Hercules

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Greek Ἡρακλῆς
Meaning: “glory of Hera.”

Hercules is the Latin form of the Greek, Herakles. Herakles is composed of the Greek elements, Hera (as in the goddess) and cleos (κλεος) meaning, “glory; fame.”

The name was of course borne in Greek mythology by the divine hero, son of Zeus and Alcmene. In a rage of jealousy and to spite Zeus, Hera cursed Hercules into madness, driving him to kill his own children. In order to atone for his sins, Hercules performed twelve seemingly impossible feats, which he successfully accomplished thereafter becoming divine.

Hercules was a popular figure in Ancient Greece and later enjoyed popularity in the Roman Empire. His festival of Heraklea occurred between July and August. Thus the name may make an interesting choice for a child born during these months.

The name remained common even after the introduction of Christianity. It is especially common in Southeastern Europe and Greece.

Irakli, the Georgian form of the name, was borne by two Georgian Kings, the most notable being Irakli II (1720-1798).

As of 2011, Irakli was the 11th most popular male name in the Republic of Georgia.

In the English-speaking world, Hercules had some usage between the 16th and 19th-centuries. Notable bearers include:

  • Hercules Huncks (circ. 1600s) one of the Regicides of King Charles I of England.
  • Hercules Ross (1745-1816) a Scots tradesmen and abolitionist.
  • Hercules Brabazon Sharpe, (1821-1906) a British artist
  • Hercules Robinson, 1st Baron Rosmead, (1824-1897) the 5th governor of Hong Kong.
  • Hercules Linton (1837-1900) a famous Scottish shipbuilder and designer.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Herakliu (Albanian)
  • Gjerakl Геракл (Belarusian)
  • Herakl Херакъл (Bulgarian)
  • Hèracles (Catalan)
  • Hèrcules (Catalan)
  • Heraklo (Croatian)
  • Herkul (Croatian/Macedonian/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Héraklés (Czech)
  • Hercule (French)
  • Earcail (Gaelic)
  • Irakli ირაქლი (Georgian)
  • Herakles Ηρακλης (German/Greek/Polish/Scandinavian)
  • Eracle (Italian)
  • Ercole (Italian)
  • Hērakls (Latvian)
  • Heraklis (Lithuanian)
  • Eracles (Occitanian)
  • Éracle (Piedmontese)
  • Héracles (Portuguese)
  • Heracle (Romanian)
  • Gerakl Гера́кл (Russian)
  • Erculi (Sicilian)
  • Heraclio (Spanish)
  • Ercwlff (Welsh)

Cassandra

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Greek Κασσανδρα
Meaning: debated
Eng (kə-SAN-drə; kə-SAHN-drə)

There are a few theories as to the origins of this name, one is that it is composed of the Greek elements, kekesmai (κεκασμαι), “shining” and the genitive Greek, aner, (ανηρ) “man.” Another possibility to the first element is that it is from the Greek, kasis (κάσις) meaning, “sister.” If either of these theories are to be considered, Cassandra may either mean “shining upon man” or “man’s sister.” The third possibility is that it is a Greek corruption of the ancient Persian female name, Cassandane, which is of uncertain meaning but was the name of a wife of Cyrus the Great. The name is still used in modern Iran in the form of Kasandan.

The name is borne in Greek mythology by the daughter of King Priam. She was cursed by Apollo to predict future events which nobody would believe. Hence the modern term “cassandra” to describe a valid warning which is dismissed or unheeded. Cassandra’s story has been the subject of literature, music and art for the last 2,000 years.

The name was fairly common in Medieval England and was revived in the 18th-century. It was borne by Cassandra Austen (1773-1845) a British artist and the sister of Jane Austen.

The highest the name ranked in U.S. history was in 1990, coming in as the 49th most popular female name. As of 2011, she was the 411th most popular female name.

As of 2010, Cassandra was the 116th most popular female name while her actual French form of Cassandre came in as the 145th most popular name.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Kasandra Касандра (Bosnian/Bulgarian/Croatian/Macedonian/Polish/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Cassandra (Catalan/English/French/Italian/Portuguese/Scandinavian)
  • Kassandra Κασσάνδρα Кассандра (Dutch/Czech/German/Greek/Russian/Scandinavian)
  • Cassandre (French)
  • Kasszandra (Hungarian)
  • Casandra (Spanish)
Common English short forms are Cassie and Sandy.

