Posts Tagged ‘Maximus’

It is twenty years ago today that the United States recognized the independence of the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from the former USSR.

Seems like a good opportunity to take a look at what people are calling their babies in the Baltics!

Lithuanian and Latvian are closely related languages — both belong to the Baltic family. Linguists regard Lithuanian as the modern language which most closely resembles Proto-Indo-European.

Estonian, meanwhile, is a Finnic language, related — oddly enough — to Finnish.

Lithuania’s top ten in 2010 was as follows:


  1. Emilija — Emilia/Emily
  2. Gabija — Lithuanian Goddess of fire
  3. Ugnė — ‘fire’
  4. Austėja — Lithuanian Goddess of bees
  5. Urtė — uncertain. Possibly Lithuanian form of Urd — the Norse Goddess of fate (itself from Old Norse urðr ‘fate’ and ‘uncanny’, though there are numerous other suggestions
  6. Kamilė — Camilla
  7. Gabrielė — Gabriella/Gabrielle
  8. Goda — probably arose as a short form of names beginning God-; now is interpreted as deriving from old Lithuanian words meaning ‘dream’ and ‘glory’.
  9. Rugilė — from rugys ‘rye’
  10. Miglė — from migla ‘mist’.


  1. Matas — short form of Motiejus — Matthew; matas also means ‘measure’
  2. Lukas — Luke
  3. Dovydas — David
  4. Nojus — Noah
  5. Kajus — Gaius
  6. Jokūbas — Jacob
  7. Dominykas — Dominic
  8. AugustasAugustus
  9. Mantas — of uncertain origin; possibly simply mantas ‘treasure’, or from manta ‘property’, ‘goods’, or mantus ‘friendly’, ‘clever’, ‘beautiful’
  10. Gustas — either Lithuanian form of Gustav, or a short form of AUGUSTAS. Also gustas ‘taste’ and ‘desire’.

Latvia’s looks like this:


  1. Sofija — Sophia/Sophie
  2. Alise — Alice
  3. Viktorija — Victoria
  4. Anastasija — Anastasia
  5. Marta — Martha
  6. Anna — Anna/Ann(e)
  7. Evelīna — Evelina/Evelyn
  8. Emīilija — Emilia/Emily
  9. Laura
  10. Katrīna — Katherine


  1. RobertsRobert
  2. GustavsGustav
  3. Markuss — Mark/Marcus
  4. Maksims — Maxim/Maximus
  5. Daniels — Daniel
  6. ArtjomsArtemius ‘belonging to (the Goddess) Artemis; the name of a saint venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Russian form is Artyom (it is also the source of the boy’s name Artemis, made famous by Artemis Fowl)
  7. Aleksanders — Alexander
  8. Ričards — Richard
  9. Ralfs — Ralph
  10. Artūrs — Arthur

And lastly, but not leastly, Estonia. Rather harder to pin down, but apparently, these were the most popular names in June 2011:


  1. Laura
  2. Mia
  3. Sofia — Sophie/Sophia
  4. Maria — Maria/Mary
  5. Alisa — Alice
  6. Milana — could be an adoption of the Slavic Milana, feminine of Milan < mil ‘gracious,’ ‘dear’ and ‘beloved’, or an Estonian take on Melanie, or even Magdalene (Malin is a Finnish name derived from the last).
  7. Aleksandra — Alexandra
  8. KertuGertrude
  9. Annabel
  10. Darja — Daria


  1. OliverOliver
  2. Rasmus — Erasmus
  3. Maksim — Maxim/Maximus
  4. Romet — modern name of uncertain meaning; possibly deriving from rõõmu ‘joy’
  5. Daniel
  6. Daniil — Daniel
  7. HenriHenry
  8. Karl — Charles/Karl
  9. Sander — Alexander
  10. Markus — Mark/Marcus

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Terentius Neo and his wife

Today marks the anniversary of the start of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE which destroyed the Roman town of Pompeii.

It was, coincidentally, the day after the Vulcanalia — the Roman festival dedicated to the fire and smith God Vulcan.

The 24th itself was a festival in honor of both Luna — Goddess of the Moon — and Mania, Goddess of Death.

We know the names of many of the people who lived in Pompeii — and nearby Herculaneum, which was also devastated.

In memory of all those who died, below are some of the names of Roman men and women whose names were preserved in the ruins of Pompeii.

Their fates are unknown.

  • Acilius CedrusCedrus is the Latin for ‘cedar’; it is actually a feminine noun, but was clearly used here as a surname.
  • Aemilius CrescensAemilius is the source of the French Emile and English Emilia and Emily — among others. Crescens ‘growing’ and ‘thriving’ was a common surname, and there are other examples known from Pompeii. The standard feminine is Crescentina.
  • Arrius StephanusStephanus is the Greek for ‘garland’ and ‘crown’. The source of English Stephen, it was a common Greek name. Arrius Stephanus was probably a Greek slave freed by a member of the Arrius family.
  • Betutius Placidus, LuciusPlacidus — Latin for ‘gentle’, ‘calm’ and ‘mild’.
  • Biria
  • Caecilius Capella, LuciusCapella means ‘little goat’, and is another feminine noun used as a male surname! Best known today as the name of a star in Auriga.
  • Caecilius Iucundus, Lucius — famous to anyone who ever learned Latin with the Cambridge Latin Course (or has seen The Fires of Pompeii — an episode of Doctor Who). Caecilius is the origin of Cecil, Cecilia, Cecily and Cicely.
  • Caetronius Eutychus, GnaeusEutychus is another Greek name, and this fellow was probably another freed slave. From the Greek eutukhês ‘fortunate’ and ‘prosperous’. A character of the name turns up in the New Testament.
  • Calavia OptataOptata means ‘wished for’, ‘longed for’ and ‘welcome’, and more than one example is known from Pompeii
  • Caprasia
  • Caprasius FelixFelix ‘fortunate’ was a very common Roman surname.
  • Casellius Marcellus, MarcusMarcellus means simply ‘little Marcus’. It was another common surname, most famously borne by the very aristocratic Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the first husband of Augustus’ daughter Julia.
  • Cassia
  • Chlorus — a surname from the Greek khlôros ‘greenish-yellow’.
  • Cornelius Amandus, Lucius
  • Cosmus — another surname, this time from Greek kosmos ‘order’; source of the name Cosmo.
  • Junius Proculus, DeciusDecius is probably a ‘modern’ mistake for Decimus (as Shakespeare made in Julius Caesar), but the original source is lost. Proculus was another well-used surname, a diminutive form of procus ‘wooer’ and ‘suitor’.
  • Demetrius — a Greek name meaning ‘belonging to (the Goddess) Demeter. Source of Dmitri and (ultimately) Demi.
  • Dentatius Panthera, TitusPanthera is the Latin for ‘panther’.
  • Epaphra — short form of Greek Epaphrodita from epaphroditos ‘lovely’ and ‘charming’.
  • Epidia
  • Epidius FortunatusFortunatus means ‘prosperous’, ‘happy’, ‘lucky’. Another popular surname.
  • Equitia
  • Erastus — Greek ‘beloved’ and ‘lovely’.
  • Euplia — possibly from the Greek euploia ‘fair voyage’
  • Fabia — the Fabii were a very important family, though most bearers descended from former slaves and other dependents.
  • Fabius Celer, MarcusCeler was another popular Roman surname meaning ‘swift’.
  • Fabius Memor, MarcusMemor means ‘mindful’ and ‘remembering’
  • Faventinus — from favens ‘favoring’ and ‘befriending’.
  • Fortunata
  • Fufidius Successus, NumeriusNumerius is one of the rarer Roman first names.
  • Gavius RufusRufus ‘red’ and ‘ruddy’ was one of the commonest Roman surnames.
  • Grata Metallica — yes, Metallica (I wonder if the Swedish family who fought to call their daughter Metallica knew it was used as a given name in Roman times?). From metallicus ‘of metal’ and ‘metallic’; ‘mine-worker’.
  • Helpis Afra — Greek elpis ‘hope’; Afer ‘African’.
  • Hirtia Psacas — Greek psakas ‘drop of rain’, grain’ and ‘morsel’.
  • Julius Nicephorus, GaiusNicephorus is Greek, meaning ‘bearing victory’
  • Livius Firmus, LuciusFirmus was another common surname, meaning ‘strong’, ‘steadfast’ and ‘powerful’
  • Loreius Tiburtinus
  • Lucretius Fronto, Marcus
  • Lusoria
  • Mestrius Maximus, QuintusMaximus needs little intro — Latin ‘greatest’. Not uncommon.
  • Numicia PrimigeniaPrimigenia means ‘primal’; it was an epithet of the Goddess Fortuna.
  • Numisius Rarus, LuciusRarus ‘thin’ and ‘rare’.
  • Nymphius — a family name of Greek origin, from numphê ‘nymph’ and ‘bride’.
  • Octavius RomulusRomulus was one of the legendary founders of Rome.
  • Oppia
  • Oppius GratusGratus, another surname, meaning ‘beloved’, ‘dear’ and ‘agreeable’.
  • Paccia
  • Paccius Clarus, PubliusClarus ‘clear’, ‘bright’ and ‘shining’. Source of Clara and Clare.
  • Pinarius CerealisCerealis ‘belonging to (the Goddess) Ceres’.
  • Plotilla
  • Pomaria
  • Popidius Metallicus
  • Poppaeus SabinusSabinus ‘Sabine’, source of Sabin and Sabina. The emperor Nero’s second wife was called Poppaea Sabina, and had property near Pompeii
  • Primilla — feminine diminutive of primus ‘first’.
  • Pupius, Marcus
  • Salvius — another family name familiar to anyone who has done the Cambridge Latin Course. From salvus ‘safe’ and ‘sound’.
  • Sextilius VerusVerus, another popular Roman surname — ‘true’, ‘real’, ‘genuine’.
  • Sibilla Pompeiana
  • Spurius Saturninus, MarcusSaturninus, Roman surname meaning ‘belonging to (the God) Saturn’
  • Suettius ElainusElainus is a surname of Greek origin, from elainos ‘of olive-wood’
  • Sutoria Primigenia
  • Terentius Neo, TitusNeo — from the Greek neos ‘new’… so Neo is not so ‘new’ as a name as some folk may think!
  • Tettius Faustus, GaiusFaustus, another common surname meaning ‘of favorable omen’, ‘auspicious’. The origin, obviously, of Faust.
  • Trebius Valens, AulusValens, yet another of the most common surnames, valens means ‘strong’, ‘healthy’ and ‘powerful’ and is the source of Valentine and Valentina.
  • Vedius VestalisVestalis, a surname meaning ‘belonging to (the Goddess) Vesta’.

