Anna, Anne

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Biblical Hebrew
Meaning: “grace.”
(ANN; AHN). (ANN-uh; AHN-nah). (HANN-uh; HAHN-nah)

Anne is possibly one of the quintessential classic English and French female names. Prior to the 18th-century, it seems that every other girl born in England was either named Anne, Jane or Mary. There were several British and French queens who bore this simplistic moniker, including the ill fated Anne Boleyn, the mother of Elizabeth I. The history of Anne is rather long and complicated.

It was foremost popularized through the cult of St. Anne, a legendary figure who was said to be the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Christ.

In Brittany, the name became especially popular because it happened to coincide with the name of an ancient Celtic goddess, her cult being replaced by St. Anne’s. In fact, it was borne by one Breton Princess, Anne of Brittany.

The name was introduced into Britain by the French-Normans after the invasion in 1066. Previously, there had been a minor Saxon king named Anna, but in this case the name is related to the Saxon arn (eagle). Anna and Anne are still occasionally used as male given names in Friesland.

Other than the apocryphal saint, the name Anne can be traced directly back to the Bible. In the New Testament, it is the name of a prophetess who predicts the Crucifixion of Christ.

Anna (Αννα), is the Greek translation of the early Hebrew Channah חַנָּה, usually transliterated as Hannah, meaning “grace.”

Hannah is borne in the Old Testament by the faithful mother of the prophet, Samuel.

Hannah has always been popular among Jewish families, but was virtually unheard of among non-Jews before the Reformation, except in some cases where it may have been used as a diminutive form of Johanna, spelled Hanna.

It was the Byzantines who had introduced the Anna form to the world, making it popular throughout Eastern and Southern Europe. It was a very popular name among the Byzantine royal family and it was borne by the majestic Anna of Byzantium.

Anna may be the more melodic form of the bunch, but Anne’s minimalistic qualities are charming. Short, to the point, no frills. It’s not a bad name, though it does lack some spice, which is why parents are probably more attracted to its more exotic alternatives. In fact, Anne only comes in at # 608 in the top 1000 female names of the United States. It is safe to say, however, that she is very much loved in the middle name spot.

Anna is currently one of the most popular female names in Europe and abroad. Her rankings are as follows:

  • # 1 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 1 (Estonia, 2011)
  • # 2 (Hungary, 2010)
  • # 3 (Ana, Georgia, 2010)
  • # 3 (Iceland, 2010)
  • # 4 (Ana, Croatia, 2010)
  • # 4 (Czech Republic, 2010)
  • # 4 (Germany, 2011)
  • # 4 (Ukraine, 2010)
  • # 5 (Faroe Islands, 2010)
  • # 5 (Ana, Portugal, 2010)
  • # 6 (Armenia, 2010)
  • # 6 (Ane, Greenland, 2002-2003)
  • # 6 (Ana, Romania, 2009)
  • # 6 (Ana, Serbia, 2010)
  • # 7 (Latvia, 2011)
  • # 7 (Russia, 2011)
  • # 8 (German-speaking Switzerland, 2010)
  • # 9 (Denmark, 2011)
  • # 10 (Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 10 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 10 (Norway, 2010)
  • # 11 (Italy, 2010)
  • # 12 (Ireland, 2010)
  • # 14 (Poland, 2010)
  • # 16 (Catalonia, 2010)
  • # 26 (Canada, B.C., 2010)
  • # 28 (Italian-speaking Switzerland, 2010)
  • # 28 (United States, 2010)
  • # 29 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 40 (France, 2009)
  • # 46 (French-speaking Switzerland, 2010)
  • # 53 (Belgium, 2009)
  • # 63 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 71 (Australia, 2010)
  • # 81 (Sweden, 2010)
  • # 83 (Spain, 2010)
Other forms of the name include:
  • Anneen (Afrikaans/Low German)
  • Anna Анна (Afrikaans/Albanian/Armenian/Breton/Bulgarian/Catalan/Corsican/Czech/Dutch/English/Estonian/Faroese/Finnish/French/Frisian/German/Greek/Hungarian/Icelandic/Italian/Latvian/Limburgish/Maltese/Polish/Russian/Ukrainian/Scandinavian/Slovak)
  • Anne (Basque/Dutch/English/French/Scandinavian)
  • Gánna Га́нна (Belarusian)
  • Annaig (Breton)
  • Annick (Breton)
  • Maina (Breton)
  • Mannaig (Breton)
  • Mannick (Breton)
  • Naig (Breton)
  • Ana Ана ანა (Bulgarian/Croatian/Galician/Georgian/Lombard/Macedonian/Portuguese/Romanian/Samogaitian/Serbian/Slovene/Spanish/Venetian)
  • Jana (Croatian/Ladino)
  • Aneta (Czech/Polish/Samogaitian/Slovak)
  • Aina (Catalan)
  • Anica (Croatian/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Ane (Danish)
  • Anika (Danish)
  • Anneke (Dutch)
  • Anneken (Dutch)
  • Annika (Dutch/Finnish/German/Latvian/Scandinavian)
  • Anka (Dutch/Frisian/German)
  • An(n)ke (Dutch/Frisian)
  • Anouk (Dutch/French)
  • Ans (Dutch)
  • Enneke (Dutch)
  • Enneken (Dutch)
  • Anita (English/German/Polish/Spanish)
  • Annette (English/French/German)
  • Anissa (English)
  • Annelle/Annella (Estonian)
  • Anete (Estonian/Latvian)
  • Anett (Estonian)
  • Anu (Estonian)
  • Anni (Finnish)
  • Annikki (Finnish)
  • Anniina (Finnish)
  • Annukka (Finnish)
  • Niina (Finnish)
  • Anaïs (French/Provençal)
  • Annouche (French)
  • Ninette (French)
  • Ninon (French)
  • Ninouk (French)
  • Anje (Frisian)
  • Ankea (Frisian)
  • Antje (Frisian)
  • Antjen (Frisian)
  • Anute (Fruilian)
  • Anano (Georgian)
  • Annchen (German)
  • Annel (German)
  • Annele (German/Latvian)
  • Anneli(e) (German/Finnish/Swedish)
  • Annet (German)
  • Anina (German)
  • Anja (German/Slovene)
  • Anouschka (German/Italian/Russian)
  • Annaki (Greek)
  • Annoula (Greek)
  • Noula (Greek)
  • Anikó (Hungarian)
  • Annuska (Hungarian)
  • Panni (Hungarian)
  • Áine (Irish)
  • Ánna (Irish)
  • Annarella (Italian)
  • Annella (Italian)
  • Annetta (Italian)
  • Annettina (Italian)
  • Nona (Italian/Romansch)
  • Ance (Latvian)
  • Annija (Latvian)
  • Anninya (Latvian)
  • Ona (Lithuanian)
  • Annamma (Malayalam)
  • Annam (Malayalam)
  • Onnee (Manx)
  • Âone (Norman)
  • Aenna/Aenne (Old High German)
  • Annehe (Old High German)
  • Änna/Änne (Old High German)
  • Neta (Piedmontese)
  • Noto (Piedmontese)
  • Anke (Plattdeutsch)
  • Anneke(n) (Plattdeutsch)
  • Analia (Romansch/Spanish)
  • Annina (Romansch)
  • Annotta (Romansch)
  • Anca (Romanian)
  • Anicuta (Romanian)
  • Anėta (Samogaitian)
  • Anėkė (Samogaitian)
  • Annag (Scottish)
  • Ghianna (Sicilian)
  • Janna (Sicilian)
  • Nanna (Sicilian)
  • Anniken (Swedish)
  • Ann (Welsh)
  • Nan (Welsh)
  • Nanno (Welsh)
  • Nanw (Welsh)
  • Aana (Wolof)
As for the Hannah forms

Hanna without an H is the prefered form on Continental Europe, usually pronounced (HAHN-nah) and in French like Anna. Hanna and Hanne (HAHN-neh) are also used as diminutive forms of Johanna/Johanne in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany. There is the Hungarian Hajna pronounced (HOY-no). The Czech/Slovak form of Hana nickname Hanka. There are the Yiddish forms of Heyna, Hayna, Hejna (all pronounced like HAY-nah) including the diminutive forms of HenaHende, Hendel and Henye.  The Polish diminutive form of Hania, which might make an interesting alternative to Anya or Hannah. Hannah, Hanna and Henna are all used in the Middle East.

