brilliantblue's Personal Name List

AARON

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Jewish, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Other Scripts: אַהֲרֹן (Hebrew), Ααρων (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: AR-ən (English), ER-ən (English)

From the Hebrew name אַהֲרֹן ('Aharon) which is most likely of unknown Egyptian origin. Other theories claim a Hebrew derivation, and suggest meanings such as "high mountain" or "exalted". In the Old Testament this name is borne by the older brother of Moses and the first high priest of the Israelites. He acted as a spokesman for his brother, and carried a miraculous rod. As an English name, Aaron has been in use since the Protestant Reformation.

ADA

Gender: Feminine

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

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

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.

ADAM

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Russian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Romanian, Hebrew, Arabic, Georgian, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek, Biblical Hebrew

Other Scripts: Адам (Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Macedonian), אָדָם (Hebrew), آدم (Arabic), ადამ (Georgian), Αδαμ (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: A-dəm (English), a-DAWN (French), AH-dahm (German, Polish), AH:-dahm (Dutch), ah-DAHM (Russian, Ukrainian)

This is the Hebrew word for "man". It could be ultimately derived from Hebrew אדם ('adam) meaning "to be red", referring to the ruddy colour of human skin, or from Akkadian adamu meaning "to make". According to Genesis in the Old Testament Adam was created from the earth by God (there is a word play on Hebrew אֲדָמָה ('adamah) "earth"). He and Eve were supposedly the first humans, living happily in the Garden of Eden until Adam ate a forbidden fruit given to him by Eve.

As an English Christian name, Adam has been common since the Middle Ages, and it received a boost after the Protestant Reformation. A famous bearer was Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723-1790).

ADRIAN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Romanian, Polish, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Russian

Other Scripts: Адриан (Russian)

Pronounced: AY-dree-ən (English), AHD-ryahn (Polish), AH-dree-ahn (German), ah-dree-AHN (Russian)

Form of Hadrianus (see HADRIAN). Several saints and six popes have borne this name, including the only English pope, Adrian IV, and the only Dutch pope, Adrian VI. As an English name, it has been in use since the Middle Ages, though it was not popular until modern times.

ADRIANA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, English

Pronounced: ahd-RYAH-nah (Italian, Spanish, Polish), ayd-ree-AN-ə (English)

Feminine form of ADRIAN

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.

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.

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).

ALIÉNOR

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Occitan

Original Occitan form of ELEANOR

ANASTASIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, English, Spanish, Italian, Ancient Greek

Other Scripts: Αναστασια (Greek), Анастасия (Russian), Анастасія (Ukrainian, Belarusian)

Pronounced: ah-nah-stah-SEE-yah (Russian), a-nə-STAY-zhə (English), a-nə-STAS-yə (English), ah-nahs-TAH-syah (Spanish), ah-nahs-TAH-zyah (Italian)

Feminine form of ANASTASIUS. This was the name of a 4th-century Dalmatian saint who was martyred during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Diocletian. Due to her, the name has been common in Eastern Orthodox Christianity (in various spellings). As an English name it has been in use since the Middle Ages. A famous bearer was the youngest daughter of the last Russian tsar Nicholas II, who was rumoured to have escaped the execution of her family in 1918.

ANNABEL

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Dutch

Pronounced: AN-ə-bel (English)

Variant of AMABEL influenced by the name ANNA. This name appears to have arisen in Scotland in the Middle Ages.

ANNELIES

Gender: Feminine

Usage: German, Dutch

Pronounced: ah-ne-LEES (German), ahn-nə-LEES (Dutch)

Variant of ANNELIESE

ANNELIESE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: German, Dutch

Pronounced: ah-ne-LEE-zə (German), ahn-nə-LEE-sə (Dutch)

Combination of ANNA and LIESE

ARTHUR

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, German, Dutch, 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).

ASA

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Biblical, Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew

Other Scripts: אָסָא (Hebrew)

Pronounced: AY-sə (English)

Means "doctor" in Hebrew. This name was borne by a king of Judah in the Old Testament.

AUDREY

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: AWD-ree

Medieval diminutive of ÆÐELÞRYÐ. This was the name of a 7th-century saint, a princess of East Anglia who founded a monastery at Ely. It was also borne by a character in Shakespeare's comedy 'As You Like It' (1599). At the end of the Middle Ages the name became rare due to association with the word tawdry (which was derived from St. Audrey, the name of a fair where cheap lace was sold), but it was revived in the 19th century. A famous bearer was British actress Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993).

BIANCA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, Romanian

Pronounced: BYAHN-kah (Romanian)

Italian cognate of BLANCHE. Shakespeare used characters named Bianca in 'Taming of the Shrew' (1593) and 'Othello' (1603).

