help". This name was probably created by the 15th-century poet Jacopo Sannazaro for a character in his poem 'Arcadia'. It was borrowed by Shakespeare for his play 'Hamlet' (1600), in which it belongs to Hamlet
's lover who eventually goes insane and drowns herself. In spite of this, the name has been used since the 19th century.
ORA (1) f & m English
Perhaps based on Latin oro
"to pray". It was first used in America in the 19th century.
ORAL m English (Rare)
Meaning uncertain. This name was borne by the influential American evangelist Oral Roberts (1918-2009), who was apparently named by his cousin.
ORINDA f English (Rare)
Probably an elaboration of Spanish oro
"gold". This was the pseudonym of the English poet Katherine Philips (1631-1664).
ORRELL m English (Rare)
From a surname which was derived from a place name meaning "ore hill" in Old English.
ORSON m English
From an English surname which was originally a nickname meaning "bear cub", from a diminutive of Norman French ors
"bear", ultimately from Latin ursus
. American actor and director Orson Welles (1915-1985) was a famous bearer of this name.
ORVILLE m English
This name was invented by the 18th-century writer Fanny Burney, who perhaps intended it to mean "golden city" in French. Orville Wright (1871-1948), together with his brother Wilbur, invented the first successful airplane.
OSBERT m English (Rare)
Derived from the Old English elements os
"god" and beorht
"bright". After the Norman conquest, this Old English name was merged with its Norman cognate. It was rare in the Middle Ages, and eventually died out. It was briefly revived in the 19th century.
OSBORN m English
Derived from the Old English elements os
"god" and beorn
"bear". During the Anglo-Saxon period there was also a Norse cognate Ásbjörn
used in England, and after the Norman conquest the Norman cognate Osbern
was introduced. It was occasionally revived in the 19th century, in part from a surname that was derived from the given name.
OSCAR m English, Irish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, French, Irish Mythology
Possibly means "deer friend", derived from Gaelic os
"deer" and cara
"friend". Alternatively, it may derive from the Old English name OSGAR
or its Old Norse cognate ÁSGEIRR
, which may have been brought to Ireland by Viking invaders and settlers. In Irish legend Oscar was the son of the poet Oisín
and the grandson of the hero Fionn
mac Cumhail.... [more]
OSMOND m English (Rare)
From the Old English elements os
"god" and mund
"protection". During the Anglo-Saxon period a Norse cognate Ásmundr
was also used in England, and another version was imported by the Normans. Saint Osmund was an 11th-century Norman nobleman who became an English bishop. Though it eventually became rare, it was revived in the 19th century, in part from a surname that was derived from the given name.
OSWALD m English, German, Anglo-Saxon
Derived from the Old English elements os
"god" and weald
"power, ruler". Saint Oswald was a king of Northumbria who introduced Christianity to northeast England in the 7th century before being killed in battle. There was also an Old Norse cognate Ásvaldr
in use in England, being borne by the 10th-century Saint Oswald of Worcester, who was of Danish ancestry. Though the name had died out by the end of the Middle Ages, it was revived in the 19th century.
OSWIN m English (Rare)
From the Old English elements os
"god" and wine
"friend". Saint Oswin was a 7th-century king of Northumbria. After the Norman conquest this name was used less, and it died out after the 14th century. It was briefly revived in the 19th century.
OTIS m English
From an English surname which was derived from the medieval given name Ode
, a cognate of OTTO
. In America it has been used in honour of the revolutionary James Otis (1725-1783).
OTTO m German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, Ancient Germanic
Later German form of Audo
, originally a short form of various names beginning with the Germanic element aud
meaning "wealth, fortune". This was the name of four kings of Germany, starting in the 10th century with Otto I, the first Holy Roman Emperor, who was known as Otto the Great. This name was also borne by a 19th-century king of Greece who was originally from Bavaria. Another notable bearer was the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898).
PACE m English (Rare)
From an English surname which was derived from the Middle English word pace
PACEY m English (Rare)
From an English surname which was derived from the French place name Pacy
, itself derived from Gaulish given name of unknown meaning.
PAIGE f English
From an English surname meaning "servant, page" in Middle English. It is ultimately derived (via Old French and Italian) from Greek παιδιον (paidion)
meaning "little boy".
PAISLEY f English (Modern)
From a Scottish surname, originally from the name of a town, which may ultimately be derived from Latin basilica
"church". This is also a word (derived from the name of that same town) for a type of pattern commonly found on fabrics.
PALMER m English
From an English surname meaning "pilgrim". It is ultimately from Latin palma
"palm tree", since pilgrims to the Holy Land often brought back palm fronds as proof of their journey.
PAMELA f English
This name was invented in the late 16th century by the poet Sir Philip Sidney for use in his poem 'Arcadia'. He possibly intended it to mean "all sweetness" from Greek παν (pan)
"all" and μελι (meli)
"honey". It was later employed by author Samuel Richardson for the heroine in his novel 'Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded' (1740), after which time it became used as a given name. It did not become popular until the 20th century.
PANCRAS m English (Archaic)
Medieval English form of PANCRATIUS
. The relics of the 4th-century saint Pancratius were sent to England by Pope Gregory the Great, leading to the saint's veneration there.
PANSY f English
From the English word for a type of flower, ultimately deriving from Old French pensee
PARKER m & f English
From an English occupational surname which meant "keeper of the park".
PARNEL f English (Archaic)
Contracted form of PETRONEL
. In the later Middle Ages it became a slang term for a promiscuous woman, and the name subsequently fell out of use.
PAT m & f English
Short form of PATRICK
. A famous bearer of this name was Pat Garrett (1850-1908), the sheriff who shot Billy the Kid.
PATIENCE f English
From the English word patience
, ultimately from Latin patientia
, a derivative of pati
"to suffer". This was one of the virtue names coined by the Puritans in the 17th century.
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.
PATRICK m Irish, English, French, German
From the Latin name Patricius
, which meant "nobleman". This name was adopted in the 5th-century by Saint Patrick, whose birth name was Sucat. He was a Romanized Briton who was captured and enslaved in his youth by Irish raiders. After six years of servitude he escaped home, but he eventually became a bishop and went back to Ireland as a missionary. He is traditionally credited with Christianizing the island, and is regarded as Ireland's patron saint.... [more]
PATTON m English (Rare)
From an English surname which was derived from a diminutive of PATRICK
. A notable bearer of the surname was the American World War II general George S. Patton (1885-1945), who played an important part in the allied offensive in France.
PATTY f English
Originally a variant of Matty
, a 17th-century diminutive of MARTHA
. It is now commonly used as a diminutive of PATRICIA
PAUL m English, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Romanian, Biblical
From the Roman family name Paulus
, which meant "small" or "humble" in Latin. Paul was an important leader of the early Christian church. According to Acts in the New Testament, he was a Jewish Roman citizen who converted to Christianity after the resurrected Jesus
appeared to him. After this he travelled the eastern Mediterranean as a missionary. His original Hebrew name was Saul
. Many of the epistles in the New Testament were authored by him.... [more]
PAULA f German, English, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Croatian, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of Paulus
). This was the name of a 4th-century Roman saint who was a companion of Saint Jerome.
PAXTON m English (Modern)
From a surname which was derived from an English place name meaning "Pœcc's town". Pœcc
is an Old English name of unknown meaning.
PEARL f English
From the English word pearl
for the concretions formed in the shells of some mollusks, ultimately from Late Latin perla
. Like other gemstone names, it has been used as a given name in the English-speaking world since the 19th century. The pearl is the birthstone for June, and it supposedly imparts health and wealth.
PEGGY f English
Medieval variant of Meggy
, a diminutive of MARGARET
. The reason for the change in the initial consonant is unknown.
PENELOPE f Greek Mythology, English
Possibly derived from Greek πηνελοψ (penelops)
, a type of duck. Alternatively it could be from πηνη (pene)
"threads, weft" and ωψ (ops)
"face, eye". In Homer
's epic the 'Odyssey' this is the name of the wife of Odysseus
, forced to fend off suitors while her husband is away fighting at Troy. It has occasionally been used as an English given name since the 16th century.
PEONY f English (Rare)
From the English word for the type of flower. It was originally believed to have healing qualities, so it was named after the Greek medical god Pæon
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
PEREGRINE m English (Rare)
From the Late Latin name Peregrinus
, which meant "traveller". This was the name of several early saints.
PERRY m English
From a surname which is either English or Welsh in origin. It can be derived from Middle English perrie
meaning "pear tree", or else from Welsh ap Herry
, meaning "son of HERRY
". A famous bearer of the surname was Matthew Perry (1794-1858), the American naval officer who opened Japan to the West.
PETER m English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Slovene, Slovak, Biblical
Derived from the Greek Πετρος (Petros)
meaning "stone". This is a translation used in most versions of the New Testament of the name Cephas
, meaning "stone" in Aramaic, which was given to the apostle Simon
(compare Matthew 16:18 and John 1:42). Simon Peter was the most prominent of the apostles during Jesus' ministry and is often considered the first pope.... [more]
PETULA f English (Rare)
Meaning unknown, created in the 20th century. The name is borne by the British singer Petula Clark (1932-), whose name was invented by her father.
