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Posts Tagged ‘Isabella’

The darker mood of Hægl and Nyd remains as we reach Is — Ice — in the runes.

The forms it takes in the various runic systems are:

In the runic poems, the focus is on ice’s appearance and nature — it is “the bark of a river,” and “a floor forged by the frost.”

But emphasis is also placed on the danger it brings, both tangible (such as slipping on it), and more metaphorical (for the perils that cold presents, both to the body and environement).

But ice also stands for winter, and as well as its dangers (so real and frightening in those days when famine was always a hair-bredth away), it is a time of rest and introspection.

Nature turns inwards, and so must we. After its sleep beneath the ice, new life will come in the spring.

Modern rune interpretations follow on from all this. Is is a distinct, virtually physical obstacle placed before us. It can represent sudden frustration in endeavours, something that stops us in our paths and threatens to prevent us from moving forward.

Indeed, to some extent it is actual tells us that we might need to stop and take time to think. Time to allow what will be to be. Just like Nature in wintertime. The spring will come.  We just need patience…

And so to the names…

Is is, of course, identical to “is”; I have encountered it as a nickname for Isabella and all her forms, and, after all Will’s resemblance to “will” hasn’t hindered him. Isaz is distinctly exotic, though not a thousand miles from Isis and Isaac.

His? Maybe, maybe not.

But lovely Isa has to be one of the best “rune names” of all. An old short form of Isabella, etc, particularly in Scotland, it has that “great-granny” charm going too, but has yet to be rediscovered in her own right (only 5 in 2010 in the UK), though it features in a lot of other names. In addition to all the variations on Isabella, there’s all these among the girls:

Aanisah, Alisa, Anisa, Anisah, Annalisa, Arisa, Beatrisa, Denisa, Elisa, Elisabeth, Elisabeta, Elisabetta, Ellisa, Eloisa, Elouisa, Erisa, Faisa, Ibtisaam, Ibtisam, Isadora, Isatou, Isatu, Larisa, Lisa, Louisa, Luisa, Khalisa, Khalisah, Maisa, Maisarah, Mandisa, Marisa, Melisa, Nafisa, Nafisah, Nisa, Nisanur, Parisa, Raisa, Ramisa, Romaisa, Risa, Rumaisa, Temisan, Tulisa, Unaisa, Unaisah.

Then there are all the great names beginning with Is-. As well as Isaac, the Isabellas and Isadora, there’s:

Isabèu, Isaiah, Isambard, Isamu, Isao, Isca, Iseult, Isfael, Isfandiyar, Ishaq, Ishara, Ishkur, Ishtar, Isidore, Isioma, Isis, Iska, Iskander, Iskra, Isla, Islay, Islwyn, Islyn, Isra, Issachar, Issoria, István.

Then there’s the meaning; and what leaps out first is Ice itself, along with Icie and Icy and “ice” or “icy” in other languages:

  • Ais — Malay: “ice”
  • Akull — Albanian: “ice”
  • Akulli — Albanian: “icy”
  • Bīng — Mandarin: “ice”
  • Buz — Turkish: “ice”
  • Duramen — Latin: “ice”
  • Eis — German: “ice”
  • Eisig — German: “icy”
  • Gelido, Gelida — Italian: “icy”
  • Gelu — Latin: “ice”
  • Glace — French: “ice”
  • Glacial — French: “icy”
  • Glacies — Latin: “ice”
  • Hielo — Spanish: “ice”
  • — Welsh: “ice”
  • Izotz — Basque: “ice”
  • Jää — Estonian, Finnish: “ice”
  • Jäine — Estonian: “icy”
  • Jäinen –Finnish: “icy”
  • Jaleed — Arabic: “ice”
  • Jég — Hungarian: “ice”
  • Jeges — Hungarian: “icy”
  • Kerakh — Hebrew: “ice”
  • Kori — Japanese: “ice”
  • KryerosKryera, Cryerus, Cryera — Greek: “icy”
  • KrymosKryma, Crymus, Cryma — Greek: “icy”
  • Krystallos, Crystallus — Greek: “ice”
  • KryosKrya, Cryus, Crya — Greek: “icy”
  • Led — Croatian, Czech: “ice”
  • Ledas — Lithuanian: “ice”
  • Ledovy — Czech: “icy”
  • Ledinis — Lithuanian: “icy”
  • Ledus — Latvian: “ice”
  • Lód — Polish: “ice”
  • Lyed — Russian: “ice”
  • Oighreata — Irish: “icy”
  • Oighir — Irish: “ice”
  • Pegylis — Greek: “icy-cold”
  • Rhew — Welsh: “ice”
  • Stiria — Latin: “icicle”
  • Thalj — Arabic: “ice”
  • Xeado — Galician: “icy”
  • Xeo — Galician: “ice”
  • Yax — Persian: “ice”
  • Yelo — Filipino: “ice”

