What's Your Name's Meaning??? Etymology and history of Names

spyraal said:
Interesting thread! ;) It is also funny that very few of us -if any- really choose the names we are given ourselves if you think of it...

Interesting thread indeed!

Funny that you mention this, but... I'm a person who sort of picked my own name when I was a baby.

My mom named me a Farsi word which translates to "Memory". I think she did it because she wanted to honor the memory of my brother who died 2 years before I was born. So that his "memory" will live on through me.

But I did not take to that name, and would not respond to it at all! So my family started calling me nini, which in Farsi means "baby". And from that similar sounding words came out while playing with me, until one day I chose to respond to Nina. And since my mom loved Russian names, she went with it...

I looked up the meaning of Nina online and got

Nina in Spanish = girl
Nina in Native American = Mighty
Nina in Russian = The founder of the ancient Assyrian state

Ljubica, I'd be very interested to know what your take on the name Nina is. :P
Deedlet said:
spyraal said:
Interesting thread! ;) It is also funny that very few of us -if any- really choose the names we are given ourselves if you think of it...

Interesting thread indeed!

Funny that you mention this, but... I'm a person who sort of picked my own name when I was a baby.

My mom named me a Farsi word which translates to "Memory". I think she did it because she wanted to honor the memory of my brother who died 2 years before I was born. So that his "memory" will live on through me.

But I did not take to that name, and would not respond to it at all! So my family started calling me nini, which in Farsi means "baby". And from that similar sounding words came out while playing with me, until one day I chose to respond to Nina. And since my mom loved Russian names, she went with it...

I looked up the meaning of Nina online and got

Nina in Spanish = girl
Nina in Native American = Mighty
Nina in Russian = The founder of the ancient Assyrian state

Ljubica, I'd be very interested to know what your take on the name Nina is. :P

I'm not expert in these things but it so lovely to play with words, here are couple of info regarding your name from various sources:


Meaning of the name Nina

[ 2 syll. ni-na, nin-a ] The girl name Nina is pronounced as NAYNah or NIYNah †. † English pronunciation for Nina: N as in "knee (N.IY)" ; AY as in "hide (HH.AY.D)" ; N as in "knee (N.IY)" ; AH as in "hut (HH.AH.T)" ; N as in "knee (N.IY)" ; IY as in "eat (IY.T)" ; N as in "knee (N.IY)" ; AH as in "hut (HH.AH.T)"

Nina \n(i)-na\ as a girl's name is pronounced NEE-nah, NYNE-ah. It is of Spanish and Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Nina is "little girl; great-granddaughter". Also diminutive of Ann (Hebrew) "grace". In Slavic, a short form of names ending with -nina, such as Antonina. Neena is also a Hindi name meaning "pretty eyes". Nina was the name of one of Christopher Columbus's three ships. Ballerina Dame Ninette de Valois.

Nina variant forms: Neena, Neenah, Nena, Neneh, Neina, Nenna, Ninacska, Nineta, Ninete, Ninetta, Ninette, Ninnette, Ninon, Ninochka, Ninoska, Ninotchka and Nyna.
Nina has 17 variants that are used in both English and other languages. Variants used in English include Neena, Neenah, Nena (used in German as well), Nenah, Neneh, Ninetta (used in Italian as well), Ninja, Ninna, Ninnetta, Ninnette, Ninosca, and Nyna. The pet form Ninette (used in French as well), and the variant spelling Niina are other English forms. A variant of Nina in other languages is Ninotchka (Russian). Specific foreign variants include the pet forms Ninon (French) and Ninoshka (Russian).

Baby names that sound like Nina are Nona and Nana.

Nina is a very popular first name for women (#268 out of 4276) and a slightly less popular surname or last name for all people (#55212 out of 88799). (1990 U.S. Census)

The name Nina is present in several languages, including Afrikaans, Hindi, Italian, Persian, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and some Native American languages. It is often used as a nickname for names ending in -ina or -nina.

1: Nina is used predominantly in the English, French, German, Italian, and Russian languages, and its origin is Italian. The name developed as a short form of names ending in '-nina'. Another possible origin is from the Spanish 'nina' meaning 'little girl'. The name was first taken up by English speakers in the 19th century.

2: Nina's origin is Native American. Here, it means mighty.

Nina is a pet form of the name Ann (English and Greek).

NIINA: Short form of Finnish Anniina, meaning "favor; grace

Nina is also a variant (English and Hungarian) of the name Anna (Czech, English, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Scandinavian, Slavic, Spanish, Breton, Catalan, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, and French).

Nina is also a pet form (Catalan, Czech, English, French, Hebrew, Indian, Russian, Slavic, and Spanish) of the name Antonina (Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, English, and German).

Nina is also a variant (Polish) of the name Jean (English and Scottish).

Bosnian & Dalmatian variant of the sam name is Nana, but on Bosnian language this means grandma.

The Russian version of Nina means gracious, full of grace, mercy." Scottish word which means, "Light rain." Kiswahili word which means, "I have ."

Nina is a classic favorite. At present it is still fairly popular as a baby name for girls, though it was in more widespread use in the past. Its usage peaked modestly in 1902 with 0.132% of baby girls being given the name Nina. Its ranking then was #145. The baby name has since experienced a fall in frequency, and it is of occasional use in recent years. In 2010, its usage was 0.051% and its ranking #319, but it was nonetheless the 2nd most popular after Anna, among all girl names in its group. In 2010, its use outnumbered Nina's by 6 times.

Baby names that sound like Nina include the English Neena, the English Neenah, the English Neneh, the English Niina, the name Nyna, the name Pnina, the Hebrew Naama, the name Naamah, the name Naho, the name Nahyd, the Arabic Naima, the name Naimah, the English Naimi, the name Najma, the Arabic Najwa, the Japanese Nami, the name Namy, the English, Spanish, and Japanese Nana, the Greek and Hawaiian Nani, and the English and Scandinavian Nanna.

A famous person named Nina is Singer Nina Simone, born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, 21 February 1933 - 21 April 2003, Tryon, North Carolina.

In geographical terms, La Niña is a fluctuation in ocean surface temperature, the opposite to El Niño. La Niña is characterised by cold ocean temperatures in the eastern Pacific, whereas El Niño has warm temperatures. La Niña makes north and eastern Australia wetter than normal and warmer winters for SE USA.

Historic names connected to Nina via Bible in: LAST DAYS AND FALL OF NINEVEH


1. First Biblical Mention:
The first Biblical mention of Nineveh is in Gen 10:11, where it is stated that NIMROD (which see) or Asshur went out into Assyria, and builded Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah, with the addition, "the same is the great city." Everything indicates that these statements are correct, for Nineveh was certainly at one time under Babylonian rule, and was at first not governed by Assyrian kings, but by issake or viceroys of Assur, the old capital. To all appearance Nineveh took its name from the Babylonian Nina near Lagas in South Babylonia, on the Euphrates, from which early foundation it was probably colonized. The native name appears as Ninua or Nina (Ninaa), written with the character for "water enclosure" with that for "fish" inside, implying a connection between Nina and the Semitic nun, "fish."
2. Etymology of the Name:
The Babylonian Nina was a place where fish were very abundant, and Ishtar or Nina, the goddess of the city, was associated with Nin-mah, Merodach's spouse, as goddess of reproduction. Fish are also plentiful in the Tigris at Mosul, the modern town on the other side of the river, and this may have influenced the choice of the site by the Babylonian settlers, and the foundation there of the great temple of Ishtar or Nina. The date of this foundation is unknown, but it may have taken place about 3OOO BC.
3. Position on the Tigris:
Nineveh lay on the eastern bank of the Tigris, at the point where the Khosr falls into that stream. The outline of the wall is rectangular on the West, but of an irregular shape on the East. The western fortifications run from Northwest to Southeast, following, roughly, the course of the river, which now flows about 1,500 yards from the walls, instead of close to them, as in ancient times.

Nina in Japanese:

The name Nina when pronounced nEE-nah in Japanese is which is read ni-na.

This is a phonetic translation to katakana which is the standard way names are translated to Japanese. Katakana translates the pronunciation of the name, not the spelling; and the symbols, like English letters, have no meaning - so they can't have strange or bad meanings. And because katakana is standard, the translation can be independently verified.

