Leo

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “lion.”
Eng (LEE-oh)

The name comes directly from the Latin, leo, meaning, “lion.”

Its usage as a given name became popular among Christians after the ascent of Pope Saint Leo the Great (circ. 4th-century CE). It was borne by 12 other popes thereafter.

Leo was also a popular name among the Byzantine Emperors being borne by six.

Leo is also the name of a constellation as well as the 5th sign in the zodiac.

The highest Leo ever ranked in U.S. naming history was in 1903, coming in as the 37th most popular male name. As of 2011, he was the 167th most popular male name in the United States. His rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 4 (Finland, 2011)
  • # 4 (Léo, France, 2010)
  • # 14 (Sweden, 2011)
  • # 36 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 37 (Croatia, 2009)
  • # 42 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 42 (New Zealand, 2010)
  • # 59 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 61 (Norway, 2011)
  • # 64 (Catalonia, 2010)
  • # 65 (Australia, NSW, 2011)
  • # 79 (Slovenia, 2010)
  • # 80 (Spain, 2010)
  • # 96 (Ireland, 2010)

Leo is used in about every European country. Other forms of the name include:

  • L”v Лъв (Bulgarian)
  • Leo Лео (Catalan/Croatian/Dutch/English/Estonian/Finnish/German/Italian/Latvian/Portuguese/Romansch/Russian/Scandinavian/Slovene/Spanish)
  • Leoš (Czech)
  • Lev Лев (Czech/Russian)
  • Léo (French)
  • Leó (Hungarian)
  • Lew (Polish)

Gabriel, Gabriella

Origin: Hebrew גַבְרִיאֵל  Γαβριηλ
Meaning: “strong man of God.”
Eng (GABE-ree-el); (gah-bree-EL-ah); Fre (gah-bree-EL); Germ (GAHP-ree-el); Pol (GAHP-ryel)

The name is derived from the Biblical Hebrew, גַבְרִיאֵל (Gavri-el) meaning, “strong man of God.”

In Judeo-Christian religions, it is the name of a powerful archangel, who is often viewed as a messenger of God. He appears several times in the Old and New Testaments.

Among Christians, one of his most important messages was relayed to the Virgin Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus. Islamic tradition also believes the same, and in Islam, it was the angel Gabriel who revealed the Qu’ran, (through God), to Mohammed.

In Mormon theology, Gabriel is believed to be the embodiment of Noah in the afterlife.

Gabriel is a fairly common name among Christians, Jews and Muslims, making him an extremely cross-cultural portable name.

Currently, in the United States, his popularity has been rising. He is the 24th most popular male name, (2011). In other countries, his rankings in all his various forms are as follows:

  • # 2 (Gabriel(e), Liechtenstein, 2010)
  • # 3 (Brazil, 2011)
  • # 4 (Romania, 2009)
  • # 6 (Gabriele, Italy, 2009)
  • # 7 (France, 2010)
  • # 9 (Quebec, Canada, 2011)
  • # 19 (Croatia, 2009)
  • # 26 (Belgium, 2008)
  • # 28 (Canada, BC, 2010)
  • # 28 (Mexico, 2010)
  • # 29 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 35 (Spain, 2010)
  • # 40 (Poland, 2009)
  • # 47 (Sweden, 2011)
  • # 48 (Norway, 2011)
  • # 52 (Catalonia, 2010)
  • # 78 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 95 (Australia, NSW, 2011)
  • # 124 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 189 (Djibril, France, 2010)
  • # 313 (Jibril, France, 2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Jibrail/Jibrīl جبرائيل ጂብሪል (Arabic/Ethiopian)
  • Gabriel გაბრიელი ገብርኤል
    (Armenian/Catalan/Coptic/Czech/Danish/English/Ethiopian/Finnish/French/Georgian/German/Norwegian/Polish/Portuguese/Romanian/Romansch/Spanish/Swedish)
  • Gavrik (Armenian)
  • Cəbrayıl/Cibril (Azeri)
  • Gawryil Гаўрыіл (Belarusian)
  • Džibril/Džebrail (Bosnian)
  • Gavrail Гавраил (Bulgarian)
  • Zheberejil Жәбірейіл (Central Asian)
  • Gabrijel (Croatian/Maltese/Serbian)
  • Gabriël (Dutch)
  • Gaabriel (Estonian)
  • Gabrel (Ethiopian)
  • Kaapo/Kaapro (Finnish)
  • Gabriél Γαβριήλ (Greek)
  • Gavril Γαβριηλ (Greek)
  • Gavriel גַּבְרִיאֵל (Hebrew)
  • Gábriel (Hungarian)
  • Gábor (Hungarian)
  • Gabríel (Icelandic)
  • Jibril (Indonesian)
  • Gaibriéil (Irish-Gaelic)
  • Gabo/Gabbo (Italian)
  • Gabriele (Italian: more common form)
  • Gabriellino (Italian)
  • Gabriello (Italian)
  • Gabrio (Italian)
  • Cibrayîl (Kurdish)
  • Gabrielus (Latin)
  • Gabriels (Latvian)
  • Gabrielius (Lithuanian)
  • Jibrail (Malaysian)
  • Gavriilu Гаврїилъ (Old Church Slavonic)
  • Khabbriele (Puglian)
  • Gabin (Provençal)
  • Gavril Гавриил (Romanian/Russian)
  • Crabiele/Gabilele/Gabriello (Sardinian)
  • Cabbrieli (Sicilian)
  • Gabri’el ܠܒܪܝܐܝܠ (Syrian)
  • Gebrael (Syrian)
  • Cebrâîl (Turkish)
  • Gavrel גַאבְֿרֶעל (Yiddish)

English short form is Gabe.

Its feminine form of Gabriella/Gabriela is also rising in popularity. Currently, Gabriella is the 34th most popular female name in the United States, (2011). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 3 (Gabriela, Bulgaria, 2009)
  • # 5 (Gabrielė, Lithuania, 2011)
  • # 5 (Gabrielle, Philippines, 2011)
  • # 7 (Gabriela, Columbia, 2011)
  • # 8 (Gabriela, Romania, 2009)
  • # 9 (Gabriela, Puerto Rico, 2011)
  • # 10 (Gabriela, Brazil, 2010)
  • # 13 (Gabriela, Poland, Warsaw, 2010)
  • # 19 (Gabriela, Poland, 2009)
  • # 28 (Gabrijela, Croatia, 2009)
  • # 30 (Gabriela, Mexico, 2010)
  • # 30 (Gabrielly, Brazil, 2010)
  • # 36 (Gabriela, Croatia, 2009)
  • # 38 (Gabriela, Chile, 2010)
  • # 64 (Australia, NSW, 2011)
  • # 64 (Gabriela, Spain, 2010)
  • # 67 (Gabrielle, France, 2010)
  • # 72 (Canada, BC, 2010)
  • # 94 (Gabrielle, Canada, BC, 2010)
  • # 119 (Gabrielle, United States, 2011)
  • # 466 (France, 2010)

Other feminine forms include:

  • Gebre’elwa ገብርኤሏ (Amharic/Ethiopian)
  • Gabriela (Bulgarian/Croatian/Czech/German/Polish/Portuguese/Romanian/Scandinavian/Slovak/Spanish)
  • Brielle (Cajun: abbreviated form of Gabrielle)
  • Gabrijela (Croatian/Serbian)
  • Gabriëlle (Dutch)
  • Briella/Briela (English)
  • Gabrielle (French/English)
  • Gabria (Italian)
  • Gabrielina (Italian)
  • Gabriella (Italian/English/Hungarian/Scandinavian: more common form in Italy)
  • Gabrielė (Lithuanian)
  • Gavriila Гавриила (Russian)

Czech diminutives are: Gába, Gabika, Gábina, Gabrina and Gabby.

A Polish diminutive is Gabrysia (gah-BRIH-shah).

English short forms are: Gabby and Ella.

