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Posts Tagged ‘Edmund’

With the trend for adopting the names of our great-grandparents showing signs of gathering pace, last week I shared my pick of “Granny names.”

Today it’s Grandpa’s turn.

Just as with the girls, some, like Arthur, Frederick, George, Oscar and Stanley have already become mainstream in Britain again while still languishing in America (though I’d be surprised if Arthur doesn’t reveal a pick-up in the 2011 rankings when they come out).

It’s a curious phenomenon that in the last few centuries, fashions in girls’ names have always changed more quickly than boys’, and that there have always been more girls’ names in circulation.

True to form, the rehabilitation of the great-grandpa names isn’t showing quite so much energy. It does seem the case that, with the exception of those names which didn’t sink that far down the popularity charts, such as Henry, Edward and William, people are more ready to take up the granny names than the grandpas.

These then, are the Grandpas which I think really deserve to be dusted off and put back into short-trousers.

Albert — Albert is already rising fast in Britain, ranked 159th last year. With short forms Al, Albie, Bertie and Bert, Albert, with its great meaning “noble-bright,” is a great-grandpa name that is going places, and definitely one to keep an eye on.

Alfred — a true Old English name with character, combining ælf “elf ” with rǣd “counsel” (i.e. “advice”). In the medieval period, it also absorbed another marvellous Old English name, Ælfriþ — æl “all” + friþ “peace.” Its friendly, cheerful pet-form Alfie is currently in the British top 5, but the more formal Alfred lies well outside the top 100, though in America, it’s barely in the top 1000.

Arnold — Arnold was at its most popular in the UK in the first decade or so of the 20th Century, reaching 75th place; in America, it peaked in 89th place in 1916. On both sides of the Atlantic it now lies outside the top 1000, even though it has a short-form not that dissimilar to Alfie with the chirpy Arnie. Time to forget Schwarzenegger; with the meaning “eagle-power” (or “power of an eagle” if you prefer) in Old German, surely Arnold deserves reconsideration?

Cecil — Cecil is usually treated as the English form of the Roman family name Caecilius (deriving ultimately from a nick-name meaning “little blind one”), and thus the male form of Cecilia. However, its use in the English-speaking world is actually more down to the aristocratic English family of Cecil. This may in fact derive ultimatley through the Welsh Seisyllt, which probably derives from another Roman family name, Sextilius (“little sixth one”).

Edgar — Old English Edgar is actually healthier in America at the moment (216th in 2010), than in Britain (759th). However, it is rising in Britain, and falling in America. Time to arrest the fall! With the meaning “spear of wealth/riches” (or “rich/wealth-spear”), it carries connotations of prosperity and protection and, like all the Ed- names, has the simple and charming short-forms Ed and Ned.

Edmund — Edmund has been one of my personal favorites for twenty years. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for the anti-hero, and Edmund’s borne by two of the best — Edmund Pevensie of the Chronicles of Narnia and the immortal Edmund Blackadder. Another Old English name, it has the fabulous meaning of “rich-protection.” Only 42 baby boys were called Edmund in England and Wales, and 93 in America.

Eugene — Eugene was at its most popular in America in the early twentieth century, though it remained in the top 100 until the 1950s. In Britain, however, it has always been inexplicably rarer. Its longevity in the first half of the twentieth century may preclude its general revival just yet, but if you want your son to have the name everyone’s talking about for their babies when he’s in his twenties or thirties, give Eugene a thought. It has the great, auspicious meaning of “well-born” too.

Harold — Old English names dominate the Grandpa names, and like so many of the others, Harold drips with clunky old-fashioned charm.  If it’s strong meaning you want, Harold has it; it can be interpreted as “army-power,” or “power of an army” or “power of the army.” The name of the last Saxon king of England, Harold also shortens to trendy Harry and attractive Hal. In decline since its heyday during the First World War, it was up on the year before in 2010, though in 745th place, it still has a long way to go.

Herbert — Herbert has Old English and Old German roots, coming from cognate names meaning “bright army.” It has some great short-form options; Herbie and Bertie, which ooze nobbly-knee charm, Herb, which has quite a hippie vibe, and no-nonsense Bert.

Horace — I took rather a shine to Horace many moons ago when I contemplated what a great nick-name Azzo would make for it. These days, I probably lean more towards the more romantic Horatio, but I still have a soft-spot for Horace. As the name of one of Rome’s greatest poets, Horace has gravitas in abundance. Another great short-form is, of course, Ace.

Leonard — With the current American preference for giving babies “long-forms” of the names really intended for use, Leonard (as the “long-form” of Leo) did see a rise in 2010. The name actually has nothing really to do with lions at all, translating from the Old German as “people-hard.” In the past, it was more often shortened to Len and Lenny.

