Sanja

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Bosnian, Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovene
Meaning: “dream”
(SAHN-yah)

The name is derived from the South Slavic word sanjati meaning “to dream.” Thanks to Capucine for suggesting this name.

The name also has a history of being used as a diminutive form of Alexandra, in recent years, however, the name has exclusively been used as an independent given name due to the fact that it means dream. It currently ranks as the 86th most popular female name in Slovenia. The name is borne by Croatian singer and television host, Sanja Doležal (b.1963), Montengrin Serb singer, Sanja Djordjevic, Croatian-American actress and star of Holes Sanya Mateyash (nee Sanja Matejaš) and Serbian singer, Sanja Maletić (b. 1973).

A masculine form is Sanjin.

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Bor

Matej BorGender: Masculine
Origin: Slovenian
Meaning: “pine tree.”
(BOR) rolled R

The name currently ranks in as the 45th most popular male name in Slovenia, it comes from the Slovenian word for pine tree but may have been popularized by Slovene national author, poet, playwright, translator and partisan, Matej Bor, (borne Vladimir Pavšič), the former being a pen name (1913-1993).

It is also the name of several places names throughout Eastern Europe, there are a few villages in Poland that bear the name, as well as in the Czech Republic, Russia and it is the name of a city in Serbia.

There is a feminine form Borjana, also the name of a place in Slovenia.

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.

Živa

Gender: Female
Origin: Old Slavonic
Usage: Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia.
Meanin: “alive.”
(ZHEE-vah)

The name was borne in Slavic mythology by the goddess of love and fertility, not much is known about her other that she have been one in the same as the Russian goddess Mokosh and she was the consort of Siebog. In Slovakia, its modern form of Živa has a name-day set on October 25. The name is also in usage in Serbia and Croatia. Other forms of the name include:

  • Sieba (Old German)
  • Siwa (Old Polish)
  • Šiva (Old Slavonic: SHEE-vah)
  • Razivia (Old Slavonic)
  • Żiwia/Żywia (Polish: the former is an older version; the latter has just recently been in usage in Poland but is still uncommon. In 2008, it ranked in as 193rd most popular female name in Warsaw)
  • Živana (Slovakian)

Masculine forms are Živan and Živko, both forms are used in Slovakia and Slovenia.

Pribislav, Pribislava

Origin: Bulgarian/Czech/Serbo-Croatian/Slovakian/Slovenian
Meaning “broken glory.”

The name is composed of the Old Slavonic elements pribi meaning “pierced, broken” and slav “glory.” It was borne by several medieval Slavic princes. There is another Serbian male form which is Prvoslav. There are the obscure Polish forms, Przybysław and Przybysława (thanks to Magdalena for providing the info for the Polish forms).

Zdravomil

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Serbo-Croat/Slovakian/Slovene/Bulgarian
Meaning: “good health; pleasant health; favorable health.”
(ZDRAH-vo-MEEL)

The name is composed of the Old Slavonic elements zdravo meaning “health” and mil meaning “favor, pleasant.” Its designated name-day is October 22. Diminutive form is Zdravko which is often used as an independent given name.

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)

Krasomila

pysna_princeznaGender: Feminine
Origin: Czech/Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, Macedonian
Meaning: “lover of beauty.”
(krah-soh-MEE-lah).

The name is composed of the Old Slavonic elements kras meaning “beauty” and mil meaning “love; favour; grace.” In Czech and Slovak, the name is associated with Pysna Princezna a beloved Czechoslovak fairy tale written by Bozena Nemcova, the story was adapted into a classic Czech film in the 1950s. The protagonist princess is named Krasomila. The designated name-day is October 10.

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.

Milica

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Bulgarian/Czech-Slovak/Serbo-Croat
Meaning: “gracious”
Милица
(mee-LEET-sah).

The name looks pleasant enough, but has somewhat of a harsh sound, possibly due to its similar sound to militia, a term used to describe a military force made up of ordinary citizens. Though the name has no relation at all to the word, it is actually just an old Slavic feminine name made up of the element mila meaning “gracious” along with the diminutive feminine ending of-ica attached.

The name was borne by Princess Milica of Serbia (1300-1405), she was the wife of Prince Lazar and mother of Stepan Lazaravic and of Princess Oliveria Despina. Milica is known for her achievements in her old age, when her husband died, she joined an Orthodox convent and became a nun where she composed several books of poems and prayers. She is canonized by the Serbian Orthodox Church. The name is also used in Slovakia and Slovenia and the official name day is August 17.

A Bulgarian form is Militza.