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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!

It’s St David’s Day — Wales’s national day — tomorrow, and to celebrate, it’s Welsh week here at the Nook.

For this week’s pick of the week, therefore, I’ve chosen Daffodil.

The daffodil is well-known as the national flower of Wales, and tomorrow will be worn proudly across the country.

We bought a few bunches of proper Welsh daffodils yesterday and they are now looking very bright and sunny on the kitchen table!

As well as the flower’s connection with Wales, the daffodil is celebrated as one of the symbols of spring par excellence.

Swathes of cheerful daffodils bobbing their heads in the spring sunshine are always an evocative and heartwarming sight after the bleakness of winter.

Indeed, they inspired probably one of the most famous  of all poems about flowers  — William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

In the language of flowers, the daffodil symbolizes both respect and unrequited love—but it can also stand for vanity and deceit—perhaps because for all its cheery charm, the daffodil is poisonous.

Neverthless, I’ve always been a bit surprised that Daffodil as a name is so rare. Like other flowers, it was first used in the nineteenth century, but for some inexplicable reason simply didn’t grab the limelight, even when the similar Daphne was enjoying its vogue (in the British Isles, at least) in the second quarter of the twentieth century.

But with flower names once more in fashion, and other rarities like Bluebell seeing more use, maybe Daffodil’s day is not far away.

It does have the fetching pet-form Dilly, as well as sharing Daphne’s nick-names Daff, Daffi, Daffie and Daffy.

The daffodil’s original name was actually Affodill — which has distinct potential too — and an old, rather charming variant is Daffodilly. Affodill arose from the medieval Latin afodillus and derives ultimately from the Greek asphodelosAsphodel.

Also known as king’s spear, the asphodel was grown as a garden flower and medicinal herb from at least the Middle Ages.  In the ancient world, it was believed that asphodels grew in the Elysian Fields and were the food of the dead. We know that their roots were certainly eaten by the living poor of Ancient Greece, and the plant was used as a remedy against snake-bites and as a protection from sorcery.

The daffodil’s Pagan connotations don’t stop there. Among modern Pagans, it has become the quintessential flower of the Spring Equinox, and is now particularly associated with the Goddess Eostre.

Some other great names with daffodil associations include:

  • Narcissus — used generally of a related flower, as well as being the botanical name for the genus. In Greek mythology, this was the name of the narcissistic youth who fell in love with his own reflection, and the name was often used as a given name in the classical period. The feminine form, Narcissa — pet-form “Cissy” —  occurs, of course, in Harry Potter as the name of Draco Malfoy’s mother.
  • Jonquil — the name of an old type of daff.
  • Narciso — the Italian, Portuguese and Spanish form of NARCISSUS.
  • Narcys — the Polish form of NARCISSUS.
  • Nargis — the Persian for daffodil, used as a girl’s name in Iran (derives ultimately from Narcissus).
  • Nergis — the Turkish for daffodil, used as a girl’s name in Turkey (also derives ultimately from Narcissus).

What better way to capture the spring in a name, than with Daffodil and friends?

The Sons of Wales

This Thursday, we’ll be celebrating St David’s Day here in Wales. So to mark the occasion, this week will have an entirely Welsh theme.

Today it overlaps with a name category which has been on my mind a lot recently: the “son” names.

These are most familiar, of course, as names ending in –son itself, or beginning with Mac-

But there is also the Welsh equivalent – ap.

Wales holds the distinction of being the last place in the British Isles where surnames became universally hereditary.

In many parts of the principality where Welsh remained the dominant language, the patronymic system — in which a person was formally known as ap “son of” or ferch “daughter of” — remained common until the nineteenth century.

But across the centuries, the ap also gave rise to hereditary surnames, surviving as an initial “b” or “p.”

And many of these make interesting first name options.

Here then, are the sons of Wales:

  • Barry – ap Harry (although it has a number of other origins too)
  • Beddard, Bedward – ap Edward
  • Bellis, Belliss – ap Ellis
  • Benian, Benyon, Beynon, Baynham, Binyon – ap Einion
  • Bevan, Beven, Beavan, Beaven, Beavon – ap Evan
  • Bowen – ap Owen
  • Breese, Breeze – ap Rhys
  • Brobyn – ap Robin
  • Brodrick, Broderick – ap Rhydderch/Roderick
  • Parry – ap Harry
  • Penry, Pendry – ap Henry
  • Pinyon – ap Einion
  • Pleaden, Pleavin, Pleven, Plevin – ap Blethyn
  • Pluthero — ap Rhydderch/Roderick
  • Pomfrey, Pomphrey – ap Humphrey
  • Powell, Poel – ap Howel
  • Preece, Prees – ap Rhys
  • Price, Pryce, Prise, Pryse – ap Rhys
  • Prichard, Pritchard – ap Richard
  • Probert – ap Robert
  • Probin, Probyn — ap Robin
  • Probus – ap Robert
  • Prodger – ad Roger
  • Prosser – ap Rosser (an old Welsh form of Roger)
  • Prothero, Protheroe – ap Rhydderch/Roderick
  • Prytherick – ap Rhydderch/Roderick
  • Pugh , Pughe – ap Hugh/Huw
  • Upjohn — ap John
  • Uprichard – ap Richard

As promised, here’s the second part of Welsh Flowers that have great name potential. Pronunciation at the end if you want to sound like you were born and bred in the Land of Song.

  • Gwaedlys — pink persicaria
  • Gwendon — bedstraw
  • Gwenith y gog — figwort
  • Gwenonwy — lily of the valley
  • Gwern — alder
  • Gwlithlys (g-LITH-lis) — sundew
  • Helogan — celery
  • Helygen — willow
  • Helyglys — lesser willowherb
  • Isop— hyssop
  • Lili Mai — lily of the valley
  • Ller — darnel
  • Llin — flax
  • Llwyfen (“LHOO-ee-ven”) – elm
  • Llyriad — broad-leaved plantain
  • Maglys — lucerne
  • Meillion — clover
  • Melenydd — hawkweed
  • Melyn euraidd — golden rod
  • Melyn Mair — marigold
  • Melenllys — greater celandine
  • Merllys — asparagus
  • Merywen — juniper
  • Mesen — acorn
  • Miaren — briar
  • Murlys — wall pellitory
  • Onnen — ash
  • Oren — orange
  • Pabi — poppy
  • Pansi — pansy
  • Pengaled -(pen-GA-led) – knapweed
  • Persli — parsley
  • Pren — tree
  • Pren Ceri — medlar tree
  • Pren Eirin — plum tree
  • Rhedyn — fern
  • Rhos Mair — Rosemary
  • Rhosmari (ros-MA-ree) — Rosemary
  • Rhosyn — rose
  • Saets — sage
  • Safri — savoury
  • Serenyn — squill
  • Siasmin — jasmine
  • Suran — common sorrel
  • Syfi — strawberries
  • Syfien — strawberry
  • Taglys — field bindweed
  • Tansi — tansy
  • Tegeirian (te-GAY-ree-an) — orchid
  • Teim — thyme
  • Tormaen — golden saxifrage
  • Tresi Aur — laburnum
  • Trilliw (TRI-lhee-oo) — pansy
  • Trydon — agrimony
  • Ywen — yew

Pronunciation notes:

  • “ae,” “ai,” “au,” and “eu” pronounced “eye”
  • “c” always hard, as in “cat”
  • “e” pronounced like “e” in “bet,” “set,” etc
  • “ei” pronounced “ay”
  • “f” ipronounced “v”
  • “ff” pronounced “f”
  • “g” always hard, as in “get”
  • “ll” see Extreme Welsh Names
  • “s” always “s,” never “z”; often “sh” before an “i”
  • “th” pronounced like the “th” in “thistle”
  • “y” in the last syllable is pronounced “i” as in “in”, but in most other syllables, is pronounced “uh.”

(In words of two syllables, stress is divided equally. In words of three, stress usually falls on the first syllable, unless otherwise stated.)

Shenley

Part 2 of English surnames beginning with “s” of Old English, Old Norse and Old French origin.