It also inspires the following in English:

  • Berg
  • Cryo
  • Crystal
  • Diamond
  • Floe
  • Frazil
  • Frost
  • Frostflower
  • Frosty
  • Gelid
  • Glacier
  • Glacieret
  • Glaçon
  • Glaze
  • Glitter
  • Glittery
  • Hail 
  • Icicle
  • Kittly
  • Kulfi
  • Lollipop
  • Lolly
  • Nilas
  • Popsicle
  • Rime
  • Rone
  • Sparkle
  • Sleet
  • Star
  • Thaw
  • Varve
  • Winter

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There are distint signs now that the pace is gathering in the rehabilitation of names long consigned to granny (or rather great-granny status, as most grannies nowadays are called things like Carol and Susan, and true “granny names” are at least a generation further back).

The trend’s roots actually go back to the seventies and eighties, when the first batch of “Victorian” names started to come back into use. Principal among them have been Emily, Emma, Isabella and Olivia, on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Britain, too, this was the era when names which are only now really capturing the hearts of Americans, such as Alice, Amelia, Beatrice/Beatrix, Charlotte, Matilda and Eleanor (with its pet-form Ellie actually more popular than Eleanor herself), also returned to bask in the sun of popularity.

These could be classed the great-great-granny names; the names borne by the women who went on to name their daughters Lily and Grace, Florence and Evelyn.

This generation began to make a come-back in the nineties.

Some like Lily and Grace are already now thoroughly acclimatized. Some, like Florence, Daisy, Poppy and Ruby, are already considered mainstream in the UK, and are so talked about in the US, it can only be a matter of not very much time before they’re top 100 there too. Others, like Edith, Olive and Maud, are regaining attention.

But there’s a whole Devon cream tea shop’s worth of other delicious and tempting options, and these are the ones I think deserve to be brought back down from the attic.

AgathaI deliberated quite some time about whether to include Agatha, as she’s never actually been very common at all. However, perhaps largely down to Aunt Agatha in the Jeeves stories, she has acquired a distinctly granny edge, and there certainly were more Agathas around in 1910 than 2010! She’s a name I’ll feature on her own some time, as, personally, I love her, and there’s so much to say about her, but I just couldn’t neglect her here, because of my life-long love of all things Agatha Christie…

Agnes — a staple not just of the Victorians and the early twentieth century, Agnes was one of the most popular girls’ names of the medieval and early modern period too. She was under a cloud in the eighteenth century, and again in the twentieth. She is so rich in history, mythology and allusions that she has a post of her own, scheduled for St Agnes’ Eve. But it would be a travesty to not give her a mention here, especially as celeb baby Agnes Lark might well have been the catalyst she needed to spark interest again.

Annie — actually truly belongs  to the great-great granny era, being most in decline since 1881 (when she was ranked 8th). The musical and film arrested her decline in the late seventies and early eighties, but unlike her siblings, she then went back into decline. Her fate may have changed, but at present she still seems to be dithering in the low 300s. Although treated as a pet-form of Ann/Anne, there’s no reason not to consider her a name in her own right, as she’s been used as such so long, and is actually a bit closer to the original Hebrew Hannah, sharing two syllables, rather than just the one.

Blanche — never all that common; like Annie, it hovered in the fifties in the late nineteenth century. Short, elegant, with a long and distinguished history back to medieval times, Blanche makes a worthy alternative to those one-syllable names which are now growing tired, like Claire, Brooke, and Paige.

