PERCIVAL m Arthurian Romance, English
Created by the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes for his poem 'Perceval, the Story of the Grail'. In the poem Perceval was one of King Arthur
's Knights of the Round Table who was given a glimpse of the Holy Grail. The character (and probably the name) of Perceval was based on that of the Welsh hero PEREDUR
. The spelling was perhaps altered under the influence of Old French percer val
"to pierce the valley".
PERCY m English
From an English surname that was derived from the name of a Norman town Perci
, which was itself perhaps derived from a Gaulish given name that was Latinized as Persius
. The surname was borne by a noble English family, and it first used as a given name in their honour. A famous bearer was Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), an English romantic poet whose works include 'Adonais' and 'Ozymandias'. This name can also be used as a short form of PERCIVAL
PERDITA f Literature
Derived from Latin perditus
meaning "lost". Shakespeare created this name for the daughter of Hermione in his play 'The Winter's Tale' (1610).
PEREDUR m Welsh Mythology, Arthurian Romance
Possibly means "hard spears" in Welsh. This was the name of several figures from Welsh mythology. It was later used by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Arthurian tales. The character of Percival
was probably based on him.
PEREGRINE m English (Rare)
From the Late Latin name Peregrinus
, which meant "traveller". This was the name of several early saints.
PEREZ m Biblical
Means "breach, burst forth" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of the twin brother of Zerah
PËRPARIM m Albanian
Derived from Albanian përparim
meaning "progress, advancement".
PERPETUA f Spanish (Rare), Late Roman
Derived from Latin perpetuus
meaning "continuous". This was the name of a 3rd-century saint martyred with another woman named Felicity.
PERRY m English
From a surname that 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.
PERSEPHONE f Greek Mythology
Meaning unknown, probably of Pre-Greek origin, but perhaps related to Greek περθω (pertho)
"to destroy" and φονη (phone)
"murder". In Greek myth she was the daughter of Demeter
. She was abducted to the underworld by Hades
, but was eventually allowed to return to the surface for part of the year. The result of her comings and goings is the changing of the seasons. With her mother she was worshipped in the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were secret rites practiced at the city of Eleusis near Athens.
PERSEUS m Greek Mythology
Possibly derived from Greek περθω (pertho)
meaning "to destroy". In Greek mythology Perseus was a hero who was said to have founded the ancient city of Mycenae. He was the son of Zeus
. Mother and child were exiled by Danaë's father Acrisius, and Perseus was raised on the island of Seriphos. The king of the island compelled Perseus to kill the Gorgon Medusa
, who was so ugly that anyone who gazed upon her was turned to stone. After obtaining winged sandals and other tools from the gods, he succeeded in his task by looking at Medusa in the reflection of his shield and slaying her in her sleep. On his return he defeated a sea monster in order to save Andromeda
, who became his wife.
PERSIS f Biblical, Biblical Greek
Greek name meaning "Persian woman". This was the name of a woman mentioned in Paul
's epistle to the Romans in the New Testament.
PERUN m Slavic Mythology
Means "thunder" in Slavic. In Slavic mythology Perun was the god of lightning, sometimes worshipped as the primary god. The oak was his sacred tree.
PETER m English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Slovene, Slovak, Biblical
Derived from the Greek Πετρος (Petros)
meaning "stone". This is a translation used in most versions of the New Testament of the name Cephas
, meaning "stone" in Aramaic, which was given to the apostle Simon
(compare Matthew 16:18 and John 1:42). Simon Peter was the most prominent of the apostles during Jesus' ministry and is often considered the first pope.... [more]
PETRONILLA f Italian, Late Roman
From a Latin name, a diminutive of Petronia
, the feminine form of PETRONIUS
. This was the name of an obscure 1st-century Roman saint, later believed to be a daughter of Saint Peter
PETULA f English (Rare)
Meaning unknown, created in the 20th century. The name is borne by the British singer Petula Clark (1932-), whose name was invented by her father.
PETUNIA f English (Rare)
From the name of the flower, derived ultimately from a Tupi (South American) word.
PEYTON m & f English
From an English surname, originally a place name meaning "PÆGA
's town". A famous bearer was Peyton Randolph (1721-1775), the first president of the Continental Congress. It is also borne by American football quarterback Peyton Manning (1976-).
PHAEDRUS m Ancient Greek (Latinized)
Latinized form of the Greek name Φαιδρος (Phaidros)
, which meant "bright". This was the name of a 5th-century BC Greek philosopher, and also of a 1st-century Roman fabulist who was originally a slave from Thrace.
PHIL m English
Short form of PHILIP
and various other names beginning with Phil
, often a Greek element meaning "friend, dear, beloved".
PHILADELPHIA f English (Rare)
From the name of a city in Asia Minor mentioned in Revelation in the New Testament. The name of the city meant "brotherly love" from Greek φιλεω (phileo)
"to love" and αδελφος (adelphos)
"brother". It is also the name of a city in the United States.
