Kate's Personal Name List

ADA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Polish, Hungarian, Italian, Finnish

Pronounced: AY-də (English), AH-dah (Polish)

Short form of ADELAIDE and other names beginning with the same sound. This name was borne by Augusta Ada King (1815-1852), the Countess of Lovelace (known as Ada Lovelace), a daughter of Lord Byron. She was an assistant to Charles Babbage, the inventor of an early mechanical computer.

ADELAIDE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Italian, Portuguese

Pronounced: AD-ə-layd (English), ah-de-LIE-de (Italian), ə-də-LIED (Portuguese)

From the French form of the Germanic name Adalheidis, which was composed of the elements adal "noble" and heid "kind, sort, type". It was borne in the 10th century by Saint Adelaide, the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great. The name became common in Britain in the 19th century due to the popularity of the German-born wife of King William IV, for whom the city of Adelaide in Australia was named in 1836.

AGATHA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Ancient Greek (Latinized)

Other Scripts: Αγαθη (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: AG-ə-thə (English)

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.

AGNES

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Slovene, Ancient Greek (Latinized)

Other Scripts: ‘Αγνη (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: AG-nəs (English), AHK-nes (German), AHKH-nəs (Dutch), AHNG-nes (Swedish)

Latinized form of the Greek name ‘Αγνη (Hagne), derived from Greek ‘αγνος (hagnos) meaning "chaste". Saint Agnes was a virgin martyred during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Diocletian. The name became associated with Latin agnus "lamb", resulting in the saint's frequent depiction with a lamb by her side. Due to her renown, the name became common in Christian Europe, being especially popular in England in the Middle Ages.

ALAN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Scottish, Breton, French

Pronounced: AL-ən (English)

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.

This was the name of several dukes of Brittany, and Breton settlers introduced it to England after the Norman conquest. Famous modern bearers include Alan Shepard (1923-1998), the first American in space and the fifth man to walk on the moon, and Alan Turing (1912-1954), a British mathematician and computer scientist.

ALARIC

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Ancient Germanic

Pronounced: AL-ə-rik (English)

From the Gothic name Alareiks which meant "ruler of all", derived from the Germanic element ala "all" combined with ric "ruler, power". This was the name of a king of the Visigoths who sacked Rome in the 5th century.

ALEXANDER

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Hungarian, Slovak, Biblical, Ancient Greek (Latinized), Greek Mythology (Latinized)

Other Scripts: Αλεξανδρος (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: al-əg-ZAN-dər (English), ah-lek-SAHN-der (German), ah-lək-SAHN-dər (Dutch)

Latinized form of the Greek name Αλεξανδρος (Alexandros), which meant "defending men" from Greek αλεξω (alexo) "to defend, help" and ανηρ (aner) "man" (genitive ανδρος). In Greek mythology this was another name of the hero Paris, and it also belongs to several characters in the New Testament. However, the most famous bearer was Alexander the Great, King of Macedon. In the 4th century BC he built a huge empire out of Greece, Egypt, Persia, and parts of India. Due to his fame, and later medieval tales involving him, use of his name spread throughout Europe.

The name has been used by kings of Scotland, Poland and Yugoslavia, emperors of Russia, and eight popes. Other notable bearers include English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), American statesman Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), Scottish-Canadian explorer Sir Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820), Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), and Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), the Scottish-Canadian-American inventor of the telephone.

ALEXANDRA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, French, English, Greek, Portuguese, Romanian, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Spanish, Russian, Ancient Greek, Greek Mythology

Other Scripts: Αλεξανδρα (Greek), Александра (Russian)

Pronounced: ah-lek-SAHN-drah (German, Romanian), ah-lək-SAHN-drah (Dutch), al-əg-ZAN-drə (English), ə-lə-SHAN-drə (Portuguese), ə-lə-SHAN-drə (Brazilian Portuguese)

Feminine form of ALEXANDER. In Greek mythology this was a Mycenaean epithet of the goddess Hera, and an alternate name of Cassandra. It was borne by several early Christian saints, and also by the wife of Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia. She was from Germany and had the birth name Alix, but was renamed Александра (Aleksandra) upon joining the Russian Church.

ALEXIS

Gender: Masculine

Usage: German, French, English, Greek, Ancient Greek

Other Scripts: Αλεξης (Greek), Αλεξις (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: ah-LEK-sis (German), al-ek-SEE (French), ə-LEK-sis (English)

From the Greek name Αλεξις (Alexis), which meant "helper" or "defender", derived from Greek αλεξω (alexo) "to defend, to help". This was the name of a 3rd-century BC Greek comic poet, and also of several saints. It is used somewhat interchangeably with the related name Αλεξιος or Alexius, borne by five Byzantine emperors. In the English-speaking world it is more commonly used as a feminine name.

ALFRED

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Polish, Dutch

Pronounced: AL-frəd (English), al-FRED (French), AHL-fret (German, Polish), AHL-frət (Dutch)

Derived from the Old English name Ælfræd, composed of the elements ælf "elf" and ræd "counsel". Alfred the Great was a 9th-century king of Wessex who fought unceasingly against the Danes living in the northeast of England. He was also a scholar, and he translated many Latin books into Old English. His fame helped to ensure the usage of this name even after the Norman conquest, when most Old English names were replaced by Norman ones. It became rare by the end of the Middle Ages, but was revived in the 18th century. A famous bearer was the British poet Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892).

ALICE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, French, Portuguese, Italian

Pronounced: AL-is (English), a-LEES (French), ah-LEE-che (Italian)

From the Old French name Aalis, a short form of Adelais, itself a short form of the Germanic name Adalheidis (see ADELAIDE). 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).

ALIDA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Dutch, German, Hungarian

Pronounced: ah-LEE-dah (German)

Diminutive of ADELAIDE

ALIX

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French

Medieval French variant of ALICE

AMALIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Dutch, German, Finnish, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Ancient Germanic (Latinized)

Pronounced: ah-MAH-lee-ah (Dutch, German)

Latinized form of the Germanic name Amala, a short form of names beginning with the element amal meaning "work".

AMY

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: AY-mee

English form of the Old French name Amée meaning "beloved" (modern French aimée), a vernacular form of the Latin Amata. As an English name, it was in use in the Middle Ages (though not common) and was revived in the 19th century.

ANNA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Italian, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Estonian, Latvian, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Icelandic, Catalan, Occitan, Breton, Biblical, Old Church Slavic, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Other Scripts: Αννα (Greek), Анна (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Church Slavic)

Pronounced: AN-a (English), AHN-nah (Italian, Dutch, Polish), AH-nah (German, Russian)

Form of Channah (see HANNAH) used in the Greek and Latin Old Testament. Many later Old Testament translations, including the English, use the Hannah spelling. 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 and Anne.

The name was borne by several Russian royals, including an 18th-century empress of Russia. It was also the name of the main character in Leo Tolstoy's novel 'Anna Karenina' (1877), a woman forced to choose between her son and her lover.

ANNE (1)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, German, Dutch, Basque

Pronounced: AHN (French), AN (English), AH-nə (German), AHN-nə (Dutch)

French form of ANNA. In the 13th-century it was imported to England, where it was also commonly spelled Ann. The name was borne by a 17th-century English queen and also by the second wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn (the mother of Queen Elizabeth I), who was eventually beheaded in the Tower of London. This is also the name of the heroine in 'Anne of Green Gables' (1908) by Canadian author L. M. Montgomery.

ANTONY

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: AN-tə-nee

Variant of ANTHONY. This was formerly the usual English spelling of the name, but during the 17th century the h began to be added.

ARTHUR

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance

Pronounced: AHR-thər (English), ar-TUYR (French), AHR-toor (German), AHR-tur (Dutch)

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.

The name came into general use in England in the Middle Ages due to the prevalence of Arthurian romances, and it enjoyed a surge of popularity in the 19th century. Famous bearers include German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), mystery author and Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), and science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008).

BEATRICE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, English, Swedish

Pronounced: be-ah-TREE-che (Italian), BEE-ə-tris (English), BEE-tris (English), BE-ah-trees (Swedish), be-ah-TREES (Swedish)

Italian form of BEATRIX. Beatrice Portinari was the woman who was loved by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. She served as Dante's guide through paradise in his epic poem 'The Divine Comedy' (1321). This was also the name of a character in Shakespeare's play 'Much Ado About Nothing' (1599).

BEATRIX

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Dutch, Late Roman

Pronounced: BEE-ə-triks (English), BE-ah-triks (German), BAY-ah-triks (Dutch)

Probably from Viatrix, a feminine form of the Late Latin name Viator which meant "voyager, traveller". It was a common name amongst early Christians, and the spelling was altered by association with Latin beatus "blessed". Viatrix or Beatrix was a 4th-century saint who was strangled to death during the persecutions of Diocletian. In England it became rare after the Middle Ages, but it was revived in the 19th century. A famous bearer was the British author and illustrator Beatrix Potter (1866-1943), the creator of Peter Rabbit.

