Thaïs

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)

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.

Safiyya

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic صفيّة
Meaning: “pure.”
(sah-FEE-yah)

The name is derived from the Arabic word, saf صاف (pure).

The name was borne by Safiyya Bint Huyayy, a Jewish-Bedouin woman who converted to Islam and became one of the Prophet Mohammed’s wives. It was also borne by Safiyya bint ‘Abd al-Muttalib, a Sahaba of Mohammed.

As of 2010, its Maghrebin form of Safia was the 293rd most popular female name in France. Her variant forms appear throughout the French top 500; their rankings are as follows:

  • # 297 (Safa)
  • # 466 (Safiya)
Safiyyah was the 10th most popular female name in Malaysia (2011)

Other forms of Safiya include:

  • Safija Сафия (Albanian/Bosnian/Bulgarian/Central Asian)
  • Safia (Algerian/Berber/Moroccan/Tunisian)
  • Safa (Arabic)
  • Saffiya (Arabic)
  • Safiye (Azeri/Kurdish/Turkish)
  • Shafiyah (Indonesian)
  • Safiyyah (Malaysian)
  • Safiya صفیه (Persian)

Qays, Kais

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic قيس‎
(kah-EES)

Qays was the name of a pre-Islamic marauding Arabic tribe who were eventually converted and absorbed into the general Arab population.

The name later appears in the Arab epic romantic poem, Qays & Leila.

As of 2010, its Maghrebin form of Kaïs was the 86th most popular male name in France.

Sufian

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic
Meaning: debated
(SOOF-yahn)

The name could either be derived from the Arabic ṣafā (صَفا) meaning, “pure” or the Arabic,    ṣūf (صُوف), meaning, “wool.”

The name was borne by Abu Sufyan, originally a staunch opponent to the Prophet Mohammed, he later became a devout Muslim. It was also borne by Sufyan ath-Thawri ibn Said (716–778), a notable Islamic scholar who is credited for putting together many of the hadiths.

A modern notable bearer is American musician, Sufjan Stevens (b.1975).

As of 2010, its Maghrebin form of Sofiane was the 106th most popular male name in France.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Sufyan (Albanian/Arabic)
  • Sofiane (Algerian/Moroccan/Tunisian)
  • Sufian (Arabic/Persian)
  • Süfyan (Azeri/Kurdish/Turkish)
  • Sufjan Суфьян (Bosnian/Bulgarian/Central Asian)
  • Sufyaan (Somalian)

Halima

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic حليمة
Meaning: “patient.”
(huh-LEE-muh)

The name is derived from the Arabic, حليم (haliem) meaning, “patient.”

The name was borne by a 6th-century Ghassian princess, (the Ghassians were a group of Hellenized Arabs).

As of 2010, Halima was the 455th most popular female name in France.

As West African form is Halimat.

Masculine form is Halim.

Nabil

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic نبيل
Meaning: “noble”
(NAH-BEEL)

The name comes from the Arabic meaning, “noble”, and is popular among Christians, Muslims and even Baha’i.

It was borne by a an early Christian saint and martyr, a king of Mauretania, who was martyred under his brother Gildon, who took the side of the Pagan Romans.

It was also borne by Nabíl-i-Akbar (1829-1892), one of the 19 Apostles of Bahá’u’lláh and the Great Nabíl (1831–1892), a renowned Bahai historian.

As of 2009, Nabil was the 399th most popular male name in France.

A Berber form is Navil and a feminine form is Nabila.

Badis

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Berber
Meaning: unknown
(BAH-dees)

The name is a Berber name of ancient origins but of uncertain meaning. This was the original name of the Spanish island of Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, which lies off the coast of Morocco.

The name was borne by a few Amazigh kings, the most notable being, Badis the Hammadit.

As of 2009, Badis was the 443rd most popular male name in France.