Lionel — a name of medieval romance, adopted for the name of a younger son of a medieval English king, Lionel was one of the names re-embraced by the Victorians, and is pretty much what it looks like — a diminutive of Lion, essentially meaning “little lion.” It remains a great rarity in the UK; only ten little boys were called Lionel in 2010, but it did re-enter the US top 1000. I think it’s got a lot of potential, and now’s the time to start re-considering it. Put it this way, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if William and Kate used it for a younger son in years to come…

Reginald — Unsurprisingly, in Britain, the cute Reggie, on the rise, is much more popular than its formal long-form Reginald, though it, too, is rising. Reginald was actually at its most popular in America in the 1960s, though it never made the top 100, though in Britain it was 20th in 1904. Reginald is the same name as the rarer Reynold, meaing “might-power.” Another traditional short-form is Rex

Roland — An Old German name meaning “fame-land,” its literary Italian form Orlando is currently more popular, but Roland, most popular in Britain in the 1890s, is worthy of reconsideration. Although Rolly is often the default short-form, there are other options, such as Ro, Rollo, and Lan — you could even use Lance, whose roots really do lie with Roland and other Germanic names containing the element landa “land.”

Sidney — the charms of Sidney, with its solid short-form Sid, has already started to recapture the hearts of British parents. Like Cecil, it was one of the surnames which Victorians fell in love with. It probably comes from a place name meaning “broad island,” but the aristocratic Sidney family traditionally derived it from Saint-Denis in France.

Wilfred — Yet another Old English name, this time meaning “will/determination-peace.” Wilfrid is a variant spelling and in the past it was invariably shortened to Wilf, but it also lends itself well to Will, Bill, Billy, Freddie and Fred. Another which is already rising steadily in Britain.

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Thorn is the third letter of the Runic alphabet.

Like Ur, Thorn has a split-personality, with the different Futharks parting ways. The Eldar Futhark *þurisaz  and Younger Futharks þurs  mean “giant”, while the Anglo-Frisian and Marcomannic connect it with the Old English þorn “thorn.”

Interestingly, þyrs — the Old English equivalent of þurs — was in use throughout the Anglo-Saxon period and passed into Middle English as “thurse,”  with the meaning “demon,” “devil” and “goblin.” Why, then, the Anglo-Frisian rune mutated to Thorn is unknown.

In the runic poems, Thorn’s giant and thorny attributes are focused on. The giants do not have a good reputation when it comes to treating women, it seems, while the focus on the thorn is, predictably, on its sharpness, readiness to wound and the discomfort of sitting on one.

Emphasis by modern diviners varies, depending on which Futhark is preferred. Those using the Eldar — and thus *Thurisaz — see it as symbolic of both destruction and protection, conflict and cleansing. It is a strongly masculine rune, of masculine energy and fertility.

As for Thorn itself, its sharpness too is equated with destruction and defense. It can also serve as a warning, or represent an obstacle — a “thorn in the side” which needs to be addressed.

The negative aspects of both are pretty self-evident too; brutality, severity, pain, malice, curses, and so on and so forth.

As a name, Thurisaz certainly has zing — a distinct conversation starter, whether you like it or not.

The rune’s defensive associations mean that a number of the names which work well for Ur also work for Thorn. But here are some other names with meanings in tune with the rune’s associations of protection, cleansing, masculinity, sharpness and destruction:

  • Acacia ♀ — Australia’s national plant; most acacias are thorny. Greek: akis “sharp point.”
  • Acer ♂ ♀ — Botanical name for “maple.” Latin: acer “sharp.”
  • Acis ♂ — a character of Greek mythology. Greek: acis “sharp point.”
  • Alexander ♂ — Greek: alexandros “defending men.”
  • Andrew ♂ — Greek: andreios “manly.”
  • Arrow ♂ ♀
  • Ara ♀ — Latin “altar,” but also used by the Romans to mean “refuge” and “protection,” while ara in Greek means “vow” and “curse.”
  • Blade
  • Clarimond(e) ♀ — Latin: clarus “clear” + Old German: munda “protection.”
  • Dagger
  • Dart
  • Deianira ♀ — the name of the wife of Hercules. Greek: dêioô “to destroy” + anêr “man.”
  • Devlin ♂ — Anglicized form of Irish surname Ó Dobhaileín “descendant of Dobhailen.” Dobhailen is probably a byname deriving from dobhaidhail “boisterous,”  “destructive” and “terrible” + the diminutive suffix -án.
  • Dirk ♂ —  a type of dagger.
  • Edmund ♂ — Old English: ēad “rich” + mund “protection.”
  • Épée ♀ — a fencing foil.
  • Esmond ♂ — Old English: ēast “grace” and “favor” + mund “protection.”
  • Eryma ♀ — an epithet of Athene. Greek: eruma “defense.”
  • Faramond ♂ — Old German: fara ‘journey’ + munda ‘protection’.
  • Garmon ♂ — English surname from Old English name Garmund: gār “spear” + mund “protection.”
  • Gillebhràth ♂ — Old Scots Gaelic name. Gaelic: gille “servant” + bràth “judgment” and “destruction.”
  • Gunnora ♀ — Latinized form of Old Norse Gunnvǫr “war defense.”
  • Lance
  • Liv ♀ — Scandinavian name from Old Norse: hlíf “cover” and “protection.”
  • Montagu(e), Montacute ♂ — English surname, from Montaigu-le-Bois in France. OF: mont ‘hill’ + aigu ‘point’. Popularly shortened to Monty.
  • Mugain ♀ — the name of an Irish Goddess, which possibly derives from the Old Irish: múgha “perishing” — in Scots Gaelic it carries the meaning “destruction.”
  • Osmond ♂ — Old English: ōs “(a) God” + mund “protection.”
  • Oxys ♂ — an epithet of Ares. Greek: oxus “sharp” and “piercing.”
  • Persephone ♀ — the Queen of the Underworld in Greek mythology. Greek: perthô “to destroy” + phonos “slaughter” or “slayer.”
  • Perseus ♂ — the well-known Greek hero. Greek: perthô “to destroy.”
  • Pierce ♂ — technically, the name derives from Peter, but this version is obviously identical to “pierce.”
  • Raymond ♂ — Old German: regin “counsel” or “might” + munda “protection.”
  • Rosamund ♀ — Old German (hros) “horse” + munda “protection.”
  • Saber, Sabre ♂ ♀
  • Scimitar
  • Sharp ♂ ♀
  • Sigmund ♂ — Old English sige “victory” + mund “protection.”
  • Spike
  • Thormund ♂ — Old Norse theonym Thor + Old English: mund “protection.”
  • Tulle ♀ — the fabric takes its name from a French town, deriving from Latin: tutela “watching” and “protection.”
  • Vör ♀ — Norse Goddess, whose name probably meant “defense” and “protection.”
  • Yashpal ♂– Indian name, from the Sanskrit yasha “fame” + pāla “protector.”