BENNETT

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: BEN-ət

Medieval form of BENEDICT. This was the more common spelling in England until the 18th century. Modern use of the name is probably also influenced by the common surname Bennett, itself a derivative of the medieval name.

BERNADETTE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French, English

Pronounced: ber-na-DET (French)

French feminine form of BERNARD. Saint Bernadette was a young woman from Lourdes in France who claimed to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary.

BERTRAM

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, German, Ancient Germanic

Pronounced: BUR-trəm (English), BER-trahm (German)

Means "bright raven", derived from the Germanic element beraht "bright" combined with hramn "raven". The Normans introduced this name to England. Shakespeare used it in his play 'All's Well That Ends Well' (1603).

CALUM

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Scottish

Pronounced: KAL-um

Scottish form of COLUMBA

CAROLINE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French, English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch

Pronounced: ka-ro-LEEN (French), KER-ə-lien (English), KER-ə-lin (English), KAR-ə-lien (English), KAR-ə-lin (English)

French feminine form of CAROLUS

CASSANDRA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, Greek Mythology (Latinized)

Other Scripts: Κασσανδρα (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: kə-SAN-drə (English), kə-SAHN-drə (English), kahs-SAHN-drah (Italian)

From the Greek Κασσανδρα (Kassandra), which possibly meant "shining upon man", derived from κεκασμαι (kekasmai) "to shine" and ανηρ (aner) "man" (genitive ανδρος). In Greek myth Cassandra was a Trojan princess, the daughter of Priam and Hecuba. She was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo, but when she spurned his advances he cursed her so nobody would believe her prophecies.

In the Middle Ages this name was common in England due to the popularity of medieval tales about the Trojan War. It subsequently became rare, but was revived in the 20th century.

CATHERINE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French, English

Pronounced: ka-tə-REEN (French), ka-TREEN (French), KATH-ə-rin (English), KATH-rin (English)

French form of KATHERINE, and also a common English variant.

CECILIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch, German

Pronounced: sə-SEE-lee-ə (English), sə-SEEL-yə (English), che-CHEE-lyah (Italian), the-THEE-lyah (Spanish), se-SEE-lyah (Latin American Spanish)

Latinate feminine form of the Roman family name Caecilius, which was derived from Latin caecus "blind". Saint Cecilia was a semi-legendary 2nd- or 3rd-century martyr who was sentenced to die because she refused to worship the Roman gods. After attempts to suffocate her failed, she was beheaded. She was later regarded as the patron saint of music and musicians.

Due to the popularity of the saint, the name became common in the Christian world during the Middle Ages. The Normans brought it to England, where it was commonly spelled Cecily - the Latinate form Cecilia came into use in the 18th century.

CECILY

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: SES-i-lee

English form of CECILIA. This was the usual English form during the Middle Ages.

CHARLES

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French

Pronounced: CHAHR-əlz (English), SHAHRL (French)

From the Germanic name Karl, which was derived from a Germanic word which meant "man". However, an alternative theory states that it is derived from the common Germanic element hari meaning "army, warrior".

The popularity of the name in continental Europe was due to the fame of Charles the Great (742-814), commonly known as Charlemagne, a king of the Franks who came to rule over most of Europe. It was subsequently borne by several Holy Roman Emperors, as well as kings of France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Hungary. The name did not become common in Britain until the 17th century when it was carried by the Stuart king Charles I. It had been introduced into the Stuart royal family by Mary Queen of Scots, who had been raised in France.

Famous bearers of the name include naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) who revolutionized biology with his theory of evolution, novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) who wrote such works as 'Great Expectations' and 'A Tale of Two Cities', French statesman Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), and American cartoonist Charles Schulz (1922-2000), the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip.

CHARLOTTE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French, English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch

Pronounced: shar-LOT (French), SHAHR-lət (English), shahr-LAW-tə (German), shahr-LAWT-tə (Dutch)

French feminine diminutive of CHARLES. It was introduced to Britain in the 17th century. A notable bearer was Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855), the eldest of the three Bronte sisters and the author of 'Jane Eyre' and 'Villette'.

CHAVA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Hebrew

Other Scripts: חַוָה (Hebrew)

Hebrew form of EVE

CONALL

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Irish, Scottish, Irish Mythology

Means "strong wolf" in Gaelic. This is the name of several characters in Irish legend including the hero Conall Cernach ("Conall of the victories"), a member of the Red Branch of Ulster, who avenged Cúchulainn's death by killing Lugaid.

CORA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German

Pronounced: KAWR-ə (English)

Created by James Fenimore Cooper for his novel 'The Last of the Mohicans' (1826). He may have based it on KORË or CORINNA.

CORNELIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Italian, German, Dutch, Romanian, Ancient Roman

Pronounced: kər-NEE-lee-ə (English), kər-NEEL-yə (English), kor-NE-lyah (Italian), kawr-NE-lee-ah (German), kawr-NAY-lee-ah (Dutch)

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.

CORNELIUS

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Ancient Roman, English, Dutch, German, Biblical

Pronounced: kər-NEE-lee-əs (English), kawr-NAY-lee-us (Dutch), kawr-NE-lee-uws (German)

Roman family name which possibly derives from the Latin element cornu "horn". In Acts in the New Testament Cornelius is a centurion who is directed by an angel to seek Peter. After speaking with Peter he converts to Christianity, and he is traditionally deemed the first gentile convert. The name was also borne by a few early saints, including a 3rd-century pope. In England it came into use in the 16th century, partly due to Dutch influence.

COSIMA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian

Italian feminine form of COSIMO

DAVID

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Hebrew, French, Scottish, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Czech, Slovene, Russian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Romanian, Biblical, Biblical Latin

Other Scripts: דָּוִד (Hebrew), Давид (Russian, Serbian, Macedonian)

Pronounced: DAY-vid (English), dah-VEED (Jewish), da-VEED (French), DAH-vit (German, Dutch), dah-VEET (Russian)

From the Hebrew name דָּוִד (Dawid), which was probably derived from Hebrew דוד (dwd) meaning "beloved". David was the second and greatest of the kings of Israel, ruling in the 10th century BC. Several stories about him are told in the Old Testament, including his defeat of Goliath, a giant Philistine. According to the New Testament, Jesus was descended from him.

This name has been used in Britain since the Middle Ages. It has been especially popular in Wales, where it is used in honour of the 5th-century patron saint of Wales (also called Dewi), as well as in Scotland, where it was borne by two kings. Famous bearers include empiricist philosopher David Hume (1711-1776), explorer David Livingstone (1813-1873) and soccer player David Beckham (1975-). This is also the name of the hero of Charles Dickens' semi-autobiographical novel 'David Copperfield' (1850).

DESMOND

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Irish

Pronounced: DEZ-mənd

From an Irish surname which was derived from Deasmhumhain meaning "South Munster", originally indicating a person who came from that region in Ireland.

DONALD

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Scottish, English

Pronounced: DAHN-əld (English)

From the Gaelic name Domhnall which means "ruler of the world", composed of the old Celtic elements dumno "world" and val "rule". This was the name of two 9th-century kings of the Scots and Picts. It has traditionally been very popular in Scotland, and during the 20th century it became common in the rest of the English-speaking world. This is the name of one of Walt Disney's most popular cartoon characters, Donald Duck. It was also borne by Australian cricket player Donald Bradman (1908-2001).

EDGAR

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French

Pronounced: ED-gər (English), ed-GAHR (French)

Derived from the Old English elements ead "rich, blessed" and gar "spear". This was the name of a 10th-century English king, Edgar the Peaceful. The name did not survive long after the Norman conquest, but it was revived in the 18th century, in part due to a character by this name in Sir Walter Scott's novel 'The Bride of Lammermoor' (1819). Famous bearers include author and poet Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), French impressionist painter Edgar Degas (1834-1917), and author Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950).

EDITH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch

Pronounced: EE-dith (English), E-dit (German)

From the Old English name Eadgyð, derived from the elements ead "rich, blessed" and gyð "war". It was popular among Anglo-Saxon royalty, being borne for example by Saint Eadgyð, the daughter of King Edgar the Peaceful. The name remained common after the Norman conquest. It became rare after the 15th century, but was revived in the 19th century.

EDMUND

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, German, Polish

Pronounced: ED-mənd (English), ED-muwnt (German, Polish)

Means "rich protector" from Old English ead "rich, blessed" and mund "protector". This was the name of two Anglo-Saxon kings of England. It was also borne by two saints, including a 9th-century king of East Anglia who, according to tradition, was shot to death with arrows after refusing to divide his Christian kingdom with an invading pagan Danish leader. This Old English name remained in use after the Norman conquest (even being used by king Henry III for one of his sons), though it became less common after the 15th century.

Famous bearers of the name include the English poet Edmund Spenser (1552-1599), the German-Czech philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) and New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008), the first person to climb Mount Everest.

EDWARD

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Polish

Pronounced: ED-wərd (English), ED-vahrt (Polish)

Means "rich guard", derived from the Old English elements ead "rich, blessed" and weard "guard". Saint Edward the Confessor was the king of England shortly before the Norman conquest. He was known as a just ruler, and because of his popularity this name remained in use after the conquest when most other Old English names were replaced by Norman ones. The 13th-century king Henry III named his son and successor after the saint, and seven subsequent kings of England were also named Edward. This is one of the few Old English names to be used throughout Europe (in various spellings).

