Nova

NovaOrigin: Latin
Meaning: “new”
Gender: Feminine
(NOH-vah)

The name comes directly from the Latin word nova (new). As a given-name, it has been used in Scandinavia, Hungary, France, Quebec, and England since at least the 18th-century. It became even more widespread in the 19th-century. Its use as a given-name in Scandinavia may have been kicked off by Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) when he first described the various types of stars known as novas.

Several baby name sites have listed this name as unisex, though possible, I cannot find any historical records indicating this name was ever used on males. Perhaps this confusion stems from its similarity to the male name Noah.

Nova also occurs as a place name of numerous locations throughout the Western World.

In the United States, the name entered the U.S. Top 1000 in 2011 and has risen exponentially since. As of 2016, Nova was the 136th most popular female name, jumping several hundred spots since its inception in 2011 when it was the 886th most popular female name. In the Netherlands and Sweden, it is among the most popular female names, ranking in at #23 (Netherlands, 2017) and #31 (Sweden 2017).

In the UK, Nova was the 400th most popular female name (2016).

Other forms include:

  • Noova (Greenladic)
  • Nowa (Swedish)

Sources

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Zara

ZaraThe name has recently become a success in several countries, from England to Turkey, it has several possible derivatives and meanings.

Its English use may have been inspired by the Voltaire play, Zara (1732) (Zaïre in French) which may have been a French corruption of the Arabic female name, Zahra. The play recounts the exploits of a Christian woman named Zara or Zaïre, who is enslaved by Muslims. The name became extremely popular in the U.K. after Princess Anne chose this name for her daughter, Zara Phillips (b.1981).

Alternately, the name has recently become popular in many Slavic countries. It is probably a borrowing from the Bulgarian hypochoristic form of Zaharina (a feminine form of Zachary) or it may be from an Old Slavonic element, žar (fervor, ardor, ember).

Zara currently ranks in several countries’ top female names. Her rankings across the world are as follows:

  • #11 (Malaysia, 2016)
  • #22 (Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2016)
  • #23 (Australia, 2017)
  • #38 (New Zealand, 2016)
  • #40 (Scotland, 2016)
  • #46 (Slovenia, 2016)
  • #56 (Ireland, 2016)
  • #68 (England/Wales, 2016)
  • #197 (Netherlands, 2016)
  • #318 (United States, 2016)

Zara is also the name of a clothing store.

Sources

Iris

IrisOrigin: Greek Ιρις
Meaning: “rainbow”
Gender: Feminine

The name is derived from the Greek “Îris (Ἶρις) Írídos (ίρίδος) “rainbow” and is borne in Greek mythology by the goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the Olympian gods. It later became associated with the body part, the flower, and a colour, all of which were named for the Greek goddess.

In recent years, the name has experienced a surge in popularity in several countries. Its rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • #21 (Iceland 2017, Íris)
  • #25 (Portugal, 2016, Íris)
  • #31 (Sweden, 2017)
  • #32 (France, Paris, 2016)
  • #56 (Catalonia, 2016)
  • #73 (Spain, 2016)
  • #84 (England/Wales, 2016)
  • #85 (Netherlands, 2017)
  • #85 (Slovenia, 2016)
  • #116 (Norway, 2016)
  • #121 (France, entire country, 2016)
  • #186 (United States, 2016)
  • #199 (Scotland, 2016)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Iris Ирис Իրիս (Armenian/Bulgarian/Catalan/Czech/Danish/Dutch/English/Estonian/Finnish/French/German/Greek/Italian/Serbo-Croatian/Norwegian/Polish/Romanian/Slovenian/Spanish/Swedish)
  • Iryda Ірыда (Belarusian/Polish)
  • Irida Ирида (Bulgarian/Croatian/Greek/Italian/Russian/Serbian)
  • Iiku (Finnish)
  • Iiri (Finnish)
  • Iiris (Finnish)
  • Írisz (Hungarian)
  • Íris (Icelandic/Portuguese/Slovak)
  • Iride (Italian)
  • Iridė (Lithuanian)
  • Yryda Ирида (Ukrainian)

Sources

 

Loki

LokiOrigin: Old Norse
Meaning: debated
Gender: Masculine
(LOH-kee)

From the name of the trickster god in Norse mythology, Loki was the ultimate pranksters whose pranks always ended up going terribly awry, his biggest blunder being the death of the god Baldur. In Norse legend, Loki’s associations were sometimes neutral to downright evil. Despite this, Loki never had a bad enough connotation to deter Nordic parents, medieval and modern, from using his name on their offspring.

