AGNES f English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Ancient Greek (Latinized)
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.
ALBERT m English, French, Catalan, German, Polish, Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Romanian, Hungarian, Ancient Germanic
From the Germanic name Adalbert
, which was composed of the elements adal
"noble" and beraht
"bright". This name was common among medieval German royalty. The Normans introduced it to England, where it replaced the Old English cognate Æðelberht
. Though it became rare in England by the 17th century, it was repopularized in the 19th century by the German-born Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria.... [more]
ALDOUS m English (Rare)
Probably a diminutive of names beginning with the Old English element eald
"old". It has been in use as an English given name since the Middle Ages, mainly in East Anglia. The British author Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) was a famous bearer of this name.
ALISON f English, French
Norman French diminutive of Aalis
). It was common in England, Scotland and France in the Middle Ages, and was later revived in England in the 20th century via Scotland. Unlike most other English names ending in son
, it is not derived from a surname.
AMICE f Medieval English
Medieval name derived from Latin amicus
meaning "friend". This was a popular name in the Middle Ages, though it has since become uncommon.
ARABELLA f English
Medieval Scottish name, probably a variant of ANNABEL
. It has long been associated with Latin orabilis
ARLOTTO m Medieval Italian
Medieval Italian name, recorded in Latin as Arlotus
. It is possibly from Old French herlot
meaning "vagabond, tramp".
AUDREY f English
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).
AVIS f English
Probably a Latinized form of the Germanic name Aveza
, which was derived from the element avi
, of unknown meaning, possibly "desired". The Normans introduced this name to England and it became moderately common during the Middle Ages, at which time it was associated with Latin avis
BARBARA f English, Italian, French, German, Polish, Hungarian, Slovene, Croatian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Late Roman
Derived from Greek βαρβαρος (barbaros)
meaning "foreign". According to legend, Saint Barbara was a young woman killed by her father Dioscorus, who was then killed by a bolt of lightning. She is the patron of architects, geologists, stonemasons and artillerymen. Because of her renown, the name came into general use in the Christian world in the Middle Ages. In England it became rare after the Protestant Reformation, but it was revived in the 19th century.
BRIAN m English, Irish, Ancient Irish
The meaning of this name is not known for certain but it is possibly related to the old Celtic element bre
meaning "hill", or by extension "high, noble". It was borne by the semi-legendary Irish king Brian Boru, who thwarted Viking attempts to conquer Ireland in the 11th century. He was slain in the Battle of Clontarf, though his forces were decisively victorious. The name was common in Ireland before his time, and even more so afterwards. It came into use in England in the Middle Ages, introduced by Breton settlers. It subsequently became rare, but was revived in the 20th century.
CASSANDRA f English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From the Greek name Κασσανδρα (Kassandra)
, derived from possibly κεκασμαι (kekasmai)
"to excel, to shine" and ανηρ (aner)
"man" (genitive ανδρος
). In Greek myth Cassandra was a Trojan princess, the daughter of Priam
. She was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo
, but when she spurned his advances he cursed her so nobody would believe her prophecies.... [more]
CERIDWEN f Welsh
Possibly from Welsh cyrrid
"bent" or cerdd
"poetry" combined with ven
"woman" or gwen
"white, fair, blessed". According to medieval Welsh legend this was the name of a sorceress or goddess who created a potion that would grant wisdom to her son Morfan. The potion was instead consumed by her servant Gwion Bach, who was subsequently reborn as the renowned bard Taliesin
CHRISTABEL f English (Rare)
Combination of CHRISTINA
and the name suffix bel
. This name occurs in medieval literature, and was later used by Samuel Coleridge in his poem 'Christabel' (1800).
CLARA f Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Romanian, English, Swedish, Danish, Late Roman
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.
CLARE f English
Medieval English form of CLARA
. This is also the name of an Irish county, which was originally named for the Norman invader Richard de Clare (known as Strongbow), whose surname was derived from the name of an English river.
CLARICE f English
Medieval vernacular form of the Late Latin name Claritia
, which was a derivative of CLARA
CLEMENCY f English (Rare)
Medieval variant of CLEMENCE
. It can also simply mean "clemency, mercy" from the English word, ultimately from Latin clemens
CRESSIDA f Literature
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.
CRISPIN m English (Rare)
From the Roman cognomen Crispinus
which was derived from the name CRISPUS
. Saint Crispin was a 3rd-century Roman who was martyred with his twin brother Crispinian in Gaul. They are the patrons of shoemakers. They were popular saints in England during the Middle Ages, and the name has occasionally been used since that time.
DICK (1) m English
Medieval diminutive of RICHARD
. The change in the initial consonant is said to have been caused by the way the trilled Norman R
was pronounced by the English.