Doris — in America, one of the darlings of the twenties. This pretty Greek name is definitely ready for revival.

Elsie — already back on the radar and rising, sweet Elsie — usually considered a Scottish short-form of Elizabeth — is also an English surname and essentially the modern form of the Old English Ælfsige “elf-victory.” It’s a must for revival in the UK, slipping comfortably into that established group of friends, Sophie, Evie, Maisie, Ellie, Millie, Katie, Gracie, and Rosie, etc…

Ethel — Ethel’s take up in Victorian times was as a short-form of the numerous girls’ names which featured it as a first element, particularly Etheldred/Etheldreda and Ethelinda. But it is essentially the modern English form of the Old English æthel “noble,” and its German cognate Athalia was used as a name in its own right in medieval times, becoming the English Adela and French Adele. As the name of Lily Allen’s new baby, there are indications are that people are starting to see Ethel — for so long almost the quintessential great-granny name — in a new light. After all, it does combine those softest and most romantic sounds: eth and el…

Freda — Use in the last couple of centuries originated, like Ethel, as a short form of longer names, particularly Winifred and Alfreda. However, also like Ethel, it stands up as a name in its own right, with frithu  meaning “peace” in Old English. Its Norse cognate is found as a name in medieval times: Friða. It survived in Scandinavia as Frida. The Germanic Frieda has also long been used as a variant. Freda is also found in the name of a lwa (divinity) of Haitian Voodoo —   Erzulie Fréda — though in her case, Fréda is probably West African in origin.

GertrudeMy grandmother had the unusual name of Gayther — but was almost universally known as Gertie, the usual nick-name of Gertrude. For a time it was also treated as the archetypal name of a student of my alma mater, Girton College, Cambridge (the shared initial “ger” sound, no doubt). It was also borne by another of my historic heroines, the archaeologist Gertrude Bell. With the strong meaning of “spear-strength,” Gertrude was hugely popular for a time in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and has a distinctly “no-nonsense” air about her. But she does shorten to the gentle Trudy, tom-boyish Gerry and contemporary Tru, as well as the as well that ever-cheerful Gertie…

Gladys — up there with Ethel, Gladys (Gwladys in the original Welsh) is another name that I think only needs a nudge for people to start to think, “why not?” Either the Welsh form of Claudia, or an elaboration of gwlad “country.” After all, there are a number of names ending in, or prominently featuring the “is” sound, such as Alexis, Alice, Allison, Genesis, Melissa, Marissa, Iris, Isis, Paris, Carys, and Cerys, etc. Nor is Gladys actually all that far away from Madison and Addison when you think about it…

Ida — Ida is another that was at her most popular in the late nineteenth century and is long overdue reconsideration; she’s already making steady progress in the UK, and since the very similar Ada is clearly on the up in the US, why not Ida too? Ida was found in Britain in medieval times, though in the Victorian period it was most associated with the nymph of the mountain which shared her name, who was said to have raised the infant Zeus. There’s a whole lot more to Ida, and I intend to feature her as a pick of the week, but she certainly deserves a mention here.

Irene — As the usual English form of the Greek Eirene “peace”, Irene is mostly pronounced with two-syllables, but three is not unknown. With two fresh dramatisations of the Sherlock Holmes takes around at the moment — the big screen Robert Downey, Jr version and the sparkling and clever British television one staring Benedict Cumberbatch — the character of Irene Adler will no doubt be working her magic on how people perceive Irene.

Mabel — The bells should be ringing loudly for Mabel. Roll it around the tongue — “May bell”. How pretty is that? Already rediscovered in certain British circles (ranking 386 in 2010), she vanished in America from the top 1000 in 1960 and has yet to resurface. Mabel originated in the Middle Ages as a shorter form of Amabel.

Mildred — I’ve always had a soft spot of the charming Mildred, an Old English gem meaning “mild/gentle counsel.” Featured as a Witch of the Week here.

Nellie — traditional pet-form of Eleanor, but also used of Helen and Ellen. For a long time Nellie fell under the cloud about the popular song, but it is breaking away now and with that popular “-ie” ending, and those letter “l”s, Nellie has a lot of personality.