PHILIBERT m French
Early variant of FILIBERT
altered by association with Greek φιλος (philos)
"friend, lover". This was the name of a 7th-century Frankish saint. Another famous bearer was Philibert de l'Orme (1510-1570), a French Renaissance architect.
PHILIP m English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Biblical
From the Greek name Φιλιππος (Philippos)
meaning "friend of horses", composed of the elements φιλος (philos)
"friend, lover" and ‘ιππος (hippos)
"horse". This was the name of five kings of Macedon, including Philip II the father of Alexander the Great. The name appears in the New Testament belonging to two people who are regarded as saints. First, one of the twelve apostles, and second, an early figure in the Christian church known as Philip the Deacon.... [more]
PHILOMEL f Literature
From an English word meaning "nightingale" (ultimately from PHILOMELA
). It has been used frequently in poetry to denote the bird.
PHILOMELA f Greek Mythology
Derived from Greek φιλος (philos)
"lover, friend" and μηλον (melon)
"fruit". The second element has also been interpreted as Greek μελος (melos)
"song". In Greek myth Philomela was the sister-in-law of Tereus, who raped her and cut out her tongue. Prokne avenged her sister by killing her son by Tereus, after which Tereus attempted to kill Philomela. However, the gods intervened and transformed her into a nightingale.
PHILOMENA f English, German, Late Greek
From Greek φιλος (philos)
"friend, lover" and μενος (menos)
"mind, strength, force". This was the name of an obscure early saint and martyr. The name came to public attention in the 19th century after a tomb seemingly marked with the name Filumena
was found in Rome, supposedly belonging to another martyr named Philomena. This may have in fact been a representation of the Greek word φιλομηνη (philomene)
PHINEHAS m Biblical
Probably means "Nubian" from the Egyptian name Panhsj
, though some believe it means "serpent's mouth" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament Phinehas is a grandson of Aaron
who kills an Israelite because he is intimate with a Midianite woman, thus stopping a plague sent by God. Also in the Bible this is the son of Eli
, killed in battle with the Philistines.
PHIRUN m Khmer
Means "rain" in Khmer, from the name of a rain god in the mythologies of southeast Asia. The god's name is possibly derived from VARUNA
PHOBOS m Greek Mythology
Means "fear, panic" in Greek. This was one of the sons of Ares
in Greek mythology. Also, one of the moons of Mars bears this name.
PHOCAS m Ancient Greek (Latinized)
Latinized form of the Greek name Φωκας (Phokas)
, which meant "a seal" from Greek φωκη (phoke)
. This was the name of an early saint and martyr from Asia Minor. Sentenced to death for being a Christian, he is said to have given his killers lodging and then dug his own grave before he was executed.
PHOEBE f English, Greek Mythology (Latinized), Biblical, Biblical Latin
Latinized form of the Greek name Φοιβη (Phoibe)
, which meant "bright, pure" from Greek φοιβος (phoibos)
. In Greek mythology Phoibe was a Titan associated with the moon. This was also an epithet of her granddaughter, the moon goddess Artemis
. The name appears in Paul
's epistle to the Romans in the New Testament, where it belongs to a female minister in the church at Cenchreae. In England, it began to be used as a given name after the Protestant Reformation. A moon of Saturn bears this name (in honour of the Titan).
PHOENIX m & f English (Modern)
From the name of a beautiful immortal bird that appears in Egyptian and Greek mythology. After living for several centuries in the Arabian Desert, it would be consumed by fire and rise from its own ashes, with this cycle repeating every 500 years. The name of the bird was derived from Greek φοινιξ (phoinix)
meaning "dark red".
PHOTINE f Ancient Greek
Derived from Greek φως (phos)
meaning "light" (genitive φωτος (photos)
). This is the name traditionally given to the Samaritan woman Jesus
met at the well (see John 4:7). She is venerated as a saint by the Eastern Church.
PHRIXUS m Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From the Greek Φριξος (Phrixos)
meaning "thrilling, causing shivers", derived from φριξ (phrix)
"ripple, shiver". In Greek myth Phrixus was the son of Athamus and Nephele. He was to be sacrificed to Zeus
, but he escaped with his sister Helle on the back of the ram with the Golden Fleece.
PHÚC m & f Vietnamese
From Sino-Vietnamese 福 (phúc)
meaning "happiness, good fortune, blessing".
PHƯỢNG f Vietnamese
From Sino-Vietnamese 鳳 (phượng)
meaning "phoenix". This refers to the mythological creature known as the Chinese phoenix or the Fenghuang.
PHYLLIS f Greek Mythology, English, German
Means "foliage" in Greek. In Greek mythology this was the name of a woman who killed herself out of love for Demophon and was subsequently transformed into an almond tree. It began to be used as a given name in England in the 16th century, though it was often confused with Felicia
PIEDAD f Spanish
Means "mercy, piety" in Spanish, ultimately from Latin pietas
PIER m Italian, Dutch
Italian and Dutch variant form of PETER
. In Italian, this form is often used in combination with another name.
PIERO m Italian
Italian form of PETER
. Piero della Francesca was an Italian Renaissance painter.
