Melanie

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Greek μελαινα
Meaning: “black, dark.”
Brit/Amer Eng (MEL-ah-NEE); Aus Eng (meh-LAH-nee); Fre (may-lah-NEE); Germ (MEL-ah-nee)

The name is derived from the Latin, Melania, which is derived from the Greek, μελαινα (melaina), meaning, “dark; black.”

In Greek Mythology, Melaina was the name of a nymph.

In the early Christian Church, the name was popularized by two 5th-century Roman saints, a grandmother and her granddaughter. Melanie the Younger is known for giving all her wealth to charity.

The name was introduced into England by the conquering Normans, but was never really common. The name became rather common in both the United States and in Britain starting in the early 20th-century, whether it was a French import, or if the character of Melanie Wilkes in Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone with the Wind (1936), are attributable to its popularity is up to conjecture.

Currently, Melanie is 89th most popular female name in the United States, (2011). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 54 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 60 (Argentina, 2009)
  • # 237 (France, 2010)
  • # 376 (Netherlands, 2011)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Melanya (Armenian)
  • Melanija Меланија Мелания (Croatian/Macedonian/Russian/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Melánie (Czech: meh-LAHN-ye)
  • Melanie (Dutch/English/German)
  • Mélanie (French)
  • Melaina Μελαινα (Greek)
  • Melánia (Hungarian/Slovak)
  • Melani (Hungarian)
  • Melania (Italian/Late Latin/Polish/Spanish)
A common German short form is Mellie.

Italian masculine forms are: Melanio and Melaneo.

Polish diminutives are: Melanka, Melcia and Melusia.

The name is also borne by:

British pop singer, Melanie Brown, (former Spice Girl) b.1975. Melanie Chrisholm, aka Sporty Spice, b. 1974. American actress, Melanie Griffith (b.1957) and French actress and star of Inglorious Bastards, Mélanie Laurent (b. 1983).

The designated name-days are: January 10 (Hungary), January 13 (Poland), June 30 (Slovakia) and December 31 (France/Germany/Poland).

Sources

  1. http://www.behindthename.com/top/search.php?terms=melanie
  2. http://www.askoxford.com/firstnames/melanie?view=uk
  3. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10154a.htm
  4. http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsLife.asp?FSID=103701
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Samra

The name is of a few different etymologies. It could be from the Arabic adjective  امغر (asemr) which means, “tan” or “darkish-skin.” It could also be a variant transliteration of the Arabic female name, Samira.

The name is also a popular Ethiopian female name, its origin may be traced either to the Arabic or it could be an Amharic form of the Biblical city name, Samara.

The name is borne by an Ethiopian Orthodox saint, known as Christos Samra; a yearly festival is held in her honour. Many legends have been attributed to her, one of the most curious being that she went to Hell and asked Satan if he would be willing to reconcile with God. Satan refused to reconcile and held Samra hostage in Hell. Samra was eventually rescued by the Angel Gabriel and in the process, rescued several doomed souls. It is believed that no prayer to her will go unanswered.

Another Ethiopian form is Samrawit, literally meaning, “belonging to Samra.”

As of 2010, Samra 76th most popular female name in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Ombeline

Gender: Feminine
Origin: French
Meaning: from the name of a type of gem “dark.”
(OHN-be-leen)

The name is derived from the name of a type of gem stone known as ombria in Latin. The word ombria itself means “dark” and shares an etymological relation with the place name, Umbria. Also known as toadstones, the ancients believed they could be found inside the bodies of toads and they were often used as an antidote against poison. In reality, ombria was formed from fossilized ray-finned type fish. I couldn’t find a picture of the stone. However, this is a sweet, dainty sounding name. It reminds me of Thumbelina, but not as ridiculous, and of Opal, but a bit more elaborate; with a touch of French class. The name is not unheard of in France, though not popular either. Its designated name-day is August 21st, and as of 2006, she stood as the 500th most popular female name in France.