Siena, Sienna

Sienna, SienaThis name has somewhat of a complicated history, though it seems like a modern place-name, it has actually had a long history of use.

Sienna is an alternate spelling for an Italian city in Tuscany. The name itself is believed to be from Saina, which was the name of an Etruscan tribe that inhabited the area prior to the Romans. There is also a legend that it was named for a son of Romulus who was named Senius. The name has also been linked with the Latin senex (old) and the Latin verb, seneo (to be old).

As the name of a colour, it takes its name from the city, where the popular pigment used among artist was first produced. Its use as a colour name in the English language first appears in 1760.

Now as a given-name, this is where things get complicated. Its earliest use appears in the 18th-century, in Spain, Quebec and England. In the case of Spain and Quebec, it was most likely used in honour of St. Catherine of Sienna. In the English examples, it may have been used in reference to the colour. The British have a long history of using names of places and words since the 16th-century.

By the early 1800s, Sienna was a very popular middle name used in Bavaria and Ireland, attached to the name Catherine, so in these cases it was no doubt used in reference to St. Catherine of Sienna in devoutly Catholic pockets of Europe.

Sienna is also the name of several places throughout Poland and occasionally occurs as a surname. In this case, the name is derived from the Polish word, siano (hay).

Sienna currently ranks in the Top 100 of several countries. Its rankings are as follows:

  • #27 (Australia, NSW, 2017)
  • #28 (England/Wales, 2016)
  • #32 (New Zealand, 2016)
  • #68 (Scotland, 2016)
  • #71 (Ireland, 2016)
  • #236 (United States, 2016)
  • #354 (Netherlands, 2016)
  • #625 (Siena, United States, 2016)

A Dutch offshoot is Siënna.

A notable bearer is actress, Sienna Miller (b.1981).

Sources

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Sharbel, Charbel

Sharbel, CharbelOrigin: Aramaic
Meaning: uncertain
Gender: Masculine
(shar-BEL)

A traditional Aramaic male name, many sources erroneously list this name as Arabic. Its meaning is illusive, but what is known is that the second element of the name is either from the Aramaic el (God) or Ba’al, meaning “master; lord.”

This is a very common name among Assyrian Christians as it was borne by an early Christian martyr and saint of Syria (known to Western Christians as St. Sarbelius). St. Sarbelius was martyred under the Roman Emperor Trajan.

In the 19th-century, the name was borne by a Lebanese mystic and monk, St. Charbel Makhlouf (1828-1898).

The name is sometimes transliterated as Šarbel or Šarbil.

Since this is the name of a saint venerated among Roman Catholics and Eastern Christians, there are equivalents that appear on several Christian calendars across the world, however, the following names are not necessarily in common use in said languages:

  • Xàrbel (Catalan)
  • Šarbel (Croatian/Czech)
  • Charbel (French, used among French-speakers of Lebanese or Assyrian descent)
  • Scharbel (German)
  • Sarbelius (Latin)
  • Chárbel (Spanish, used among Spanish-speakers of Lebanese descent, especially in Mexico where there is a large Lebanese-Mexican community)
  • Szarbel (Polish: not in use, but appears on the Catholic Saint calendar)

Sources

Rigobert, Rigoberto

RigobertOrigin: Germanic
Meaning: “bright ruler”
Gender: Masculine

The name derives from the Old High German, Ricbert, which is composed of the elements, rik (ruler) and behrt (bright).

Rigobert was borne by a late 7th-century Benedictine monk who succeeded St. Rieul as Bishop of Rheims.

Its Spanish and Italian form of Rigoberto is fairly common among Hispanic communities in the United States. It has appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 between 2000-2009 and peaked at #633 in 2001.

Other forms include:

  • Ricbehrt (Anglo-Saxon)
  • Rigobert (Czech/Dutch/German/French/Hungarian)
  • Ricbert (Dutch)
  • Richbert (German)
  • Ricbraht (German)
  • Ricpert (German)
  • Ricoberto (Italian)
  • Rigoberto (Italian/Spanish)
  • Ricobertus (Late Latin)
  • Rygobert (Polish)
  • Ribert (Swedish)

A French and Spanish short form is Rigo.

Sources

Ciara

CiaraOrigin: Irish Gaelic
Meaning: “black”
Gender: Feminine
(KEER-ah)

The name is from the Irish Gaelic ciar (black) and is borne by a 7th-century Irish saint, a contemporary of St. Brendan’s. According to legend, she founded a nunnery. In the Latin texts, her name was often latinized as Chera, Chier, Ciara, Cyra, Keira, Kiara, Kiera, Cier, and Ciar, but most popularly Cera. 

It is interesting to note that the Kiara form has appeared in most Slavic derived Roman Catholic calendars for centuries, but only recently became more popular in Slovenia and Croatia, where it is claimed the name is a corruption of the Italian Chiara, or is it?

