Author Archives: Sara L. Uckelman

Mystery Monday: Yuwage

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.

How about a very strange name from 13th century Latvia? In the Rigische Schuldbuch (1286-1352), a man named “Yuwage” was recorded in 1290.
Yuwage
A lot of the names in this register are ordinary German names, easily recognisable underneath their Latinization. But this is an exciting source precisely because so many of the names in it are not ordinary German names, or are significantly masked by their Latinization — and this name is one of them.

We have no idea, not even a guess, about what the underlying name is. We’d love to know if you have any thoughts! Please share them in the comments.

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Mystery Monday: Wrana

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 names is a 14th C Czech masculine name:

Wrana

As with many names from this particular source (and from this period more generally), this specific instance is recorded in Latin, which may disguise the underlying Czech form to some degree. (“Wr-” is not a common combination in Latin, so it’s definitely representing something foreign!) No obvious candidates come up in our searching, so we’re hoping that someone out there has a guess as to what name this might be representing! If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Vyrzbantha

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 a mysterious Polish/Ukrainian name, Vyrzbantha.

Our example comes from Latin records in the Ukraine, in the 15th C; but a google search shows another Vyrzbantha who was “castellanus Poznaniens” in 1306, so just over the border in Poland.

The context of both instances makes it pretty clear that it’s a personal name, but it’s not one that we’re familiar with at all; and it may be a byname element rather than a given name. We’re hoping someone who specialises in Slavic languages might recognise this and give us some pointers! Please share in a comment any thoughts you might have.

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Announcing Edition 2020!

With about 40 minutes to spare, we did manage to get a new edition out in 2020!

2020 was a tough year for everyone, and things have been alternating really quiet and super productive here at DMNES central. If there’s one thing that was a pure, unalloyed joy and benefit of the upheaval of the pandemic, it was joining Mt. Holyoke’s internship scheme which facilitated the joining of four interns on our staff over summer, with one continuing on through the fall term as well. Much of what’s in this new edition — new names, new citations, updated info on Biblical and literary forms — is due to their hard work; and while some of their other work isn’t yet reflected in published editions, it’s laid the foundations for some exciting projects in the future.

So, on to some stats! The new edition has 2592 entries, with 77,248 citations distributed across those entries. (The entry with the most citations remains John, 4533 citations! That’s nearly 6% of all citations in the Dictionary in that single entry.) (Hah, as I was writing this up, our technical guru asked whether the numbers for Mary were comparable. I laughed, and said “no way, that name was never as popular, and he wanted to know the details. So: we have 832 citations for Mary, accounting for 1% of our data. Compare this to three other popular feminine names — Katherine, with 775 citations; Elizabeth, with 1159; and Margaret, with 1281 citations.)

This edition has a total of 931 distinct feminine names, 1658 masculine names, and 3 where the gender is uncertain. Of these, 44 of the feminine entries are new to this edition:

Women’s names
Agtrude
Albina
Ansilde
Aurofina
Baltrude
Bellabona
Benenata
Berna
Bernswith
Bernwara
Bertlinde
Desideria
Dominilde
Durande
Dutberta
Ermenalda
Fortuna
Gendrada
Godberg
Grimberg
Gundberg
Heilsinde
Lautrude
Lea
Lefhild
Liutwarde
Lodberta
Madalgarde
Maga
Maira
Meinfrida
Merberta
Novella
Odelrada
Oteria
Othilde
Percipia
Polemia
Radwise
Rolande
Sighilde
Warntrude
Wendelbalda
Zenobia

And there’s 98 new masculine names in this edition:

Men’s names
Adald
Adebert
Adegrim
Aitfrid
Aldebert
Amaro
Andger
Arner
Arno
Austrulf
Bago
Baldrad
Baldwald
Benenat
Benno
Bernulf
Bertbert
Bertmar
Bertram-Robert
Bertrick
Bodo
Bonald
Charles-Emmanuel
Cuthred
Dadmar
Daghard
Dodbert
Dominic-Amicus
Drutrich
Eckbald
Erchambert
Ermenald
Ermo
Everald
Folobert
Fortune
Fredebald
Gardulf
Gardwin
Gelbald
Gerhard
Gislold
Gordian
Hartnich
Helmger
Hemlwich
Hemlwin
Herger
Hildegrim
Hundolf
Hungrim
Isenbald
Isenbern
Isengrim
John-Andrew
John-Angel
John-Charles
John-Peter
Lantgrim
Liberat
Liebizo
Liutgard
Liutrad
Lodbald
Lodwin
Madaler
Madalrich
Marcrad
Marcrich
Merard
Merbod
Nantwin
Norwin
Noto
Odelrad
Otbald
Otgisl
Otrad
Peter-Andrew
Polydorus
Radger
Reinrich
Richbert
Richbod
Richsind
Rother
Sigwald
Sinbald
Sinbert
Theodeger
Waldemar
Waldemund
Wendelbald
Wilbald
Wildrad
Wineger
Witbert
Witrich

May your 2021 be filled with wonderful names! (Like Bertbert. Bertbert is such a great name.)

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Mystery Monday: Uideal

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.

We figure the odds are pretty high that if you were presented with the name “Uideal”, you’d have no guess about it’s gender, language/culture, or time period; it is a remarkably peculiar little name.