The meaning of the name itself is rather contested. The following possibilities in a nutshell include:

  • from the Old Norse Logi (flame)
  • from an Old Germanic root word *luk, which denotes anything related to knots, locks and anything enclosed/compare to the Old Norse verb loka (to lock; to close; to end”; and the Old Norse verb loki (to loop onthe end).
  • There may be a link with the Old Norse loptr (air).
  • from the Old Norse lok (cover, lid; end)

Loki has made it into the UK’s Top 500 male names, while its modern Scandinavian form of Loke is still a popular choice in Nordic countries.

In 2016, Loki was the 452nd most popular male name in England/Wales, while Loke is the 58th most popular name in Sweden (2017).

Other forms include:

  • Loke (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Loki (English/Faroese/Finnish/German/Icelandic/Old Norse)

It should be noted that this was the name of the wife of German Chancelor, Helmut Schmidt, Loki Schmidt (borne Hannelore Schmidt (1919-2010). In this case, Loki seems to have been a childhood nickname that developed from a child’s mispronunciation of Hannelore.

Sources

Anneliese, Annelies, Annalise

Anneliese (1)Origin: German
Meaning: combo of Anna + Liese
Gender: Feminine
Eng. (AN-ne-LEES); Germ. (AH-neh-LEE-zeh; AHN-ne-LEES)

The name is a combination of Anne/Anna and Liese (a diminutive form of Elisabeth) and is mainly used in German-speaking countries, but its usage has spread to the Dutch, Scandinavians and English-speakers as well.

In Germany, Anneliese is the title of a popular carnival folk song written by Hans Arno Simon.

Annelies was the full first name of Anne Frank (1929-1945).

Anneliese has appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 only 1 time, in 2005, coming in as the 915th most popular female name. In France, Anneliese appeared in the French top 1000 between 1941 and 1954, peaking at #194 in 1942. In Switzerland, it was the 97th most popular female name in 1937.

In its home country of Germany, Anneliese peaked in popularity in 1918, coming in as the 11th most popular female name.

Its Danish form of Annalise has feared better in the United States, it has appeared in the Top 1000 between 2000-2016 and peaked at #405 in 2016. Annalise has been in out of the British top 500 since 1997. It peaked in popularity in 2001, coming in at #321.

Other forms and languages of use include:

  • Anelisa (Danish/Finnish/Swedish)
  • Annalise (Danish/English/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Annalis (Danish/Swedish)
  • Annelise (Danish/English/French/German/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Anne-Lise (Danish/French/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Anneliese (Dutch/English/French/German)
  • Annelies (Dutch/German)
  • Annelieze (Dutch)
  • Annliss (Faroese/Swedish)
  • Anna-Liisa/Annaliisa (Finnish)
  • Anuliisa (Finnish)
  • Anneliss (German)
  • Annelis (German)
  • Annalîsa (Greenlandic)
  • Annalísa (Icelandic)
  • Annalisa (Italian)
  • Analisa (Spanish/Swedish)
  • Analiza (Spanish/Swedish)
  • Anelise (Spanish-Latin American)

Sources

Taj

TajThe name can have two different etymologies, the most obvious, pronounced (TAHZH) is from the Arabic word for crown as in the Taj Mahal. Another source, pronounced (TYE) is from the Scandianavian diminutive form of Tage.

In recent years, its Arabic form became somewhat popular outside the Islamic world in Australia and the United States, among people of various ethnic backgrounds. In Australia, Taj made an appearance in the Top 100 in 2008, coming in as the 89th most popular male name. In the United States, Taj only appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 2 times, in 1976 and again in 1998, peaking at a meager #952 in 1998.

The Scandianvian Taj currently ranks as the 64th most popular male name in Slovenia (2016).

