Thursday, May 5, 2011

What's in a (baby) name? Part 2

First off... who knew that the Hebrew name Mary means "sea of bitterness"? Really? So, of course, does the French version, Marie, and the diminutive version, Marion.
Post Card sent to Miss Mary Moriarty Greenwich, NY- June 17, 1906 

That said, other Hebrew names on the lists I provided last week are as follows:
Elizabeth- God is my oath
Ruth- friendship
Anna- gracious, merciful
Sarah- princess
Edna- delicacy, tenderness

I'm sensing a pattern here. It's a whole lot of sugar & nice. Where is the spice?

Let's try the English...
Alice- of noble kin
Ethel- noble
Margaret- pearl
Jennie- fair phantom, white wave
Annie- gracious, merciful (same in Hebrew & English, humph)
Rose- rose (duh)

OK. So we have more nobility coming in, shocking I know! Flowers & jewels. What's up with "fair phantom" and "white wave"? Oh, Jennifer (& the diminutive Jennie) come from the Welsh Gwynhwyfar. That would explain the strange meaning. I wonder why it was Anglicized? I thought the British loved the letter "Y" (tyres, pyjamas)?

The dead language of Latin, ladies & gentlemen.
Florence- prosperous, flowering
Frances- from France, (or my favorite) free
Julia- youthful, downy
Emma- universal
Grace- grace of God
Clara- illustrious

"Universal" is intriguing. "Free" is great (but I'm biased since Frances is my middle name).

On to the Greeks!
Helen- light
Irene- peace
Dorothy- gift of God

Wow, I was hoping for more pop from Athens and Sparta. I like "peace" though. My great-grandmother was named Irene.

The continental Europeans give more of the same.
Bertha- bright
Elsie- God is my oath (diminutive of Elizabeth)

Blanche- white

Ella- young girl

So, not much unusual with the popular names for girls. The meanings show a strong tendency toward piety, beauty, femininity... I wasn't really surprised with the similarities in the lists either. The names are biblical, European, typical.

Next, I see what names I can find in the records that we might consider odd!

Check out for more meanings.

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