Gender: Feminine
Origin: Old Norse/Icelandic
Meaning: “pitching one; pigeon; dove.”

In old Norse the name means “pitching one.” It was the name of one of the nine daughters of the sea goddess Rán. In modern Icelandic, the name is interchangeable with the word for dove or pigeon. It is still a common female first name in Iceland.

Another offshoot of the original old Norse form is the Frisian Dufina (doo-FEE-nah) and the Dutch Dyveke.



Gender: Feminine
Origin: Old Norse/Icelandic
Meaning: “foam fleck; comber.”
(DREUF-n)-the O is akin to the eu in Fleur.

An Old Norse name that is currently very popular in Iceland. This is another name that appears in Norse Mythology as the name of one of the nine mermaid daughters of Rán and Aegir.

In Iceland, the name is more common as a middle name than as a first name, it is currently borne by 89 women as a first name and as a middle name, it is borne by 467 women (July 2007).


Gender: Feminine
Origin: Old Norse
Meaning: “clear heaven.”
The name is composed of the Old Norse elements himin meaning “heaven” and glaeva meaning “clear; see through.”

The name was a poetic description describing the clear waters of the sea.

In Norse Mythology, it was the name of one of the nine daughters of Rán & Aegir. All nine of the sea maids were said to have motherd Heimdall via the god Odin.

Heimdall was the protector of Bifröst.


Gender: Feminine
Origin: Old Norse/Icelandic
Meaning: “wave; billow.”

    The name is borne in Norse Mythology by one of the nine daughters of Rán and Aegir.

    Bylgja represented the waves of the sea and she is the mother of Heimdall by the god Odin.

    In Icelandic, it coincides with the modern word for wave.

    As a first name, it is currently borne by 116 women, and as a middle name, it is borne by 19 women (July 2007).

    For an English speaker considering this name, a possible nickname option is Billie.


    Gender: Feminine
    Origin: Old Norse
    Meaning: “theft; robbery.”
    General Scan (RAWN); Ice (ROWN) like the word Round with the d cut off

    The name is borne in Norse mythology by a sea goddess.

    The goddess Rán, is the subject of several Old Norse Prose Eddas, including the Skáldskaparmál, in which a poem entitled, Lokesenna, talks of her life and exploits.

    According to the Lokesenna, Rán is the wife of Aegir, and with him, she has nine daughters.

    Rán is also famous for capturing unsuspecting seafearers with her fish-net. In fact, her fish-net is also recorded in the Volsunga Saga.

    According to some sources, she is married to the sea.

    The name is still in usage in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. In Iceland, it is often used as a one syllable filler middle name.

    As of July 2007, 37 women in Iceland bore this as a first name, while 325 had it as a middle name.

    The name can also be a Japanese female name,  meaning “orchid”

    Lorelei, Lurley

    Gender: Feminine
    Origin: German
    Meaning: debated

    I don’t know what it may signify, that I am so sad”

    begins the famous German poem written by Heinrich Heine (1824) http://www.business.uiuc.edu/vock/poetry/lorelei.html.

    The Lorelei is one of Germany’s most romantic folktales. Lorenz Brentano created the legend for his novel entitled Godwi oder Das steinerne Bild der Mutter (1801). He supposedly based the myth off of Ovid’s rendition of the romantic Greek legend of Echo and Narcissus and that of the legendary Rhine Maidens from German mythology.

    Later, Heinrich Heine decided to write a poem about the alluring Rhine siren. It was so popular that the poem was set to music and a famous German Rhinisch folk song was born, composed by Friedrich Silcher in 1837.

    The name is infact taken from the name of a 120 meter rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine river in Germany, near St. Goarshausen. Strong currents and rocky surfaces have made it hard for boaters to navigate through the river line for centuries, causing many deaths and accidents. The tragedies were later turned into a myth by Brentano, the rock being named for a beautiful golden haired girl by the name of Lurley. She was so heart broken by a lover’s rejection that she threw herself off the giant rock only to come back and haunt the area in the form of a beautiful and alluring siren with a magnificent singing voice. Her revenge was to seduce the unsuspecting boaters to their deaths with her songs.

    The actual origins of the name are debated. Some sources believe that Lorelei is composed of the Germanic elements lureln meaning “to murmur” and the Celtic ley meaning “rock,” while other sources contend that the first element might actually be derived from the proto-Germanic *lothran meaning “to call” or the Middle High German luoder meaning “to lure, to deceit or bait.” It is also very possible that our modern English verb “to lure,” is derived from the same ancient Germanic elements.

    The name has also spawned such names as Lurley, and Lurlene.

    The name has only recently picked up some usage in German speaking countries, but has been used in the English speaking world since the 19th century.

    Ondine, Undine

    Gender: Feminine
    Origin: Latin
    Meaning: “wave.”
    (ahn-DEEN); (un-DEEN)

    The name is derived from the Latin unda meaning “wave.”

    In early European folklore undines were a sort of water sprite who could gain a soul if they married a mortal and bore a child, the downside was that as soon as they became mortal they would age and die.

    The Swiss scientist and alchemist Paracelsus spent a considerable time writing about them.

    In 1812, the German writer, Baron Friedirch de la Motte Fouque, made the legend a subject of his famous romantic novel Ondine.