Olga — one of my first ever name loves. One of the Russian names that came into fashion in the late nineteenth century, Olga is not actually Russian in origin at all; it is the Russian form of Scandinavian Helga “holy.” Olga was never particularly common, peaking in the US in 1916 in 130th spot.

Opal — a nineteenth century adoption of the name of the precious stone, which derives ultimately from the Sanskrit upala “stone.”  It peaked in the US in 81st place in 1911, and dwindled into obscurity by 1900. Believed by the ancients to be the tears of joy wept by Zeus following his victory over the Titans, in more recent centuries black opals in particular have gained an association with witches.

Pearl — at first used as a nickname — like Daisy — for girls called Margaret, Pearl was in independent use by the mid nineteenth century. It actually peaked by 1890, but remained in the top 100 until 1927. It is just starting to show signs of renewed interest, but there’s still a long way to go.

Phyllis — another pretty “-is” name which has been too long neglected now. It derives from Greek phullon “leaf” (with phullis itself meaning “salad.”).

Vera — Vera is another name of Russian origin, meaning “faith,” though it is identical to the Latin vera, the feminine form of verus “true,” which is the source of the vera of the wonderful Aloe vera. Another of my personal heroines is the British writer and pacificst Vera Brittain. Vera was never particularly common in the US, but has recently started to show signs that its fortunes are changing.

Next week, I’ll take a look at the Grandpas…

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Yesterday, I gazed into my crystal ball (a.k.a. the American SSA’s Popular Baby Name website), and predicted what boys’ names will be in the top 10 in 2035.

They were:

  1. Lucas
  2. Judah
  3. Jacob
  4. Rafferty
  5. Elijah
  6. Owen
  7. Silas
  8. William
  9. Indigo
  10. Joseph

My method is simple. How were today’s top ten ranked in 1985? And what names occupied those spots in 2010?

Today’s top ten girls’ names were ranked as follows in 1985:

  1. Isabella: Unranked (only 34 girls received the name in 1985)
  2. Sophia: 236 (in slight decline in 1985, though generally rising)
  3. Emma: 267 (rising)
  4. Olivia: 248 (in decline — but started to rise again in 1986)
  5. Ava: Unranked (only 132 girls called Ava in 1984, but it re-entered the charts again in 1986)
  6. Emily: 24 (rising rapidly)
  7. Abigail: 153 (rising)
  8. Madison: 628 (its first appearance in the rankings, prompted by the 1984 film Splash)
  9. Chloe: 564 (rising)
  10. Mia: 438 (rising)

And their 2035 replacements look like this (with a bit of tweaking)

  1. HERMIONE. Many people are pretty amazed to find out that not only was today’s darling Isabella not in the top 1000 in 1985, but only 34 baby girls were given the name at all. There were some interesting names in the same place in 2010, including Ara, Empress, Indiana, Mathilda, Saba, Wisdom and Zamora, but I can’t see any making the top 10 (Mathilda’s big sister Matilda might, but she is in the top 1000). There are one or two interesting possibilities among the names given to 35 little girls, such as Clarice, Lavinia and Polly; while another old classic Ursula was borne by only 32 girls in 2010, but it is lovely Hermione, given to only 37 baby girls in 2010 that gets my vote. I can’t help thinking it’s only a matter of time that the USA finally embraces her, and that she’s the one to watch from the bottom of this barrel.
  2. ELIZA. Jayda occupies the present 236th slot, but although she may rise quite high, I think her time in the sun will be over by 2035. Nearby, however, Eliza (240) is rising.
  3. ESTHER  is 267. She’s been away in the wilderness a while, but I think the tide is turning in her favor now.
  4. HARMONY. Ranked 248th is Cassidy, but she’s in decline. Harmony, however, is 249th, and rising…
  5. CLEMENTINE — 132 little girls were called Clementine in 2010. This beauty vanished from the top 1000 in 1953; in 1994, less than three girls received the name (if any at all), but since then, the numbers have generally been increasing.
  6. LEAH is 24. Like her predecessor Emily was, twenty-five years ago, she’s steadily rising. Will she have made the top ten by 2035? Perhaps.
  7. DAISY. Actually ranked 151 in 2010; 153rd was Makenzie, which is in decline and pretty unlikely to be in 6th place in 2035 now. Popular in the UK, Daisy, however, is on the rise again. Another possibility from the 150s is Vivian (158).
  8. ANNABEL is 628. She re-entered the top 1000 in 2000 and might well go places.
  9. ROSA is 564. She’s at her lowest yet, but surely the time is ripe now for her fortunes to change? They have already in Britain.
  10. ADELAIDE. In the 438th spot is Kadence, a doubtful top ten contender for 2035. Adelaide (434), however, is rocketing up the charts. Another possibility is Helen, languishing in the 437th spot. Its a long time now since she was in favor, and perhaps its her time to shine once more?

