Gareth

GarethOrigin: debated
Meaning: debated
Gender: Masculine
(GARE-eth)

The name first makes an appearance in Sir. Thomas Le Mort D’Arthur (c.1485) as the name of one of the knights of the Round Table. Malory is said to have based the name on Gahariet, which is the name of a knight in the French version of the King Arthur mythos. It is believed by most sources that the name has a Welsh origin and might be related to Geraint (a Welsh form of the Greek Gerontius meaning “old man); or the Welsh word gwaredd (gentleness; kindness). Other sources have connected it with the Welsh word gwyhrt (worth; value), and it has also been suggested to be Franconized form of the Welsh male name, Gwoerydd (Lord of grass; Lord of Hay). The name may not have any Welsh origins at all, the name Garret/Garet have appeared in use in France and Spain since the 7th-century, both names are an early diminutive form of Gerald or Gerard.

In England and Wales, the name appeared in the Top 500 between 1996 and 2005, peaking at #117 in 1996. In Northern Ireland, Gareth cracked into the Top 100 between 2001 and 2003, peaking at #87 in 2001.

Short forms are Gary and Gaz.

Sources

Amaia, Amaya

AmayaOrigin: Basque
Meaning: “mother city; the end”
Gender: Feminine
(ah-MYE-ah)

Amaya is the name of a village in Castille-Léon, Spain. It is believed to be from the Basque meaning “mother city” or is perhaps related to the Basque Amaia (the end). The name is often hispanicized as Amaya and is also a common Spanish surname of the same origin. In history, the village of Amaya played a key role in the Roman conquest of Hispania and later among the Visigoths. As a given name, the name was popularized by  the Spanish novel Amaya o los vascos en el siglo VIII (Amaya, or the Basques in the 8th century) by Francisco Navarro-Villoslada (1879). Amaya is the name of the main heroin in the novel. The book later inspired a Spanish opera, Amaya (1920) by Jesús Guridi.

Alternately, Amaya has been listed as a Japanese female name meaning “night rain.” There seems to be a debate regarding the actual existence of this name’s use in Japan. I was unable to verify if Amaya is in fact a truly Japanese name, but many sites list Amaya as composition of the kanji characters 雨 = ama, 夜 = ya (hence: night rain). Amaya may be a newly invented manga name that has only recently come into use in Japan, though there are several well-known Japanese people who have this is as a surname. If any of my readers have any more details regarding its use as a female given-name in Japan, please come forward.

In the English-speaking world, Amaya has recently risen up the charts. In the United States, it is currently the 204th most popular female (2016) and in the UK, the 159th most popular.

In the US, the name seems to have gone up and down since 2000. It peaked at #181 in 2003. Its alternate American spelling of Amayah currently ranks in at #980. Amaia on the other hand has yet to make an appearance in the charts.

In the Netherlands, Amaya currently ranks in as the 393rd most popular female name (2016).

In France, the name has had some minor use among people of Basque descent.

In English, possible short forms include: Amy, Maia and Maya.

Sources

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

Bree, Brígh

BreeBree can have several different origins and meanings, but is ultimately an anglicized form of the Gaelic female name, Brígh, which is a Gaelic word that can have several meanings, including: “essence, gist, matter, pith, purport, substance; meaning, sense, significance; point (of an argument); energy, force; and or “juice.”

Bree (pronounced BRAY) is also the name of a city in Belgium. In this case, the name is believed to derive from either the Medieval Dutch bred (wooden settlement) or the Dutch broek (brook, marsh). Bree appears as the name of places throughout the Dutch-speaking world, including Maasbree in the Netherlands and the Breede River in South Africa.

Brée (also pronounced BRAY) is also the name of a commune in France. In this case, its etymology is unknown.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Bree is the name of a village in Middle Earth, which is believed to be inspired by the village of Brill in Buckinghamshire in England and also a play on the Celtic element bre (hill).

In C.S. Lewis’ Narnia chronicles, the name features prominently in A Horse and His Boy, in which Bree is the name of a talking horse.

In recent years, the name has made an appearance in The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyers, as the name of a minor peripheral Vampire character who was featured in her own novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (2010).

Bree is also the name of one of the main characters in the American TV series, Desparate Housewives. Another notable bearer is American actress and model, Bree Olson (b. 1986).

In the United States, Bree appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 between 2006 and 2012 and peaked at #868 in 2010.

Sources

Tala

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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

Lucinda

LucindaOrigin: Spanish Literature
Meaning: “light”
Gender: Feminine
(loo-SIN-dah)

It is believed Lucinda was created by Miguel de Cervantes for his character in Don Quixote of La Mancha (1605). It is believed Cervantes may have been inspired by the Spanish luz (light). The name was later used by Molière in the form of Lucinde for his 1666 play The Doctor in Spite of Himself.

The name subsequently became popular in the English-speaking world starting in the 18th-century.

The name is also used in Portuguese-Speaking countries and Hungary.

Common short forms include: Cinda, Cindy, Lucie, and Lucy.

Sources

Coraline

Coraline.jpgOrigin: French
Meaning: uncertain
Gender: Feminine
Fr. (KOH-hrah-LEEN); Eng. (CORE-e-LINE)

The name is most likely a French diminutive form of Cora, (Grk. maiden), or Coralie that eventually spun off as an independent given name.

