Ilana

Origin: Hebrew אִילָנָה
Meaning: “tree”.
(ee-LAH-nah).

The name comes directly from the Hebrew word for tree. Another female form is Ilanit (ee-LAH-neet) אִילָנִית. She is borne by Israeli pop-singer, known simply as Ilanit (b.1947) her real name being Hanna Drezner-Tzakh.

As of 2010, Ilana was the 255th most popular female name in France. While in the Netherlands, she comes in as the 321st most popular female name, (2011).

The masculine form is Ilan.

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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.

Daniel, Danielle

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Biblical Hebrew
Meaning: “God is my Judge.”

If you are like me, you probably think Daniel is dull and overused. Then there is the other camp who might think this is a wonderful classic. It has the youthful nickname options of Dan and Danny and its used in just about every European country with such variants as the Italian Daniele and the Czech and Polish diminutive forms of Danek. Another plus is that, while the name has religious connotations, its doesn’t adhere to a specific denomination. It is fair game for both Jewish and Christian parents alike, Catholic and Protestant. It is even used among Muslims.

The name Daniel is found in the Old Testament, (it has its own book), composed of the Hebrew elements dan meaning “judge” and the 1st person possessive singular suffix of i plus El which was a reference to God.

As for the Biblical Daniel himself, according to the Bible, he was a Jewish boy who was captured by the Babylonians and employed as a sort of dream-reader, (sounds like a pretty cool job). Daniel was so good at his job that he eventually became famous, even among his Persian and Babylonian captives. Due to his prestige and influence, Daniel was also able to persuade his captors to release the Jews back to their homeland. There is far more to the Biblical Daniel’s story than I will write here, but he is probably most noted for his steadfast loyalty to his faith and people as well as his miraculous survival after being thrown in a den of lions.

In the United States, Daniel has been steadfast in its popularity. He currently comes in at # 5. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, he comes in at # 7. In Scotland at # 3. In Ireland # 4. While in Spain he comes in at a whopping # 2.

This forms is also used in the Czech Republic, Finland, French-speaking countries, German-speaking countries, Poland, Portuguese-speaking countries, Romania,  Scandinavia, Slovakia and Spanish-speaking countries

Other forms include :

  • Dana (Afrikaans)
  • Danieli (Albanian)
  • Danyal دانيال (Arabic)
  • Taniel (Armenian)
  • Danel (Basque)
  • Danilo (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian)
  • Deniel (Breton)
  • Danail Данаил (Bulgarian)
  • Danelu (Corsican/Sardinian/Sicilian)
  • Daan (Dutch/Limburgish)
  • Daniël (Dutch)
  • Daaniel/Taaniel (Estonian)
  • Tanel/Tani (Estonian)
  • Taano/Tanno (Estonian)
  • Taneli/Tatu (Finnish)
  • Dāniyyêl דָּנִיֵּאל (Hebrew: Modern)
  • Dániel (Hungarian)
  • Daniló (Hungarian)
  • Dános (Hungarian)
  • Daniele (Italian: dahn-YAY-lay)
  • Daniello (Italian: an archaic version which died out in the 17th-century)
  • Danilo/Danilio (Italian: obscure)
  • Danielius (Lithuanian)
  • Daniilu Данїилъ (Old Church Slavonic)
  • Dani داني (Persian)
  • Daniyal دانيال (Persian)
  • Danil/Dănuṭ (Romanian: duh-NOOTS)
  • Daniil Даниил (Russian)
  • Daniele/Danijel (Slovene)
  • Dani/Däne/Dänu/Danü (Swiss-German: Bern dialect)
  • Danyal/Danyel(Turkish)
  • Deiniol (Welsh)

Czech diminutives are: Dan, Daník, Daneček, Danoušek, Danny, Dandýsek, Dady, Danda, Dáda, Danda, Dannys, Danušík and Dandýsek, Italian diminutive forms are: Nilo, Danio, Danino and Nilio.

Danya Даня is a common Russian and Ukrainian diminutive form.