BRAM

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Dutch

Pronounced: BRAHM

Short form of ABRAHAM. This name was borne by Bram Stoker (1847-1912), the Irish author who wrote 'Dracula'.

CALVIN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: KAL-vin

Derived from the French surname Chauvin, which was derived from chauve "bald". The surname was borne by Jean Chauvin (1509-1564), a theologian from France who was one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. His surname was Latinized as Calvinus (based on Latin calvus "bald") and he is known as John Calvin in English. It has been used as a given name in his honour since the 19th century.

CANDACE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Biblical, Biblical Latin

Pronounced: KAN-dis (English), kan-DAY-see (English), KAN-də-see (English)

From the hereditary title of the queens of Ethiopia, as mentioned in Acts in the New Testament. It is apparently derived from Cushitic kdke meaning "queen mother". In some versions of the Bible it is spelled Kandake, reflecting the Greek spelling Κανδακη. It was used as a given name by the Puritans after the Protestant Reformation. It was popularized in the 20th century by a character in the movie 'Meet the Stewarts' (1942).

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), SE-see-lee-ah (Finnish)

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.

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'.

CLAIRE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French, English

Pronounced: KLER

French form of CLARA

CLARA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Romanian, English, Late Roman

Pronounced: KLAH-rah (Italian, German, Spanish), KLER-ə (English), KLAR-ə (English)

Feminine form of the Late Latin name Clarus which meant "clear, bright, famous". The name Clarus was borne by a few early saints. The feminine form was popularized by the 13th-century Saint Clare of Assisi (called Chiara in Italian), a friend and follower of Saint Francis, who left her wealthy family to found the order of nuns known as the Poor Clares. As an English name it has been in use since the Middle Ages, originally in the form Clare, though the Latinate spelling Clara became more popular in the 19th century.

CLAUDIA

Gender: Feminine

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

Pronounced: KLAW-dee-ə (English), KLOW-dee-ah (German, Dutch), KLOW-dyah (Italian, Spanish)

Feminine form of CLAUDIUS. It is mentioned briefly in the New Testament. As a Christian name it was very rare until the 16th century.

CLEMENTINE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French

Pronounced: klə-mawn-TEEN

French feminine form of CLEMENT

CONOR

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Irish, English, Irish Mythology

Pronounced: KAHN-ər (English)

Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Conchobhar which means "dog lover" or "wolf lover". It has been in use in Ireland for centuries and was the name of several Irish kings. It was also borne by the legendary Ulster king Conchobar mac Nessa, known for his tragic desire for Deirdre.

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.

CORDELIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: kawr-DEL-ee-ə, kawr-DEL-yə

From Cordeilla, possibly a Celtic name of unknown meaning. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Cordeilla was the youngest of the three daughters of King Lear and the only one to remain loyal to her father. When adapting the character for his play 'King Lear' (1606), Shakespeare altered the spelling to Cordelia.

CORNELIA

Gender: Feminine

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

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

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.

CRESSIDA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Literature

Pronounced: KRES-ə-də (English)

Medieval form of CHRYSEIS. Various medieval tales describe her as a woman of Troy, daughter of Calchus, who leaves her Trojan lover Troilus for the Greek hero Diomedes. Shakespeare's play 'Troilus and Cressida' (1602) was based on these tales.

DESDEMONA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Literature

Pronounced: dez-də-MON-ə (English)

Derived from Greek δυσδαιμων (dysdaimon) meaning "ill-fated". This was the name of the murdered wife of Othello in Shakespeare's play 'Othello' (1603).

DONOVAN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Irish, English

From an Irish surname which was derived from Ó Donndubháin meaning "descendent of DONNDUBHÁN".

DOROTHEA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, English, Late Greek

Other Scripts: Δωροθεα (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: do-ro-TE-ah (German), dawr-ə-THEE-ə (English)

Feminine form of the Late Greek name Δωροθεος (Dorotheos), which meant "gift of God" from Greek δωρον (doron) "gift" and θεος (theos) "god". Dorothea was the name of two early saints, notably the 4th-century martyr Dorothea of Caesarea. It was also borne by the 14th-century Saint Dorothea of Montau, who was the patron saint of Prussia.

DUNCAN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Scottish, English

Pronounced: DUN-kən (English)

Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Donnchadh meaning "brown warrior", derived from Gaelic donn "brown" and cath "warrior". This was the name of two kings of Scotland, including the one who was featured in Shakespeare's play 'Macbeth' (1606).

EDMUND

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, German, Polish

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

From the Old English elements ead "wealth, fortune" and mund "protection". 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.

ELAM

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Biblical

Other Scripts: עֵילָם (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: EE-ləm (English)

Possibly means either "hidden" or "eternity" in Hebrew. This was the name of several characters in the Old Testament, including a son of Shem who was the ancestor of the Elamite peoples.

