Gunel

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Azeri/Turkish
Meaning: “day; sun”
(GEU-nel)

The name is derived from the Turkic gün meaning, (day, sun).

Turkish forms are Günel and Güneli.

Gunel is currently the 2nd most popular female name among the general population of Azerbaijan, (2011).

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Fidan

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Turkish
Meaning: “sapling.”
(fee-DAHN)

The name comes directly from the Turkic meaning “sapling; young tree.”

The name is currently the 4th most popular female name in Azerbaijan.

The name is exclusively feminine in both Azerbaijan and Turkey and always seems to have been used as a female given name, but in Albania it is a common male name. It is from the ancient Illyrian meaning “young tree” and does share the same etymology and roots as the Turkish as Illyrian was distantly related to Turkish.

Zahra

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic  زهراء ‎, زهرة ‎,
Meaning: “bright; shining; brilliant” or “flower blossom.”

The name could either be from the Arabic  زهراء (bright; shining; brilliant). This was used as an epithet for the prophet Mohammed’s daughter, Fatima.

Another possible derivative is that it is from the Arabic زهرة (flower blossom).

Currently, Zahra is the most popular female name in Azerbaijan (2010). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 2 (Iran, 2007)
  • # 2 (Zara, Malaysia, 2011)
  • # 7 (Zehra, Turkey, 2010)
  • # 74 (Zara, Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2010)
  • # 374 (France, 2009)
  • # 456 (Netherlands, 2010)

Other forms include:

  • Zahrah (Arabic)
  • Zara (Afghan/Albanian/Baloch/Bashkir/Bosnian/Chechen/Chuvash/Kazakh/Kyrgyz/Persian/Tatar/Tajik/Turkmen/Uzbek)
  • Zohra (Egyptian/Indian/Pakistani)
  • Zehra (Kurdish/Turkish)

Fatima

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic فاطمة
Meaning: “to abstain.”
Sp (FAH-tee-mah); Arab (FAH-TEE-MAH)

The name comes Arabic meaning “to abstain.”

It is an extremely popular name throughout the Islamic world, and is especially popular among Shia Muslims. It was borne by the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, who was also known as Fatima Zahra (Fatima the Illustrious).

Among Muslims, she is revered as an exemplar among women.

The name is also used among Portuguese and Spanish-speaking Christians in reference to a shrine in Portugal in which the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared. The name shares the same etymology as the town was named for a Moorish princess who converted to Christianity and was subsequently persecuted by her family.

Currently, its Turkic form of Fatma is the 3rd most popular female name in Azerbaijan, (2010). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 1 (Fatemah, Iran, 2007)
  • # 1 (Morocco, 2007)
  • # 1 (Pakistan)
  • # 1 (United Arab Emirates)
  • # 8 (Libya
  • # 13 (Fatma, Turkey, 2010)
  • # 38 (Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2010)
  • # 71 (Catalonia, 2010)
  • # 87 (Spain, 2010)
  • # 92 (Belgium, 2009)
  • # 211 (Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 255 (France, 2009)
  • # 270 (United States, 2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Fatima (Albanian/Arabic/Assyrian/Bosnian/Chechen/Chuvash/Cypriot/Egyptian/Indian/Kazakh/Kyrgyz/Lebanese/Moroccan/Pashtun/Syrian/Tajik/Tatar/Urdu/Uzbek)
  • Fatma (Algerian/Azeri/Moroccan/Senegalese/Tanzanian/Turkish/Zazaki)
  • Fadime (Azeri/Kurdish/Tunisian/Turkish)
  • Fatimə (Azeri)
  • Faḍma (Berber/Kabyle)
  • Fadumo (Ethiopian)
  • Fatimah (Indonesian/Javanese/Malaysian/Swahili)
  • Fatemah فاطمه (Persian)
  • Fátima (Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Faduma (Somali)
  • Fátímọ̀ (Yoruban)
  • Fatıma (Zazaki)

Milena

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Slavic Милена
Meaning: “dear; gracious.”
(mee-LEH-nah)

The name is derived from the Slavonic element mil meaning “gracious; dear.”

The name is used in virtually every Slavic speaking country, and is currently the most popular female name in Armenia. It is also used in Brazil, Spanish-speaking countries, German-speaking countries, Italy and Hungary.

The name was introduced into Italy when King Emmanuel III of Italy married Milena Vukotić (1847-1923).

Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 2 (Romansch-speaking Switzerland, 2010)
  • # 25 (Poland, 2010)
  • # 32 (Poland, Warsaw, 2010)
  • # 50 (Brazil, 2010)
  • # 54 (Argentina, 2009)
  • # 73 (Germany, 2011)
  • # 353 (Netherlands, 2010)

The Bulgarian masculine form is Milen Милен.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Miléna (Hungarian)
  • Milica (Croatian/Serbian)
  • Mileva (Serbian)
  • Mylyca (Ukrainian)

Ani

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Armenian Անի
Meaning: debated
(AH-nee)

The name was originally an Armenian short form of Anna, but is more likely used to refer to an ancient Armenian city.

