Gender: Feminine
Origin: Romansch
Meaning: “Latin woman; Latin speaker.”

This is a name that is scarcely heard outside of Switzerland, with the pleasant nickname options of Dina or Ladi, it is a fairly common name in both the German and Italian speaking parts of Switzerland.
In 2010, she stands as the 47th  most popular female name in German-speaking Switzerland. It is somewhat of a patriotic name, as Ladin is the name of a dialect of Romansch, (a very minor Romance language said to be the closest in form and sound to Latin).
The dialect of Ladin is spoken by the inhabitants of Friuli in Northern Italy, and on the Italian-Swiss border in Switzerland. The language has an Italian sound with a Germanic rhythm. It is reminiscent in sound to Yiddish, audio can be heard here:
Romansch, (including all its various dialects), is one of the 4 national languages of Switzerland, and while the language is dying off, the names survive long and well, sometimes being the preferred choice among Swiss parents. Many Romansch names, have a very pleasant, soft and Latin flavor to them.
Another Romance language, which is of completely different linguistic formations, is Ladino, the main language spoken by Sephardic Jews. It’s basically medieval Spanish mixed in with some Turkish, Arabic and Hebrew loan words. Though the female give name of Ladina has Romansch origins, the name might be an interesting choice for Sephardic Jewish parents, who might want to give a subtle nod to their heritage in their child’s name.


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.



The name is possibly derived from the Latin, verus, meaning “true.” Others have suggested that the name may actually be of some unknown Egyptian source.

The name was borne by a 3rd-century Egyptian saint who found her way to Switzerland while marching along with the Theban legions. She is considered the patron saint of hairdressers as she was known for converting young native Swiss women to Christianity while washing and styling their hair. There is a shrine dedicated to St. Verena in Zurich, Switzerland.

The name has been popular in Germany and Switzerland and has even experienced some usage in the United States during the 18th and 19th-centuries, no doubt, brought over by German immigrants. It is also an especially common name among Mennonite, Hutterite and Amish families and is a popular name among Egyptian Christians.

It is also the name of a fictional goddess in the popular fantasy/video game series Warhammer. She is the goddess of healing and learning and is based on both Minerva and Athena.

Currently, Verena is the 383rd most popular female name in Germany, (2011).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Virina (Coptic)
  • Vérène (French)
  • Verena Верена (English/German/Italian/Russian/Slovene)
  • Werena (Polish)
  • Frena (Romansch)
  • Varena (Romansch)
  • Vreni (Swiss-German)
  • Vreneli (Swiss-German)


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.


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)

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.

Assunta, Asuncion, Jasone

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Italian/Romansch/Spanish/Basque
Meaning: “assumption.”
It (ahs-SOON-tah); Sp (ah-soon-THYONE); Lat Am (ah-soon-SYONE); Basque (zhah-SOH-neh).

Assunta comes directly from the Italian word for assumption and is usually given in honor of the Virgin Mary. It is far more common in the southern regions of Italy than in the northern regions. It is also used in the Romansch speaking cantons of Switzerland.

August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption, where, according to Catholic tradition, Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul.

Today, the name is considered rather old fashioned in Italy. It’s Spanish cognate is Asuncion and its Basque form is Jasone.

Assunta is borne by Filipina actress, Assunta de Rossi.

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.