ELENA f Italian, Spanish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovak, Lithuanian, Russian, Greek, German, Medieval Slavic
Cognate of HELEN
, and an alternate transcription of Russian Елена
ELIAS m Portuguese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, English, Dutch, Greek, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Cognate of ELIJAH
. This is the form used in the Greek New Testament.
ENGUERRAND m Medieval French
Medieval French form of the Germanic name Engilram
, which was composed of the elements Angil
, the name of a Germanic tribe known in English as the Angles, and hramn
"raven". This was the name of several French nobles from Picardy.
EUDES m Medieval French
Old French form of Audo
). This was the name of an 8th-century French saint. It was also borne by a 9th-century French king.
EVE f English, Biblical
From the Hebrew name חַוָּה (Chawwah)
, which was derived from the Hebrew word חָוָה (chawah)
meaning "to breathe" or the related word חָיָה (chayah)
meaning "to live". According to the Old Testament Book of Genesis, Eve and Adam
were the first humans. God created her from one of Adam's ribs to be his companion. At the urging of a serpent she ate the forbidden fruit and shared some with Adam, causing their expulsion from the Garden of Eden
EVERARD m English (Rare)
Means "brave boar", derived from the Germanic elements ebur
"wild boar" and hard
"brave, hardy". The Normans introduced it to England, where it joined the Old English cognate Eoforheard
. It has only been rarely used since the Middle Ages. Modern use of the name may be inspired by the surname Everard
, itself derived from the medieval name.
FLORENCE f & m English, French
From the Latin name Florentius
or the feminine form Florentia
, which were derived from florens
"prosperous, flourishing". Florentius
was borne by many early Christian saints, and it was occasionally used in their honour through the Middle Ages. In modern times it is mostly feminine.... [more]
GARSEA m Medieval Spanish
Meaning unknown, possibly related to the Basque word hartz
meaning "bear". This was the name of several medieval kings of Navarre and Leon.
GAVIN m English, Scottish
Medieval form of GAWAIN
. Though it died out in England, it was reintroduced from Scotland in the 20th century.
GILBERT m English, French, Dutch, German, Ancient Germanic
Means "bright pledge", derived from the Germanic elements gisil
"pledge, hostage" and beraht
"bright". The Normans introduced this name to England, where it was common during the Middle Ages. It was borne by a 12th-century British saint, the founder of the religious order known as the Gilbertines.
GILLIAN f English
Medieval English feminine form of JULIAN
. This spelling has been in use since the 13th century, though it was not declared a distinct name from Julian
until the 17th century.
GWENLLIAN f Welsh
Derived from the Welsh elements gwen
meaning "white, fair, blessed" and llian
meaning "flaxen". This name was popular among medieval Welsh royalty. It was borne by the 14th-century daughter of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd.
HARRY m English
Medieval English form of HENRY
. In modern times it is used as a diminutive of both Henry
. 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.
IDONEA f English (Archaic)
Medieval English name, probably a Latinized form of IÐUNN
. The spelling may have been influenced by Latin idonea
"suitable". It was common in England from the 12th century.
ISABELLA f Italian, German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Romanian
Latinate form of ISABEL
. This name was borne by many medieval royals, including queen consorts of England, France, Portugal, the Holy Roman Empire and Hungary, as well as the powerful ruling queen Isabella of Castile (properly called Isabel
JACK m English
Derived from Jackin
), a medieval diminutive of JOHN
. It is often regarded as an independent name. During the Middle Ages it was very common, and it became a slang word meaning "man". It was frequently used in fairy tales and nursery rhymes, such as 'Jack and the Beanstalk', 'Little Jack Horner', and 'Jack Sprat'. American writers Jack London (1876-1916) and Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) were two famous bearers of this name. It is also borne by American actor Jack Nicholson (1937-).
JOAN (1) f English
Medieval English form of Johanne
, an Old French form of Iohanna
). This was the usual English feminine form of John
in the Middle Ages, but it was surpassed in popularity by Jane
in the 17th century.... [more]
JOLYON m English (Rare)
Medieval form of JULIAN
. The author John Galsworthy used it for a character in his 'Forsyte Saga' novels (published between 1906 and 1922).
JOYCE f & m English
From the medieval masculine name Josse
, which was derived from the earlier Iudocus
, which was a Latinized form of the Breton name Judoc
meaning "lord". The name belonged to a 7th-century Breton saint, and Breton settlers introduced it to England after the Norman conquest. It became rare after the 14th century, but was later revived as a feminine name, perhaps because of similarity to the Middle English word joise
"to rejoice". This given name also formed the basis for a surname, as in the case of the Irish novelist James Joyce (1882-1941).