Katia, Katja, Katya

KatiaThe name is a Russian diminutive form of Ekaterina and spun off as a well-established independent given name across Western Europe. In Russian, this is the equivalent of Katie.

In France, Katia appeared among the Top 100 most popular female names between 1968 and 1979. Katia peaked at #42 in 1970. As of 2018, the name has not been in the French Top 1000 since 2004. Likewise, in Italy, it appeared in the Top 200 Most Popular Female Names between 1999 and 2007 and peaked at #141 in 1999. While in the United States, Katia appeared in the Top 1000 between 1996 and 2001 and peaked in 1996 at #772.

In the 1980s, Katja became extremely popular in Northern Europe, especially in Germany and Scandinavian countries.

In English, the name is sometime transliterated as Katya.

Its latinate form of Catia is occassionally used in Italy, Romania, Portuguese-Speaking and Spanish-speaking countries. Cátia and Kátia is used in Brazil.

As an independent given name, it is seldom used in Russia.

Countries/Languages in which Katia is in use: Bulgarian, Danish, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish.

Countries/Languages in which Katja is in use: Bosnian, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, German, Latvian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Serbian, Slovenian, Swedish

Sources

Adiel

Adiel (1)Origin: Biblical Hebrew
Meaning: debated; most likely “ornament/jewel of God.”
Gender: Masculine
(AH-dee-el; ENG. AY-dee-el)

This is the name of 3 minor characters in the Bible, one is the name of the father of Maasai, a Cohen (or Jewish priest), the other is the name of the head of the tribe of Simeon, and the 3rd is the father of Azmaveth who was a treasurer under King David. All of the aforementioned appear in the Book of Chronicles.

As for its meaning, it has traditionally been believed to mean “ornament of God; jewel of God,” being composed of the Hebrew (עדה) adi meaning “ornament” or “jewel” and  אל (‘el) pertaining to elohim. However, the  first element may actually relate to the root word  אל (ad) meaning “witness” and also “forever; eternity,” and “booty.” The same root word also relates to “congregation, community, parish, denomination; swarm, flock.” Somehow, the original root word of all of the above are related. Compare the name to the modern Hebrew Unisex name Adi עדי (jewel, ornament).

Among non-Jews, the name has been in use across Europe since the Protestant Reformation, around the 16th-century. It has been in occasional use in Scandinavia, Finland, the Netherlands, U.K, the Americas and Australia. It has come in recent use in Latin America as well.

Ironically the name was not revived among Jews until modern times. There doesn’t seem to be any records for this name among Jews from Medieval Times to pre-WWII in Europe, the Ottoman Empire or the Middle East. It seems to have become widespread after the creation of Israel in 1948. Since the 1960s, its French feminine form of Adielle has appeared in occasional use among Jews in French-speaking countries such as France and Canada.

Another form is the Dutch Adiël (male) and Adiëlle (female).

Modern Hebrew female forms include Adiela (also Spanish) and Adielit.

Sources

Tala

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This name is one of the ultimate cross-cultural names, it has various meanings and legitimate origins from Europe, to Asia and to the Middle East.

The name has been recorded in use in Northern Europe since Medieval Times, possibly being a contracted form of Adalheidis, its offshoots of Talea and Talina have experienced minor recent resurgence in Germany. Tala also been used in most Scandinavian countries, though today, it is considered very archaic.

Tala appears in a 14th-century Swedish folk ballad Herr Holger (which is the subject of a 1996 song by the Swedish band, Gamarna). The ballad recounts the exploits of a greedy tax official who steals tax money for himself. He is caught by King Christian and beheaded. He is condemned to hell, but is able to return to warn his wife, Fru Tala (Lady Tala). He pleads with Tala to return all the wealth she inherited from him, (which in turn was the result of his stolen money), to its rightful owner or else she will experience a similar fate. Tala refuses, as she would rather condemn herself to hell than give up her wealth.

Its Finnish and Estonian form is Taala and Taali, and a Scandinavian  masculine version is Tale.

