Apolena, Apolline, Appollonia

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Greek
Meaning: “belonging to Apollo.”
Fre (Pronunciation); Czech (ah-poh-LEY-nah); Pol (ah-paw-LAW-nee-ah); Germ/Hung (ah-poh-LONE-ee-ah); It (ah-poh-LONE-yah)

She is sweet, fruity and portable, with the possible nickname options of the avant-garde Apple or the more subtle, Polly, who couldn’t resist this pearl?

Appollonia is a feminine form of the Greek male name, Appollonios πολλωνιος , which means “belonging to Apollo.” It was a very common name in Ancient Greece and is fairly common in modern Greece.

Its feminine form, however, was borne by a legendary saint. St. Appollonia was an early Christian Greek martyr. According to tradition, she was a deaconess and when she left her Church she was approached by a gang looking to kill Christians. Before being killed, she was tortured by either having her teeth pulled out one by one or more likely, she took such a hard blow to the face from her attackers that her teeth were knocked out. She has been revered as the patron saint of dentists and invoked against tooth ache by both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

There is evidence to suggest that Appollonia, or at least a form of it, was used in England before the Protestant Reformation. The cult of the saint was fairly popular in Medieval England, and though I cannot conclude that they are related for sure, I have found records of the female name Apelyn as early as the 15th-century in England. Another form of Appelin appears a few times in the mid 19th-century U.S. census records. Both Apelyn or Appelin may make interesting yet legitimate trendy alternatives to Adelyn or any name currently popular name ending in -lyn.

Appollonia is a common enough name in Greece and Southern Italy, many of you may be familiar with the name via The Godfather in which it is the name of the ill-fated Sicilian first wife of Michael Corleone.

As of 2010, its French form of Apolline was the 98th most popular female name in France. Its Polish offshoot of Pola ranked in as the 46th most popular female name in Poland in 2009. In this case, the name may be used in reference to its associations with the Polish noun, pole (field).

Another interesting Polish offshoot is Polonia, which is rare in Poland these days but might make an interesting choice for Polish-American parents who want to honour their heritage as polonia is a term used to describe the Polish diaspora in the United States. She may be the Polish-American answer to the Irish-American, Erin.

Then there is the lovely Czech variant of Apolena, which would make an interesting alternative to Elena or Magdalena.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Apollonia Απολλωνια (Albanian/Dutch/German/Greek/Italian/Romanian/Romansch/Scandinavian)
  • Ap(p)olonija Аполлония (Bulgarian/Croatian/Macedonian/Polish/Russian/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Apol·lònia (Catalan)
  • Abelone (Danish)
  • Lone (Danish)
  • Apolline (French)
  • Apollonie (French)
  • Pollonie (French)
  • Abelena (German)
  • Appolonia (German)
  • Apol (Hungarian)
  • Apolka (Hungarian)
  • Apollinária (Hungarian)
  • Apollónia (Hungarian)
  • Pólika (Hungarian)
  • Polina Полина (Hungarian/Russian/Ukrainian)
  • Polla (Hungarian)
  • Apollònia (Occitanian)
  • Apolinaria (Polish)
  • Apolla (Polish)
  • Apollina (Polish)
  • Apollona (Polish)
  • Apolonia (Polish/Serbian/Spanish)
  • Pola (Polish)
  • Polonia (Polish)
  • Apolônia (Portuguese: Brazilian)
  • Apolónia (Portuguese: European)
  • Balugna (Romansch)
  • Paluongia (Romansch)
  • Apollinárija Аполлина́рия (Russian)
  • Apolónia (Slovak)
  • Apoliena (Slovak: ah-poh-LYEH-nah)
  • Polona (Slovene)

Polish diminutives include: Pola, Polka, Polunia, Polusia, Polonka, Połonka, Lonia

Appollonia is also the name of several ancient cities throughout the former Greek colonies.

