Tag Archives: Italian

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’.

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Mystery Monday: Masoeytta

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 feminine name recorded in Latin in late 13th or early 14th C Bergamo. It’s a strange name because that central vowel cluster — oey — is definitely atypical. (In our 66,000+ citations, we have only one other instance of this cluster, in an Old French form of Louis). But the rest of the name doesn’t give us many clues to go on either — -etta is an Italian hypocoristic suffix, found in Angeletta and Bonetta, and more commonly in the masculine form -etto; and Italian forms of Thomas and Thomasse can be truncated to Maso- or Masa-, with further diminutive suffices added. So it’s possibly that Masoeytta is the result of truncating Thomasia or Thomasa and then adding -etta, but where is the -y- coming from? And why is it -o- instead of -a-?

We have no idea. Do you? Got any hypotheses about how to explain these interloping vowels? Please share in the comments!

Masoeytta

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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: Caracossa

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 had a variety of Italian feminine names to choose from today, and we ended up going with one where we have two examples, slight variant spellings of each other, from the same context (Bergamo in the late 13th/early 14th C). One possible explanation of the name involves a compound with Latin cara ‘dear, beloved; costly, precious, valued’. In the same data set, we already have another example of such a compound with that element as the prototheme, Carabella (and indeed, the same data set gives us the telescoped version Bellacara). Another compound with cara- found in Italy, a few centuries later, is Caradonna.

Caracossa

Is that the right explanation here? If so, how should we analyse the deuterotheme?

Do you have any other examples of Cara- names in Italian? Or indeed any -cos(s)a names? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Ucept

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 mid-14th century Italy. It’s one of those Latin names that looks like it should be identical with some ordinary word, but no root word appears to be forthcoming. A brief search of googlebooks for “uceptus” gets a number of hits…which upon closer inspection all prove to be OCR errors, and thus provide no help whatsoever.

So we’re looking for help elsewhere: Do you have any thoughts about the origin of this name? Any other examples? Please share in the comments!

Ucept

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Mystery Monday: Sintarwizzilo

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 medieval names have retained their popularity throughout the ages, and are still familiar today — and sometimes not only familiar, but ragingly popular.

Some medieval names, on the other hand, have fallen into complete obscurity and even the most hipster of hipsters would balk at giving such a name to their child. Today’s mystery name, recorded in early 9th C Italy in Latin, is one of the latter. For our purposes, we’re merely interested in investigating its etymology and determining whether it was used in any other context — we think it unlikely that anyone today is likely to revive this name. (On the other hand, “Wizzy” is a great nickname. Or maybe not!)

Sintarwizzilo

Do you recognize the name? Have any thoughts about its origin? Please share in the comments!

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