Maurice

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “dark; black”
Fr. (moh-REESE) Eng (MOR-ris).

He may seem a bit dated to some, but parents looking to vintage names like Leo and Brice/Bryce might see the appeal in this. Traditionally nicknamed Maury, parents who opt for the French pronunciation have the advantage of using Reese. Look past Maury Povich and the cartoon character in Madgascar, and you will find that the name has a long and rich history.

He is a derivative of the Roman name Mauritius, which is derived from the Latin Maurus meaning, “dark-skinned; dark complexion.”

The name was borne by Emperor Maurice of Byzantium (539-602). Known in Greek as Maurikios and in his native Armenian as Morik, he was one of the most influential and decisive rulers of the Byzantine Empire, so much so that he is a national hero in his native Armenia till this day.

StMaurice2 (1)The name is also borne by a very popular 3rd century saint. St. Maurice was an Egyptian by birth and a Roman citizen. He served in the Roman army and was apart of the Theban legions, which had been stationed in Switzerland at the time of the saint’s martyrdom. According to legend, Emperor Maximian ordered Maurice and his legions to destroy a local Christian community, when Maurice and his followers refused to harass fellow Christians, the emperor ordered them to be executed. The area of martyrdom is now known as Saint Maurice-en-Valais and the Abbey of Saint Maurice-en-Valais supposedly houses the saint’s relics.

800px-St._Moritz_by_nightThe saint also gave his name to another town in Switzerland: St. Moritz, (Top of the World), is a beautiful little resort town that sits in the Valley of Engadine and the canton of Graubünden. Their coat of arms actually features the legendary saint. St. Maurice is also venerated among Coptic Christians. In fact, the names Maurice and Maurikios are fairly common among Egyptian Christians.

The German form of Moritz is found in the popular German children’s series Max and Moritz written by Wilhelm Busch in 1865. The humorous duo is still a common pop icon in German speaking countries. Other notable appearances include a novel by E.M. Forster, (Maurice) written in 1913, a tale of same sex love in early 20th-century England.

The Island of Mauritius or L’île Maurice in French, is a former French colony off the coast of Africa. It was named in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau, the Stadtholder of the Netherlands.

The designated name-day is September 22

Currently, Maurice is the 150th most popular male name in Germany, (2011), and he still lurks within the U.S top 1000 coming in as the 445th most popular male name, (2010).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Morik Մորիկ (Armenian)
  • Moïc (Breton)
  • Maurici (Catalan)
  • Maurikios (Coptic/Greek)
  • Maric Мариц (Croatian/Serbian)
  • Maurits (Dutch/Scandinavian)
  • Mauri (Finnish)
  • Maur (French)
  • Maurice (French/English)
  • Moriz (German: archaic)
  • Moritz (German/Scandinavian)
  • Móric (Hungarian/Slovakian)
  • Mór (Hungarian)
  • Muiris (Irish)
  • Maurizio (Italian)
  • Mauro (Italian/Portuguese/Romansch)
  • Mauritius (Late Latin)
  • Maurus (Latin/Romansch)
  • Morics (Latvian)
  • Maurycy (Polish)
  • Maurício (Portuguese)
  • Maurin (Romansch)
  • Murezi (Romansch)
  • Murezzan (Romansch)
  • Mauricio (Spanish)
  • Meuric/Meurig (Welsh)

Its feminine counterparts are Maura, Mauricia and Maurizia.

Common English short forms are  Maury, Moe and Morry.

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Renata, Renatus, René, Renée

Origin: Latin
Meaning: “rebirth.”

The origins of René and Renée can be traced back to the Late Latin male name Renatus, meaning “rebirth; born again.” The name is borne by several saints in both its Latin masculine form and feminine Latin form. The French forms have experienced usage in the Netherlands, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic as well as Anglo-phone countries.

Renée enjoyed a short spout of popularity in the United States during the late 60s and early 70s, the highest it peaked was in 1967 coming in at # 62. As of 2008, she came in at # 734. Surprisingly, its masculine version ranked in higher in the top 1000, coming in as the 561st most popular male name in 2008. René is still somewhat prevalent among the Cajun and Creole communities of Louisiana.

In 2005, he was the 57th most popular male name in Slovenia.

