Phaedra

  • Origin: Greek Φαίδρα
  • Meaning: “bright.”
  • Gender: feminine
  • Pronunciation: Eng (FAY-drah, FYE-drah, FEED-rah)

The name comes directly from the Greek word φαιδρός meaning, “bright.”

It is borne in Greek mythology by the sister of Ariadne and the wife of Theseus. There are several versions of her tragic tale, one is that Aphrodite drove Phaedra to fall madly in love with the latter’s step-son, Hippolytus who rejects Phaedra, and in retaliation, Phaedra claims that Hippolytus attempted to rape her. Theseus who was granted 3 wishes by Poseidon wishes his own’s son death by having Poseidon summon 3 bulls from the sea who subsequently dragged Hippolytus to death. In another version of the tale, Phaedra falls in love with Hippolytus of her own free-will but he rejects her, and the story follows the same sequence of events as above.

The story was retold by Ovid and Senece the Younger and later became the popular subject of plays throughout Europe.

In England and France, the name became more widespread after its use in Jean Racine’s 1677 play, Phèdre and later Algernon Charles Swinborn’s1866 play, Phaedra. Friedrich Schiller also wrote a play and recently it was the subject of the opera written by German playwrite, Hans Werner Henze.

It is also another name for the plant, Bernardia, as well as the name of a genus of butterfly and an asteroid.

In France, Phèdre is a unisex name as it is a translation of both Phaedra & Phaedrus.

Phaedra appeared in the Top 100 Most Popular Female Names in Belgium, ranking in at #87 in 1997.

A masculine form is Phaedrus and Phaidros.

Forms and use include:

  • Fedra Федра (Catalan, Corsican, Italian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovene, Spanish, Ukrainian)
  • Faidra (Czech, Finnish, Hungarian, Slovakian, Swedish)
  • Fædra (Danish)
  • Phaedra (Dutch, English, Latin)
  • Phèdre (French)
  • Phaidra Φαίδρα (German, Greek)
  • Phädra (German)

Sources

Thurstan, Torsten

  • Origin: Old Norse
  • Meaning: “Thor’s stone.”
  • Gender: masculine

Both names are derived from the Old Norse male name, Þórsteinn, literally meaning “Thor’s stone.” The name is attested as early as the 5th-century in Medieval Scandinavia and appears in the Norse saga, Draumr Þorsteins Síðu-Hallssonar.

It was transported to England by Anglo-Saxon & Norse settlers, the Anglo-Saxon form being Thurstan, and remained prevalent even after the conquest of the Normans, who themselves also used the name due to their original Norse heritage. Thurstan was borne by an 11th-century Bishop of York. Thurstan is the progenitor of the English surnames Thurston and Dustin.

Torsten appeared in Germany’s Top 100 Most Popular Male Names between 1960 and 1978, and peaked at #6 between 1964-68. While Torstein was in and out of the Norwegian Top 100 Male Names between 1947-1991, peaking at #84 in 1948. It’s original Old Norse form of Þórsteinn ranked in at #46 in Iceland’s Top 100 Male Names in 2012.

Forms include:

  • Turstin (Anglo-Norman, French)
  • Thurstan (English)
  • Tórstein (Faroese)
  • Torstein, Thorstein (Faroese, Norwegian)
  • Toro, Torro (Finnish, Scandinavian)
  • Torste,Torsti (Finnish)
  • Toutain (French, archaic)
  • Torsten (German, Scandinavian)
  • Thorsten (German, Scandinavian)
  • Torstene, Torsteni (Greenlandic)
  • Þórsteinn (Icelandic, Old Norse)
  • Turstino (Italian, Spanish)
  • Turstanus, Tursteinus, Turstinus (Late Latin)
  • Twyste (Middle Low German)
  • Tostein (Norwegian)
  • Dorste (Sami)
  • Toste (Scandinavian)
  • Tosten, Thosten (Swedish, archaic)

Sources

Astraea

  • Origin: Greek Ἀστραία
  • Meaning: “star.”
  • Gender: feminine
  • Eng Pronunciation: (uh-STRAY-ah)

The name is borne in Greek mythology by the daughter of Astraeus and Eos. She is the goddess of justice, innocence, purity, & precision and is closely associated with Dike, the goddess of Justice. According to Ovid, Astraea was a mortal woman during the Golden Age, but ascended into the heavens to become the constellation Virgo.

Other froms of the name include:

  • Astraia Աստրաիա (Armenian, Czech, German, modern Greek, Scandinavian)
  • Astrea Астрея (Bulgarian, Catalan, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian)
  • Astrée (French)
  • Astraja (Lithuanian, Polish)
  • Astreia (Portuguese)

Sources

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.

