Category Archives: dictionary entries

Mystery Monday: Alpoh

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 an early masculine name from Italy, one which is neither clearly of Romance origin nor clearly of Germanic origin — unless it is related to Old High German alb ‘elf’, which is currently our best guess at etymology. Do you have any other examples? Any corroborating evidence? Any alternative hypotheses? Please share in the comments!

Alpoh

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Mystery Monday: Zuhalo

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 Polish — or at least, it occurs in a Latin record from Poland, and it isn’t obvious Latinized, so it’s most likely a representation of some genuinely Slavic name or Slavic spelling.

We have no idea what. Do you have any thoughts? If so, please share in the comments!

Zuhaloa

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Mystery Monday: Wackerowe

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 have an excellent source of Middle German names from 14th-16th C Estonia (this one), most of which are completely familiar. But a few are not. Are they Middle German renditions of native Estonian names? Are they obscure Slavic names? Are they in fact Germanic? If we knew, they wouldn’t be mysterious. Anyone have any thoughts on today’s mystery name?

Wackerowe

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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Typical women’s names in early 14th C England

We’re currently working records from manorial court cases in England between 1250 and 1550 (namely, this source), and are now in the 1320s and 1330s.

One of the things that I love about court cases is how ordinary the names are; these are ordinary people, living ordinary lives. They are not royalty, they are not clerics, they are nothing that would mark their names out as unusual. So what were the typical women’s names in England at this time? Here are the ones we’ve come across so far (all in their Latin nominative forms; the actual vernacular form may have been quite different):

Margareta and Margeria, Johanna, Cecilia, Amicia, Alicia, Malota, Milisanta, Agnes, Juliana, Matilldis and Matilda, Dyonisia and Dionisia, Isabella, Emma, Athelina, Beatrice, and Katerina.

Aren’t they lovely?

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Mystery Monday: Valgesio

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.

Continuing our recent trend of weird Italian names (we’ve been transcribing and entering a whole ton of Italian names from a wide variety of sources in the last few months; look for many of them in the next edition!), we’ve got a 16th C male name for today’s delectation:

Valgesio

Recognize it? Seen it before? Got any thoughts as to its origin? Please share in the comments!

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Wait, what about Thaddeus?

When we covered the names of the 12 disciples last month, one unusual fact that came of this analysis was our complete lack of examples of Jude/Judah/Judas. But wait! The disciple Jude who wasn’t the betrayer was often known by another name: Thaddeus. What about that name?

We do have examples of Thaddeus — and there are two more late 15th C Latin examples awaiting publication of the next edition — and yet, so far, they are all from Italy.

Huh. This is one of those weird things where it’s not clear whether this represents the unevenness of our data or whether it is reflecting some actual underlying trend. Only time, and more data, will show. But in the meantime, this is definitely a bit unusual, and something we’ll flag up for revisiting in the future!

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Ealce: A variant of Alice?

Here’s another question that recently lead someone to this blog:

Is Ealce another spelling for the name Alice?

The answer is “probably not — but we can see why you might think so.”

Alice was a popular name in England from the 12th century onwards, appearing in a variety of spellings in Middle and Early Modern English. Quite a few of the vernacular forms drop the second vowel, resulting in spellings such as Alce, Alls, Als, and Alse. Less common are variants which swap the initial A for E, such as Elyce, Ellisone (both in data awaiting processing), Elis, and Ellis; and all of these may be forms of Elizabeth rather than of Alice.

But to date, we have found only one variant of the name which starts with Eal-, and that not until the early 17th century (the spelling Eales is found in a parish register from Chester-le-Street in 1616). The combination of the dropping of the second vowel along with the extremely rare conversion of the initial vowel make it unlikely that Ealce is a form of Alice (though, knowing what we do about names and variant spellings, we are hesitant to discount the possibility entirely).

It is, however, a legitimate name — just one independent of Alice! Ealca or Ealce is an Old English name, deriving from ealh ‘temple, sanctuary’, and probably a short form of any of the various names beginning with this element, such as Alcwin. We do not have any definite examples of this name being used, but we do have evidence for its use deriving from place names; the place Awkley or Auckley, recorded in 1278 as Alkelaye, in 1316 as Alkeleye, and c1500 as Aulkeley, can be decomposed into this personal name plus Old English leah. [1] Regarding the personal name, SOURCE notes:

it cannot be denied that we find traces of a mythological person of the name Ealce, etc., see Middendorf, s.v. On Low German territory, in the neighborhood of Osnabrück, the geographical names Alke Krug and Alk Pool are found close to an ancient heathen place of worship. The same deity or deities seem to be mentioned by Tacitus in the Germania, c. 43: “Apud Naharvalos antiquae religionis lucus ostenditur. praesidet sacerdos mulierbri ornatu, sed deos interpretatione Romana Castorem Pollucemque memorant. a vis numini, nomen Alcis (var. Alces vel. Alci).”

So, it is a name, albeit not clearly the name of an actual person, as opposed to a mythical god, and likely not a variant of Alice.


References

[1] J. E. B. Gover, A. Mawer, and F. M. Stenton, The Place-names of Nottinghamshire: Their Origin and Development, English Place-Name Society (Cambridge University Press, 1940), p. 6.

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