Thursday, March 27, 2014

What's In a Name?

Boy names are boy names (until they aren't).

Historically, masculine names were assigned from words, from surnames, or from place names.
Roger: "famous spear" from the Germanic elements hrod "fame" and ger "spear"
Rodney: From a surname, originally derived from a place name, which meant "Hroda's island" in Old English (where Hroda is a Germanic given name meaning "fame")

Sometimes it can get weird and circular.
Pierce: From a surname which was derived from the given name Piers
Piers: Medieval form of Peter
Peter: Derived from the Greek Petros, meaning stone.

But like girl clothing, girl names are more complicated and interesting.

I see three kinds of girl names: derivative of male, all girl, and unisex.  Yes, I have a reason for putting "unisex" under girl names, not boy names.

Derivative of male
Rarely will you see a male name defined as a "masculine form of ...." A search through a name page showed fewer than a dozen, and some are questionable.  But if you look at a list of feminine names you will see a plethora of "feminine form of..."
Alana, Alanis, Alanna from Alan.
Alberta, Alexandra, Bobbi, Charlene, Georgette, Stephanie, Phyllis, Samantha, Michelle, and so on.
I'm guessing many of these appeared because some frustrated dad said "I'll never have a son to carry on my name!  I'll call this one 'Josephine.'"  Or "Frank was a powerful warrior/great scholar/historical figure!  There's magic in that name.  She shall be 'Francine.'"

The same website shows over 200 "feminine form of...," from Adamina (Adam) to Zavia (Xavier).

 More on the other types tomorrow.  I think y'all know where I'm going with this.


  1. That's OK carry on anyway and we'll follow along

  2. I believe the derivative comes from the old day when people named their child before birth. planning to have a boy and then having a girl show up, cause a quick, literation of the name they picked.
    Which reminds me of the fireman who's wife had twins, The name they picked was Jose (a) so the second twin was called Jose-b (Hose b). smiles

    1. Or the wife's brother who had to name the twins and called the girl "Denise" and the boy "DeNephew."


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