Ambrose

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Greek
Meaning: “immortal.”
Eng (AM-broze); Fre (ahm-BWAHZ)

Ambrose is an English version of the Late Latin, Ambrosius, which is a form of the Greek male name Αμβροσιος (Ambrosios), meaning, “immortal.”

The name was borne by a 4th-century Christian saint, a contemporary of St. Augustine of Hippo. He is considered a Doctor of the Church and the patron saint of Milan.

As of 2010, its French form of Ambroise was the 391st most popular male name in France.

The designated name-day is December 7.

There is a feminine version as well, Ambrosia, and in Greek mythology, it is borne by the daughter of Atlas and Pleione. It was also the name of the food of the gods eaten on Mount Olympos.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Ambrozi (Albanian)
  • Ambrosiu (Asturian)
  • Anbortsi (Basque)
  • Ambroaz (Breton)
  • Amvrosij Амвросий (Bulgarian/Russian/Ukrainian)
  • Ambròs (Catalan)
  • Ambrosgiu (Corsican)
  • Ambrozije (Croatian)
  • Ambrož (Czech/Slovene)
  • Ambroos (Dutch)
  • Broos (Dutch/Limburgish)
  • Ambroise (French)
  • Ambros (German/Romansch)
  • Ambrosios Αμβροσιος (Greek)
  • אמברוזיוס Ambrwzyws (Hebrew)
  • Ambrus (Hungarian)
  • Ambrósíus (Icelandic)
  • Ambróis (Irish)
  • Bosone (Italian: obscure)
  • Ambrogio/Ambrogino (Italian: more common forms)
  • Ambrosino (Italian: obscure)
  • Ambrosi (Kiswahili)
  • Ambrosius (Late Latin/Danish/Dutch/Finnish/German/Estonian/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Ambrozijs (Latvian)
  • Ambraziejus (Lithuanian)
  • Ambroeus (Lombard)
  • Ambroży (Polish)
  • Ambrósio (Portuguese)
  • Ambrozie (Romanian)
  • Ambrosi(Romansch)
  • Ambròsu (Sardinian)
  • Ambroggiu (Sicilian)
  • Ambróz (Slovakian)
  • Ambrosio (Spanish/Galician/Italian/Venetian)
  • Emrys (Welsh)

Feminine forms include:

  • Ambroisine/Ambrosine (French)
  • Ambrogia/Ambrogina (Italian)
  • Ambrosina (Italian)
  • Ambrosia (Greek/Italian)
  • Ambrozja (Polish)
  • Ambrozija (Slovene)

Linda

Gender: Feminine

1. Origin: German
Meaning: “soft; tender”
Линда

2. Origin: Spanish
Meaning: “pretty”

3. Origin: Estonian
Meaning: “bird.”

In the English-speaking world, the name is most likely derived from the ancient Germanic element, linde, meaning, “soft; tender.”

Its popularity between the 1940s-1950s may have been due to its associations with the Spanish adjective, linda which means “pretty.” However, the name is not really used in Spanish-speaking countries.

In Estonian, the name has a completely different etymology and history. It appears in the Estonian national epic, the Kalevipoeg, where it is the name of the protagonist’s mother. In this case, the name is most likely derived from the Estonian word lind, meaning “bird.”

Between 1947-1952, this was the most popular female name in the United States, as of 2010, it ranked in as the 623rd most popular female name. Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 393 (France, 2009)
  • # 456 (Netherlands, 2010)

The name is also used in Czech, German, the Scandinavian languages, Finnish, Italian, Hungarian, Latvian, Slovak and in Bulgarian.

Designated name-days are: February 13 (Hungary), April 15 (Finland), April 30 (Latvia), June 20 (Sweden), June 25 (Estonia), August 21 (Latvia), September 1 (Czech Republic) and September 2 (Slovakia).

Notable bearers include: American actress and star of the Exorcist, Linda Blair (b.1959); Wonder Woman star, Lynda Carter (b. 1951); Canadian supermodel, Linda Evangelista (b.1965); actress Linda Fiorentino (b.1958) and Linda McCartney (1941-1998).