We also offer the name Nina in hiragana which, strictly speaking, is not standard. Hiragana was created by the poetesses of the Heian period as a more feminine, flowing version of katakana. Today Japanese male and female names may be written in hiragana though it is more common for females. Nina in hiragana is .

Names often have meanings which translate nicely to kanji. The name Nina originally meant "Girl" which in kanji is shoujo written Japanese for Maiden (shoujo)

From: http://www.stockkanji.com/Nina_nEE-nah_ni-na

I never gave much thought to what my name means, although I have always been interested in etymology. So, I went to the same sight Ljubica went to and here is what it said (my real name is Jason):


Gender: Masculine

Usage: English, French, Greek Mythology (Anglicized), Biblical

Other Scripts: Ιασων (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: JAY-sən (English) [key]

From the Greek name Ιασων (Iason), which was derived from Greek ιασθαι (iasthai) "to heal". In Greek mythology Jason was the leader of the Argonauts. After his uncle Pelias overthrew his father as king of Iolcos, Jason went in search of the Golden Fleece in order to win back the throne. During his journeys he married the sorceress Medea, who helped him gain the fleece and kill his uncle, but who later turned against him when he fell in love with another woman.
This name also appears in the New Testament, belonging to man who sheltered Paul and Silas. In his case, it may represent a Hellenized form of a Hebrew name. It was not used in England until after the Protestant Reformation.

I'm not quite sure what to make of all that. Jason is the healer, but Jason also married a sorceress, killed his uncle, and had a messy divorce over what looks like infidelity. Hmm... :/
lol Jason. Maybe it just means u wont have a boring life ;)

Mine's Wanda, and here's what i've found

Gender: Feminine
Usage: Polish, English, German, French
Pronounced: VAHN-dah (Polish), WAHN-də (English) [key]
Possibly from a Germanic name meaning "a Wend", referring to the Slavic people who inhabited eastern Germany. In Polish legends this was the name of the daughter of King Krak, the legendary founder of Krakow. It was introduced to the English-speaking world by the author Ouida, who used it for the heroine in her novel 'Wanda' (1883).


Used in: English and Polish speaking countries (i live in a spanish speaking country, so here too :P)
Additional info:Of uncertain etymology, Wanda is generally believed to be of Germanic origin, perhaps from 'vond' (wand, stem, young tree) or from Wend, a term denoting a member of the old Slavic people who now live in an enclave south of Berlin.
Author Ouida used this name in 1883 for the heroine of her novel "Wanda".

A Slender, Young Tree
Gender: Female
Origin: German

Slender and young? i can go along with that :lol2:
I searched my name with Bim's websites. Just for fun and curiosity.

Gender: Feminine
Usage: Japanese
Other Scripts: 彩, 綾 (Japanese)
From Japanese 彩 "colour" or 綾 "design".

Used in:
Hebrew and Japanese speaking countries
Additional info:Popular Japanese female name that may be written with the character for "design; figured cloth; twill". Other possibilities include the character for "coloring; paint; makeup", as well as the combination of character "paint; makeup" (a) and "dart; arrow" (ya) - "painted arrow". As a Hebrew unisex name, Aya means "vulture". In the Old Testament Aya was a man - the father of Rizpah, who was King Saul’s concubine.

Gender: Female
Origin: Hebrew

My only surprise was it also means "vulture" in Hebrew. :scared:
My mother was adopted when she was a baby, so she didn't know what her heritage was. When she was in her 40’s she found her birth mother and discovered that she is Spanish and was intrigued that she named me after a Spanish saint.

Gender: Feminine
Usage: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Finnish, Polish, German, Scandinavian, English
Pronounced: te-RE-sah (Spanish, Italian, Polish), te-RE-zah (German), tə-REE-sə (English), tə-REE-zə (English)
Cognate of THERESA. Saint Teresa of Ávila was a 16th-century Spanish nun who reformed the Carmelite monasteries and wrote several spiritual books. It was also borne by the beatified Albanian missionary Mother Teresa (1910-1997), who worked with the poor in Calcutta. She adopted the name in honour of the French saint Thérèse de Lisieux, who is the patron of missionaries.

