Onyx

OnyxOrigin: Latin
Meaning: “claw; fingernail”
Gender: Feminine
(AH-niks)

From the name of a gemstone, this name first came into use as a female given name in the 19th-century. Onyx itself derives from the Latin word for “fingernail; claw.”

In the ancient world, the stone was used for cameos, intaglios and vessels. The Onyx was believed to be a remedy against labor pain among Medieval midwives.

Onyx is also used as a synonym for the colour black.

Possible short forms are Oni, Onnie, Nixie or Nyx.

Sources

 

Diamond

DiamondBelieve it or not, Diamond is a legitimate name, it has been in use as a female given name across Europe since at least early Medieval Times, and it also has its slew of masculine forms.

The name ultimately comes from the Ancient Greek ἀδάμας adámas, meaning “unbreakable,” “proper,” or “unalterable.” It has been used among the Greeks in the form of Adamantine (f) and Adamantos (m) since Ancient Times. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed if worn, the diamond was a ward against evil.

In 13th-century England, there are records for women named Diamanda (the vernacular for most likely being the Anglo-Norman, Diamant). Its usage seemed to have died out by the 15th-century, but was revived once again during the Victorian Era.

In Italy, Diamante was a popular female name between the 13th and 18th-centuries. Notable examples include the Italian poet, Diamante Medaglia Faini (1724-1770) and Italian opera singer, Diamante Maria Scarabelli (1675-1725).

And of course, there is the traditional Arabic female name of Almas (diamond), which has been used across the Islamic world for centuries.

In the United States, Diamond appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 between 2000 and 2014 and peaked at #162 in 2000.

Other forms include:

  • Diamant (Anglo-Norman)
  • Almast Ալմաստ (Armenian)
  • Admantia Αδαμαντία (Greek)
  • Admantine (Greek/French)
  • Diamantō Διαμαντω (Greek)
  • Almas (Arabic)
  • Intan (Indonesian)
  • Diamanda (Late Latin)
  • Adamantis (Latin)
  • Diamantina Διαμαντινα (Greek/Italian)
  • Deimantė (Lithuanian)
  • Elmas (Turkish)

Masculine forms

  • Adamantios Αδαμάντιος (Greek)
  • Diamantino (Italian)
  • Adamantius (Latin)
  • Deimantas (Lithuanian)

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

Coralie

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(h)

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)

Amber

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.

Ambra

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Italian
Meaning: “amber.”
(AHM-brah)

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).

Esmeralda

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)
Source

 

Gemma

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).

Sources

  1. http://www.askoxford.com/firstnames/gemma?view=uk
  2. http://www.behindthename.com/name/gemma