Category Archives: crowd-sourcing

Mystery Monday: Fisa

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.

12th-century France is full of lovely, unusual feminine names, and one of them is today’s Mystery Monday name.

There is a Latin explanation for what it might be: fisa is a perfect passive participle of Latin fido ‘trust, have confidence (in)’. It is possible that this is the root of the name, but it would certainly be an unusual construction.

Does anyone have any thoughts? Any alternative explanations (probably, Germanic)? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Elisagar

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.

Elisagar

Here’s a poser! By the 13th century, there aren’t that many names of Germanic origin where the root themes are obscure. And yet, this appears to be what we have here. This masculine name found in 13th C Switzerland is probably of Germanic origin, with the final element being Old High German, Old Saxon gēr ‘spear’. But what on earth could Elisa- be? This is one of those names that is quite opaque to use, and we would love any insights or thoughts you might have. Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Dolzera

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 lovely late 13th/early 14th C Italian feminine name.

Dolzera

The name shows up a couple of times in our source — Dolzera de Cremona, Dolzera de Pigenzollis, Dolzera uxor domini Perini, domina Dolzera uxor Otteboni ser Casari — but we haven’t found the name in any other context. One possibility is that it is related to Dulce, as variations of that name occur with both u and o, and the swap of c and z is not uncommon at all in Latinate Italian names. This would leave unexplained the -(e)ra ending, though, and this isn’t straigtforwardly a simple diminutive suffix.

Have you come across this name before? Have any thoughts what its origin might be? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Cassabai

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 seem to be following an Italian trend lately! But this name is only Italian obliquely. One source we’ve been working through (we mentioned it before, in a Mystery Monday post on Uliana) is notarial records from mid-14th century Florence, which records the names of many enslaved men, women, and children, most of “Tartar” origin. These names are sometimes noted as “in lingua latina” and sometimes “in lingua tartarorum” or “tartaresche”.

Today’s name is (an Italian scribe’s attempt to render) a Tartar name (in Latin), the name of an enslaved Tartar woman:

Cassabai

Many of the Tartar names resemble Turkic or Turkish names and words (unsurprisingly), and our gut feeling is that this name, too, is an attempt to render a Turkish name according to Latin or Italian orthography. The question, then, is — what name? Does anyone have any thoughts? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Biondillo

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 from early 16th C Italy:

Biondillo

Generally Italian names ending in -ello (or -ellus in the Latin) are diminutive forms — that’s a typical suffix to add. The variant -illo is less common, but still occasionally found. So when hypothesizing about this name, the immediate first step is to strip away the suffix and get a potential root form: Biondo. Often when we do that, it turns out we already have examples of the non-augmented form, so that’s a confirmation of the identification. In this case, we have no examples of Biondo or Biondus (yet), so no help there.

Another easy step to take when trying to pin down the origin of a name is to stick the name (in a variety of spellings) into googlebooks and see what comes up. There are three hits for Biondillus — one which is post-1600, so of no help; one is a reference to a Dauid Biondellus from 1628; and the last occurs on a comment on a blog post from 2010, discussing a fantasy saga!

Has anyone else ever come across this name before? Or even Biondo/Biondus? If you have any thoughts on the origin of this name, please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Adoma

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.

Roughly 6 months ago we were back to the beginning of the alphabet, and instead of picking one name beginning with A- to pose as our mystery, we listed them all. Now we’ve rolled around to the beginning of the alphabet again, and comparing what we had then with what we have now…well, if we haven’t made as much progress as we might have liked, we can at least blame it on the fact that there are so many names, and we often create new entries for the Dictionary as quickly as we finalise old ones!

This week’s Mystery is an Italian feminine name from the early 16th C.

Adoma

While many Italian names come in masculine/feminine pairs, which provides a great springboard for research, we don’t know of any masculine Italian name Adomo — it’s tempting to connect the name to Adam, but the vowel shift is otherwise unwitnessed. So we’re looking for clues to help resolve two names: The actual Adoma and the potential Adomo. Have you found either of these before? Do you have any thoughts about their origins? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Zira/Ziros

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 we’re looking at a pair of names, because given where they are both found, and the similarity in their sound/spelling, we’re wondering if they aren’t perhaps related.

Zira

Ziros

So we’ve got two examples, both from 13th C Poland, both recorded in Latin, both masculine nominative; one Zira, one Ziros. Neither of these is in a usual masculine Latin nominative format, which is a strong clue that both names are not native Latin names, and thus we should (or at least, could) look for Slavic roots. Given that neither was Latinized in the expected way (Zirus), this makes us think that the name which is being both of these instances is possibly the same name, one which does not lend itself to Latinization well, so whatever scribe is rendering it must take a stab at Latinizing it himself.

Now, the -os ending smacks very strongly of Greek declensions, which is one possible route into the Slavic name pool; however, Ziros is not itself an immediately identifiable Greek personal name — though it is the name of a lake (and of a newly formed municipality that takes its name from the lake). So that doesn’t help us very much.

Stretching out further afar, and quite a bit more tangentially, there is a modern Armenian masculine name Ժիրայր, which has a nickname Ժիրո or Žiro. Could this be related?

We’d love to know your thoughts, especially if you’ve got more expertise in Slavic names than we (currently) have!

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