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

Nova

NovaOrigin: Latin
Meaning: “new”
Gender: Feminine
(NOH-vah)

The name comes directly from the Latin word nova (new). As a given-name, it has been used in Scandinavia, Hungary, France, Quebec, and England since at least the 18th-century. It became even more widespread in the 19th-century. Its use as a given-name in Scandinavia may have been kicked off by Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) when he first described the various types of stars known as novas.

Several baby name sites have listed this name as unisex, though possible, I cannot find any historical records indicating this name was ever used on males. Perhaps this confusion stems from its similarity to the male name Noah.

Nova also occurs as a place name of numerous locations throughout the Western World.

In the United States, the name entered the U.S. Top 1000 in 2011 and has risen exponentially since. As of 2016, Nova was the 136th most popular female name, jumping several hundred spots since its inception in 2011 when it was the 886th most popular female name. In the Netherlands and Sweden, it is among the most popular female names, ranking in at #23 (Netherlands, 2017) and #31 (Sweden 2017).

In the UK, Nova was the 400th most popular female name (2016).

Other forms include:

  • Noova (Greenladic)
  • Nowa (Swedish)

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

Iris

IrisOrigin: Greek Ιρις
Meaning: “rainbow”
Gender: Feminine

The name is derived from the Greek “Îris (Ἶρις) Írídos (ίρίδος) “rainbow” and is borne in Greek mythology by the goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the Olympian gods. It later became associated with the body part, the flower, and a colour, all of which were named for the Greek goddess.

In recent years, the name has experienced a surge in popularity in several countries. Its rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • #21 (Iceland 2017, Íris)
  • #25 (Portugal, 2016, Íris)
  • #31 (Sweden, 2017)
  • #32 (France, Paris, 2016)
  • #56 (Catalonia, 2016)
  • #73 (Spain, 2016)
  • #84 (England/Wales, 2016)
  • #85 (Netherlands, 2017)
  • #85 (Slovenia, 2016)
  • #116 (Norway, 2016)
  • #121 (France, entire country, 2016)
  • #186 (United States, 2016)
  • #199 (Scotland, 2016)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Iris Ирис Իրիս (Armenian/Bulgarian/Catalan/Czech/Danish/Dutch/English/Estonian/Finnish/French/German/Greek/Italian/Serbo-Croatian/Norwegian/Polish/Romanian/Slovenian/Spanish/Swedish)
  • Iryda Ірыда (Belarusian/Polish)
  • Irida Ирида (Bulgarian/Croatian/Greek/Italian/Russian/Serbian)
  • Iiku (Finnish)
  • Iiri (Finnish)
  • Iiris (Finnish)
  • Írisz (Hungarian)
  • Íris (Icelandic/Portuguese/Slovak)
  • Iride (Italian)
  • Iridė (Lithuanian)
  • Yryda Ирида (Ukrainian)

Sources

 

Loki

LokiOrigin: Old Norse
Meaning: debated
Gender: Masculine
(LOH-kee)

From the name of the trickster god in Norse mythology, Loki was the ultimate pranksters whose pranks always ended up going terribly awry, his biggest blunder being the death of the god Baldur. In Norse legend, Loki’s associations were sometimes neutral to downright evil. Despite this, Loki never had a bad enough connotation to deter Nordic parents, medieval and modern, from using his name on their offspring.

The meaning of the name itself is rather contested. The following possibilities in a nutshell include:

  • from the Old Norse Logi (flame)
  • from an Old Germanic root word *luk, which denotes anything related to knots, locks and anything enclosed/compare to the Old Norse verb loka (to lock; to close; to end”; and the Old Norse verb loki (to loop onthe end).
  • There may be a link with the Old Norse loptr (air).
  • from the Old Norse lok (cover, lid; end)

Loki has made it into the UK’s Top 500 male names, while its modern Scandinavian form of Loke is still a popular choice in Nordic countries.

In 2016, Loki was the 452nd most popular male name in England/Wales, while Loke is the 58th most popular name in Sweden (2017).

Other forms include:

  • Loke (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Loki (English/Faroese/Finnish/German/Icelandic/Old Norse)

It should be noted that this was the name of the wife of German Chancelor, Helmut Schmidt, Loki Schmidt (borne Hannelore Schmidt (1919-2010). In this case, Loki seems to have been a childhood nickname that developed from a child’s mispronunciation of Hannelore.

Sources

Siena, Sienna

Sienna, SienaThis name has somewhat of a complicated history, though it seems like a modern place-name, it has actually had a long history of use.

Sienna is an alternate spelling for an Italian city in Tuscany. The name itself is believed to be from Saina, which was the name of an Etruscan tribe that inhabited the area prior to the Romans. There is also a legend that it was named for a son of Romulus who was named Senius. The name has also been linked with the Latin senex (old) and the Latin verb, seneo (to be old).

As the name of a colour, it takes its name from the city, where the popular pigment used among artist was first produced. Its use as a colour name in the English language first appears in 1760.

Now as a given-name, this is where things get complicated. Its earliest use appears in the 18th-century, in Spain, Quebec and England. In the case of Spain and Quebec, it was most likely used in honour of St. Catherine of Sienna. In the English examples, it may have been used in reference to the colour. The British have a long history of using names of places and words since the 16th-century.

