Mystery Monday: Yeneke

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is probably not all that mysterious, but we’d love to have some corroboration before we go ahead and confidently assign a canonical name form.


Parsing this mid 13th-C name found in a Low German speaking area, the -ke is a common diminutive suffix, which means we’re looking for a root name that could plausibly be rendered Yen-. The obvious candidate is a German form of John, which became Jen in the north. The shift from J- to Y- is uncommon, but not totally unheard of. But we’d love to see any concrete evidence that others have connecting forms like Yeneke directly back to the root name John. If you’ve got any, please share in the comments!


Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

2 responses to “Mystery Monday: Yeneke

  1. Brian M. Scott

    Hansjürgen Brachmann, Elżbieta Foster, Christine Kratzke, Heike Reimann, Das Zisterzienskloster Dargun im Stammesgebiet der Zirzipanen, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 2003, p. 176:

    Jeneke von Verchen (Ritter beim Herzog von Pommern), 1228 Janik de Virchine (MUB I 356, S. 342 Or.), 1228 Yeneke miles dictus de Virchen (MUB I 355, S. 340 Or.), 1232 Johannes de Virchwin (MUB I 408, S.412), um 1235 Janich in Virchine (MUB I 444, S. 441 Or.).
    Gf. aplb. *Janik oder *Janek, eine mit dem Suffix -k- vom christlichen Namen Johannes gebildete KF, die später unter dem Einfluß des Mittelniederdeutschen in Jeneke überging.

    This is from Foster’s contribution, Die Siedlungsentwicklung in slawisch-frühdeutscher Zeit aus namenkundlicher Sicht, section 4, Die slawischen Personennamen: Spiegel ethnisch-sozialen Wandels.

    The sample available at Google Books does not include references, but MUB is undoubtedly Mecklenburgisches Urkundenbuch. The second paragraph says that the original form is Old Polabian *Janik or *Janek, a pet form constructed from Johannes with the suffix -k-, and that the name later changed into Jeneke under the influence of Middle Low German.

  2. Jörg Knappen

    For an alternative to a derivation from John one can consider names like Ene, Iene, Ieno, or Ineke that are specially wide-spread among Frisian people and that are finally derived as short forms of names containing the name element AGIN “edge (of a sword)”.

    See (in Dutch!)

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