The meaning is uncertain, but it could be derived from Greek θερος (theros) "summer", from Greek θεριζω (therizo) "to harvest", or from the name of the Greek island of Therasia (the western island of Santorini).
Some call me Abraham, father or many. I was called Daniel before that menas god is my judge.

But now everyone calls me by a nickname, cubbex or brunauld jojojo!!
Great thread Ljubica, had seen it before and finally read it through - thanks to others, too.

This got me thinking about Basque or euskara Basque. Came across Larry Trask who is described as:

Larry Trask was a highly regarded expert on the Basque language, especially its history and origins. He passed away on March 28, 2004, while working on an etymological dictionary of Basque. The articles in the collected postings cover everything from the origins of the Basque words for the colors to how Basque pronunciation has evolved.

Here is a link http://www.buber.net/Basque/Euskara/

Anyway, what caught my attention was not person names but the Basque names for metals; have not found many person names yet - still looking this over. I remember in SHoTW the discussion, if memory serves, about Aquitani or Aquitaine and the Basque. On the metal word roots, Trask says the following about the names:

As has been pointed out, there is something very odd about the Basque metal names.

To begin with, there are no indigenous Basque names recorded for any of tin, copper or bronze. Instead, we find only loan words: <eztainu> `tin', <kobre> `copper', and <brontze> `bronze'. I find this strange, since it is inconceivable that the ancient Basques did not know these metals. So the ancient names must have been replaced and lost, but why? True, the `bronze' of English and other European languages is itself of unknown origin, and not native in any of them.

But there is no doubt about the native status of <burdina> `iron', <berun> `lead', <urre> `gold', and <zilar> `silver'. Many people have tried to connect this last one to the Germanic word, as represented by English `silver', but this is awkward, and I gather that Agud and Tovar, in their etymological dictionary of Basque, reject it altogether, though I don't know why, since publication of the dictionary has not yet reached Z. Nor is it possible that <urre> could have anything to do with Latin <aurum>.

Exceptionally interesting is <burdina>. Since there is good evidence that the Celts introduced iron into the Basque Country, we might have expected Basque to borrow a Celtic name for the metal, but that didn't happen. The comparative evidence makes it pretty clear that the earliest form of the Basque word was *<burdina>, or just possibly *<burnina>, which seems less likely but cannot be ruled out. And it is not so easy to connect this with <urdin> `blue'.

First, such a source could not account for the final <-a> in the metal name. Second, it requires us to conclude that the word for `blue' has lost an initial /b-/ which it formerly had. This is not impossible, since initial /b-/ is indeed occasionally lost before /u/: compare <buztarri> ~ <uztarri> `yoke'. But it doesn't seem terribly appealing.

There are also problems with <urdin> itself. This might possibly be from <ur> `water' plus <-din> `resembling', which makes semantic sense, but the problem is that the combining form of <ur> in ancient formations is regularly <u->, not <ur->: note cases like <ubide> `ford' (<bide> `road, way'), <ubil> `whirlpool' (*<bil> `round'), <uhalde> `riverbank, river' (<alde> `side'), <uharte> `land between rivers' (<arte> `between'). (Western <ugalde>, <ugarte> are more recent, post-dating the loss of /h/ in the west.) Hence we would have expected *<udin>, not <urdin>. Moreover, the sense of `blue' is modern. Earlier, <urdin> covered the entire territory of English `green, blue, gray', just like the more famous Welsh <glas>. Note formations like <gibelurdin>, the name of a mushroom with a bright green underside, and <mutxurdin> `old maid', in which <urdin> clearly refers to gray.

I don't know what to make of all this, though I think `gray metal' is pretty neat on the semantic side, even though the phonology is pretty awful.

Larry Trask
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

On Basque names i've only looked at this so far:

Basque surnames on the whole are easily identifiable, reasonably well documented and follow a small number of set patterns. The vast majority of all Basque surnames are not patronymic (like Johnson in English), or based on personal features (like Brown or Smith) but refer to the family's etxea, the historically all important family home.

When a farm (baserri) was rented to another family, often the new tenants were known locally by the farm name rather than by their officially registered surname.

