In 2014 I featured a series of blog posts introducing you to 2,014 names. For the most part they were names that were brand new to me as well. Some names may be more familiar but I found the meaning or origin or some other aspect of the name made it worthy of inclusion here. You may love some of the names, you may hate some, but hopefully you enjoy learning about all of them.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Names for Today: P, Q, R, S, T, U, V


Phylida - pronounced 'fill ih duh'. From Phyllidos, the genetive form of Phyllis, which is ancient Greek and means 'foliage'.

Queen Esther - 



This is not to explain the etymology or origin of the name Esther used for the Biblical queen (one of the most fascinating names etymologically or historically speaking, I think, and so I think it requires its own separate entry). Rather, this is the use of both Queen and Esther as part of the name.

The first person I found in my research was a woman who is still living and a famous jazz musician. I'm not sure if she was born Esther and being called Queen Esther is related to her virtuosity with music. I do think it's pretty neat, if you're going to become a musician, to reach a status or level of performance or maybe just longevity that rates you a high-sounding nickname like Queen.

The second and for me most fascinating story involved a woman named Queen Esther who lived in Pennsylvania in the 18th century around the time of the American Revolution. Her given name did not contain 'queen'. She was born Esther Montour. She married a chief, though, and had her own town called Queen Esther's Town where she lived in a castle or palace, as people claimed who visited her there. How should I attack each facet of her story that is so compelling? Her history suggests that she was descended from Madame Montour (whose name may have been Isabelle or Elizabeth -- Isabelle is just the French form of Elizabeth). Mdme Montour became an important interpreter at tribal councils and when treaties were proposed. Several of her children followed a similar life path - marrying a Native American  and becoming important in the politics of their clan or tribe, often serving as interpreters. Mdme Mountour was actually born in the late part of the 17th century, so jumping forward we come to Esther Montour. Esther was considered friendly somewhat to white people who met her. However their opinion of her changed after she massacred several American soldiers. The Americans had been responsible for the death of someone important to her, either a family or tribe member, and the massacre is seen as her revenge for this death.

Racabinah - I have yet to encounter a definite origin for this name. Possibilities include the name of a region of Africa (I came across Reccabena in an 18th century text, NOT in English so I'm not certain if Reccabena is the French or Italian name of a place in Africa or an African name), a name related to Rechab in the Bible  --- this one seems the most likely to me. There are the forms Rekah and Rekabi used for names of descendants of Rechab. Rechabina, then, might be some Latin form of the name for a female. If so, its meaning is "square" or "a chariot led by 4 horses" or "rider" or "bands of riders".
As a fan of the Lord of the Rings books and especially the Riders of Rohan, I love this idea. Tolkien was an expert with linguistics (well, a professor in fact) and it would make sense that the name he chose for his plains people, the people who were excellent horsemen (and women) would sound similar to the name of an ancient people associated with this or named for this  (Rechabites were supposed to be descendants of Rechab).

Check out these places in the Bible to learn more about this (I haven't yet, but will eventually):

Svetlana - Slavic, from the word 'svet' meaning "light" or "shining" or "luminescent" or "pure" or "blessed" or "holy".  Светлана is how the name is written in Russian. Prettier even in Cyrillic, isn't it? Could we do a C version of the name in English? Cvetlana? No, then you would want to say 'kuh vet lana' instead of 'suh vet lah na'  (well, no 'uh' in between the c  and v or s and v). Cevetlana doesn't improve things. But maybe Civetlana? Or Zvetlana? The c doesn't work but the Z just might.


Tacitus - Latin, meaning "silent".

If you love History or Geography or Culture or Language or Religion then you might love the idea of naming your son Tacitus. Or anyhow, of the ancient Roman writers there are that you could name your son after, I think this is one of the best choices, as far as having an awesome name and awesome writings. And just think, Tact would make a great nickname!

Here are a few of his insights:

“They have plundered the world, stripping naked the land in their hunger… they are driven by greed, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor… They ravage, they slaughter, they seize by false pretenses, and all of this they hail as the construction of empire. And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace.” 
“Greater things are believed of those who are absent.”

Usher- English, from the Anglo-Norman French "usser" (I also found the French form 'huissier') which comes from the Latin "ustiarius" which in turn is derived from 'ostiarius' which comes from "ostium" meaning "door" (also found the forms 'uscio' and 'huis'). It was the name for a doorkeeper in a court of justice or in a palace. It's modern meaning, though, refers to the person who guides a person to their seat at formal social events like weddings or banquets or at large public events, such as a play in a theater.

I also came across the Gaelic 'uis' and pronounced 'uish', which meant "utility" or "service" or "a courteous reception". 

 Usher is the name of a popular music artist in the United States - and this shows my age. I know that, I can recognize him, but I could not tell you anything about his music. I think more of the story The Fall of the House of Usher which is such a dark story, I can't imagine naming a child Usher. However, it's also a gothic tale and quite a good one. It's not an unappealing name as far as anything about the name itself, except that ushers, in the workplace, are not high on the totem pole.

Vanja - nickname for Ivan, the Slavic variant of the Greek name "Ioannes" which comes from the Hebrew name "Yohanan" meaning "Yahweh is gracious".

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