Sources

Osborn, Espen, Asbjørn

Osborn and Asbjørn are both composed of the Norse elements áss (god) & bjǫrn (bear), essentially meaning “divine bear.” Osborn is the modern Anglo-Saxon equivalent of Osbeorn, the latter of which was prevalent in Anglo-Saxon England and survived into the Norman period as Osbern, later developing into the common English patronymic surnames of Osbourne & Osbourn. Its Scandinavian equivalents still survive today in the forms of Esben (Danish), Espen (Danish, Norwegian) and still Asbjørn (Norwegian); and Asbjörn & Esbjörn (Swedish).

Osbeorn was borne by the son of Siward of Northumbria (circ. 11th-century CE) and one of the fallen of the Battle of the Seven Sleepers in Scotland. It was also borne by Osbern de Crépon (circ. 11th-century CE), one of the stewards of the Duke of Normandy. There are several other famous Anglophone personages who bear it as a surname and forename.

Asbjørn appeared in the Norwegian Top 100 Male Names between between 1945 & 1967, it peaked at #35 in 1946-7, while Espen appeared in the Top 100 in Norway between 1957-2004, peaking at #8 in 1982.

The designated name-day for Asbjörn is May 10th in Sweden.

General Scandinavian diminutive forms used in all Norse countries are Ebbe, Bjarne & Bjarni.

Short forms in English include Oz(z), Ozzie & Ozzy.

Other forms include:

  • Osbeorn (Anglo-Saxon)
  • Esbern (Danish, Faroese)
  • Asbjørn (Danish, Norwegian)
  • Esben, Espen (Danish, Norwegian)
  • Ausburn (English)
  • Osbourn (English)
  • Osbern (French, archaic)
  • Auber (French, archaic)
  • Ásbjörn (Icelandic)
  • Osberno (Italian)
  • Sberno (Italian)
  • Ásbjǫrn (Old Norse)
  • Asbjörn/Esbjörn (Swedish)

Sources

Adonis, Adonija, Adonise

Adonis is borne in Greek mythology by the god of beauty and desire. According to the most popular myth, he was born of the incestuous union of Theias and his daughter Myrrha. Myrrha had tricked her own father into having sex with her. The gods transformed Myrrha into a myrrh tree after Theias attempted to kill her whilst pregnant with Adonis. Adonis was beloved of Aphrodite and mothered by Persephone, but he was subsequently killed by a boar when Artemis, or in some versions, Ares, sent a boar to kill Adonis out of jealousy. When Adonis died, Aphrodite cried tears which mingled with Adonis’ blood, producing the Anemone flower. Aphrodite instituted the Adonia festival in his commemoration, whereby all women had a mass mock funeral of Adonis by growing plants in potsherds on their rooftops and performing a mass funeral ritual as soon as the plants sprouted.

It is likely Adonis was imported by the Greeks from the Phoenicians, the latter being the descendants of the Sumerians, Mesopotamians & Babylonians. It is believed by most scholars that Adonis is an adaptation of the Sumerian story of Dumuzid & Inanna (later Tammuz & Ishtar), in which a ritual funeral rite was also performed by women across the former Babylonian empire. Adonis itself is a Hellenized form of the Canaanite, adon, which means “lord” and was often used as an appellation by the Canaanites for the god Tammuz. The Jews adopted this appellation for Yahweh in the form of Adonai (my lord).

Adonis is borne by an 8th-century French saint of Vienne. He is also listed as Adon & Ado. Adonis has sporadically been used as a given-name in Greece, anglophone, francophone & hispanophone countries. The French feminine off-shoots, though rare these days, are Adonise (AH-do-NEEZ) and Adonie, and were actually prevalent in 18th-centurry Quebec & New Orleans. An obscure Italian feminine form is Adonella.

There is the male Biblical Hebrew name, Adonijah meaning (my lord is Yahweh). It is borne by a son of King David and was Hellenized in the Septuagint as Adonias.

Other forms include:

  • Adonies (Catalan)
  • Adonia (Dutch, Italian, Swedish)
  • Adonija Адония (French, German, Russian)
  • Adonias Αδωνίας (French, Greek, Portuguese)
  • Adonías (Galician)
  • Adonja (Norwegian)
  • Adoniasz (Polish)
  • Adonías (Spanish)
  • Adoniya Адонія (Ukrainian)

Currently, Adonis is the 242nd most popular male name in the United States and the 461st most popular in France.