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Following on from my article on the Runes a couple of weeks ago, today sees the first article in a new series on the Runes and the possibilities they present when seeking a name, especially a Pagan name.

Let us start at the very beginning — a very good place to start!

The first letter of the runic alphabets is F:

*Fehu meant ‘wealth’ and ‘cattle’, and is the ultimate source of modern English fee, which still carried the sense of ‘cattle’ as late as the 16th Century. Wild fee was an old term meaning ‘deer’.

This connection between cattle and wealth runs very deep in the Indo-European consciousness — the parallel can also be found in Latin with pecu ‘cattle’ and pecunia ‘money’, while the association of wealth and cattle in pre-Christian Ireland is behind one of the most famous of all Old Irish literature, the Táin Bó Cúailnge ‘Cattle Raid of Cooley’.

Interestingly, in the runic poems about Feoh, emphasis is laid on wealth as a source of strife, and how there are always those waiting for an opportunity to steal it — as well as the need to be generous.

Naturally then, when reading Runes today, Feoh is associated with material good fortune — but doesn’t loose sight of the sting in the tail — material wealth can be lost, as well as gained.

It also carries other meanings through association — good luck, success — even happiness. Some consider it too to signify fertility, creativity, and the need for perseverance and to exert oneself to achieve your potential.

As a name, Feoh, Fehc and Fehu are probably so ‘way out there’ that they would be in orbit (true of a lot of the names of the Runes were they to be used as they are!). But and Fee have very interesting possibilities…

In Portuguese, means ‘faith’. While fée is the French for ‘fairy’, the source of English Fay.

Fee itself is commonly found as a short form of Fiona and Felicity.

There are also plenty of names which reflect Feoh’s extended meanings relating to wealth, good fortune, success and happiness. My picks from around the world are:

  • AdeolaYoruba meaning “crown of  wealth.”
  • Aston — English surname of various origins, including the Old English personal name Eadstan < ēad “rich” + stan “stone.”
  • Chance — surname and word of obvious meaning! 
  • Ede — From Old English ēad “rich” and “happy”; used as a personal name in its own right in medieval times, as well as featuring in many compound names, such as Edith, Edmund, Edward, Edwin, etc.
  • Felicity — from Latin felicitas “happiness.” Felicitas is the Roman personification of happiness and good fortune.
  • Felix — Latin meaning, among many other things, “fortunate” and “happy.”
  • Fortuna — Latin: fortuna “fortune,” “fate,” “chance,” and “luck” — personified as a Goddess.
  • Fortuné — See Mer de Nom’s great critique here!
  • Gad Hebrew: gad “fortune.” There is also a Mesopotamian God called Gad, whose name is from the same Semitic root.
  • Otto — from the Old German: uod “wealth” and “riches” (cognate with the Old English ēad).
  • Plutarch — Greek: ploutos “wealth” + arkhos “leader.” The name of a famous Pagan Greek historian.
  • Siddharth — Sanskrit: siddhārtha “one whose goal has been achieved” — the birth name of the Buddha.
  • Soraya — Persian name from Arabic thuriyyah “rich” and thuriyya “wealthy” (also Persian name for the Pleiades).
  • Tomiko — Japanese tomi “riches,” “wealth,” and “fortune” + ko “child.”

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