First Names

Many of us don't even know what our own name means. The study of names is called onomastics. It's an interesting area of study for the hobbyist and will lead you into linguistics, history, anthropology, sociology and philology.

When people ask what is the meaning of a word, they are really asking for the etymology or the origin of the name. This etymology, as with most words, is a kind of history of the language(s) where the name was first used, the ways it has changed over the years and the meaning of the words or roots that are contained within the name.

Parents-to-be often become interested in searching for names for babies. And one of the most popular posts on this site is about "sexy" first names. (Are parents-to-be looking there?)

It would be very difficult to list all the first names on this site, but we present a small sampler below of some  popular English/American names. There are many sites, like, devoted to just this type of etymology.

I also discovered an interesting crossover of first names used as street names.


Albert Old German noble, bright First popular in England after the marriage of Victoria to Prince Albert in 1840.

Amanda Latin beloved It shares its roots with Amy

Andrew Greek- manly, Andre in French and Anders in Danish.

Ashley Old English a woods of ash trees Originally a last name, Ashley can refer to a boy or girl.

Barbara Greek & Latin foreign,strange Has lost its popularity since the 1960's.

Beatrice Latin bringing happiness Shakespeare's heroine in Much Ado About Nothing.

Bradley Old English broad meadow A last name that has become a popular first name.

Brandon English fiery hill Originally a last name - from "brand" Old English for a torch

Calvin Latin bald Calvin became a given name in honor of the Protestant reformer John Calvin

Caroline Latin giving It is not from Carl, it is the feminine form of Charles

Chelsea Old English,river landing  Also a place name. Popularized by President Bill Clinton's daughter.

Clio Greek praise Clio was the Greek muse of history.

Cooper   British  barrel maker   Originally a last name. The original Latin form meant a "cask."

Daphne Greek from the plant "laurel" Daphne was the Greek nymph changed into a laurel tree to escape from her Apollo who loved her.

Diana Latin divine Roman moon goddess. Popularized by the life (and death) of Princess Diana.

Douglas Gaelic dark blue Originally the name of a river, later a last name.

Dylan Welsh sea god In Welsh legend the ocean wept when he died.

Edward Old English rich guardian A popular name with British Kings.

Emily Latin eager The name of a noble Roman family

Eric & Erik  Danish    ruler of all

Erica Latin scientific name for the plant heather A feminine form of Eric.

Felix Latin happy Popularly connected with the cartoon cat by that name and because it resembles the scientific word for cats

Fiona Gaelic fair , white Has a large popularity in Great Britain.

Flora Latin flower Variants of it include Florence and Floris.

Frederick Old German peaceful ruler Used for many European rulers.

George Greek farmer The name became popular because of the first American President George Washington.

Glenda Welsh fair and good

Graham Old English   Originally a last name.

Grant Old French great Originally a last name.

Harold Old English army power Harold was the last Saxon King.

Helen Greek the bright one Some classic variants include Elaine,Ellen,Helene and Helena.

Hilary Latin cheerful Also a masculine name.

Howard Old German heart is brave Originally a last name. Also meaning high warden and ewe-herder.

Imogene Latin innocent

Ingrid Old Norse the name of a god A word of uncertain meaning.

Irene Greek peace

Isaac Hebrew laughter In the Bible the son and father of Abraham.

Ivy Teutonic clinging From the plant.

Jane Hebrew God is gracious Feminine form of John.

Jason Greek healer A name that has become extraordinarily popular.

John Hebrew God is gracious Of all names perhaps the most popular.

Joseph Hebrew he shall hold It has many other forms including Josephine, Jose, Joshua, Seosaidh, Osip, and Pepe.

Justin Latin just
Justine is the feminine form of Justin.

Katherine Greek pure A beautiful and classic name with literary.

Kenneth Celtic handsome Ken is Scottish meaning "to know" which goes back to the Norse "kenna", also meaning "to know"

Kevin Gaelic handsome

Kimberly South African? place of diamonds Originally, a place name, then a surname.

Kirby Old English church

Lee Old English dweller by the wood or clearing Also a common last name.

Lewis Germanic famous fighter A royal name.

Lucy Latin light Lucie is the French form.

Lynette, Lynnette Old English water fall Possibly a variant of linnet, which is a small song bird.

Mark Latin Biblical Possibly connected with Mars.

Mary Hebrew lady or seeress

Matthew Hebrew gift of YAH Often shortened to Matt.

Melissa Greek a bee

Michael Hebrew who is like the lord Many times shortened to Mike.

Mildred Old English mild strength

Natalie Latin Christmas Day

Nathan Hebrew gift

Nicholas Greek victory of the people Commonly shortened to Nick.

Norman Old English northman

Olga Russian holy A saint name

Oliver Old French olive tree There are numerous other possibilities for its meaning.

Olivia Latin olive A saint name.

Oscar Old English God-spear

Pamela Greek all sweetness

Patrick Latin a nobleman

Philip Greek lover of horses A noble name.

Phyllis Greek leafy plant corruption of the Old French name

Felice, from Latin Felix "happy"

Quentin Latin fifth Also Latin meaning in the queens land.

Rachel Hebrew ewe A biblical name.

Rosemary Latin remembrance A flower name.

Ross Gaelic dweller at the promontory Originally a last name.

Ryan Irish red Originally a last name.

Samantha Aramaic listener

Sara(h) Hebrew princess A biblical name.

Stanley Old English stone field Originally a last name and place name.

Stewart, Stuart Old English steward Originally a last name.

Susan Hebrew lily Full name is Suzanne.

Thelma Greek will power

Thomas Hebrew, Aramaic twin Many times shortened to Tom.

Tiffany Greek manifestation of God

Timothy Greek to honor God Commonly shortened to Tim.

Una Latin the one

Ursula Latin little bear

Valeria Latin to be strong Valerie is the French form.

Vera  Latin & Slavic, true & faithful

Verla  Germanic, defender; guardian of friends

Victor Latin conqueror It is a popular name with Italian Kings because of its meaning

Victoria Latin victorious Feminine form of Victor.

Vincent Latin victor

Walter Germanic rule folk A historical name.

Wayne Old English wagon-maker Originally a last name.

Whitney English white island Also a last name.

William Old German helmet

Xavier Spanish Basque A place name meaning new house. Also Arabic for splendid.

Yvonne French yew tree Feminine form of Yves.

Zacharia Hebrew,   God has remembered.  First popularized in the 1950's in America, it has entered the top 50 list since then.

Zara Hebrew Dawn Meaning princess in Arabic. It is the Princess Anne's daughters' name (England)

Zoë   Greek    life     A saint name.   Alternately Zooey, perhaps popularized by the J.D. salinger story Franny & Zooey

1 comment:

  1. My name isNikunj which means :Garden


All comments need to be approved by the admins. Spam will be deleted.