EDWIN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Dutch

Pronounced: ED-win (English), ED-win (Dutch), ED-vin (Dutch)

Means "rich friend" from the Old English elements ead "rich, blessed" and wine "friend". This was the name of a 7th-century Northumbrian king, regarded as a saint. After the Norman conquest the name was not popular, but it was eventually revived in the 19th century. A notable bearer was the astronaut Edwin Aldrin (1930-), also known as Buzz, the second man to walk on the moon.

ELEANOR

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: EL-ə-nawr

From the Old French form of the Occitan name Aliénor. It was first borne by the influential Eleanor of Aquitaine (12th century), who was the queen of Louis VII, the king of France, and later Henry II, the king of England. She was named Aenor after her mother, and was called by the Occitan phrase alia Aenor "the other AENOR" in order to distinguish her from her mother.

The popularity of the name Eleanor in England during the Middle Ages was due to the fame of Eleanor of Aquitaine, as well as two queens of the following century: Eleanor of Provence, the wife of Henry III, and Eleanor of Castile, the wife of Edward I. More recently, it was borne by first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), the wife of American president Franklin Roosevelt.

ELINOR

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: EL-ə-nawr

Variant of ELEANOR

ELISABETH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English, Biblical, Biblical Latin

Pronounced: e-LEE-zah-bet (German), e-LEE-sah-bet (Danish), i-LIZ-ə-bəth (English)

German and Dutch form of ELIZABETH. It is also a variant English form, reflecting the spelling used in the Authorized Version of the New Testament.

ELIZABETH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Biblical

Pronounced: i-LIZ-ə-bəth (English)

From Ελισαβετ (Elisabet), the Greek form of the Hebrew name אֱלִישֶׁבַע ('Elisheva') meaning "my God is an oath" or perhaps "my God is abundance". The Hebrew form appears in the Old Testament where Elisheba is the wife of Aaron, while the Greek form appears in the New Testament where Elizabeth is the mother of John the Baptist.

Among Christians, this name was originally more common in Eastern Europe. It was borne in the 12th century by Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, a daughter of King Andrew II who used her wealth to help the poor. In medieval England it was occasionally used in honour of the saint, though the form Isabel (from Occitan and Spanish) was more common. It has been very popular in England since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century. Famous modern bearers include the British queen Elizabeth II (1926-) and actress Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011).

ELLEN (1)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: EL-ən

Medieval English form of HELEN. This was the usual spelling of the name until the 17th century, when Helen became more common.

ELOISE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: EL-o-eez, el-o-EEZ

From the Old French name Héloïse, which is probably from the Germanic name Helewidis, composed of the elements heil "hale, healthy" and wid "wide". It is sometimes associated with the Greek word ‘ηλιος (helios) "sun" or the name Louise, though there is not likely an etymological connection. This name was borne in the 12th century by Saint Eloise, the wife of the French theologian Peter Abelard. She became a nun after her husband was castrated by her uncle.

There was a medieval English form of this name, Helewis, though it died out after the 13th century. In the 19th century it was revived in the English-speaking world in the form Eloise.

ELSA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Swedish, Finnish, Italian

Pronounced: EL-sə (English), EL-sah (German)

Short form of ELISABETH

EMMA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, French, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, German, Ancient Germanic

Pronounced: EM-ə (English), E-mah (German)

Originally a short form of Germanic names that began with the element ermen meaning "whole" or "universal". It was introduced to England by Emma of Normandy, who was the wife both of king Ethelred II (and by him the mother of Edward the Confessor) and later of king Canute. It was also borne by an 11th-century Austrian saint, who is sometimes called Hemma.

After the Norman conquest this name became common in England. It was revived in the 18th century, perhaps in part due to Matthew Prior's poem 'Henry and Emma' (1709). It was also used by Jane Austen for the central character, the matchmaker Emma Woodhouse, in her novel 'Emma' (1816).

ERNEST

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, Slovene, Polish

Pronounced: UR-nəst (English)

Derived from Germanic eornost meaning "serious". It was introduced to England by the German House of Hanover when they inherited the British throne in the 18th century, though it did not become common until the following century. The American author and adventurer Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was a famous bearer of the name. It was also used by Oscar Wilde for a character in his comedy 'The Importance of Being Earnest' (1895).

ESTELLA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: es-TEL-ə

Latinate form of ESTELLE. This was the name of the heroine, Estella Havisham, in Charles Dickens' novel 'Great Expectations' (1860).

ESTHER

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Jewish, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Other Scripts: אֶסְתֵר (Hebrew), Εσθηρ (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: ES-tər (English, Dutch), es-TER (French)

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 who saved the Jews of the realm from extermination. Her original Hebrew name was Hadassah.

This name has been used in the English-speaking world since the Protestant Reformation. In America it received a boost in popularity after the birth of Esther Cleveland (1893-1980), the daughter of president Grover Cleveland.

EUGENE

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: YOO-jeen, yoo-JEEN

English form of Eugenius, the Latin form of the Greek name Ευγενιος (Eugenios) which was derived from the Greek word ευγενης (eugenes) meaning "well born". It is composed of the elements ευ "good, well" and γενης (genes) "born". This was the name of several saints and four popes.

This name was not particularly common in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. It became more popular in part due to the fame of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), a French-born general who served the Austrian Empire. A notable bearer was the American playwright Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953).

EVE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, French, Biblical

Other Scripts: חַוָּה (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: EEV (English), EV (French)

From the Hebrew name חַוָּה (Chawwah), which was derived from the Hebrew word חוה (chawah) "to breathe" or the related word חיה (chayah) "to live". According to the Old Testament Book of Genesis, Eve and Adam were the first humans. She gave the forbidden fruit to Adam, causing their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Despite this potentially negative association, the name was occasionally used during the Middle Ages. In the English-speaking world both Eve and the Latin form Eva were revived in the 19th century.

FIONA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Scottish, English

Pronounced: fee-O-nə

Feminine form of FIONN. This name was (first?) used by Scottish poet James Macpherson in his poem 'Fingal' (1762).

FRANCES

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: FRANT-səs

Feminine form of FRANCIS. The distinction between Francis as a masculine name and Frances as a feminine name did not arise until the 17th century. A notable bearer was Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), a social worker and the first American to be canonized.

FRANCIS

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French

Pronounced: FRANT-səs (English)

English form of the Late Latin name Franciscus which meant "Frenchman". This name was borne by the 13th-century Saint Francis of Assisi, who was originally named Giovanni but was given the nickname Francesco by his father, an admirer of the French. Francis went on to renounce his father's wealth and devote his life to the poor, founding the Franciscan order of friars. Later in his life he apparently received the stigmata.

Due to the renown of the saint, this name became widespread in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. However, it was not regularly used in Britain until the 16th century. Famous bearers include Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552), a missionary to East Asia, the philosopher and scientist Francis Bacon (1561-1626), and the explorer and admiral Sir Francis Drake (1540-1595). In the English-speaking world this name is occasionally used for girls.

FREDERICA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Portuguese, English

Pronounced: frə-də-REE-kə (Portuguese), fred-REE-ka (English), fred-ə-REE-kə (English)

Feminine form of FREDERICO or FREDERICK

FREDERICK

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: FRED-ə-rik, FRED-rik

English form of a Germanic name meaning "peaceful ruler", derived from frid "peace" and ric "ruler, power". This name has long been common in continental Germanic-speaking regions, being borne by rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia, and Prussia. Notables among these rulers include the 12th-century Holy Roman Emperor and crusader Frederick I Barbarossa, the 13th-century emperor and patron of the arts Frederick II, and the 18th-century Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great.

The Normans brought the name to England in the 11th century but it quickly died out. It was reintroduced by the German House of Hanover when they inherited the British throne in the 18th century. A famous bearer was Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), an American ex-slave who became a leading advocate of abolition.

GARETH

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Welsh, English (British), Arthurian Romance

Pronounced: GAR-əth (Welsh, English)

Meaning unknown. It first appears in this form in Thomas Malory's 15th-century compilation of Arthurian legends 'Le Morte d'Arthur', in which Gareth was a Knight of the Round Table, the brother of Sir Gawain. Malory based the name on Gahariet, which was the name of a similar Arthurian character in French sources. It may ultimately have a Welsh origin, possibly related to gwaredd meaning "gentleness".

GEORGE

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Romanian

Pronounced: JORJ (English)

From the Greek name Γεωργιος (Georgios) which was derived from the Greek word γεωργος (georgos) meaning "farmer, earthworker", itself derived from the elements γη (ge) "earth" and εργον (ergon) "work". Saint George was a 3rd-century Roman soldier from Palestine who was martyred during the persecutions of emperor Diocletian. Later legends describe his defeat of a dragon, with which he was often depicted in medieval art.