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For the last month, I have been in France — for much of that time, in Provence.

It is a region with a much deserved reputation for spectacular scenery and picturesque villages. In the region where we stayed, these clung as though by magic to impossibly steep hillsides gazing idly down dramatic gorges, draped in pines, evergreen oaks, olives and vines.

It is also an exceedingly historic region, always set a bit apart from the rest of France. Once, the people didn’t even spoke French, but Provençal, a dialect of Occitan — a language closer to Catalan than to French — although Provençal is sometimes used to refer to Occitan in general, and the langue d’Oc of medieval troubadours.

Unsurprisingly, it has a whole collection of names and variants of names unique to the region.

And it was in Provence that names like Isabella and Eleanor first arose.

During our stay, I kept my ears open, but was disappointed that, by and large, the names I encountered — particularly among the children — were little different to the rest of France. The fashion in France at present is for names of foreign origin, and the favored region for more unusual native monikers is Brittany.

But we did encounter some, especially among my own generation.

I love the fact so many Provençal girls names end in -o; it makes a refreshing change, and is very contemporary.

Here is a selection of my personal favorites. Some, like Zouè, are relatively recent — others, like Azalaïs, are medieval.

GIRLS:

  • AgatoAgatha
  • Aïs — diminutive of ANAÏS and/or ALAÏS
  • AlaïsAlice (features in Kate Mosse’s 2005 novel Labyrinth); ultimately from Adelaide
  • AlienorEleanor
  • Anaïs — in Provence, used as a form of Anne or Agnes — not actually found prior to the nineteenth century
  • Anetoun — a double diminutive form of Ano (Anne)
  • AzalaïsAdelaide (Alice)
  • Babeleto — diminutive of Eisabèu/Isabèu (Elizabeth/Isabella)
  • BergidoBirgitte
  • Bielo — diminutive of Gabrielo (Gabrielle)
  • BregidoBridget
  • CelinoCeline
  • Chantaloun — diminutive of French Chantal
  • Clareto, Claroun — diminutives of Claro
  • ClaroClare/Claire
  • CloutildouClotilda
  • Delaïdo — diminutive of Adelaïdo (Adelaide)
  • Eliso — diminutive of French Élisabeth (Elizabeth)
  • EstefanoStephanie
  • Fanfan — probably a diminutive of ESTEFANO. Made fairly well-known (at least in France) by the 1952 film Fanfan la tulipe (remade in 2003) — in which Fanfan is a man — and Alexandre Jardin’s 1985 novel Fanfan, filmed in 1993.
  • Fino — diminutive of Delfino (Delphine) and/or JÒUSEFINO
  • FlourFlora/Fleur
  • GlaudioClaudia
  • IoulandoYolande
  • Janetoun — double diminutive of Jano (Jane/Jeanne)
  • JòusefinoJosephine (the name of our villa’s housekeeper!)
  • Jóuselet — variant/diminutive of JÒUSEFINO
  • Laïdo — diminutive of DELAÏDO
  • Lali, Lalìo — diminutives of Eulalìo (Eulalia/Eulalie)
  • Laloun — diminutive of LALI
  • Lìo — diminutive of names ending in -lìo, such as Eulalìo (Eulalia/Eulalie), Natalìo (Natalie), Rosalìo (Rosalie)
  • Lisoun — diminutive of ELISO
  • Lodi, Loudi — diminutive of Eloudìo (Elodie)
  • Madaloun — diminutive of Madaleno (Madeline)
  • Magali, Magari — probably Magaret, but possibly a variant of Madaleno (Madeline — from the original Magdalene)
  • Maïoun — diminutive of Marìo (Mary/Marie)
  • Marioun — diminutive of Marìo (Mary/Marie)
  • MelioEmilia
  • Mirèio — coined by the poet Frederic Mistral for his poem Mirèio (1859). From the Occitan mirar “to admire.”
  • Naïs — diminutive of ANAÏS
  • Ninoun — pet-form of Catarino (Katherine)
  • Rieto — pet-form of Enrieto (Henrietta)
  • RosoRose
  • SoufioSophia/Sophie
  • SoulanjoSolange
  • Talìo — diminutive of Natalìo (Natalie)
  • Teldou, Tildeto — diminutives of names containing –tild– or –teld-, like CLOUTILDOU
  • VitòriVictoria
  • ValorìValeria/Valerie
  • Zeto, Zetou — diminutives of JÒUSEFINO
  • Zouè Zoe

