AGATHA f English, Ancient Greek (Latinized)
Latinized form of the Greek name Ἀγαθή (Agathe)
, derived from Greek ἀγαθός (agathos)
. Saint Agatha was a 3rd-century martyr from Sicily who was tortured and killed after spurning the advances of a Roman official. The saint was widely revered in the Middle Ages, and her name has been used throughout Christian Europe (in various spellings). The mystery writer Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was a famous modern bearer of this name.
ANASTASIA f Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, English, Spanish, Italian, Georgian, Ancient Greek
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.
ASHLEY f & m English
From an English surname that was originally derived from place names meaning "ash tree clearing"
, from a combination of Old English æsc
. Until the 1960s it was more commonly given to boys in the United States, but it is now most often used on girls. It reached its height of popularity in America in 1987, but it did not become the highest ranked name until 1991, being overshadowed by the likewise-popular Jessica
until then. In the United Kingdom it is still more common as a masculine name.
BELLATRIX f Astronomy
Means "female warrior"
in Latin. This is the name of the star that marks the left shoulder of the constellation Orion.
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
CHARLOTTE f French, English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch
French feminine diminutive of CHARLES
. It was introduced to Britain in the 17th century. It was the name of a German-born 18th-century queen consort of Great Britain and Ireland. Another notable bearer was Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855), the eldest of the three Brontë sisters and the author of Jane Eyre
CIRCE f Greek Mythology (Latinized)
Latinized form of Greek Κίρκη (Kirke)
, possibly from κίρκος (kirkos)
. In Greek mythology Circe was a sorceress who changed Odysseus
's crew into hogs, as told in Homer's Odyssey
. Odysseus forced her to change them back, then stayed with her for a year before continuing his voyage.
COCO f Various
Diminutive of names beginning with Co
, influenced by the word cocoa
. However, this was not the case for French fashion designer Coco Chanel (real name Gabrielle), whose nickname came from the name of a song she performed while working as a cabaret singer.
CORDELIA f English
, 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
FIONA f Scottish, English
Feminine form of FIONN
. This name was (first?) used by the Scottish poet James Macpherson in his poem Fingal
(1762), in which it is spelled as Fióna
HAZEL f English
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.
HECATE f Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From the Greek Ἑκάτη (Hekate)
, possibly derived from ἑκάς (hekas)
meaning "far off"
. In Greek mythology Hecate was a goddess associated with witchcraft, crossroads, tombs, demons and the underworld.
HERMIONE f Greek Mythology
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.
KRIEMHILD f German (Rare), Germanic Mythology
Derived from the Germanic elements grim
"mask" and hild
"battle". Kriemhild was a beautiful heroine in the Germanic saga the Nibelungenlied
, where she is the sister of Günther
and the wife of Siegfried
. After her husband is killed by Hagen
with the consent of Günther, Kriemhild tragically exacts her revenge.
MADISON f & m English
From an English surname meaning "son of MAUD"
. It was not commonly used as a feminine name until after the movie Splash
(1984), in which the main character adopted it as her name after seeing a street sign for Madison Avenue in New York City. It was ranked second for girls in the United States by 2001. This rise from obscurity to prominence in only 18 years represents an unprecedented 550,000 percent increase in usage.... [more]
MALLORY f English (Modern)
From an English surname that meant "unfortunate"
in Norman French. It first became common in the 1980s due to the television comedy Family Ties
, which featured a character by this name.
MARIE f & m French, Czech, German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch
French and Czech form of MARIA
. It has been very common in France since the 13th century. At the opening of the 20th century it was given to approximately 20 percent of French girls. This percentage has declined steadily over the course of the century, and it dropped from the top rank in 1958.... [more]
MARNIE f English
Possibly a diminutive of MARINA
. This name was brought to public attention by Alfred Hitchcock's movie Marnie
(1964), itself based on a 1961 novel by Winston Graham.
MARY f English, Biblical
Usual English form of Maria
, the Latin form of the New Testament Greek names Μαριάμ (Mariam)
and Μαρία (Maria)
- the spellings are interchangeable - which were from Hebrew מִרְיָם (Miryam)
, a name borne by the sister of Moses
in the Old Testament. The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including "sea of bitterness"
, and "wished for child"
. However it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved"
or mr "love"
MATILDA f English, Swedish, Finnish, Slovak
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 common in many branches of European royalty in the Middle Ages. It was brought to England by the Normans, being borne by the wife of William the Conqueror himself. Another notable royal by this name was a 12th-century daughter of Henry I of England, known as the Empress Matilda because of her first marriage to the Holy Roman emperor Henry V. She later invaded England, laying the foundations for the reign of her son Henry II.... [more]
MEDEA f Greek Mythology (Latinized), Georgian
From Greek Μήδεια (Medeia)
, possibly derived from μήδομαι (medomai)
meaning "to think, to plan"
. In Greek mythology Medea was a sorceress from Colchis (modern Georgia) who helped Jason
gain the Golden Fleece. They were married, but eventually Jason left her for another woman. For revenge Medea slew Jason's new lover and also had her own children by Jason killed.
MEROPE f Greek Mythology
From Greek μέρος (meros)
meaning "share, part" and ὄψ (ops)
meaning "face, eye". This was the name of several characters in Greek mythology, including the seventh of the Pleiades and the foster mother of Oedipus
MILDRED f English
From the Old English name Mildþryð
meaning "gentle strength"
, derived from the elements milde
"gentle" and þryð
"strength". Saint Mildred was a 7th-century abbess, the daughter of the Kentish princess Saint Ermenburga. After the Norman Conquest this name became rare, but it was revived in the 19th century.
MINERVA f Roman Mythology, English
Possibly derived from Latin mens
, 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.
MISTY f English
From the English word misty
, ultimately derived from Old English. The jazz song Misty
(1954) by Erroll Garner may have helped popularize the name.
MOLLY f English
Diminutive of MARY
. It developed from Malle
, other medieval diminutives. James Joyce used this name in his novel Ulysses
(1920), where it belongs to Molly Bloom, the wife of the main character.
MORGAN (2) f Arthurian Romance
Modern form of Morgen
, which was used by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century for the Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay, who was unnamed in earlier stories. Geoffrey probably did not derive it from the Welsh masculine name Morgan
, which would have been spelled Morcant
in his time. He may have based it on the Irish name MUIRGEN
MURIEL f English, French, Irish
Medieval English form of a Celtic name that 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
MYRTLE f English
Simply from the English word myrtle
for the evergreen shrub, ultimately from Greek μύρτος (myrtos)
. It was first used as a given name in the 19th century, at the same time many other plant and flower names were coined.
NAN f English
Originally a diminutive of ANN
. It may have originated with the affectionate phrase mine Ann
, which was later reinterpreted as my Nan
. It is now also used as a short form of NANCY
NIMUE f Arthurian Romance
Meaning unknown. In Arthurian legends this is the name of a sorceress, also known as the Lady of the Lake, Vivien, or Niniane. Various versions of the tales have Merlin
falling in love with her and becoming imprisoned by her magic. She first appears in the medieval French Lancelot-Grail
NYX f Greek Mythology
in Greek. This was the name of the Greek goddess of the night, the daughter of Khaos and the wife of Erebos.
PATRICIA f English, Spanish, German, Late Roman
Feminine form of Patricius
). In medieval England this spelling appears in Latin documents, but this form was probably not used as the actual name until the 18th century, in Scotland.
ROSE f English, French
Originally a Norman form of the Germanic name Hrodohaidis
meaning "famous type"
, composed of the elements hrod
"fame" and heid
"kind, sort, type". The Normans introduced it to England in the forms Roese
. From an early date it was associated with the word for the fragrant flower rose
(derived from Latin rosa
). When the name was revived in the 19th century, it was probably with the flower in mind.
SABRINA f English, Italian, German, French
Latinized form of Habren
, the original Welsh name of the River Severn. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Sabrina was the name of a princess who was drowned in the Severn. Supposedly the river was named for her, but it is more likely that her name was actually derived from that of the river, which is of unknown meaning. She appears as a water nymph in John Milton's masque Comus
(1634). It was popularized as a given name by Samuel A. Taylor's play Sabrina Fair
(1953) and the movie adaptation that followed it the next year.
SAMANTHA f English, Italian, Dutch
Perhaps intended to be a feminine form of SAMUEL
, using the name suffix antha
(possibly inspired by Greek ἄνθος (anthos)
meaning "flower"). It originated in America in the 18th century but was fairly uncommon until 1964, when it was popularized by the main character on the television show Bewitched
SARAH f English, French, German, Hebrew, Arabic, Biblical, Biblical Hebrew
Means "lady, princess, noblewoman"
in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of Abraham
's wife, considered the matriarch of the Jewish people. She was barren until she unexpectedly became pregnant with Isaac
at the age of 90. Her name was originally Sarai
, but God changed it at the same time Abraham's name was changed (see Genesis 17:15
STACY f & m English
Either a diminutive of ANASTASIA
, or else from a surname that was derived from Stace
, a medieval form of EUSTACE
. As a feminine name, it came into general use during the 1950s, though it had earlier been in use as a rare masculine name.
TABITHA f English, Biblical, Biblical Greek
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.
URSULA f English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, Dutch, Finnish, Late Roman
Means "little bear"
, derived from a diminutive form of the Latin word ursa
"she-bear". Saint Ursula was a legendary virgin princess of the 4th century who was martyred by the Huns while returning from a pilgrimage. In England the saint was popular during the Middle Ages, and the name came into general use at that time.
VÄINÄMÖINEN m Finnish Mythology
Derived from Finnish väinä
meaning "wide and slow-flowing river"
. In Finnish mythology Väinämöinen was a wise old magician, the son of the primal goddess Ilmatar
. He is the hero of the Finnish epic the Kalevala
VIRGINIA f English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Greek, Ancient Roman
Feminine form of the Roman family name Verginius
, 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.... [more]
WENDY f English
In the case of the character from J. M. Barrie's play Peter Pan
(1904), it was created from the nickname fwendy "friend"
, given to the author by a young friend. However, the name was used prior to the play (rarely), in which case it could be related to the Welsh name GWENDOLEN
and other names beginning with the element gwen
meaning "white, fair, blessed". The name only became common after Barrie's play ran.
ZOE f English, Italian, German, Ancient Greek
in Greek. From early times it was adopted by Hellenized Jews as a translation of EVE
. It was borne by two early Christian saints, one martyred under Emperor Hadrian, the other martyred under Diocletian. The name was common in the Byzantine Empire, being borne by a ruling empress of the 11th century.... [more]