Initially Saint George was primarily revered by Eastern Christians, but returning crusaders brought stories of him to Western Europe and he became the patron of England, Portugal, Catalonia and Aragon. The name was rarely used in England until the German-born George I came to the British throne in the 18th century. Five subsequent British kings have borne the name.

Other famous bearers include two kings of Greece, the composer George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), the first president of the United States, George Washington (1732-1797), and the Pacific explorer George Vancouver (1757-1798). This was also the pen name of authors George Eliot (1819-1880) and George Orwell (1903-1950), real names Mary Anne Evans and Eric Arthur Blair respectively.

GEORGIANA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: jor-JYAH-nə, jor-JAY-nə

Feminine form of GEORGE. This form of the name has been in use since the 18th century.

GERALD

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, German

Pronounced: JER-əld (English), GE-rahlt (German)

From a Germanic name meaning "rule of the spear", from the elements ger "spear" and wald "rule". The Normans brought this name to Britain. Though it died out in England during the Middle Ages, it remained common in Ireland. It was revived in the English-speaking world in 19th century.

GODFREY

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: GAHD-free

From the Germanic name Godafrid, which meant "peace of god" from the Germanic elements god "god" and frid "peace". The Normans brought this name to England, where it became common during the Middle Ages. A notable bearer was Godfrey of Bouillon, an 11th-century leader of the First Crusade and the first ruler of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.

GREGOR

Gender: Masculine

Usage: German, Scottish, Slovak, Slovene

Pronounced: GRE-gawr (German)

German, Scottish, Slovak and Slovene form of GREGORY. A famous bearer was Gregor Mendel (1822-1884), a Czech monk and scientist who did experiments in genetics.

GWENDOLEN

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Welsh

Pronounced: GWEN-də-lin (English)

Means "white ring", derived from the Welsh elements gwen "white, fair, blessed" and dolen "ring". This was the name of a mythical queen of the Britons who defeated her husband in battle, as told by Geoffrey of Monmouth.

HELEN

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Greek Mythology (Anglicized)

Other Scripts: ‘Ελενη (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: HEL-ən (English)

English form of the Greek ‘Ελενη (Helene), probably from Greek ‘ελενη (helene) "torch" or "corposant", or possibly related to σεληνη (selene) "moon". In Greek mythology Helen was the daughter of Zeus and Leda, whose kidnapping by Paris was the cause of the Trojan War. The name was also borne by the 4th-century Saint Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, who supposedly found the True Cross during a trip to Jerusalem.

The name was originally used among early Christians in honour of the saint, as opposed to the classical character. In England it was commonly spelled Ellen during the Middle Ages, and the spelling Helen was not regularly used until after the Renaissance. A famous bearer was Helen Keller (1880-1968), an American author and lecturer who was both blind and deaf.

HENRIETTA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Dutch

Pronounced: hen-ree-ET-ə (English)

English form of HENRIETTE. It was introduced to England by Henriette Marie, the wife of the 17th-century English king Charles I. The name Henriette was also Anglicized as Harriet, a form which was initially more popular.

HENRY

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: HEN-ree

From the Germanic name Heimirich which meant "home ruler", composed of the elements heim "home" and ric "power, ruler". It was later commonly spelled Heinrich, with the spelling altered due to the influence of other Germanic names like Haganrich, in which the first element is hagan "enclosure".

Heinrich was popular among continental royalty, being the name of seven German kings, starting with the 10th-century Henry I the Fowler, and four French kings. In France it was rendered Henri from the Latin form Henricus.

The Normans introduced this name to England, and it was subsequently used by eight kings, ending with the infamous Henry VIII in the 16th century. During the Middle Ages it was generally rendered as Harry or Herry in English pronunciation. Notable bearers include arctic naval explorer Henry Hudson (1570-1611), British novelist Henry James (1843-1916), and American automobile manufacturer Henry Ford (1863-1947).

HONORIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Late Roman

Feminine form of HONORIUS

HUGH

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: HYOO

From the Germanic element hug, meaning "heart, mind, spirit". It was common among Frankish and French nobility, being borne by Hugh Capet, a 10th-century king of France who founded the Capetian dynasty. The Normans brought the name to England and it became common there, even more so after the time of the 12th-century bishop Saint Hugh of Lincoln, who was known for his charity. This was also the name of kings of Cyprus and the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. The name is used in Ireland and Scotland as the Anglicized form of Aodh and Ùisdean.

HUGO

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Ancient Germanic (Latinized)

Pronounced: OO-go (Spanish), HYOO-go (English), HUY-kho (Dutch), HOO-go (German)

Latinized form of HUGH. As a surname it has belonged to the French author Victor Hugo (1802-1885), the writer of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' and 'Les Misérables'.

IDA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Slovene, Croatian, Ancient Germanic

Pronounced: IE-də (English), EE-dah (German, Danish, Dutch, Italian)

Derived from the Germanic element id meaning "work, labour". The Normans brought this name to England, though it eventually died out there in the Middle Ages. It was strongly revived in the 19th century, in part due to the heroine in Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem 'The Princess' (1847), which was later adapted into the play 'Princess Ida' (1884) by Gilbert and Sullivan.

Though the etymology is unrelated, this is the name of a mountain on the island of Crete where, according to Greek myth, the god Zeus was born.

IMOGEN

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English (British)

Pronounced: IM-ə-jən

The name of a princess in the play 'Cymbeline' (1609) by Shakespeare. He based her on a legendary character named Innogen, but the name was printed incorrectly and never corrected. The name Innogen is probably derived from Gaelic inghean meaning "maiden".

INGRID

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German

Pronounced: ING-rid (Swedish), ING-ree (Norwegian), ING-grit (German)

From the Old Norse name Ingríðr meaning "Ing is beautiful", derived from the name of the Germanic god ING combined with fríðr "beautiful". A famous bearer was the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982).

IRENE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, German, Ancient Greek (Latinized), Greek Mythology (Latinized)

Other Scripts: Ειρηνη (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: ie-REEN (English), ie-REE-nee (English), ee-RE-ne (Italian), ee-RE-nu (German)

From Greek Ειρηνη (Eirene), derived from a word meaning "peace". This was the name of the Greek goddess who personified peace, one of the ‘Ωραι (Horai). It was also borne by several early Christian saints. The name was common in the Byzantine Empire, notably being borne by an 8th-century empress, who was the first woman to lead the empire. She originally served as regent for her son, but later had him killed and ruled alone.

This name has traditionally been more popular among Eastern Christians. In the English-speaking world it was not regularly used until the 19th century.

IRIS

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Greek Mythology, English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, French, Spanish

Other Scripts: Ιρις (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: IE-ris (English), EE-ris (German, Dutch)

Means "rainbow" in Greek. Iris was the name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow. This name can also be given in reference to the English word (which derives from the same Greek source) for the name of the iris flower or the coloured part of the eye.

ISOBEL

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Scottish

Scottish form of ISABEL

IVOR

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Irish, Scottish, Welsh, English (British)

Pronounced: IE-vawr (English), EE-vawr (English)

From the Old Norse name Ívarr, which was derived from the elements yr "yew, bow" and arr "warrior". During the Middle Ages it was brought to Britain by Scandinavian settlers and invaders, and it was adopted in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

JAMES

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Biblical

Pronounced: JAYMZ (English)

English form of the Late Latin name Iacomus which was derived from Ιακωβος (Iakobos), the New Testament Greek form of the Hebrew name Ya'aqov (see JACOB). This was the name of two apostles in the New Testament. The first was Saint James the Greater, the apostle John's brother, who was beheaded under Herod Agrippa in the Book of Acts. The second was James the Lesser, son of Alphaeus. Another James (known as James the Just) is also mentioned in the Bible as being the brother of Jesus.

Since the 13th century this form of the name has been used in England, though it became more common in Scotland, where it was borne by several kings. In the 17th century the Scottish king James VI inherited the English throne, becoming the first ruler of all Britain, and the name grew much more popular. Famous bearers include the explorer Captain James Cook (1728-1779), the inventor James Watt (1736-1819), and the novelist and poet James Joyce (1882-1941). This name has also been borne by six American presidents. A notable fictional bearer is the British spy James Bond, created by author Ian Fleming.

JANE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: JAYN

Medieval English form of Jehanne, an Old French feminine form of Iohannes (see JOHN). This became the most common feminine form of John in the 17th century, surpassing Joan. Famous bearers include the uncrowned English queen Lady Jane Grey (1536-1554), who ruled for only 9 days, the British novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817), who wrote 'Sense and Sensibility' and 'Pride and Prejudice', and the British primatologist Jane Goodall (1934-). This was also the name of the central character in Charlotte Bronte's novel 'Jane Eyre' (1847).

JEAN (2)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Scottish

Pronounced: JEEN

Medieval English variant of Jehanne (see JANE). It was common in England and Scotland during the Middle Ages, but eventually became rare in England. It was reintroduced to the English-speaking world from Scotland in the 19th century.

JERUSHA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Biblical

Other Scripts: יְרוּשָׁה (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: jə-ROO-shə (English)

Means "possession" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament she is the wife of King Uzziah of Judah and the mother of Jotham.