All names included here have been ordered their family (gens) name (where known). Not all first names (praenomina) or surnames (cognomina) are known.

In the Roman system of naming, male citizens usually had three names: a first name (praenomen) — of which there were only a few in common use — the name of their gens ‘family’ or ‘clan’ (nomen), and their surname (cognomen).

Women were mostly known by the feminine form of their family/clan name, or the feminine form of a surname. But sometimes they bore both, or two family names, or two surnames.

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Since moving into the Nook, I’ve been on an odyssey around the world and through the ages, and it occurred to me that it was about time I came home and featured the names of Wales.

Wales belongs to the Celtic fringe — along with Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall and Britany. Of the Celtic lands and regions of the British Isles, Wales has preserved its language more successfully than any of the others; it is actively spoken across the Principality as a first language, and many others speak and understand some Welsh.

If you visit Wales, you are virtually guaranteed to hear some Welsh spoken. The same is sadly not true or Ireland or Scotland, where even in the regions where Irish and Gaelic are spoken, you’ll be lucky to hear the native tongue, unless you actively seek it out.

You might think, then, that the old Welsh names had survived in use along with the language. As far as a handful of names are concerned, you would be right. But by the mid 19th Century, most of the names used in Wales were English — most of the Welsh names had been consigned to history.

Only in the late 19th Century, with the rise of Welsh nationalism, were the old names revived. Since then, they have gone from strength to strength.

The majority of babies in Wales still receive the same names as in the rest of the English-speaking world. But a great many receive Welsh ones as a first or second name — names which have a distinctly foreign, mystical ring to an English ear.

It is my intention to make a big thing of Welsh names here at the Nook over time. They are close to my heart, and there are a lot of extremely beautiful names with great meanings which are surprisingly accessible to non-Welsh speakers. If the Celtic calls to you, why not consider a name from the Land of Song?

