Skip to main content

Gwen

Guin and Gwen may share the same root, but the spelling for each nickname is unique. Guin is pronounced gwin, and Gwen, obviously, gwen. It's not Gwenivere for a reason, and is no better than modern smushes.

Why bother arguing over a nickname for Guinevere? While some may say "If you wanted to call her Gwen for short you should've just named her Gwendolyn," I find that each name's history and meaning need to be addressed.

Guinevere, "white phantom," was King Arthur's queen in Arthurian legend. Gwendolen was said to be Queen of the Britons. Both were mentioned in Historia Regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Mr. Monmouth may have created Gwendolen, spelling it Guendoloena, after being introduced to the Welsh men's name Guendoleu, but regardless of that, Gwendolen is certainly Welsh, meaning "white ring." Gwen means "white, fair" in Welsh, from Proto-Celtic windo, automatically making it a relative of Guinevere. Which came first? At first glance Gwenhwyfar/Gwynhwyfar did, combining gwen with sebara/seibra. Guinevere was taken from this and made into her current form by the Norman French. Guinevere (as Gwynhwyfar) was first written about in medieval Welsh prose from the 12th century. Once the two names were confused in the Latin romance De Ortu Waluuanii, where King Arthur's wife is named Guendoloena. Gwendolen and her other forms were not truly used as given names until the 19th century, and by that time the Cornish variant of Guinevere, Jennifer, was already in use. Despite this, Gwen was spotted in the 5th century - Saint Gwen of Brittany, granddaughter of Brychan, who founded the church of Talgarth. Gwen was also the name of Brychan's wife, who was the mother of Saint Winwaloe. There was also Gwen, mother of Saint Cybi, another Saint Gwen, and a Saint Gwenafwy (daughter of Caw).

So in debating whether Gwen is a suitable nickname for Guinevere, keep in mind that Guinevere is a Norman French variant, while Gwen is still very Welsh, and that Guinevere and Gwendolen are most certainly different names, with different origins and starting points, each deserving of their own nicknames. And might I add, Guin is no less cute of a nickname - it even sounds like trendy Quinn.

Comments

  1. I like Gwen just as she is, and I suppose when it comes to Guinevere, people are just looking for nicknames because it is a long name. To be fair, Guinevere does derive from the Welsh root gwen, which means fair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know, Guinevere is a long name which needs a nickname (especially if you don't like straight-up Guin), but to me that would be similar to calling a Jennifer a Gwen, or a Marjorie by Madge instead of Marjie. Same root but deserving of different nicknames. In the case of Gwen and Guinevere, only the first syllable shares meaning, and they are two very separate names, in fact with their own queens to back each up. But I was also assuming that the majority did not know the root of Gwen and Guinevere, and were just mispronouncing Guinevere. My husband says Gwen-ivere, which is what led me to writing this post, as well as seeing it on the message boards too often. Anyways, I agree with you that Gwen on its own is quite nice. Sorry for the rant, I've just become so defensive of a few names. Capri, for example.

      Delete
    2. Well how do you get Dick out of Richard? Nicknames don't *have* to be exact phonetic shortenings of their original name.

      Delete
    3. Ooops that was supposed to a separate comment, not a reply to yours, sorry!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Witchy Baby Girl Names!

Circe Invidiosa by John William Waterhouse
Have a little girl due in October? Looking to name a character? Here's my [seemingly endless] list of witchy-sounding baby names. Most of them also fit in the "clunky but cool" category, or "vintage." Most plants, trees, herbs, spices, flowers, gems, space and nature names fit the bill, because in stories and current practice these things are useful to witches. I've put any actual witch names from legend, myth, literature, movies, etc in bold and up front. I have not considered the names of actual, living people or their Pagan names, and I've left out any characters that only have a surname, or truly ridiculous given names. In the second half you'll see a list of names that, to my knowledge, have not been used for witch characters. Please know that this is not a complete list. Wikipedia has an almost complete list you can view here.
Tabitha, Samantha, Endora, Clara, Serena (Bewitched)
Katrina(Katrina Crane, …

Allifair

Alifair Hatfield
The baby name Allifair, alternatively spelled Alifair, Alafair, or Alafare, has a very interesting history. This girl's name suddenly popped into existence in the U.S. around the mid 1800's, with no mention why or how.

Some history buffs may be familiar with the Hatfield-McCoy "New Year's Day" Massacre, in which a long-time hatred between families (including Union vs Confederacy differences) finally escalated into an all-out violent battle. Alifair was the name of Randolph McCoy's daughter, born in 1858, who suffered from Polio as a child but remained productive. During an attack on the McCoy home, Alifair was shot and killed. There was later a legal trial for her murder. Ironically, there was an Alifair Hatfield born in 1873 in Kentucky.

So how did she get her name? There are records of others in 1809, 1815, 1819, 1831, 1870, 1883, 1920 and 1923. 1767 or 1787 seems to be the earliest it was recorded. It could come from Alfher/Alvar/Aelfhere…

Names inspired by the Periodic Table of Elements

Either by sound or meaning, here are baby names inspired by the Periodic Table. Not all of the elements can have baby name spin-offs, because they're just too unique. For example, Plutonium. So I will include below the number, element name, and possible baby name. Also, there are 118 total so I will do this in two or three parts.

1 Hydrogen
Hydeira, "woman of the water" in  Greek Hydra - the constellation and mythological creature 2 Helium
Heli, Helia, Helios, "sun" in Greek (Heli is Finnish) 3 Lithium
Lithia/Lithiya, same meaning as lithium, "stone" in Greek By sound - Illythia/Ilithyia, "readycomer" in Greek
There are a wealth of names that mean "stone," including Peter, Petra, Ebenezer, Kamen and Sixten 4 Beryllium
Beryl, the gemstone, or one of the three types of beryl: Morganite (Morgan, Mogana), Heliodor (see #2 above), or Aquamarine
Verulia, an old Prakrit name for beryl
Emerald is green beryl - Emeraude, Esmeralda, Emeran…