Posts Tagged ‘George’

Nyd, like it’s antecedant Hægl, Nyd represents a shift in the Runes to darker waters.

Its forms are as follows:

In all, it means “need,” and the runic poems emphasize the dire effects of being in need, coupled with the necessity of hard work — and hope — to overcome it.

In modern interpretation, it can stand as a warning of impending both of hardship and challenges, both physical and psychological needs, and obstacles that must be overcome.

But it also highlights the dichotomy between our desires and expectations and our actual situation. It forces us to assess what we really need, rather than simply desire.

Thus it warns us to focus on what really needs doing, and stop wasting time on the trivialities.

And, above all, it tells us that perseverance is always the key. With perseverance, we can overcome and achieve anything.

What names can reflect all this?

Nyd itself, when you think about it, isn’t a million miles away from Ned, while Naudiz and Nauthr have a certain exotic allure. Not — well, why not?

It’s not as though, as a runic name, it actually means “not,” now, is it?

There’s also the unrelated but very similar-looking Nydia, invented by Edward Bulwar-Lytton for his 1834 novel, Last Days of Pompeii.

As the concept of need and poverty isn’t one which many would feel inclined to choose to dedicate in a name, there aren’t many names which carry that meaning. But names which carry overtones of perseverence, hard work, and dedication, are worth consideration.

Here are some great options:

  • Almeric — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Amal — Old German: “work.”
  • Amalia –Old German girl’s name derived from AMAL.
  • Amalric — Old German boy’s name. AMAL + ricja “rule,” “ruler.”
  • Amalaswintha — Old German girl’s name. AMAL + swinde “strong.”
  • Amelia — usual modern form of AMALIA.
  • Amélie — French form of Amelia.
  • Amery — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Amory — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Angen — Welsh: “need,” “necessity.”
  • Athelstan — Old English name meaning “noble stone.”
  • Behar — Basque: “work.”
  • Beharra — Basque: “need,” “necessity”
  • Bill — well-known nickname of WILLIAM.
  • Billie, Billy — well-known nicknames of WILLIAM and WILHELMINA.
  • Constance — traditional girl’s name derived from CONSTANTIA.
  • Constancy
  • Constant
  • Constantia — feminine form of the Roman cognoman Constantius, from consto “to stand firm”
  • Diligence
  • Drive
  • Driver — English surname meaning “a driver”; used first of someone who drove cattle, but no reason in a name context not to interpret with the sense of “one who has drive.”
  • Dunstan — Old English name meaning “hill-stone.”
  • Emmeline — medieval name arising as a pet-form of AMALIA.
  • Emerick — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Emerson — “son of EMERY.”
  • Emery — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Emory — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Endeavor
  • Eysteinn — Norse name: “forever stone.”
  • Focus
  • Garnet — the stone promotes perseverance.
  • George — Greek: “famer”; perhaps the ultimate job  across the millennia requiring dediction and discipline to bring plans to fruition.
  • Gerek — Turkish: “need,” “necessity.”
  • Grit
  • Gwaith — Welsh: “work”
  • Ida — medieval name from Old Norse “work,” or Old German id “work.”
  • Idhunna — Norse Goddess. Old Norse: “work” + unna “love.”
  • Idonea — medieval name, probably derived from IDHUNNA.
  • Idony — medieval form of IDONY.
  • Lan — Basque: “work.”
  • Liam — Irish short-form of WILLIAM.
  • Lutte — French: “struggle.”
  • Mason — a job requiring perseverance and skill to produce creative work.
  • Mélisande — French variant of MILLICENT.
  • Millicent — usual form of AMALASWINTHA since the Middle Ages.
  • Millie — popular short-form of MILLICENT.
  • Milo — probably arose as short-form of a name beginning with AMAL.
  • Mina — short-form of WILHELMINA.
  • Moxie
  • Naphtali — biblical name. Hebrew: “my struggle.”
  • Oluchi — Igbo name: “work of (a) God”
  • Perseverance
  • Pluck
  • Práce — Czech: “work.”
  • Resolution
  • Savaş — Turkish name: “struggle,” “striving.”
  • Sisu — Finnish name: “determination”
  • Smith — another job which demands dedication to achieve items of both practicality and beauty.
  • Stamina
  • Stanley — English surname: “stone clearing.”
  • Stone — stone encapsulates Nyd possibly best of all; as a symbol of cold and hardness it represents well Nyd’s hardship, but its durability represents perseverance, with which hardship can be overcome.
  • Strive
  • Tenacity
  • Thurstan — Old English name: “Thor’s stone.”
  • Töö — Estonian: “work”
  • Työ — Finnish: “work”
  • Wilbert — Old English name: will “will” + beohrt “bright.”
  • Wilhelmina — feminine form of WILLIAM.
  • Will — as well as being a major short-form of WILLIAM, Will can be interpreted for exactly what it actually is, the word “will,” i.e. “determination”, the English cognate with the Old German vilja “will” of the name.
  • Wilfred — Old English name: will “will” + frið “peace.”
  • William — Old German name: will “will” + helm “helmet.”
  • Willis — surname derived from WILLIAM.
  • Wilma — short-form of WILHELMINA.
  • Wilmer — Old English name: will “will” + mær “famous.”
  • Wilmot — medieval pet-form of WILLIAM; used in medieval times for boys and girls.
  • Wilson — surname: “son of WILL.”
  • Winston — surname, deriving in part from the Old English name Wynnstan “joy stone.”
  • Zeal

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On our holiday last week we stayed at historic Gurney Manor — sometimes called Gurney Street Manor — in Cannington, Somerset.

It is a very special place.

Rescued by the Landmark Trust in the 1980s, much of the fabric dates to before 1400, with substantial additions in the mid-to-late fifteenth century.

Because it largely came down in the world after the seventeenth century, many of its ancient features, including the fifteenth century covered passage across the inner courtyard linking the old kitchen to the hall, have survived.

Unsurprisingly, it proved quite a good hunting ground for names, which are almost text-book examples of the typical names through the centuries, demonstrating fluctuations in fashion both generally, and across the social spectrum.

The original owners — and the family who gave their name to the manor — were a branch of the baronial family of Gurney, the founder of which came to England with William the Conqueror. Only a few names are known from this earliest period, emerging from the fog of remote history; a RICHARD de Gurney, flourished in 1243, when he put in a claim on the mill, then in possession of his “kinsman” WILLIAM, son of PHILIP.

Richard had a son called ROBERT.

By the end of the thirteenth century, the property appears to have been owned by JOHN de Gurney, who was alive in 1327.

The last of the line at Gurney Manor, and probably the one responsible for much of the parts of the hall dating to the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, was HUGH, who succeeded to the estate in 1358. Either he, or a son of the same name, was there in 1401, with a wife called BEATRICE.

He had no son, and so the manor passed to his daughter JANE — an unusual name at the time, when the usually feminine form of John was Joan. She married ROGER Dodesham.

Responsible for most of the fifteenth century additions was their son, another WILLIAM, who was a lawyer as well as a landowner.

William had sisters called JOAN and ELEANOR, and on his death in 1480, the Gurney Street Manor passed in trust to Joan’s daughter, AGNES, wife of WALTER Michell, who died in 1487. Agnes and Walter had three sons, who each succeeded in turn, WILLIAM, JOHN, and THOMAS.

Thomas, whose wife was called MARGARET, died in 1503, when the manor passed to his son, another THOMAS. He also had a daughter called ISABEL.

Thomas made a number of improvements and refinements to the house, adding fine windows and new chimneys — but it all came to an abrupt end on December 13, 1539, when he murdered his wife JOAN and sister-in-law ELEANOR, seemingly at Gurney Manor, before killing himself.

He had two known children, another JANE, and another RICHARD.

Richard, who married an ELIZABETH, died in 1563, leaving the manor to his son, TRISTRAM.

Tristram, meanwhile, died in 1574, when the manor passed to his brother, Sir BARTHOLOMEW.

On Bartholomew’s death in 1616, his lands were split between his daughters, JANE and FRANCES. Gurney passed to Jane, wife of WILLIAM Hockmore.

William had considerable property elsewhere, and Gurney’s owners no longer lived there; the house and its acres was let to tenants, so that by the late nineteenth century, it was regarded as just a (large) farmhouse.

The names of most of these tenants is lost, but we still know the names of the house’s owners, and their families.

Jane and William Hockmore, for instance, had six children, SUSANNAH, GREGORY, CHARLES, WILLIAM, FRANCES and RICHARD, not all of whom lived to adulthood.

Gregory, married to MARY, inherited in 1626, dying in 1653, when the estate passed to his son, also called GREGORY (he also had a daughter called JANE).

Gregory II, married to HONOR, also had two children, a son WILLIAM, and, quelle surprise, yet another JANE.

William, who inherted sometime between 1676 and 1680, married another MARY, and had three daughters, MARY, JANE and HONORA; only Honora survived to adulthood, becoming William’s heiress on his death in 1707-08.

She married DAVIDGE Gould (his mother’s maiden name was Davidge) around 1713, and had five children who survived to adulthood: Sir HENRY (d.1794), RICHARD (d.1793), HONORA (d.1802), WILLIAM (d.1799) and THOMAS (d.1808).

Henry, married ELIZABETH, and had two daughters, another ELIZABETH, and HONORA MARGARETTA. Elizabeth married TEMPLE Luttrell; Honora Margaretta, who died in 1813, married General RICHARD Lambart, 7th Earl of Cavan.

And Gurney passed through her to the Earls of Cavan.

(Temple Luttrell was an interesting character; an MP, he was reputedly also a smuggler, and built a folly, called Luttrell’s Tower, at Eaglehurst near Southampton. On his death in Paris in 1803, Luttrell’s Tower passed to the Earl of Cavan too. By pure coincidence, Luttrell’s Tower is also now owned by the Landmark Trust.)

Richard and Honora Margaretta had five children:

  • SOPHIA AUGUSTA (1787-98)
  • RICHARD HENRY (b. and d. 1788)

George, who died before his father, married the simply named SARAH, and had five children:

  • ALICIA (d.1913)
  • JULIA (d.1897)
  • OLIVER GEORGE (1822-98)

Frederick John William’s wife was CAROLINE AUGUSTA, and they also had five children:

  • MARY HYACINTHE (d.1933)
  • SARAH SOPHIA (d.1914)
  • OCTAVIUS HENRY (1855-1919)
  • ARTHUR (1858-1937)

Frederick Edward Gould’s wife was MARY SNEADE (Sneade was her middle name — her surname was Olive), and their children:

  • FREDERICK RUDOLPH (1865-1946)
  • ELLEN OLIVE (1867-1945)
  • MAUD EDITH GUNDREDA (1869-1940)
  • LIONEL JOHN OLIVE (1873-1940)

Frederick Rudolph had no children by his first wife CAROLINE INEZ; by his second wife, HESTER JOAN, he had two daughters; the first, ELIZABETH MARY was born in 1924.

The following year, Gurney was sold to its tenants of more than thirty years, the Bucknells, and with it an unbroken line of descent, if not of inhabitation, of at least eight hundred years, was finally severed.

The Bucknells were a thoroughly English Victorian middle class family; the father, a classic “gentleman farmer” was a solid and respectable JAMES, his wife an equally establishment MARY ANN. One daughter was ELIZA HARRIS, the other, OLIVE MARY (possibly named in honor of the Countess of Cavan), and they also had a son, BENJAMIN JOHN.

In 1901, there were also three servants living with them at the manor: FRANK, EMILY and MABEL.

Gurney’s time once more owned by its inhabitants was short-lived; the Bucknells sold in 1934, and by the 1940s it had been subdivided into flats. By the 1980s, it was in a sorry, neglected state, with most of the flats empty, but then the Landmark Trust bought it, and the rest is (more!) history…

No-one lives there for more than three weeks at a time anymore, but it has been fully restored to its medieval glory and I think the place rather likes the variety of ever changing faces coming and going, and basks in their rapt admiration.

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Last Friday, I speculated on the names of the first child of William and Kate, and, inevitably, Victoria was high on the list.

It is a little ironic that Victoria would now be considered a very traditional and conventional choice for a royal baby.

That wasn’t true when Victoria was named; Victoria — Latin for “victory” — was a rare name in Britain at the time, although it had been in use since the sixteenth century, one of the names plucked from Classical Antiquity. For to the Romans, Victoria was the personification of victory, and worshipped as a Goddess.

Why did Victoria receive such a name? Because that’s what her mother was called. She was Marie Louise Viktoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield.

It wasn’t actually Queen Victoria’s first name, either. That was Alexandrina, after Tsar Alexander I of Russia.

Something else that is mildly ironic is the fact that since Victoria died, only one member of the royal family has received a name which had not been previously borne by a prince or princess of England or the United Kingdom — and that is Andrew. Yet Victoria herself actually made quite a point of breaking with tradition in the naming of her own children.

And her family makes a most interesting sibset.

Oldest of Queen Vicky’s children, born in 1840, was the Princess Royal, Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa. Victoria was not just in honor of the Queen, but also the Queen’s mother, who was one of the little princess’s godmothers — the others being Adelaide, the wife of Victoria’s uncle, King William IV, and Mary, Duchess of Gloucester, one of the daughters of King George III. Louisa was the name of Prince Albert’s mother. Princess Victoria married Kaiser Friedrich III in 1858, and was the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II. She died aged only 48, in 1888.

Second was Albert Edward, born in 1841, who ruled as King Edward VII. In naming the heir to the throne such, Victoria caused quite a stir at the prospect of a future King Albert. That had, indeed, been Victoria’s wish; Edward himself chose to rule as Edward upon his succession. He was named after his father, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and Victoria’s father, Edward, Duke of Kent, who had died when she was only a baby.

The third child was the tragic Princess Alice, later Grand Duchess of Hesse, whose full name was Alice Maud Mary. Alice, like Albert, had never been borne by a member of the Royal Family before. It is said it was suggested by the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, who was close to Victoria. Likewise Maud was also a break with tradition, demonstrating Victoria’s medieval tastes, though it was a nod to one of Princess Alice’s godparents, Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester (Maud, as most folk know, being a medieval form of Matilda). She was born in 1843, and died in 1878, aged just 35, of diptheria, a month after her four year old daughter had also died of the disease.

Her family was particularly ill-fated; her two-year-old son had died a few years earlier after a fall from a window, while two of her daughters died in the Russian Revolution. Alix (later the Tsarina Alexandra) was famously shot with her family in a basement in 1917. Elizabeth, who married Grand Duke Sergei of Russia, was brutally murdered in 1918 along with other members of the imperial family. They were thrown down a mineshaft, grenades thrown in after them, and left to die.

Fourth of Queen Victoria’s children was Alfred Ernest Albert, later Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Known as Affie, he was the second British prince to be called Alfred since the time of King Alfred; the first was one of the younger sons of King George III. He had died in infancy. Ernest was another new name in the British royal family — an import from Germany. It was the name of Prince Albert’s brother. Alfred was born in 1844, and died in 1900.

Queen Victoria’s fifth child was Princess Helena, later Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. Born in 1846, her full name was Helena Augusta Victoria. Helena was another new name for the royal family; she was named after one of her godparents, Hélène, Duchess of Orleans. Augusta was likewise in honor of a godparent, Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge. Princess Helena lived to quite a good age, dying in 1923 at the age of 77.

Sixth of Queen Victoria’s progeny was Princess Louise, later Duchess of Argyll. Born in 1848, her full, correct name was Louisa Caroline Alberta. Though baptised Louisa, she was always known as Louise. Caroline had been the name of King George IV’s estranged wife, and Alberta was, of course, in honor of her father. She lived to the ripe old age of 91, dying in Kensington Palace in 1939.

The Seventh child was Prince Arthur, later Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. He was born in 1850, and also lived to be 91, dying in 1942. His full name was Arthur William Patrick Albert. Arthur was very much a choice in line with Victorian fashion, and its love of all things Arthurian. He wasn’t the first prince to bear the name — but it had been a long time since the last: Arthur, Prince of Wales, the oldest son of King Henry VII, who died aged 15 in 1502. One of the Duke of Connaught’s godparents, however, was the Duke of Wellington, whose name was, surprise surprise — Arthur. He also shared the prince’s birthday. The choice of William was in honor of both King William IV and another of Prince Arthur’s godparents, Wilhelm, then Crown Prince of Prussia, and later Kaiser Wilhelm I (he later became the Princess Royal’s father-in-law). No British prince had ever been called Patrick before, and its choice was in homage to Ireland — it was no coincidence Prince Arthur was made Duke of Connaught.

Prince Leopold was the penultimate child; later made Duke of Albany, his full name was Leopold George Duncan Albert. Leopold, another new name in the royal family tree, was in honor of the King of Belgium, whose first wife was Princess Charlotte of Wales, daughter and heiress of King George IV, whose death in childbirth led to King George’s unmarried sons scrambling to marry and produce a new heir to the throne (which led to Queen Victoria’s birth). Leopold also happened to be the uncle of both Victoria and Albert; Victoria’s mother was his sister, and Albert’s father was his brother.  George was actually in honor of his godfather, King George V of Hanover, grandson of King George III. Leopold received the name Duncan in the same way Arthur acquired Patrick; the Dukedom of Albany had once been borne by heirs to the throne of Scotland. Leopold had the shortest life of all Victoria’s children; he was a haemophiliac and may also have epilepsy. He died in 1884, aged 30.

The youngest of Queen Victoria’s children was Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore, later Princess Henry of Battenberg. Beatrice was yet another name new to the royal family — as was Feodore. Mary was once more in honor of Mary, Duchess of Cambridge, and Feodore was after Victoria’s older half-sister, Anna Feodora of Leiningen. Feodore is one way in which the Russian form of Theodora is transliterated into the Latin alphabet from the Cyrillic. Beatrice was born in 1859, and lived to be 87. She was the last of Victoria’s children to die, passing on in 1944.

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Speculation is mounting in Britain that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting.

And a recent change to the rules of royal succession means that their first child will be first in line to the throne, regardless of whether it is a girl or a boy.

Which means the choice of name takes on extra special importance.

It’s not  true to say that since Queen Victoria, all heirs presumptive to the throne have borne the names of former kings or queens – but it’s almost true.

The exceptions are King Edward VII, whose full name was Albert Edward, his oldest son Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, and King George VI, whose actual name was Albert Frederick Arthur George,

And Victoria herself, of course, who was Alexandrina Victoria.

And so, it is probably safe to say that, even if the child has a first name which has not been borne by a ruling monarch, its second name will be, and that will be its eventual throne name.

However, Kate is clearly a traditionalist through and through, so even if the throne name is a middle name instead of a first, it is very unlikely indeed any and all names the child will bear won’t feature somewhere in the royal family tree.

Which will be?

Well, it’s certainly noticeable that none of the Queen’s granddaughters have been called Victoria, which, given the fact a baby girl would one day be queen, has to be top of the list of names for Kate and Wills’ baby if it’s a girl.

Another likely contender is Mary. There has been a royal princess of the name virtually continually since the time of the fourteenth-century Mary of Woodstock, daughter of King Edward I – until the death of Queen Mary in 1953. It is another name notable for being ‘reserved’ since, prevented from use by more minor royals. It’s not remotely fashionable at present (nor is Victoria in Britain) – but that’s never bothered the royals before, and is unlikely to trouble them now. It might even be considered in the name’s favour.

Elizabeth must also a pretty major contender. That it might to be on the ‘reserved’ list was in evidence in 2003, when Prince Edward picked Louise for his daughter. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother had died not long before and if Elizabeth wasn’t on the list of names ‘put aside’ for royals higher up the pecking order, it would have, perhaps, been a rather more likely choice.

Then there are the names of the three ‘almost queens’, which might, possibly, be judged acceptable for a future Queen of the Realm, namely Jane, Charlotte and Matilda. Lady Jane Grey was ‘Queen for Nine Days’ in 1553; she was never crowned, and ended up with her head on the block, but, nevertheless, she was declared Queen of England after the death of her cousin, King Edward VI.

Meanwhile, we would have had a Queen Charlotte, had Princess Charlotte of Wales not died in childbirth in 1817. Her death sparked a national crisis, as King George III had prevented all his other children from marrying. That all changed; the princes all set about marrying and reproducing – and Queen Victoria was one of the results.

Lastly, Matilda, daughter of King Henry I and mother of King Henry II was de facto queen in 1141; and she and her cousin Stephen, the man formally considered king during the period, were embroiled for many years in a messy civil war. Peace finally came when Stephen promised to make Matilda’s son his heir.

And while it would be unlikely as a first name, I’ll eat my crane bag if Diana doesn’t feature amongst her likely four given names.

As for boys, there is one name which is screaming out as top contender for Wills and Kate’s first son – George. Like Victoria and Mary, it has had a distinctly ‘reserved’ sign on it for the last fifty years. George is also one of the most popular names amongst the British Upper Class – half of Wills’ Old Etonian friends will be Georges.

Are there others? Well, most of the names of other kings are currently ‘occupied’, which is likely to rule them out: Charles, by Will’s dad, Henry by his brother, Edward by his uncle, James by his cousin, Richard by a second cousin, William by Wills himself. Those which are not are limited to John and Stephen.

John is a no-no; it is regarded as the royal family’s unlucky name, and is unlikely to see use again for centuries.

Stephen is an interesting one; since King Stephen’s time, it has never been used again. The fact that it is ‘unfashionable’ at the moment, however, is perhaps more likely to count in its favour; the royals have never particularly concerned themselves about such things. I would be surprised, though; after all, look what happened when John got resurrected from the medieval scrolls…

There are also the names of the ‘almost-rans’, which widen the choice a bit. Probably the most likely of this bunch for Kate and Wills is Arthur. King Henry VII’s eldest son was called Arthur, and would have been king had he not died before his father, while, a few centuries earlier, Arthur, Duke of Brittany had been the intended heir of King Richard I. It is also one of both Prince Charles’ given names and Wills’. It’s also another name which has seen most use in the last thirty years in the British upper class.

Other sometime heirs presumptive of British Kings, who never made the throne because they died before their fathers were Eustace, Count of Bologne (son of King Stephen), Alphonso, Earl of Chester (son of King Edward I), Frederick, Prince of Wales (son of King George II), and the already mentioned Albert, Duke of Clarence (son of King Edward VII). Frederick might have been a distinct possibility – but it is already borne by another of Will’s second cousins, Lord Frederick Windsor.

Really, of the others, only Albert is a serious contender, although it is telling that neither King Edward VII, nor King George VI ruled as King Albert I. And it is also worth bearing in mind that when King George was born, he was not expected to inherit the throne – he had an older brother, Edward (later King Edward VIII).

But Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence, would have been King Albert I.

Still, it would be seen as a break in convention for a baby born to be king or queen to bear a name other than one of the names of its predecessors on the throne – and I think Kate (if not Wills) is rather too conventional for that…

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Yesterday I looked at some of the most interesting (to an English eye) of the girls’ names currently in the French top 500.

Today, it’s the turn of the boys.

Arda. Turkish boy’s name meaning “stake” and “chisel,” which has started to take off in the last couple of years. A good example of how the modern French collect names from everywhere.

Côme. French form of Cosmo.

Joris. Dutch form of George.

Kenzo. Anywhere but France, this is a Japanese boy’s name, with numerous meanings depending on the kanji used to write it. In the case of Takada Kenzo, the owner of the Kenzo brand, it combines “wise” and “three.” Its use in France, however, is perhaps inspired by the feminine Kenza, an Arabic girl’s name meaning “treasure,” which is also popular.

Keziah. Names change gender in France too, but why the biblical Keziah “cassia” has gone baby-blue in France is definitely one to pass a few idle hours over.

Lilian. No, you didn’t read it wrong. It really is Lilian. Keziah isn’t the only name which is feminine in the English-speaking world and male in the French, but even my laissez-faire jaw hit the floor when I saw this. It first appeared in the 1920s, growing in popularity since the 60s. Even French websites say it was probably coined as a “masculine” form of Lily.

Others include Alix, Andrea (Italian form of Andrew), Ange (French for “angel”), Eden, Jessy, Joan (Catalan form of John), Lois (Galician form of Louis), Mae and Marley. They almost deserve a post all of their own…

Loan. A shorter form of Elouan. Loann and Lohan are variants.

Lubin. The name of an obsucre sixth-century French saint. The Latin form of his name is Leobinus, and is probably from the Old Germanic name Leobwin, cognate of the Old English Leofwine “dear friend.”

Merlin. Officially more popular in France than anywhere else, where it ranked 427th in 2009. In the UK, it was 1911th in 2010, and in the US, I don’t know exactly, but I do know there were only 22 of them.

Nolan. The Irish surname, weirdly also spelled Nolhan and Nohlan in France, as well as Nolann. Other Irish names also in vogue in France include Aidan, DonovanKevin, Kylian, Liam/Lyam, Logan, Malone, Oscar, Ronan, Ryan and Sullivan.

As may be becoming apparent, the ending –an is the must-have ending for French baby boys these days; with the traditional –en is distinctly languishing. Others, of various sources, often foreign, include Adrian, Alan/Allan, Alban, Ayman/Aymane, Brayan, Bryan, Christian, Dan, Dorian, Dylan, Elouan/Eloan, Erwan/Erwann, Esteban, Ethan/EtanEvan/Evann, EwanFlorian, Gaétan, Ilan/Ilann/Ylan/Ylann, Iban, Ilhan, Ilian/Ilyan, Imran/Imrane, Ivan/Yvann, Johan/Johann/Yohan/Yohann, Jonathan, Jordan, Julian, Kenan, Kylian, LILIAN, LOAN, Lohan, Maelan, Marouane/Marwan/Marwane, Milan/Mylan, Morgan, Nathan/Natan, Noan/Nohan, Rayan, RomanSean, Sevan, Sofian/Sofiane, Soan/Soane/Sohan, Souleymane, Stan, Stéphane, SWAN, Titouan, Tristan, Yann, Yoan/Yoann.

Octave. Actually, the French form of Octavius, rather than the musical term. Popular a hundred years ago, and on the rise once more.

Swan. Believe it or not, more than one French baby name website lists the origin of Swan as the English “swan” — i.e. the beautiful but somewhat unfriendly large bird. Since its use is modern, this really might be the truth of it, but the variant Swann, hints at the English surname, which actually comes mostly from the same source as the modern Scandinavian Sven “boy.”

Timeo. Seems to be treated as an adoption of the Greek for “I honor God.” , Timeô is a variant of the more usual timaô “I honor”; while in Latin, timeo means “I fear.” Very, very au courant, only registering on the French radar since the millennium. Var: Tymeo.

Tom. English Tom ranked 12th in France in 2009 — five places above multi-lingual Thomas. The French fascination with names popular in the English-speaking world applies to boys’ names as well as girls. Others in the charts include: Aaron/Aron, Alex, Andy, Angel, Anthony/Antony, AymericBrandon, Calvin/KalvinCameron, Cedric, Charlie/Charly, Chris, Christopher, Colin, Dany, Eddy, Edgar, Elijah, Eliot/Eliott/Elliot, Ewen, Gregory, Hayden, Hugo, James, Jason, JeremyJimmy, Kenny, Lenny/LenyLucas, Marcus, Marlon, Matt, Matthew, Melvin/Melvyn, Michael, Nelson, Neo, Noah, Owen, Rudy, Sam, Sacha/Sasha, Steven, Teddy, Tim, Tony, Warren, William, WesleyZachary. Like the Girls, there are also French forms of “English” names, such as Léo and Théo.

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For the last month, I have been in France — for much of that time, in Provence.

It is a region with a much deserved reputation for spectacular scenery and picturesque villages. In the region where we stayed, these clung as though by magic to impossibly steep hillsides gazing idly down dramatic gorges, draped in pines, evergreen oaks, olives and vines.

It is also an exceedingly historic region, always set a bit apart from the rest of France. Once, the people didn’t even spoke French, but Provençal, a dialect of Occitan — a language closer to Catalan than to French — although Provençal is sometimes used to refer to Occitan in general, and the langue d’Oc of medieval troubadours.

Unsurprisingly, it has a whole collection of names and variants of names unique to the region.

And it was in Provence that names like Isabella and Eleanor first arose.

During our stay, I kept my ears open, but was disappointed that, by and large, the names I encountered — particularly among the children — were little different to the rest of France. The fashion in France at present is for names of foreign origin, and the favored region for more unusual native monikers is Brittany.

But we did encounter some, especially among my own generation.

I love the fact so many Provençal girls names end in -o; it makes a refreshing change, and is very contemporary.

Here is a selection of my personal favorites. Some, like Zouè, are relatively recent — others, like Azalaïs, are medieval.


  • AgatoAgatha
  • Aïs — diminutive of ANAÏS and/or ALAÏS
  • AlaïsAlice (features in Kate Mosse’s 2005 novel Labyrinth); ultimately from Adelaide
  • AlienorEleanor
  • Anaïs — in Provence, used as a form of Anne or Agnes — not actually found prior to the nineteenth century
  • Anetoun — a double diminutive form of Ano (Anne)
  • AzalaïsAdelaide (Alice)
  • Babeleto — diminutive of Eisabèu/Isabèu (Elizabeth/Isabella)
  • BergidoBirgitte
  • Bielo — diminutive of Gabrielo (Gabrielle)
  • BregidoBridget
  • CelinoCeline
  • Chantaloun — diminutive of French Chantal
  • Clareto, Claroun — diminutives of Claro
  • ClaroClare/Claire
  • CloutildouClotilda
  • Delaïdo — diminutive of Adelaïdo (Adelaide)
  • Eliso — diminutive of French Élisabeth (Elizabeth)
  • EstefanoStephanie
  • Fanfan — probably a diminutive of ESTEFANO. Made fairly well-known (at least in France) by the 1952 film Fanfan la tulipe (remade in 2003) — in which Fanfan is a man — and Alexandre Jardin’s 1985 novel Fanfan, filmed in 1993.
  • Fino — diminutive of Delfino (Delphine) and/or JÒUSEFINO
  • FlourFlora/Fleur
  • GlaudioClaudia
  • IoulandoYolande
  • Janetoun — double diminutive of Jano (Jane/Jeanne)
  • JòusefinoJosephine (the name of our villa’s housekeeper!)
  • Jóuselet — variant/diminutive of JÒUSEFINO
  • Laïdo — diminutive of DELAÏDO
  • Lali, Lalìo — diminutives of Eulalìo (Eulalia/Eulalie)
  • Laloun — diminutive of LALI
  • Lìo — diminutive of names ending in -lìo, such as Eulalìo (Eulalia/Eulalie), Natalìo (Natalie), Rosalìo (Rosalie)
  • Lisoun — diminutive of ELISO
  • Lodi, Loudi — diminutive of Eloudìo (Elodie)
  • Madaloun — diminutive of Madaleno (Madeline)
  • Magali, Magari — probably Magaret, but possibly a variant of Madaleno (Madeline — from the original Magdalene)
  • Maïoun — diminutive of Marìo (Mary/Marie)
  • Marioun — diminutive of Marìo (Mary/Marie)
  • MelioEmilia
  • Mirèio — coined by the poet Frederic Mistral for his poem Mirèio (1859). From the Occitan mirar “to admire.”
  • Naïs — diminutive of ANAÏS
  • Ninoun — pet-form of Catarino (Katherine)
  • Rieto — pet-form of Enrieto (Henrietta)
  • RosoRose
  • SoufioSophia/Sophie
  • SoulanjoSolange
  • Talìo — diminutive of Natalìo (Natalie)
  • Teldou, Tildeto — diminutives of names containing –tild– or –teld-, like CLOUTILDOU
  • VitòriVictoria
  • ValorìValeria/Valerie
  • Zeto, Zetou — diminutives of JÒUSEFINO
  • Zouè Zoe


  • Amiel – said to be the Provençal form of French Emile
  • AudouardEdward
  • BartoumiéuBartholomew
  • BerenguiéBerenger
  • Calendau — from the Latin kalends, used of the first day of a month and, in Provence, for Christmas Day.  The hero of Mistral’s poem Calendau (1867)
  • CharleCharles
  • Charloun — diminutive of CHARLE
  • Ciprianet — diminutive of Ciprian (Cyprian)
  • DàviDavid
  • Deri — diminutive of Frederi/Federi (Frederick)
  • Dovi — dimunituve of Ludovi (Ludovick/Louis)
  • Estève, EstièneStephen
  • GabrieùGabriel
  • Glaude, GlàudiClaude, Claudius
  • JaufretGeoffrey
  • Jaume James
  • JòrgiGeorge
  • LuLuke
  • Luquet — pet-form of LU
  • Maïus — curious name of uncertain origin. In use in Provence since at least the late nineteenth century. Possibly conceived as a masculine form of MAÏOUN.
  • MasMax
  • MiquèuMichael
  • OuliviéOliver
  • PascauPascal
  • PèirePeter/Pierre
  • Pierroun — diminutive of French Pierre
  • RafèuRaphael
  • RoubinRobin (yes, the English Robin — one of the foreign names embraced by the French in the twentieth century)
  • Savié — probably Xavier, but possibly Savior (best known as a name in the Spanish form Salvador)
  • SilvanSilvanus
  • SimounSimon
  • TeoudorTheodore
  • Titoù – Either Titus or a diminutive of Batit (Baptist)
  • Titoun — diminutive of TITOÙ
  • ToumasThomas
  • Ugue, UguesHugh
  • VincènVincent
  • VitourVictor
  • Zavié — variant of SAVIÉ
  • — diminutive of Joùseù (Joseph)

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