ELIAS

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Portuguese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, English, Greek, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Other Scripts: Ηλιας (Greek)

Pronounced: ə-LEE-əsh (Portuguese), e-LEE-ahs (German), E-lee-ahs (Finnish), i-LIE-əs (English), ee-LIE-əs (English)

Cognate of ELIJAH. This is the form used in the Greek New Testament.

ELISHA

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Biblical, Biblical Hebrew

Other Scripts: אֱלִישַׁע (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: i-LIE-shə (English), ee-LIE-shə (English)

From the Hebrew name אֱלִישַׁע ('Elisha'), a contracted form of אֱלִישׁוּעַ ('Elishu'a) meaning "my God is salvation". In the Old Testament, Elisha is the prophet who is the successor of Elijah.

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).

ÉLODIE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French

Pronounced: ay-lo-DEE

French form of ALODIA

EMILIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, Spanish, Romanian, Finnish, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English

Pronounced: e-MEEL-yah (Italian, Spanish, Polish), E-mee-lee-ah (Finnish)

Feminine form of Aemilius (see EMIL).

ESMÉE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Dutch

Pronounced: es-MAY (Dutch)

Feminine form of ESMÉ

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.

FABIAN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: German, Dutch, Polish, History

Pronounced: FAH-bee-ahn (German, Dutch), FAH-byahn (Polish), FAY-bee-ən (English)

From the Roman cognomen Fabianus, which was derived from FABIUS. Saint Fabian was a 3rd-century pope.

FELIX

Gender: Masculine

Usage: German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English, Romanian, Ancient Roman, Biblical, Biblical Latin

Pronounced: FE-liks (German), FAY-liks (Dutch), FEE-liks (English)

From a Roman cognomen meaning "lucky, successful" in Latin. It was acquired as an agnomen, or nickname, by the 1st-century BC Roman general Sulla. It also appears in the New Testament belonging to the governor of Judea who imprisoned Saint Paul.

Due to its favourable meaning, this name was popular among early Christians, being borne by many early saints and four popes. It has been used in England since the Middle Ages, though it has been more popular in continental Europe. A notable bearer was the German composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).

FLAVIE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French

Pronounced: fla-VEE

French feminine form of FLAVIUS

FRANCESCA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, Catalan

Pronounced: frahn-CHES-kah (Italian)

Italian and Catalan feminine form of Franciscus (see FRANCIS).

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.

GAVIN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Scottish

Pronounced: GAV-in (English)

Medieval form of GAWAIN. Though it died out in England, it was reintroduced from Scotland in the 20th century.

GENEVIEVE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: JEN-ə-veev

English form of GENEVIÈVE

GEORGIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Greek

Other Scripts: Γεωργια (Greek)

Pronounced: JOR-jə (English)

Latinate feminine form of GEORGE. This is the name of an American state, which was named after the British king George II. A famous bearer was the American painter Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986).

GIDEON

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Biblical, English, Hebrew

Other Scripts: גִּדְעוֹן (Hebrew)

Pronounced: GID-ee-ən (English)

Means "feller" or "hewer" in Hebrew. Gideon was a hero of the Old Testament who led the Israelites against the Midianites. In the English-speaking world, Gideon has been used as a given name since the Protestant Reformation, and it was popular among the Puritans.

HARRIET

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: HER-ee-ət, HAR-ee-ət

English form of HENRIETTE, and thus a feminine form of HARRY. It was first used in the 17th century, becoming very common in the English-speaking world by the 18th century. A famous bearer was Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), the American author who wrote 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'.

HARRY

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: HER-ee, HAR-ee

Medieval English form of HENRY. In modern times it is used as a diminutive of both Henry and HAROLD. A famous bearer was American president Harry S. Truman (1884-1972). It is also the name of the boy wizard in J. K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' series of books, first released in 1997.

HAVILAH

Gender: Feminine & Masculine

Usage: Biblical

Other Scripts: חֲוִילָה (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: HAV-i-lə (English)

Means "stretch of sand" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is both a place name and a masculine personal name.

HAZEL

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: HAY-zəl

From the English word hazel for the tree or the light brown colour, derived ultimately from Old English hæsel. It was coined as a given name in the 19th century.

HELENA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Finnish, Estonian, Slovene, Croatian, English, Ancient Greek (Latinized), Greek Mythology (Latinized)

Other Scripts: ‘Ελενη (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: he-LE-nah (German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Polish), hay-LAY-nah (Dutch), HE-le-nah (Finnish)

Latinate form of HELEN

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).

