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Showing posts from August, 2014

Ursula

Disney kind of did it wrong. When picking a name for a sea-witch, a name that means "little she-bear" seems a bit ridiculous for a character that lives underwater.

Like the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, which mean "she-bear," these are the feminine Latin diminutives of Ursus, "bear." Both Ursa Major and Ursa minor have unique stories from several different cultures. Ursula (Ursa too) is a girl's name most do not consider using today, but one that is rich with history and culture.

Saint Ursula of the 4th century was a virgin princess of Britain whose popularity during the Middle Ages may have increased the name's usage. Her [now accepted as fictional] tale says that she sailed with 11,000 virgin handmaidens to meet her future husband, but when a storm brought them to their destination in just a day she decided to on a pilgrimage around Europe with the pope and bishop. They soon arrived in Cologne, all 11,003 of them, where the town was…

Branwen vs Bronwen vs Bronwyn & Branwyn

First things first: a -wyn ending to a name in Welsh means it is a boy name, while a -wen ending means it is a girl name. So if you're looking for a name for your baby girl, whether it be Branwen or Ceridwen or Tanwen, make sure you take this into consideration. Very few people outside of Wales and the surrounding area will know the difference, but now you do.

Secondly, Branwen is pronounced BRAHN-wen (not BRANN-wen) and Bronwen is pronounced BROHN-wen depending on your accent.

Third, both Branwen and Bronwen have their own respective meanings. Branwen means "white, blessed raven," while Bronwen means "fair, blessed breast (breast not necessarily meaning boobs - chest works as well, or, alternatively, the heart which lay beneath the breast)."

They also have their own respective histories. Branwen in legend was the daughter of Llyr in the "Mabinogi," tales from Welsh mythology. She is known as the most beautiful girl in the land and turns out to be a g…

Kyria, Kyrie, and Kyrian

Kyria, the unisex Kyrie and the boy's name Kyrian are variants of the Greek girl's name Kyra, which currently ranks at #401 (in decline). They each mean "lord" in Greek but have a connection to ancient Persian and Egyptian in which they referred to the sun god Ra. The Greeks connected their word for lord to the Persian name for king, Kourosh (equivalent to Cyrus and possibly Cyril), which meant "throne." Several Persian kings were named Cyrus. In Egyptian, Ki-Ra meant "like Ra," or like the sun. There is no ancient connection to the word valkyrie, although if you were to name a daughter Valkyrie there is no sound reason to not nickname her Kyrie.

Kyria (KEER-ee-uh, and less often KY-ree-uh) is a variant of the popular girl's name Kyra. The spelling Kyria specifically means "noblewoman, respectable lady" and has been a Greek title of respect for women, much like "madam" or "miss." Kyrios was the male version of this…

Wendy as a nickname?

Sure! If Wendelina (wen-dell-EE-nah) is your style. Its similarity to Gwendolen and Wilhelmina make it approachable. If the female variants are too much for you, perhaps Wendel would be better. But since Wendy, a name invented by J.M. Barrie for Peter Pan, currently ranks at #703, the idea of using it as a nickname might appeal to those who don't want something so common. And although Wendy is sometimes used as a nickname for Gwendolyn, Wend- names get straight to the point.

Wendelina is the super rare feminine counterpart to Wendel. She is a German and Swedish name meaning "wanderer" in Old High German. Wendela, Wendeliena, Wendelin and Wendeline are other female Scandinavian variants of the name, although Wendelin is used as a boys name as well, as in the case of Saint Wendelin.

Saint Wendelin of Trier was a hermit and abbot, the son of a Scottish king, who made a pilgrimage to Rome. He founded the Benedictine Abbey of Tholey in Saarland, Germany. When he died a chapel…

Ermintrude, Irma, or Trudy?

The Old Germanic girl's name Ermintrude has a meaning that can be interpreted a few different ways. This ancient and archaic name comes from irm/erm, meaning "entire," and either traut, meaning "beloved," or thruth, meaning "strength." From this the total meaning could be "entirely loved," or "entire strength." However, it is possible the name refers to Ermen, the Germanic god of war, and thus her meaning would be "Ermen's maiden." Her name can also be spelled a handful of other ways, including Ermentrude, Ermyntrude, Ermentraude, and other variants with an I replacing the first E. Ermengard (Irmingard) is another variant meaning "whole enclosure." Ermintrude was used occasionally until the 19th century.

There are two Ermintrudes you should know about. The first is Ermentrude of Orleans, Queen of the Franks and wife to Holy Roman Emperor / King of West Francia. (Interestingly, her mother was named Engeltrude…

Pulcherie

Pulcherrima

The girl's name Pulcherie (POOL-sher-ee) is rare worldwide. See this link for recent French statistics. In ancient times the name was known due to Saint Pulcheria (this spelling pronounced pool-KAY-ree-uh), also known as Roman Empress Aelia Pulcheria. Her name means "beautiful," from the Latin wordpulcher, pulchra. From the same root word we get the name of the Caesalpinia pulcherrima, seen above, which is a flower in the family of pea plants and is native to the American tropics such as the West Indies.