Designated name-days are: February 10/27 (Poland), February 19 (Sweden), March 24 (Czech/Finland/Poland/Slovakia/Sweden), September 29 (France/Germany), December 12 (Hungary)

Raphael

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Hebrew רָפָאֵל Ραφαηλ
Meaning: “God is healer.”
Fre (ra-fa-EL); Eng (RAF-ee-el; RAY-fee-əl)

The name is found in Judeo-Christian and Islamic legend as the name of a major archangel. In the Bible, he is mentioned in the Book of Tobit, which is considered canonical in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican tradition. Due to Raphael’s deliverance of Sarah from the demon Asmodeus (who killed every husband she married before consumation), Raphael has been invoked as a matchmaker by Catholics.

Raphael also appears in the non-canonical Book of Enoch in which he is responsible for binding the fallen angel Azazel

In Islamic tradition, he is known as Israfel/Israfil and it is believed that he will blow the trumpet on Judgement Day.

It is interesting to note that the modern Hebrew word for a medical doctor is  דוֹקטוֹר (rophe), compare to the first element of Raphael.

Raphael is currently a trend across Europe, in France, Raphaël is the 11th most popular male name, (2010). His rankings in his various forms are as follows:

  • # 3 (Liechtenstein, 2010)
  • # 11 (Rafael, Brazil, 2010)
  • # 17 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 40 (Rafał, Warsaw, Poland, 2010)
  • # 48 (Rafał, Poland, 2009)
  • # 50 (German-speaking, Switzerland, 2010)
  • # 54 (Raphaël, Belgium, 2008)
  • # 55 (Rafael, Spain, 2010)
  • # 56 (Rafael, Croatia, 2009)
  • # 63 (Rafael, France, 2010)
  • # 189 (Rafaël, Netherlands, 2011)
  • # 274 (Rafael, United States, 2011)
  • # 668 (United States, 2011)

Its feminine form of Rafaela is currently the 8th most popular female name in Brazil, (2010), while the French form of Raphaëlle ranked in as the 273rd most popular female name in France, (2010).

Other forms of the masculine include:

  • Rafael (Albanian/Armenian/Catalan/Croatian/Czech/Finnish/Hungarian/Portuguese/Romanian/Romansch/Scandinavian/Slovene/Spanish)
  • Raphel ሩፋኤል (Amharic/Ethiopian)
  • Rupha(e)l ራፋኤል (Amharic/Ethiopian)
  • Israfil اسرافيل, Исрафил (Arabic/Central Asian: used among Muslims)
  • Rapael რაფაელ (Armenian/Georgian)
  • Rafail Рафаил Ραφαήλ (Bulgarian/Greek/Macedonian/RomanianRussian/Serbian)
  • Rafel (Catalan)
  • Raphael (Coptic/English/German)
  • Rafaël (Dutch)
  • Raafael (Estonian)
  • Raphaël (French)
  • Raiféal (Gaelic)
  • Raffaele (Italian)
  • Raffaello (Italian)
  • Raffaelino (Italian)
  • Îsrafîl (Kurdish)
  • Rafla (Lebanese/Syrian: used among Christians)
  • Rafaelis (Lithuanian)
  • Rapolas (Lithuanian)
  • Rafel (Maltese)
  • Rafał (Polish)
  • Arrafieli (Sardinian)
  • Rafiele (Sardinian)
  • İsrafil (Turkish)
  • Rafayil Рафаї́л (Ukrainian)
Common diminiutives are: Raf (Dutch); Rafe (English); Ralph (English); Rafinha (Brazilian-Portuguese); Rafa (Spanish).
Feminine forms include:
  • Rafaela (Croatian/Macedonian/Portuguese/Romansch/Slovene/Spanish)
  • Raphaëlle (French)
  • Raphaela (German)
  • Raphaele (German)
  • Raffaella (Italian)
  • Raffaellina (Italian)
The name was also notably borne by Raphael, or Raffaello Sanzio (1483–1520), an Italian master painter.

Tidiane

Gender: Masculine
Origin: East African
Meaning: “the Tijani path.”
(tee-dee-YAHN)

Tidiane is a franconized form of the Wolof, Ti(i)jaan, which is derived from the Arabic, Tijanniyyah, meaning, “the Tijani path.”

Tijanniyyah is the name of a North and West African sufi Islamic religious order which emphasizes culture and education.

Tidiane is a common name among Muslim West Africans.

As of 2010, Tidiane was the 453rd most popular male name in France.