In both France and England, the name has been in use since the early 19th-century.

The French opera by Adolphe Adam Le toréador, ou L’accord parfait (1849) probably helped put this name on the map.

It is also the name of a French genus of apple that was bred for the first time in 2002.

In the Mediterranean, coraline is the name of a type of felucca used to hunt coral.

Its recent usage in the English-speaking world was no doubt brought back to life by Neil Gaiman’s 2002 novel Coraline, which was adapted into a film in 2009. Gaiman claimed that the character’s name was originally meant to be Caroline, but Coraline was a typo that just stuck.

Alternately, if spelled Coralline it is the name of a genus of red algae.

Another form is the Italian Coralina and the Russian and Polish form, albeit rare, is Koralina Коралина.

The name has also been in use in the Netherlands since the 19th-century.

Coraline has been in the U.S. Top 1000 Most Popular Female Names since 2012 and is currently the 602nd most popular female name in the United States (2016).

Sources

 

Lyra

Cygnus, LyraOrigin: Greek
Meaning: “lyre.”
Gender: Feminine
Pronunciation: LIE-rah

The name comes from the Greek meaning “lyre.” It is the name of a constellation which was named for the lyre of Orpheus, which was said to quell the voices of sirens.

Lyra is also the name of a type of ancient Musical instrument.

The name first came into use in the English-speaking world in the 19th-century. It first appeared in the U.S. Top 1000’s Most Popular Female names in 2015. As of 2016, it was the 932nd most popular female name. It’s recent appearance may be influenced by Philip Pullman’s popular trilogy, His Dark Materials (1995), in which it is the name of one of the main characters, Lyra Belacqua.

The lovely Breton, Lourenn (loo-RENN) would also make a wonderful alternative.

Other forms include:

Lourenn (Breton)
Lira (Catalan/Italian/Latvian/Occitanian/Romanian/Polish/Slovenian)
Lüüra (Estonian)
Lyra (English/Portuguese/Spanish)
Lyyra (Finnish)
Lyre (French)

Sources

https://www.behindthename.com/name/lyra
https://www.ssa.gov
https://www.familysearch.org
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyra

Calliope

Origin: Greek
Meaning: beautiful voiced
Gender: Female
Pronunciation: kuh-LIE-uh-pee

The name is composed of the Greek elements, καλλος (kallos) “beauty” and οψ (ops) “voice.” It is borne in Greek mythology by the muse of epic poetry and eloquence. She was said to be the mother of Orpheus and was said to be the chief among the muses by Hesiod and Ovid.

The name is also borne by a Catholic and Christian Orthodox saint who was tortured and martyred for refusing a suitor who wanted her hand in marriage as well as for her to renounce her faith.

It is also the name of a type of musical instrument as well as genus of hummingbird.

In recent years, it is the full name of a fictional character on the popular tv series, Grey’s Anatomy, Callie Torres, portrayed by Sara Ramirez.

In the English-speaking world, the name first came into use in the early 18th-century.

The name recently entered the U.S. Top 1000 Female Names, coming in as the 939th most popular female name.

A common short form is: Callie.

Other forms include:
Kalliope Կալլիոպե(Armenian/Danish/Dutch/Finnish/German/Estonian/Norwegian/Polish/Romanian/Swedish)
Kalіё́pa Каліё́па(Belarusian)
Kaliopa Калиопа(Bulgarian/Serbo-Croatian/Slovenian)
Cal·líope (Catalan)
Kalliopé (Czech/Hungarian/Slovak)
Calliope (French/English/Italian)
K’aliop’e კალიოპე (Georgian)
Kalliόph Καλλιόπη (Modern Greek)
Kallíópa (Icelandic)
Kaliopė (Lithuanian)
Calíope (Portuguese/Spanish)
Kalliopa Каллиопа(Russian/Ukrainian)

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calliope
https://www.behindthename.com
https://www.familysearch.org
https://www.ssa.gov
http://www.theoi.com

Mavis

MavisThe name is derived from a poetic English term for the song thrush, which is the name of a type of bird found in various breeds across Eurasia and Europe, especially England. The song thrush is known for its distinctive vocals and was kept as a house pet in 19th-century Europe. The word itself first entered the English language about 1400 and is ultimately from the Old French mauvis, which itself is possibly of Breton or Spanish origins. In modern French, this bird is now known as La Grive musicienne.

As a female given name, Mavis is first recorded in England in the late 16th-century, but became more widespread after Marie Corelli used it for the protoganist in her 1895 novel “The Sorrows of Satan.”

In the United States, the name peaked in popularity in 1927 coming in as the 270th most popular female name. The name fell off the U.S. Top 1000 in 1963. Oddly enough, the name has suddenly reappeared in the U.S. Top 1000 after over 50 years, coming in as the 789th most popular female name of 2016. It’s sudden resurgence seems to be a mystery, but is perhaps following along the coat-tails of other popular vintage names such as Lillian, Violet, and Emma.

Sources

https://www.behindthename.com/name/mavis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_thrush
https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=mavis
https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/babyname.cgi