Let us not forget its feminine versions of Daniella, Daniela and Danielle. As of 2010, its Spanish and Slavic diminutive form of Dania reached the top 1000, coming in as the 999th most popular female name in the United States.

The French Danielle, does not have the same staying power as its masculine counterpart. Though always more common as a middle name, Danielle is one of the quintessential names of the 1980s. In 1987, she came close to reaching the top 10 by hitting # 14. In the last popularity census, Danielle still comes in rather high at # 144.  Its Latinate counterpart of Daniela comes in a tad bit higher at # 121, while the Italian Daniella is all the way down at # 303.

Other forms are:

  • Danijela (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Danaila (Bulgarian)
  • Daniela (Czech/German/Polish/Portuguese/Romanian/Scandinavian/Slovene/Spanish)
  • Danielle (English)
  • Danièle (French)
  • Danelia (Italian: obscure)
  • Daniella (Italian)
  • Danila/Danilla (Italian: obscure)

Italian feminine diminutives are : Dana, Dania and Nila.

Designated name-days are: July 21 (Germany/Hungary/Slovakia), December 10 (Poland/Lithuanian), December 11 (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Norway, Sweden), December 17 (Greec/Czech Republic)

Sarah, Sara

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Hebrew
Meaning: “princess.”
Eng (SARE-ah); Heb (SAH-hrah)

Sarah has been a popular choice throughout the English speaking world since the Protestant Reformation. In Medieval Europe, the name seldom got much usage outside the Jewish community.

Currently, Sarah is the 20th most popular female name in the United States-(2008) and the highest she peaked was in 1993 coming in as the 3rd most popular female name.

The lowest she has ever ranked in U.S. history so far was in 1959 when she ranked in as the 119th most popular female name.

In other countries, Sarah and Sara’s rankings are as follows:

  • # 16 (Australia, 2007)
  • # 2 (Austria, 2008)
  • # 6 (Belgium, 2008)
  • # 13 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
  • # 72 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • # 3 (Croatia, 2008)
  • # 9 (Denmark, 2008)
  • # 2 (Faroe Islands, 2008)
  • # 3 (Finland, among Finnish-speakers, 2007)
  • # 10 (Finland, among Swedish-speakers, 2007)
  • # 1 (Iceland, 2004-2007)
  • # 3 (Iran, 2007)
  • # 3 (Ireland, 2008)
  • # 4 (Israel, among Druze girls, 2004)
  • # 4 (Italy, 2007)
  • # 3 (Libya)
  • # 1 (Liechtenstein,2008)
  • # 7 (Luxembourg, 2008)
  • # 34 (the Netherlands, 2008)
  • # 3 (Norway, 2008)
  • # 76 (Poland, Warsaw, 2009)
  • # 24 (Scotland, 2008)
  • # 5 (Serbia, 2009)
  • # 2 (Slovenia, 2008)
  • # 4 (Spain, 2008)
  • # 7 (Spain, Basque Country, 2008)
  • # 9 (Spain, Catalonia, 2008)
  • # 3 (Switzerland, 2008)
  • # 9 (Quebec, Canada, 2008)

The name is found in the Old Testament as the name of the wife of patriarch, Abraham, and the mother of Isaac. Among Jews, Sarah is considered to be an important matriarch and she also plays an important role as the wife of Ibrahim in the Qu’ran.

According to the Old Testament, Sarah was born as Sarai, (either from the Hebrew meaning “contentious” or “my princess”), but after Abraham had made the covenant with God, her name was changed to Sarah שָׂרָה, which is from the Hebrew meaning “a princess” or “a woman of high status”.

In Romani legend, the name is borne by a popular folk saint, known as St. Sarah the Black, it was believed that she was a a servant of St. Mary Magdalen, and that upon their arrival in France, she lived the life a of a beggar. The Romani people took her on as their patron saint.

The name has spun off such offshoots as Sally and Sadie. Both Sally and Sadie started off as English pet forms, but have been in usage as independent given names for centuries.

Currently, Sadie stands in as the 108th most popular female name in the United States, (2008), in Canada, she is the 56th most popular female name.

As for the older, dowdier version of Sally, it has not ranked in the U.S. top 1000 since 2004, when it came in at # 917. The highest she ranked in U.S. naming history was in 1939, when she came in as the 52nd most popular female name.

Other forms of the Sarah include:

  • Sara سارة (Arabic)
  • Sahra/Saro (Aramaic)
  • SaraAzeri/Catalan/Dutch/Finnish/French/German/Indonesian/Italian/Latvian/Lithuanian/Polish/Portuguese/Spanish/Scandinavian Turkish)
  • Sára (Czech/Faroese/Icelandic/Slovak: SAH-rah)
  • Saara (Estonian/Finnish/Baloch)
  • Saare (Estonian)
  • Saija (Finnish)
  • Sari (Finnish)
  • Saar/Saarke/Saartje (Frisian)
  • Sarah שָׂרָ֖ה (German/English/Hebrew)
  • Sára Σάρα (Greek)
  • Saala/Saalat (Greenlandic)
  • Kala (Hawaiian)
  • Sarit שָׂרִית (Hebrew: modern form)
  • Sára (Hungarian: SHAH-rah)
  • Sári/Sárika (Hungarian: SHAH-ree, SHAH-ree-ko: originally diminutive forms, now used as independent given name)
  • Saretta (Italian: obscure form)
  • Sarina (Italian: obscure form)
  • Sarita (Italian/Lithuanian/Spanish: obscure diminutive form, now used as an independent given name)
  • Saruccia (Italian: Medieval diminutive form occasionally used as an independent given name)
  • Sasotta (Italian: obscure form)
  • Sarina (Ossetian/Georgian)
  • Sara  سارا(Persian/Iranian)
  • Sara Сара (Russian/Serbian/Bulgarian)
  • Sarê (Kurdish)
  • Suri (Yiddish)
  • Tzeitel (Yiddish: TSITE-el)

The designated name-days are: January 19 (Poland/Hungary), July 19 (Sweden), October 4/22 (France), October 9 (Czech Republic).

Famous Sarahs include: French Stage Actress, Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (b.1959), American actress, Sarah Michelle Gellar (b.1977), American nominee for Vice-President and former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin (b.1964). American actress and star of Sex and the City Sarah Jessica Parker (b.1965).

Joshua

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Hebrew
Meaning: “Yahweh is salvation.”
Eng (JOSH-e-wuh)

The name is borne in the Old Testament by an apprentice and companion of Moses, also known as one of the twelve spies of Israel sent out by Moses to the land of Canaan. After the death of Moses, he was appointed chief of the Israelites.

According to the Bible, Joshua was born as Hoshea, and was the son of Nun of the tribe of Ephraim, and Moses changed his name to Joshua, (Numbers 13:16).

The name is derived from the Hebrew, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ‎ (Yehoshua), which is composed of the Hebrew roots, ישע meaning, “salvation” “to deliver” or “to be victorious.”

The name of Jesus is an anglicization of the Hebrew Yehoshua, being a translation of the Biblical Greek, ιησου (Iesou/Jesus).

In the English speaking world, before the Reformation, Joshua was seldom used outside Jewish communities. Currently, Joshua is the 4th most popular male name in the United States, (2008), the lowest he ever ranked in U.S. naming history was in 1929, coming in as the 726th most popular male name.

His rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 4 (Australia, 2008)
  • # 8 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
  • # 5 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • # 29 (Ireland, 2007)
  • # 1 (Isle of Man, 2008)
  • # 93 (the Netherlands, 2008)
  • # 4 (New Zealand, 2009)
  • # 1 (Philippines, 2006)
  • # 21 (Scotland, 2008)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Yushua يوشع (Arabic)
  • Yuşə (Azeri)
  • Josu (Basque)
  • Josuè (Catalan)
  • Jošua (Croatian)
  • Jozue (Czech/Slovak)
  • Josva (Danish/Norwegian)
  • Jozua (Dutch)
  • Joosua (Finnish)
  • Josue (French/Spanish)
  • Xosué (Galician)
  • Jehoschua (German)
  • Josua (German/Swedish)
  • Iokua (Hawaiian)
  • Józsua (Hungarian)
  • Yusha (Indonesian)
  • Gesuè (Italian: obscure as its too close to Gesù, the Italian form of Jesus)
  • Gesuele (Italian)
  • Giosuè (Italian: more common form)
  • Giosuele (Italian)
  • Jozuė (Lithuanian)
  • Jozue/Jeszua (Polish)
  • Josué (Portuguese)
  • Iosua (Romanian)

Feminine forms include:

  • Josune (Basque)
  • Gesuela/Gesuella (Italian: jase-oo-AY-lah)

Josh is the common English diminutive form and Chucho, Chus and Chuy are the Spanish diminutives.

Ethan

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Hebrew
Meaning: “strong; enduring; solid.”
Eng (EE-then); Heb (ay-TAHN)

Currently the 3rd most popular male name in the United States, Ethan is a Biblical Hebrew name that is mentioned eight times in the Bible.

Not much is known about the Biblical Ethan, other than that it was the name of a possible magi or cymbal player of King David.

The name’s popularity is relatively recent. It was not used much outside the Jewish community until after the Protestant Reformation, even then, the name was still very uncommon.

In 1880, Ethan did not appear in the U.S. top 1000, in 1884, he suddenly appeared coming in at # 613, then fell out of the top 1000 the next year, coming in again at # 846 in 1886.

For the next 80 or so years, Ethan had had a history of disappearing from the top 1000 every few years, and then reappearing, but never ranking very high. It wasn’t until, starting in 1956, that Ethan remained steadily in the top 1000 each year.

For ’56, he was the 948th most popular male name.

Ethan jumped several places towards the end of the 1980s. He came in at # 236 in 1988 and then jumped a couple hundred spots the following year, cracking the top 100, he came in at # 87 for 1989.

In 2002, he hit the top 10, coming in at # 5.

His popularity in other countries are as follows:

  • # 10 (Australia, 2007)
  • # 36 (Belgium, 2006)
  • # 1 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
  • # 15 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • # 24 (France, 2006)
  • # 46 (Ireland, 2007)
  • # 31 (Scotland, 2008)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Etan (German/Polish)
  • Aithan Αιθαν (Greek: Biblical)
  • Eitan/Eytan אֵיתָן (Hebrew: Modern)

The name is also borne American revolutionary Ethan Allen (1738-1789) and by actor, Ethan Hawke (b. 1970).

It is also the name of the protagnostis in Edith Wharton’s novel Ethan Frome (1911)

Michael

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Hebrew
Meaning: “who is like God?”
Eng (MI-kel)

One of the most prevalent male names in the Western World, and to a certain extent, the Middle Eastern world, the name is derived from a rhetorical Hebrew question מִיכָאֵל (Mikha’el) meaning “who is like God?” or “who is like El” the answer being that no one is like God.

This is in reference to the legend of when one of God’s most powerful angels, (Lucifer depending on the theological tradition), became so arrogant and prideful that he built an army of angels in order to overthrow the throne of God, thinking that he himself could be like God, Michael is believed to have smite the fallen angel, asking him the question “who is like God?” after casting him out of the gates of heaven.

According Mormon saint theology, “who is like God?” refers to the idea that Michael was Adam before he was created by God in human form. The meaning of the name explains that all humans are created in God’s image.

Michael is believed to be a powerful angel in Islamic, Christian and Jewish tradition. He appears several times in the Bible, being mentioned in the Book of Daniel, the Book of Jude and the Book of Revelations. He even appears in the apocryphal Book of Enoch.

In Roman Catholicism, Michael is referred to as St. Michael the Archangel and is considered a powerful saint, especially powerful against demonic attacks and is the patron saint of chivalry, the warrior, police officers, paratroopers, firefighters, soldiers and fighter pilots. Among German Catholics, he is the patron saint of Germany, and in Belgium, he considered the patron saint of Brussels.

In the Eastern Christian tradition, is known as Taxiarch Archangel Michael or simply as Archangel Michael.

In Jewish tradition, Michael is the protector and heavenly warrior of Israel and the advocate of the Jews.

In Islam, he is mentioned in the Qu’ran once, in Sura 2:98 and that Michael was a good angel who stood on the left hand of God (Allah’s) throne.

The archangel is also important in the Bahai faith and the New Age religions.

He plays a role in John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost.

There is no reason to explain why Michael is so popular, especially in the U.S. As of 2008, Michael was the 2nd most popular male name. He was moved down from the 1st position down to the 2nd position back in 1999, when he was overthrown by Jacob.

Between the years 1954 and 1999, Michael was the most popular male name. The lowest that Michael ever ranked in U.S. naming history was in 1892 when he came in as the 59th most popular male name in the United States. In other countries, Michael’s rankings are as follows:

  • # 36 (Australia, 2007)
  • # 36 (Canada, B.C. 2008)
  • # 4 (Denmark, 2009)
  • # 52 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • # 10 (Ireland, 2007)
  • # 239 (the Netherlands, 2008)
  • # 33 (Scotland, 2008)

The Michael form is also used in Afrikaans, Danish, Czech, German and Ripoarisch.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Mëhill/Mhill (Albanian)
  • Mighel (Amazigh/Moroccan)
  • Mikhael/Mikail ميخائيل‎, (Arabic/Coptic)
  • Miguel (Aragonese/Galician/Portuguese/Spanish: mee-GEL)
  • Mikael Միքաել (Armenian)
  • Micael (Asturian)
  • Mikayıl (Azeri)
  • Mikel (Basque)
  • Mitxel (Basque)
  • Miquèu (Bearnais/Occitanian/Gascon/Provençal)
  • Mickaël (Breton)
  • Mikael (Breton/Finnish/Icelandic/Norwegian/Swedish: a Finnish diminutive form is Mika)
  • Mihail Михаил (Bulgarian/Russian: Misha is the most common diminutive form)
  • Michjeli (Calabrian: Chjeli is the diminutive mee-KYAY-lee)
  • Miquel (Catalan: mee-KEL. Quelo is a common diminutive form)
  • Myghal (Cornish)
  • Michal (Czech/Slovak: mee-HAHL: 15th most popular male name in the Czech Republic-2007)
  • Mihajlo/Mihovil (Croatian: diminutive form is Miho)
  • Mihail Михаил (Croatian/Serbian)
  • Mikkel (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish: 6oth most popular male name in Norway-2007)
  • Maikel (Dutch: MY-kel)
  • Michaël (Dutch/Frisian: mee-kah-EL)
  • Michiel (Dutch: 307th most popular male name in the Netherlands-2008)
  • Miikael/Mikhel (Estonian)
  • Mikko (Finnish)
  • Michel (French: MEE-shel)
  • Michêl (Fruilian)
  • Mícheál (Gaelic-Irish)
  • Mìcheal (Gaelic-Scotch)
  • Micheil (Gaelic-Scotch)
  • Mikheil მიხეილი (Georgian)
  • Mikhael/Mikhalis Μιχάλης/Μιχαήλ (Greek: Μίκης (Mikis) is the common pet form))
  • Mikala (Hawaiian)
  • Micha’el מִיכָאֵל‎, (Hebrew)
  • Mihály (Hungarian: 60th most popular male name in Hungary-2008. Misi and Miska are the most common pet forms. MEE-hie)
  • Mikhael (Indonesian)
  • Michea (Italian: obscure/archaic mee-KAY-ah)
  • Michele (Italian: mee-KAY-lay)
  • Michelino (Italian: obscure)
  • Miķelis/Mihails (Latvian)
  • Mykolas (Lithuanian)
  • Mikail (Malayalam)
  • Mikiel (Maltese)
  • Mikaere (Maori)
  • Migueltzin (Nahuatl)
  • Michè (Neopolitan)
  • Miché/Michi (Norman)
  • Miqueu (Occitanian)
  • Mikhailu Мїхаилъ (Old Church Slavonic)
  • Michał (Polish/Sorbian: mee-HOW)
  • Mihai/Mihail (Romanian: diminutive form is Mihaita)
  • Micheli/Mikelli/Migali (Sardinian)
  • Mihailo Михаило (Serbian)
  • Miceli (Sicilian: Celi is a diminutive form. mee-KAY-lee)
  • Miha (Slovene: originally a diminutive form of Mihael, now used exclusively as an independent given name, it was the 11th most popular male name in Slovenia-2005)
  • Mihael (Slovene: 86th most popular male name in Slovenia-2005)
  • Mikâil (Turkish)
  • Mikhailo/Mykhailo Михайло (Ukrainian)
  • Michełe (Venetian)
  • Meical (Welsh)

