Gender: Masculine
Origin: Dutch

The name was originally a diminutive form of Alexander, now used exclusively as an independent given name. As of 2008, Senne was the 32nd most popular male name in Belgium, while its feminine form of Senna, was the 45th most popular female name in the Netherlands, (2010).


Gender: Masculine
Origin: English

The name is a short form of Alexander, now used exclusively as an independent given name, it was brought to the spotlight via the TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), in which one of the main characters is named Xander.

As of 2008, Xander was the 45th most popular male name in Belgium. His rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 183 (Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 253 (United States, 2010)

A feminine form is Xandra.

Basque Names….just a Subcategory of Spanish Names?

This weeks International Name Over View will focus on Basque Names.

The Basque are an ethnic group that inhabit the Pyrenees of Northwestern Spain and the bordering region of Southern France. Their language has yet to be categorized, often a topic of hot debate among Linguists. While some theorists have connected Basque from Georgian to Etruscan, the most widely accepted consensus is that Basque is closely related to the now extinct Aquitanian (spoken in France). It is in fact an indigenous European language. That is, it is not related to any of the Indo-European languages. It is considered an Isolate Language and it was most likely spoken in Europe long before the mass migration of the Indos.

Though either French or Spanish citizens, the Basque are fiercely proud of their language and culture. In the last century, there has been a strong push for autonomy. The Basque have fought hard to keep their language alive, most recently fighting oppression during the Franco regime, and are currently experiencing a revival. The Basque language is spoken by approximately 665,800 people. Not a lot, but believe it or not, the Basque and their language have actually left an impact in Spanish and even English.

Some of the more common Spanish surnames seen among Spanish-speakers are actually of Basque and not of Spanish origin. For example: Aldana, Loyola and Zuñiga.

Since the Basque were valuable in shepherding, fishing and mercantilism, a vast population of them immigrated to the Americas, leaving their imprint on modern Hispanic culture.

The country of Chile boasts Basque as their largest European ethnic group. The largest Basque-American population resides in Boise, Idaho. A fair amount of the Mexican population can claim Basque heritage to some extent.

As a result, several place names throughout the Americas are Basque, like Durango (Mexico), Nuevo Santander, (Mexico), Jalapa (Guatemala) and it is even argued that Arizona is derived from the Basque elements, aritz ona meaning “good oak.”

Our very own Xavier, which appears in the U.S. top 100 most popular male names was inspired by a Basque surname. Its usage as a given name was popularized by the notoriety of the Basque saint, Francis Xavier. Another notable Basque Saint is Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.

One of the ways that the Basque people have expressed their culture is through their first names. The Basque have a unique array of names, one feature that seems unique among them is their usage of place names. Unlike Anglo-phone parents who tend to use place names because of “cuteness”  or sonority, the Basque use place names due to religious significance. Basque culture has a strong emphasis on Catholicism, so any place or thing associated with the Virgin Mary is often used as a given name.

For a good idea of what the Basque in Spain are currently naming their children, check out the Top 10 listed below:

Top 10 Male Names in Basque Country, Spain 2008











Top 10 Female Names in the Basque Country, Spain 2008











Mikel, Pablo, Adrián, Iñaki, Sara, María, Ane, Lucía and Paula are all derived from Biblical or saints names.

Aitor (good fathers) is a name taken from Basque folklore, he is believed to have been the first man and the progenitor of the Basque people.

Iker is the vernacular form of Visitación, an unusual Spanish name used in reference to the Virgin Mary (Our Lady of the Visitation). This is the same case with the female Irati, which is a place-name associated with a shrine to the Virgin Mary, which literally means “fern field”; and Uxue taken from the name of a Catholic shrine, but is also associated with the Basque word for dove. Ainhoa is a religious place-name name and even appears in the Spanish Top 100, coming in as the 31st most popular female name in all of Spain. Aitana is a Spanish place-name of unknown meaning. Leyre is the Spanish form of Leire, the name of a place in the Basque country associated with a Catholic monastery.