Tala is also the name of a Tagalog goddess of the morning and evening star. In one legend, she is the daughter of the sun god Arao and the moon goddess, Buan. Arao and Buan had a large number of star-children, the eldest being Tala. Arao was afraid his heat would burn up his star-children, so he and Buan decided to destroy them, but Buan reneged on her promise and hid her children behind clouds. Arao got wind of Buan’s secret and, according to legend, continues to try and destroy her, which explains the phenomenon of eclipses. Each morning, Buan runs to hide her children behind the clouds, her eldest Tala being the lookout before dawn, being the personification of the morning star.

In another Tagalog legend, Tala is the daughter of the god Bathala. She is the sister of Hanan (the goddess of the morning) and Mayari, another moon goddess.

In Tagalog, tala means “star; planet; celestial body.”

Tala was recently a hit song by Filipina singer, Sarah Geronimo (2016).

In Indian classical music, Tala is the term used to describe musical meter and rhythm. It literally means “clapping; tapping.”

Tala can also be Arabic تالة (Tala) meaning “Turmeric tree; turmeric spice” or a “small potted palm.”

In Amazigh, one of the languages of the Berber people, Tala means “source; spring or fountain.”

Tala is also Farsi and means “gold.”

In Italy and Romania, Tala is used as a diminutive form of Natalia, a la Romanian actress, Tala Birell (1907-1958).

Tala is the name of a type of decidous tree native to tropical and subtropical South America. Its scientific name is celtis tala.

Other meanings include:

  • It is the Azeri word for “glade.”
  • tālā is the Samoan currency and is believed to be a phonetic corruption of the English word dollar.
  • In Polish, it is a feminine form of the Greek, Thales, though it is seldom used, it does appear on the nameday calendar.
  • In Pashtun, Təla/Tala means “weighing scale” and is the name of the seventh month of the Afghan Calendar, its meaning referring to the Zodiac sign of Libra.
  • It is the name of a minor Chadic language in Nigeria.

What the name is not:

Many baby name sources have dubiously listed this name as meaning “wolf” in “Native American,” (which is not a language by the way), while other sources have listed this as being Cherokee or Iroquois for “wolf hunter,” but there are no legitimate Cherokee or Iroquois sources collaborating this information. In fact, Native Languages of the Americas has written a fabulous list pertaining to faux Native American baby names and Tala made the list.

As a closing to this post, I recommend this blog post written by a mother explaining the reason why she chose this name for her daughter. It is from 2006, but still a wonderful read D-Log: The Many Meanings of Tala.

Sources

January Names

JanuaryI thought at the beginning of each month, I would post a list of names associated with the that particular month. Below is a list of names I have previously written about associated with January

 

Agnes: January 21st is the feast of St. Agnes and according to folklore, on January 20th, which John Keats’ was inspired to write a poem about, unmarried girls are supposed to see a future glimpse of their husband in their dreams the night before, provided they do not eat that day.

Frost: January is often associated with cold temperatures and frosty weather. Here are some name associated with frost

Sarma, Sarmite: These 2 Latvian lovelies come directly from the Latvian word for hoarfrost. The latter is pronounced sar-MEE-teh.

Kirsi: This Finnish female name is associated with the cherry fruit but also means “frost” in Finnish.

Other names that mean “frost” or words for frost from other languages include:

Male

  • Antizgar (Basque)
  • Dér (Hungarian)
  • Hall (Estonian)
  • Reif (German)
  • Rijp (Dutch)
  • Rio (Manx)
  • Šerkšnas (Lithuanian)
  • Sioc (Gaelic)
  • Szron (Polish, SHRONE)
  • Barrug (Welsh)

Female

  • Blancada (Occitanian)
  • Brina (Italian)
  • Bryma (Albanian)
  • Chelata (Aragonese)
  • Geada (Portuguese)
  • Gelada (Catalan)
  • Eláda (Guarani)
  • Escarcha (Spanish)
  • Jinovatka (Czech)
  • Pruina (Latin)
  • Salna (Latvian)
  • Slana (Slovenian)

Snow: Also one of the snowiest months of the year, some names that mean “snow.”