English diminutive forms are: Mick, Micky, Mike and Mikey. German diminutive forms are Maik (pronounced like Mike), Maiki, Michi and Micki. A Swiss-German dialectical diminutive is is Michu (Bern)

There are also forms that mean “Michael Archangel” and are used in reference to the angel. These are:

  • Michelangelo (Italian)
  • Michelarcangelo (Italian)
  • Michelangiolo (Romansch)
  • Mihangel (Welsh)

Michelangela is an Italian feminine form.

An Italian smush is Michelantonio.

The feminine form of Michelle (an English corruption of the French feminine form Michèle), has been used in the English speaking world since the early 20th-century.

It currently ranks in as the 103rd most popular female name, and the highest it peaked was # 2, in the years 1968, ’69 and again in ’71, ’72.

Its Latinate feminine form has recently sparked in popularity as well (see Michaela for more details)

Other feminine forms include:

  • Micaela (Asturian)
  • Mikelle (Basque)
  • Miquèla (Bearnais)
  • Mikaela (Breton)
  • Miquela (Catalan/Occitanian/Gascon/Provençal)
  • Michelle (English/German: a phonetic corruption of the French Michèle)
  • Michèle (French)
  • Michéline (French: mee-shay-LEEN)
  • Michaelina/Michaeline (Irish: an Irish corruption of the French Micheline and the Italian, Michelina, common diminutive form is Micki/Micky. MY-keh-LEEN-ah; MY-keh-LEEN)
  • Michela (Italian: mee-KAY-lah)
  • Michelina (Italian: mee-kay-LEE-nah)
  • Michalina (Polish: mee-ha-LEE-nah: Michalinka and Misia are the diminutive forms)
  • Miguela (Spanish)
  • Miguelina (Spanish)

The designated name-day for Michael is September 29.

Melchior

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Debated
Meaning: Debated

The name is of uncertain origin or meaning, but may be related to the Phoenician deity name, Melqart, which means “king city” or possibly even to the Hebrew components, malki (my king) and or (light), which would roughly translate as “my king is light.”

According to Christian lore, it is the name of one of the Three Wise Men (Magi) who visited Christ.

Its designated name-day is January 6th.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Meltxor (Basque)
  • Melcion/Melcior (Catalan)
  • Melchioru (Corsican)
  • Melkior (Croatian/Serbian/Slovene)
  • Melker (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish: currently very popular in Sweden, in 2007, it was the 54th most popular male name in Sweden)
  • Melchior (English/French/German/Polish/Slovak)
  • Malchior (German/Polish: older forms)
  • Marchal/Melcher (German: archaic)
  • Melchiorre (Italian)
  • Melchioras/Melkijoras (Lithuanian)
  • Merkelis (Lithuanian)
  • Melkjor (Maltese)
  • Marchion (Occitanian)
  • Melhior (Polish: very obscure)
  • Belchior (Portuguese)
  • Melkhior (Russian)
  • Melichar (Slovak)
  • Melchor (Spanish/Galician)

an obscure feminine form is Melchiora.

Ruth

Gender: Hebrew
Origin: Hebrew
Meaning: “companion.”
Eng (ROOTH)

The name is derived from the Biblical Hebrew word רְעוּת (re’ut), which means “friend; companion.”

In the Old Testament, the name is borne by the central character of the Book of Ruth, a Moabite woman who later became a loyal and faithful Jew. She is considered the ancestress of King David, and in Christian tradition, she is also considered an ancestor of Jesus.

