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Sabbatical

I’m on sabbatical from the Nook at the moment.

In the meantime, please feel free to make yourself at home. Brew yourself a nice cuppa, draw a chair up to the fire, kick off your shoes, and idle away a spare moment or two browsing the Nook’s eclectic collection :).

And, of course, there’s always my book too: Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names: For Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, Mages, Shamans & Independent Thinkers of All Sorts Who Are Curious About Names from Every Place and Every Time

Sláinte!

As everyone and their auntie knows, today is St Paddy’s day.

And as Patrick is Ireland’s patron, it’s a day as much about celebrating Ireland as commemmorating him.

Although many contend that his feast day of March 17 is because it is the anniversary of his death, many others propose it has more to do with the approaching equinox and Pagan celebrations which marked the arrival of spring.

Of course, it might well be both.

Saturday has become the day when I generally look at great surnames which have not yet seen much use as first names. I plan to take a detailed look at Irish surnames — and surnames from the other Celtic lands — after I’ve finished the English ones, but to mark the special occasion, I thought I’d take a look today at the very best and most wearable contemporary options that Ireland has to offer.

All are Anglicized forms of  the original Irish Gaelic.

  • BardonÓ Bardáin “son of the little bard.” Also Barden and Bardane.
  • Bradigan — Ó Bradagáin probably “descendant of the spirited one.”
  • Branigan — Ó Branagáin “descendant of Branagan” (“little raven”).
  • Branley — Ó Branghaile “descendant of Branghal” (“raven-valour”). Also Brannelly.
  • BrannaghBreathnach “a Breton.”
  • Brannan — Ó Branáin “descendant of Branan” (“little raven”).
  • Cafferty — Mac Eachmharcaigh “son of the steed-rider.”
  • Cassily — Ó Caisile, possibly “descendant of the one from Cashel” or a variant of Ó Caiside — the Irish Gaelic form of the well-known Cassidy.
  • Connan — Mac Canann “son of the little wolf cub.”
  • Coveney — Mac Coibheanaigh “son of the trooper.”
  • Darragh — Mac Dubhdara “son of the black oak” (Darragh is a popular boy’s name in the Republic of Ireland).
  • Donnelly — Ó Donnghaile “descendant of Donnghal” (“brown-valour”).
  • Drennan — Ó Draighnáin “descendant of the blackthorn.”
  • Finnerty — Ó Fionnachta “descendant of Fionnachta” (“white-snow”). Also Finaghty.
  • FlahertyÓ Flaithbheartaigh “descendant of Flaithbheartaigh” (“bright ruler”). Also Flaverty.
  • Foylan — Ó Faoileáin “descedant of Faoileán” (“little wolf”).
  • GallinaghÓ Gailínigh possibly “descendant of the flattering one.” Also Gallina.
  • Gilligan — Mac Giollagáin “son of the little lad/devotee.”
  • Guinevan — probably Mac Dhuinnebháin “son of Donnadubhán” (“little brown-black one”).
  • Hanley — Ó hÁinle “descendant of the dainty one.”
  • Hanlon — Ó hAnluáin “descendant of Anluan” (probably “great champion” — intensifying prefix an + luan “champion”).
  • Helehan — Ó hAiolleacháin ” descendant of the little joyful one.”
  • Henelly — a variant of FENELLY.
  • Hennessy
  • Kendrigan — Ó Cinndeargáin probably “descendant of the little red-headed one.”
  • Kerrigan — Ó Ciaragáin “descendant of the little black one.”
  • Kinneally — Ó Cinnfhaolaidh ” descendant of the wolf’s-head” (i.e. “outlaw”).
  • Kitterick — Mac Shitric “son of Sitric” (Irish form of the Norse Sigtrygg “true victory”).
  • Larrissey — Ó Learghusa “descendant of Learghus” (“sea-vigour”). Also Laracy.
  • Lafferty — Ó Laithbheartaigh. Essentially a variant of FLAHERTY.
  • LynaghLaighneach “Leinsterman.” Also Leynagh.
  • Madigan — Ó Madagáin “descendant of the little hound.”
  • Marron — Ó Mearáin “descendant of the little lively/quick one.”
  • Mellerick — Ó Maoilgheiric, probably “descendant of a devotee of St Cyriac.”
  • Merrigan — Ó Muireagáin “descendant of Muireagan” (probably a diminutive of muir “sea”).
  • Milligan — Ó Maoilegáin, a variant of Ó Maolagáin “descendant of the little bald one/devotee.”
  • Morrissey — Ó Muirgheasa “descendant of Muirgheas” (“sea-action”).
  • Neligan — Ó Niallagain “descendant of Niallagán” (a derivative of the well-known Irish name Neil, essentially “little Neil”).
  • Neylan — Ó Niallain “descendant of Niallán” (also “little Neil”). Also Nealon and Neilon.
  • Olice — perhaps eolgasasch “knowledgeable.” Also Olis.
  • Olisagh — a variant of OLICE.
  • Rafferty
  • Ronaghan — Ó Reannacháin “descendant of the litte sharp-pointed/starry one.”
  • Rogan — Ó Ruadhagáin “descendant of the little red one.”
  • Ruane — Ó Ruadháin “descendant of the little red one.”
  • Solan — Ó Sochlacháin “descendant of the little renowned one.”
  • Soran – Ó Soracháin “descendant of the little bright one.” Also Sorahan.
  • Tansey — Mac an Tanáiste “son of the heir presumptive.”
  • Thoran — Ó Toráin “descendant of the little lord.”
  • Timoney — Ó Tiománaidhe “descendant of the driver.”
  • Toran — variant of THORAN.
  • Traynor — Mac Thréinfhir “son of the strong man.”  Also Treanor.
  • Tynan — Ó Teimhneáin “descendant of the dark one.”
  • Varrelly — Mac an Bhearshúiligh “son of the sharp-eyed (man).”
  • VeighMac an Beatha “son of life.” Also MacVey and MacEvoy.