JOACHIM

Gender: Masculine

Usage: French, German, Polish, Judeo-Christian Legend

Pronounced: zho-a-KEEM (French), YO-ah-khim (German), yo-AH-khim (German), yaw-AH-kheem (Polish), JO-ə-kim (English)

Contracted form of JEHOIACHIN or JEHOIAKIM. According to the apocryphal Gospel of James, Saint Joachim was the husband of Saint Anne and the father of the Virgin Mary. Due to his popularity in the Middle Ages, the name came into general use in Christian Europe (though it was never common in England).

JOHANN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: German

Pronounced: YO-hahn

German form of Iohannes (see JOHN). A notable bearer was Johann Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press in the 15th century. Other famous bearers include German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, Austrian composers Johann Strauss and his son Johann Strauss Junior, and German novelist and poet Johann Goethe.

JOHANNA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, English, Late Roman

Pronounced: yo-HAH-nah (German), yo-HAHN-nah (Dutch)

Latinate form of Ioanna (see JOANNA).

JOHN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Biblical

Pronounced: JAHN (English)

English form of Iohannes, the Latin form of the Greek name Ιωαννης (Ioannes), itself derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan) meaning "YAHWEH is gracious". This name owes its popularity to two New Testament characters, both highly revered saints. The first is John the Baptist, a Jewish ascetic who was considered the forerunner of Jesus Christ. The second is the apostle John, who is also traditionally regarded as the author of the fourth Gospel and Revelation.

This name was initially more common among Eastern Christians in the Byzantine Empire, but it flourished in Western Europe after the First Crusade. In England it became extremely popular: during the later Middle Ages it was given to approximately a fifth of all English boys.

The name (in various spellings) has been borne by 21 popes and eight Byzantine emperors, as well as rulers of England, France, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria, Russia and Hungary. It was also borne by the poet John Milton (1608-1674), philosopher John Locke (1632-1704), American founding father and president John Adams (1735-1826), and poet John Keats (1795-1821). Famous bearers of the 20th century include author John Steinbeck (1902-1968), assassinated American president John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), and musician John Lennon (1940-1980).

JOSEPH

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, German, Biblical

Other Scripts: יוֹסֵף (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: JO-səf (English), zho-ZEF (French), YO-zef (German)

From Ioseph, the Latin form of Greek Ιωσηφ (Ioseph), which was from the Hebrew name יוֹסֵף (Yosef) meaning "he will add". In the Old Testament, Joseph is the eleventh son of Jacob. Because he was the favourite of his father, his older brothers sent him to Egypt and told their father that he had died. In Egypt, Joseph became an advisor to the pharaoh, and was eventually reconciled with his brothers when they came to Egypt during a famine. This name also occurs in the New Testament, belonging to Saint Joseph the husband of Mary and Joseph of Arimathea.

In the Middle Ages, Joseph was a common Jewish name, being less frequent among Christians. In the late Middle Ages Saint Joseph became more highly revered, and the name became popular in Spain and Italy. In England it became common after the Protestant Reformation. This name was borne by rulers of the Holy Roman Empire and Portugal. Other notable bearers include Polish-British author Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) and the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (1878-1953).

JOSEPHINE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German

Pronounced: JO-sə-feen (English), yo-ze-FEE-nə (German)

English and German form of JOSÉPHINE

JUDITH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Jewish, French, German, Spanish, Biblical

Other Scripts: יְהוּדִית (Hebrew)

Pronounced: JOO-dith (English), zhoo-DEET (French), YOO-dit (German)

From the Hebrew name יְהוּדִית (Yehudit) meaning "woman from Judea", Judea being an ancient region in Israel. In the Old Testament, Judith is one of the wives of Esau. This is also the name of the main character of the apocryphal Book of Judith who kills Holofernes, an invading Assyrian commander, by beheading him in his sleep. As an English name, though there are a handful of early examples during the Middle Ages, it did not become common until after the Protestant Reformation.

JULIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Spanish, Polish, Finnish, Ancient Roman, Biblical

Pronounced: JOO-lee-ə (English), YOO-lee-ah (German), HOO-lyah (Spanish), YUWL-yah (Polish), YOO:-lee-ah (Ancient Roman)

Feminine form of JULIUS. A person by this name has a brief mention in the New Testament. It was borne by a few early saints and martyrs, including the patron saint of Corsica. Shakespeare used the name in his comedy 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' (1594). It has been common as a given name in the English-speaking world only since the 18th century. A famous bearer is American actress Julia Roberts (1967-).

KATHERINE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: KATH-ə-rin, KATH-rin

From the Greek name Αικατερινη (Aikaterine). The etymology is debated: it could derive from the earlier Greek name ‘Εκατερινη (Hekaterine), which came from ‘εκατερος (hekateros) "each of the two"; it could derive from the name of the goddess HECATE; it could be related to Greek αικια (aikia) "torture"; or it could be from a Coptic name meaning "my consecration of your name". In the early Christian era it became associated with Greek καθαρος (katharos) "pure", and the Latin spelling was changed from Katerina to Katharina to reflect this.

The name was borne by a semi-legendary 4th-century saint and martyr from Alexandria who was tortured on a spiked wheel. The saint was initially venerated in Syria, and returning crusaders introduced the name to Western Europe. It has been common in England since the 12th century in many different spellings, with Katherine and Catherine becoming standard in the later Middle Ages.

Famous bearers of the name include Catherine of Siena, a 14th-century mystic, and Catherine de' Medici, a 16th-century French queen. It was also borne by three of Henry VIII's wives, including Katherine of Aragon, and by two empresses of Russia, including Catherine the Great.

KIRA (1)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Russian

Other Scripts: Кира (Russian)

Pronounced: KEE-rah

Russian feminine form of CYRUS

LAURA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, Polish, Slovene, Croatian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, Late Roman

Pronounced: LAWR-ə (English), LOW-rah (Spanish, Italian, Polish, German, Dutch)

Feminine form of the Late Latin name Laurus, which meant "laurel". This meaning was favourable, since in ancient Rome the leaves of laurel trees were used to create victors' garlands. The name was borne by the 9th-century Spanish martyr Saint Laura, who was a nun thrown into a vat of molten lead by the Moors. It was also the name of the subject of poems by the 14th-century Italian poet Petrarch.

As an English name, Laura has been used since the 13th century. A famous bearer was Laura Secord (1775-1868), a Canadian heroine during the War of 1812.

LAVINIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Roman Mythology, Romanian

Meaning unknown, probably of Etruscan origin. In Roman legend Lavinia was the daughter of King Latinus, the wife of Aeneas, and the ancestor of the Roman people. According to the legend Aeneas named the town of Lavinium in honour of his wife.

LEOPOLD

Gender: Masculine

Usage: German, Dutch, English, Slovene, Polish

Pronounced: LE-o-pawlt (German), LAY-o-pawlt (Dutch), LEE-ə-pold (English), le-AW-pawlt (Polish)

Derived from the Germanic elements leud "people" and bald "bold". The spelling was altered due to association with Latin leo "lion". This name was common among German royalty, first with the Babenbergs and then the Habsburgs. Saint Leopold was a 12th-century Babenberg margrave of Austria, who is now considered the patron of that country. It was also borne by two Habsburg Holy Roman Emperors, as well as three kings of Belgium. Since the 19th century this name has been occasionally used in England, originally in honour of Queen Victoria's uncle, a king of Belgium, after whom she named one of her sons. It was later used by James Joyce for the main character, Leopold Bloom, in his novel 'Ulysses' (1920).

LEV (2)

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Hebrew

Other Scripts: לֵב (Hebrew)

Means "heart" in Hebrew.

LEWIS

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: LOO-is

Medieval English form of LOUIS. A famous bearer was Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), the author of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'. This was also the surname of C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), the author of the 'Chronicles of Narnia'.

LOUISA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Dutch

Pronounced: loo-EEZ-ə (English), loo-EES-ə (English)

Latinate feminine form of LOUIS

LUCY

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: LOO-see

English form of LUCIA, in use since the Middle Ages.

MADELINE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, French

Pronounced: MAD-ə-lin (English), MAD-ə-lien (English), ma-də-LEEN (French), mad-LEEN (French)

English form of MAGDALENE. This is the name of the heroine in a series of children's books by Ludwig Bemelmans, first published 1939.

MAGDALENA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Spanish, Occitan, Slovene, Czech, Polish, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Croatian, Serbian, Romanian, Finnish, English

Other Scripts: Магдалена (Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian)

Pronounced: mahk-dah-LE-nah (German), mahg-dah-LE-nah (Polish), mag-da-LAY-na (English)

Latinate form of MAGDALENE

MALCOLM

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Scottish, English

Pronounced: MAL-kəm

From Scottish Máel Coluim which means "disciple of Saint COLUMBA". This was the name of four kings of Scotland starting in the 10th century, including Malcolm III, who became king after killing Macbeth, the usurper who had murdered his father. The character Malcolm in Shakespeare's tragedy 'Macbeth' (1606) is based on him. Another famous bearer was Malcolm X (1925-1965), an American civil rights leader.