BOYS:

  • Amiel – said to be the Provençal form of French Emile
  • AudouardEdward
  • BartoumiéuBartholomew
  • BerenguiéBerenger
  • Calendau — from the Latin kalends, used of the first day of a month and, in Provence, for Christmas Day.  The hero of Mistral’s poem Calendau (1867)
  • CharleCharles
  • Charloun — diminutive of CHARLE
  • Ciprianet — diminutive of Ciprian (Cyprian)
  • DàviDavid
  • Deri — diminutive of Frederi/Federi (Frederick)
  • Dovi — dimunituve of Ludovi (Ludovick/Louis)
  • Estève, EstièneStephen
  • GabrieùGabriel
  • Glaude, GlàudiClaude, Claudius
  • JaufretGeoffrey
  • Jaume James
  • JòrgiGeorge
  • LuLuke
  • Luquet — pet-form of LU
  • Maïus — curious name of uncertain origin. In use in Provence since at least the late nineteenth century. Possibly conceived as a masculine form of MAÏOUN.
  • MasMax
  • MiquèuMichael
  • OuliviéOliver
  • PascauPascal
  • PèirePeter/Pierre
  • Pierroun — diminutive of French Pierre
  • RafèuRaphael
  • RoubinRobin (yes, the English Robin — one of the foreign names embraced by the French in the twentieth century)
  • Savié — probably Xavier, but possibly Savior (best known as a name in the Spanish form Salvador)
  • SilvanSilvanus
  • SimounSimon
  • TeoudorTheodore
  • Titoù – Either Titus or a diminutive of Batit (Baptist)
  • Titoun — diminutive of TITOÙ
  • ToumasThomas
  • Ugue, UguesHugh
  • VincènVincent
  • VitourVictor
  • Zavié — variant of SAVIÉ
  • — diminutive of Joùseù (Joseph)

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Martin Tovar y Tovar's Signing of the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence

I’m staying in the Americas today, as another country is celebrating its independence – its 200th anniversary in fact.

On the 5th July 1811, Venezuela announced its independence from Spain, and today Venezuelans are celebrating.

To honour this event, I thought I’d take a look at Venezuelan Names.

Venezuelan names have gained a reputation for being inventive and innovating (or way-out and wacky, depending on whom you’re talking to – great old article here from the New York Times, if you missed it the first time around!).

In 2007, the trend had grown so widespread that there was a backlash amongst the more conservative elements in Venezuelan government, which threatened to see such names banned and parents limited to a choice of just 100 names.

Obviously, this was considered preposterous; the notion was dismissed, leaving Venezuelan parents free to continue to name their children with whatever takes their fancy, without giving a hoot for what anyone else thinks.

Personally, I find the attitude quite refreshing – even though I would draw a line at the more notorious Venezuelan Names such as Stalin, Hitler, Yesaidú (yes, I do) and Iroshima (Hiroshima).

I don’t intend to dwell on the names most people consider outlandish on this special day for Venezuelans (for all the hype, most Venezuelans still choose pretty conservative names for their children; in 2010, the top five girls’ names were Camila, Isabella, Sofía, Victoria and Valentina, while the boys were Sebastián, Santiago, Samuel, Diego and Gabriel).

