Dahlia, Dalia

Gender: Feminine
(DAHL-yah)

A name with various different meanings and references depending on how you choose to spell it. It is an edgier floral appellation that could overcome a Lily or Daisy any day, as well as a name that can fit into any culture or society. Along with its easy pronunciation and feminine, vivacious sound, the name is pleasing to just about any language on the planet.

If you prefer the Dalia route, then the name can either be Lithuanian, Hebrew or Arabic. If spelled like the flower, the meaning stems from the surname of the botanist who first classified the species, Anders Dahl; Dahl being a common Swedish surname meaning “valley. ”

Dalia by Emily Blivet

Dalia by Emily Blivet

The name could be derived from the Lithuanian word for “fate; luck; lot.” It was the name from the Baltic goddess of weaving, fate and childbirth and she is believed to have been interchangeable with the goddess Laima. The name is still relatively popular in Lithuania, and is currently borne by Lithuania’s President, Dalia Grybauskaitė (b.1956).

The name is also very common in the Middle East. In Israel, it is a more modern Hebrew word name meaning “branch.” In Arabic, it means “grapevine.”

The name is occasionally used in Mexico, where the dahlia is considered the national flower. In fact, the ancient Aztecs used the flower for ceremonial purposes and fashioned its stems into pipes.

Currently, Dalia is the 476th most popular female name in Germany, (2011), and the 969th most popular in the United States, (2010). Its floral counterpart of Dahlia came in as the 650th most popular female name in the United States, (2010).

A possible nickname option is the sweet, yet vintagy Dolly

Gyöngyi, Gyöngyvér

Gyongyiver by Sandor Nagy

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Hungarian
Meaning: “pearl.”
(JUN-jee) pronunciation can be heard here: http://www.forvo.com/search/Gyöngyi/

The name comes directly from the Hungarian word for pearl. Its designated name-day in Hungary is October 23. However, the pearl is the birthstone of June. Another name-day in Hungary is May 14.  There is also an older form of the name Gyöngyvér (JUN-jee-VARE), which is an old poetic word for pearl. According to Hungarian legend, Gyöngyvér was the wife of Buda (the brother of Attila the Hun).

Sânziana

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Romanian
Meaning: “bedstraw; holy fairies”
(SUN-zee-AH-nah)

We’ve already talked about the Latvian gem Madara, and now there is this spunky Romanian equivalent. Sanziana is a traditional Romanian female name and also the Romanian word for the bedstraw or cleaver flower. But there is far more to Sanziana than just the floral connotations. In Romanian folklore Sânziene are suppose to be sweet gentle fairies. It is also a huge Romanian summer festival that usually occurs on June 24. On this day, the most beautiful maidens of the villages dress in white and go on hunts to collect all the newly bloomed bedstraw or cleaver flowers. During the day, no male is allowed to see them. The girls make wreaths from the bedstraw and at night they return to their villages. It is believed that during their daily sojourn they have been transformed into sanziene fairies. A huge bonfire is created and all the girls get together and form a dance around the fire while throwing all the remains of the previous harvest into the bonfire. No one is allowed to speak to these girls during the ceremony as it is believed that they are possessed by the sanziene and by speaking to them it will anger the spirits. The girls usually keep the wreaths for the following Sanziene. The wreaths are believed to make their land more fertile and it is also believed that by placing the wreath under their pillow, the maidens will dream of their future spouses. The Sânziana form has been long used as a female given name. It is believed that the etymology of the name comes from the Romanian elements sfânt meaning “saint” or “holy” and zână meaning “fairies.” It was first notably used as a name by the 19th century Romanian author Vasile Alecsandri when he used it for one of his title characters in the comedy Sânziana şi Pepelea. It was later adapted into an opera. The name is currently borne by Romanian pop singer Sanziana Niculae.

Bisera

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Slavic
Meaning: “pearl”
(bee-SARE-ah)

The name is derived from the Slavonic element, biser, meaning “pearl.”

The name is popular throughout the Southern Slavic countries.

It is borne by famous Croation actress, Bisera Veletanlic (b. 1942-).

Variations include Biserka.

Margaret, Margarita, Marguerite, Margherita

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Greek
Meaning: ‘pearl’
Eng: (MAR-gret); Fre: (mar-GUR-eet); It/Sp (mar-gay-REE-tah).

The name is derived from the Greek word μαργαρίτης, (margarites), meaning, “pearl.” It is believed that the Greek word itself is derived from the Persian word Marg, Marq or Marka meaning bird, possibly due to the resemblance of the pearl to birds’ eggs.

The name was popularized in late antiquity due to the cult of St. Margaret of Antioch.

Legend has it that she was the daughter of a powerful Antiochian priest. Due to her Christianity, she was disowned by her father and lived as a shepherdess in the hills of Turkey. A nobleman went to her father and asked for her hand in marriage. Her father consented and sent the suitor to the Turkish hills to find Margaret. There, the suitor begged her to turn away from her religion and to marry him. When Margaret said no, the nobleman had her tortured. One legend has it, that while being tortured, she had a vision of Satan appearing to her in the form of a dragon and swallowing her whole. The beast regurgitated her back up due to the golden cross she was wearing. She was finally beheaded. Her death is set around 304 A.D. and her feast is usually held around the middle of July.

In Medieval England, Margaret’s cult became especially popular. She was considered protector of pregnant women, possibly due to her incident with the dragon. She is considered to be one of the Holy Helpers who appeared to Joan of Arc.

In the English speaking world, she has been in usage since the Middle Ages, also producing the English offshoot of Margery or Marjorie, which was popular in the early Middle Ages and was revived in the 18th-century. The last time Marjorie was seen in the U.S. top 1000 was in 1994, coming in as the # 991st most popular female name. The highest she ever ranked in U.S. naming history was between 1921 and 1924 when she came in as the 16th most popular female name.

In United States naming history, she peaked 7 years in a row coming in at as the 3rd most popular female name between 1905 and 1911. Currently, she comes in as the 180th most popular female name, and other forms have outranked her.

For instance, the Welsh form of Megan, is currently the 100th most popular female name in the United States, but in previous years, she has ranked even higher, in 1985, she was the 10th most popular female name. In other countries, Megan’s rankings are as follows:

  • # 47 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
  • # 15 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • # 30 (Ireland, 2007)
  • # 170 (the Netherlands, 2008)
  • # 31 (Scotland, 2008)

In addition to her, there are several other saints who bear this name. Throughout history the name has been borne by several English and French Monarchs.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Margarid (Armenian)
  • Maharyta/Maharèta (Belarusian)
  • Marc’harid (Breton)
  • Mégane (Breton)
  • Margarita Маргарита (Bulgarian/Late Latin/Lithuanian/Russian/Spanish)
  • Margrethe (Danish/Norwegian)
  • Margretje (Danish)
  • Merete/Meret (Danish)
  • Merit/Merrit (Danish)
  • Mette (Danish/Norwegian)
  • Margreet/Margriet (Dutch/Limburgish)
  • Margaretja (Dutch)
  • Margalida (Catalan)
  • Markéta (Czech/Slovak)
  • Markit (Czech: obscure form)
  • Muchlina (Czech: obscure form)
  • Margaret (English)
  • Margo (English)
  • Marga (Estonian/Catalan)
  • Maret/Mareta (Estonian)
  • Maarit (Finnish)
  • Margareeta/Margareetta (Finnish)
  • Margariita/Margariitta (Finnish)
  • Marjatta (Finnish)
  • Marketta (Finnish)
  • Margaux/Margot (French)
  • Maguy (French: medieval diminutive form occasionally used as an independent given name. mah-GEE)
  • Marguerite (French: also the French word for daisy)
  • Margarida (Galician/Portuguese: also coincides with the Galician and Portuguese word for daisy)
  • Margalita (Georgian)
  • Margareta (German/Dutch/Finnish/Romanian/Scandinavian/Slovene)
  • Margarete/Margret (German)
  • Margaretha (German/Dutch)
  • Margarethe (German/Danish)
  • Margrit (German)
  • Margott (German)
  • Meta (German/Scandinavian: originally a diminutive form, now used exclusively as an independent given name)
  • Margarita Μαργαρίτα (Greek: Modern)
  • Margalit (Hebrew: also the modern Hebrew word for pearl)
  • Margaréta (Hungarian)
  • Margita (Hungarian/Slovakian)
  • Margit (Hungarian/Scandinavian)
  • Margrét (Icelandic)
  • Mairéad (Irish-Gaelic)
  • Pegeen (Irish-Gaelic: Gaelicization of the English diminutive Peggy, used as an independent given name)
  • Margherita (Italian: also the Italian word for cheese pizza and the daisy)
  • Malgozata (Lithuanian)
  • Margaid (Manx)
  • Margrete (Norwegian)
  • Marit (Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Magalòna (Occitanian)
  • Małgorzata (Polish)
  • Magali (Provençal)
  • Marghareta (Romanian)
  • Marghita (Romanian)
  • Maighread (Scotch-Gaelic)
  • Maisie (Scotch-Gaelic: originally a diminutive form of Maighread and Margaret, the name has a long history of usage as an independent given name. Pronounced like (MAY-zee), rhymes with Daisy).
  • Chmarietta (Slovene)
  • Marjeta (Slovene)
  • Merit (Swedish)
  • Makalesi (Tongan)
  • Marged (Welsh)
  • Mared (Welsh)
  • Megan (Welsh)
  • Mererid (Welsh)

There is also the Germanic off spring of Greta and all her various forms, once used as a diminutive form, Greta and all her variations have a long history of being used as independent given names.

In the United States, Greta is currently the 694th most popular female name, her German sister of Gretchen currently ranks in as the 945th most popular female name.

  • Greta (Danish/German/English/Plattdeutsch/Norwegian/Romansch/Swedish)
  • Grete (Danish/German/Plattdeutsch)
  • Grethe (Danish/Norwegian)
  • Greet/Griet (Dutch/Limburgish)
  • Greetje (Dutch)
  • Gretje/Grietje (Frisian)
  • Gretta (English)
  • Gretchen (German/English)
  • Gretel/Gretl (German)
  • Gréta (Hungarian/Icelandic)
  • Ghita (Italian)
  • Grieta (Latvian)
  • Greetke (Plattdeutsch)
  • Greth (Plattdeutsch)
  • Gretje (Plattdeutsch)
  • Gretjen (Plattdeutsch)
  • Grettina (Romansch)

Another diminutive offspring that has a history as an independent name is Rita, which originated as a Spanish and Italian contracted form and is now used in English, German, Hungarian, Portuguese, and the Scandinavian languages, Reeta/Reetta are Finnish forms.

There is the Italian masculine form of Margherito.

Common English diminutives are Daisy, Madge, Mae,  Maggie, Mamie, Marge, Margie, Mayme, Meg, Meggie, Midge, Peg, Peggy, and Jorie (for Marjory).

Czech diminutives are: Gita, Gitka and Gituška, Polish diminutives are Gosia, Gośka, Małgorzatka, Małgosia and Małgośka.

A Hungarian diminutive is Manci, a Spanish pet form is Tita and a Manx diminutive is Paaie.

A Swiss-German dialectical diminutive is Gretli.