Tag Archives: German

The ‘elements’ of name: Water

Continue our tour of the four elements, we now come to the slipperiest, wettest one: Water.

Water names, especially ones derived from topographic elements relating to water such as Brooke, River, and Lake, but also other weather-derived names such as Rain, are pretty common in modern anglophone naming practices: But nature names like these are one of the few general categories of names which are distinctly modern. The evidence we have for water-elements in medieval names comes from three main types: compound names containing an element meaning or referring to water; names derived from named bodies of water; and names reference some water-based origin.

Of the first, we have, in England, the Old English word ‘sea, lake’, which was used as a prototheme in various compound names, both masculine and feminine. In our data, we have examples of Sehild (f.), Saulf (m.), Seaborn (m.), Seman (m.), and Serich (m.). Unlike other compound Germanic names, where the same themes show up in Germany, England, and Scandinavia, we have only found this element in English contexts with one exception — we have one example of a Swedish cognate of Seaborn in Finland (not yet in the dictionary: Sebijörs, gen.)

Of the second, we have Tiberius, a classical Roman name deriving from the river Tiber. Tiberius was the name of a Roman emperor, and, later, four Byzantine emperors. The name shows up in Germany and Italy quite early (most likely references to these emperors), and then there is a big gap before the name was revived in Italy in the 15th and 16th C, as part of the Renaissance fashion of mining classical names. In this context we should also mention the names Jordan (m., entry not yet available) and Jordana (f.). While the etymological root of the masculine name is almost certainly not the river in the Holy Land, the popularity of the name was significant increased because of its similarity to the river name, with many Crusaders returning with Jordan water and naming their children for it.

Of the final category are the names Marin (m.)/Marina (f.) and Pelagius (m.)/Pelagia (f.), Latin and Greek, respectively, for ‘of the sea’. In connection with Pelagius we should also note the name Welsh Morgan, which is etymologically unrelated to anything sea-like, but has historically been connected with Pelagius due to a false etymology of the protheme as deriving from Proto-Celtic *mori ‘sea’.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The ‘elements’ of names: Earth (part 2!)

So after we posted our first post in what was to be a four-part series (one for each element) on names involving the four elements (read Part 1: Earth), a number of people pointed out that we totally overlooked a candidate for “earth”: ‘rock, stone’!

Well, rather than feeling too sheepish and embarrassed about such an oversight, we figured we’d simply fix this by making a follow-up post. So in Earth-Part-Two we’re going to look at all the names we have that derive from an element meaning ‘rock’ or stone’.

The most classic example is, of course, Peter, deriving from Greek πέτρος ‘rock’. The most well-known bearer of the name, Peter the first Catholic pope (at least from the medieval point of view!), was given his name as a metaphor for the foundation of the church itself. As the Wycliffite translation of the Bible (1395) puts it:

And Y seie to thee, that thou art Petre, and on this stoon Y schal bilde my chirche, and the yatis of helle schulen not haue miyt ayens it. (Matthew 16:18)

As the name of a disciple and pope, Peter was enormously popular in Europe. Our earliest citation is from the end of the 7th C in Germany, and by the time we hit 1600, you can’t turn around without bumping into a Peter or three. Geographically, almost every country that has citations in the database has an example of Peter — it’s even one of the three names we find in Algeria. The popularity of the name is reflected in the diversity and quantity of pet forms witnessed:

Pär, Peczold, Peep, Peireto, Per, Pere, Pereto, Perin, Perino, Perkyn, Perocto, Peron, Perono, Peronet, Perot, Perreau, Perrecars, Perrenet, Perresson, Perreset, Perret, Perrichon, Perrin, Perrinet, Perrod, Perron, Perronet, Perrono, Perrot, Perrotin, Perrusson, Pers, Perucho, Peschel, Peschil, Peschlin, Pescho, Peschyl, Pesco, Pesko, Pesold, Pessek, Pessel, Pesshico, Pessico, Pessko, Pesslin, Pesyco, Peterl, Pethe, Peto, Petrecono, Petreman, Petrezolo, Petricono, Petrin, Petrino, Petriolo, Petrocho, Petrocino, Petrono, Petrosino, Petrussio, Petruche, Petrucio, Petrutio, Piep, Pierel, Pieren, Pieret, Pierozo Pierren, Pierron, Pierrot, Pyotrussa

Of course, given the popularity of the masculine name, it’s no surprise that the feminine form, Petra was also relatively widespread throughout medieval Europe (although it was rare before the late 13th C). What might be surprising is that with one exception, all of our examples are of diminutive forms — too many to list here. Another name that needs to be mentioned in this context is the feminine name Petronilla. The root of this name is the Roman nomen Petronius. Petronius itself may possibly derive from the same Greek root; but it is not clear that it does. Nevertheless, medievally the name was treated as a feminine form of Peter, and it was moderately popular throughout England, France, and the Low Countries, with a handful of examples also turning up in Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.

