Plamen, Plamena

Plamen Пламен (Bulgarian & Serbian) is primarily South Slavic in the contemporary world, but comes from a pan-Slavic word meaning, “flame.” The feminine form is Plamena.

It was potentially Płomień in Medieval Polish. Płamen (male) and Płamena (female) are also modern Polish transliterations of the Bulgarian.

In Bulgaria, the designated name-day is November 8th.



Gender: Masculine
Origin: Slavonic
Meaning: “dawn.”

The name is a masculinized form of the Slavonic female name Zora, which is from the Old Slavonic, meaning, “dawn” and which also was the name of an ancient Slavic goddess, (see Zora for more details).

The name is mainly used in Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia and as of 2006, he was the 2nd most popular male name in the Republic of Macedonia.


ursulaBritishMuseumGender: Feminine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “little she-bear; she-cub; little female bear.”
Eng (ERS-uh-LAH)

The name is of Latin origin but is suggested that is may be a latinization of the old Germanic female name Yrsa meaning “bear” and was popularized by a medieval Christian saint said to be martyred in Cologne. Not much is known about the saint, other that she was martyred under Huns along with 11,000 other virgins, which is now believed to be a misprint from the written source of the legend. What is known for sure is that there was a basilica built in honour of a virgin Christian martyr in Cologne and from this arose several different legends referring to a St. Ursula and St. Cordula. According to the legend, St. Ursula was a British princess who was sent by her father to Germany to marry a prince, along with her, were sent 11,000 maidens, however,  her ship was taken off course due to a storm and instead ended up in France where she then decided to do a pan-European Christian pilgramage before meeting her future husband. She made a pilgramage to Rome where she tried to pursuade the pope to do a pilgramage with her and her 11,ooo companions. When she reached cologne she and her companions were massacred by the Huns.

The legend is based off of a 4th century inscription written in the Basilica which was built in the saint’s honour. It is believed that the 11,ooo handmaidens was confused with a female martyr named Undecimilia, Undecimila or Xemilia and that the abbreviation XI.M.V was misread as a number. The same saint has also been referred to under the names Pinnosa or Vinnosa. The name was quite prevalent in Great Britain before the Reformation and went out of usage afterwards. The name is also borne by Swiss actress Ursula Andress (b. 1936). It has also appeared in popular culture as the name of the evil sea-witch in Disney’s the Little Mermaid and as the name of the wife of Nigellus Phineas Black in the Harry Potter Series.

In Poland, the name is associated with a great piece of Polish Literature written by Jan Kochanowski. Known as Laments (Treny) 1580, they are a series of 19 elegies which talk about the author’s grief after the death of his two and half year old daughter Orszola (Urzula) which he refers to as the Slavic Sappho.

Other forms of the name are (divided alphabetically by nationality):

  • Orsula (Corsican)
  • Uršula (Croatian/Czech/Slovakian/Slovenian)
  • Yrsa (Danish/Faroese/Icelandic/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Orsel (Dutch)
  • Ursule/Ursuline (French)
  • Ursula/Ursel (German/Dutch/Estonian/Finnish/Spanish: German diminutive forms are Ulla, Uli and Uschi)
  • Orsolya (Hungarian: or-SHOH-lah was the 56th most popular female name in Hungary in 2006)
  • Úrsúla (Icelandic)
  • Orsina/Orsola/Orsolina (Italian)
  • Ursa (Latin)
  • Urzula (Latvian)
  • Uršulė (Lithuanian)
  • Urszula/Orszola/Warszula (Polish: Latter two forms are older forms and are rarely used. Diminutive form is Ula and Urszulka. Older diminutive forms are Ulicha and Ulita)
  • Úrsula (Portuguese)
  • Ursetta/Ursina/Urschla (Romansch)
  • Urška (Slovenian: originally a diminutive now used as an independent given name, it was the 51st most popular female name in Slovenia in 2005)
  • Orscheli (Swiss-German: ORSH-lee)

There are a few male equivalents which include:

  • Orso/Orsino/Ursio/Ursino (Italian)
  • Urs (German)
  • Ursinus/Ursus (Latin)
  • Ursyn/Ursycjusz (Polish: very rare)
  • Ursin/Urosin (Romansch)

Wendel, Wendelin

401px-Pfärrenbach_Wandmalerei_Hl_WendelinGender: Masculine
Origin: German/Dutch
Meaning: “vandal.”
Eng (WEN-dle); Germ (VEHN-del)
Eng (WEN-deh-LIN); Germ (VEHN-deh-LEEN)

Wendel is derived from an Old Germanic element wendal meaning “a Vandal” someone who is a member of a Germanic tribe of the same name. It is the name of a municipality in northeastern Saarland Germany, which was named for St. Wendelin of Trier. St. Wendelin of Trier (577-617) was a German hermit and abbot known for his piety. He is a popular saint among German-speaking Catholics and is regarded as the patron saint of herdsmen and country people. The designated name-day is October 20 and October 22, depending on the country. Wendelin was originally a diminutive form of Wendel. Other forms of the name include:

  • Vendelin (Croatian)
  • Vendelín (Czech/Slovak)
  • Wendell (English)
  • Vendel (Danish/Hungarian/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Vandalius (Lithuanian)
  • Wandal/Wandalin (Old High German)

Feminine forms are:

  • Vendelina (Croatian)
  • Vendelína (Czech/Slovak)
  • Vendele (Danish)
  • Wendy (English)
  • Wendela/Wendeltsje/Wendeline (Dutch)
  • Wendelina (German)
  • Venla (Finnish)
  • Vendella (Latvian)
  • Vendela (Swedish: was the 93rd most popular female name in Sweden in 2006)

Magdalena, Madeleine, Madeline

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “of Magdala.”

We have the exotic and sophisticated Magdalena, the French classic Madeleine and the English trend setter Madeline.  The origins of these names go all the way back to the Bible, the New Testament to be exact. It is derived from a title given to the famous Catholic saint, Mary Magdalen, also known as Mary of Magdala. Magdala, being the town that the former prostitute turned follower of Christ, hailed from, a town on the sea, near Galilee, its meaning being “tower.”

In the Middle Ages, St. Mary Magdalen was a beloved saint, making the name popular in virtually every European country, evolving into myriad different forms. The cult of St. Mary Magdalen was especially popular in France, where she was known as La Madeleine (lah mah-deh-LEN). In fact, tradition holds that, after the death of Christ, Mary Magdalen travelled to France, where she converted many of the early inhabitants to the new faith. She is considered one of France’s patron saints and it is believed that her bones were buried in France. La Madeleine gave her name to several communes in France as well as a river. It is even the name of a famous French pastry.

While you are out rushing to work, standing in line, getting your daily fix of Starbucks, you may notice that at the front counter there are packages of a soft little sponge-like cookie. These are madeleines or petit madeleines. They are a popular snack in France, made from lemon and butter, and are known for their distinctive shell shape. Legend has it that they acquired their name from the lady who invented them, Madeleine Paulmier. They are a delightful little treat, and I recommend that the next time you are at Starbucks, you should try them yourself.

Likewise, Madeleine has been a very popular choice in Great Britain and currently ranks in as the 80th most popular feminine name in Britain and Wales for 2007, while in its home country of France, it comes in rather low. It was the 454th most popular feminine name in France for 2006.

Let us not forget the fun and sweet version of Madeline (MAD-eh-LINE), Madeline seems to be specifically a North American version of the French form. Originally pronounced (MAD-eh-LIN), its preferred pronunciation has switched over to the former in the last decade, no doubt due to the popular children’s series of books of the same name.

Madeline has been quite popular the last few years, she ranked in at a whopping 61 in the 2007 most popular feminine names in the United States. She has also made her mark in other non-British English speaking countries, such as Canada and Australia. In Canada she came in at 85, while in Australia 93.

There is also the trendified corrupted form of Madelyn, which currently comes in at # 104, however, it is advisable to use the French spelling if you prefer the (Mad-eh-lin) pronunciation, which seems to be the goal of the parents of the Madelyns.

Nicknames include Maddie, Leine and Lynn. The name is borne by Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Madeleine Albright, and author Madeleine L’Engle.

Let us now move on to its Eastern European alternative of Magdalena (MAHG-dah-LAY-nah). This form is used in Spain, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Poland. It is especially popular in both Poland and the Czech Republic where it is often shortened to Magda, and occasionally Lenka. There are the Czech spin offs of Alenka and Madlenka, used as an independent name.

Magdalena might be appealing to English speaking parents who love the nickname Maggie but really dislike Margaret. On top of that, it can be shortened to appealing and trendy Laney or even Lena.

Other forms of the trio include:
  • Magdalawit (Amharic/Eritrean)
  • Maialen (Basque: MY-ah-LEN)
  • Madenn (Breton)
  • Miglena (Bulgarian)
  • Alena (Czech-Slovak and occasionally used in Germany. Diminutive form is Alenka)
  • Magdaléna (Czech)
  • Mahulena (Czech: a form created by Czech author, Julius Zeyer, for his his Ráduz and Mahulena-1898)
  • Magdalene (Danish)
  • Magdalone/Malene/Lone (Danish)
  • Malle/Madli (Estonian pronounced MAHL-leh and MAHD-lee) other forms include Mall, Leen (LANE), Leena and Made (MAH-deh)
  • Matleena (Finnish pronounced maht-LAY-nah) diminutive forms now commonly used as independent names include: Leen, Leena and Lenita)
  • Magdeleine (French: archaic form)
  • Leni (German: originally a diminutive form, it has recently become trendy in German speaking countries as an independent name)
  • Madelene (German: mah-deh-LEH-neh: other forms include, Madlene and Madlen)
  • Magdalini (Greek Modern-pronounced mahg-dah-LEE-nee)
  • Magdolna (Hungarian, pronounced mog-DOH-noh) diminutive forms now popularly used as independent name in Hungary are Lenke (LEHN-keh) and Duci (DOOT-see).
  • Madalein (Irish-Gaelic)
  • Mailin (Irish-Gaelic)
  • Maddalena (Italian pronounced mahd-dah-LAY-nah. Other forms include Maida, Madina and Magdala)
  • Madala (Latvian) another form is Magone
  • Talena (Latvian/Scottish)
  • Maguelone (Occitanian)
  • Madalena (Portuguese pronounced mah-dah-LAY-nah)
  • Maclaina (Romansch pronounced mugg-LIE-nah) other Romansch forms include Madina, Madlaina (mudd-LIE-nah) and Madlena (mudd-LEH-nah).
  • Madalina (Romanian pronounced mah-dah-LEE-nah)
  • Magdalina Магдалина (Russian)
  • Manda (Serbo-Croatian/Macedonian/Slovene)
  • Madlena (Sorbian)
  • Malin/Målin (Swedish/Norwegian pronounced MAW-lin, other forms include Malena and Madicken (MAH-dee-KEN)
  • Mädi (Swiss-German: dialectical form from Bern MAD-dee)
  • Magdalyna (Ukrainian)
  • Madałena (Venetian)

Other popular offshoots include the English corrupted form of Madelaine (MAD-eh-LANE): given to the daughter of David Duchovny and Téa Leoni. The dated German forms of Marlene (Eng mar-LEEN; Germ mahr-LEH-neh) & Marla and the Polish Marlena.The designated name day for all of these names is July 22.

French diminutives are Mado and Madelon. Polish diminutive forms are: Madzia, Magda, Magdunia, Magdusia and Magdeczka. Hungarian diminutives are, Duci

There are a few Italian masculine forms and that includes, Maddaleno, Magdalo and Maido.


Gender: Masculine
Origin: Croatian

The name started off as a contraction for Antun, but later became associated as a patriotic Croatian name due to its similarity to the name of the ancient Antes people who inhabited what is now Croatia during the 6th and 7th centuries (C.E.).

Their origins are conjectured, therefore the meaning of the name is contended. Some suggest that the term antes comes from an Ugric source meaning “armies.”

The name is borne by several notable people, including Australian born football/soccer player, Ante Covic.