From this language, first names seem to be like many borrowed European names; likely post inquisition adopted names. Need to do a little more reading here.
My real name is Warren meaning "gamekeeper", "defender" from the German version and "loyal", "protector" from the English.


what i also found quite interesting was the words that have the same arithmetic numbers, in particular "stoical" which I had no idea what it meant until now. A search led me straight to wiki on Stoicism of which the first paragraphs read:

"Stoicism (Greek Στωικισμός) is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotion

Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of life, and they thought that the best indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said but how he behaved."


I can't seem to find much on the etymology though
My real first name is Jean-Marc (in English that would be John-Marc/Mark).

Anyhow here is what it "supposedly" means.

Etymology : God remits (Hebrew). Dedicated in Mars, Roman God of the war (Latin).

Well... okay...

So, in other words, that dude:


Wait a minute, I'm not made of plaster... or am I? :shock:
Interesting thread, Ljubica.

My first name is derived from Greek. There are two versions that are basically regarded as the same names "Χρίστος", Chrístos - meaning 'anointed' - and "Χρήστος", Chrēstos - meaning 'useful' according to Wikipedia

Christos is also the word for Christ apparently according to this website.

My last name is a 'Hungarianized' word meaning Swordsman, it was changed in the beginning of the 20th century.
The original family name was German, Kaiser, meaning Ceasar or hairy, hair or Emperor in general.

Way to give my 'need to be special' program a boost...

I also have a middle name, Eliot that I actually chose a few years ago - before moving to the US - not knowing about its meaning.
Eliot - variant of Elliott - originally leading to Elias and is a cognate of Elijah.

Meaning & History (of Elijah)
From the Hebrew name אֱלִיָּהוּ ('Eliyyahu) meaning "my God is YAHWEH".

Oh, geez... :lol:
Zadius Sky said:
My name is an English form of the name, which in turn is a Greek form of the name that is a Hebrew name, meaning "YAHWEH remembers" or "Lord remembers." My short name of this name means "Pure," according to one site.

I meant to expand on this.

My first "legal" name, since the Protestant Reformation, is an English form of Zacharias (referring to the father of John the Baptist in the New Testament), which has been in use since the Middle Ages. However, this name became legal for me in 2000 because no one ever called me by my given birth name, only my last name. This current first name came about when one of my peers in Middle School mispronounced my last name (well, I could say that it was a "given" name). I didn't know the meaning of this name until a few years later.

My given/birth, no longer used, first name is an anglicized spelling of Seán, the Irish equivalent of John, originally meaning "Jehovah has been gracious" in Hebrew.

My middle name is Michael, from the Hebrew name מִיכָאֵל (Mikha'el) meaning "who is like God?". Michael is one of the seven archangels in Hebrew tradition and the only one identified as an archangel in the Bible.

Needless to say, these are all Biblical names. :rolleyes:

My last name is a German spelling of a Polish name. It is a diminutive of Polish ziec, which means "son-in-law." While researching my family history some years ago, I contacted a person at Polish Historical Society about this name and he came back with the meaning of the name to that is "little son-in-law" which may refer to a "short" man. That just may be true since all males in my father's side of the family have never exceed 5'8" in height (my grandfather and father were actually 5'5").

I often joked that my full name would mean, "God remembers his little son-in-law." :lol:
I was curious, so I started googling the meaning of my first name. My name is a derivative of Elizabeth.

1st site: http://www.babynology.com/meaning-lisa-f28.html Lisa: this site says it means: consecrated to God
2nd site: http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/0/Lisa It is of English origin. Short form of Elisabeth (Hebrew) "God's promise".
3rd site: http://www.meaning-of-names.com/hebrew-names/lisa.asp
Meaning of "Lisa" Hebrew name
In Hebrew, the name Lisa means- Diminutive of Elisabeth or Elizabeth, from Elisheba, meaning either oath of God, or God is satisfaction.
Also a diminutive of Bethia (daughter or worshipper of God), and of Bethany, a New Testament village near Jerusalem..

I was also once told by someone that my name means 'sanctified by god'.

Interesting to think about...:-)
My parents named me Maja because I was born in May
but I must admit - never have explored what does it mean so... this finding is very
interesting for me :)


Great topic, btw ...
Top Bottom