But Greek isn’t the only language to have given us rocky names! We also have two Germanic/Scandinavian elements meaning ‘rock ” or ‘stone’ that were used in monothematic and dithematic names: Old Icelandic hallr ‘rock, stone’, found in the compound Haldor; and Proto-Germanic *stainaz ‘stone’, which gave rise to Old Icelandic steinn, Old English stān, Old Frisian, Old Saxon, and Old Dutch stēn, and Old High German stein.

This latter element was quite a popular element, both as a prototheme and as a deuterotheme:

Country Prototheme Deuterotheme
England Alfstan, Brihtstan, Dunstan, Goldstone, Thorsten, Wulfstan
Estonia Thorsten
France Steinhard Thorsten
Germany Steinhard
Iceland Thorsten
Ireland Dunstan, Thorsten
Norway Thorsten
Scotland Thorsten
Sweden Steinarr Holmsten, Thorsten

The element itself was also used as a standalone, monothematic name: Sten. We have examples from Finland, France, and Sweden.

We could also stretch the definition of “earth” as far as names derived from precious stones, but perhaps we’ll draw the line here and save those for another post on their own sometime!

Leave a comment

Filed under dictionary entries

Mystery Monday: Orendil

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.

Orendil

Today’s name would be an excellent addition to a game of “medieval name or Tolkien elf?” — doesn’t “Orendil” sound like he could be a cousin of Elendil’s? It’s a curious name, because the deuterotheme ‘-dil’ is vanishingly rare in our corpus; the only other names we have in our data set that end in this are Seidil and Seydil, two Middle High German diminutives of Sigfrid.

As for Oren-? Well, the only other name we have that begins with that string is another oddity, the feminine French name Orenge. So we’re at a bit of a loss. Have you found the name before? Have any thoughts of its origin? Please share in the comments!

6 Comments

Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

Announcement: Publication of Edition 2018, no. 1

We’re pleased to announce the publication of our first edition of 2018, now available (well, available since last night, but we’ve been traveling since then!) at www.dmnes.org. This edition has 21 new masculine names and 14 new feminine names (the full list of new entries in this edition is below), as well as many revised and updated entries – a total of 2267 entries with 56889 citations between them.

We haven’t pushed the temporal boundaries at all – no new citations earlier than our current earliest citation – but we’ve pushed the geographical ones: This edition is the first one to have any examples of European names from North Africa! (We talked about them in a post here). We’ve also increased our representation of names from Switzerland, with a selection of 15th century charters in Latin, French, and German, showing the same count of Gruyère being recorded variously as Franciscus, Francey, and Frantz. The French form is particularly interesting, because it is not a typical French spelling (that would be Francois); it clearly is showing the influence of the Swiss German diminutive construction in -i.

Thanks to the dedication of our Hungarian expert, we’ve added many more citations from Hungary, including many interesting diminutive forms, while another of our editorial team has been working through the registers of the Walloon Church at Canterbury, providing another dimension to the multiculuturalism of 16th century England.

So here are the new names in this edition! Have a fun browsing them, and the rest of the names, here. Let us know in the comments which of the new names is your favorite!

Masculine names

Adalward
Ado
Ago
Alinbert
Betto
Bonjohn
Contaminat
Crispus
Gibeon
Giselfrid
Giso
Helmbert
Peter-Angel
Peter-Paul
Reinbrand
Rene
Sichaus
Theodram
Waldefrid
Waldegaud
Waldeger

Feminine names

Alinhilde
Cassia
Dada
Gaucia
Gerhelma
Hartois
Hessa
Lena
Malitia
Paloma
Renee
Severina
Waldegilde
Waldehilde

2 Comments

Filed under announcements

Mystery Monday: Kolda

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 14th C feminine name found in the Czech Republic. These names are always fun because the open up possible Slavic influences — either at the level of influencing the spelling of Germanic-based names, or in providing names native to the Slavic name stock. We’re not sure which is the case here:

Kolda

Do you have any thoughts about its origin? Any other examples of the name? Please share in the comments!

1 Comment

Filed under announcements, crowd-sourcing, mystery monday

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!

3 Comments

Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

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.

3 Comments

Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday