Hortense

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “garden.”
Eng (HORE-tense); Fre (or-TAWNS)

In the English-speaking world, she is considered being one of the most hated baby names, on par with Bertha and Beulah; but at one time, Hortense was very much-loved in the United States, and she is still favored abroad.

Hortense appeared in the U.S. top 1000 between 1880 and 1941. The highest she ranked within those years was at # 375 in 1903. By 1942, she disappeared from the U.S. top 1000 never to be seen again.

Though the sound in contemporary English may not be so pleasant, Hortense has many redeemable qualities. She is derived from the Roman family name, Hortensius, which is derived from the Latin, hortus, meaning, “garden.” Hence horticulture! Her Latin derivative shares its name with the scientific designation of the hydrangea plant. Hortensia is also the name of a type of pear.

Hortense sounds completely different in French, in fact, it sounds rather pleasant. She appears in the French top 500 coming in as the 335th most popular female name in 2010.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Hortenzie (Czech)
  • Hortense (French/English)
  • Hortensia (German/Latin/Romansch/Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Hortenzia (Hungarian/Romanian/Slovak)
  • Ortensia (Italian)
  • Ortenzia (Italian)
  • Ourtense (Poitvin)
  • Hortensja (Polish)

Notable bearers include:

  • Hortensia (circ. 4th-century BCE) the daughter of Quintus Hortensius Hortalus she is known for her gifted speech which she gave before the Roman Triumvirate regarding  the taxation of wealthy Roman women.
  • Hortensia von Moos (1659-1715) a Swiss female doctor known for her early philosophical writings on women. Today she is a symbol of the modern Swiss Women’s Movement.
  • Hortense Mancini (1646-1649), a mistress of King Charles II of England .
  • Hortense de Beauharnais (1783-1837), daughter of Josephine Bonaparte and step-daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot (1784-1845) a French painter.
  • Hortense Schneider (1833-1920), a famous French soprano.
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Prune

Gender: Feminine
Origin: French
Meaning: “plum.”
(Pronunciation)

The name comes directly from the French word for plum. It has been in usage since the 18th-century when it appeared on the Revolutionary Calendar under the name-days of October 5 and June 8th, coinciding with the feast of St. Flora. The name fell out of usage after the Napoleonic era, but seems to be going through a vogue again. Its recent resurgence may have something to do with the 1970s French-Swiss Soap-Opera, Prune.

She appears in the French top 500, coming in as the 446th most popular female name in France, (2009).

Not only is Prune the name of the fruit in French, but it is also used to describe a colour and it is a slang in a few French dialects. The meanings are as follows:

  • “Prune” is a slang term in Quebecois for a bruise.
  • “Prune” is also a French slang for a criminal violation describing contravention.
  • In the Plural form, “les prunes”, is a slang for testicles.

Oliver, Olivier

Gender: Masculine
Origin: debated
Meaning: debated
Eng (AHL-ih-VER); Fre (oh-LEE-vyay)

This name has a very interesting past. Its origins and meaning are debated, despite its obvious similarity with the word “olive”, many sources believe that is is either derived from one or two Old Norse names, Alfihar or OleifrAlfihar meaning “elf army” or Oleifr meaning “ancestral relic,” while other sources argue that it is indeed related to the Latin word oliverus meaning “olive tree.”

The name first appears in the French epic poem, Le Chanson de Roland. Olivier is the one of the better retainers of Roland. The name was introduced into England by the Normans and was consequently anglicized as Oliver.

The name has been in and out of usage in the English-speaking world since the Middle Ages. There was a time in England when the name went out of favor due to the bloody exploits of Oliver Cromwell. It was revived in the 19th-century due to Dicken’s lovable orphaned character of Oliver Twist.

In recent years, the name has seemed to go through a revival in both the United States and the United Kingdom. In 1979, Oliver ranked in at # 396 for the most popular male names in the United States, in 2010, however, he cracked into the top 100, making it all the way up to # 88. No doubt thanks to the popularity of its seemingly feminine form of Olivia.

As of 2010, he was the most popular male name in England/Wales. His rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 3 (Australia, NSW, 2010)
  • # 3 (New Zealand, 2010)
  • # 6 (Norway, 2010)
  • # 7 (Sweden, 2010)
  • # 8 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 9 (Denmark, 2010)
  • # 10 (Finland, 2011)
  • # 12 (Ólafur, Iceland, 2010)
  • # 16 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 23 (Canada, BC, 2010)
  • # 25 (Oliwier, Poland, 2009)
  • # 38 (Olivér, Hungary, 2010)
  • # 48 (Óliver, Iceland, 2010)
  • # 51 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 52 (Ireland, 2010)
  • # 55 (Olivier, Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 86 (Spain, 2010)
  • # 269 (Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 305 (Olivier, France, 2009)

The name is used throughout continental Europe. Its French form of Olivier is still fairly common in France and it is occassionally found in the Bayous of Louisiana among Cajun families, along with its lovely accented drawled out pronunciation of (oh-LIV-ee-AY).

