Sunday, May 15, 2016

Beatrix

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Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands when she was just a princess

Beatrix (BEE-ah-trix) is a vintage name, a historical name, very international, and a modern favorite here in the States. It is little known that her original form is Viatrix, ultimately from Latin viator, meaning "voyager." The -trix suffix for Latin loan words was traced back to the 15th century by The Oxford English Dictionary, yet Saint Viatrix/Beatrix/Beatrice of Rome is from the 4th century. Christians later changed the spelling so that via- became bea- and "blessed" became the new meaning, but beatus also makes "she who makes happy" a legitimate meaning. Beatrice, Beatriu, Betrys, Beitris, Beatrise, Beatrycze and Beatriz are the other spelling variants in Europe. Trixy and Bea/Bee are the most used nickname options, although Bix/Bixy, Beaty, Bebe and even Brice have been used as well.

Namesakes include Beatrix Kiddo from "Kill Bill," the girl detective Trixie Belden series (full name
Beatrix Belden), asteroid 83 Beatrix, and two Olympic medalists - both in figure skating, but among them children's book writer Beatrix Potter, author of Peter Rabbit, and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, are the two most well known. There are three saints and two blessed with the name Beatrix.

Surprisingly, Beatrix does not currently rank in the U.S., and the only time it ever did was in 1883 at #754. Of course, Beatrice had more luck, likely due to it's lack of a sassy ending sound and it's Shakespeare pedigree. Beatrice is #601 in the U.S. but Beatrix is not too far behind, used 209 times in 2015, almost double the 123 births in 2010 and just under the top 1000. In England and Wales Beatrix currently ranks at #234, in Hungary it last ranked in 2004 (used 140 times that year), and in Switzerland had a run between 1942 and 1969 with its peak in 1956 at #39 (used 258 times that year).

* A note on Bellatrix * The -trix ending in a word or name simply means "female," just like a -tress suffix (huntress, for example). So Bellatrix, "female warrior," and Beatrix, "female voyager," are not related. Here is a list of examples.

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