HERMIONE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Greek Mythology

Other Scripts: ‘Ερμιονη (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: hər-MIE-ə-nee (English)

Derived from the name of the Greek messenger god HERMES. In Greek myth Hermione was the daughter of Menelaus and Helen. This is also the name of the wife of Leontes in Shakespeare's play 'The Winter's Tale' (1610). It is now closely associated with the character Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series of books, first released in 1997.

HORATIO

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: hə-RAY-shee-o, hə-RAY-sho

Variant of HORATIUS. It was borne by the British admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), famous for his defeat of Napoleon's forces in the Battle of Trafalgar, in which he was himself killed. Since his time the name has been occasionally used in his honour.

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.

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".

IRA (1)

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Biblical, English, Hebrew

Other Scripts: עִירָא (Hebrew)

Pronounced: IE-rə (English)

Means "watchful" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of King David's priest. As an English Christian given name, Ira began to be used after the Protestant Reformation. In the 17th century the Puritans brought it to America, where remained moderately common into the 20th century.

ISAAC

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Jewish, Biblical, Biblical Latin

Other Scripts: יִצְחָק (Hebrew)

Pronounced: IE-zək (English)

From the Hebrew name יִצְחָק (Yitzchaq) which meant "he laughs". Isaac in the Old Testament is the son of Abraham and the father of Esau and Jacob. As recounted in Genesis, God tested Abraham's faith by ordering him to sacrifice his son, though an angel prevented the act at the last moment.

As an English Christian name, Isaac was occasionally used during the Middle Ages, though it was more common among Jews. It became more widespread after the Protestant Reformation. Famous bearers include the physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and the science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov (1920-1992).

ISABEL

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, German

Pronounced: ee-sah-BEL (Spanish), IZ-ə-bel (English), ee-za-BEL (French), ee-zah-BEL (German)

Medieval Occitan form of ELIZABETH. It spread throughout Spain, Portugal and France, becoming common among the royalty by the 12th century. It grew popular in England in the 13th century after Isabella of Angoulême married the English king John, and it was subsequently bolstered when Isabella of France married Edward II the following century.

This is the usual form of the name Elizabeth in Spain and Portugal, though elsewhere it is considered a parallel name, such as in France where it is used alongside Élisabeth. The name was borne by two Spanish ruling queens, including Isabel of Castile, who sponsored the explorations of Christopher Columbus.

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).

JEMIMA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Biblical, English

Other Scripts: יְמִימָה (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: jə-MIE-mə (English)

Means "dove" in Hebrew. This was the oldest of the three daughters of Job in the Old Testament. As an English name, Jemima first became common during the Puritan era.

JENNIE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Swedish

Pronounced: JEN-ee (English)

Variant of JENNY. Before the 20th century this spelling was more common.

JEREMIAH

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Biblical

Other Scripts: יִרְמְיָהוּ (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: jer-ə-MIE-ə (English)

From the Hebrew name יִרְמְיָהוּ (Yirmiyahu) which meant "YAHWEH has uplifted". This is the name of one of the major prophets of the Old Testament, the author of the Book of Jeremiah and (supposedly) the Book of Lamentations. He lived to see the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in the 6th century BC. In England, though the vernacular form Jeremy had been occasionally used since the 13th century, the form Jeremiah was not common until after the Protestant Reformation.

JESSE

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Dutch, Biblical

Other Scripts: יִשַׁי (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: JES-ee (English), YES-sə (Dutch)

From the Hebrew name יִשַׁי (Yishay) which possibly means "gift". Jesse is the father of King David in the Old Testament. It began to be used as an English given name after the Protestant Reformation. A famous bearer of this name was Jesse James (1847-1882), an American outlaw who held up banks and stagecoaches. He was eventually shot by a fellow gang member for a reward. Another famous bearer was the American athlete Jesse Owens (1913-1980), whose real name was James Cleveland (or J. C.) Owens.

JOEL

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Swedish, Finnish, Biblical

Other Scripts: יוֹאֵל (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: JOL (English), JO-əl (English), YO-el (Finnish)

From the Hebrew name יוֹאֵל (Yo'el) meaning "YAHWEH is God". Joel is one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament, the author of the Book of Joel. In England, it was first used as a Christian name after the Protestant Reformation.

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).

JOSEPHINE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Dutch

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

English, German and Dutch form of JOSÉPHINE

JUDAH

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Biblical

Other Scripts: יְהוּדָה (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: JOO-də (English)

From the Hebrew name יְהוּדָה (Yehudah) which meant "praised". Judah was one of the twelve sons of Jacob and the ancestor of the tribe of Judah, as told in the Old Testament. This tribe eventually formed the kingdom of Judah in the south of Israel. King David and Jesus were descendents of Judah.

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, Danish, Finnish), 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-).

