Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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 was built over his grave and soon after the town of Sankt Wendel formed around it. He is now patron saint of herdsmen and country folk, and is still venerated in that part of Germany as well as the countryside of Austria and Switzerland.

Wendelin has also been used as a surname, as in the case of Flemish astronomer Godefroy Wendelin, though it is rare. Wendelin Weissheimer is another namesake - he was a 19th century German composer.

Wendell (WEHN-del, WIN-del)  is much more common, seen as a surname and given name in America, Sweden and Germany. Perhaps the most well known namesakes are Wendell Berry, an American novelist known for writing Hannah Coulter as well as nonfiction and poetry, and Wendell Meredith Stanley, a Nobel prize winning biochemist. This name has not been popular since about the time Wendell Wilkie ran for president in 1940. Windell, Wyndell and Wendel are alternate spellings.

The only Wendelina I can dig up with my limited resources is the wife of Sir Mark Collet, a 1st Baronet, merchant and Governor of the Bank of England in the 1880's. However, there were several notable women named Wendela. Vendela (Wendela) Skytte was a Swedish noblewomen who some use as an example of a well educated woman from history; Wendela Gustafva Sparre was a Swedish textile artist and member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts; Wendela Hebbe was considered the first professional female journalist in Sweden.

All of the female variants are too rare to rank, and not commonly used. Wendella does not seem to be a used spelling, but two L's would make the pronunciation different from Wendela, where the stress is on the first syllable.

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