MARGARET

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: MAHR-grit, MAHR-gə-rit

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.

Other saints by this name include a queen of Scotland and a princess of Hungary. It was also borne by Queen Margaret I of Denmark, who united Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in the 14th century. Famous literary bearers include American writer Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949), the author of 'Gone with the Wind', and Canadian writer Margaret Atwood (1939-).

MARIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Occitan, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Frisian, Greek, Polish, Romanian, English, Finnish, Icelandic, Corsican, Basque, Biblical Greek, Biblical Latin, Old Church Slavic

Other Scripts: Μαρια (Greek), Маріа (Church Slavic)

Pronounced: mah-REE-ah (Italian, German, Dutch), mə-REE-ə (Catalan, English), MAHR-yah (Polish)

Latin form of Greek Μαρια, from Hebrew מִרְיָם (see MARY). Maria is the usual form of the name in many European languages, as well as a secondary form in other languages such as English (where the common spelling is Mary). In some countries, for example Germany, Poland and Italy, Maria is occasionally used as a masculine middle name.

This was the name of two ruling queens of Portugal. It was also borne by the Habsburg queen Maria Theresa (1717-1780), whose inheritance of the domains of her father, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, began the War of the Austrian Succession.

MARIANNE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French, English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish

Pronounced: mah-ree-AH-nə (German)

Originally a French diminutive of MARIE. It is also considered a combination of MARIE and ANNE (1). Shortly after the formation of the French Republic in 1792, a female figure by this name was adopted as the symbol of the state.

MARIE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French, Czech, German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish

Pronounced: ma-REE (French), mah-REE (German)

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.

MARINA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Greek, Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Georgian, Ancient Roman

Other Scripts: Μαρινα (Greek), Марина (Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian), მარინა (Georgian)

Pronounced: mah-REE-nah (Italian, Spanish, German, Russian)

Feminine form of MARINUS

MARIUS

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Ancient Roman, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, French, Romanian

Pronounced: MER-ee-əs (English), MAR-ee-əs (English), MAH-ree-uws (German)

Roman family name which was derived either from MARS, the name of the Roman god of War, or else from the Latin root mas, maris meaning "male". Gaius Marius was a famous Roman consul of the 2nd century BC. Since the start of the Christian era, it has occasionally been used as a masculine form of MARIA.

MARTHA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Greek, Biblical, Old Church Slavic, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Other Scripts: Μαρθα (Greek), Марѳа (Church Slavic)

Pronounced: MAHR-thə (English)

From Aramaic מרתא (marta') meaning "lady, mistress". In the New Testament this is the name of the sister of Lazarus and Mary of Bethany. It was not used in England until after the Protestant Reformation. A notable bearer was Martha Washington (1731-1802), the wife of the first American president George Washington.

MARTIN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Russian, Romanian, Czech, Slovak, Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Finnish

Other Scripts: Мартин (Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian)

Pronounced: MAHR-tən (English), mar-TEN (French), MAHR-teen (German), MAHR-tin (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish), MAWR-teen (Hungarian), mahr-TIN (Bulgarian)

From the Roman name Martinus, which was derived from Martis, the genitive case of the name of the Roman god MARS. Saint Martin of Tours was a 4th-century bishop who is the patron saint of France. According to legend, he came across a cold beggar in the middle of winter so he ripped his cloak in two and gave half of it to the beggar. He was a favourite saint during the Middle Ages, and his name has become common throughout the Christian world.

An influential bearer of the name was Martin Luther (1483-1546), the theologian who began the Protestant Reformation. The name was also borne by five popes (two of them more commonly known as Marinus). Other more recent bearers include the German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King (1929-1968), and the American filmmaker Martin Scorsese (1942-).

MARY

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Biblical

Pronounced: MER-ee (English), MAR-ee (English)

Usual English form of Maria, which was the Latin form of the New Testament Greek names Μαριαμ (Mariam) and Μαρια (Maria) - the spellings are interchangeable - which were from the Hebrew name מִרְיָם (Miryam). The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including "sea of bitterness", "rebelliousness", and "wished for child". However it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love".

This is the name of several New Testament characters, most importantly Mary the virgin mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene. Due to the Virgin Mary this name has been very popular in the Christian world, though at certain times in some cultures it has been considered too holy for everyday use. In England it has been used since the 12th century, and it has been among the most common feminine names since the 16th century. The Latinized form Maria is also used in English as well as in several other languages.

This name has been borne by two queens of England, as well as a Queen of Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots. Another notable bearer was Mary Shelley (1797-1851), the author of 'Frankenstein'. A famous fictional character by this name was Mary Poppins, from the children's books by P. L. Travers.

MATILDA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Swedish, Finnish, Slovak

Pronounced: mə-TIL-də (English)

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 brought to England by the Normans, being borne by the wife of William the Conqueror himself. It was popular until the 15th century in England, usually in the vernacular form Maud. Both forms were revived by the 19th century. This name appears in the popular Australian folk song 'Waltzing Matilda', written in 1895.

MAUD

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Dutch

Pronounced: MAWD (English)

Usual medieval form of MATILDA. Though it became rare after the 14th century, it was revived and once more grew popular in the 19th century, perhaps due to Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem 'Maud' (1855).

MAURICE

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French

Pronounced: MAWR-is (English), mə-REES (English), mo-REES (French)

From the Roman name Mauritius, a derivative of MAURUS. Saint Maurice was a 3rd-century Roman soldier from Egypt. He and the other Christians in his legion were supposedly massacred on the orders of emperor Maximian for refusing to worship Roman gods. Thus, he is the patron saint of infantry soldiers.

This name was borne by a 6th-century Byzantine emperor. Another notable bearer was Maurice of Nassau (called Maurits in Dutch), a 17th-century prince of Orange who helped establish the Dutch Republic. The name has been used in England since the Norman conquest, usually in the spelling Morris or Moris.

MAXIM

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian

Other Scripts: Максим (Russian, Ukrainian), Максім (Belarusian)

Pronounced: mahk-SEEM (Russian)

Personal note: Maximilian

Variant transcription of MAKSIM or MAKSYM

MAXIMILIAN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish

Pronounced: mahk-see-MEE-lee-ahn (German), mak-si-MIL-ee-ən (English), mak-si-MIL-yən (English)

From the Roman name Maximilianus, which was derived from MAXIMUS. It was borne by a 3rd-century saint and martyr. In the 15th century the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III gave this name to his son and eventual heir. In this case it was a blend of the names of the Roman generals Fabius Maximus and Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus (see EMILIANO), who Frederick admired. It was subsequently borne by a second Holy Roman Emperor, two kings of Bavaria, and a short-lived Habsburg emperor of Mexico.

MERCY

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: MUR-see

From the English word mercy, ultimately from Latin merces "wages, reward", a derivative of merx "goods, wares". This was one of the virtue names adopted by the Puritans in the 17th century.

MERIT (1)

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English (Rare)

Pronounced: MER-it

Either a variant of MERRITT or else simply from the English word merit, ultimately from Latin meritus "deserving".

MILES

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: MIELZ, MIE-əlz

From the Germanic name Milo, introduced by the Normans to England in the form Miles. The meaning is not known for certain. It is possibly connected to the Slavic name element mil meaning "gracious". From an early date it was associated with Latin miles "soldier".

MIRA (2)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Polish

Other Scripts: Мира (Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian)

Short form of names containing the Slavic element mir meaning "peace" or "world".

MIRIAM

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Hebrew, English, German, Biblical, Biblical Hebrew

Other Scripts: מִרְיָם (Hebrew)

Pronounced: MIR-ee-əm (English)

Original Hebrew form of MARY. It is used in the Old Testament, where it belongs to the elder sister of Moses and Aaron. It has long been popular among Jews, and it has been used as an English Christian name since the Protestant Reformation.

MORGAN (1)

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Welsh, English, French

Pronounced: MAWR-gən (English)

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-).

MYRNA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Irish

Pronounced: MUR-na

Anglicized form of MUIRNE

NEIL

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Irish, Scottish, English

Pronounced: NEEL (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.

In the early Middle Ages the name was adopted by Viking raiders and settlers in Ireland in the form Njal. The Vikings transmitted it to England and Scotland, as well as bringing it back to Scandinavia. It was also in use among the Normans, who were of Scandinavian origin. A famous bearer of this name was American astronaut Neil Armstrong (1930-2012), the first person to walk on the moon.

NIAMH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Irish, Irish Mythology

Pronounced: NEEV

Means "bright" in Irish. She was the daughter of the sea god in Irish legends. She fell in love with the poet Oisín, son of Fionn.

NICHOLAS

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French

Pronounced: NIK-ə-ləs (English), nee-ko-LAH (French)

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.

Due to the renown of the saint, this name has been widely used in the Christian world. It has been common in England since the 12th century, though it became a bit less popular after the Protestant Reformation. The name has been borne by five popes and two czars of Russia.