Uideal

To answer those questions exhausts what we know about this name: It’s the name of a man, recorded in a document written in Italy, in 827.

Early Italian names are remarkably recalcitrant to identify; often, they’re too late to show a clear connection with Latin vocabulary, but too early to reflect the influence of the Germanic naming practices. That’s exactly where this name falls: There’s nothing about it that gives us an “in” into understanding it.

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? Have you seen this name — or something like it — before? Please share in the comments if you have!

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Mystery Monday: Teagaton

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.

The hardest of names are those that are from one language, rendered into another, often by a scribe that doesn’t know anything about the original language.

One source that we’ve been working through for awhile (it’s one that has to be taken in small chunks, due to the heavy nature of the subject matter) is a register of enslaved people in Florence in the middle of the 14th century. This is a fascinating source from an onomastic point of view because so many of the people were renamed when they were enslaved — and yet, despite this, the notarial records relating to them often include their previous name, as well as the “language” it was in. I put “language” in scare-quotes because most of the time, the recording simply gives the person’s name “in the Tartar language”, and this is not really a single language at all.

So this means we have a large number of likely-Turkic-origin names being rendered in Latin by an Italian speaker — that’s many many layers of obscurity to poke through.

A lot of these names, we’ll probably never known what their actual origin is. But that makes them perfect candidates for Mystery Monday, and it’s why we’ve chosen one such name for today’s post:

Teagaton

We know that Teagaton was of Tartar descent, and that this is a representation of her name in her original language/culture. We haven’t the faintest idea what that original name might have been, and would love to know if you have any thoughts or suggestions. Please share in the comments if you do!

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Solution Saturday: Bulrebecca

Every Saturday, we will revisit one of our Mystery Monday names that we have solved. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed their knowledge and expertise, whether commenting here or on twitter or via email. You’ve all helped solve a mystery!

Today’s name is Bulrebecca, and it highlights one of the difficulties we face when going through medieval documents, and that’s: How do you identify a given name as a given name? When faced with a bunch of words, there are a number of clues one can use to identify what kind of a word it is (noun, verb; Latin, German, English; given name, not a name) — clues from semantics, syntax, morphology, grammar, context, etc. Because personal names don’t function in the same way that significative nouns and adjectives do, we often have fewer clues, which means that even if you can confidently identify a word as part of a name, it’s not always clear whether it’s a given name or part of a byname.

In the case of this particular name, we were mislead by the superficial similarity between -rebeke and the personal name Rebecca, and thus originally identified Bulrebeke as a given name (the context not making it clear which it was). However, the origin of this mysterious name is solved by noting that it’s actually a place name, not a personal name. Alas, this means we’ll remove this record from our database (flagging up why, of course, so that the information isn’t lost forever!) and you’ll see no entry for Bulrebeke or Bulrebecca in future editions of the Dictionary.

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Mystery Monday: Stenent

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.

Sometimes it feels like obscure 16th C English names are the most obscure of all, their obscurity magnified by our familiarity with the language and context in which they occur. Such a name is today’s mystery name:

Stenent

Just, what, uh, hmm? Is it a scribal error? An editorial error? A weird made-up name? A transferred surname? (would be very odd, that). We have zero idea, which makes this a perfect mystery to include in our list. If you have any thoughts, please share in the comments! We’d love to know.

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Solution Saturday: Dywa

Every Saturday, we will revisit one of our Mystery Monday names that we have solved. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed their knowledge and expertise, whether commenting here or on twitter or via email. You’ve all helped solve a mystery!

Today’s name is one that we’d originally identified as feminine, but turns out to be masculine! The name is Dywa, and our thanks to Brian M. Scott who connected the dots from Dywa to Tiva to Protiva, a name which we also had an entry for, under the less-Latin/more-Czech spelling Protywa.

So there we have a part-solution, at least — we can combine the entries for Dywa and Protywa. In the comments on the post linked above, a suggestion is given for the origin of Protiva, which we will file away and follow up on and hopefully in the future an entry for Protiva will debut on the Dictionary.

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Farewell to our interns!

September is here, summer is over, and we must now say farewell to our wonderful interns, Sidney, Adelia, Juliet, and K.J. Over the last couple of months, they have looked up etymologies, created place-holder entries, updated the Mystery Monday index and also went through ALL the comments that these posts have received either on the blog or on twitter and made a list of possibly-solved names for me to go through and review, converted all my random notes about possible sources into a Zotero library, made an extensive list of names found in Arthurian literature AND a list of the manuscripts that the various pieces of literature occur in, made a list of where in the Bible all our Biblical names are found, and looked up the spellings of those names in the Vulgate and in the Wycliffite translation, updated our list of events pages, read and summarised articles on Portestant and Puritan names, took over our social media accounts, wrote blog posts, adapted to remote working during a pandemic (and at least two multi-day power/internet outages), and took on the challenge of doing a research internship in a field about which none of them knew much at all before the beginning of the summer. There’s probably more that I’m not remembering at the moment!

It’s been truly great having them, and we wish all four the best of luck in their future endeavours. We are also super pleased that Adelia will be staying on at least through fall term, so look out for more posts from her!

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