In Poland it is rendered as Oliwer pronounced the same way as in English though the final R is rolled. In Iceland the popular male name of Olafur may be related. Pronounced (OH-lahf-ER), it has a feminine form of Olafia (OH-lah-FEE-ah).

Popular English nicknames are Ollie and the less common Noll.

Its designated name day is July 12.

Other forms include:

  • Olivier (Afrikaans/Dutch/French/Frisian)
  • Oliver Оливер (Croatian/Czech/Dutch/English/Estonian/Finnish/German/Hungarian/Macedonian/Portuguese/Russian/Serbian/Slovak/Spanish)
  • Fier (Dutch: originally a diminutive form, used as an independent given name)
  • Oluvier (Dutch)
  • Olivur (Faroese)
  • Ólivar (Faroese)
  • Olivér (Hungarian)
  • Ólafur (Icelandic)
  • Óliver (Icelandic)
  • Ólíver (Icelandic)
  • Oilibhéar (Irish)
  • Oliviero (Italian)
  • Olivarius/Oliverus (Latin)
  • Alfher (Old High German)
  • Áleifr (Old Norse)
  • Oliwer/Oliwier (Polish)
  • Oliwir/Olwer/Olwir (Polish: obscure)
  • Oliveiros (Portuguese)
  • Olaghair (Scottish)
  • Oilbhreis (Scottish)

Hilla

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Finnish
Meaning: “cloudberry.”
(HEEL-lah)

The name was initially used as a form of Hilda or Hilja, but became even more popular in Finland due to the fact that it translates as, “cloudberry.”

As of 2011, Hilla was the 42nd most popular female name in Finland.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Hilkka (Finnish)
  • Hillá (Sami)

Dunja

quinceGender: Feminine
Origin: South Slavic Дуња
Meaning: “quince fruit.”
(DOON-yah)

The name comes directly from the South Slavic word for the quince fruit. The quince is usually ready to fall from its stems from early October all the way to November, it is considered an autumnal fruit.

Coincidentally, the name could also be a Russian diminutive form of Avdotya which is a Russian form of the Greek name Eudoxia meaning “good fame.”  The spelling is also sometimes transliterated as Dunya.

As of 2009, Dunja was the 97th most popular female name in Croatia.

The name is borne by Russian violinist Dunja (Avdotya) Lavrova (b.1985).

Malina

The name could be of several different sources and etymologies depending on the bearer of the name.

It could be from the name of a Greenlandic solar diety and according to legend, she is constantly fleeing from her brother Annigan (the moon god) due to an old disagreement. The reason behind their fight varies from legend to legend.

It could also be Scottish, a feminine form of Malcolm.

In Polish, it is from the word for raspberry and is occasionally used as a given name. It received a negative opinion from the Polish Language Council, but this has not banned the name from usage. It was the pseudonym of a few famous Polish women, one being Malina Michalska (b.1916 née Maria Michalska) a famous dancer and Polish-German actress, Malina Ebert (b.1976) née Monika. It is the word for raspberry in several other Slavic languages, such as Czech, Slovak and Bulgarian.

Mălina is Romanian name derived from the Romanian word mălin meaning bird cherry tree. The name was borne by Romanian singer, Mălina Olinescu (1974-2011).

In addition, the name could also be Scandinavian, an elaborated form of Malin.

Currently, Malina is the 272nd most popular female name in Germany, (2011).

Mitsuaki

bright-autumn_streetGender: Masculine
Origin: Japanese
Meaning: “bright fruit; shining autumn.”

The name has different meaning depending on the character used, which for this particular name, I will provide in the near future. In Japanese, selection of different characters are instrumental in defining a name. One name can mean a variety of different things depending on the way you write it. Japanese names are extremely complex. In this case, Mitsuaki, a fairly prevalent Japanese male name, can either be composed of the Japanese elements mitsu meaning “fruit or truth” or the honomym mitsu meaning : “shine; light.”  Aki is another element that can mean a few things, it can either mean “autumn” or “bright, light”.

The name is borne by Mitsuaki Hoshino (b. 1959) a Japanese actor and Mitsuaki Madono (b.1964) a Japanese voice actor.