JULIUS

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Ancient Roman, English, German

Pronounced: YOO:-li-uws (Ancient Roman), JOO-lee-əs (English), YOO-lee-uws (German)

From a Roman family name which was possibly derived from Greek ιουλος (ioulos) "downy-bearded". Alternatively, it could be related to the name of the Roman god JUPITER. This was a prominent patrician family of Rome, who claimed descent from the mythological Julus, son of Aeneas. Its most notable member was Gaius Julius Caesar, who is known for his clever conquest of Gaul. After a civil war he became the dictator of the Roman Republic, but was eventually stabbed to death in the senate.

Although this name was borne by several early saints, including a pope, it was rare during the Middle Ages. It was revived in Italy and France during the Renaissance, and was subsequently imported to England.

KATARINA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Hungarian, Croatian, Serbian, Slovene

Other Scripts: Катарина (Serbian)

Pronounced: kah-tah-REE-nah (German)

Cognate of KATHERINE

KATHARINA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish

Pronounced: kah-tah-REE-nah (German)

German form of KATHERINE

KETURAH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Biblical

Other Scripts: קְטוּרָה (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: ki-TOOR-ə (English), kee-TYOOR-ə (English)

Means "incense" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament she is Abraham's wife after Sarah dies.

KEZIAH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Biblical

Other Scripts: קְצִיעָה (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: kə-ZIE-ə (English)

From the Hebrew name קְצִיעָה (Qetzi'ah) meaning "cassia, cinnamon", from the name of the spice tree. In the Old Testament she is a daughter of Job.

LAETITIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Late Roman, French

Original form of LETITIA, as well as the French form.

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.

LEVI

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Hebrew, English, Dutch, Biblical, Biblical Latin

Other Scripts: לֵוִי (Hebrew)

Pronounced: LEE-vie (English), LE:-vee (Dutch)

Means "attached" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament, Levi is the third son of Jacob and Leah, and the ancestor of one of the twelve tribes of the Israelites (the tribe that eventually became the priests of the Israelites). In the New Testament this is another name for the apostle Matthew. As an English Christian name, Levi came into use after the Protestant Reformation.

LÍADAN

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Irish

Pronounced: LEE-din

Means "grey lady" in Irish Gaelic. In Irish legend she was a poetess who became a nun, but then missed her lover Cuirithir so much that she died of grief.

LILLIAN

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: LIL-ee-ən

Probably originally a diminutive of ELIZABETH. It may also be considered an elaborated form of LILY, from the Latin word for "lily" lilium. This name has been used in England since the 16th century.

LOLA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Spanish, English

Pronounced: LO-lah (Spanish), LO-lə (English)

Diminutive of DOLORES

LOUISA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Dutch

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

Latinate feminine form of LOUIS

LUCILLE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French, English

Pronounced: loo-SEEL

French form of LUCILLA. A famous bearer was American comedienne Lucille Ball (1911-1989).

LUCY

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: LOO-see

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

LYSANDER

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Ancient Greek (Latinized)

Other Scripts: Λυσανδρος (Ancient Greek)

From the Greek name Λυσανδρος (Lysandros) which meant "a release of a man" from Greek λυσις (lysis) "a release" and ανδρος (andros) "of a man". This was the name of a Spartan general and naval commander.

MARCUS

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Ancient Roman, Biblical Latin, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish

Pronounced: MAR-kuws (Ancient Roman, Biblical Latin), MAHR-kəs (English)

Roman praenomen, or given name, which was probably derived from the name of the Roman god MARS. Famous Roman bearers of this name were Marcus Tullius Cicero (known simply as Cicero), a 1st-century BC statesman and orator, Marcus Antonius (known as Mark Antony), a 1st-century BC politician, and Marcus Aurelius, a notable 2nd-century emperor. This was also the name of a pope of the 4th century. This spelling has occasionally been used in the English-speaking world, though the traditional English form Mark has been more common.

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-).

MATILDA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Swedish, Finnish, Slovak

Pronounced: mə-TIL-də (English), MAH-teel-dah (Finnish)

From the Germanic name Mahthildis meaning "strength in battle", from the elements maht "might, strength" and hild "battle". Saint Matilda was the wife of the 10th-century German king Henry I the Fowler. The name was 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.

MAUREEN

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Irish, English

Pronounced: maw-REEN, MAWR-een

Anglicized form of MÁIRÍN

MAVOURNEEN

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Irish

Derived from the Irish phrase mo mhúirnín meaning "my darling".

MAXINE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: mak-SEEN

Feminine form of MAX. It has been commonly used only since the beginning of the 20th century.