Renata has experienced usage from South America to Eastern Europe, she is a common choice in Poland, Germany, Italy and Brazil. In 2006, she was the 34th most popular female name in Chile and the 68th most popular female name in Hungary.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Renata (Czech, Croatian, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish. Polish diminutive forms are: Rena, Renatka and Renia. Spanish diminutive form is Renita, often used as an independent given name)
  • Renate (Dutch/German)
  • Renáta (Hungarian/Czech/Slovak)

Masculine forms include:

  • René (French, Czech, Dutch, German, Hungarian, Slovakian, Slovenian)
  • Renát (Hungarian/Slovakian)
  • Röné (Hungarian)
  • Renato (Italian/Spanish)
  • Renatus (Late Latin)
  • Renáto (Slovakian)
  • Renátus (Slovakian)

The designated name-day is November 6 in Slovakia, October 19 in France, November 12 in Poland and Lithuania, November 28 in the Czech Republic (Renata is October 13); October 6 in Hungary and January 23 in Estonia.

The name is borne by French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes and French painter René Magritte and American actress Renée Zellweger.

Adeline

411px-Adelina_Patti_1863Gender: Feminine
Origin: French
Meaning: “noble”
Eng (AD-eh-LINE); Fr (ah-de-LEEN)

The name was a Medieval French diminutive form of Adéle which is from the Germanic Adela meaning “noble.” The name fell out of usage as a diminutive form and has been used as an independent given name in its own right since the late Middle Ages. The name enjoyed a trend in English speaking countries during the 18th and 19th-century. It has since then been creeping back into widespread usage. In 1999, Adeline stood at # 924 in the Top 1000 Female Names, it has risen all the way up to #361 in 2008. The name was borne by Blessed Adeline (b. 1125) a French nun known for her piety. It was also the nickname of Adelina Patti (born Adela Juana Maria Patti 1843). She was a famous opera singer of Italian descent. Other forms of the name excluding Adele are:

  • Aline (French: popularized by a 1950s French pop song sung by Christophe of the same name)
  • Alina (Polish/Russian/German/Finnish: diminutives in Polish include Alinka)
  • Adelina (Spanish/Italian/Romanian/Romansch/Portuguese/Finnish/Bulgarian)
  • Adelita (Spanish diminutive form, occasionally used as an independent given name, especially in Latin American Countries. It was popularized as an independent given name by a Mexican folk song of the same name)

Popular English nicknames include: Addie, Adele, and Del. In France, the designated name-day is October 20.

Griselda

The_Story_of_Patient_Griselda_circa_1490Origin: German/Italian/Portuguese/Spanish
Gender: Feminine
Meaning: “grey battle; grey gravel.”
(grih-ZEL-dah)

The name is either derived from the Germanic gris meaning “grey” and hild meaning “battle” or the Germanic gries meaning “gravel, stone.” The name was used in folklore as a sort of euphemism for a patient and obedient woman. In the dark tale written by Italian poet Boccaccio, it is the name of the wife of a nobleman who is told by husband that her children must die. She obeys, but does not realize that she is being tested by her husband, who has taken the children away and hid them in another town, rather than kill them. Griselda’s husband then tells her that he must divorce her and marry another woman, when he introduces her to the “new wife” (a twelve year old little girl who is actually her daughter), Griselda wishes them well and at this her husband reveals that all he had put her through had been a test. The same tale is retold in Chaucer’s The Clerk’s Tale, in which case, Griselda is treated as an allegory for the Biblical Job. Charles Perrault took the same tale and wrote Patient Griselda. There was a play based off of the French version entitled Patient Grissel (1599). There are several Italian opera’s based off the story including La Griselda by Alessandro Scarlatti (1721). The name is used in Italy, Spain and was common in German speaking countries but is now considered dated. Other forms of the name include:

  • Grizelda (Czech/Slovak/Hungarian)
  • Selda (Dutch contraction)
  • Grissel (English)
  • Griselde/Grisold (German)
  • Zelda (German/English contraction)
  • Grizeldisz (Hungarian)
  • Grizel (Scottish)

Ursula

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)

Pilar

pillerGender: Feminine
Origin: Spanish/Portuguese
Meaning: “piller”
(pee-LAHR)

The name comes directly from the Spanish word for pilar, its evolution as a name is due to religious associations with the Virgin Mary, usually used in honour of Señora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Piller) according to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to the apostle St. James the Great, while he was evangelizing in what is now Saragosssa Spain, where she appeared to him floating over a piller. There is a shrine and church dedicated to the occurrence in Saragossa Spain and the name is extremely popular in that particular area of Spain. Popular nickname is Pili. It is sometimes used in conjunction with María or María del. The name is also common in Portuguese speaking countries as well as in the Philippines. In 2002, Pilar was the 94th most popular female name in Spain.

The name is borne by Pilar Ramirez a Mexican synchronized swimmer (b.1964), María del Pilar Pereyra an Argentine butterfly swimmer (b.1978) and Pilar Pallete, Peruvian actress and third wife to the actor John Wayne (b. 1936).

The designated name-day is October 12.

Maximilian

Durer Maximilian I 1518 BRGender: Masculine
Origin:  Latin
Meaning: “one who is great.”