Sources

  1. www.behindthename.com
  2. www.askoxford.com
  3. http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/19438
  4. http://www.kalevipoeg.info/
  5. http://www.lituanus.org/2001/01_3_05.htm
  6. http://www.nlib.ee/html/expo/kalevipoeg/sisse-eng.html
  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_(Estonian_mythology)
  8. http://online.ectaco.co.uk/main.jsp;jsessionid=bc30356aa6876d371b29?do=e-services-dictionaries-word_translate1&direction=2&status=translate&lang1=23&lang2=et&refid=-1&source=lind

Achilles

Gender: Male
Origin: Greek
Meaning “pain.”
Eng (uh-KEELZ); (ah-KEEL-leez); Fre (ah-SHEEL); It (ah-KIL-le)

The name of the great Pythian hero of the Trojan war, Achilles was invincible save for the one spot on his heel that was vulnerable to killing him. Achilles was timelessly struck down after a poisoned arrow pierced his heel. Some legends state that his mother, Thetis, had dipped him in the river Styx to render her child immortal. However, since she was holding him by one heel, the waters were unable to pass through her hands onto the area to which she held him.

Achilles’ Heels is a term used to describe a person’s weakness. In anatomy, Achilles Tendon is used to describe a tendon of the posterior leg.

As of 2009, Achille was the 204th most popular male name in France.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Akili (Albanian)
  • Akiles (Basque)
  • Ahilej (Bosnian, Serbo-Croatian)
  • Akilles (Breton)
  • Aquil·les (Catalan)
  • Achilles (Czech/English/Polish)
  • Akhilleus (Finnish/Scandinavian: very obscure)
  • Achille (French/Italian)
  • Achilleus Αχιλλευς (Greek)
  • Akhilleusz (Hungarian: obscure)
  • Ahillejs (Latvian)
  • Achilas (Lithuanian)
  • Akille (Maltese)
  • Akilles (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Ahile (Romanian)
  • Achilli (Sicilian)
  • Ahil (Slovene)
  • Aquiles (Spanish/Galician/Portuguese)

Hippolytus, Hippolyte

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Greek ‘Ιππολυτος
Meaning: “freer of horses.”
Eng (hip-PAHL-ih-tus); Eng Fem (HIP-poh-LY-tee; hi-PAHL-i-tah) Fre (EEP-poh-LEET)

The name is derived from the Greek, Hippolytos (‘Ιππολυτος), which is composed of the elements, hippos (‘ιππος), meaning, “horse” and lyo (λυω) meaning, “to loosen.”

The name was borne in Greek mythology by a son of Theseus, and depending on some sources either the Amazon, Hippolyte (hence the name) or Antiope. He rejected the advances of his step-mother, Phaedra, who, when spurned, complained to Theseus that his son had raped her. In anger, Theseus cursed his own son, using of the his three wishes granted by Poseidon, Hippolytus was dragged to death by his horses after being frightened by a sea-monster. The story was retold both by Euripides in his play Hippolytus and by Seneca the Younger in his play, Phaedra.

His possible birth mother of Hippolyte was an Amazonian queen who possessed a magical girdle which denoted her rank. She appears in the legend of Hercules who seeks her girdle for the princess, Admeta. Hippolyte is so impressed with the immortal’s prowess that she gives Hercules her girdle as a gift. William Shakespeare may have based his character of Hippolyta who appears in A Midsummer’s Night Dream off of Hippolyte the Amazon queen.

The male form of Hippolytus appears several more times throughout Greek mythology as the name of minor characters.

It was also borne by some early renowned Christian saints, including Hippolytus of Rome a 3rd-century Christian theologian, writer and martyr.

In English and early Greek, Hippolyte often appears as a feminine form, but in French, it is an epicène name, that is a unisex name, however, it is more often used on males than on females. As of 2009, Hippolyte was the 286th most popular male name in France.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Ipolit Иполит (Bulgarian/Serbian)
  • Hipòlit (Catalan)
  • Hipolit (Croatian/Polish/Romanian/Slovak)
  • Hippolyt (Czech/German)
  • Hippolytus (Dutch/English/Latin)
  • Hippolyte (French)
  • Ipolite იპოლიტე (Georgian)
  • Hippolütosz (Hungarian)
  • Ippolito (Italian)
  • Hipolitas (Lithuanian)
  • Hipólito (Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Ippolit Ипполит (Romansch/Russian/Ukrainian)
  • ‘Ipołito (Venetian)
Feminine forms include:
  • Hipolita Хиполита (Albanian/Bulgarian/Serbian)
  • Ipalita Іпаліта (Belarusian)
  • Hipòlita (Catalan)
  • Hippolyta ‘Ιππολυτη (English/Greek/Latin/Romanian)
  • Hippolyte ‘Ιππολυτη (English/French/Greek)
  • Hippolüté (Hungarian)
  • Ippolita Ипполи́та (Italian/Russian/Ukrainian)
  • Hipolitė (Lithuanian)
  • Hippolita (Polish)
  • Hipólita (Portuguese/Spanish)