Nahia is from a Basque word meaning, “wish; desire.”

Unai is an indigenous Basque name with no Spanish or English equivalent, meaning “cowherd.”

Asier is from the Basque hasiera meaning “beginning.”

I have yet to find any information on Aimar, but subsequent searches led me to several notable Basque bearers, so I am assuming that he is Basque too. If anyone has anymore info on him, please step forward 🙂

You might be one of the many Latinas or Americans who claim Basque heritage, or perhaps you are just looking for a cool and different name that is actually legitimate. Below are a list of names I have compiled for the Anglo-phone parent. Basque names that would be easy for an English-speaking child to wear. Enjoy 🙂

Easy to say Basque alternatives to common English names

Instead of Caitlin try Catalin

Instead of Emma try out Ama

Instead of Madison or Madelyn, you might like Maialen or Malen

Like Olivia, try Olaria

Loving Ella, then you might like Elaia (swallow)

Considering Hannah well you just might like Oihana (forest)

Like Nevaeh check out Nerea

Here is a selection of Basque names compatible with English:


  • Alaia (joyful; happy)
  • Amaia (end)
  • Elixane (Elise)
  • Esti (Sweet; honey)
  • Garden (transparent; clear)
  • Julene (Juliana)
  • Katerin (Catherine)
  • Lilura (enchantment)
  • Lorea (flower)
  • Maia (Maddie)
  • Miren (Mary)
  • Naiara
  • Nora
  • Oria
  • Pauli
  • Semera
  • Zerran
  • Zilia


  • Adon
  • Bingen (Vincent)
  • Denis (Dennis)
  • Eder (beautiful)
  • Erroman (Raymond)
  • Gabon (Christmas)
  • Harri (rock)
  • Hartz (Bear)
  • Igon (Ascension)
  • Jurdan (Jordan)
  • Kelemen (Clement)
  • Kemen (Strength)
  • Lain
  • Luken (Luke)
  • Manex (John)
  • Zorion (happy)

Basque Equivalents to Common English Given Names


  • Alize (Alice)
  • Ane (Anna)
  • Elixabete (Elizabeth)
  • Estebeni (Stephanie)
  • Fede (Faith)
  • Gartxene (Grace)
  • Itxaro (Hope)
  • Kalare (Claire)
  • Lili (Lily)
  • Mikele (Michaela)
  • Mixtoleta (Poppy)
  • Nikole (Nicole)
  • Hirune/Irune (Trinity)
  • Udane (Summer)
  • Udazken (Autumn)


  • Adame (Adam)
  • Alesander (Alexander)
  • Danel (Daniel)
  • Edorta (Edward)
  • Eli (Elias)
  • Gabirel (Gabriel)
  • Gilen (William)
  • Handi (Max)
  • Ixaka (Isaac)
  • Jakes (Jacob)
  • Jon (John)
  • Marz (Mark)
  • Nikola (Nicholas)
  • Txomin (Dominic)
  • Xabier (Xavier)
  • Xarles (Charles)

What are your favorite Basque names? Would you use any of the above?



Lithuanian Names

Each weekend I will do an installation of names from different categories. I would have liked to preferably do Saturday, but I was running late this week 😉

Lithuania  is a country that lies in Northeast Europe, bordering Poland, Latvia, Belarus and Kaliningrad.

Once the largest country in Europe (during the 17th-century), she now only consists of 3.3 million people, the majority of whom are Lithuanian by ethnicity.

I will not bore you with intricate details of Lithuania’s rich history, but to make a long story short, Lithuania has been occupied by Poland and Russia and has resisted German occupation several times. She was one of the last countries in Europe to accept Christianity as their official religion (circ. 1385) and in the Middle Ages, she formed a powerful commonwealth with Poland.

