Swara, Svara

Swara, SvaraOrigin: Sanskrit
Meaning: “noise; sound; accent; musical note”
Gender: Feminine
(SWUH-ruh; SVUH-ruh)

The name is derived from the Sanskrit स्वर (svara) meaning “noise; sound; accent; musical note.”

In Classical Indian music, svara is used to denote the concept of musical pitch.



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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.



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)




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)




Gender: Feminine
Origin: Greek Θαις
Meaning: “headband; band.”
Eng (tye-YEES); Fre (tah-YEEZ); Por (TAH-ees)

The name is derived from the Greek root for a band worn around the head. It was borne by a 3rd-century B.C.E. Greek hetaera who was credited as being the burner of Persopolis. She is sometimes believed to have been a lover of Alexander the Great, but there is no conclusive evidence that the two were ever together, what is known for sure is that she was the courtesan of Ptolomy Soter I, Alexander’s general. Her character later inspired other characters of the same name in both Classical Roman and post-Classical literature. She appears in Terence’s Eunuchas, her lines were later quoted by Cicero and a Thaïs is mentioned in Dante’s Inferno. In more recent history, she was the inspiration of Ivan Eframov’s novel, Thaïs of Athens (1975).

The name was also borne by a legendary Egyptian Christian saint who was believed to have originally been a prostitute. She was converted by St. Paphnutius who had disguised himself as a “customer.” Thaïs became a fervent Christian, abandoning her comfortable life as a high-end prostitute and spending three years in repentance eventually dying in peace as a hermit in the Egyptian desert. Her story is the inspiration behind the Anatole France novel Thaïs (1890) which was later adapted into an opera of the same name. Demetre Chiparus famous sculpture, Thaïs, was in turn inspired by the Opera.

Due to the cult of St. Thaïs of Egypt, the name remained in use throughout the former Byzantine Empire. She was used to a certain extent on the continent and in 18th-century England during the Romantic Period.

As of 2010, Thaïs was the 97th most popular female name in France. Her Slovene form of Tajda was the 74th most popular female name in Slovenia, (2010), while Taja came in as the 23rd most popular female name in Slovenia, (2010).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Taisija/Taisiya (Bulgarian/Macedonian/Serbian/Russian/Ukrainian)
  • Taís (Catalan/Spanish)
  • Tayys تاييس (Coptic/Lebanese/Syrian)
  • Thaïs (English/French/German/Greek)
  • Thaisia (German)
  • Thaisis (German)
  • Taide (Italian)
  • Taisia (Italian)
  • Taida (Polish)
  • Tais (Polish)
  • Taisja (Polish)
  • Tesja (Polish)
  • Thaís (Portuguese)
  • Taja (Slovene)
  • Tajana (Slovene)
  • Tajda (Slovene)
  • Tajka (Slovene)
  • Tajša (Slovene)


Gender: Feminine
Origin: English
Meaning: unknown
Eng/Rom (meh-LIN-dah); Hun (MEL-een-daw); It (may-LEEN-dah)

The name is of uncertain meaning or origin, what is certain is that it has existed in the English-speaking world since at least the 18th-century. It may have originally been a mispronunciation of Belinda.

The name appears in the Hungarian opera, Bánk bán (1815) by József Katona, in which it is the name of a major female character. Since then, Melinda has been a fairly common name in Hungary.

The highest Melinda ever ranked in U.S. naming history was in 1973, coming in as the 72nd most popular female name in the United States. As of 2011, she does not appear in the U.S. top 1000.

As of 2010, its French form of Mélinda was the 174th most popular female name in France.

The name is used in Romania, Hungary and Italy.

A notable bearer is Melinda Gates, wife of CEO, Bill Gates.

It is also the name of a genus of fly.

A popular English diminutive offshoot is Mindy.


Gender: Masculine
Origin: Greek Ανατολιος
Meaning: “sunrise.”

The name is derived from the Greek, Anatolios Ανατολιος, which is derived from the word anatole ανατολη (sunrise). The name was borne by a 3rd-century Christian saint, philosopher and martyr.

The name was borne by several other saints.

An anatole is also a musical term employed in jazz.

The name was one of the most popular male names throughout the Soviet Union, before the October Revolution, the name was only used among monks and priests. The name no longer appears in Russia’s top 10.

Its French form of Anatole is 234th most popular male name in France, (2009).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Anatol Анатоль (Belarusian/Czech/German/Hungarian/Polish/Romanian)
  • Anatolij Анатолиј Анато́лий (Bulgarian/Croatian/Macedonian/Russian/Ukrainian)
  • Anatoli ანატოლი (Catalan/Georgian/Russian)
  • Anatole (French)
  • Anatolios (Greek)
  • Anatolio (Italian/Spanish)
  • Anatolijs (Latvian)
  • Anatolijus (Lithuanian)
  • Anatoliusz (Polish)
  • Anatólio (Portuguese)
  • Anatolie (Romanian)
  • Anatoliy (Russian: variant transcription)
  • Anatolije Анатолије (Serbian)
  • Anadolu (Turkish)
Common Russian diminutives are: Anatolka, Natoli, Natoha, Natosha, Tolia, Tolyunya; Tolyusya; Tolyan; Tolyaha; Tolyasha; Tosha; Tosya; Totya; Tusya 
A feminine form is Anatolia, which was also borne by an early Christian martyr. It shares its name with a region in Turkey.
Other feminine forms include:
  • Anatolija Анатолия (Bulgarian/Russian/Serbian)
  • Anatolia (Italian/Latin/Polish/Spanish)
  • Anatola (Polish)


Gender: Masculine
Origin: French
Eng (ahk-TAVE); Fre (OKE-TAHV)

In music, an octave is the space between one musical tone and another with half or double its frequency (1), in poetry, it is used to describe the first 8 lines of a sonnet.