These are some of my personal favorites:


  • Aneira (pronounced ‘an-AY-ra’) — the intensive prefix an-carrying the sense of ‘very’ or ‘much’ + eira ‘snow’. Probably first inspired by the boy’s name Aneirin, and used since the late 19th Century. Eira is also used on its own.
  • Annwyl — ‘dear’ and ‘beloved’. In use since the 1930s.
  • Anwen— a modern combination of Ann + the –wen ending found in so many Welsh girls’ names, which is the mutated femining form of gwyn ‘white’ and ‘blessed’. Ann here is sometimes interpreted as the intensive prefix an-, like Aneira and Angharad.
  • Blodwenblodyn ‘flower’ + gwyn ‘white’ and ‘blessed’. A traditional Welsh name, found in the Middle Ages and revived at the end of the 19th Century
  • Branwenbran ‘crow’, ‘raven’ + gwyn ‘white’. In Welsh mythology, the name of the sister of Bran the Blessed. It was used as a genuine name in medieval times, and revived in the 19th Century.
  • Caryscar ‘love’. Modern name, dating to the early 20th Century. Another variant is Cerys.
  • Eilir (pronounced ‘ay-leer’) — ‘butterfly’. First used at the end of the 19th Century.
  • Eirian (pronounced ‘AY-ree-an’) — ‘brilliant’, ‘splendid’ and ‘bright’. Another late 19th Century coinage
  • Eirlys (pronounced ‘AY-er-lis’) — ‘snowdrop’. Late 19th Century again.
  • Enfys (pronounced ‘en-vis’) — ‘rainbow’. Also first used at the end of the 19th Century.
  • Ffion (pronounced ‘fee-on’) — ‘foxglove’. A modern name inspired by the unrelated Fiona.
  • Fflur (pronounced ‘fleer’) — ‘flower’. Inspired by the use of the French Fleur, Fflur was first used at the end of the 1960s.
  • Gwen — ‘white’ and ‘blessed’ – a very traditional and ancient name. Deserves a post all to itself!
  • Gwenhwyfar (pronounced ‘gwen-HOO-i-var’) — original Welsh form of Guinevere and Jennifer.
  • Hafren – see Fair Sabrina
  • Mabli — Welsh form of Mabel
  • Mared — one of the Welsh forms of Margaret
  • Morwen — ‘maiden’. Welsh equivalent of the Cornish Morwenna
  • Seirian  (pronounced ‘SAY-ree-an’) — ‘sparkling’.  First used in the ’60s.
  • Seren (pronounced ‘seh-ren’) — ‘star’. A modern Welsh name — i.e. not used in medieval times. First used at the end of the 1930s and now a popular choice for baby girls.
  • Tanwentan ‘fire’ + gwyn ‘white’. A modern Welsh name, first used in the 1960s.
  • Tegeirian (pronounced ‘teg-AY-ree-an’) — ‘orchid’.
  • Tirion (pronounced ‘TI-ree-on’) — ‘gentle’ , ‘happy’ and ‘gracious’.