Masculine forms include:

  • Apollinarij/Apollinary Аполлинарий (Bulgarian/Russian)
  • Apol-loni (Catalan)
  • Apolinár (Czech)
  • Appollonius (Dutch/Latin/Romansch)
  • Apollinaire (French)
  • Apolonio (Galician/Spanish)
  • Apollinaris Απολλιναρις (Greek/Romansch)
  • Apollonios Απολλωνιος (Greek)
  • Apollóniosz (Hungarian)
  • Apollinare (Italian)
  • Appollonio (Italian)
  • Apolinary (Polish)
  • Apoloniusz (Polish)
  • Apolinário (Portuguese)
  • Apolônio (Portuguese: Brazilian)
  • Apolónio (Portuguese: European)
  • Apollinar (Romansch/Spanish)
  • Apollinari (Romansch)
  • Balun (Romansch)

Lison

Gender: Feminine
Origin: French
Fre (leey-ZOHn)

Pronounced, LEE-sen or LEE-zen, she may make an interesting yet legitimately feminine alternative to Madison or Addison or a more cool and modern form of the dated, Lisa.

Lison is a Medieval French diminutive of Elizabeth. It is also the name of a commune and river in France.

As of 2010, Lison was the 113th most popular female name in France, and she is rising. She jumped 9 spots from the year previous.

Sami

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic سامي
Meaning: “high; elevated; supreme.”
(SAH-mee)

The name is derived from the Arabic meaning, “high; elevated; supreme.”

However, it could also be a Finnish short form of Samuel. In Finland, it has often been used as an independent given name and in recent years is most likely used in reference to the language and ethnic group which is found in Finland, Norway and Russia, perhaps among people of Sami heritage. Sami is also the name of a lake in Finland.

As of 2009, Sami was the 183rd most popular male name in France while in 2010 he came in as the 193rd most popular male name in the Netherlands.

A feminine form of the Arabic is Samia.

Kahina

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic/Berber
Meaning: “soothsayer.”
Ber/Arab (kah-HEE-nah); Fre (kah-EE-nah)

The name is derived from the Arabic al-Kāhinatmeaning (the soothsayer), a nickname used by Muslim opponents for the Berber Warrior Queen, Dihya.

Dihya or Kahina is a symbol of Berber nationalism, she was a 7th-century Berber woman who led a rebellion against Islamic expansionism in North Africa. Though she was eventually defeated, her nickname Kahina has stuck over the centuries, and parents of Berber extraction have bestowed it upon their daughters in her honour. She gained the nickname al-Kāhinat as it was rumored that she was a prophetess.

As of 2009, Kahina was the 422nd most popular female name in France. The franconized form of Kaïna comes in as the 473rd most popular female name in France.

Vadim

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Slavic Вади́м
Meaning: debated
(vah-DEEM)

There are a few theories as to the origins and meaning of this name, the most popular being is that it is composed of two Slavic roots, vadit (to attract, to possess) and ima; imati, meaning, (possessing property). Another possibility is that it is derived from the Slavic, vaditi, meaning, “to accuse; to slander; to sow discord.” It has even been suggested to be related to the Persian Badian meaning, (anise).

The name was borne by a semi-legendary East Slavic ruler, Vadim the Bold (circ.9th-century), who led a revolt against Rurik. He is a popular character in 18th-century Russian literature and came to be viewed as a symbol of freedom for the Russian romantic movement.

The name is used in all Slavic-speaking countries, and is occasionally used in German-speaking countries and in Romania.

As of 2009, Vadim was the 423rd most popular male name in France.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Vuadim (Armenian)
  • Vadzim (Belarusian)
  • Vadim Вади́м (Bulgarian/Croatian/Czech/Romanian/Russian/Slovak/Slovene/Ukrainian)
  • Wadim (German)
  • Wadym (Polish)

A common Russian diminutive is Vadik.

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)

Ilona

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Hungarian/Finnish Илона
Hung (EE-loh-naw); Fin (EE-loh-nah); Germ/Pol (ee-LOH-nah)

The name was initially a Hungarian form of Helen, but its usage has spread throughout Eastern Europe and as even appeared north as Finland.