One of the most interesting features of Lithuania is their language. Lithuanian is considered one of the oldest and one of the most pure derivations of Indo-European. Famous French linguist, Antoine Meillet, once said that “anyone wishing to hear how Indo-Europeans spoke should come and listen to a Lithuanian peasant” (Antoine Meillet)

Since Lithuanian is thought to be the closest form of Proto-Indo-European in modern linguistics, linguists are able to compare modern Lithuanian words with Sanskrit. Some words are identical in both languages, for instance, sunus (son) >(Sanskrit; Lithuanian). Words that are almost identical but slightly different include: (LIT stands for Lithuanian while SKT stands for Sanskrit).

  • LIT dūmas; SKT dhumas  (smoke)
  • LIT vyras; SKT vira (man; hero)
  • LIT dantys; SKT dantas (teeth)
  • LIT naktys; SKT nakt (night)

Lithuanian masculine names are usually formed by ending in the suffix-as; -ys; -is while feminine names usually end in -a or

It is interesting to note that if one studies the top 10 most popular female names in Lithuania, there seems to be a strong preference for names that end in , compare that to the top 10 of a previous generation, where all the names had a tendency to end in an -a.

Top 10 Most Popular Female Names (Total Population, 2008)











Top 10 Most Popular Female Names (babies, 2009)











Janina is a definite Polish borrowing, something which is often seen in Lithuanian names. Irena, Ona, Kristina and Regina are all saints names, which would not be surprising to see in Catholic Lithuania, even during Soviet times. Names like Danutė, Lina, Aldona, Rasa and Daiva, are all native Lithuanian names with no English equivalents.

Danutė in particular is a classic that has been used at least since the 14th-century. It is a name of uncertain derivation, but is also found in Poland in the form of Danuta.

Aldona is another choice that has been in usage for centuries which is of uncertain meaning or origin. Some sources contend that it is an archaic Belarusian form of Eudocia.

Lina is the feminine form of Linas which comes directly from the Lithuanian word for “flax.” Rasa (dew) and Daiva (deity) are also Lithuanian word names.

Names from nature and Lithuanian mythology seem to be popular choices. Gabija and Austėja both reflect this (see the earlier entries for Gabija and Austėja-soon to come). Ugnė is pulled from nature, meaning “fire”, Viltė is from the Lithuanian word for hope and Goda seems to be a name related to an action, possibly derived from the Lithuanian verb godyti meaning “to anticipate.”

Emilija (Emily), Kamilė (Camilla), Ieva (Eve), Urtė (Dorothy) and Gabrielė (Gabriella) are all Lithuanian equivalents to a saint’s name or a Biblical name.

Since Lithuanians are fiercely proud of their language and culture, it is no wonder that they have a tendency to choose names that are distinctively Lithuanian, unlike other EU members who currently have a tendency to pick names that do not reflect a particular language of origin, as can be reflected in the Top Names of other countries.

Some of the most popular masculine names include, (when possible, equivalents are in parenthesis):

Top 10 Male Names (total population, 2008)

Jonas (John)


Antanas (Anthony)

Tomas (Thomas)

Juozas (Joseph)




Andrius (Andrew)


Top Ten Male Names (for babies, 2009)

Matas (Mathias)

Lukas (Lucas)


Kajus (Caius)

Dovydas (David)

Dominykas (Dominic)


Rokas (Rock)



Catholic saints names are definitely more preferred for males, still, names like Vytautas, Mantas, Nojus, Mindaugas and Kęstutis are very ancient Lithuanian names with no equivalents in any other language.

Since I am most likely writing to an Anglo-phone audience, you must be wondering if there are any authentic Lithuanian names compatible with the English language. Many parents are often on the look out for unique and unusual names, and Lithuanian names definitely have hundreds of possibilities to offer, some however, might be a pain in the neck for English speakers to pronounce, others, on the other hand, should be given consideration.