Freya

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Old Norse
Meaning “lady; mistress”
(FRAY-yah)

The name is derived from the proto-Germanic word, *frawjōn, which designates a woman of noble birth. The modern German word of Frau is a modern cognate. Many scholars argue whether Freya was originally the name of the goddess or a title used in reference to her; it has even been suggested that the goddess had an actual given that has been lost to history.

In Norse mythology, Freya was believed to be the most beautiful goddesses ever created. Scholars believe that Freya was essentially a fertility goddess who assisted in the growth of wildlife, agriculture and human reproduction; along with birth and life, she was also associated with death. In Norse legend, it was Freya who received half the slain warriors into her heavenly hall.

She is often times the subject of the poetic eddas along with her numerous epithets, which are as follows:

  • Vanadis (beautiful goddess)
  • Mardoll (sea bright)
  • Horn (flaxen)
  • Gefn (the giver)
  • Syr (sow) which illustrates Freya’s association with pigs and fertility.

Today the name has survived in modern Germanic lexicons; the English word Friday means “Freya’s day” likewise the same in German with Freitag; the Danish/Swedish/Norwegian Fredag and the Dutch Vrijdag.

There are a few plants named for the goddess, such as Freyja‘ Hair and Freyja’s Tears, and the chemical Vanadium is derived from her epithet, Vanadis.

Today, Freya, and its alternate forms are still very common throughout Scandinavia and she even appears in the British top 100. Her rankings are as follows:

  • # 8 (Freja, Denmark, 2010)
  • # 19 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 19 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 41 (Freja, Sweden, 2010)
  • # 53 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 61 (Ireland, 2010)

Other forms include:

  • Frea (Anglo-Saxon/Lombard)
  • Fröe (Danish: obscure form)
  • Freya (English/Modern German/Dutch)
  • Froya (Faroese)
  • Freija (Finnish)
  • Frya/Frija (Frisian)
  • Freja (German/Scandinavian)
  • Fráujo (Gothic)
  • Frėja (Lithuanian)
  • Frieja (Low Saxon)
  • Frøya (Norwegian)
  • Freyja (Old Norse/Icelandic)
  • Frīa/Frija (Old High German)
  • Frowa (Old High German)
  • Fröa (Swedish: very obscure form)
  • Fröja (Swedish: very obscure form)
The designated name-day in Sweden is January 23rd.

Phoebe

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Greek
Meaning: bright; light
(FEE-bee).

To many Americans, Phoebe brings to mind the wacky yet lovable character of Phoebe Buffay on the popular SitCom, Friends. To the British, she is of an upper crust trendy sort, to Christians, she is an admirable woman in the New Testament, and to the Greeks, she is a classic, featured in both the Greek Orthodox calendar of saints as well as in Greek myth.

The name is derived from the Greek, Phoibus, which means “bright, light.”

In Greek Mythology, Phoebe was a pre-Olympic goddess, a Titan. She was the goddess of the moon and the consort of her own brother Coeus, from him, she mothered Asteria and Leto and was believed to be the grandmother of Artemis and Apollo.

The Greeks later associated her with the goddess Artemis. Phoebe was often used as an epithet for Artemis, while the masculine form, Phoebus, was used for Apollo.

Phoebe was also associated with the Oracle of Delphi.

There are a few other Phoebes mentioned in ancient Greek religion, one was a Heliade nymph, another was the daughter of Leucippus and Philodice.

Phoebe, daughter of Leucippus, and her sister Hilaeira, were priestesses to Artemis and Athena. They were both betrothed to Idras and Lynceus. Castor and Pollux, the divine twins, were so impressed by their beauty, that they fell in love with the two maidens and carried them off for themselves. Idras and Lynceus, outraged, sought the two immortals but were both slain. Nevertheless, Phoebe married Pollux. It was also the name of a sister to Leda.

In the New Testament, the name is borne by a woman of Cenchrae, many scholars argue that she was a deaconess, the Catholic Church especially seems to support this stance. She is also believed to have brought Paul’s Epistle of the Romans to Rome. She is a canonized saint in both the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches, both rites hold her feast on September 3rd.