MEREDITH

Gender: Masculine & Feminine

Usage: Welsh, English

Pronounced: MER-ə-dith (English)

From the Welsh name Maredudd or Meredydd, possibly meaning "great lord" or "sea lord". Since the mid-1920s it has been used more often for girls than for boys in English-speaking countries, though it is still a masculine name in Wales. A famous bearer of this name as surname was the English novelist and poet George Meredith (1828-1909).

MICAH

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Biblical, English

Other Scripts: מִיכָה (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: MIE-kə (English)

Contracted form of MICAIAH. Micah is one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament. He predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. It was occasionally used as an English given name by the Puritans after the Protestant Reformation, but it did not become common until the end of the 20th century.

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 milu meaning "gracious". From an early date it was associated with Latin miles "soldier".

MINERVA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Roman Mythology, English

Pronounced: mi-NUR-və (English)

Possibly derived from Latin mens meaning "intellect", but more likely of Etruscan origin. Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and war, approximately equivalent to the Greek goddess Athena. It has been used as a given name in the English-speaking world since after the Renaissance.

MIRANDA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Dutch

Pronounced: mə-RAN-də (English)

Derived from Latin mirandus meaning "admirable, wonderful". The name was created by Shakespeare for the heroine in his play 'The Tempest' (1611). It did not become a common English given name until the 20th century. This is also the name of one of the moons of Uranus.

MIREILLE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French

Pronounced: mee-RAY

From the Occitan name Mirèio, which was first used by the poet Frédéric Mistral for the main character in his poem 'Mirèio' (1859). He probably derived it from the Occitan word mirar meaning "to admire".

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.

NATASHA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Russian, English

Other Scripts: Наташа (Russian)

Pronounced: nə-TASH-ə (English)

Russian diminutive of NATALYA. This is the name of a character in Leo Tolstoy's novel 'War and Peace' (1865). It has been used in the English-speaking world only since the 20th century.

NATHAN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Other Scripts: נָתָן (Ancient Hebrew), Ναθαν (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: NAY-thən (English), na-TAWN (French)

From the Hebrew name נָתָן (Natan) meaning "he gave". In the Old Testament this is the name of both a prophet and a son of King David. It has been used as a Christian given name in the English-speaking world since the Protestant Reformation.

NATHANIEL

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, Biblical

Pronounced: nə-THAN-ee-əl (English), nə-THAN-yəl (English)

Variant of NATHANAEL. It has been regularly used in the English-speaking world since the Protestant Reformation. This has been the most popular spelling, even though the spelling Nathanael is found in most versions of the New Testament. The American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), author of 'The Scarlet Letter', was a famous bearer of this name.

NERISSA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Literature

Created by Shakespeare for a character in his play 'The Merchant of Venice' (1596). He possibly took it from Greek Νηρεις (Nereis) meaning "nymph, sea sprite", ultimately derived from the name of the Greek sea god NEREUS, who supposedly fathered them.

NOA (1)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Hebrew, Biblical

Other Scripts: נוֹעָה (Hebrew)

Hebrew form of NOAH (2)

NONA (1)

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Roman Mythology

Derived from Latin nonus meaning "ninth", referring to the nine months of pregnancy. This was the name of a Roman goddess of pregnancy. She was also one of the three Fates (or Parcae).

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).

OCTAVIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Spanish, Ancient Roman

Pronounced: ahk-TAYV-ee-ə (English)

Feminine form of OCTAVIUS. Octavia was the wife of Mark Antony and the sister of Roman emperor Augustus. In 19th-century England it was sometimes given to the eighth-born child.

ODHRÁN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Irish

Pronounced: O-rawn

Means "little pale green one", derived from Irish odhra "pale green, sallow" combined with a diminutive suffix. This was the name of a saint who travelled with Saint Columba through Scotland.

OLIVIA

Gender: Feminine

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

Pronounced: ə-LIV-ee-ə (English), o-LEE-vee-ah (German), O-lee-vee-ah (Finnish)

This name was first used in this spelling by William Shakespeare for a character in his comedy 'Twelfth Night' (1602). Shakespeare may have based it on OLIVER or OLIVA, or perhaps directly on the Latin word oliva meaning "olive". In the play Olivia is a noblewoman who is wooed by Duke Orsino but instead falls in love with his messenger Cesario.

The name has been used in the English-speaking world since the 18th century, though it did not become overly popular until the last half of the 20th century. Its rise in popularity in America was precipitated by a character on the 1970s television series 'The Waltons'.

OONA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Irish, Finnish

Pronounced: OO-na (Irish), O:-nah (Finnish)

Irish variant and Finnish form of ÚNA

OPHELIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Literature

Pronounced: o-FEEL-yə (English)

Derived from Greek οφελος (ophelos) meaning "help". This name was probably created by the 15th-century poet Jacopo Sannazaro for a character in his poem 'Arcadia'. It was borrowed by Shakespeare for his play 'Hamlet' (1600), in which it belongs to Hamlet's lover who eventually goes insane and drowns herself. In spite of this, the name has been used since the 19th century.