Of course, how could we ever forget the popular diminutive forms of Annie and Nan.

Adrian

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “from Hadria”

The name is derived from the Latin Hadrianus, a Roman cognomen meaning, “from Hadria.” Hadria was a small town in the North of Italy. It gave its name to the Adriatic Sea.
The name was borne by Publius Aelius Hadrianus (76-138 CE), known in the modern world as Emperor Hadrian, he is most famous for the wall he built across Great Britain, known as Hadrian’s Wall.
The name remained common throughout Europe, and is fairly popular across the Western World till this day. It was borne by several saints and popes, including the first and only English pope, Adrian IV, as well as the only Dutch pope, Adrian VI.
Currently, Adrian is the 6th most popular male name in Spain, (2010) and the 7th most popular in Norway, (2010). His rankings in other countries are as follows:
  • # 29 (Catalonia, 2009)
  • # 33 (Poland, 2010)
  • # 43 (Germany, 2011)
  • # 48 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 49 (Croatia, 2010)
  • # 51 (France, Adrien, 2010)
  • # 56 (United States, 2010)
  • # 60 (Sweden, 2010)
  • # 63 (Hungary, 2010)
  • # 81 (Belgium, Adrien, 2009)
  • # 455 (France, Adrian, 2009)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Ad (Afrikaans/Limbergish)
  • Adriaan (Afrikaans/Dutch)
  • Adrianus (Afrikaans/Latin)
  • Arrie (Afrikaans)
  • At (Afrikaans)
  • Daan (Afrikaans)
  • Jaans (Afrikaans)
  • Adrian Адриан (Albanian/Bulgarian/Croatian/Dutch/English/Finnish/Polish/Romanian/Russian/Scandinavian/Ukrainian)
  • Ardian (Albanian)
  • Adrianu (Asturian/Corsican/Sicilian)
  • Adiran (Basque)
  • Adrijan (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Hadrijan (Bosnian)
  • Adrià (Catalan)
  • Jadran(ko) (Croatian)
  • Adrián (Czech/Hungarian/Slovak/Spanish)
  • Arie (Dutch)
  • Arjan (Dutch)
  • Hadrian(us) (Dutch/German/Latin)
  • Adrien (French)
  • Hadrien (French)
  • Aidrean (Gaelic)
  • Adrán (Galician)
  • Adrao (Galician)
  • Hadrán (Galician)
  • Hadrao (Galician)
  • Hádrian (Galician)
  • Adrianos Αδριανός (Greek)
  • Adorján (Hungarian)
  • Adrían (Icelandic)
  • Adriano (Italian/Portuguese)
  • Adrio (Italian)
  • Adriāns (Latvian)
  • Adrianas (Lithuanian)
  • Adrijonas (Lithuanian)
  • Adrião (Portuguese)
  • Adriànu (Sardinian)

Feminine forms include:

  • Adriana  (Albanian/Bulgarian/Catalan/Czech/Galician/German/Greek/Italian/Latin/Lithuanian/Polish/Romanian/Russian/Slovak/Spanish)
  • Adrijana (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian)
  • Hadrijana (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian)
  • Jadranka (Croatian)
  • Adriána (Czech/Hungarian/Slovak)
  • Ariane (Dutch)
  • Hadriana (Galician/Latin)
  • Adria (German/Italian)
  • Adriane (German)
  • Adrienne (French)
  • Adrienn (Hungarian)
  • Adrianna (Polish)
  • Drina (Spanish)

Polish feminine diminutives are Ada and Adi.

