DMNES is “Feature of the Month”

We’re pleased to be the May “Feature of the Month” at Check it out!

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What next?

We’ve hit our biggest milestone, but rather than sitting on our laurels, we’re already looking to the future. Here’s a brief summary of some of our plans.

We will be publishing new editions on a quarterly basis, to begin with, so the next edition is planned for July 2015. The List of Entries page will now reflect new entries to be published in the next edition. In addition to having more entries and more citations, what else are we planning for future editions?

  • Search: This is the biggest level of functionality that we don’t yet have. We will be adding search tools that search (a) header forms; (b) citations; (c) full text; (d) any combination of these; and these tools can be used with limitation functions, e.g., search only a certain gender, time period, geographic location.
  • Hebrew and Arabic scripts: Despite all of our pre-testing, we’ve discovered that the Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic scripts are showing up in reversed order. We will have this fixed by the next edition at the latest.
  • Maps: We are already in contact with a GIS specialist who will help put together maps for each entry, showing where a name was used over both time and place.
  • Requested entries: We are happy to take requests for new entries, if there is a particular name you are looking for that is not yet included. You will then be alerted when the relevant entry is published or updated in a future edition.
  • Mobile optimisation: Right now, we’ve done no optimisation for mobile browsing; our primary goal was to get a computer-browser appropriate version up and running. But while the site doesn’t look bad on the few mobiles we’ve tried, there are a few simple things we can implement to improve things.

We have other bells and whistles planned (browsable categories, timelines, toggle between sort-by-date, sort-by-name, and sort-by-country), but they will be rolled out over the longer term. We are also interested in hearing from our users: What would you find useful? what would you find interesting? What would you find necessary? Let us know, either via a comment here or via email to


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Dies Natales

Dr. Sara L. Uckelman, editor-in-chief, and the members of the editorial, design, and technical team are pleased to announce the publication of the first volume of the

Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources

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“Made-Up” Names

People who study contemporary baby names often like to talk about “made-up” names, whether unusual names found in late 20th and early 21st C America or more “traditional” made up names coming from late 19th and early 20th C literature. Now, if you think about it, all names are, at the root, “made-up”. But if you want to make a distinction between names which are drawn from identifiable word or concept — for example, Bona (Latin ‘good’) or Heather (a plant word) — and names which are constructed without regard for their meaning, such as Germanic Everbern deriving from themes meaning ‘boar’ and ‘bear’, or dithematic names which are constructed on the basis of the themes of the parents’ names, for example when Aclehardus and Teudhildis have a son named Teuthardus and a daughter named Aclehildis, then you could argue that the latter are ones that are truly “made-up” in the relevant sense.

But just as there are many names which people think are medieval but in fact are modern, many names which people think are modern coinages actually have a much older history. When I came across this article, on 17 Baby Names You Didn’t Know Were “Totally Made Up”, a few days ago, I was surprised at how many of these so-called modern “made-up” names are actually not.

Wendy: The received wisdom is that J.M. Barrie coined this name for Peter Pan. In fact, a Wendy Oxford was christened in 1615 in Harston, Cambridge, England. So, not quite medieval, but far older than the 20th C.

Cedric: Like Wendy, this is commonly cited as a coinage of Sir Walter Scott for Ivanhoe. It, too, goes back to (at least) the early 17th C. Cedric Holle was christened in 1613 in Plymouth, Devon, England, and Cedric Jorye was christened in 1626 in the same city.

Miranda: This name occurs in PĂ©rigueux, France, in 1366-1367.

Amanda: This name can be found in England in 1221.

Dorian: This name can be found in Paris, France, in 1421 — where it occurs as a feminine name, rather than a masculine one.

Cora: Cora and the diminutive Corina are both found in Imola, Italy, in 1312. The name Corella, found in Valencia in 1510, may also be a diminutive of Cora.

In the comments on the article, someone offers Stella as another modern coinage; but Stella can be found in Rome in 1527.

So there’s a brief round up of names which many people think are modern, but which are actually medieval (or at least early 17th C).


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DMNES joins the Dictionary Society of North America

The DMNES is pleased to join the Dictionary Society of North America, an organization

formed in 1975 to bring together people interested in dictionary making, study, collection, and use. Our more than 400 members who live in 40 countries around the world include people working on dictionaries, academics who engage in research and writing about dictionaries, dictionary collectors, librarians, booksellers, translators, linguists, publishers, writers, collectors, journalists, and people with an avocational interest in dictionaries.

For anyone interested in lexicography of any type, we highly recommend checking out both the Society and their archive.

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Another milestone hit: 1000 entries

When it looked like time would prevent our technical guru from completing things to his (exceedingly high) standards in time for our original target date, we decided to make use of the extra time to make the first edition as big and bold as we could. We recently reached 20,000 citations, and tonight we hit another major number.

If you went over to our list of entries, and counted all the entries, you’d find that we now have a round 1000 (one thousand) entries queued up for publication. 1000 entries with 20,000+ citations distributed over them, from A to Z from Portugal to Poland, from Ireland to Italy, from the 6th C to the 16th C, it is quite the onomastic feast that we will be serving you soon!

The 1,000th citation is for the name Sicleholde, a rather rare name of Old German origin with (so far) a single citation from early 9th C France.

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DMNES EiC on the radio

This morning at 10:10 GMT the Dictionary‘s editor-in-chief, Dr. Sara L. Uckelman, was interviewed by Jonathan Miles on BBC Radio Newcastle about the falling popularity of names like Gary, in a discussion inspired by this article in the Independent.

Those of you in the UK will be able to listen to the interview online here sometime later today.

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