Safin, Safana, Safina

Safin سَفِين is an Arabic male name that derives from the Arabic root, S-F-N س ف ن meaning, “ship.” Safin itself is the plural form and therefore means “ships.” The singular form of Safina سَفِينة (ship) is used as a female given-name. Another feminine form, which is Safana سَفّانة, literally meaning “boatwright” in modern Arabic derives from the same root but may have had a connotation of a precious gem or pearl in old Arabic and was also used as a term of endearment for a daughter.

Other forms include: Safeen (masculine), Saffanah (feminine), Safanah (feminine) & Safinah (feminine).

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Armita

  • Origin: Persian آرمیتا
  • Meaning: “holy devotion; creative harmony.”
  • Gender: feminine
  • Pronunciation: ar-MEE-tah

The name is derived from the Avestan Ārmaiti which refers to “holy devotion” or “divine creativity.”

In Zoroastrianism, Spenta Armaiti is one of the Amesha Spentas, which emanate from the Ahura Mazda. Later, Spenta Armaiti came to be personified as a divine female being, representing motherly and wifely devotion as well as the earth, she was synchronized with the Armenian goddess Sandaramet.

In the Zoroastrian calendar, the 5th day of the 12th month, which is called Sepandārmazgān, is her holiest day and a festival in honour of women and love was held in her honour.

Armita is used as a female give-name among Persians of all faiths and has been used in India & Pakistan.

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Gauri

  • Origin: Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi गौरी
  • Meaning: “fair; light-skinned; white; brilliant.”
  • Gender: feminine
  • Pronunciation: GORE-ee

The name comes directly from the Sanskrit word meaning “fair; light-skinned; white; brilliant.” In Hinduism, this is an epithet for the goddess Parvati in her Mahagauri form.

The Kannada and Tamil form is Gowri கௌரி (Tamil) & ಗೌರಿ (Kannada).

Gauri can also be a Finnish male form of the name Gabriel.

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Hansa

The name can have a few origins and meanings. It is primarily an Indian name that comes from the Sanskrit हंस (hamsa), which originally referred to an aquatic bird of passage. The hamsa is described as a mythical bird with knowledge in the Rig Veda and also as the main means of transport for the gods Brahma, Gayatri, Saraswati, and Vishvakarma in Hinduism. In the Ramayana, the hamsa was the bird that carried love letters between Damayanti and Nala. According to Indian legend, arayanna (heavenly hamsa swans) are said to live in the Himalayas where they eat pearls and are able to separate milk from water.

The hamsa bird is also associated with the concept of soham (that I am), as when it is said fast, hamsa starts to resemble soham. The latter is linked with the Brahman, and thus the bird is often associated with the cycle of samsara.

The hamsa bird has also been a popular motif in Indian art for centuries.

Over the centuries, it has interchangeably been translated as a swan, flamingo, goose or duck. It is ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root word *ǵʰh₂éns, which is also the progenitor of the English word goose, German gans (goose), and the Latin anser (goose).

In India, as a given-name, it is used among all languages groups. The name is primarily used on females but has occasionally been given to males.

The name is also German and Scandinavian female name, being a contracted form of Johanna. Other forms are Hansina and Hansine.

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Anil, Anila

Anila is from the Sanskrit आनिल (wind), in Hinduism it is an epithet for the wind God, Vayu. In contemporary India, both names are unisex.

Anıl is a Turkish unisex name meaning “the memory; to be remembered,” in Turkish. Anil is also a popular Albanian & Bosnian male name, while Anila is the feminine form that is exclusively used in Albania & Bosnia.

Anıl appeared in the Top 100 Most Popular Male Names in Turkey between 1990 and 2012, peaking at #51 in 1991.

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Fuad

  • Origin: Arabic فُؤاد
  • Meaning: “heart.”
  • Gender: masculine
  • Pronunciation: foo-AD

The name comes directly from the Arabic word for heart. It is used equally among Arab- Muslims & Christians. Among Christians, particularly Palestinians, Chaldeans and Lebanese Christians who profess Roman Catholicism, it is used in reference to the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in the same way the Spanish name Corazón is used in the Spanish-speaking world, though in the Arabic case, the name is strictly masculine.

Among Muslims, the term fu’ad is used at least 5 times in the Quran. The name is used throughout the Islamic world.

It is even used among Non-Arab groups in the Middle East, such as Mizrachi Jews.

The name was borne by two Egyptian kings.

Other forms include:

  • Fuad (Amharic, Azeri, Bosnian, Indonesian)
  • Fouad (Maghrebi)
  • Fuat (Turkish)
  • Fawad (Urdu)

A feminine form is Fuada(h).

Sources

Zuleika, Zuleikha

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  • Origin/Meaning: unknown زُلَيْخا זוליכה‎
  • Gender: female
  • (zoo-LAY-kah)
  • Usage: Arabic, Armenian, English, German, Italian, Ladino, Persian, Portuguese – Brazilian, Spanish

The name is of uncertain origin or meaning, since it appears in Muslim and Medieval Jewish tradition as the name of the wife of Potiphar (who is unnamed in the Old Testament), it is often suspected to be of Coptic origin, though the name is not traditionally used among contemporary Copts.

The wife of Potiphar is mentioned in the Bible as trying to seduce Joseph and later falsely claiming he tried to rape her, which leads to Joseph’s unjust imprisonment. In Medieval Islamic tradition, the story was reinterpreted as a popular love story, the subject of much poetry, she is named Zuleikha and her love for Joseph was interpreted by Sufi poets, especially Rumi and Hafez, to represent the longing the soul has for God. Zuleika is also attributed to be her name in the Sefer haYashar, also known as the Book of Jasher, a Jewish midrash of unknown authorship.

In the English-speaking world, the name first came into use in the early 19th-century, it was most likely popularized by Byron’s 1813 poem, The Bride of Abydos, in which it is the name of the heroine. It was also used by the German poet Goethe for his 1810 poem entitled, Book of Zuleika, in his collection of Eastern inspired poems called West–östlicher Divan. It is the name of the eponymous character in the 1911 novel, Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohn, which was later adapted into a musical.

The name is also used in Spanish-speaking countries and Brazil.


Other forms include:

  • Zulejka (Albanian, Bosnian)
  • Züleyxa (Azeri)
  • Zuleica (Catalan, Portuguese, Spanish)
  • Zulejha, Zulejka Зуле́йха, Зулейка (Chechen, Russian)
  • Zelikah (Dutch)
  • Zouleïkha (French)
  • Züleyha (Turkish)
  • Zulayho (Uzbek)

Other Arabic transliterations include: Zulaykha and Zulekha.

Spanish diminutives include: Zula & Zuzu.


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Firdaus

Poet, Firdowsi
  • Origin: Perso-Arabic
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Meaning: heaven; paradise; garden
  • Pronunciation: (FUR-dows)

The name comes directly from the Arabic word فردوس (firdaws), meaning “paradise,” which is ultimately from the Avestan pairidaeza “garden; enclosure.” In Islam, the term firdaws is sometimes used to refer to the highest level of Jannat or Heaven.

The name seems to be traditionally given to both males and females equally. A notable bearer was the 11th-century Persian poet, Firdowsi, who authored the historical epic, Shahnamah (Book of Kings).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Fardawəs (Abkhaz, exclusively male)
  • Firdovs (Chechen, exclusively female)
  • Fildusa (Bosnian, exclusively female)
  • Firdevsa (Bosnian, exclusively female)
  • Firdusa (Bosnian, exclusively female)
  • Firdaws/Firdaous (Maghrebin forms, exclusively female)
  • Pardis (Persian, exclusively female)
  • Fardowsa (Somali, exclusively female)
  • Firdavs (Tajik & Uzbek, exclusively male)
  • Firdausa (Tatar, exclusively female)
  • Firdaves (Tatar, unisex)
  • Firdavis (Tatar, exclusively male)
  • Firdevs (Turkish, unisex)

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Tala

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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.

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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)