Mine’s a guinness ;).

You are unlikely to meet many an Aphra these days.

Not only has it never reached the American top thousand, it has never managed to accrue five or more bearers in any year since records began.

Indeed, it is one of those historic curios which might have long ago slipped into quiet obscurity were it not for one notable bearer.

The poet, playwright and spy Aphra Behn.

Aphra was born in 1640 and died at the age of forty-eight in 1689.

Her early years are somewhat shrouded in mystery, and there is many a question mark which hovers over her life and adventures.

The biggest is over the trip she is supposed to have taken to Surinam in the early sixteen-sixties, the inspiration, it is said, for her Oroonoko, a work which is viewed by many as containing an early condemnation of slavery and the slave-trade.

In the mid 1660s, during the second Anglo-Dutch War, she spied for King Charles II in Antwerp. Charles wasn’t very good at paying her though, and by the end of the decade she was in a debtor’s prison in London.

Someone, however — someone unidentified — paid for her release, after which she turned to writing, becoming one of England’s first professional female writers.

She wrote plays, poetry and verse, often publishing under the name Astraea — said to have been her code name when spying in the Netherlands.

On her death, she was buried in Westminster Abbey — though not in Poets’ Corner.

But what of her name?

Many regard it as almost as mysterious as her life.

The first theory is that it is taken from the phrase “in the house of Aphrah, roll thyself in the dust,” which occurs in the biblical Book of Micah.

Certainly, it is probable that this is behind some examples of Aphra and Aphrah in the period, even though it arose as a mistake; it is aphrah itself which means “dust” in Hebrew, and it wasn’t actually a genuine given-name at all.

Another theory is that it is a variant of Afra, the feminine form of the Latin adjective afer meaning “black.” It occurs as a name in Roman times, and is borne by a minor saint.

However, she was not venerated in Britain in the medieval and early modern period, making it fairly unlikely that this was the source of Aphra Behn’s name, even though she may have been a Catholic.

Perhaps the biggest clue to the real origin of Aphra lies in the fact that her name was recorded in the parish register at her baptism as Eaffry.

This and other variants, such as Effrye, Effery, Efferay, Effray, Affray, and Affery are all found in the medieval period, suggesting that they actually represent a survival of an Old English name.

Likely contenders are Elfreda (ælf “elf ” + þrӯð “strength”), Etheldred (æðel “noble” + þrӯð “strength”), Ælthryth (æl “all” + þrȳð “strength”), or Æðelfrið (æðel “noble” + friþ “peace”).

Even Alfred might lie behind it, as it was also used as a girl’s name in the early medieval period, when it was often Latinized as Albreda. Some of its medieval forms, such as Avery, really aren’t a million miles away from Aphra.

Affery was still to be found in the nineteenth century; it was one of the unusual names collected by Charles Dickens. He obviously took rather a shine to it, as he went on to use it for a character in Little Dorrit.

So, if you fancy an unusual girl’s name with heritage, you could do a lot worse than the intriguing and beguiling Aphra.

Dame

Back today with some more names which fall into both the surname and “word name” category.

But first, I’d like to say a big thank you to Anna at Waltzing More than Matilda for her lovely review of Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names and Nook of Names. It really makes it all worthwhile :)

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the good, the bad and the ugly that D has to offer.

All of them have seen genuine use — some, thankfully, only in the middle spot.

And I truly pity poor Dung Park, who died in Liverpool in 1959, Dunger Lane, baptized in Cambridgeshire in 1803, and Daft Pogson, born in 1843…

Daft Deary Docking Drape
Dafter Death Doctor Draper
Daily Debonnaire Dodge Drave
Dainty Decker Doe Drawer
Daisy Deed Dole Dray
Dale Deem Doll Dredge
Dally Deemer Dollar Dresser
Dame Deeming Dolphin Drew
Damper Deer Dome Dribble
Dams Defender Dool Driver
Damsel Delicate Doomsday Droop
Damson Dell Dormer Drought
Dance Delver Dory Drover
Dancer Den (Denn) Dosser Drudge
Dandelion Denial Dot (Dott) Dry
Dandy Dent Double Dryer
Dane Desert Doubler Dubber
Danger Dew Doublet Duck
Dare Dewy Dough Ducker
Dark Diamond Doughty Duckling
Darker Diaper Dove Dudgeon
Darling Dice Dover Duff
Darnel Dig (Diggs) Dow Duke
Dart Digger Dowe Dullard
Darter Dill Dower Duly
Dash Dilly Dowie Dummer
Dauber Dime Dowl Dumper
Daughters Dimmer Down Dunce
Daw Din Downer Dung
Dawn Dingle Dowse Dunger
Day Dipper Dowsing Dunking
Dayman Disher Doxy Durable
Deacon Ditch Doyley Dust
Deal Ditcher Drab (Drabb) Dusting
Dean Diver Dragon Dusty
Dear Divine Drain Dye
Dearie Dock Drake Dyer
Dearth Docker Drane Dyke

A rare little gem for this week’s pick of the week.

You may think it is Arabic, but it is not.

It comes from a related but much, much older language.

It’s actually Akkadian — the Semitic language of Ancient Mespotamia — one of the earliest ever written languages in the world.

Often separated into its two principal dialects — Babylonian and Assyrian — it flourished between the third and first millennia BCE.

Zaqar derives from the verb zakāru, meaning “to speak,” “to name,” and “to swear. “

The Hebrew cognate is zakar, which crops up a few times in the Bible meaning “to remember,” “to call to mind,” “to remind” and “to invoke.” It is also found in the name Zachariah — often Anglicized as Zachary — “Yahweh remembers” or “memory of “Yahweh.” and all its related forms.

The Phoenician was identical, and featured in the name Zakar-Baal “Baal remembers” or “memory of Baal,” the name of a king of Byblos in the eleventh century BCE.

Meanwhile, the Arabic cognate gives the names Zakir (also transliterated as Zaakir), meaning “remembering,” and Zakoor “narrator” and “speaker.”

Zaqar was the name of the Mesopotamian God of dreams — also known as Zakar and Dzakar — who acts as the messenger of the moon God Sin.

