Noël, Noëlle

Origin: French
Meaning: Christmas
Fre masc. (no-EL); Eng masc (NOLE)
Fre/Eng Fem. (no-EL)

The name comes directly from the French word for Christmas, noël, which in itself, is the Old French form of the Latin nael. It is commonly believed to be related to the Latin, natalis, meaning “birth”, but Irish linguist, Charles Vallencey, has proposed that the etymology may be from the Hebrew word nolah, (composed of the Hebrew letters nuwn, waw, lamed and he), which would mean “to bring forth young.” Subsequently the Irish word for December, Mi Nolagh, (literally meaning the “month of the newborn”) and the Irish word for Christmas, nolagh, is related to the French word noël.

Nolagh, (NOH-lahg), is used as a feminine given name in Ireland, usually a cognate of Natalie or Noëlle, it was usually bestowed on girls born around the Christmas season.

In France, Noël is traditionally bestowed on baby boys born on Christmas or around Christmas, while Noëlle is its feminine version. In the English speaking world, it did not catch on as name till around the 19th-century, but noel was a word often used interchangeably with Christmas, sometimes spelled nowell.

A Spanish corruption of the French is Noelia, Noelina and the masculine version, Noelino. An Old French diminutive form, which is currently rising in popularity in France, is the feminine Noéline. There are a few obscure Provençal and Occitanian forms: Nadal and Nadau and the feminine Nadaleta, and there is Calendau, which means “Christmas” in both languages.

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