Fast forward to the 1500s and you will find the name Phebe, (an older English spelling), as the name of one of Shakespeare’s characters in his play, As You Like It. In the modern American Classic, she is the younger sister of Holden Caulfied in J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Polish Science Fiction writer, Jacek Duraj, uses the name as an acronym for post-human beings in his novel Perfekcyjna niedoskonałość.

Phoebe is also the name of a genus of evergreen tree, a species of bird and a moon of the planet, Saturn.

As of 2010, Phoebe was the 29th most popular female name in England/Wales. Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 56 (Australia, NSW, 2010)
  • # 90 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 93 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 309 (United States, 2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Febe (Asturian/Danish/German/Italian/Norwegian/Polish/Portuguese/Spanish/Swedish)
  • Foibe (Danish)
  • Phoebe (Dutch/English/German)
  • Phœbé/Phébé (French)
  • Phoibe (German)
  • Phoebi/Phoibi (Greek)
  • Feba (Serbo-Croatian)
  • Foibe (Swedish)

Idris

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic إدريس‎ or Welsh
Welsh Meaning: “ardent lord.”
Arabic Meaning: uncertain

Idris is of two different origins and is used in two separate cultures. In Welsh, it is composed of the elements, udd (lord; prince) and ris (ardent, enthusiastic.” In Welsh mythology it was borne by a giant who used the mountain peak of Cadair Idris (Seat of Idris) as an observatory. Legends claims that if you spend one night on the mountain peak you wake up either as a madmen or as a great poet. The name was also borne by a 7th-century Welsh prince, Idris ap Gwyddno.

In the Qu’ran, the name is borne by a prophet, traditionally ascribed to being the same as the Biblical prophet Enoch. Many modern Islamic scholars now believe that Idris was a separate person from Enoch. In this case, the name is believed to be of pre-Islamic and possibly of non-Arabic roots of undeterminate etymology, some, however have connected the name with the Arabic root d-r-s, meaning, “study.”

As of 2009, Idris was the 479th most popular male name in France. In France it is used both among the Bretons and among recent Muslim immigrants.

Other forms of the Arabic include:

  • Idris إدريس‎) Идрис (Albanian/Arabic/Assyrian/Baloch/Bosnian/Bulgarian/Circassian/Dagestani/Egyptian/Ethiopian/Indonesian/Javanese/Lebanese/Malaysian/Nigerian/Syrian)
  • İdris (Azeri/Turkish)
  • Idriss (Chadian)
  • Driss (Berber/Moroccan)
  • Ydyrys Ыдырыс (Chechen/Kazakh/Kyrgyz/Tajik/Tatar/Turkmen/Uzbek)
  • Idrîs (Kurdish)
  • Idriis (Somali)
  • Idrissa (West African)

Väinö

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Finnish/Estonian
Meaning: “wide”

The name is most likely a contraction of Väinämöinen, which is most likely derived from the name of a river, which in itself is derived from a Finnic element, väinä, meaning, “wide”.

In Finnish and Estonian mythology, Väinämöinen, (or Vanemuine in Estonian), was a god-like figure who possessed a magical voice and loved to play on his Finnish harp.

He plays a central and integral part in the Kalevala and in the Estonian epic, the Kalevipoeg.

In both Finland and Estonia, Väinämöinen and Vanemuine are rarely used as given names, but its abbreviated forms are fairly common .

As of 2011, Väinö was the 23rd most popular male name in Finland.

Another Finnish form is Väinämö, its diminutive forms are: Väiski, Väiskä, Vänni, Vänski, Väntti/Väntty, Vänttä, Vänä and Väpä.

Other forms include:

  • Väino (Estonian)
  • Väinu (Estonian)
  • Veaidnu (Sami)
  • Vejne (Swedish)

The designated name-day in both Finland and Estonia is February 17.

Sources

  1. http://www.behindthename.com/name/va12ina12mo12inen
  2. http://www.nordicnames.de/wiki/Väinämöinen
  3. Turunen, Aimo (1981). Kalevalan sanat ja niiden taustat. Karjalaisen kulttuurin edistämissäätiö
  4. Toim. Maarti Kaimio, Paavo Castren, Jorma Kaimio: Antiikin myytit ja uskonnot (2007)
  5. Martti Haavio: Väinämöinen (1950)