In Finland and Estonian, its etymology has often been traced to the Finnish ilona, the essive of the word, ilo, meaning, “joy.”

In Hungarian, it is a translation of Helen, via the Slavic, Jelena, in Old Hungarian it was Jelona. However, it has been suggested that it may be derived from an old Magyar source of uncertain etymology. The name appears quite often in Hungarian folklore.

Ilona is one of the few Hungarian names that has made a name for itself in other cultures, (no pun intended). It is a common female name in Albania, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, France, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Ukraine, the former Yugoslavian Republics and it is occasionally used in some Spanish-speaking countries.

As of 2011, Ilona was the 37th most popular female name in Finland. Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 178 (France, 2009)
  • # 478 (the Netherlands, 2010)

A few notable bearers include Ilona Zrinyi (1643-1703), a national heroine in both Hungary and Croatia, a representative of national freedom for both nations. She is famous for opposing the advances of the Habsburg takeover.

A common Hungarian diminutive is Ilonka.

Aura

The name could be of a few different etymologies.

In Greek, it is derived from the word for “breeze”, and is borne by several characters in Greek myth. One was a Titan goddess who was the personification of the fresh breezes and the cool air that accompanies early mornings.

According to one legend, Aura was so proud of her virginity that she mocked the virgin goddess Artemis, claiming that Artemis was not as pure as she, since Artemis was too “womanly.” In revenge, Artemis had Dionysus rape Aura. As a result, the Titaness went mad, becoming a slayer of men. When her twin sons were born, Aura ate one twin, while Artemis rescued the other. Zeus eventually transformed her into a breeze. Other legends state that she was transformed into a stream.

The aurai (the breezes) were a type of nymph, fathered by the sea god Oceanus.

Aura appears in the English lexicon describing a glow or metaphysical halo that is given off by a person’s or object’s energy.

The name has also experienced usage in Scandinavia. Its earliest attestation is in Sweden in 1818. In this case, the name may be a borrowing from the Greek, or it could be a contracted form of Aurora or AureliaHowever, it has been popularly attributed as being derived from a Norse element, aurr, meaning, “clay.”

In Finland, the name is a somewhat of a patriotic name as this was given as a name to the Maiden of Finland, the personification of Finland. In this case, her name is taken from the name of a river. The river name is believed to be related to an archaic Swedish word, aathra, meaning, (waterway), but in Finnish could be translated as meaning, “plow.”

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

Other forms of the name include:

  • Aura (English/Faroese/Finnish/Latin/Portuguese/Scandinavian/Spanish)
  • Ára (Faroese)
  • Aure (French)
  • Avra (Greek)
  • Aula (Italian)
  • Ávrá (Sami)

Tara

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Various
Eng (TAH-rah; TARE-uh)

The name can be of several different origins and meanings depending on the bearer of the name. It could be from the Sanskrit and Hindi तारा meaning, “star.”

In Hinduisim, Tara (Devi), a Mahavidya of Mahadevi, Kali or Parvati is a star goddess, she is considered one of the Great Wisdom goddesses.

In Buddhism, Tara is the name of a tantric meditation goddess.

In the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, it is the name of the wife of the monkey king, Vali, who married the king’s brother, Sugriva, after Vali’s death.

Among the Irish Diaspora, the name was usually used in reference to the sacred hill, Tara, where the high kings were usually coronated. In this case, the name is an anglicized form of the Gaelic, Teamhair, meaning, “elevated place.”

It may have been further popularized in the English-speaking world by the 1936 Margaret Mitchell novel, Gone with the Wind, in which the plantation is called Tara, in honour of the hill in Ireland.

In South Slavic languages, it could either be a contracted form of Tamara, or it could be taken from the name of the river which runs through Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is also the name of a river in Russia.

As of 2009, Tara was the 30th most popular female name in Croatia. Her popularity in other countries are as follows:

  • # 50 (Slovenia, 2010)
  • # 62 (Ireland, 2010)
  • # 77 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 126 (Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 774 (United States, 2010)

It is also the name of a sea goddess in Polynesian Mythology.