  • Seaber — from the Old English girl’s name Sæburg “sea-fortress”. Over variants include Sebry, Sibary, Siberry, Sibree and the rather dashing Saber.
  • Seabert, Seabright, Sibert — from the Old English boy’s name Sæbeorht “sea-bright.”
  • Seaborn — from the Old English boy’s name Sæbeorn “sea-bear”; beorn was also used to mean “warrior.”
  • Seader — Old English sǣdere “sower.”
  • Seagram — Old English “sea” + grom “servant”; i.e. a sailor
  • Sealeaf — from the Old English girl’s name *Sæleofu “sea-love.”
  • Sealer — Middle English seler “seal-maker.”
  • Sealey, Seeley — Old English sǣlig “happy,” and “blessed.” Used as a nickname, and a girl’s name — medieval forms of this include Sela and Sely. This is also the source of English Seelie, used of “the Seelie Court,” i.e. benevolent fairies.
  • Seamer — partly from the Old English boy’s name Sæmær “sea-famous,” partly from one of the places of the name (Old English sǣ “sea” and “lake” + mere “pool”) and partly Old English sēamere “tailor.”
  • Searle — from the Norman name Serlo: Old German Sarilo, Old Norse Sǫrli, a short form of names begining with saro “armor,” “protection.”
  • Seavers — from the Old English girl’s name *Sæfaru “sea-voyage.”
  • Sedger — from Old English secg “sedge,” probably used of some-one who cut sedge, principally used for thatching.
  • Sedley — from Sidley Green, Sussex. Probably Old English sīd “broad” + lēah “wood,” “woodland clearing,” “glade,” “pasture” and “meadow.”
  • Sefton —  from Sefton, Lancashire. Old Norse sef “rush” + tūn “enclosure,” “farmstead,” “estate,” “manor,” “village.”
  • Selby — from Selby, Yorkshire. Old Norse selja “sallow-tree” + “farmstead,” “village” and “settlement.”
  • Sellis — from Old English sealh “willow,” used of someone who dwelt by willows.
  • Semmence — a variant of Simmonds, itself from the Old Norse Sigmundr “victory-protection” and its Old German cognate Sigmund.
  • Semper — from one of the places called Saint-Pierre in France (in Latin, semper also means “always”)
  • Sendell — from Middle English sendal, a type of silk fabric.
  • Senneck — from Sevenoaks, Kent; “senneck” is the old pronunciation of the town. Old English seofon “seven” + ac “oak” — an ancient name which may hint at what was once a sacred grove of the Druids.
  • Senter — Old French saintier “bell-maker.”
  • Serrick — from the Old English boy’s name Særic “sea-ruler.”
  • Sevier, Sevyer — Middle English siviere “sieve-maker.”
  • Sewall — from the Old English boy’s name Sæweald “sea-power.”
  • Seward — from the Old English boys’ names Sæweard “sea-protection” and Sigeweard “victory-protection.”
  • Sewell — partly from the Old English boy’s name Sigeweald “victory-power,” or its Norse cognate Sigvaldr, and partly from Seawell, Northamptonshire or Sewall, Bedfordshire. Old English sǣ “sea” and “pool” + wella “spring” and “stream.”
  • Seyler — a variant of Saylor.
  • Seyner — Old French seignour “lord,” from Latin senior “older.”
  • Shafto — from Shaftoe, Northumberland. Old English sceaft “pole” + hōh “hill-spur.”
  • Shapler — Old French chapelier “hat-maker.”
  • Sharparrow — Old English scearp “sharp” + arwe “arrow”; probably a nickname for a skilled archer.
  • Sharrah, Sharrow — from Sharrow, Yorkshire. Old English scearu “boundary” + hōh “hill-spur.”
  • Shayle — Middle English schayle “to stumble” and “to shamble.”
  • Shayler — essentially a variant of SHAYLE.
  • Shearer — Middle English scherer “reaper” or “(sheep)-shearer”
  • Shenley — from one of the places of the name. Old English scēne “bright” and “beautiful” + lēah “wood,” “woodland clearing,” “glade,” “pasture” and “meadow.”
  • Shenston — from Shenstone, Staffordshire. Old English scēne “bright” and “beautiful”  + stān “stone.”
  • Sheraton —  from Sheraton, Durham. Old Norse byname Skurfa “scurfy” + Old English tūn “enclosure,” “farmstead,” “estate,” “manor,” “village.”
  • Shercliffe — from Shirecliff, Yorkshire. Old English scīr “bright” + clif “cliff” or “slope.”
  • Shillito — a curious Yorkshire surname of uncertain etymology. It probably comes from a lost Yorkshire village. The last element is probably hōh “hill-spur.”
  • Shilton — from one of the places of the name. Old English scylf(e) “shelf” + tūn “enclosure,” “farmstead,” “estate,” “manor,” “village.”
  • Shipley, Shiplee — from one of the places of the name. Old English scēap “sheep” + lēah “wood,” “woodland clearing,” “glade,” “pasture” and “meadow.”
  • Shipton —  from one of the places of the name. Old English scēap “sheep” + tūn “enclosure,” “farmstead,” “estate,” “manor,” “village.”
  • Shirland — from Shirland, Derbyshire, or Sheerland, Kent. Old English scīr “bright” + land “land” or Old Norse lundr “grove.”
  • Shooter — Middle English scotere “shooter” and “archer.”
  • Shorey — Middle English schore “shore” + Old English ēg “island,” probably used of someone who lived on an island near the shore.
  • Shotton — from one of the places of the name. Old English *scēot “slope” or Scot “Scot” + tūn “enclosure,” “farmstead,” “estate,” “manor,” “village.”
  • Shute — from Old English *scīete “corner/angle of land.”
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