Gender: Feminine
Origin: French
Meaning: debated
Fre (Pronunciation)

There are a few different theories as to the origins of this name, the most dominant is that it is derived from coral, which is the Old French form of the modern French word, corail (coral). Another theory is that it is an elaboration of Cora.

As of 2010, Coralie was the 240th most popular female name in France.

The name has also had some usage in North America, being somewhat more prevalent in the American South. She has only ever ranked in the U.S. top 1000 two times. The first was in 1880 when she was the 943rd most popular female name, the second was in 1929, being the 892nd most popular female name.

The name appears in Honoré de Balzac’s Illusions perdues (1843)

The name was borne by French First Lady, Coralie Grévy, wife of Jules Grévy (1811-1993). It is currently borne by French singer, Coralie Clément (b.1986).



Ada is sweet, vintagy and classy, with her two syllable Victoriana quality, ending and beginning in a vowel, Ada(h) may just be the next Ava. The Finns have already beaten us, as she is currently the 3rd most popular female name in Finland, (Aada, 2011).

In English, she is usually pronounced like (AY-duh), but in the rest of the world, she is (AH-dah).

Her origins are various; in the form of Adah, she can be traced to the Hebrew Bible, being a relative of the modern Hebrew unisex name, Adi, meaning (jewel), in ancient Hebrew her meaning is more around the lines of “a piece of jewelry; adornment or; ornament.”

In the Bible, Adah appears twice as the name of a wife of Lemech and again as the name of the wife Esau.

Ada without the H is usually traced to the Germanic element, adal, meaning, “noble,” making her a relative of Adela, Adelaide and Adeline. Among royalty and nobility alike, she was a popular choice across Medieval Europe, being borne by St. Ada, a 7th-century Abbess; Ada of Atholl (d.1264); Ada, Countess of Holland, (1188-1223) and; Ada de Warenne, mother of two Scottish kings and the wife of Henry of Scotland, (1120-1178).

In more contemporary times, Ada is usually associated with Ada Lovelace (née Augusta Ada Byron 1815-1852), the daughter of Lord Byron and a renowned Mathematician, she is often credited by modern scientists as being the first Computer Engineer.

The name could also be of Turkic or Greek origins, but its meaning is lost. It was borne by a female governor of Caria (377-326 B.C.E.) a loyal ally of Alexander the Great.

In the United States, Ada was quite popular around the turn of the 19th-century. The highest she ranked in U.S. naming history was in 1880, coming in as the 33rd most popular female name. By 1985, she completely fell off the charts and reappeared in the top 1000 in 2005. As of 2010, she currently ranks in as the 552nd most popular female name in the United States, (2010). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 3 (Aada, Finland, 2011)
  • # 72 (Ada, Norway, 2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Ada (Dutch/Estonian/Faroese/Finnish/French/Frisian/German/Greek/Hungarian/Icelandic/Italian/Latvian/Lithuanian/Polish/Plattdeutsch/Scandinavian/Slovene)
  • Aada (Estonian/Finnish)
  • Ade (Estonian)
  • Aata (Finnish)
  • Aatukka (Finnish)
  • Ata (Finnish)
  • Adina (Italian)
  • Ádá (Sami)
  • Adica (Slovene)


418px-Gouttes-drops-resine-2Gender: Feminine
Origin: English

September is almost over and the season of Fall is really starting to hit home. The trees are finally shedding their leaves and some are even exposing their yellow brown colors before falling off the branches. The name Amber has always brought to mind the autumnal season for me. Possibly due to her brownish yellow hues that she is known for, though Amber also comes in spring greens and bright yellows. The appellation itself gets somewhat of a bad rap. I have heard her being classified as “trashy” and even as an “exotic dancer” name. She didn’t seem to hit big really till the late 1970s to early-mid 1980s. Ever curious as to the origins and beginnings of all given names, I decided to track her down. How and when did Amber begin to be used as a first name? I know that in other cultures, the equivalent forms such as Dzintra in Latvian, Gintare in Lithuanian have been used as given names for centuries. Evidently, Amber is derived from an Arabic word ‘anbar. Amber of course is the word for the fossilized resin used in jewellery as well as the name of a colour. Its usage seems to have begun around the 19th-century. It was brought to the spot-light thanks to Katherine Winsor’s explicit 1944 novel Forever Amber. It was later turned into a movie, and the book sparked quite a bit of controversy at the time of its publication. Forever Amber tells the story of  a woman by the name of Amber St. Clair, living in 17th-century England, who manages to sleep her way to the top by hanging around with British aristocrats. I found this very interesting since Amber does seem to have those associations for many people, and I truly wonder if Katherine Winsor is the culprit for Amber’s sullied reputation. I suppose we will never know.

As for her popularity, the highest that Amber ever reached in the United States was #13 way back in 1986. I found this rather surprising as I don’t know many girls born in that same year named Amber. Compare that to this past year, Amber remains in the top 1000, but has slid down to # 224 (2010). Surprisingly, Amber is quite popular in both the Netherlands and Belgium. In Belgium alone, she came in at #24 for the most popular female names in Belgium, (2008). Meanwhile, over in the Netherlands, she stands at # 36 as of 2010. Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 45 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 52 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 65 (Northern Ireland 2010)
  • # 71 (Ireland, 2010)
  • # 80 (Australia, NSW, 2010)

The French form of Ambre has recently become a trend in France, in 2009, she was the 29th most popular female name in France. There is the more elaborate French form of Ambrine. In Italian there is the form of Ambra. Another interesting fact is that the Greek female given name of Electra is related to the word for amber in Greek, which is electron. In Hebrew, the name is Inbar, and in recent years, has been used as a given name. Ámbar is the Spanish form, also occasionally used as a given name in Spanish-speaking countries.

The name has been given to the United State’s Child Abduction Emergency code the Amber Alert. Originally named for Amber Hangermann the term is now used as a backronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.


Gender: Feminine
Origin: Italian
Meaning: “amber.”

The name comes directly from the Italian word for amber and has been used as a given name since Medieval times. It went out of usage after the 16th-century and was revived in the 20th-century.

It is currently the 32nd most popular female name in Italian-speaking, Switzerland, (2010).


Gender: Feminine
Origin: Portuguese/Spanish
Meaning: “emerald.”

The name comes directly from the Spanish and Portuguese word for emerald and has been in usage since Medieval times. Among the Christians of the Middle Ages, it represented St. John the Apostle.

It was used by Victor Hugo as the name of one of the key characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831).

It is also the name of a genus of orchid.

Currently, Esmeralda is the 283rd most popular female name in the United States, (2010).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Zümrüd (Azeri)
  • Smaragda (Belarusian/Bosnian/Bulgarian/Croatian/Greek/Lithuanian/MacedonianSerbian/Slovene)
  • Maragda (Catalan)
  • Esmeralda (Czech/English/Icelandic/Ladino/Latvian/Polish/Swedish)
  • Smeraldina (Czech)
  • Émeraude (French)
  • Esmeralde (French)
  • Eszmeralda (Hungarian)
  • Smeralda (Italian)
  • Smaralda (Romanian)
  • Zümrüt (Turkish)

Diminutives include:

  • Esminka (Czech)
  • Mera (Czech)
  • Esme (English)
  • Essie (English)

Masculine forms include:

  • Esmeraldo (Italian)
  • Smeraldo (Italian)
  • Smaragds (Latvian)
  • Smaragdas (Lithuanian)
  • Szmaragd (Polish)



Gender: Feminine
Origin: Italian/Catalan
Meaning: “gem”
It (JEM-mah)

The name was originally used as a nickname in Medieval Italy, but gradually became an independent given name over the centuries.

Its earliest notable bearer was the wife of the 13th-century Italian poet, Dante Alighieri.

The name has been borne by at least four Catholic Saints, the most notable being St. Gemma Galgani, nee Maria Gemma Umberta Pia Galgani (1878-1903) . She was an Italian mystic who died in her 20s from Tuberculosis. Her cult became especially popular in Italy, Latin America and in Ireland after she had been canonized in 1940. In the 1950s, the name suddenly became mainstream in Ireland, no doubt due to the popularity of the recently canonized saint. Its usage in Ireland may have spread to the other British Isles. In the case of England, Scotland and Australia, the name probably became common due to its transparent meaning. The name was quite popular in Great Britain between the 70s, 80s and 90s, but has suddenly fallen out of favor.

Currently, Gemma is the 888th most popular female name in the United States, in fact, she just entered the top 1000 this past year (2008). She is the 75th most popular female name in Australia (2008).

The name has sometimes been anglicized to Jemma.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Gemmina (Italian)
  • Gema (Spanish: HEM-a; Portuguese ZHEM-a)

A few obscure masculine versions are Gemmino and Gemmo.

Gemma is also the name of a star.

Other notable bearers include: Gemma Atkinson, Gemma Craven, Gemma Hayes, Gemma Jones and Gemma Ward.

The designated name-day is April 11 (Italy).




800px-Opal_from_Yowah,_Queensland,_Australia_2Gender: Feminine
Origin: English

The name comes directly from the name of the gemstone. October is the birthstone for the Opal. The origins of the word itself are derived from the Sanskrit word upala meaning “jewel.” The name does not appear in the U.S top 1000, and the highest it ever ranked in American naming history was back in 1911, coming in at # 81.

The Opal was often seen as a source of bad luck in modern superstition, this was most likely due to a book published in 1820, entitled Anne of Geierstein by Walter Scott, the novel recounts the story of the Baroness of Arnheim who wears a magical opal talisman, when holy water is poured on the stone, the stone turns into its signature opaque white and the baroness dies. In the Middle Ages, the stone had far more auspicious connotations, it was believed that the stone brought great luck, since it sparkled several different colours, it was believed to hold the powers of every precious stone, making it a very powerful amulet.

The name is borne by Opal Whitely (1897-1992), a curious woman who wrote a diary in which she reveals her true origins as the scion of French royalty. The story is a famous part of American unsolved mysteries and she has had people debunking her as a fraud to admiring fans who support her claims known as Opalites.

With the rising popularity of the name Ruby, this might make an appealing alternative. There is the French form Opaline.


Gender: Feminine
Origin: French
Meaning: from the name of a type of gem “dark.”

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.