OPHÉLIE

Gender: Feminine

Usage: French

Pronounced: o-fay-LEE

French form of OPHELIA

ÓRLAITH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Irish

Pronounced: OR-la

Variant of ÓRFHLAITH

ORLANDO

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Italian

Pronounced: or-LAHN-do

Italian form of ROLAND. A city in Florida bears this name, as does a character in Shakespeare's play 'As You like It' (1599).

ORSINO

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Italian

Italian form of the Roman name Ursinus, itself derived from Ursus (see URS). This is the name of a character in Shakespeare's play 'Twelfth Night' (1602).

PERDITA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Literature

Derived from Latin perditus meaning "lost". Shakespeare created this name for the daughter of Hermione in his play 'The Winter's Tale' (1610).

PORTIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: PAWR-shə

Variant of Porcia, the feminine form of the Roman family name PORCIUS, used by William Shakespeare for the heroine of his play 'The Merchant of Venice' (1596). In the play Portia is a woman who disguises herself as a man in order to defend Antonio in court. It is also the name of a moon of Uranus, after the Shakespearian character.

QUINN

Gender: Masculine & Feminine

Usage: Irish, English

Pronounced: KWIN

From an Irish surname, an Anglicized form of Ó Cuinn meaning "descendent of CONN".

RÓISÍN

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Irish

Pronounced: ROSH-een

Diminutive of RÓIS

RÓNÁN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Irish

Pronounced: RON-awn

Means "little seal", derived from Irish rón "seal" combined with a diminutive suffix.

RONEN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Hebrew

Other Scripts: רוֹנֶן (Hebrew)

Derived from Hebrew רוֹן (ron) meaning "song, joy".

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).

SALOME

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, German, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Other Scripts: Σαλωμη (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: sə-LO-mee (English), SAH-lə-may (English)

From an Aramaic name which was related to the Hebrew word שָׁלוֹם (shalom) meaning "peace". According to the historian Josephus this was the name of the daughter of Herodias (the consort of Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee). In the New Testament, though a specific name is not given, it was a daughter of Herodias who danced for Herod and was rewarded with the head of John the Baptist, and thus Salome and the dancer have traditionally been equated.

As a Christian given name, Salome has been in occasional use since the Protestant Reformation. This was due to a second person of this name in the New Testament: one of the women who witnessed the crucifixion and later discovered that Jesus' tomb was empty.

SAMUEL

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Jewish, Biblical

Other Scripts: שְׁמוּאֵל (Hebrew)

Pronounced: SAM-yoo-əl (English), SAM-yəl (English), SAH-moo-el (Finnish)

From the Hebrew name שְׁמוּאֵל (Shemu'el) which could mean either "name of God" or "God has heard". Samuel was the last of the ruling judges in the Old Testament. He anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel, and later anointed David.

As a Christian name, Samuel came into common use after the Protestant Reformation. Famous bearers include American inventor Samuel Morse (1791-1872), Irish writer Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), and American author Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), who wrote under the pen name Mark Twain.

SARAH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, French, German, Hebrew, Arabic, Biblical, Biblical Hebrew

Other Scripts: שָׂרָה (Hebrew), سارة (Arabic)

Pronounced: SER-ə (English), SAR-ə (English), ZAH-rah (German)

Means "lady, princess, noblewoman" in Hebrew. This is the name of the wife of Abraham in the Old Testament. She became the mother of Isaac at the age of 90. Her name was originally Sarai, but God changed it (see Genesis 17:15). In England, Sarah came into use after the Protestant Reformation.

SAWYER

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English (Modern)

Pronounced: SOI-ər, SAW-yər

From a surname meaning "sawer of wood" in Middle English. Mark Twain used it for the hero in his novel 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' (1876).

SHOSHANNAH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew

Other Scripts: שׁוֹשַׁנָּה (Hebrew)

Hebrew form of SUSANNA

SILVIA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, English, German, Late Roman, Roman Mythology

Pronounced: SEEL-vyah (Italian), SEEL-byah (Spanish)

Feminine form of SILVIUS. Rhea Silvia was the mother of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. This was also the name of a 6th-century saint, the mother of the pope Gregory the Great. It has been a common name in Italy since the Middle Ages. It was introduced to England by Shakespeare, who used it for a character in his play 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' (1594).

SIOBHÁN

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Irish

Pronounced: shi-VAWN

Irish form of Jehanne, a Norman French variant of JEANNE.

SIOFRA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Irish

Pronounced: SHI-frə

Means "elf, sprite" in Irish Gaelic.