The usage of Ciara, pronounced (see-AR-ah), was most likely inspired by the 1973 perfum of the same name, which was named for the initials of Charles Revson. In the United States, the former became popular in the African American community, while the Gaelic form pronounced (KEER-ah) is not unheard of in Irish-American communities. A notable bearer is American R&B singer, Ciara Princess Harris (b. 1983).

Ciara (CHAH-rah) is also a Polish surname, which comes from the Polish dialectial ciarać (się) “to roll.”

Currently, Ciara is the 39th most popular female name in Ireland (2016) and the 406th most popular in England and Wales.

In the United States, Ciara was in the U.S. Top 1000 between 2000-2016, and peaked at #282 in 2000.

Sources

Myron

Myron

Origin: Greek
Meaning: “myrrh; perfume”
Gender: Masculine
Eng. (MY-ron); GRK (MEE-rone)

The name comes from the Greek meaning “myrrh; perfume.” It was borne by a 5th-century B.C.E Greek sculptor as well as several Christian saints.

In the United States, especially at the turn of the century, it was used among Jewish families as a form of the Hebrew Meir.

Myron is also the name of a genus of snakes.

For 100 years, between 1900-2000, it was in the U.S. Top 1000 Most popular male name. Myron peaked in 1931 when it was the 192nd most popular male name.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Mirón (Asturian/Galician/Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Miran Міран (Belarussian)
  • Miron Ми́рон (Bulgarian/Croatian/Romanian/Russian/Serbian/Slovenian/Ukrainian)
  • Miró (Catalan)
  • Myrón (Czech)
  • Myron (Dutch/English/French/German/Polish)
  • Mürón (Hungarian)
  • Mýron (Icelandic)
  • Mirone (Italian)
  • Mironi მირონი (Georgian)
  • Mironas (Lithuanian)

A feminine form is Myra.

Sources

 

Braulio

800px-Braulio_de_Zaragoza_e_Isidoro_de_SevillaOrigin: Spanish
Meaning: unknown
Gender: Masculine
(BROW-lee-oh)

The name can be traced to Visigothic Spain, when it was introduced by the 6th-century Spanish saint, Braulio of Zaragoza (590-651). A popular theory is that the name derives from the Germanic, Brandila, which is diminutive form of Brant (sword; fire). Another theory is that it is related to the Latin pravus (ferocious).

Through colonisation, its usage spread throughout the Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking world.

In the Spanish-speaking world, a notable bearer is Canarian singer/songwriter, Braulio (born Braulio Antonio García Bautista b. 1946).

Through the Catholic Church, the name appears on the calendar in most Catholic nations in various forms, though it has not experienced much use outside of Latin-American and Iberian countries, the other forms include:

  • Brauli (Catalan)
  • Braule (French)
  • Braulione (Italian)
  • Braulion (Polish)
  • Bráulio (Portuguese)

Feminine forms are Braulia (Spanish) and Bráulia (Portuguese).

Ironically, though popularly attributed as a name of Germanic origin, there doesn’t seem to be any obscure modern Germanic forms.

Sources

Winifred, Winnie, Gwenffrewi

Hollywell.jpgOrigin: Welsh
Meaning: uncertain
Gender: Feminine
(WIN-e-fred; WIN-nee; gwen-VROO-wee)

Winifred is an anglicized from of the Welsh female name, Gwenfrewi, the first element, gwen meaning “white; holy,” while the second element is uncertain but is suggested to mean “reconciliation” or “peace.” Many sources have confused this with the Anglo-Saxon male name, Winfred which actually means “friend of peace” or “peaceful friend,” but the names are actually unrelated.

In Medieval England, the name was popularized by the cult of a 7th-century Welsh saint. According to legend, Winifred wanted to be a nun, which enraged a jealous suitor by the name of Caradog who decapitated her. Her uncle, St. Beuno, was able to place her head back on her shoulders and she was miraculously restored back to life. St. Winifred was able to live the rest of her life in holiness and died at a ripe old age, while her brother killed Caradog in revenge for her decapitation. A spring miraculously rose up from the site of her decapitation and for centuries, this was a site of pilgrimage for healing. While her story of being decapitated and brought back to life cannot be verified, historians do believe St. Winifred was a real person and that something definitely happened to her neck at some point in her life, as old Latin records always refer to a strange scar. Who knows….

To this day, Winifred’s Well in Holywell in Shrewsbury, England remains a popular site of pilgrimage, despite Henry VIII’s destruction of the shrine in the 16th-century, it seems to have been rebuilt.

St. Winifred has been referenced in English literature throughout the centuries. Her well is mentioned in the Medieval poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Her life story was dramatized as a play by William Rowley in A Shoemaker a Gentleman (1637), which was based on an earlier work by Thomas Deloney, The Gentle Craft (1584). In the 19th-century, St Winifred’s Well was written by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Winifred was in the U.S. Top 1000 Female names between 1900 and 1965. The name was never too popular however, the highest Winifred ever ranked was at #141 in 1917.