Unsurprisingly, he delivers these messages in dreams.

As such, he represents one of the oldest examples of the belief that dreams contain messages and prophecies from supernatural or divine sources.

The peoples of Mesopotamia, like their neighbors the Hebrews, were particularly prone to reading a great deal into dreams.

They read a great deal into everything.

Divination featured very highly in Mesopotamian life, and strongly influenced people’s lives — including decisions taken by kings on matters of state.

In the Epic of Shulgi, for instance, Zaqar takes a message to the Sumerian King Shulgi telling him that the Gods will aid him in battle. Secure in this knowledge, Shulgi trots of to war and successfully annihilates his enemy.

Fast-forwarding a few millennia, and Zaqar is now one of a number of Egyptian and Mesopotamian deities commemmorated in the names given to craters on Jupiter’s largest moon (and the largest moon in the solar system), Ganymede.

So if you’re looking for a more unusual long form of Zac, Zack, Zak — or even Zaq — with history and excellent Pagan connections, why not consider the evocative and exotic Zaqar?

Florea

Time for some more name inspiration from Latin.

These are the gems that F has to offer — and words which sound delightful but leave much to be desired in their meaning!

  • Faba – “broad bean” (the word behind names such as Fabia and Fabian)
  • Fabella – “little story”
  • FaberFabra — “skillful,” “ingenious”; as a noun, it means “smith” and “craftsperson”
  • Fabula — “talk,” “story,” “fable”
  • Fabularis — “mythical”
  • Fabulosus, Fabulosa — “fabled”
  • Facetus, Faceta – “fine,” “elegant,” “witty”
  • Faeneus, Faenea — “made of hay”
  • Fagus — “beech-tree”
  • Falco — “falcon”
  • Falx — “sickle”
  • Fama — “talk,” “rumor,” “fame” — personified as a the Goddess Fama — by the Romans
  • Famosus, Famosa — “famous”
  • Far — “spelt”
  • Farina — “flour”
  • Farreus, Farrea — “made of spelt”
  • Fas — “divine law”
  • Fautrix — “patroness”
  • Favilla — “glowing ashes,” “spark”
  • Favus — “honeycomb”
  • Fax — “torch,” “firebrand,” “flame,” “light”
  • Femella — “young woman,” “girl”
  • Ferax — “fruitful,” “fertile,” “prolific”
  • Feriae — “festivals”
  • Ferinus, Ferina — “wild”
  • Feritas — “wilderness”
  • Fero — “I bear,” “I produce,” “I bring,” etc
  • Ferox — “fierce,” “courageous,” “wild”
  • Ferula — “fennel”
  • Ferus, Fera — “wild”
  • Festinatio — “speed”
  • Festinus, Festina — “hurrying”
  • Festivus, Festiva — “festive,” “merry”
  • Festus, Festa — “festive”
  • Fidelia — “earthenware pot”
  • Fidelis — “faithful”
  • Fidentia — “confidence,” “boldness”
  • Fides — “trust,” “confidence,” “belief,” “faith”; “lyre,” “lute,” “harp”
  • Fidicen, Fidicina — “harp/lute/lyre-player,” “lyric poet”
  • Filia — “daughter”
  • Filius — “son”
  • Filix — “fern”
  • Finis — “boundary,” “limit,” “end,” “summit”
  • Firmus, Firma — “firm,” “strong”
  • Flagrantia — “burning,” “blazing,” “glittering”
  • Flamen — “priest”; “blowing,” “blast”
  • Flamma — “flame”
  • Flavens — “yellow/gold-colored”
  • Flavus, Flava — “golden-yellow” (the adjective behind the name Flavia, etc)
  • Flexus — “bending,” “turning,” “modulation”
  • Floreus, Florea — “made of flowers”
  • Florifer, Florifera — “bearing flowers”
  • Flos — “flower”
  • Flumen — “stream”
  • Fons — “spring,” “fountain”
  • Forma — “form,” “figure,” “manner,” “beauty”
  • Formosus, Formosa — “beautiful”
  • Fortuna — “fate,” “luck,” “fortune”
  • Frater — “brother”
  • Fraxineus, Fraxinea — “of ash-wood”
  • Fraxinus — “ash-tree”
  • Frons — “leaf,” “foliage”
  • Frugifer, Frugifera — “fruit-bearing”
  • Fulgor — “lightning”
  • Fulgur — “flash of lightning”
  • Fulmen — “lightning”
  • Fulmineus, Fulminea — “of lightning,” “like lightning”
  • Fulvus, Fulva — “tawny yellow” (the adjective behind the name Fulvia, etc)
  • Furvus, Furva — “dark,” “black”