Other names meaning snow that I have yet to write about include

Male

  • Erc’h (Breton)
  • Jur (Chuvash)
  • Kar (Turkish)
  • Lov (Erzya)
  • Nix (Latin)
  • Yas (Navajo)

Female

  • Dëbora (Albanian)
  • Fiòca (Piedmontese)
  • Kavi (Faroese)
  • Neige (French)
  • Neva (Neapolitan)
  • Neve (Galician/Italian)
  • Parsla (Latvian)

Ice, the following are names that mean “ice”

Male

  • Buz (Turkish)
  • Izotz (Basque)
  • Jég (Hungarian)
  • Led (Czech, Serbo-Croatian)
  • Păr (Chuvash)
  • Siku (Inupiak)
  • Ledas (Lithuanian)
  • Ledus (Latvian)
  • Tin (Navajo)
  • Xeo (Galician)
  • Ysbran

Female

  • Cetl (Nahuatl)
  • (Welsh)
  • Ma’ome (Cheyenne)

Epiphany: January 6th officially marks the end of the Christmas season, when the Magi finally were able to locate the Christ child and bestow gifts upon him.

Garnet is the birthstone of January. Below is a list of words from other languages that mean “garnet” and would make awesome names

  • Gernete (Anglo-Norman)
  • Granate (Asturian/Basque/Spanish)
  • Grenat (French)
  • Gairnéad (Gaelic)
  • Granato (Italian)
  • Granatas (Lithuanian)
  • Granada (Portuguese)

Likewise, Carnation is the birthflower, its Latin name is Dianthus, which was a name before it was a flower. Below is a list of words from other languages that mean “carnation” and would make awesome names. Also mixed in are some names with the meaning of “carnation” or just have carnation associations

  • Diantha
  • Clavel (Asturian/Spanish)
  • Krabelin (Basque)
  • Clavellina (Catalan)
  • Havenellike (Danish)
  • Caraveleira (Galician)
  • Landnelke (German)
  • Nellika (Icelandic)
  • Caxtillān (Nahuatl)
  • Penigan (Welsh)

And for boys, other than Dianthus, there is the Italian Garafano

The Chinese plum is the flower emblam for Spring, in Chinese it is called Meihua and its Japanese name is Ume. In Korean it is called Maesil and Vietnamese it is called Mai.

In Japan, the flower emblem for January is the Camellia

Another January birthflower is the snowdrop

  1. Çeçpĕl (Chuvash)
  2. Sněženka (Czech)
  3. Perce-Neige (French)
  4. Endzela (Georgian)
  5. Bucaneve (Italian)
  6. Snieguole (Lithuanian)
  7. Śnieżyczka (Polish)
  8. Sněgulka (Sorbian)
  9. Kardelen (Turkish)
  10. Eirlys (Welsh)

The Zodiac signs associated with January are Capricorn and Aquarius. Capricorn means goat and Aquarius waterbearer. Some names that mean both

The ruling planet of Capricorn and Aquarius is Saturn, so Saturnina or Saturnin/Saturnino are also names to consider.

Finally, here are names that mean “January,” some come directly from words, others are a translation of the Latin male name Januarius.

Male

  • Chinero (Aragonese)
  • Xineru (Asturian)
  • Urtarril (Basque)
  • Genver (Breton/Cornish)
  • Gener (Catalan)
  • Kărlach (Chuvash)
  • Ghjennaghju (Corsican)
  • Leden (Czech)
  • Znêr (Emiliano-Romagnolo)
  • Janvier (French)
  • Zenâr (Friulian)
  • Xaneiro (Galician)
  • Gennaro (Italian)
  • Jenero (Ladino)
  • Januarius (Latin)
  • Sausis (Latvian)
  • Jannar (Maltese)
  • Genièr (Occitanian)
  • Yenner (Pennsylviana German)
  • Janeiro (Portuguese)
  • Bennàlzu (Sardinian)
  • Enero (Spanish)
  • Ocak (Turkish)
  • Lonawr (Welsh)

Female

  • Jenna (Bavarian)
  • January (English)
  • Tammikuu (Finnish)
  • Janvière (French)
  • Gennara (Italian)
  • Januaria (Latin)
  • Zennâ (Ligurian)