I have compiled a list of cool but similar alternatives of very popular names in North American and the United Kingdom

Instead of Madison/Madeleine go with Medeina

Instead of Ava go with Aiva (I-vah)

Instead of Chloe try Chloja (KLOY-a)

Instead of Samantha you might like Mantė (MAHN-tay; MAHN-te)

Instead of Grace you might like Gražina (grah-ZHIH-nah)

Instead of Gabriella try Gabija.

Instead of Audrey try Audra.

Instead of Miley try Meilė

Instead of Esme try Esmilė

Instead of Lily you might like Lelija (LEH-lee-yah)

Instead of Maximilian try Maksas

Finally, if you are one who is infatuated with Nevaeh and are daring enough to constantly correct people, then you might like the Lithuanian Danguolė (heaven; sky).

In the United Kingdom and the States, nature names seem to be on the rise, some parents may like the idea of using a word name, but are not daring enough to choose an obvious one. Choosing a word name from another language is a good way to hide the obviousness of a name from nature. Here is a selection of Lithuanian nature names that should not pose a problem with English-speakers:


Indrė (name of a type of rush)

Lina (flax)

Mėta (mint)

Rasa (dew)

Svalia (name of a river)

Vaiva (rainbow)

Vėtra (tempest)


Aras (eagle)

Joris (foliage green)

Tauras (Ox)

Vėjas (wind)

Names compatible with English:

















And finally, here are some Lithuanian equivalents to common English given names:

























What are your favorite Lithuanian names? Would you use any in the above list?

Stay tuned for next weeks International Name Overview


Alexander, Alexandra

Origin: Greek
Meaning: “defender of man.”

The name is composed of the Greek elements, ἀλέξω (alexos), meaning “to defend; to help” and the genitive Greek noun, ἀνδρός (andros) “belonging to man.” Hence, the name would roughly translate as “defender of man” or “helper of man.”

The name is extremely ancient, and possibly, even pre-Hellenistic, the oldest record of the name dates back to the Mycenean period, where the feminine form of Alexandra, is found written in Linear B.

In Greek mythology, Alexander was another name used for the hero, Paris and Alexandra was used as an epithet for the goddess, Hera.

The name is also found several times in the Bible and the most famous bearer in history has to possibly be attributed to Alexander the Great, a 4th-century Greek emperor who expanded his empire as far away as Asia, spreading his fame and his name.

Later the name was borne by several saints and kings throughout Europe, including Tsar Alexander I of Russia.

Currently, Alexander is the 6th most popular male name for boys in the United States, (2008), the lowest that Alexander ever ranked in U.S. naming history was in 1959, coming in at # 233.

In other countries, his rankings are as follows:

  • # 19 (Australia, 2008)
  • # 8 (Austria, 2008)
  • # 37 (Belgium, 2006)
  • # 3 (Bulgaria, 2008)
  • # 14 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
  • # 44 (Chile, 2006)
  • # 19 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • # 1 (Estonia, 2007)
  • # 9 (Finland, among Finnish-speakers)
  • # 99 (Hungary, 2008)
  • # 5 (Iceland, 2004-2007)
  • # 5 (Isle of Man, 2008)
  • # 2  Alessandro (Italy, 2007)
  • # 4 Alecsander/Alessandro (Liechtenstein, 2008)
  • # 1 Aleksander (Macedonia, 2006)
  • # 5  Alejandro (Mexico, 2008)
  • # 97 (the Netherlands, 2008)
  • # 10 (Norway, 2008)
  • # 14 Aleksander (Poland, Warsaw, 2009)
  • # 2 Alexandru (Romania, 2008)
  • # 1  (Russia, Moscow, 2007)
  • # 11 (Scotland, 2008)
  • # 2 Alejandro (Spain, 2008)
  • # 2 Àlex (Spain, Catalonia, 2008)
  • # 6 (Sweden, 2008)
  • # 1 Alessandro (Switzerland, among Italian-speakers, 2008)

Other forms of Alexander include:

  • Aleksandër/Sandër/Skënder (Albanian: Aleko, Aleks, Leka, Lekë, Leksi and Leks are diminutive forms)
  • Eskender (Amharic/Ethiopian)
  • Iskander الاسكندر / اسكندر (Arabic)
  • Alixandre (Aragonese)
  • Aleksandr/Alexandr Ալեքսանդր (Armenian)
  • Aleksan/Alexan Ալեքսան (Armenian)
  • Aleq/Alik Ալեք/ Ալիկ (Armenian: originally diminutive forms, now used as independent given names)
  • Alexandru (Asturian/Romanian)
  • İsgəndər (Azeri)
  • Alakshendra/Alekzandar (Bangali)
  • Iskandar/Skandar (Bangali)
  • Iskәndәr Искәндәр (Bashkir)
  • Alesander (Basque)
  • Aliaksandr Аляксандp (Belarusian: Aleś Алeсь is usually the diminutive form)
  • Alaksander Аляксандаp (Belarusian: Tarashkevitsa spelling)
  • Aleksandar (Bosnian/Croatian: Saša is the diminutive form)
  • Aleksandar Александър (Bulgarian: Sasho Сашо and Aleks Aлекс are the diminutives)
  • Alexandre/Àlex/Xandre (Catalan/Galician)
  • Lisandru (Corsican/Lombard)
  • Alexandr (Czech)
  • Alexander (Czech/Dutch/English/Estonian/German/Icelandic/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Alexander/Aleksander (Danish)
  • Xander (English)
  • Sander (Dutch/Estonian/Norwegian: contracted form)
  • Aleksander (Estonian)
  • Alejandru (Extrumaduran: a dialect of Spanish)
  • Aleksandur (Faroese)
  • Aleksanteri (Finnish)
  • Santeri/Santtu (Finnish: contracted forms)
  • Alexandre (French)
  • Aleksander (Frisian)
  • Alexandré/Aleksandre ალექსანდრე (Georgian)
  • Aleko ალეკო/Lexo ლექსო (Georgian: contracted forms)
  • Aléxandros Αλέξανδρος (Greek: Modern)
  • Alakshendra अलक्षेन्द्र (Hindi)
  • Sándor (Hungarian)
  • Iskandar (Indonesian/Malay)
  • Alasandar/Alastar/Alsander (Irish-Gaelic)
  • Alessandro (Italian: Ale is a diminutive form)
  • Alessandrino (Italian: obscure)
  • Sandro (Italian: a diminutive form now used exclusively as an independent given name)
  • Sandrino (Italian: originally a diminutive form, used as an independent given name, obscure)
  • Askander/Eskander/Îskenderê (Kurdish)
  • İskender Искендер (Kyrgyz)
  • Aleksandrs (Latvian)
  • Alexandrus (Latin)
  • Aleksandras (Lithuanian)
  • Lisandor (Lombard)
  • Aleksandar Александар (Macedonian: Alek Алек, Atse Аце, Atso Ацо and Sasho Сашо are diminutive forms)
  • Chandy ചാണ്ടി (Malayalam)
  • Lixandru (Maltese)
  • Alxandre (Mirandese: a dialect of Portuguese)
  • Aleksandr/Alexandr Алєѯандръ (Old Church Slavonic)
  • Sikandar سکندر (Persian)
  • Aleksander (Polish: more common form, diminutives include, Alek, Aleks and Olek.)
  • Oleksander (Polish: archaic form)
  • Alexandre (Portuguese)
  • Alexandro (Portuguese: obscure)
  • Alesch (Romansch)
  • Alexi (Romansch)
  • Aleksandr Александр (Russian: diminutive forms include: Alik Алик, Sasha Саша, Sashka Сашка, Sashok Сашок, Sashkin Сашкин, Shura Шура, Shurik Шурик and Sanyok Санёк )
  • Alasdair/Alastair/Alistair/Alisdair/Aldair (Scotch-Gaelic)
  • Aleksandar Александар (Serbian: Aca Аца, Aleks Алекс, Sale Сале, and Saša Саша are diminutives)
  • Alessandru (Sardinian)
  • Alissandru (Sicilian)
  • Lisciànniru/Lisciànnuru/Lisciànnaru (Sicilian)
  • Aleksander (Slovene: Aleks, Sandi and Sašo are the diminutives)
  • Alejandro (Spanish: Alejo, Alex, Jano and Jandro are the diminutive forms)
  • Aleksandar (Tamil)
  • İskender (Turkish)
  • Olexandr/Oleksandr Олександр (Ukrainian: Oles Олесь and Sashko Сашко are the diminutives)
  • Iskandar (Uzbek)
  • Alecsander (Welsh)
  • Sender/Senderl סענדער (Yiddish)

As for its feminine form, it has also been borne by several monarchs and saints throughout history. Currently, she is the 61st most popular female name in the United States, the highest she ranked was at # 26 in 1995-1996, the lowest she ever ranked was in 1936 coming in as the 991st most popular female name. Her rankings in other countries is as follows:

  • # 74 (Australia, 2007)
  • # 5 (Bulgaria, 2008)
  • # 53 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
  • # 45 (Chile, 2006)
  • # 90 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • # 21 (Hungary, 2008)
  • # 67 (Ireland, 2007)
  • # 7 (Macedonia, 2006)
  • # 397 (the Netherlands, 2008)
  • # 99 (Norway, 2007)
  • # 8 Aleksandra (Poland, 2oo8)
  • # 4 (Romania, 2008)
  • # 77 (Sweden, 2007)

Alexandra has also spun off Sandra, which is currently the 7th most popular female name in Estonia, and ranks in as the # 441st most popular female name in the United States.

In the United States, the highest she peaked was in 1947, coming in as the 5th most popular female name. Sandy is the preferred pet form.

In other countries, her rankings are as follows:

  • # 58 (Norway, 2008)
  • # 30 (Spain, 2006)

Its more elaborated version of Alexandria, currently ranks in as the 189th most popular female name in the United States (2008).

Other forms of Alexandra include:

  • Aleksandra Александра (Bulgarian/Croatian/Estonian/Polish/Russian/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Aleksandrina Александрина (Bulgarian/Russian)
  • Alexandra (Catalan/Czech/Dutch/English/French/German/Greek/Hungarian/Portuguese/Romanian/Scandinavian/Slovak)
  • Alexandrine (Danish/French/German)
  • Sandra (Dutch/English/Finnish/German/Italian/Latvian/Lithuanian/Portuguese/Scandinavian/Slovene)
  • Xandra (Dutch)
  • Alexandria (English/German)
  • Alexandrina (English: the first name of Queen Victoria)
  • Sandrine (French)
  • Szandra (Hungarian)
  • Alessandra (Italian)
  • Alessandrina (Italian)
  • Sandrina (Italian/Spanish)
  • Lisandra (Maltese)
  • Alexandreina (Romanian)
  • Sanda (Romanian/Croatian)
  • Alastríona/Alastrina (Scotch-Gaelic)
  • Alissandra (Sicilian)
  • Alejandra (Spanish)
  • Oleksandra Олександра (Romanian)

Common English diminutive forms for both genders are Alex, Lex, and Sandy. For males, Ander, Andy and Xander, for females, Alexa, Lexa, Lexie, Sandra and Xandra.

The designated name-days for Alexander are: February 27 (Slovakia), November 19 (Russia) and December 12 (Sweden).

The designated name-days for Alexandra are: April 21st (Czech Republic), May 6/31 (Russia), May 18 (Hungary), June 23 (Russia), August 30 (Greece), Janury 2nd (Slovakia) and February 17 (Sweden)

A Hungarian male diminutive is Sanyi.

Polish diminutives are: Ola, Olka and Olusia.

In Russian, common unisexual diminutives, are Sasha and Shura. Popular feminine diminutives are: Lesya Леся,

A Romanian male diminutive form is Sandu.

An obscure Scottish male diminutive is Sawney.