The name is derived from the Roman cognomen Maximilianus which refers to someone of greatness. The name was borne by a 3rd century martyr. It was borne by several other Christian martyrs, including Maximilian of Lorch, a Christian martyr of Austrian heritage and Maximilian of Antioch. The name was especially popular amongst the Habsburgs, starting with Frederick III who gave it to his son Maximilian I (1459-1519) to honour the two ancient Roman generals Fabius Maximus and Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, in this case the name was suppose to be a blend of Maximus and Aemilianus. It was also borne by Maximilian II of the Holy Roman Empire, another Habsburg (1527-1576). Maximilian I Duke Bavaria (1573-1651), Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria (1662-1726), Maximilian III Joseph, Elector of Bavaria (1727-1777), Maximilian I of Bavaria (1756-1825), Maximilian II of Bavaria (1811-1864), Prince Maximilian of Baden (1867-1929) and Maximilian I of Mexico (1832-1867). It was also borne by a 20th-century Polish Catholic priest who was killed at Auschwitz known as St. Maximilian Kolbe.

In recent years, in the United States, the name has grown significantly in popularity, it currently comes in at # 300 of the Top 1000 Male Names. It is popular in other countries, especially in Germany and in Sweden. In Sweden, it was the 88th most popular male name in 2007. Its designated name-day is October 12. Other forms of the name include (listed alphabetically by nationality):

  • Maximilián (Czech/Slovak)
  • Maximiliaan (Dutch)
  • Maximilien (French)
  • Miksa (Hungarian)
  • Massimiliano (Italian)
  • Maksymilian (Polish)
  • Maksimiljan/Makso (Serbo-Croatian/Slovenian)
  • Maximiliano (Spanish/Portuguese)
  • Maksimilian/Maks (Russian/Ukrainian)

Feminine forms include:

  • Maximiliana (Czech/Slovak, German, Spanish, Portuguese)
  • Maximilienne (French)
  • Massimiliana (Italian)
  • Maksymiliana (Polish)

A common diminutive is Max

Aurelia, Aurelius

thumbnailOrigin: Latin
Meaning: “golden”

Originally a Roman gens name, Aurelius is from the Latin meaning, “golden; gilded.”

The name is borne by several famous personages throughout history, the earliest being the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and its feminine form, by his daughter Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla. Aurelia is also the name of the mother of Julius Caesar, (Aurelia Cotta), Tacitus proclaimed her the ideal Roman Matron. The Via Aurelia was named for an ancestor of her’s, Aurelius Cotta. The Via Aurelia is an ancient road that runs through Rome. Other famous Aurelias include Portuguese painter Aurélia de Souza (1867-1922), famous Romanian gymnast Aurelia Dobre (b.1972) and the mother of famed poetess, Sylvia Plath.

The Latinate form is popular in all the Latin based countries: Italy, Portugal and Spain including South America, as is its masculine counterpart, Aurelio.  Aurelia is also quite prevalent in Poland. In addition, Aurelia shares her name with a genus of jellyfish, an asteroid and it is also used as a synonym for a chrysalis.

Other feminine forms of the names and cognates are:

  • Aorell (Breton)
  • Aurelija (Croatian/Lithuanian)
  • Aurélie (Czech: ow-REL-yeh)
  • Zlata. Zlatka, Zlatica (Czech/Slovakian: these names are often used as cognates for the Latin Aurelia, but literally mean “gold” in Czech and Slovakian)
  • Aurélie (French: the name came in as the 74th most popular female name in Belgium in 2006 and the 89th most popular female in France in 2003. oh-hray-LEE)
  • Aureliane/Auriane (French: obscure)
  • Aranka (Hungarian: this is another one that literally means “gold” in Hungarian but is used as a form of Aurelia)
  • Aurélia (Hungarian/Portuguese/Slovakian)
  • Rella/Relli (Hungarian: originally diminutive forms, now used as independent given names, they even have their own name day, which is October 15).
  • Auksė (Lithuanian: literally means “gold” in Lithuanian but is often used as a cognate)
  • Aura/Aurelia/Aurica (Romanian)

Hungarian diminutive forms are: AuraAurácska and Aurika.

Its masculine forms include:

  • Aurelian (English/Romanian)
  • Aurèle (French)
  • Aurélien (French: in France, he came in as the 88th most popular male name in 2006).
  • Aurel (German, Romanian and Czech)
  • Aurél (Hungarian/Romansch/ Bavarian)
  • Aurelianus (Latin)
  • Auksys (Lithuanian)
  • Aureliusz (Polish)
  • Oral (Romansch)
  • Aureliano (Spanish)

Its designated name-day in some countries is September 25, and the name is borne by several saints.

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.