And the loathlies:

  • Fallax — “treacherous”
  • Fallo — “I deceive”
  • Fames — “hunger”
  • Fastus — “pride,” “arrogance”
  • Febris — “fever”
  • Fel — “gallbladder,” “bitterness”
  • Ferreus, Ferrea — “like iron,” “unfeeling,” “cruel,” “unyielding”
  • Fessus, Fessa — “tired,” “exhausted”
  • Fleo — “I weep”
  • Foedus, Foeda — “filthy,” “horrible”
  • Fossa — “ditch”
  • Fraus — “deceit,” “delusion,” “crime”
  • Frivolus, Frivola — “worthless”
  • Furax — “thievish”
  • Furcifer — “gallows-bird,” “scoundrel”

Happy St David’s Day — from a sunny (yes, it is!) Wales!

As a St David’s Day present, here are the entries from Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names for David and Dewi.

David ♂ Biblical name of Hebrew origin. The meaning isn’t all that clear, but seems mostly likely to derive from a root meaning “beloved,” although, interestingly enough, the Hebrew letters which make up the name David are exactly the same ones used for “mandrake.” 12th C. St. David is the famous leek- and daffodil-wielding patron saint of Wales — but his real name was actually DEWI.

Diminutive forms: Dawe (historic); Dave, Davey, Davie, Davy.

David in other languages: Welsh: Dafydd; Dai (diminutive), Irish: Dáibhead, Daithí, Gaelic: Dàibheid, Dàibhidh, Cornish: Daveth, Czech, French, German, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish: David, Hungarian: Dávid, Lithuanian: Davidas, Italian: Davide, Latvian: Dāvids, Pol: Dawid, Arabic: Da’wud, Hawaiian: Kāwika, Maori: Rāwiri, Finish: Taavetti, Taavi (diminutive).

Bearers: two medieval Scottish kings (d. 1153 and 1371); David Copperfield, the eponymous hero of Dickens’s 1850 novel, and the stage-name of  American illusionist David Kotkin (b. 1956); David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George, (1863–1945) and David Cameron (b. 1966), both British Prime Ministers; David Eddings (1931–2009), the American novelist; David Bowie (b. 1947), the British singer-songwriter.

Dewi ♂ ♀ The boy’s name Dewi is a very old and very interesting name. Dewi Sant is the Welsh name for St. David, and many people believe it is simply the Welsh form of David. It isn’t. David is simply the name adopted to render Dewi in English, a long time ago. Almost certainly, his name actually derives from the Common Celtic *dOEwo- “(a) God,” cognate with Zeus, Latin deus, Sanskrit deva and the Irish Dagda, etc.

The element is well attested in given names in the Roman period — examples include Deomiorix, Deiana, and Deieda. Some have attempted to derive the name from Dewydd, an alleged “old form” of Dafydd—the Welsh form of David — but the argument works just as well the other way — Dewydd may well represent an attempt to synthesize Dewi and Dafydd. The simple fact is, biblical names were not used in sub-Roman Britain, and thus the likelihood of someone genuinely being called “David” in sixth-century Wales is, quite frankly, about as likely as someone in the period being called Jayden.

Dewi was used as a given name in the Middle Ages, probably in honor of the saint, but then disappeared until its revival in Wales in the nineteenth century.

By coincidence, the Malaysian girl’s name Dewi means “Goddess.”

I love coincidences! ;)

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus!

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