Since Ruth is considered an ideal heroine in Judaism, the name has always been common in the Jewish community, among Christians, the name did not catch on until after the Reformation, especially in the Anglo-phone world, where the name became especially common among Puritans.

The highest the name ever ranked in U.S. naming history was back in 1893, where she came in as the 3rd most popular female name.

Currently, she ranks in as the 362nd most popular female name.

In other countries, her rankings are as follows:

  • # 94 (Ireland, 2006)
  • # 488 (the Netherlands, 2008)

The Ruth form is also used in Catalan, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Norwegian and Swedish.

Other forms include:

  • Rut (Afrikaans/Aragonese/Catalan/German/Hungarian/Indonesian/Italian/Javanese/Maltese/Polish/Spanish/Swedish)
  • Rút (Czech)
  • Ruut (Finnish/Estonian)
  • Rutt (Estonian)
  • Routh Ρουθ (Greek)
  • Rut רות (Hebrew Modern: In Israel, Ruti is the common diminutive form)
  • Rúth (Hungarian)
  • Rǘt (Irish Gaelic)
  • Ruthu (Kiswahili)
  • Rūta (Lithuanian: also coincides with the Lithuanian word for the rue plant)
  • Rūtenė (Lithuanian)
  • Ruthi Рѹѳь (Old Church Slavonic)
  • Ruta (Polish/Croatian)
  • Rute (Portuguese)
  • Ruf Руфь (Russian)
  • Ruthven (Scottish)
  • Rutu (Yoruban)

A common English diminutive, which is also sometimes bestowed as an independent given name is Ruthie. Ruthanne/Ruth-Anne is a common English compound form.

A Lithuanian masculine form is Rūtenis.

The name was borne by former first daughter of the United States, “Baby” Ruth Cleveland, daughter of President Grover Cleveland (1891-1904)

The designated name-day is January 4.

Lazarus

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Aramaic/Greek

Lazarus is Biblical name that has never really caught on in the English speaking world, he has a morbid and Gothic vibe, he has that feel that belongs in an Anne Rice or Stephanie Meyer novel.

The name is derived from the Greek, Lazaros (Λαζαρος), which is a form of the Aramaic, Lazar. Lazar is in turn an Aramaic form of the Hebrew, male name, Eleazar אלעזר, Elʿāzār, meaning “God’s assistance” or “God has helped.”

I shall go into Eleazar in a separate posting, for now, I shall just focus on Lazarus and his variants, since, he seems to have created a persona all of his own.

In the New Testamant, the name Lazarus is mentioned twice, the strongest association has to be with Lazarus of Bethany, who is mentioned in the Gospel of John as a man who was miraculously resurrected from the dead by Jesus. Another Lazarus is the subject of Jesus’ parable Lazarus and Dives, (recounted in the Gospel of Luke).

In Eastern Orthodox and Catholic traditions, Lazarus of Bethany is revered as a saint, and later apocryphal accounts of his life became popular. Among Eastern Christian traditions, it is believed that Lazarus sailed off to Cyprus to evangelize the inhabitants where he later became the first Bishop Kittim, (Larnaka), other traditions have Lazarus and his sisters relocating to Provence, France, where it is said that he became the first Bishop of Marseilles.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Llàtzer (Catalan)
  • Lazar Лазарь/Лазар (Croatian/Czech/Bulgarian/Serbian/Russian/Ukrainian)
  • Lazarus (English/Danish/Dutch/German/Latin/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Lasarus (Finnish/Swedish/Norwegian)
  • Lazare (French: lah-ZAHR)
  • Lazaros Λαζαρος (Greek)
  • Lázár (Hungarian)
  • Lazzaro (Italian)
  • Lozorius (Lithuanian)
  • Łazarz/Lazarz (Polish: WAH-zahsh/LAH-zahsh)
  • Lázaro (Portuguese/Spanish: LAH-sah-roh Latin American Spanish; LAH-thah-ro Iberian Spanish)
  • Lazár (Slovak)
  • Lasaros (Swedish)

Spanish feminine forms are Lázara and Lazarina.

The designated name-day is December 17.