Ani sits on the border of Armenia, in Turkey, it was the capital of Medieval Armenia, it was renown for its technological advancements and for its many religious sites, “the city of 1,000 Churches” is its nickname.

The city gets its name from another ancient Armenian city, Ani-Kamakh, and Ani was sometimes known as Khnamk. The etymology of the name is speculated, though, the German philologist and Armenian scholar, Johann Heinrich Hübschmann, believes that it is from the ancient Armenian infinitive verb, խնամել, (khnamel), meaning, “to take care of.”

In 1064, Ani lost its glory when it was sacked by its marauding Turkish neighbors.

Though Ani was also initially a pet form of Anna, its usage as an independent name may have caught on at the turn of the 20th-century, when interest in the ancient city was sparked after its excavation by Russian archeologists in 1892.

Another form is Annig.

Currently,  Ani is the 3rd most popular female name in Armenia, (2010) and the 3rd most popular in Georgia, (2011).

Ani ანი is also the first letter of the Georgian alphabet and is used as a female given name in Georgia.

The name is also used in Bulgaria.

Anna, Anne

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Biblical Hebrew
Meaning: “grace.”
(ANN; AHN). (ANN-uh; AHN-nah). (HANN-uh; HAHN-nah)

Anne is possibly one of the quintessential classic English and French female names. Prior to the 18th-century, it seems that every other girl born in England was either named Anne, Jane or Mary. There were several British and French queens who bore this simplistic moniker, including the ill fated Anne Boleyn, the mother of Elizabeth I. The history of Anne is rather long and complicated.

It was foremost popularized through the cult of St. Anne, a legendary figure who was said to be the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Christ.

In Brittany, the name became especially popular because it happened to coincide with the name of an ancient Celtic goddess, her cult being replaced by St. Anne’s. In fact, it was borne by one Breton Princess, Anne of Brittany.

The name was introduced into Britain by the French-Normans after the invasion in 1066. Previously, there had been a minor Saxon king named Anna, but in this case the name is related to the Saxon arn (eagle). Anna and Anne are still occasionally used as male given names in Friesland.

Other than the apocryphal saint, the name Anne can be traced directly back to the Bible. In the New Testament, it is the name of a prophetess who predicts the Crucifixion of Christ.

Anna (Αννα), is the Greek translation of the early Hebrew Channah חַנָּה, usually transliterated as Hannah, meaning “grace.”

Hannah is borne in the Old Testament by the faithful mother of the prophet, Samuel.

Hannah has always been popular among Jewish families, but was virtually unheard of among non-Jews before the Reformation, except in some cases where it may have been used as a diminutive form of Johanna, spelled Hanna.

It was the Byzantines who had introduced the Anna form to the world, making it popular throughout Eastern and Southern Europe. It was a very popular name among the Byzantine royal family and it was borne by the majestic Anna of Byzantium.

Anna may be the more melodic form of the bunch, but Anne’s minimalistic qualities are charming. Short, to the point, no frills. It’s not a bad name, though it does lack some spice, which is why parents are probably more attracted to its more exotic alternatives. In fact, Anne only comes in at # 608 in the top 1000 female names of the United States. It is safe to say, however, that she is very much loved in the middle name spot.

Anna is currently one of the most popular female names in Europe and abroad. Her rankings are as follows:

  • # 1 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 1 (Estonia, 2011)
  • # 2 (Hungary, 2010)
  • # 3 (Ana, Georgia, 2010)
  • # 3 (Iceland, 2010)
  • # 4 (Ana, Croatia, 2010)
  • # 4 (Czech Republic, 2010)
  • # 4 (Germany, 2011)
  • # 4 (Ukraine, 2010)
  • # 5 (Faroe Islands, 2010)
  • # 5 (Ana, Portugal, 2010)
  • # 6 (Armenia, 2010)
  • # 6 (Ane, Greenland, 2002-2003)
  • # 6 (Ana, Romania, 2009)
  • # 6 (Ana, Serbia, 2010)
  • # 7 (Latvia, 2011)
  • # 7 (Russia, 2011)
  • # 8 (German-speaking Switzerland, 2010)
  • # 9 (Denmark, 2011)
  • # 10 (Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 10 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 10 (Norway, 2010)
  • # 11 (Italy, 2010)
  • # 12 (Ireland, 2010)
  • # 14 (Poland, 2010)
  • # 16 (Catalonia, 2010)
  • # 26 (Canada, B.C., 2010)
  • # 28 (Italian-speaking Switzerland, 2010)
  • # 28 (United States, 2010)
  • # 29 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 40 (France, 2009)
  • # 46 (French-speaking Switzerland, 2010)
  • # 53 (Belgium, 2009)
  • # 63 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 71 (Australia, 2010)
  • # 81 (Sweden, 2010)
  • # 83 (Spain, 2010)
Other forms of the name include:
  • Anneen (Afrikaans/Low German)
  • Anna Анна (Afrikaans/Albanian/Armenian/Breton/Bulgarian/Catalan/Corsican/Czech/Dutch/English/Estonian/Faroese/Finnish/French/Frisian/German/Greek/Hungarian/Icelandic/Italian/Latvian/Limburgish/Maltese/Polish/Russian/Ukrainian/Scandinavian/Slovak)
  • Anne (Basque/Dutch/English/French/Scandinavian)
  • Gánna Га́нна (Belarusian)
  • Annaig (Breton)
  • Annick (Breton)
  • Maina (Breton)
  • Mannaig (Breton)
  • Mannick (Breton)
  • Naig (Breton)
  • Ana Ана ანა (Bulgarian/Croatian/Galician/Georgian/Lombard/Macedonian/Portuguese/Romanian/Samogaitian/Serbian/Slovene/Spanish/Venetian)
  • Jana (Croatian/Ladino)
  • Aneta (Czech/Polish/Samogaitian/Slovak)
  • Aina (Catalan)
  • Anica (Croatian/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Ane (Danish)
  • Anika (Danish)
  • Anneke (Dutch)
  • Anneken (Dutch)
  • Annika (Dutch/Finnish/German/Latvian/Scandinavian)
  • Anka (Dutch/Frisian/German)
  • An(n)ke (Dutch/Frisian)
  • Anouk (Dutch/French)
  • Ans (Dutch)
  • Enneke (Dutch)
  • Enneken (Dutch)
  • Anita (English/German/Polish/Spanish)
  • Annette (English/French/German)
  • Anissa (English)
  • Annelle/Annella (Estonian)
  • Anete (Estonian/Latvian)
  • Anett (Estonian)
  • Anu (Estonian)
  • Anni (Finnish)
  • Annikki (Finnish)
  • Anniina (Finnish)
  • Annukka (Finnish)
  • Niina (Finnish)
  • Anaïs (French/Provençal)
  • Annouche (French)
  • Ninette (French)
  • Ninon (French)
  • Ninouk (French)
  • Anje (Frisian)
  • Ankea (Frisian)
  • Antje (Frisian)
  • Antjen (Frisian)
  • Anute (Fruilian)
  • Anano (Georgian)
  • Annchen (German)
  • Annel (German)
  • Annele (German/Latvian)
  • Anneli(e) (German/Finnish/Swedish)
  • Annet (German)
  • Anina (German)
  • Anja (German/Slovene)
  • Anouschka (German/Italian/Russian)
  • Annaki (Greek)
  • Annoula (Greek)
  • Noula (Greek)
  • Anikó (Hungarian)
  • Annuska (Hungarian)
  • Panni (Hungarian)
  • Áine (Irish)
  • Ánna (Irish)
  • Annarella (Italian)
  • Annella (Italian)
  • Annetta (Italian)
  • Annettina (Italian)
  • Nona (Italian/Romansch)
  • Ance (Latvian)
  • Annija (Latvian)
  • Anninya (Latvian)
  • Ona (Lithuanian)
  • Annamma (Malayalam)
  • Annam (Malayalam)
  • Onnee (Manx)
  • Âone (Norman)
  • Aenna/Aenne (Old High German)
  • Annehe (Old High German)
  • Änna/Änne (Old High German)
  • Neta (Piedmontese)
  • Noto (Piedmontese)
  • Anke (Plattdeutsch)
  • Anneke(n) (Plattdeutsch)
  • Analia (Romansch/Spanish)
  • Annina (Romansch)
  • Annotta (Romansch)
  • Anca (Romanian)
  • Anicuta (Romanian)
  • Anėta (Samogaitian)
  • Anėkė (Samogaitian)
  • Annag (Scottish)
  • Ghianna (Sicilian)
  • Janna (Sicilian)
  • Nanna (Sicilian)
  • Anniken (Swedish)
  • Ann (Welsh)
  • Nan (Welsh)
  • Nanno (Welsh)
  • Nanw (Welsh)
  • Aana (Wolof)
As for the Hannah forms

Hanna without an H is the prefered form on Continental Europe, usually pronounced (HAHN-nah) and in French like Anna. Hanna and Hanne (HAHN-neh) are also used as diminutive forms of Johanna/Johanne in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany. There is the Hungarian Hajna pronounced (HOY-no). The Czech/Slovak form of Hana nickname Hanka. There are the Yiddish forms of Heyna, Hayna, Hejna (all pronounced like HAY-nah) including the diminutive forms of HenaHende, Hendel and Henye.  The Polish diminutive form of Hania, which might make an interesting alternative to Anya or Hannah. Hannah, Hanna and Henna are all used in the Middle East.

Of course, how could we ever forget the popular diminutive forms of Annie and Nan.