NOEL

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: NOL, no-EL

English form of NOËL

NORA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Irish, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, Italian

Pronounced: NAWR-ə (English), NO-rah (German)

Short form of HONORA or ELEANOR. Henrik Ibsen used it for a character in his play 'A Doll's House' (1879).

OLGA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Russian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Czech, Slovene, Serbian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Portuguese, Spanish

Other Scripts: Ольга (Russian), Олга (Serbian, Bulgarian, Macedonian)

Pronounced: OL-gah (Russian), AWL-gah (German, Polish)

Russian form of HELGA. The Varangians brought it from Scandinavia to Russia. The 10th-century Saint Olga was the wife of Igor I, Grand Prince of Kievan Rus (a state based around the city of Kiev). Following his death she ruled as regent for her son for 18 years. After she was baptized in Constantinople she attempted to convert her subjects to Christianity.

OSCAR

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Irish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Irish Mythology

Pronounced: AHS-kər (English)

Possibly means "deer lover", derived from Gaelic os "deer" and cara "lover". 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.

This name was popularized in continental Europe by the works of the 18th-century Scottish poet James Macpherson. Napoleon was an admirer of Macpherson, and he suggested Oscar as the second middle name of his godson, who eventually became king of Sweden as Oscar I. Another notable bearer was the Irish writer and humourist Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

PATRICK

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Irish, English, French, German

Pronounced: PAT-rik (English), pat-REEK (French), PAHT-rik (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.

In England and elsewhere in Europe during the Middle Ages this name was used in honour of the saint. However, it was not generally given in Ireland before the 17th century because it was considered too sacred for everyday use. It has since become very common there.

PAUL

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Romanian, Biblical

Pronounced: PAWL (English), POL (French), POWL (German)

From the Roman family name Paulus, which meant "small" or "humble" in Latin. Saint Paul was an important leader of the early Christian church, his story told in Acts in the New Testament. His original Hebrew name was Saul. Most of the epistles in the New Testament were authored by him.

Due to the renown of Saint Paul the name became common among early Christians. It was borne by a number of other early saints and six popes. In England it was relatively rare during the Middle Ages, but became more frequent beginning in the 17th century. A notable bearer was the American Revolutionary War figure Paul Revere (1735-1818), who warned of the advance of the British army. Famous bearers in the art world include the French impressionists Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) and Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), and the Swiss expressionist Paul Klee (1879-1940). It is borne by British musician Paul McCartney (1942-). This is also the name of the legendary American lumberjack Paul Bunyan.

PERRY

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: PER-ee

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

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Slovene, Slovak, Biblical

Pronounced: PEE-tər (English), PE-ter (German, Slovak), PAY-tər (Dutch)

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 by Jesus (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.

Due to the renown of the apostle, this name became common throughout the Christian world (in various spellings). In England the Normans introduced it in the Old French form Piers, which was gradually replaced by the spelling Peter starting in the 15th century.

Besides the apostle, other saints by this name include the 11th-century reformer Saint Peter Damian and the 13th-century preacher Saint Peter Martyr. It was also borne by rulers of Aragon, Portugal, and Russia, including the Russian tsar Peter the Great (1672-1725), who defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War. Famous fictional bearers include Peter Rabbit from Beatrix Potter's children's books, and Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up in J. M. Barrie's 1904 play.

PHILIP

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Biblical

Pronounced: FIL-ip (English), FEE-lip (Dutch)

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.

This name was initially more common among Eastern Christians, though it came to the West by the Middle Ages. It was borne by six kings of France and five kings of Spain. It was regularly used in England during the Middle Ages, although the Spanish king Philip II, who attempted an invasion of England, helped make it less common by the 17th-century. It was revived in the English-speaking world in the 19th century. A famous bearer was the Elizabethan courtier and poet Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586).

PHOEBE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Greek Mythology (Latinized), Biblical, Biblical Latin

Other Scripts: Φοιβη (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: FEE-bee (English)

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).

PHYLLIS

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Greek Mythology, English, German

Other Scripts: Φυλλις (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: FIL-is (English)

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.

QUENTIN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: French, English

Pronounced: kawn-TEN (French), KWEN-tin (English)

French form of the Roman name QUINTINUS. It was borne by a 3rd-century saint, a missionary who was martyred in Gaul. The Normans introduced this name to England. In America it was brought to public attention by president Theodore Roosevelt's son Quentin Roosevelt (1897-1918), who was killed in World War I.

RALPH

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German

Pronounced: RALF (English), RAYF (English), RAHLF (German)

Contracted form of the Old Norse name RÁÐÚLFR (or its Norman form Radulf). Scandinavian settlers introduced it to England before the Norman conquest, though afterwards it was bolstered by Norman influence. In the Middle Ages it was usually spelled Ralf, but by the 17th century it was most commonly Rafe, reflecting the normal pronunciation. The Ralph spelling appeared in the 18th century. A famous bearer of the name was Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), an American poet and author who wrote on transcendentalism.

RAY

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: RAY

Short form of RAYMOND, often used as an independent name. Science-fiction author Ray Bradbury (1920-) and musician Ray Charles (1930-2004) are two notable bearers of the name.

RICHARD

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, German, Czech, Dutch, Ancient Germanic

Pronounced: RICH-ərd (English), ree-SHAHR (French), RIKH-ahrt (German)

Means "brave power", derived from the Germanic elements ric "power, rule" and hard "brave, hardy". The Normans introduced this name to Britain, and it has been very common there since that time. It was borne by three kings of England including Richard I the Lionheart, leader of the Third Crusade in the 12th century. Famous bearers include two German opera composers, Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and Richard Strauss (1864-1949), as well as British explorer Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890) and American musician Little Richard (1920-).

ROBERT

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, Czech, Polish, Russian, Slovene, Croatian, Romanian, Ancient Germanic

Other Scripts: Роберт (Russian)

Pronounced: RAH-bərt (English), ro-BER (French), RO-bert (German), RO-bərt (Dutch), RAW-bert (Polish), RO-byert (Russian), RO-beert (Russian)

From the Germanic name Hrodebert meaning "bright fame", derived from the Germanic elements hrod "fame" and beraht "bright". The Normans introduced this name to Britain, where it replaced the Old English cognate Hreodbeorht. It has been a very common English name since that time.

The name has been borne by two early kings of France, two Dukes of Normandy, and three kings of Scotland, including Robert the Bruce who restored the independence of Scotland from England in the 14th century. The author Robert Browning (1812-1889) and poets Robert Burns (1759-1796) and Robert Frost (1874-1963) are famous literary bearers of this name. Other bearers include Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), the commander of the Confederate army during the American Civil War, and American actors Robert Redford (1936-), Robert De Niro (1943-) and Robert Downey Jr. (1965-).

RODERICK

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Scottish, Welsh

Pronounced: RAHD-ə-rik (English), RAHD-rik (English)

Means "famous power" from the Germanic elements hrod "fame" and ric "power". This name was in use among the Visigoths; it was borne by their last king (also known as Rodrigo), who died fighting the Muslim invaders of Spain in the 8th century. It also had cognates in Old Norse and West Germanic, and Scandinavian settlers and Normans introduced it to England, though it died out after the Middle Ages. It was revived in the English-speaking world by Sir Walter Scott's poem 'The Vision of Don Roderick' (1811).

ROSALIND

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: ROZ-ə-lind

Derived from the Germanic elements hros "horse" and linde "soft, tender". The Normans introduced this name to England, though it was not common. During the Middle Ages its spelling was influenced by the Latin phrase rosa linda "beautiful rose". The name was popularized by Edmund Spencer, who used it in his poetry, and by William Shakespeare, who used it for the heroine in his comedy 'As You Like It' (1599).

ROSAMUND

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English (Rare)

Pronounced: ROZ-ə-mund

Derived from the Germanic elements hros "horse" and mund "protection". The Normans introduced this name to England. It was subsequently influenced by the Latin phrase rosa munda "pure rose". This was the name of the mistress of Henry II, the king of England in the 12th century. She was possibly murdered by his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

ROSE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, French

Pronounced: ROZ

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 and Rohese. 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.

RUTH (1)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Spanish, Biblical, Biblical Latin

Other Scripts: רוּת (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: ROOTH (English), ROOT (German)

From a Hebrew name which was derived from the Hebrew word רְעוּת (re'ut) meaning "friend". This is the name of the central character in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament, a Moabite woman who was the ancestor of King David. As a Christian name, Ruth has been in use since the Protestant Reformation. It became very popular in America following the birth of "Baby" Ruth Cleveland (1891-1904), the daughter of President Grover Cleveland.

SABINA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Polish, Czech, Slovene, Russian, Croatian, Ancient Roman

Other Scripts: Сабина (Russian)

Pronounced: sah-BEE-nah (Italian, Spanish, Polish)

Feminine form of Sabinus, a Roman cognomen meaning "Sabine" in Latin. The Sabines were an ancient people who lived in central Italy, their lands eventually taken over by the Romans after several wars. According to legend, the Romans abducted several Sabine women during a raid, and when the men came to rescue them, the women were able to make peace between the two groups. This name was borne by several early saints.

SASKIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Dutch, German

Pronounced: SAHS-kee-ah: (Dutch), ZAHS-kee-ah (German)

From the Germanic element sachs "Saxon". The Saxons were a Germanic tribe, their name ultimately deriving from the Germanic word sahs meaning "knife".

SIDNEY

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: SID-nee

From the English surname SIDNEY. It was first used as a given name in honour of executed politician Algernon Sidney (1622-1683). Another notable bearer of the surname was the poet and statesman Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586).

SIGRID

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish

From the Old Norse name Sigríðr, which was derived from the elements sigr "victory" and fríðr "beautiful, fair".

SIMON

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, Hungarian, Slovene, Romanian, Macedonian, Georgian, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Other Scripts: Симон (Macedonian), სიმონ (Georgian), Σιμων (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: SIE-mən (English), see-MAWN (French), ZEE-mawn (German), SEE-mawn (Dutch)

From Σιμων (Simon), the New Testament Greek form of the Hebrew name שִׁמְעוֹן (Shim'on) which meant "he has heard". This was the name of several biblical characters, including the man who carried the cross for Jesus. However, the most important person of this name in the New Testament was the apostle Simon, also known as Peter (a name given to him by Jesus). Because of him, this name has been common in the Christian world. In England it was popular during the Middle Ages, though it became rarer after the Protestant Reformation.

SOPHIE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French, English, German, Dutch

Pronounced: so-FEE (French), SO-fee (English), ZO-fee (German)

French form of SOPHIA

SUSAN

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: SOO-zən

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).

SYLVIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, German

Pronounced: SIL-vee-ə (English)

Variant of SILVIA. This has been the most common English spelling since the 19th century.

TATIANA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Russian, Slovak, Bulgarian, Romanian, Polish, Greek, Georgian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, English, Ancient Roman

Other Scripts: Татьяна (Russian), Татяна (Bulgarian), Τατιανα (Greek), ტატიანა (Georgian)

Pronounced: tah-TYAH-nah (Russian, Polish, Spanish, Italian), ta-tee-AN-ə (English), ta-TYAN-ə (English)

Feminine form of the Roman name Tatianus, a derivative of the Roman name TATIUS. This was the name of a 3rd-century saint who was martyred in Rome under the emperor Alexander Severus. She was especially venerated in Orthodox Christianity, and the name has been common in Russia and Eastern Europe. It was not regularly used in the English-speaking world until the 1980s.

TERESA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Finnish, Polish, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English

Pronounced: te-RE-sah (Spanish, Polish), te-RE-zah (Italian, German), tə-REE-sə (English), tə-REE-zə (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.

THEODORA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Greek, Ancient Greek

Other Scripts: Θεοδωρα (Greek)

Pronounced: thee-ə-DAWR-ə (English)

Feminine form of THEODORE. This name was common in the Byzantine Empire, being borne by several empresses including the influential wife of Justinian in the 6th century.

THERESA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish

Pronounced: tə-REE-sə (English), tə-RAY-zə (English), te-RE-zah (German)

From the Spanish and Portuguese name Teresa. It was first recorded as Therasia, being borne by the Spanish wife of Saint Paulinus of Nola in the 4th century. The meaning is uncertain, but it could be derived from Greek θερος (theros) "summer", from Greek θεριζω (therizo) "to harvest", or from the name of the Greek island of Therasia (the western island of Santorini).

The name was mainly confined to Spain and Portugal during the Middle Ages. After the 16th century it was spread to other parts of the Christian world, due to the fame of the Spanish nun and reformer Saint Teresa of Ávila. Another famous bearer was the Austrian Habsburg queen Maria Theresa (1717-1780), who inherited the domains of her father, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, beginning the War of the Austrian Succession.

THOMAS

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Greek, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Other Scripts: Θωμας (Greek)

Pronounced: TAHM-əs (English), TOM-əs (English), to-MAH (French), TO-mahs (German, Dutch), tho-MAHS (Greek)

Greek form of the Aramaic name תָּאוֹמָא (Ta'oma') which meant "twin". In the New Testament this is the name of the apostle who initially doubts the resurrected Jesus. According to tradition he was martyred in India. Due to his renown, the name came into general use in the Christian world.

In England the name was introduced by the Normans and became very popular due to Saint Thomas Becket, a 12th-century archbishop of Canterbury and martyr. Another notable saint by this name was the 13th-century Italian philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas, who is regarded as a Doctor of the Church. Other famous bearers include philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), American president Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), novelist Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), and inventor Thomas Edison (1847-1931).

TIRZAH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Biblical

Other Scripts: תִּרְצָה (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: TIR-zə (English)

From the Hebrew name תִּרְצָה (Tirtzah) meaning "favourable". Tirzah is the name of one of the daughters of Zelophehad in the Old Testament. It also occurs in the Old Testament as a place name, the early residence of the kings of the northern kingdom.

TOVA (1)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Hebrew

Other Scripts: טוֹבָה (Hebrew)

Means "good" in Hebrew.

VANCE

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: VANTS

From an English surname which was derived from Old English fenn meaning "marsh, fen".

VERA (1)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Russian, English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Slovene, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Portuguese

Other Scripts: Вера (Russian, Serbian, Macedonian)

Pronounced: VYE-rah (Russian), VEER-ə (English), VER-ə (English)

Means "faith" in Russian, though it is sometimes associated with the Latin word verus "true". It has been in general use in the English-speaking world since the late 19th century.

VICTOR

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, Portuguese, Romanian, Late Roman

Pronounced: VIK-tər (English), veek-TOR (French)

Roman name meaning "victor" in Latin. It was common among early Christians, and was borne by several early saints and three popes. It was rare as an English name during the Middle Ages, but it was revived in the 19th century. A famous bearer was the French writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885), who wrote 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' and 'Les Misérables'.

VICTORIA (1)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Spanish, Romanian, Late Roman

Pronounced: vik-TAWR-ee-ə (English)

Feminine form of VICTORIUS, though later it was regarded as coming directly from Latin victoria meaning "victory". It was borne by a 4th-century saint and martyr from North Africa. Though in use elsewhere in Europe, the name was very rare in the English-speaking world until the 19th century, when Queen Victoria began her long rule of Britain. She was named after her mother, who was of German royalty. Many geographic areas are named after the queen, including an Australian state and a Canadian city.

VIOLA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish

Pronounced: vie-O-lə (English), vee-O-lə (English), VIE-ə-lə (English), VYO-lah (Italian)

Means "violet" in Latin. This was the name of the heroine in Shakespeare's play 'Twelfth Night' (1602).

VIRGINIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Romanian, Ancient Roman

Pronounced: vər-JIN-yə (English), veer-JEE-nyah (Italian), beer-KHEE-nyah (Spanish)

Feminine form of the Roman family name Verginius or Virginius 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.

This was the name of the first English baby born in the New World: Virginia Dare in 1587 on Roanoke Island. Perhaps because of this, the name has generally been more popular in America than elsewhere in the English-speaking world, though in both Britain and America it was not often used until the 19th century. The baby was named after the Colony of Virginia, which was itself named for Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen. A more recent bearer was the English novelist Virginia Woolf (1882-1941).

WALTER

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Italian, Ancient Germanic

Pronounced: WAWL-tər (English), VAHL-ter (German, Polish, Italian)

From a Germanic name meaning "ruler of the army", composed of the elements wald "rule" and hari "army". The Normans brought it to England, where it replaced the Old English cognate Wealdhere. A famous bearer of the name was Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), a Scottish novelist who wrote 'Ivanhoe' and other notable works.

WILFRED

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: WIL-frəd

Means "desiring peace" from Old English wil "will, desire" and frið "peace". Saint Wilfrid was a 7th-century Anglo-Saxon bishop. The name was rarely used after the Norman conquest, but it was revived in the 19th century.

WILLIAM

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: WIL-ee-əm, WIL-yəm

From the Germanic name Willahelm, which was composed of the elements wil "will, desire" and helm "helmet, protection". Saint William of Gellone was an 8th-century cousin of Charlemagne who became a monk. The name was common among the Normans, and it became extremely popular in England after William the Conqueror was recognized as the first Norman king of England. It was later borne by three other English kings, as well as rulers of Scotland, Sicily (of Norman origin), the Netherlands and Prussia.

Other famous bearers include William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish hero, and William Tell, a legendary 14th-century Swiss hero. In the literary world it was borne by dramatist William Shakespeare (1564-1616), poet William Blake (1757-1827), poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850), dramatist William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), author William Faulkner (1897-1962), and author William S. Burroughs (1914-1997).

XENIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Greek, Ancient Greek

Other Scripts: Ξενια (Greek)

Means "hospitality" in Greek. This was the name of a 5th-century saint who is venerated in the Eastern Church.

ZARA (1)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English (Modern)

Pronounced: ZAHR-ə

English form of ZAÏRE. In England it came to public attention when Princess Anne gave it to her daughter in 1981. Use of the name may also be influenced by the trendy Spanish clothing retailer Zara.
Copyright © Mike Campbell 1996-2014.