Aelia Pulcheria ruled the Roman Empire during the Byzantine Era as regent over her brother, Emperor Theodosius II. She became Augusta and took a vow of chastity but when her brother died Pulcheria married and became Empress. She died three years later, becoming a saint. During her reign she held a great deal of power, including religious influence and patronage/commissions.

While Pulcherie is rare in France it is even more rare in America, with no more than …

Orpheus

Orphéeby Jean Baptiste Camille Corot
Orpheus (or-FEE-us), from Greek mythology, has a sad but beautiful story. His name means "darkness," which is befitting for his tragic story, yet I see him as a role model. The legendary musician, poet and prophet was the founder of Orphism, a religious belief revering those who went to Hades and lived to tell the tale - Persephone was one such person. But Orpheus is most known for going into the underworld with the goal of returning his beloved wife to the land of the living. With his music he was able to convince Hades to let his wife, Eurydice, come back to the land of the living with him. Hades agreed as long as Orpheus led her out without looking back to see her - and Orpheus was able to do so until he reached the last part of their journey, Eurydice still partially in the underworld. Because she was not completely out of the underworld, Orpheus was not able to save her. Orpheus was also well known for being one of the Argonauts, and…

Dido

Dido Elizabeth Belle
Dido is a name with deep historical roots. 
The Queen of Carthage who Virgil wrote about in the Aeneid was also known as Elissa, meaning "queen." She was written about by other Roman historians as well but their works have been lost. Elissa/Dido of Carthage may have originated as a goddess, however, if her brother Pygmalion (not to be confused with the one in the story with Galatea) was a real person as some evidence claims, then she may have been as well. In Virgil's story, Dido commits suicide when she can no longer be with Aeneas whom she loves. She later appears in several operas and dramas.
The most recently talked about Dido is Dido Elizabeth Belle, daughter of John Lindsay and a slave woman from the West Indies. Dido was later taken by her father from the West Indies where she was born to live with the Earl of Mansfield, Lindsay's uncle, and she lived there for 30 years until marrying John Davinier. It is perhaps because of his love for D…

Odin

Because most of the world is familiar with the Norse/ancient Germanic god Odin, father of the uber-famous Thor (thanks to the new movies), this could be an easily wearable baby name for a boy today. His name means "fury," and he is known as "The Furious One," father of the gods in the Norse pantheon. His name means many other things, when also taken from Old English, such as "mind," and "poetry."

As ruler of Asgard, a place many are familiar with because of modern media such as Marvel comics and even "The Witches of  East End" (book and TV), Odin was responsible or attributed to many things, such as war, victory, death, wisdom, magic and poetry. He was written about by Adam of Bremen, the Sagas of Icelanders, Gesta Danorum, and in the Poetic Edda. He has three familiars (magical animals tied to him) - Sleipnir the eight-legged horse, and the pair of ravens named Huginn and Muninn (thought and memory). Some of Odin's traditions, be…

Quitterie

This French saint name, pronouned KEY-tehr-ee (said very fast in native tongue), is lively and upbeat. Unsurprisingly, this girl's name means "quiet," from Latin quietus. This French spelling is a variant of Quiteria (key-TAY-ree-uh), known as the 5th century virgin martyr who had her own cult. She is known as Quiteira (key-TERR-uh) in Occitan. It is possible the true origin of her name is from Kythere, meaning "the red one," which was another title of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, or it could be from Cytherea, another name of Aphrodite, which is associated with the island Kythira.

Legend has it Quitterie was the daughter of a Galician prince who disobeyed her father, refusing to marry. She suffered the same fate as her sister Liberate - both were captured and beheaded for refusing to renounce Christianity. There is a church in Aire-sur-l'Adour, France devoted to her. Santa Quiteria in Brazil is also named for her.

In Portuguese religious tradition, howev…

Wycliff

Alternatively spelled Wycliffe, the Old English boy's name Wycliff (WY-clif) means "white cliff." Originating as a place name and surname, one of the first recorded spellings of the name was Witclive, and the title belonged to an old village that dates back to at least 1086. Other spellings over time include Wyclif, Wiclef, Wicliffe, Wickliffe and Wyclef.

One of the most famous namesakes was John Wycliffe (1320 - 1384), a Protestant reformer known for translating the Bible into English (which is now known as the Wycliffe Bible). He had his own group of followers called Lollards, while Lollardy was a political and religious movement that started in the middle of the 14th century and continued into the English Reformation. Wycliffe was a very well educated man associated with more than one college/university.

Wyclef Jean is a rap singer born in Haiti.
Wycliff Gordon is an American jazz musician and music educator.
Wycliffe Well is the "UFO Capital of Australia."

Ailova

Ailova (EYE-low-vah, alternately AY-low-vah) is a stunning Old English name meaning "noble love" from Aðellufu. The components are the common Old English Ædel, meaning "noble," and Old English lufu, meaning "love." Spellings (sounds) such as Ailofa or Ailufa could be found as well, since not all names had an accepted spelling or were written down at all. It is not to be confused with Elgiva, meaning "noble gift" or "elf gift." It is possible Ailova can be found in the Domesday Book, although it might be under a variant spelling. Ailova is too rare of a girl's baby name to rank, and there are no people with this name in current records, although a Google search reveals there might be some world-wide.

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