By the early 1800s, Sienna was a very popular middle name used in Bavaria and Ireland, attached to the name Catherine, so in these cases it was no doubt used in reference to St. Catherine of Sienna in devoutly Catholic pockets of Europe.

Sienna is also the name of several places throughout Poland and occasionally occurs as a surname. In this case, the name is derived from the Polish word, siano (hay).

Sienna currently ranks in the Top 100 of several countries. Its rankings are as follows:

  • #27 (Australia, NSW, 2017)
  • #28 (England/Wales, 2016)
  • #32 (New Zealand, 2016)
  • #68 (Scotland, 2016)
  • #71 (Ireland, 2016)
  • #236 (United States, 2016)
  • #354 (Netherlands, 2016)
  • #625 (Siena, United States, 2016)

A Dutch offshoot is Siënna.

A notable bearer is actress, Sienna Miller (b.1981).

Sources

Harmonia, Harmony

HarmonyOrigin: Greek
Meaning: “harmony”
Gender: Feminine

Harmonia was the name of the Greek goddess of peace and harmony, her Roman counterpart being Concordia.

Harmonia was also the name of a minor in nymph in Greek mythology.

In history, Harmonia was the name of the daughter of Gelo, a 3rd-century Sicilian king. Their story is rather unpleasant to say the least, after her family was slaughtered by their angry subjects, a faithful girl chose to stand in Harmonia’s place and was slaughtered as a result. Harmonia felt so guilty about someone else sacrificing their life for her that she ultimately killed herself.

Harmonia is also the name of a plant species, a species of beetle and butterfly.

Its English counterpart of Harmony has been in use since the 18th-century, being popularized among the Puritans.

Harmony has been in the U.S. top 1000 since 2000 and has steadily risen since then. As of 2016, it was the 191st most popular female name. It is also currently #369 in England & Wales, 2016. Between 2005 and 2010, it was among the top 100 most popular female names in New Zealand, peaking at #70 in 2006.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Harmonia (Catalan/Czech/Dutch/Greek/Hungarian/Polish/Portuguese/Romanian)
  • Harmonie (French)
  • Harmonía/Armonía (Spanish)
  • Armonia (Italian)

Sources

Roan

Roan (1)The name can have several different meanings. Its legitimate use comes from the Frisian, Ronne, which is a diminutive form of any name beginning with the Germanic element, hraban (raven). Roan is currently 62nd most popular male name in the Netherlands (2016).

The name has also been used in Scandinavia for centuries, being an offshoot of Jerome.

In the English-speaking world, the name is most likely used in reference to the color and the type of hair color pattern found in animals, especially horses. Its etymology is unknown, but is believed to come from an Anglo-Norman word, which in turn comes from a Spanish word, raudano, which likely comes from a Visigothic word meaning “red.”

In the English-speaking world, there are records of Roan going as far back as the 18th-century in England, but is unclear if this was used in reference to the color or was an early Dutch import.

Roan is also found as the name of several places throughout the world.

It is the name of a mountain in Tennessee, the highest point in the Roan-Unaka mountains, which forms a part of the Southern Appalachians. How the range got its name is unknown.

Sources

Taj

TajThe name can have two different etymologies, the most obvious, pronounced (TAHZH) is from the Arabic word for crown as in the Taj Mahal. Another source, pronounced (TYE) is from the Scandianavian diminutive form of Tage.

In recent years, its Arabic form became somewhat popular outside the Islamic world in Australia and the United States, among people of various ethnic backgrounds. In Australia, Taj made an appearance in the Top 100 in 2008, coming in as the 89th most popular male name. In the United States, Taj only appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 2 times, in 1976 and again in 1998, peaking at a meager #952 in 1998.

The Scandianvian Taj currently ranks as the 64th most popular male name in Slovenia (2016).

Ciara

CiaraOrigin: Irish Gaelic
Meaning: “black”
Gender: Feminine
(KEER-ah)

The name is from the Irish Gaelic ciar (black) and is borne by a 7th-century Irish saint, a contemporary of St. Brendan’s. According to legend, she founded a nunnery. In the Latin texts, her name was often latinized as Chera, Chier, Ciara, Cyra, Keira, Kiara, Kiera, Cier, and Ciar, but most popularly Cera. 

It is interesting to note that the Kiara form has appeared in most Slavic derived Roman Catholic calendars for centuries, but only recently became more popular in Slovenia and Croatia, where it is claimed the name is a corruption of the Italian Chiara, or is it?

The usage of Ciara, pronounced (see-AR-ah), was most likely inspired by the 1973 perfum of the same name, which was named for the initials of Charles Revson. In the United States, the former became popular in the African American community, while the Gaelic form pronounced (KEER-ah) is not unheard of in Irish-American communities. A notable bearer is American R&B singer, Ciara Princess Harris (b. 1983).

Ciara (CHAH-rah) is also a Polish surname, which comes from the Polish dialectial ciarać (się) “to roll.”

Currently, Ciara is the 39th most popular female name in Ireland (2016) and the 406th most popular in England and Wales.

In the United States, Ciara was in the U.S. Top 1000 between 2000-2016, and peaked at #282 in 2000.

Sources