Other forms include:

  • Adonisi ადონისი (Albanian, Georgian)
  • Adonis Адонис Адоніс Άδωνις Ադոնիս (Armenian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Dutch, English, Estonian, French, Macedonian, German, Greek, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian, Scandinavian, Serbian, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish)
  • Adónis Адо́ніс (Belarusian, Continental-Portuguese, Czech, Slovak)
  • Adó (Catalan)
  • Adónisz (Hungarian)
  • Adone, Adon (Italian)
  • Adônis (Brazilian-Portuguese)
  • Adón (Spanish)

Sources

Elika

The name can be of several different origins and meanings.

It is a Biblical male name that occurs in 2 Samuel 23:25 as the name of Elika the Harodite, one of David’s 37 special warriors. In this case, אֵַליקָא (Eli’ka), may mean “vomit of God” or “Congregation of God.” Some sources also list this as meaning “pelican of God.” In English, the name would be pronounced ee-LYE-kuh.

Pronounced, EH-lee-KAW الیکا, it is a Persian female name that derives from the Mazanderani language, meaning, “wild cherry.” However, it’s use in Iran may be influenced by an identical sounding Indian female name, which is derived from the Sanskrit एलीका (Elika), meaning “small cardamom.” It is also the name of a village in northern Iran of the same aforementioned Mazanderani etymology.

Elika is also a Nordic female name of uncertain etymology, it’s earliest use is recorded in 18th-century Iceland. It may derive from the the Frisian diminutive name, Alike, which is a diminutive form of any name beginning in the Adal- element, or the Frisian unisex diminutive name Elike, which is a short form of any name beginning in the EGG- element.

It may also be linked with a Greenlandic female name of uncertain etymology.

It’s Nordic form has been in use in Finland & Estonia, as well as all of Scandinavia & Iceland. It should be noted that Elike has occurred in use as a unisex name in Norway and Friesland.

Swedish and Frisian female variations include Eliko & Eliken.

Alternately, it is a Mari female name, but is of uncertain meaning, it may be a variation of Evika, meaning “slender.”

It is also the Hawaiian translation of Elisa, Eliza, Erica & Eric.

Sources

Atreus

  • Origin: Greek Ἀτρεύς
  • Meaning: “to not tremble; fearless.”
  • Gender: masculine
  • Pronunciation: Eng (AY-tree-us); Grek (ah-TRAY-oos)

The name is composed of the Greek elements, ἀ-, “no” and τρέω, “tremble,” hence meaning, “fearless.”

The name is borne in Greek mythology by the son of Pelops & Hippodamia and the father of Agammennon & Menelaus. Atreus and his brother were expelled from their kingdom after killing their elder brother for the throne. Atreus took refuge in Mycenae where he sat-in as a temporary king while Eurystheus was fighting in a war, but ultimately, Atreus took over the the throne. His descendants thereafter are known as Atreides.

In Frank Herbert’s Dune Series, House of Atreides is the name of one of the great houses.

The name has recently entered the U.S. Top 1000 in 2019, currently ranking in as the 788th most popular name in the United States.

Other forms include:

  • Atreüs (Breton)
  • Atreu (Catalan, Portuguese, Romanian)
  • Atreus (Dutch, English, German, Latin, Scandinavian)
  • Atrée (French)
  • At’revsi ატრევსი (Georgian)
  • Atreusz (Hungarian, Polish)
  • Atreos Ατρέας (Modern Greek)
  • Atreifur (Icelandic)
  • Atreo (Italian, Spanish)
  • Atrėjas (Lithuanian)
  • Atrey Атрей (Russian, Ukrainian)
  • Atrej (Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian)

Sources

Eliel

  • Origin: Hebrew
  • Meaning: “my God is God.”
  • Gender: Masculine
  • Pronunciation: Eng (EL-ee-yel; ee-LYE-yel)

The name is composed of the same Hebrew word אל (‘el) meaning “God,” hence, some translate it to mean “my God is God.” The name is borne by several minor characters in the Old Testament.

A notable bearer was Finnish Architect, Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950).

Though an obscure Jewish name, it experienced a peak in popularity in Finland and other Scandinavian countries at the end of the 19th-century.

Eliel recently entered the U.S. Top 1000 Most Popular Male Names in 2019, currently ranking in at #664.

The designated name day in Finland is April 9th

A Dutch form is Eliël.

Sources

Olanna

igbo girl

The name can be Igbo and mean “father’s jewel,” being composed of the Igbo words ọla (jewel; precious thing) and nna (father). It appears as the name of one of the main characters in the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006).

It is also a Scandinavian feminine form of Ole. Other Scandinavian offshoots are Olanne & Oleanna.

Sources