Instead, I thought I’d focus on Venezuelan names with wider appeal. For as well as all the cooky names, a lot of pretty nifty new names have emerged from Venezuela’s slightly anarchic creativity in past decades that are worth a look.

Feliz día de la independencia, Venezuela!

Betulio ♂ — a name which immediately highlights the fact that with many Venezuelan names, it is all but impossible to identify its origin. The most famous bearer is Betulio González (b.1949), the Venezuelan boxer. The most likely source seems to be the Latin betula ‘birch’.

Chiquinquirá ♀ — the name of a town in Colombia, made well known in Venezuela by (María) Chiquinquirá Delgado (b.1972), a model, actress and TV presenter. This is a classic Catholic religious name, rather than an invention; Chiquinquirá is home to the ‘Virgin of Chiquinquirá’, patron saint of Colombia and the Venezuelan province of Zulia, where Chiquinquirá was born.

Coraima ♀ — popularly derived from Greek korê ‘maiden’ and touted in Spanish with the elaborated meaning of templo divino de la juventud – ‘divine temple of youth’. Its most famous bearer in Venezeula is the actress Coraima Torres (b.1973), who is said to have Lebanese ancestry, so it is possibly its true origins lie with an Arabic name such as Karima ‘kind’ and ‘generous’.

Dayana ♀ — probably plucked straight from the world of plants; dayana features as part of the botanical name of more than one South American orchid. It was coined at the end of the 19th C in honor of the English botanist John Day (1824-88). Dayana’s similarity to Diana probably influenced its adoption too.

Goizeder ♀ — actually a Basque name from goiz ‘morning’ + eder ‘beautiful’, but it is Venezuelan model and TV presenter Goizeder Azúa (b.1984) — of Basque ancestry — who has put the name on the radar.

Greivis ♂ — Greivis Vásquez (b. 1987) is a Venezuelan-born basketball player. His name appears to be a classic Venezuelan coinage, devised to appear foreign — and thus exotic and desirable in the mind of the creator. Somewhere, deep in its subconscious, may lie the English surname Grieves or Graves.

Hannelly ♀ — this seems to be an adoption of the unusual surname of Irish origin, which is probably a variant of Hanley and deriving ultimately from the Irish Gaelic áluin ‘beautiful’. Why it should be taken up as a girl’s name in Venezuela is simply Venezuelan. Hannelly Quintero (b.1985) — a model and TV presenter — is responsible for bringing the name to a wider audience.

Huáscar ♂ — Spanish form of Incan Waskar Inca, the name of a 16th Century Incan Emperor. Its use is a good example of the fact that Venezuelans don’t ignore their Native American heritage in the search for interesting names.

Keidy ♀ — Highly likely a phonetic spelling of Katy – pronounced with an American accent.  Keidy Moreno (b.1983) is an international model.

Majandra ♀ — a combination of María and Alejandra, made well-known in Venezuela by the actress and singer Majandra Delfino (b.1981),  whose birth name was Maria Alejandra.

Mayré ♀ — almost certainly conceived as a phonetic rendition of the plain English Mary; many English names are popular in Venezuela, often spiced up with creative spellings. Mayré Martínez (b.1978) is a Venezuelan singer-songwriter.

Ninibeth ♀ — probably a combination of Nina and Beth. Ninibeth Leal (b.1971) is a former Miss World.

Ugueth ♂ — As borne by Ugueth Urbina (b. 1974), a former baseball player – though as he is now in prison for attempted murder, he is a bit of a persona non grata in Venezuela at present. Possibly, just possibly, related to Hugh; Ugo is the Italian form of Hugh, while Ugue and Ugues are found in Provence (while the usual French form is Hugues).

Veruska ♀ — a visitor to Venezuela might be surprised to find so many Russian and Russian-style Venezuelan names, but these were popular during the Cold War. Veruska is a pet-form of Russian Vera – though it now seems far more common in Latin America! Verushka is another form.

Yaxeni ♀ — probably a reworking of Xenia or Yesenia, or perhaps a blend of both. Yaxeni Oriquen (b. 1966) is well-known in Venezuela as a female body-building champion.

Yormery ♀ — another classic Venezuelan invention; almost certainly a respelling of English your Mary.

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