PETUNIA f English (Rare)
From the name of the flower, derived ultimately from a Tupi (South American) word.
PEYTON m & f English
From an English surname, originally a place name meaning "PÆGA
's town". A famous bearer was Peyton Randolph (1721-1775), the first president of the Continental Congress. It is also borne by American football quarterback Peyton Manning (1976-).
PHIL m English
Short form of PHILIP
and various other names beginning with Phil
, often a Greek element meaning "friend, dear, beloved".
PHILADELPHIA f English (Rare)
From the name of a city in Asia Minor mentioned in Revelation in the New Testament. The name of the city meant "brotherly love" from Greek φιλεω (phileo)
"to love" and αδελφος (adelphos)
"brother". It is also the name of a city in the United States.
PHILIP m English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Biblical
From the Greek name Φιλιππος (Philippos)
which means "friend of horses", composed of the elements φιλος (philos)
"friend, lover" and ‘ιππος (hippos)
"horse". This was the name of five kings of Macedon, including Philip II the father of Alexander the Great. The name appears in the New Testament belonging to two people who are regarded as saints. First, one of the twelve apostles, and second, an early figure in the Christian church known as Philip the Deacon.... [more]
PHILOMENA f English, German, Late Greek
From Greek φιλος (philos)
"friend, lover" and μενος (menos)
"mind, strength, force". This was the name of an obscure early saint and martyr. The name came to public attention in the 19th century after a tomb seemingly marked with the name Filumena
was found in Rome, supposedly belonging to another martyr named Philomena. This may have in fact been a representation of the Greek word φιλομηνη (philomene)
PHOEBE f English, Greek Mythology (Latinized), Biblical, Biblical Latin
Latinized form of the Greek name Φοιβη (Phoibe)
, which meant "bright, pure" from Greek φοιβος (phoibos)
. In Greek mythology Phoibe was a Titan associated with the moon. This was also an epithet of her granddaughter, the moon goddess Artemis
. The name appears in Paul
's epistle to the Romans in the New Testament, where it belongs to a female minister in the church at Cenchreae. In England, it began to be used as a given name after the Protestant Reformation. A moon of Saturn bears this name (in honour of the Titan).
PHOENIX m & f English (Modern)
From the name of a beautiful immortal bird which appears in Egyptian and Greek mythology. After living for several centuries in the Arabian Desert, it would be consumed by fire and rise from its own ashes, with this cycle repeating every 500 years. The name of the bird was derived from Greek φοινιξ (phoinix)
meaning "dark red".
PHYLLIS f Greek Mythology, English, German
Means "foliage" in Greek. In Greek mythology this was the name of a woman who killed herself out of love for Demophon and was subsequently transformed into an almond tree. It began to be used as a given name in England in the 16th century, though it was often confused with Felicia
PIETY f English (Rare)
From the English word meaning "piety, devoutness". This was a rare virtue name used by the Puritans in the 17th century.
PIP m & f English
Diminutive of PHILIP
. This was the name of the main character in 'Great Expectations' (1860) by Charles Dickens.
PIPER f English (Modern)
From a surname which was originally given to a person who played on a pipe (a flute). It was popularized as a given name by a character from the television series 'Charmed', which debuted in 1998.
POLLY f English
Medieval variant of MOLLY
. The reason for the change in the initial consonant is unknown.
PORSCHE f English (Modern)
From the name of the German car company, which was founded by Ferdinand Porsche (1875-1951). His surname is derived from the given name BORIS
PORTER m English
From an occupational English surname meaning "doorkeeper", ultimately from Old French porte
"door", from Latin porta
PORTIA f English
Variant of Porcia
, the feminine form of the Roman family name PORCIUS
, used by William Shakespeare for the heroine of his play 'The Merchant of Venice' (1596). In the play Portia is a woman who disguises herself as a man in order to defend Antonio
in court. It is also the name of a moon of Uranus, after the Shakespearian character.
POSY f English
Diminutive of JOSEPHINE
. It can also be inspired by the English word posy
for a bunch of flowers.
PRAISE f English (Rare)
From the English word praise
, which is ultimately derived (via Old French) from Late Latin preciare
, a derivative of Latin pretium
PRECIOUS f English (Modern)
From the English word precious
, ultimately derived from Latin pretiosus
, a derivative of Latin pretium
PRESLEY f & m English
From an English surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning "priest clearing" (Old English preost
). This surname was borne by musician Elvis Presley (1935-1977).