PIERRE m French, Swedish
French form of PETER
. This name was borne by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), a French impressionist painter, and by Pierre Curie (1859-1906), a physicist who discovered radioactivity with his wife Marie.
PIETER m Dutch
Dutch form of PETER
. This name was borne by the 16th-century Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder.
PIETRO m Italian
Italian form of PETER
. Pietro was the given name of the Renaissance painter known as Perugino.
PIETY f English (Rare)
From the English word meaning "piety, devoutness". This was a rare virtue name used by the Puritans in the 17th century.
PIHLA f Finnish
Derived from Finnish pihlaja
meaning "rowan tree".
PIKA (2) f Slovene
Means "dot" in Slovene. This is the Slovene name for Pippi
Longstocking, Pika Nogavička.
PILAR f Spanish
Means "pillar" in Spanish. It is taken from the title of the Virgin Mary
, María del Pilar
, meaning "Mary of the Pillar". According to legend, when Saint James
the Greater was in Saragossa in Spain, the Virgin Mary appeared on a pillar.
PING m & f Chinese
From Chinese 平 (píng)
meaning "level, even, peaceful". Other characters can also form this name.
PIP m & f English
Diminutive of PHILIP
. This was the name of the main character in 'Great Expectations' (1860) by Charles Dickens.
PIPER f English (Modern)
From a surname that was originally given to a person who played on a pipe (a flute). It was popularized as a given name by a character from the television series 'Charmed', which debuted in 1998.
PIPPI f Literature
Created by the daughter of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren for the main character in her mother's 'Pippi Longstocking' series of stories, first published 1945. In the books Pippi (Swedish name Pippi Långstrump
; full first name Pippilotta
) is a brash and exceptionally strong young girl who lives in a house by herself.
PIPPIN (2) m Literature
The name of a hobbit in 'The Lord of the Rings' (1954) by J. R. R. Tolkien. His full given name was Peregrin
, a semi-translation into English of his true hobbit name Razanur
PIRAN m Cornish
Possibly derived from CIARÁN
. This was the name of a 5th-century Irish monk who founded a monastery in Cornwall. He is the patron saint of Cornwall.
PISTIS f Greek Mythology
Means "trust, faith" in Greek. In Greek mythology Pistis was the personification of trust.
PITAMBARA m Hinduism
Derived from Sanskrit पीत (pita)
meaning "yellow" and अम्बर (ambara)
meaning "garment". This is another name of the Hindu gods Vishnu
, given to them because yellow clothing is traditionally worn at religious events.
PIUS m Late Roman
Late Latin name meaning "pious, dutiful". This was the name of twelve popes.
PLACIDO m Italian
Italian form of the Late Latin name Placidus
meaning "quiet, calm".
PLATO m Ancient Greek (Latinized)
From the Greek name Πλατων (Platon)
, which was derived from Greek πλατυς (platys)
meaning "broad-shouldered". Plato was one of the most important of the Greek philosophers. He was a pupil of Socrates
and a teacher of Aristotle
. He constructed the theory of Forms and wrote several works, including the 'Republic'.
PLINY m History
From the Roman family name Plinius
, which is of unknown meaning. Two 1st-century Romans are known by this name: Gaius Plinius Secundus (called Pliny the Elder), a scientist and historian who died during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius; and Caius Plinius Caecilius Secundus (called Pliny the Younger), an author and statesman.
POCAHONTAS f Native American, Powhatan
Means "playful one" in Powhatan, an Algonquian language. This was the name of a 17th-century Powhatan woman, a daughter of the powerful chief Wahunsenacawh
. She married the white colonist John Rolfe and travelled with him to England, but died of illness before returning.
POLLY f English
Medieval variant of MOLLY
. The reason for the change in the initial consonant is unknown.
POLLYANNA f Literature
Combination of POLLY
. This was the name of the main character in Eleanor H. Porter's novel 'Pollyanna' (1913).
POMARE m & f Tahitian
From Tahitian po
"night" and mare
"cough". This name was borne by four kings and a queen of Tahiti. The first king adopted the name after his child died of a cough in the night.
POMONA f Roman Mythology
From Latin pomus
"fruit tree". This was the name of the Roman goddess of fruit trees.
POMPEY m History
Modern form of the Roman family name Pompeius
, which was probably derived from a Sabellic word meaning "five". A notable bearer was the 1st-century BC Roman general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey the Great.
POMPILIU m Romanian
Romanian form of the Roman name Pompilius
, which is of unknown meaning, possibly a derivative of Pompeius
). Numa Pompilius was the legendary second king of Rome (after Romulus).
PONTIUS m Ancient Roman, Biblical Latin, Biblical
Roman family name. The family had Samnite roots so the name probably originated from the Oscan language, likely meaning "fifth" (a cognate of Latin Quintus
). Alternatively, it could be derived from the name of the ancient province of Pontus
in Asia Minor, itself probably from Greek ποντος (pontos)
"sea". A notable bearer of this name was Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea who appears in the New Testament.