Its diminutive offshoot of Winnie established itself as an independent given name by the 16th-century. There are a few records of “just Winnies” going as far back as the 1500s. Other interesting variations that appear in old English records include Wenefrett, Wenneffred, Winefrute, and Winnifruite.

Winnie appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 between 1900 and 1957 and peaked at #190 between 1900 and 1901.

Its original Welsh form doesn’t seem to have ever been in popular use outside of Wales, and while other Welsh names have established themselves in regular use across the anglosphere, Gwenffrewi was never one of them.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Gwenfrewi (Breton, Welsh)
  • Winefride (French)
  • Vinfreda (Italian/Latin)
  • Wenefryda (Polish)
  • Wenfryda (Polish)
  • Winifreda (Polish)
  • Wenifreda (Polish)
  • Winfryda (Polish)
  • Gwenffrwd (Welsh)

Sources

Finnian

St. Finian.jpgOrigin: Irish, Gaelic
Meaning: “white”
Gender: masculine
(FIN-nee-en)

Finnian is an anglicized form of the Gaelic, Fionán or Fionnán, which is derived from the Celtic element, fionn (white).

The name is borne by 2 early Irish saints:

  • St. Finnian of Clonard, an Irish saint who is considered one of the founders of Irish monasticism and tutor of many his contemporary saints (470-549).
  • St. Finnian of Moville, another Irish monastic who brought back St. Jerome’s Vulgate from Rome to Ireland, started a monastary and eventually became the tutor of St. Columba (495-589).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Finnien (French)
  • Finnan/Finnén (Irish)
  • Fionán/Fionnán (Irish)
  • Vennianus (Latin)
  • Vinniaus (Latin)
  • Finian (Polish, appears on the Polish name-day calendar, but is seldom used)
  • Ffinan (Welsh)

A short form is Finn or Finny.

Sources

Colette

Colette.jpgOrigin: French
Meaning: a contraction of Nicolette
Gender: Feminine
Pronunciation: ko-LET

The name is a contraction of the French, Nicolette, which is a feminine form of Nicolas.

As an independent given name, it has been in use since Medieval times. A notable Medieval bearer is St. Colette of Corbie (1381-1447). According to legend, St. Colette’s mother gave birth to her at the age of 60, after praying to St. Nicolas after years of infertility. The happy parents of the saint named her Nicole, in honour of St. Nicolas and she was known as Colette thereafter.

St. Colette lived a great deal of her life as an ascetic hermit, until she was inspired to join the Poor Clares, and eventually founded her own religious order known as the Colettines.

St. Colette was known for performing miracles on women who were experiencing difficult childbirths and as a result, is venerated as the patron saint of women trying to conceive, expectant mothers, and sick infants.

A more recent famous bearer was French novelist, Colette, however, in her case, Colette was her surname, her true name being Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954). Colette did go on to bestow this name on her own daughter, Colette de Juvenal (1913-1981).

And it is perhaps due to the latter illustrious figure that Colette took off in the English-speaking world. Among those of non-Frankish roots, whether in the U.K. or North America, Colette did not come into use until the 1920s. Her world famous novella, Gigi however, did not come into the spotlight until the 1940s, so there may have actually been a different source that propelled its use.

Currently, Colette is 468th most popular female name in the United States (2016). It first entered the U.S. Top 1000 in 1928. Colette peaked in 1966, ranking in as the 372nd most popular female name.

In France, the name was in the top 10 between 1934-1942. She was the 6th most popular female name in France between 1936-1937. Colette fell out of the charts in 1977 and has not been seen since.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Coleta (Catalan/Spanish)
  • Koleta (Czech/Polish/Slovakian)
  • Collette (English)
  • Coletta (Italian)

Sources

Colman, Colmán, Coleman

St. Colman.jpgOrigin: Gaelic
Meaning: “dove”
Gender: masculine
Ir. (kole-MAHN); Eng. (KOLE-men)

The name comes directly from the Gaelic word colmán (dove). The name was borne by numerous early Irish saints and several Irish kings.

Colman has never appeared in the U.S Top 1000, but its English offshoot, Coleman, has. Coleman has been in the U.S. Top 1000 Most Popular Male Names since 1900. It peaked in 1903, coming in as 360th most popular male name. In 2016, it was the 963rd most popular male name.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Coleman (English)
  • Colman (French/English/Hungarian)
  • Colmano (Italian/Spanish)
  • Colomà (Catalan)
  • Coloman/Koloman (Dutch/German)
  • Colomano (Italian)
  • Kolman/Koloman (Polish)
  • Kolonat (German)

Sources