Tuesday, 9 October 2012

13th Century Feminine Names

File:Allegory of Music (Echecs amoureux).jpg

I love coming across name related research, particularly one that deals with the medieval era. These names were collected by Brian M. Scott from A Dictionary of English Surnames. Although I have searched and searched (and will keep doing so!), I wasn't able to access the original source to double check. Still, there were so many pretty, elegant, and fun names that I couldn't help myself. I picked a few that interested me, but I highly recommend the original work - there are so many names to look through.

Alviva - Sure there's Aviva to consider, but a sneaking a little L in there doesn't hurt anybody. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon Ælfgifu meaning 'elf gift'. Ælfgifu was a woman of noble birth, married to King Cnut of England and Denmark. Other spellings include Elviva and Alveva.

Annora - A medieval variant of Honora, this pretty name is a clever way to get to the nicknames Ann, Annie and Nora, or to honour a family member with those names without going through a more obvious route. Annora de Braose, born in 1190, married Richard III, Count of Dreux. She also happened to have a wonderfully named sister, Flandrina.

Eda - This sweet medieval diminutive for Edith is right at home with Edie, Ada, Ida and Eva. It comes from the Old English name Eadgyð, meaning 'rich, blessed' and 'war'. Alternatively, it means 'well-mannered' in Turkish. 

Ismay - You might mistake Ismay for Esme, but Ismay has a different feel and different origins. Esme is an Old French name, softer, even in its meaning of 'esteemed' and 'lovely'; Ismay comes from Old German, meaning 'iron-strength'. Other variants to consider are the exotic sounding Ismenia, Ismena and Isamaya.

Kinna - A medieval diminutive likely derived from the Old English name Cyneburg meaning 'noble fortress' or 'noble castle'. Kinna is closely related to Kimberley in its origins, but opposite in styles. For anyone searching for a location name that is under the radar, Kinna fits the bill. It is a locality in Västra Götaland County, Sweden.

Miriel - We're much more familiar with Muriel and Meryl, both derived from the Irish Muirgel ('bright sea'), but Miriel is a dainty option with the same origins. For an even more feminine sound there is Miriella to consider, with its good range of nickname options, including Miri, Mila, Rie, Ella and Ellie.

Odelina - A feminine diminutive of Odo, meaning 'wealth, fortune'. Although not currently terribly fashionable, Odelina was used in medieval times. Women such as the wife of one Roger Mauduit and Odelina de Kidel of Normandy carried the name, although we more often find that the Odelinas of history are now more commonly known as Edelinas, such as William Fitz-Ralph's wife Edelina Alwodestone. I find Odelina a particularly charming way to get to Ode, which many would find too difficult to accept as a genuine name. For a simpler alternative there is always the ancient Germanic name Odilia.

Image: Allegory of Music, in a manuscript of Echecs amoureux