Category Archives: dictionary entries

Names of twins in a 16th C French register from Canterbury

One of the most fun things about baptismal registers is getting to see the patterns of names that parents choose for multiple children — both singleton kids over a period of years, and multiples in the sense of twins (I’m not sure I’ve ever come across any baptisms of triplets or higher; unsurprisingly). We’re currently working through a 16th C register from the Walloon Church at Canterbury, containing births, marriages, and burials, and have found two examples of twins in the data, one female and one male. In both cases, the twins are given names which are clearly associated with each other/related to each other. On February 19, 1582/3, Rachel and Lea were baptised, and on September 26, 1594, Isaac and Jacob. Isaac was the father of Jacob in the Old Testament, and Jacob’s two wives were sisters, Rachel and Leah — thus, a clear connection between the two names chosen to give to the twins. (Though it would have been even neater if Jacob’s twin had been named Esau instead of Isaac, to directly mirror the Biblical story!)

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Mystery Monday: Iesmonda/Jesmonda

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 found in early 16th C Italy, in a taxation record for one “Faustina cortesana in casa di madona Iesmonda”:
Jesmonda
It’s a particularly vexing name, because for more than a year now there has been some clue about its origin hovering just outside of ready access memory, and no matter how ingenious we’ve been in our searching, we just can’t figure it out. So we’re tapping in to the collective knowledge of the internet: What is the very-similar-but-not-quite identical word that we haven’t been able to think of that is the likely candidate for this name’s origin? If you know, or have a thought, please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Iran/Yran

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 odd little one. We’ve got four different grammatical forms of the name, which all occur in the same charter in reference to the same person. All the documented forms spell it with initial Y-, but since Y forms are always atypical we have hypothesized a standardized form with I- — but it is definitely nothing more than hypothesized!

Iran

The record comes from Tirol, and many of the other names in the same source show distinct Germanic influences, so it would be reasonable to look to Germanic origins as well as to Romance. On the Germanic side, the name could be related to Old Saxon, Old High German īsarn ‘iron’, which does show up in names in the form iren. But is yran a reasonable extrapolation from iren? We’re really not sure.

And we’re even less sure what a possible Romance origin of the name could be.

Do you have any thoughts? Seen any other examples of this name? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Hoccadei

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.

Here’s a fun one! It’s from a survey of Glastonbury Abbey in 1189. The 12th C is a fascinating transition period in onomastics in the Isles, as one sees the Old English names fall in popularity, and the new Norman names come rushing up to fill the void. But of course it’s not just a matter of Old English versus Norman; one can’t forget the other native Celtic names some of which managed to hang on, or the rising popularity of Greek and Hebrew saints’ names, or the developments towards the 13th C fad for fantastically lyrical names of Latin origin. Of all of these interplaying factors, today’s name can possibly be fit onto the last.
Hoccadei
The form Hoccadei is itself in the nominative (given the context it occurs in), which means the most likely interpretation of -dei, (gen. of Lat. deus ‘God’), is that this is a phrase-name, akin to Donadei, Gratiadei, and Homodeus/Homodei. But then the mystery is: What is Hocca? It’s not in our Latin dictionaries, even if we drop the possibly excrescent ‘h’. (Well, occa is a Latin word, but not one relevant to the present contexts; it’s an imperative verb form, which we do not find in personal names.)

What could it be? Do you have any suggestions? Or have we been mislead by the -dei, and this isn’t a Latin phrase name after all? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Goluli

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.

Some of the names we have, we simply haven’t any idea whatsoever what their origins might be. Eventually, we will probably give up on some of them, and enter them into the Dictionary with “origin unknown”, but we don’t want to do that, and always hope that somewhere, sometime, someone might have a clue that will help us puzzleout the name.

Today’s name is one of those. It’s recorded in a Latin document from 13th C Poland, and we’re forced to admit, we haven’t a clue. Do you? Please share any thoughts you have in the comments!

Goluli

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Mystery Monday: Frifkyne

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 already has a partial gloss of its origin, but we’re sure we can do better than this:
Frifkyne
We’ve discussed the diminutive suffix -kin, a typically (and unusually) English suffix, before (also discussed here). This name is clearly an example of this pattern occurring in Scotland — a relatively early example there, so it could be an Englishman who’s moved north, a Flem who’s immigrated, or even a native Scotsman given a typically English nickname form.

The question is — nickname of what? We don’t really have any idea what the root of Frif could be. Do you? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Emalivercha

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 9th C feminine name from Besalú, Catalonia. We don’t have many early Spanish names, yet, and even fewer feminine names, making it hard to do any sort of etymological triangulation. In this particular case, we don’t have any solid basis from which to guess at either element — though perhaps the prototheme is related to Proto-Germanic *amal ‘vigor, bravery’, and the deuterotheme perhaps to Proto-Germanic *berhtaz, making this a feminine of Amalbert. But that is nothing more than a guess, not even quite a hunch.

Emalivercha

Do you have any hunches, any guesses? Any other examples of the name or something similar? Please let us know in the comments.

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