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

Savitri C said:
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 ...

In Spanish Maja means beautiful. I think it is a very beautiful name.
loreta said:
Savitri C said:
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 ...

In Spanish Maja means beautiful. I think it is a very beautiful name.

cool... didn't know that also - thanks loreta :whistle:
Savitri C said:
loreta said:
Savitri C said:
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 ...

In Spanish Maja means beautiful. I think it is a very beautiful name.

cool... didn't know that also - thanks loreta :whistle:

Now I remember also: the most famous Spanish painter did a painting, very popular, named: la maja desnuda. Surely everybody know this painting. So it means: the beautiful naked. But it can mean also the beautiful woman naked. Because in Spanish maja is a word that you give to women, when they are beautiful, or gentle.

Here is a link to the painting of Goya.

I'm sure we could find much more connection between Sanskrit and European languages (for me it was the easiest way to compare it with Ex Yugoslavian languages, since I know them the best), perhaps lot of our modern names are transmuted forms of Sanskrit originals....,...

Both sides of my Grandparent's came from Yugoslavia, with my Parent's, being the first generation born in the U.S. The first language taught to me was Slavian which was fluent in our households. BTW, my Parent's marriage was arranged via family tradition, something to do with generational heritage of some sort on my father's side. As to the details, I never got a chance to ask specific questions. both sets of my Grandparent's and my Father passed away before I reached my 13th birthday. My Mother remarried a short time, there after, leaving me behind with my Father's Brother and his Wife/family but took my two younger Brother's with her. The environment wasn't exactly the type to ask to many family related questions aka Why was I left behind? Did I do something wrong? Why am I being punished? and the list went on. But I was 14 at the time, had another two years before high school graduation and thought's were not on family heritage, mostly survival, mainly due to the fact, my Aunt "highly suggested" I continue my "upbringing" in a Catholic Convent - a perfect placement that would furnish room, board and proper education. But as far as family heritage was concerned, my Aunt knew less than I did, or she would have never pushed for me to go into a Catholic Convent. The Catholic aspect was mainly, "when in Rome" and was not part of our true heritage. My Paternal Grandmother had related to me, in stories from the old country, that they had lost a large tract of land holdings in the Providence, with livestock and the old family residence, when the Catholic Monsenior gave the German's a list "of Donor's" that help supply the needs of the Parish. The German's visited the wealthy "Donor's" first with an offer they couldn't refuse. Either, disappear or a bullet will settle the issue. Everything was confiscated and they were lucky to walk away with their life. The Family made it to the home of a relative and the decision was made for most of the Family to come to America.

One question, I would have liked to ask (but was taboo), "Why was my Father's Brother allowed to marry someone outside of our Slavian heritage when it was mandatory for my Father, as the oldest, to do so? I'm 60 now and I doubt if I will ever learn the answers to alot of those questions.

One thing comes to mind, my Mother was quick to denounce us as "Slovak" although she belonged to a Slovenian Socieity. She said, we were "Gronner's" or some such phase? I don't know if I'm making any sense, for I have forgotten the language? I do know, the Family had a Genealogically Ledger that was passed on to the next in line but to date, my Brother's have never heard of it and my Uncle's Son's can''t find it? Maybe, Ljubica can make some sense out of all this?

BTW, they named me - in english - Marianne Veronica Cecelia
Savitri C said:
My parents named me Maja because I was born in May

Reading through some of the posts on this thread, it's clear that in most cultures, our names come from our parents, or, as we get older, of few of us will select a different name to use instead.
Here I will offer a completely different approach to names from a culture with which I am familiar: the culture of Thailand.

Two stories -- from my personal experience -- to illustrate:

After knowing him for several years, one day my Thai teacher brought to me a photocopy of his identity card.
But I already had a copy of that, so I asked, "Why another copy?"
He explained, "I changed my first name. Last name is the same as before. I've had some problems in my life recently (divorce), so I went to a fortune teller who suggested a new and stronger name for me. I went to the provincial office and got it changed."

In Thai culture, want to improve your life?
Well, then, just change your name!

Second story about name meanings in Thai culture.

Three or four times a week, in the evening after supper, I will walk around the corner to a small foot massage shop.
After several months, I came to prefer one of the massage girls, who's name was "Bird".
A very common name in Thailand.

One day, Bird said to me, "Next month I am changing jobs. I will work in the foot massage shop across the street. Please come to see me there."
I agreed.

Early the following month, I was walking along the street, going to a restaurant for my supper.
There was Miss Bird, standing outside the shop across the street, wearing the uniform shirt of that shop.
She smiled and said, "Peter, when are you coming for foot massage at my new shop?"
I explained, "Okay, Bird, first I'll go to supper, then I'll come back here in an hour."

An hour later, I returned to that shop across the street.
Bird was not in sight, but several other staff were there, all wearing the uniform shirt of that shop.
"I have an appointment with Bird for foot massage."
But funny looks from the other staff.
"Miss Bird is not here! Today is Tuesday. It is her day off. She is not here."
Questions to other staff confirmed, Bird had not been seen all day.
Is this the first stage of Alzheimer's for me?

So I explained that I had just seen and talked to Bird, right there in front of the shop, only an hour ago.
Their looks indicated they thought I was more than a little crazy.

Then I explained it was Bird who used to work at the shop across the street, and started at this shop just a few days ago, at the beginning of the month.
Suddenly, the lights went on.
“Oh, no,” they explained, “That’s not Bird. Her name Sky.”
And one of them ran into the shop and called for “Sky” to come out to the front.

The lady who appeared, was exactly the one whom I’d talked to just an hour before.
I asked, “All this time I’ve been calling you “Bird”. Did I make a mistake?

She explained:
“In this shop there already is one staff with the name of Bird. So, when I came to work here a few days ago, I had to change my name. Now you can call me Sky.”

End of that story, but you may be wondering, if Thais change their names so easily and so quickly, how can you keep track of them?
It’s difficult.
It is common that one person may have several, different names: One at work, one among personal friends, another name within the family.
And if that person works two jobs, they may be known by different names at each job.

Now, to wrap up this long post, I’ll go back to Thai names given at birth.

Thais are very conscious of skin color.
A new-born baby with slightly reddish skin will be named, “Red”.
A baby with very dark, skin will be named, “Black”.
A tiny baby will be named, “Tiny” or, maybe, “Shrimp”.

“Fish” is a common name for girls, but I don’t know why or how they get that name.
Another common name for girls is “Mouse”.
But, in farming areas, a variation is “Field Mouse”.
Girls named “Field Mouse” are very proud of that name, and they make sure to explain that “Mouse” is not the same as “Field Mouse”.
When I asked the difference, I was told, “‘Field Mouse’ can eat, but ‘Mouse’ is dirty, can not eat.”

So, a typical conversation among Thais might be, “Good morning, Field Mouse. I’m on the way to visit Red and Black. Have you seen Shrimp or Fish.”
Sounds funny to us, but in Thailand, those names would not even crack a smile.

-- Peter
My name is Irving
Here is the meaning:

"Irving is a variant of the surname Irvine, which has three separate origins. It can be from one of two places in Scotland, either Irvine or Irving. Both places are named for a Celtic river whose name probably meant 'green water'. It can also be derived from one of the Middle English names Irwyn, Erwyn or Everwyn, which are composed of Old English elements meaning 'wild boar' and 'friend'. Thirdly, Irvine can be an anglicization of the Irish Gaelic surname Ó hEireamhóin, meaning 'descendant of Eireamhón' (it is uncertain what Eireamhón means)."

Here is a similar history of the origin (especially as a family name):

Before the printing press standardized spelling in the last few hundred years, no general rules existed in the English language. Spelling variations in Scottish names from the Middle Ages are common even within a single document. Irving has been spelled Irwin, Erwin, Irvine, Irving, Urwin, Erwine, Ervin, Erwing, Ervynn, Ervine, Erwynn, Irwing, Irwryn and many more.
First found in Dumfriesshire. According to family lore, they descend from Duncan "the first of Eryvine," killed at the battle of Duncrub in 965. As far as records are concerned, the earliest listed was William de Irwin, an armor bearer to King Robert the Bruce. He received a grant of lands encompassing the Forest of Drum, on the banks of the River Irvine. The river originally was named Lar Avon, or West River. Robert de Hirvine, ancestor of that previous William was mentioned in a Charter dated 1226 and he was at that time tenant of the Douglas Clan. From 1331-33 the family received further grants of land and by 1400 had become a very predominant family. The Chief of the Irvines lead his Clansmen in the Battle of Harlaw in 1511. Sir Alexander Irvine was slain there, and it was said of him: 'Gude Sir Alexander Irvine, The much renowned Laird of Drum.'

My nickname is the combination of my first and second names: IRving JOsé (Joseph in spanish)
I used to use this nikname as a Dj nickname too..
Hi Peter_in_Tha iland, your story about names is very cute. I would not mind to be named "field mouse" or Prairie dog girl". :lol:

I don't understand why parents name their children as their mothers or fathers. What a lack of imagination. But in a religious society, like in Spain, this is very common. My father, who was a sort of anarchist, refused to give me a catholic name. He gave me the name of the title of a movie that gave him a big impression, Lydia. And he gave me just one name, instead of 3. Here people have 3 names, I don't know why, and one of them is Maria if you are a girl. So in my birth certificated I just have one name. :) One day I look for the movie that impressed so much my father, it is so rare that nobody knows this movie. Just looking at the poster it seems to me that the movie is surely extremely bad. But it gave me an insight of my father that I did not know: his romantic side.

I put the image of the poster of the movie just to show that there is really a movie called Lydia! :lol:
And the movie is from 1941.


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Peter_in_Thailand, thanks for sharing these stories. It's interesting to see the way these customs are in Thailand.

It also reminded me of my workplace, where we have many Asians from different countries (China, Indonesia, Malaysia, a few ABC's (American Born Chinese)) plus one of each: Russian, American, Jamaican, Argentinean, Kazakh and a few Mexicans and me.

A Chinese co-worker of mine just asked me if he should change his name, another one a few weeks ago if she should change hers.
Every Chinese person has adopted an American name and they're willing to change it any time.
They don't really care.
They're just like: Can you give me a better idea for a name? I'll change it anytime a better one comes along.
My name originates from hebrew, Aaron which is a pretty common name. It means A teacher; lofty; mountain of strength exalted, high mountain. I hope to live up to this name through self mastery one day! :)

this is all I could found about the meaning of my name:

GENDER: Masculine
USAGE: Spanish
Meaning & History
Spanish form of RADULF
OTHER LANGUAGES: Radulf (Ancient Germanic), Rafe, Ralf, Ralph, Ralphie (English), Raoul (French), Ralf, Ralph (German), Raul, Raoul (Italian), Raul (Portuguese).

RAUL's Popularity and Statistics

RAUL is the most popular 365.th name in USA (... 363.justin , 364.thos , 365.raul , 366.jaime , 367.bennett ...). One in every 1,863 Americans is named RAUL and popularity of name RAUL is 0.54 people per thousand.

If we compare the popularity statistics of RAUL to USA's population statistics, we can estimate that as of January.26.2015 12:53 there are 172,711 people named as RAUL in the United States and the number is increasing by 1,411 people every year.

The name Raul is of French origin.

The meaning of Raul is "wise counselor".

It is also of Italian and Spanish origin, where its meaning is "wise wolf".

really cool stuff :headbanger:
Benjamin: from the Hebrew- "Son of my right hand", "Son of the right side". There is also the reference to the "Tribe of Benjamin".

Looking on the Benjamin wikipedia:

"In the Samaritan Pentateuch, Benjamin's name appears as "Binyaamem" (Hebrew: בנימים, "Son of my days")."
"The Samaritan Pentateuch consistently spells his name "בן ימים", with a terminal "mem," ("Binyamim"), which could be translated literally as "spirit man" but is in line with the interpretation that the name was a reference to the advanced age of Jacob when Benjamin was born."

But then:

"The name is first mentioned in letters from King Sîn-kāšid of Uruk (1801–1771 BC), who called himself “King of Amnanum” and was a member of the Amorite tribal group the “Binu-Jamina” (single name “Binjamin”; Akkadian "Mar-Jamin"). The name means "Sons / Son of the South" and is linguistically related as a forerunner to the Old Testament name "Benjamin"."

""Son of the south", with south derived from the word for the right hand side, referring to the birth of Benjamin in Canaan, as compared with the birth of all the other sons of Jacob in Aram. Modern scholars have proposed that "son of the south" / "right" is a reference to the tribe being subordinate to the more dominant tribe of Ephraim."

Which, after reading a bit from Laura's 'Are Russian Jews Descended from the Khazars?':

"It seems that after the fall of their kingdom, the Khazars adopted the Cyrillic script in place of Hebrew and began to speak East Slavic (sometimes called "Canaanic" because Benjamin of Tudela called Kievan Rus the "Land of Canaan")."

And then:

"...the 18th-century Yiddish-speaking Jews who lived in German- and Slavic-speaking areas and considered themselves Ashkenazic, actually were descended from three independent sources. The first, very important source, was the Rhineland in western Germany; the second one was the area of the modern Czech Republic, an area that medieval Jewish rabbinic literature called 'West Canaan.' The third and marginal center called 'East Canaan' corresponded to modern Ukraine in which one part of the Jews were of Khazarian origin."

It makes me think that "Son of the right side" could mean 'son of an area in present day Ukraine' since 'an area' of Ukraine might be south and 'to the right' of 'an area' of the Czech Republic?


I'd also like to mention a bit about the first part of my last name, which has been a bit of a thorn in my side for years because I was not all that satisfied with 'the answer'.

