Laura

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “laurel.”
Eng (LORE-uh); It/Span (LOW-rah).

The name first came into usage during the 9th century in Spain, due to the cult of Saint Laura of Cordova, (864).

She was a widow who decided to become a nun, but was put in a vat of molten lead and was boiled to death by her Moorish captors.

Laure de Noves, was the object of the poet, Petrarch’s affection (1308-1348). The Italian poet refers to her as Laura in his writings.

Laura, illustrated by her virtues and well-celebrated in my verse, appeared to me for the first time during my youth in 1327, on April 6, in the Church of Saint Claire in Avignon, in the first hour of the day; and in the same city, in the same month, on the same sixth day at the same first hour in the year of 1348, withdrew from life, while I was at Verona, unconscious of my loss…. Her chaste and lovely body was interred on the evening of the same day in the church of the Minorites: her soul, as I believe, returned to heaven, whence it came. (Petrarch)

Laure de Noves was the wife of Hugh de Sade, (the ancestor of the Marquis de Sade in which the name Laure appears often in the Sade family tree), who ultimately dies from the plague. She was the symbol of unrequited love and was transformed into a Beatrice type character after her death in many of Petrarch’s poems.

The name has always been relatively common in the English speaking world. Laura currently comes in at # 215 of the U.S. top 1000. In other countries her rankings are as follows:

  • Australia # 78 (2007)
  • Belgium # 3 (2006)
  • Chile # 43 (2006)
  • France # 26 (2006)
  • Hungary # 12 (2005)
  • Ireland # 32 (2007)
  • the Netherlands # 31 (2008)
  • Scotland # 77 (2007)
  • Slovenia # 36 (2005)
  • Spain # 4 (2007)

Other forms include:

  • Llora (Catalan pronounced YOH-rah)
  • Laure (French, diminutive form Laurette)
  • Lára (Icelandic pronounced LOW-rah)
  • Lavra (Slovenian/Russian)

Diminutive forms of Laura include Laurie, Lori, Lorie and Lauretta (Italian); Laurita (Spanish) and Laurette (French).

Masculine forms are the Italian Lauro and the late Latin Laurus.

The Laura form is used in most Romance speaking countries including Italy, Romania and is used among Portuguese speakers. It is also used throughout Central Europe such as the German speaking countries, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

The name is borne by former first lady of the United States Laura Bush, children’s author Laura Ingalls Wilder, Laura Esquival author of Like Water for Chocolate. British designer and clothing brand Laura Ashley. Actress Laura Linney.

It is also the name of a river that runs through the Ukraine and Romania and the name of a village in Gliwice County, Poland.

Coincidentally, in Greek Lavra and Laura was a term used in the Eastern Orthodox church to describe a cluster of cells or caves, designed for monastic hermits. In this case, the name is derived from the Greek meaning an “alley” or “passage way.”

(Pictured above: Laure de Noves).

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Melior, Meliora, Melora

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Latin/Breton
Meaning “better”or “honey-maker.”
Pronunciation (mel-YORE); (mel-YORE-uh); (meh-LORE-uh).

The name is somewhat debated, it may come directly from the Latin adjective melior meaning “better” or its possibly a medieval French corruption of the Breton, Meler, which means “honey-maker.”

The name has evolved to the more modern form of Melora.

Melior is found in French folklore, it was the name of the sister of Mélusine and Palatyne. She was cursed to keep a sparrow hawk in a palace in Armenia until she was rescued.

Possible nickname options include Mel, Liora, Lior, Ora, Lora or Lori.