  • Aneirin (pronounced ‘an-AY-rin’) — traditional old Welsh name, borne by an early poet. Probably from the Latin Honorius.
  • Arthen — ‘bear-born’.
  • Bedwyr (pronounced ‘bed-weer’) — from bedw ‘birch’ + gwyr ‘man’. A character from Welsh myth, who became Bedivere in the Arthurian cycles.
  • Berwynbar ‘peak’, ‘mound’, ‘head’ + gwyn ‘blessed’ and ‘white’. An ancient name, revived in the late 19th Century.
  • Bleddyn (pronounced ‘bleth-in’ — the ‘th’ as in ‘the’) —blaidd ‘wolf’.  Traditional name, revived in the 19th Century.
  • Cai (pronounced ‘ky’ – to rhyme with eye) — Welsh form of Gaius — also deserves an entry of its own!
  • Einion (pronounced ‘AY-nee-on’) — ‘anvil’; traditional old name.
  • Eirian — see girls above.
  • Gwern — ‘alder’; a name from mythology
  • Gwydion (pronounced ‘gwi-DEE-on’) — gwyddon ‘wizard’ and ‘scientist’. An important figure in Welsh mythology. Used asa genuine name from the early 20th Century.
  • Heddwyn (pronounced ‘heth-win’ — the ‘th’ as in ‘the’). Modern name from hedd ‘peace’ + gwyn ‘white’ and ‘blessed’.
  • Ianto (pronounced ‘yan-toh’) — a pet form of Ifan, the Welsh form of John.
  • Iestyn (pronounced ‘yes-tin’). Welsh form of Justin.
  • Iolo (pronounced ‘yol-oh’)
  • Lleu (pronounced ‘lleye’ — the best approximation of the notorious Welsh letter ‘ll’ is probably ‘cl’) — important figure in Welsh myth.
  • Macsen — Welsh form of Maximus; the name of a legendary hero.
  • Morien (pronounced ‘MOH-ree-en’) — very old Welsh name meaning ‘sea-born’.
  • Myfyr (pronounce ‘muh-veer’) — Welsh for ‘muse’ and ‘meditation’. Used since the late 19th Century.
  • Myrddin (pronounced ‘mur-thin’ — the ‘th’ as in ‘the’) — Welsh form of Merlin. In use in the Middle Ages, and revived in the 19th Century.
  • Peredur (pronounced ‘peh-REH-deer’) — peri ‘spear’ + dur ‘hard’. The name of one of King Arthur’s knights — he became Percival in English. Used since the 19th Century.
  • Rhodrirhod ‘wheel’, ‘circle’ + rhi ‘ruler’ and ‘king’; trad old name.
  • Rhun (pronounced ‘rheen’) — ‘mystery’ and ‘charm’. The name of a character in Welsh mythology. First used as a real given name in the late 19th Century.
  • Rhydian (pronounced ‘RID-ee-an’) — probably from Old Welsh rhudd ‘red’
  • Seirian  (pronounced ‘SAY-ree-an’) — ‘sparkling’.  First used in the ’60s.
  • Taliesin (pronounced ‘tal-ee-EH-sin’ — although ‘tal-ee-AY-sin’ is often heard) — the name of a legendary bard, to whom a corpus of early medieval poetry is attributed. From tal ‘brow’, ‘forehead’ + iesin ‘fair’, ‘beautiful’ — often translated as ‘shining’.
  • Tegid (pronounce ‘teh-gid’) — from Latin tacitus ‘serene’ and ‘quiet’. The name of a character in Welsh mythology, as well as the Welsh name of Bala Lake. First used as a genuine name in the late 19th Century.

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Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I

Sneek Peek Week II Day 3! The peek picked for today is Max.


Max was originally a short form of MAXIMILIAN; now it may also be encountered as short for MAXWELL: or even MAXIMUS. 19th Century. Bearers: Max Weber (1881-1961), the Russian-born US artist; Max Mallowan (1904-78) – born Edgar – the British archaeologist; Max Rockatansky, the hero of the 1979 film Mad Max and its sequels; Max Dennison, a character in the film Hocus Pocus (1993).


Folklore says that Maximilian was created by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III for his son by combining the names of two ancient Romans he admired – namely Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator (d.203 BCE) and Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus (185-129 BCE). There was also a Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus, consul in 145 BCE, and it is possible the name was intended to be a telescoping of his cognomina – Maximus Aemilianus. The baby so named went on to rule as Maximilian I (1459-1519), and there is no doubt that the spread of Maximilian as a given name — first in Germany and then elsewhere — is down to the Hapsburgs. However, there was an obscure 3rd Century saint called Maximilianus, although he doesn’t appear in the records till the 9th Century. His name meant ‘belonging to Maximillus’. Maximillus is a diminutive form of MAXIMUS. Diminutive: MAX. French: Maximilien, Italian: Massimiliano, Russian: Maksimilian. Bearers: Maximilien Robespierre (1758-94), the French revolutionary.


Latin: maximus ‘greatest’. Maximus was used as a cognomen in Roman times – most notably by members of the aristocratic Fabius clan. Magnus Maximus (c.335-88) – whose full name is not known – was one of a number of rival Roman Emperors between 383 and 385 CE, who is remembered in Welsh legend as Macsen Wledig. Maximus Tiranus (fl.409-411) was another pretender to the imperial throne. There was never, however, any with the garbled name Maximus Decimus Meridius – the name of the hero of the US film Gladiator (2000), who is responsible for raising the name’s profile since the Millennium. 16th Century. Feminine: Maxima. Italian: Massimo, Russian: Maxim, Maksim, Romanian: Maxim, French: Maxime, Spanish: Maximo, Welsh: MACSEN. Bearers: Maxim Gorky (1868-1936), the Russian writer.

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