SOLOMON

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Biblical, English, Jewish

Other Scripts: שְׁלֹמֹה (Hebrew)

Pronounced: SAHL-ə-mən (English)

From the Hebrew name שְׁלֹמֹה (Shelomoh) which was derived from Hebrew שָׁלוֹם (shalom) "peace". Solomon was a king of Israel, the son of David, renowned for his wisdom. Supposedly, he wrote the Book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament. This name has never been overly common in the Christian world, and it is considered typically Jewish.

STELLA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Italian

Pronounced: STEL-ə (English)

Means "star" in Latin. This name was created by the 16th-century poet Sir Philip Sidney for the subject of his collection of sonnets 'Astrophel and Stella'. It was not commonly used as a given name until the 19th century. It appears in Tennessee Williams' play 'A Streetcar Named Desire' (1947), belonging to the sister of Blanche DuBois and the wife of Stanley Kowalski.

SUSANNAH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Biblical

Other Scripts: שׁוֹשַׁנָּה (Ancient Hebrew)

Form of SUSANNA found in some versions of the Old Testament.

TABITHA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: English, Biblical, Biblical Greek

Other Scripts: Ταβιθα (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: TAB-i-thə (English)

Means "gazelle" in Aramaic. Tabitha in the New Testament was a woman restored to life by Saint Peter. Her name is translated into Greek as Dorcas (see Acts 9:36). As an English name, Tabitha became common after the Protestant Reformation. It was popularized in the 1960s by the television show 'Bewitched', in which Tabitha (sometimes spelled Tabatha) is the daughter of the main character.

THEODORE

Gender: Masculine

Usage: English

Pronounced: THEE-ə-dawr

From the Greek name Θεοδωρος (Theodoros), which meant "gift of god" from Greek θεος (theos) "god" and δωρον (doron) "gift". This was the name of several saints, including Theodore of Amasea, a 4th-century Greek soldier; Theodore of Tarsus, a 7th-century archbishop of Canterbury; and Theodore the Studite, a 9th-century Byzantine monk. It was also borne by two popes.

This was a common name in classical Greece, and, due to both the saints who carried it and the favourable meaning, it came into general use in the Christian world, being especially popular among Eastern Christians. It was however rare in Britain before the 19th century. Famous bearers include three tsars of Russia (in the Russian form Fyodor) and American president Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919).

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).

TIERNAN

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Irish

Anglicized form of TIGHEARNÁN

VALENTINA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, Russian, Slovene, Croatian, Macedonian, Romanian, Spanish, Ancient Roman

Other Scripts: Валентина (Russian, Macedonian)

Pronounced: vah-len-TEE-nah (Italian), vah-lyen-TEE-nah (Russian), vah-leen-TEE-nah (Russian)

Feminine form of Valentinus (see VALENTINE (1)). A famous bearer was the Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova (1937-), who in 1963 became the first woman to visit space.

VIOLETTA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Italian, Russian

Other Scripts: Виолетта (Russian)

Pronounced: vee-ah-LYE-tah (Russian)

Italian and Russian form of VIOLET

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).

VIVIAN

Gender: Masculine & Feminine

Usage: English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish

Pronounced: VIV-ee-ən (English)

From the Latin name Vivianus which was derived from Latin vivus "alive". Saint Vivian was a French bishop who provided protection during the Visigoth invasion of the 5th century. It has been occasionally used as an English (masculine) name since the Middle Ages. In modern times it is also used as a feminine name, in which case it is either an Anglicized form of BÉBINN or a variant of VIVIEN (2).

WINIFRED

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Welsh, English

Pronounced: WIN-i-frid

Anglicized form of GWENFREWI, the spelling altered by association with WINFRED. It became used in England in the 16th century.

YAEL

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew

Other Scripts: יָעֵל (Hebrew)

Hebrew form of JAEL

ZIMRI

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Biblical

Other Scripts: זִמְרִי (Ancient Hebrew)

Pronounced: ZIM-rie (English)

Means either "my praise" or "my music" in Hebrew. This is the name of a king of Israel in the Old Testament who rules for only seven days.

ZIPPORAH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Biblical, Hebrew

Other Scripts: צִפּוֹרָה (Hebrew)

Pronounced: zi-PAWR-ə (English), ZIP-ər-ə (English)

From the Hebrew name צִפּוֹרָה (Tzipporah), derived from צִפּוֹר (tzippor) meaning "bird". In the Old Testament this is the name of the wife of Moses.

ZORA

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Czech, Slovak, Croatian, Serbian, Slovene, Bulgarian, Macedonian

Other Scripts: Зора (Serbian, Bulgarian, Macedonian)

From a South and West Slavic word meaning "dawn, aurora".
Copyright © Mike Campbell 1996-2014.