The many forms of Eleanor

I love Eleanor! And all her forms! It’s classy, regal, internationally known, has a whole pool of nicknames and forms and many great bearers – historical and literary. – Which one is your favourite? 🙂

Onomastics Outside the Box

Queen Eleanor of Aquitane (1122 or 1124–1 April 1204), painted 1858 by Frederick Sandys

The name Eleanor, in the U.S. Top 100 in 1895 and again from 1897–42 (with its highest rank of #25 in 1920), is now quite trendy again. It began slowly rising in 1987, and was up to #32 in 2018. It’s not such a secret that more than a few parents choosing this name just want the trendy nicknames Ella and Nora.

Eleanor is also fairly popular in England and Wales, at #54, and New Zealand, at #76.

The name derives from the Old French form of the Occitan name Aliénor. One of the earliest known bearers was the above-pictured Queen Eleanor of Aquitane, named for her mother Aenor (of unknown etymology) and called alia Aenor, “the other Aenor,” to tell them apart.

It’s uncertain if other early bearers were Aenors to whom the…

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The many forms of Magdalena

Do you like the name Magdalena?
For some reason, i’ve never been a fan. Despite (or maybe because) it’s been so popular in Poland since about 60’s I guess and that I know many really lovely ladies with this name. Well Magdalena is maybe not that very bad, and I slightly like that it’s so classic
and has so strong Christian conotations, but when it’s nicknamed to Magda… ughhh it really loses that tiny bit of charm it has for me. I love Madeline though, and even Madelaine (although slightly less since when someone made me realise it looks like Mad Elaine) and Madeleine. I also do like all those creative Madelyns, Madilyns and other Madelynnes, and some other forms as well. But Madeline is gorgeous! Oh, and there is also Dutch Madelief! Well I know it’s not linguistically related to Magdalena whatsoever, but it sounds similar and it’s one of my newest name discoveries. It means daisy in Dutch and I love it a lot! It’s beautiful.
So, how about you guys? 🙂

Onomastics Outside the Box

The Repentant Magdalen, Philippe de Champaigne, 1648

Some people express surprise the name Magdalena, so popular for so long in Europe and parts of Latin America, isn’t particularly common in the Anglophone world. It is, but the onomastic connection may not be so immediately obvious. English-speakers know this name as Madeline.

Magdalena, used in German, Dutch, Romanian, Spanish, Catalan, the Scandinavian languages, Occitan, the Southern Slavic languages, Polish, and English; Czech, Slovak, Hungarian (as Magdaléna); Latvian (as Magdalēna); and Icelandic (as Magðalena), comes from the Latin Magdalene. That in turn derives from a title meaning “of Magdala.” Magdala is a village on the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kineret), meaning “tower” in Hebrew.

Though nothing in the Bible calls Mary Magdalene a prostitute, she’s historically been conflated with Mary of Bethany and an unnamed “sinful woman” who anoints Jesus’s feet in Luke 7:36–50. Since…

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