Tag Archives: Celestina

Nature names: Sun, stars, and sky

Let’s turn our attention from the trees and the forests up to the heavens! In this post we consider names with linguistic roots in the celestial.


We’ve talked about Stella on the blog before, as an example of a name which many people think is modern, but which has actually been in use since at least the 15th C. It’s identical with the Latin word for ‘star’.

The origin of the Biblical name Esther is disputed, but one possible origin is the Persian word for ‘star’. This is a canonical example of a Protestant name, coming into use in the 16th C in French, Dutch, and English contexts.

The sun

Old Breton sul ‘sun’ (related to Latin sol) was a common prototheme in compound Breton names. We have examples of Sulhoiarn, Sulwal, and Sulwored (coming out in the next edition), as well as the monothematic name Sulon.

Next we have another Biblical name, Sampson, deriving from a Hebrew word for the sun. This name was surprisingly popular in France and England in the 12th century, though it was used sporadically in other times and places.

In this context let’s include names relating to dawn and sunrise: Orienta and Aurisma are both found in early 9th C France, and have etymological connections with dawn.

The heavens

The heavens generally are the root of two masc/fem pairs of names of Latin origin: Celeste and Celestus, and their derivatives Celestina and Celestine

Gods and goddesses

Lastly, we have two names which are connected to celestial phenomenon via the name of a god or goddess. The popular Welsh name Llywellyn derives from two god names, the second being the name of a sun god perhaps related to Apollo. The feminine name Tamar has two distinct origin; the examples we have so far represent the Biblical name of Hebrew origin, but the name also occurs in Georgia as the name of a sky goddess.


Filed under dictionary entries

#Namehunt: Celestina

We received a request to determine if the name Celestina — such a gorgeous name — was used in 16th C Italy. The masculine form, Celestine, was the name of a couple of popes (and an anti-pope!) which means it wasn’t entirely unheard of amongst men, but papal names, unlike saint’s names, didn’t necessary bump the popularity of their corresponding feminine forms. So just because examples of Celestinus can be found floating around wasn’t any guarantee, or even indication, that we’d find any Celestinas.

But we did! Our earliest example is one Celestina that occurs in Il “liber” di S. Agata di Padova, from 1304.

Our next earliest example is an English one from Canterbury, Kent, in 1349/50. This is an unusual name to find in England at this time; during the 13th C there was a fashion of adopting fanciful Latinate names, but most of these names fell out of use within a century. So where does this English Celestina come from? Was she maybe not English by birth? We’ll never know.

Interestingly, a century later, the daughter of one of the papal collectors in England, the Italian Simone da Teramo, named his daughter Celestina. We haven’t yet found a precise date for her, but Simone was collector between 1420 and 1425, so she was presumably born sometime in the early 15th C.

Then we move into the more murky of the data that we’ve found. There is a reference to one Celestina filia Thomas which occurs on p. 34 of vol. 14 of Studi piemontesi; unfortunately, we don’t have access to enough of this journal to be able to determine the date of this record. If any of our readers have access to this journal, we would love to have a copy of the article covering p. 34!

How about the 16th century? Well, we did find a 16th C example, from 1502. But it’s from Barcelona, not Italy, so we’re still on the lookout! If you know of any 16th C Italian examples, please share in the comments.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized