Do You Happen To Know The Meaning Of Your First Name?


By Sarah E. Mitchell


When readers are researching their family genealogy, they may find that in some records full names are recorded, sometimes foreign names (which are later changed to the English form), and occasionally nicknames. Listed below are some popular first names, their variations, and some foreign forms.

Ann (means grace): Derivatives are Ance, Annie, Annice, Annika, Annike, Annah, Annali, Annan, Anna, Nan, Nance, Nannette and Nannie. Anne, Annetta, and Annette are French forms; Hanna the German form; Ana the Portuguese; and Anne the Swedish, Austrian and Hungarian form.

Edward (means rich guardian): Derivatives are Ed, Ned, Eddy, Eddie, Ted, and Teddy. (Ted and Teddy are also short for Theodore.) Edouard is the French form.

Elizabeth (means consecrated to God or God's oath): Derivatives are Eliza, Elissa, Elsie, Elise, Elisa, Elisabet (Elisabet is the original Greek spelling), Elspie, Lisabette, Lisabetta, Lisbet, Lisbeth, Alisa, Lisa, Lisel, Liselle, Lesetta, Lisette, Lizzie, Lizzy, Lib, Libby, Libbie, Liz, Lisa, Tetsy, Tetty, Tibbie, Beth, Bethia, Betsy, Betsey, Bettie, Bettina, Betty, Bet, Bess, Bessie, and Betsy. Elspeth is the Scottish form; Else and Elisabeth are French forms; Lusa is the Finish form, Erzsebet is the Hungarian form; Elisabeth and Lise are German forms.

John (means God's gracious gift): Derivatives are Johnny, Jack, and Jock (popular in Northern England and Scotland). Johannes is the German and Swiss form; Jani, Johan, Jussi, and Jukka are the Finnish forms; Ian is the Socttish form; Sean is the Irish form; Jean is the French form; Ivan is the Russian form; Juan is the Spanish form; Johan is the Swedish form; Jone and Evan are the Welsh forms; and Giovanni is the Italian form.

Margaret (means pearl or child of light): Derivatives are Marsali, Margie, Marge, Madge, Maggie, Maggy, Mamie, Meg, Mag, Peggy, and Peg. Margarete is the German form; Margot and Marguerite are French forms; Margarita is the Spanish form; Margareta is the Swedish form; Margherita is the Italian form; Margit is the Hungarian form; Marget the Icelandic; Margarete is the Austrian form; Mariju is the Finnish form; Margarid the Armenian form; and Margrethe is the Damish form.

Martha (means lady or sorrowful): Derivatives are Marte, Marta, Marty, Matty, Patty, and Patsy (note Marth "Patsy" Washington). Marta is a German and Hungarian form; Marthe is the French form.

Mary (means bitter tears): Derivatives are Molly, Molley, Polly, Polley, Mol, Marya, Maryse, Marysia, Mara, Marah, Mal, Mayme, Maion, Misie, Mameie, and Mally. Marie is the French and Czech form; Maria is the Austrian, Ukranian, Portuguese, Swedish, Swiss (where it is often used for men in combination with masculine names), Spanish and German form; Maire is the Irish form; Meri is a Greek form; and Mariju is the Finnish form.

Sarah (means princess): Derivatives are Sara, Sal, Sally, Salley, Sallie, Sadie, Sadey, Sada, and Saida. Sara is both the German and French form.

Susannah or Susanna (means lily): Derivatives are Susan, Susie, Sue, Sukey, Susette, Suzie, Suzy, Suzette, Suzanne and Suzanna. Susanne is the French and Italian form; Zsuzzsanna is the Hungarian form.

William (means resolute protector): Derivatives are Will, Willis, Willie (considered in the 19th century to be a rather namby-pamby form), Willy, Bill, Billie (this can be a girl's or boy's name), and Billy. Guillame is the French form; Wilhelm the German and Swedish form; Vilhelm the Damish; Viljo is the Finnish form; and Vilem the Czech.


Note: This article was originally published in The Pittsylvania Packet, No. 16, The Pittsylvania Historical Society, Chatham, Virginia, Spring 1995 (when the author was sixteen years old).
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