Thecla, Tekla

Saint_TheclaGender: Feminine
Origin: Greek
Meaning: “glory to God.”
(TEK-lah)

She is a bit clunky and technical sounding. I had a great grandmother by this name and grew up near a parish that bore the name St. Thecla. Apparently it was a popular name in Poland at the turn of the century, spelled Tekla, my great-grandma anglicized her name to Tilly, after settling in the United States.

According to the Acts of St. Paul, Thecla also known as Taqla, was a young noblewoman who decided to live a life of chastity after hearing St. Paul’s discourse on virginity. Her mother and fiancé were very upset with her, and ordered her and Paul to be burnt at the stake, only to be miraculously rescued by a storm. Disowned by her family, Thecla had no other choice but to travel with Paul to Turkey. There she caught the eye of another nobleman, but when she refused his advances he tried to rape her, when Thecla managed to beat him off, she was accused by the local authorities of assaulting an innocent nobleman and was sentenced to be torn apart by wild beasts, also from which she was miraculously rescued. In the Eastern Churches, St. Thecla is considered equal to the Apostles and is regarded as a proto-martyr. She was used as an ascetic role model for women. Her feast is held on September 23 in the Roman Catholic Church and on September 24 in the Eastern Orthodox Church. St. Thecla is particularly venerated among Middle Eastern Christians, especially in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, where she is known as Taqla or Takla. In fact, there is an ancient nunnery dedicated to St. Thecla in Syria, known as Deir Ma Takla it is said to be built upon the cave where Thecla’s tomb is allegedly located. According to local legend, the cave was created when Thecla was escaping persecution, the mountain opened up miraculously to hide Thecla in the depths of the newly formed cave. In Tarragona Spain, she is considered the patron saint and each year a large festival is held in her honor. Her name also happens to coincide with the Spanish and Catalan word for “key” on the computer keyboard, so in recent years, she has been regarded as the patron saint of computers. As for the etymology of the name, it is supposedly derived from the Greek Theoclea or Theoklea which is composed of the elements theo meaning “god” and clea meaning “glory.” Other forms include the Slavic Tekla, the French Thècle, the Arabic Taqla and Takla, and the Spanish/Italian Tecla.

Matthew

Matthew_Evangelist

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Hebrew
Meaning: “Gift from Yahweh.”

A bit dull and overused, he sits in the U.S  Top Ten. He is quite a hit in other English speaking countries as well. Just over the border in Canada, he comes in even higher at # 6. Down under in Australia, he comes in at # 16. While in Great Britain and Ireland he sits at # 24. Over in Bonnie Scotland # 9 and in the Republic of Northern Ireland he comes in at the highest at resting at # 2. Matthew may seem to be just the ordinary every day guy type of name, but the name itself has avery long and rich history. Matthew is the English form of the Latinization Mattheus a translation of the Greek Μαθαιος (Mathaios). Mathaios is a vulgar Greek transliteration of the Aramaic diminutive name Maty or Mattay מתי which is ultimately derived from the Hebrew name Matatyahu or Mattathias מתתיהו. Other Biblical forms of the name include Matanyahu מתניהו and Netanyahu נתניהו. Yehonatan, the original form of Jonathan, is an anagram Netanyahu. The name was introduced into the Western World through the veneration of  St. Matthew the Evangelist. He was one of the 12 Apostles of Christ and is credited by most Christian denominations as the author of the Gospel of Matthew. In the Western Churches, St. Matthew’s feast is held on September 21, while in the Eastern Calender it is set for November 16th. We cannot forget the different variations the name has spun off over the centuries. Including the following:

  • Mathyu (Arabic)
  • Mateu (Catalan)
  • Matiša (Croatian)
  • Matouš (Czech)
  • Mads (Danish): originally a diminutive form, now used as an independent name throughout Scandinavia
  • Matthieu (French): 98th most popular name in Belgium and 48th most popular name in France (2006)
  • Maitiú (Gaelic)
  • Matthäus (German)
  • Makaio (Hawaiian)
  • Máté (Hungarian): Máté was the 2nd most popular male name in Hungary of 2005
  • Matteo (Italian)
  • Matiss (Latvian)
  • Modris (Latvian)
  • Matas (Lithuanian)
  • Mats (Norwegian/Swedish): Orginally a diminutive form, now used as an independent given name
  • Mateusz (Polish)
  • Mateus (Portuguese)
  • Matej (Czech-Slovak/Slovenian/Croatian): In Slovenia, Matej was the 22nd most popular male name of 2005. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, this name is used in reference to the Apostle Mathias who replaced Judas Iscariot and not in reference to the Apostle Matthew the Evangelist. In Croatia and Slovenia, Matej is used in reference to the latter.
  • Mateja (Serbian): In Slovenia Mateja is considered the feminine form of Matej
  • Matúš (Slovakian)-this form is used to refer to St. Matthew the Apostle
  • Matevz (Slovenian): 38th most popular name in Slovenia (2005)
  • Mateo (Spanish)-In the United States Mateo came in #251 in the popularity charts. In Spain he stands at #73 (2006). Chile at # 65 (2006) and France he comes in at # 67 (2006).
  • Matteus (Swedish/Norwegian)
  • Matfey (Russian)

You are probably wondering why I have not mentioned Mathias or Matthias. Though Mathias/Matthias are related etymologically to Matthew, I felt that they deserved a post all of their own. Therefore, stay tuned, and I will further discuss them in a future installment. An older English form of the name includes Mathew. Matt is the most popular diminutive form used in the English speaking world.

Núria, Nuria

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Catalan
Meaning: Unknown
(NOO-ree-ah)

Another Spanish place name turned first name, like Meritxell, she is a popular given name due to her associations with a miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary. The sound is pretty, the statue of the Virgin Mary is exquisite and the landscape of Vall de Núria is breath taking. Unfortunately, I could not find the etymology of the name. The name is currrently very popular in Spain, ranking in as the twenty-sixthe most popular female name of 2006. Its designated name day is September 8th. To hear how its pronounced, go here: http://www.forvo.com/word/núria/ Namesakes include: Nuria Bermudez (b. 1980) a Spanish actress and football agent and Nuria Llagostera Vives (b.1980) a Spanish tennis player.

Meritxell

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Catalan
Meaning: “midday.”
(meh-ree-CHEL)

She rhymes a bit with Michelle, but looks unpronounceable to an English speaker. The name is currently popular in Spain, particularly in Barcelona, where the langauge of Catalan is spoken. It is also very prevalent in the country of Andorra, where Catalan is the official language. Meritxell started off as the name of a place, but due to its associations with the Virgin Mary, it became a favorite among Catalan speakers. As for the origins of the name itself, Catalan Philologist, Joan Caromines, claims the name is derived from a diminiutive merig which is ultimately from the Latin meridiem meaning “midday.” Merig is a name used by shephards to denote a pasture with a lot of sun. The legend of Our Lady of Meritxell concerns a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the 12th-century, mass goers in the village of Canillo in Andorra, discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary. It was placed among blooming roses, something which was thought of as miraculous, since it was the dead of winter. You can find more about the story here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Meritxell. A church was built for the statue, and Our Lady of Meritxell is considered the patron saint of the principality of Andorra. In the 1970s, the church and statue were destroyed in a fire, the church was rebuilt and a replica of the statue reproduced. The name day in Spain is September 8, when the statue was destroyed by fire in the 1970s. The name is currently borne by Andorran Minister of Foreign Affairs, Meritxell Mateu i Pi (b. 1966). This site had an audio of the name being spoken by a Catalan speake http://www.forvo.com/search/Meritxell/. In 2003, the name was the 49th most popular female in Spain. In 2006, it did not rank in the top 100 female names of Spain.