Wednesday, 4 January 2012

An Anglo-Saxon for Today

Sometimes a name seems just 'too out there' and not very accessible. But nicknames have a way of making things a little bit better (if you like them that is). They can transform a name that seems too quirky or obscure into one that is very usable in the day to day. With this in mind, below are seven masculine Anglo-Saxon names that have been paired up with common nicknames.

Alric - Although of Old Germanic roots, the name was used in Anglo-Saxon England. Its meaning is 'noble or powerful ruler'. A variant name is the Medieval Elric, possibly derived from the Anglo-Saxon name Aedelric. What about the simple, slightly old-mannish nicknames of Al or Rick, usually gotten from more mainstream names such as Alan, Albert and Richard? 

Arnulf - Another Old High German name. It is made up of the elements arn (eagle) and ulf (wolf). It makes use of the nickname Arnie without resorting to Arnold and becoming too Schwarzenegger-y. 

Billfrith - The name of a Northumbrian saint who provided the jewels for the binding of the Lindisfarne Gospels. Although his name appears in 9th Century sources, it is believed he lived in the 8th Century. His name is thought to mean 'peace of the two-edge sword'. A very upstanding, posh sounding name, Billfrith has a number of familiar nicknames, such as Bill and Billy. Frith, and even Fritz, could be less obvious options. 

Edric - Not used much after the Norman Conquest, this name is ready for a come back (it's waited long enough, poor thing). Its meaning is 'rich, blessed ruler'. If Edward is too safe an option, Edric could be just the thing. Ed and Eddy are still likely nicknames. 

Leofric - Its meaning is 'dear or beloved power'. If Leonard is too geek chic and Leonidas too Spartan, Leofric could stand a chance. It keeps the popular nickname Leo but with an extra Anglo-Saxon pizzazz. 

Osgar - Oscar may be too popular an option for many (#19 in England and Wales). Osgar could very well step in and save the day. It has a similar sound, look and meaning, but with an unexpected twist. It comes from the Old English elements of os (god) and gar (spear) and has the possible, common nicknames of  Oz and Ozzy. And one could even stretch further and reach Gus. 

Torphin - Now a suburb of Edinburgh, the name was once used in Anglo-Saxon England. It comes from the Scottish Gaelic 'torr fionn', which means 'white tor'. It has the gender-neutral nickname option of Tor and, again stretching somewhat, you could get the popular Finn or the more obvious Phin

Image: Horses being shipped to England by Normans prior to their invasion, detail in the Bayeux Tapestry.