KENELM m English (Rare)
From the Old English name Cenhelm
, which was composed of the elements cene
"bold, keen" and helm
"helmet". Saint Kenelm was a 9th-century martyr from Mercia, where he was a member of the royal family. The name was occasionally used during the Middle Ages, but has since become rare.
LAYLA f Arabic, English
Means "night" in Arabic. This was the name of the object of romantic poems written by the 7th-century poet known as Qays. The story of Qays and Layla became a popular romance in medieval Arabia and Persia. The name became used in the English-speaking world after the 1970 release of the song 'Layla' by Derek and the Dominos, the title of which was inspired by the medieval story.
LEWIS m English
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'.
LUDOVIC m French
Medieval Latinized form of LUDWIG
. This was the name of an 1833 opera by the French composer Fromental Halévy.
MARJORIE f English
Medieval variant of MARGERY
, influenced by the name of the herb marjoram
. After the Middle Ages this name was rare, but it was revived at the end of the 19th century.
MAUD f English, French, Dutch
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).
MELANIE f English, German, Dutch
, the French form of the Latin name Melania
, derived from Greek μελαινα (melaina)
meaning "black, dark". This was the name of a Roman saint who gave all her wealth to charity in the 5th century. Her grandmother was also a saint with the same name.... [more]
MIRABELLE f French (Rare), English (Rare)
Derived from Latin mirabilis
"wonderful". This name was coined during the Middle Ages, though it eventually died out. It was briefly revived in the 19th century.
MURIEL f English, French, Irish
Medieval English form of a Celtic name which was probably related to the Irish name MUIRGEL
. The Normans brought it to England from Brittany. In the modern era it was popularized by a character from Dinah Craik's novel 'John Halifax, Gentleman' (1856).
NANCY f English
Previously a medieval diminutive of ANNIS
, though since the 18th century it has been a diminutive of ANN
. It is now usually regarded as an independent name. During the 20th century it became very popular in the United States. A city in the Lorraine region of France bears this name, though it derives from a different source.
NEIL m Irish, Scottish, English
From the Gaelic name Niall
, which is of disputed origin, possibly meaning "champion" or "cloud". This was the name of a semi-legendary 4th-century Irish king, Niall of the Nine Hostages.... [more]
NELL f English
Medieval diminutive of names beginning with El
, such as ELEANOR
, ELLEN (1)
. It may have arisen from the medieval affectionate phrase mine El
, which was later reinterpreted as my Nel
NIGEL m English
, a medieval Latinized form of NEIL
. It was commonly associated with Latin niger
"black". It was revived in the 19th century, perhaps in part due to Sir Walter Scott's novel 'The Fortunes of Nigel' (1822).
NOËL m French
Means "Christmas" in French. In the Middle Ages it was used for children born on the holiday. A famous bearer was the English playwright and composer Noël Coward (1899-1973).
NUNO m Portuguese, Medieval Portuguese
Medieval Portuguese and Spanish name, possibly from Latin nonus
"ninth" or nunnus
"grandfather". Saint Nuno was a 14th-century Portuguese general who defeated a Castilian invasion.
PARNEL f English (Archaic)
Contracted form of PETRONEL
. In the later Middle Ages it became a slang term for a promiscuous woman, and the name subsequently fell out of use.
POLLY f English
Medieval variant of MOLLY
. The reason for the change in the initial consonant is unknown.
PRUDENCE f & m English, French
Medieval English form of Prudentia
, the feminine form of PRUDENTIUS
. In France it is both the feminine form and a rare masculine form. In England it was used during the Middle Ages and was revived in the 17th century by the Puritans, in part from the English word prudence
, ultimately of the same source.
RAYMOND m English, French
From the Germanic name Raginmund
, composed of the elements ragin
"advice" and mund
"protector". The Normans introduced this name to England in the form Reimund
. It was borne by several medieval (mostly Spanish) saints, including Saint Raymond Nonnatus, the patron of midwives and expectant mothers, and Saint Raymond of Peñafort, the patron of canonists.
REYNARD m English (Rare)
From the Germanic name Raginhard
, composed of the elements ragin
"advice" and hard
"brave, hardy". The Normans brought it to England in the form Reinard
, though it never became very common there. In medieval fables the name was borne by the sly hero Reynard the Fox (with the result that renard
has become a French word meaning "fox").
REYNOLD m English
From the Germanic name Raginald
, composed of the elements ragin
"advice" and wald
"rule". The Normans (who used forms like Reinald
) brought the name to Britain, where it reinforced rare Old English and Norse cognates already in existence. It was common during the Middle Ages, but became more rare after the 15th century.
ROBIN m & f English, Dutch, Swedish
Medieval diminutive of ROBERT
. Robin Hood was a legendary hero and archer of medieval England who stole from the rich to give to the poor. In modern times it has also been used as a feminine name, and it may sometimes be given in reference to the red-breasted bird.