In Roman Catholic liturgy, an octave is the 8th-day after a major feast, such as Easter.

Octave is also happens to be the French form of Octavius which is from the Latin meaning, (the eighth). However, the term octave (in reference to all of the above) occurs in French as well.

As of 2009, Octave was the 344th most popular male name in France.

Aria is slowly but surely rising up the charts, and Octave may make the perfect masculine cognate to a musical theme.


Gender: Feminine
Origin: Old Norse
Meaning: “armour battle.”
Eng (BRIN-hild).

Brynn and Matilda are on the rise, so why hasn’t Brynhild caught on? All we need is just one celebrity to be bold enough to use this name and then we’ll see it skyrocket into popularity. I am serious 🙂

The name is derived from the Old Norse, Brynhildr, which is composed of the elements, brynja (armour) and hildr (battle).

The name is borne by a valkyrie in Norse Mythology, she appears as a major figure in the Völsunga Saga.

The long tragic story starts off with Brynhild being transformed into a mortal woman by Odin for rigging a game between two warriors. A spell was cast upon her to sleep within a ring of fire, only a valiant warrior is able to break the spell and Sigurðr Sigmundson, aka Siegfried, does so by breaking through Brynhild’s armour. The two fall in love and are about to marry, but not is all as it seems. Brynhild takes Sigurðr to her family’s castle where he vows to marry her and love her forever, afterwards, Sigurðr takes off on a business trip, to meet with the Burgundian king, promising to return for Brynhild.

Enter Gudrun, the daughter of the Burgundian king and of the sorceress, Grimhild. Gudrun wants Sigurðr for herself, so she shows up at Brynhild’s castle and makes up a false prophecy, foretelling Sigurðr’s betrayal of Brynhild. Meanwhile, Gudrun’s mother, Grimhild, concocts a potion for Sigurðr, making him forget his beloved Brynhild. Sigurðr marries Gudrun. Grimhild decides that Brynhild would make the perfect wife for her son, Gunnar, but upon visiting Brynhild’s family home, Gunnar is stopped from entering by a magical ring of fire! Sigurðr, who had accompanied Gunnar on the trip, decides to shapeshift into the form of Gunnar and is able to enter the ring of fire. In the form of Gunnar, he proposes to Brynhild while carefully preventing himself from taking her virginity. Sigurðr and Gunnar reverse back to their natural forms, and Brynhild marries Gunnar. Now, this is where things get a bit ugly.

Brynhild and Gudrun get into an argument over whose husband is better. Brynhild boasts that Gunnar was brave enough to rescue her from the ring of fire, Gudrun, in anger, reveals that it was actually Sigurðr who rescued Brynhild and not Gunnar. In revenge, Brynhild incites Gunnar to kill Sigurðr by saying that Sigurðr took her virginity after he rescued her. Gunnar is too afraid to kill Sigurðr as he does not want to break his oath of brotherhood which he swore with Sigurðr, so he gives his younger brother, Guttorm, a magical potion that gives him an urge to kill, the victim being Sigurðr.

For whatever reason, Brynhild decides to throw herself on Sigurðr’s funeral pyre and the two are believed to have lived, happily ever after, in Hel, (not to be confused with the Christian Hell), as a couple.

The same story also appears in the Nibelungelied with slight variations, this in turn becomes the inspiration of Wagner operetic Ring Cycle.

It has been suggested that the Brynhild of mythology may have been based upon a Visigothic princess, Brunhilda of Austrasia (5th-century, C.E.).

As of 2010, Brynhild was the 8th most popular female name in the Faroe Islands.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Bruneguilda (Catalan)
  • Brunequilda (Catalan)
  • Brynild (Danish)
  • Brynhild (Faroese/Finnish/Scandinavian)
  • Brunehaut (French)
  • Brunehilde (French)
  • Brunichild (German)
  • Brun(i)hild(e) (German)
  • Brünhild (German)
  • Brynhildur (Icelandic)
  • Brunilde (Italian)
  • Brynel (Norwegian)
  • Brønla (Norwegian)
  • Brønnil(d) (Norwegian)
  • Brynhildr (Old Norse)
  • Brunilda (Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Nilda (Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Brynhilda/Brynhilde (Swedish)

Björk, Bjørk

Gender: feminine
Origin: Icelandic/Faroese
Meaning: “birch, birch tree.”
(BYERK) Pronunciation can be heard here: http://www.forvo.com/word/björk/

Indie rock star, Björk Guðmundsdóttir (b.1965), made this one a household name, though it is now a recognized name outside of Iceland, it will probably always be associated with the singer to non-Icelanders.

Björk is the Icelandic word for birch tree, when spelled Bjørk, it has the same meaning in both Faroese and Norwegian. It is interesting to note that björk is the modern Swedish word for birch tree, though neither nouns are used as a given names in Swedish or Norwegian. However, it is a very common and ordinary female name in both Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

As of 2010, Bjørk was the 8th most popular female name in the Faroe Islands.