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.

Adel, Adil

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic عادل
Meaning: “just; fair.”

The name is derived from the Arabic adjective,  عدل  (adala), meaning, “just.”

The name is used throughout the Islamic world, though, the it is also used among Middle Eastern Christians.

As of 2009, Adel was the 285th most popular male name while Adil was the 378th most popular.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Adel پور (Algerian/Arabic/Coptic/Egyptian/Ethiopian/Kurdish/Lebanese/Persian/Sudanese/Syrian/Tunisian/Uyghur)
  • Adil Адиль
  • (Albanian/Azeri/Bangali/Baloch/Bashkir/Bosnian/Bulgarian/Chechen/Circassian/Dagestani/Kazakh/Moroccan/Ossetian/Pakistani/Tatar/Turkish/Turkmen/Uzbek)
  • Jedil/Yedil Эдил (Kyrgyz)

A feminine form is Adila (Arabic) and Adile (Turkish)

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)

Bethany

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Hebrew/Aramaic
Meaning: debated
Eng (BETH-e-NEE)

Bethany is found in the New Testament as the name of a town where Lazarus, Mary and Martha, lived. It was also here where Christ raised Lazarus from the dead.

Its origin and meaning are strongly contested, some scholars have argued it to mean “house of figs” being derived from the Hebrew elements, בֵּית־תְּאֵנָה (beit-te’enah). Others suggest that it from a Syriac source meaning, “house of misery; house of the afflicted” or “house of the poor” as in Biblical times the town was the site of a huge almshouse.

Its usage as a female given name most likely started off as a religious name taken by nuns. It was usually used in honour of Mary of Bethany. In recent years, the name has become particularly common among Evangelical Christians, especially within the United States.

Currently, Bethany is the 59th most popular female name in the United Kingdom, (2010), and she ranked as high as # 11 back in 1999. Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 65 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 79 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 369 (United States, 2010)

Another form is the Spanish Bethania, sometimes used in conjunction with Maria.

Sources

  1. Capper, Brian J., “Essene Community Houses and Jesus’ Early Community” (2006)
  2. http://198.62.75.1/www1/ofm/mad/articles/DiSegniOnomasticon.html
  3. http://www.askoxford.com/firstnames/bethany?view=uk
  4. http://www.behindthename.com/php/find.php?name=bethany
  5. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02531a.htm
  6. http://bibref.hebtools.com/?book=%20John&verse=11:18&src=!

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)

Alma

The name has several different origins and meanings. Its usage as a name in Britain skyrocketed around 1854, after the victorious Battle of Alma, which took place near the Alma River in the Crimea.

In this case, the name is derived from the Tatar word for, “apple.” It is interesting to note that Alma, till this day, is a traditional and common female name across Central Asia, especially among Russian-Tatars, Kazakhs and Uzbeks. In Uzbek, it appears in the form of Olma. Alma is also the word for apple in Hungarian, where it is also occasionally used as a female given name.

The name also appears in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen as the name of a minor character, the head of the House of Temperance in Book 2. In this case, the name is most likely taken from the Portuguese and Spanish word for “soul.”

Alma appears sparingly as a female given name in Renaissance Italy, in this case, it is most likely derived from the Latin, almus, meaning, “nourishing”; hence the term, alma mater (fostering mother). This usage of the name also appears as an epithet for a few Roman goddess, particularly Venus and Ceres.

It is the name of a book in The Book of Mormon, but in this case, it is masculine, being the name of two prophets, a father and son; Alma the Younger being the Chief Judge among the Nephites.

Other etymologies which have been suggested, include:

  • It is from the Greek, αλμη (salt water)
  • It is from an Arabic source, al-ma, meaning, (the water).
  • It is a contracted form of Amalia and Amalberga.

The name is used in virtually every European country, including Scandinavia, where it is currently very trendy.

As of 2010, Alma was the 8th most popular female in the Faroe Islands. Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 23 (Sweden, 2010)
  • # 24 (Denmark, 2010)
  • # 48 (Norway, 2010)
  • # 49 (Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2010)
  • # 80 (Spain, 2010)
  • # 849 (United States, 2010)