ROLAND m English, French, German, Swedish, Dutch, Hungarian, Medieval French
From the Germanic elements hrod
meaning "fame" and landa
meaning "land", though some theories hold that the second element was originally nand
meaning "brave". Roland was a semi-legendary French hero whose story is told in the medieval epic 'La Chanson de Roland', in which he is a nephew of Charlemagne
killed in battle with the Saracens. The Normans introduced this name to England.
ROSALINE f English
Medieval variant of ROSALIND
. This is the name of characters in Shakespeare's 'Love's Labour's Lost' (1594) and 'Romeo and Juliet' (1596).
SAMO m Slovene, Medieval Slavic
Meaning uncertain. This was the name of a 7th-century ruler of the Slavs, who established a kingdom including parts of modern Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. He was possibly of Frankish origin.
SIBYL f English
From Greek Σιβυλλα (Sibylla)
, meaning "prophetess, sibyl". In Greek and Roman legend the sibyls were ten female prophets who practiced at different holy sites in the ancient world. In later Christian theology, the sibyls were thought to have divine knowledge and were revered in much the same way as the Old Testament prophets. Because of this, the name came into general use in the Christian world during the Middle Ages. The Normans brought it to England, where it was spelled both Sibyl
. It became rare after the Protestant Reformation, but it was revived in the 19th century, perhaps helped by Benjamin Disraeli's novel 'Sybil' (1845).
SIDONY f English (Archaic)
Feminine form of SIDONIUS
. This name was in use in the Middle Ages, when it became associated with the word sindon
(of Greek origin) meaning "linen", a reference to the Shroud of Turin.
SOPHIA f English, Greek, German, Ancient Greek
Means "wisdom" in Greek. This was the name of an early, probably mythical, saint who died of grief after her three daughters were martyred during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. Legends about her probably arose as a result of a medieval misunderstanding of the phrase Hagia Sophia
"Holy Wisdom", which is the name of a large basilica in Constantinople.... [more]
STEVEN m English, Dutch
Medieval English variant of STEPHEN
, and a Dutch variant of STEFAN
. The filmmaker Steven Spielberg (1946-), director of 'E.T.' and 'Indiana Jones', is a famous bearer of this name.
SYBIL f English
Variant of SIBYL
. This spelling variation has existed since the Middle Ages.
TANCRED m Old Norman
Norman form of a Germanic name meaning "thought and counsel", derived from the elements thank
"thought" and rad
"counsel". This was the name of a leader of the First Crusade, described by Torquato Tasso in his epic poem 'Jerusalem Delivered' (1580).
TIFFANY f English
Medieval form of THEOPHANIA
. This name was traditionally given to girls born on the Epiphany (January 6), the festival commemorating the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus
. The name died out after the Middle Ages, but it was revived by the movie 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (1961), the title of which refers to the Tiffany's jewelry store in New York.
TOBY m & f English
Medieval form of TOBIAS
. It was sometimes used as a feminine name in the 1930s and 40s due to the influence of American actress Toby Wing (1915-2001).
TRISTAN m Welsh, English, French, Arthurian Romance
Old French form of the Pictish name Drustan
, a diminutive of DRUST
. The spelling was altered by association with Latin tristis
"sad". Tristan is a character in medieval French tales, probably inspired by older Celtic legends, and ultimately merged into Arthurian legend. According to the story Tristan was sent to Ireland in order to fetch Isolde
, who was to be the bride of King Mark of Cornwall. On the way back, Tristan and Isolde accidentally drink a potion which makes them fall in love. Their tragic story was very popular in the Middle Ages, and the name has occasionally been used since that time.
TYBALT m Literature
Medieval form of THEOBALD
. This is the name of a cousin of Juliet killed by Romeo in Shakespeare's drama 'Romeo and Juliet' (1596).
UNDINE f Literature
Derived from Latin unda
meaning "wave". The word undine
was created by the medieval author Paracelsus, who used it for female water spirits.
VLAD m Romanian, Russian, Medieval Slavic
Old short form of VLADISLAV
and other Slavic names beginning with the element vladeti
meaning "rule". Vlad Dracula, a 15th-century prince of Wallachia, was Bram Stoker's inspiration for the name of his vampire, Count Dracula.
VLADIMIR m Russian, Serbian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovene, Medieval Slavic
Derived from the Slavic element vladeti
"rule" combined with meru
"great, famous". The second element has also been associated with miru
meaning "peace, world". This was the name of an 11th-century grand prince of Kiev who is venerated as a saint because of his efforts to Christianize his realm (Kievan Rus). It was also borne by the founder of the former Soviet state, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924).