Camilla, a little stodgy, a little dramatic, and a little British nobility, most of the English speaking world would probably associate her with Camilla Parker-Bowles, now the legitimate wife to Prince Charles.
Then we have Camille, a classy French feminine name that brings to mind pastellic landscapes and Claude Monet, but wait, Camille is actually a masculine name!
The origins of Camilla goes back to the very foundations of Rome itself.
In Roman mythology, Camilla of the Volsci was a pre-Roman princess. Her father, Metabus, was deposed by his own people; running for his life, along with his infant daughter, he tied Camilla to a spear and consecrated her to the goddess Diana, in hopes that the goddess would intercede for his only child’s life. In exchange, he promised that Camilla would be Diana’s loyal servant and forever remain a virgin in the goddess’ honour. Attached to the spear, Metabus threw Camilla to the otherside of the River Amasenus, and Camilla survived unscathed.
In Virgil’s the Aeneid, it is confirmed that Camilla is the loyal servant of Diana, but also a great warrior. It is said that she is so swift, that she can run across a body of water without getting her feet wet. She allied herself with the other pre-Roman peoples in order to defeat the Trojans who had recently taken refuge in Rome and were gradually taking power.Camilla was killed by Arruns in battle, and Diana in rage had another servant of hers, Opis, kill Arruns to avenge Camilla’s death.
In later years, Camilla became a Roman cognomen being masculinized to Camillus. The exact origins and meaning of the name are unclear. It is believed that it is of Etruscan origins and that its meaning has been lost to history.
In France, Camille was a male name, (and still is considered a male name but has recently become more common on females). It wasn’t until the turn of the century that its usage on females arose. In France’s top 100 female names of 2006, Camille came in at # 7. Even so, for the sake of policy, this blog will list Camille as a masculine name.
Notable males with this include, Camille Saint-Saëns, a famous composer. Camille Nimr Chamoun, former president of Lebanon. Nicholas Camille Flammarion, a French astrononomer. Camille Desmoulins, a close associate of Georges Danton, (he was a journalist who played a role in the French Revolution), as well as French impressionist painter, Camille Passarro.
Its notable female bearers cannot go unignored. It was borne by French sculptor, Camille Claudel, and it is also borne by American feminist, Camille Paglia.
Camilla has other masculine forms. In Polish and Czech it is Kamil (kah-MEEL) and it is fairly popular name in both countries, as is its feminine counterpart, Kamila.
Lebanese Christians also favor this name because it works well in the Arabic language, yet fits into the edicts of their faith. While St. Camillus de Lellis, (whose feast day is July 14), is a popular Catholic saint, Kamil also coincides with the Arabic word meaning “whole; complete; or perfect,” so for many Middle Eastern Christians, its a 2-for-1 name.
There is also the Italian male form of Camillo and the Spanish Camilo.
Camellia is often times seen as a cognate of Camilla. Its actually a botanical name that really has no etymological relations to the ancient name. It was named for botanist Rev. George Joseph Kamel.
Other forms of the name include:
- Kamilia (Bielorusian)
- Kamila (Bosnian/Czech/Slovak/Polish)
- Camilla (Danish/English/German/Italian/Latin/Norwegian/Swedish)
- Kamilla (Finnish/Icelandic/Hungarian)
- Kamilė (Lithuanian)
- Kamilija (Lithuanian)
- Kamilijana/Kamilijona (Lithuanian)
- Camila (Spanish/Portuguese)
Masculine forms include:
- Kamil (Czech/German/Polish)
- Camille (French)
- Kamill/Kamilló (Hungarian)
- Camillo (Italian)
- Camillus (Latin)
- Kamilas/Kamilis (Lithuanian)
- Kamilijus (Lithuanin)
- Camilo (Spanish/Portuguese)
Possible nickname options are Cammie, Cam, Milla, and Millie.