Sunday, August 26, 2012

From Rare Fairy Tales

Prunella - Prunella & Bensiabel, whom she marries. Prunella means "little plum" in Italian. Lately, Prune has been a hip name in France. In the U.S. the name Prunella has not and is not used. Prunella is also a plant genus for self-heals/heal-alls. English actresses Prunella Gee, Prunella Ransome, and Prunella Scales are namesakes, as is English artist Prunella Clough. In other works of fiction there is the children's book Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, a play titled Prunella, or, Love in a Dutch Garden, and a minor Harry Potter character. Bensiabel is Italian, from the elements ben, "well," and bel, "nice." It likely means something like "well-meaning."

Melisande - Malevola (who is in this story is supposed to also be Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and cursed the grandmother of Melisande), Fortuna, Florizel (the Prince). While Florizel's name comes from the Latin flor, meaning "flower," the zel element seems to be a rare medieval Germanic ending (as in Etzel and Wenzel). The name is also recorded as Florisel in The Exploits and Adventures of Florisel of Nicea, Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, Benjamin Disraeli's novel Endymion, Henry Beston's Firelight Fairy Book, and the last book in a cycle of four by Robert Louis Stevenson titled The Adventure of Prince Florizel and a Detective. The name Melisande is French, from Spanish Melisendra, from the Gothic name Amalswinth, from which we get Millicent. Malevola likely derives from a word for malevolent. Fortuna's name means "luck," but she was the goddess of fortune in Roman mythology.

The Beautiful Catharinella - Catharinella is merely an elaborate Latin version of Catherine.

The White Cat (my favorite) - Blanchette, which is French, meaning "white."

The Fair Angiola - Angiola, which is a genus of sea snails. Perhaps if this medieval Italian variant of Angela appeals to you, other rare forms of the name might work: Angeline, Angiolina, Angioletta, Anzhela, Angelia, Aniela, Anielka or Angelita.

Persinette - in this story Persinette's foster mother is named Gothelle. Givenchy-de-Gothelle is a place name in France, and gothel is a word in dialect meaning "godmother." In Giambattista's original version, the main character's name is Petrosinella, her name derived from petrosine - "parsley." The tale titled Persinette has her name come from parsley as well, only from French instead of Italian. Neither name is or has been used in the U.S. (or at least not any more than four in any given year).

All stories mentioned can be found here.

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