    In it Ondine falls in love and marries the local knight Huldebrand. She bears his child, but as soon as the baby is born, she starts to age. Huldebrand has an affair with a lowly local woman and Ondine catches her husband in the act. She lays a curse on Huldebrand that he would die in his sleep. Afterward, Ondine rushes to the town square’s fountain and disappears in the midst of the waters, never to be seen again. The same story was later adapted by E.T.A. Hoffman into an opera.

    Ondine and Undine became popular first name choices in both France and Germany. Nicknames include Ondy, Ondinette and Dina.

    Other forms of the name include:

    • Ondina (Asturian/Italian/Portuguese/Spanish)
    • Ondine (French)
    • Undine (German/English)
    • Undina (Icelandic)
    • Undīne (Latvian)
    • Undinė (Lithuanian)
    • Ondyna (Polish: very obscure)

    Designated name-days are: April 18 (Lithuania) and November 15 (Latvia)


    Gender: Feminine
    Origin: Basque
    Meaning: “sea/ocean.”

    Itsaso comes directly from the Basque word for ocean or sea.

    In Basque mythology, this was the name of an evil sea spirit or a type of Siren. The itsaso would attract people to the sea so that they would drown.

    It is also the name of a town in the Basque country of Spain where there is a shrine to the Virgin Mary, possibly a reason why the name was deemed usable among the Catholic Basque.


    Gender: Feminine

    Origin: Italian
    This pretty and melodic Italian name is a feminine form of Vincenzo which is derived from the Latin Vincentius. Vincentius is derived from the Latin term vincere meaning “to conquer.” The name is born by St. Vincenza Gerosa (1847) who was the co-foundress of the Sisters of Charity. Her feast is held on June 29. Vincenzina is another popular form.

    Shayna, Shaina, Szejna

    Gender: Feminine
    Origin: Yiddish; Aramaic
    Meaning: “beautiful,”; “peace.

    This name has been erroneously listed as a feminine form of Shane or as an Irish name meaning “god’s gracious gift.” However, the name has a much deeper history than Shane and it has been around long before the cowboy.

    In fact, the name is a traditional Ashkenazim female name. It has been popular among German, Polish and Russian Jews for centuries. Though a popular Jewish name, the name has no religious significance. Like many European female Jewish names that popped up in the Middle Ages, its a name that is derived from a vernacular word.

    Since Yiddish is a Germanic language, the name Shayna is closely related to the modern German word schön “beautiful.” It is not a Hebrew name like other sources on the Internet have suggested, but it may have Aramaic roots as well, as the Aramaic word for peace is also shayna. Since Medieval Jews were fans of double entendres, the name have been used in reference to both sources.

    In Medieval Germany, the German Jews adopted the local language, Old High German, and began adding vocabulary from other sources, such as Polish, Aramaic and even French and Spanish. Shayna is derived from Germanic roots, possibly from the feminine Old High German word for “beautiful,” and the name may also be linked with the Aramaic word, shayna meaning “peace.” In fact, Shayna has also been used among Assyrian Christians in recent years, also spawning a masculine variation of Shayno.

    Since Yiddish was rendered in Hebrew, its most accurate transliteration should actually be Shaynah. However, since the Ashkenazim Jews were dispersed throughout Western and Central Europe, it has taken on various spellings depending on the native language of the bearer.

    In Poland it was rendered as Szejna, in Germany as Schoene, Scheina, Schayna and in English as Shayna, Shana or Shaina.

    In modern France, the Shaïna form has suddenly made its way into the French top 1000.

    It is safe to say that the name first cropped up in Germany around the 13th century where it is recorded as Schoenlein, Shoinlin and Shonlin (all diminutive forms) in Koblenz Germany (cir. 1264 C.E.).

    Schoene, Schoenele (a diminutive form), and Schoenle appear around the 1300s in other parts of Germany.

    In 1555 Alsace, there is record of Schoenlen, (most likely a diminutive as well).

    The name had official cognates depending on the country of origin.

    Among Spanish and Italian Jews, it is Bella/Bela/Belisa

    In Russia, all Shaynas were designated as Sofiya/Sophia for their Russian name.

    In Hebrew, the official translation is Yaffa.

    Many Jewish immigrants to the United States translated the name as Sadie, Jenny, Shirley, Susan or Charlotte.

    An interesting and fresher variation that doesn’t have a history as a given name, but certainly would make a lovely option is Shaynkate, which is from the Yiddish word for “beauty.” Technically a masculine Yiddish form would be Shayn, but there is no history of it ever being used as a given name for males among Jews.

    The name was not revived by Jewish American families till after the Second World War.

    It was borne by famous Journalist Shana Alexander (1925-2005).

    It is also borne by the daughter of Van Morrison, Shana Caledonia Morrison (b.1970 pictured upper left).

    Since Jewish families often took matriarchal surnames, (that is, surnames based off a of a feminine name versus a masculine name), it has spawned several common Jewish Surnames such as Scheindlin, Schonfeld, and the Polish Szejna. It is currently borne by Polish Minister of the European Parliament Andzej Jan Szejna and TV Personality and Judge Judy Scheindlin.

    The name has a very soft and pleasing feminine sound. Unfortunately, it has been mistaken as a trendy name by many name enthusiasts, and its history overlooked. Despite the misconception, the highest Shayna ever ranked in popularity was around 1991 at # 381. It currently comes in at # 978 (2008).

    Diminutive forms include Shayndel, Szejnusia, Shaynele, Shaynle and Shaynlin. More modern English diminutives are Shay, Shayne and Shayni.