From “German Names” by Hans Bahlow (imo, one of the best places to start looking if you have a German name):

Hohn (LGer) = Huhn [chicken], surname of a poultry grower or dealer. Also Höhnke. Cf. Westph. Kluckhohn [brooding hen], Ketelhohn [kettle hen],, Witthohn [white hen]. Joh. Hon, Honeke, Lüb. 1319. Joh. Honesben, Lüb. 1317. (Today Ho(h)nsbein, Ho(h)nsbehn = chicken leg or bone); Radeke honerdreger, Lüb. 1339. But note the ancient word hon for ‘swamp, bog’: the Hohn (forest near Osnabrück, documented as silva [forest, woods] Hone), the Hohne (bog in the Harz Mtz.), pl.n. Hona; Hahn in Oldenburg, pl.n. Hohn near Rendsburg, bog town Hohne near Celle, Honovere: Hannover, Hone-pol: Hönnepel near Kleve, also the Hohn fields (swampy meadows) in Londorf/Hesse (see Bahlow ON, p. 197). Joh. tor Hone, Osnabrück 1482.

As far as the reference to 'hon = swamp, bog', this is the only place I can find it being mentioned. Otherwise, Hohn seems pretty clear. The first part of my name means 'poultry farmer' and 'chicken'. And that's where it stayed for many years, until one week ago (the day after my first on-line EE practice) a feeling of 'just see what you can find' roped me back into the search. Only this time I looked through the oldest dictionaries I could find rather then relying on the 'what does your family name mean' sites.

Something you need to know about the Low German 'Hohn' is that it's actually pronounced closer to 'Hahn' and the two are quite interchangeable because they have the same meaning... or at least used to. But, I'll get to that and the spelling difference in a moment.

Looking through all the dictionaries (mostly: Glosbe, The Old English Translator, The Vikings of Bjornstad (Old Norse Translator), and The Online Etymology Dictionary), I assembled this grid (it's kinda messy. Sorry.):

Screen Shot 2021-05-07 at 12.10.13 PM.png

Everything south of Icelandic doesn't apply to what I was looking for, and some of the rest might be a bit sketchy- certainly for the word 'rooster' which only gradually came into increasing usage between c.1610-1774 to substitute the longstanding word 'cock' for obvious reasons... that are not so obvious, actually. Quite vague, really.

Anyway, you can see that the words 'Hohn/Hahn' are 'cock' and 'hen' with the possible Proto-Germanic root, which is as far back as I could find. I'd also like to propose that 'h' and 'n' might be interchangeable due to the addition or subtraction of the elongated stem of the 'h', though I havn't seen any physical written examples to support this idea because I haven't looked.

So, 'Hohn' means 'cock/rooster', not 'chicken' or 'poultry'. That's not to say that it wasn't, at some point, associated with or given to a chicken farmer.

Now, you may have noticed the last column "Scorn/Mock". That is a rather recent definition of 'Hohn' that comes out of Old High German, that I could find. The spelling and definition is overriding the Low German word which is spliting the two 'Hohn/Hahn' into: 'Hohn- scorn/mock/derision' and 'Hahn- rooster, chicken'. Which means that just because my name is spelt a certain way, the meaning of my family name is changing!

The beginning of my family name means cock/rooster! And I'll do what I can to make sure that's not forgotten. 🐓

It does make me wonder, though, what happened in Old High Germanic times (possibly) to change the definition from cock/rooster to scorn/mock/derision? I mean, as written: hano hona- they are pretty darn close! Could there also be an older, maybe unknown, vulgar version of cock that influenced it?

A quick note on the beginning of my mom's family name:

knell (n.)

Old English cnyll "sound made by a bell when struck or rung slowly," from knell (v.). Compare Dutch knal, German knall, Danish knald, Swedish knall. The Welsh cnull "death-bell" appears to be a borrowing from English. For vowel evolution, see bury. For pronunciation, see kn-.

knell (v.)
Old English cnyllan "to toll a bell; strike, knock," cognate with Middle High German erknellen "to resound," Old Norse knylla "to beat, thrash;" probably imitative. Intransitive sense, in reference to a bell, is from late 14c. Related: Knelled; knelling.

🔔 And that's fun too! 😊
Actually I don't like to hear strangers use my first name.
That's the name my parents use.
I should tell them something else.
My dad had a fondness for visiting graveyards wherever he went. He got my name at Westminster Abbey, as Jenny Lind is interred there. Jenny is sometimes used like Jack, to denote being handy with something or maybe a useful gadget as with Jack of all Trades or Spinning Jenny. That kind of fits with me. I use both names; one socially and one professionally. Jenny Lind's real name was Johanna. She certainly had an interesting life.
There is luck/wealth in my last name.

I once had the opportunity to look at a book from 1906 (I think) where I found that there were 16 people or so with my last name all living near to each other.
It seems that there is only one family tree for this last name.

My first name:



From the Old French vernacular form of the saint's name Hieronymus, from Ancient Greek Ἱερώνυμος (Hierṓnumos). Doublet of Hieronymus.


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