What Does That Given Name Mean?

Nametag StickerWhile searching for our ancestors one can become quite intrigued at some of the given names of a grandfather, uncle, cousin or great grandmother that are located.  All given names in any country go in cycles of which are popular at that moment in time. Some names remain popular for more than a hundred years and others for less than a decade.

To add to the family history an interesting section can be included of the meaning of a given name. This is known as ‘etymology’ – the study of the origin of names.  Sometimes you assume a name might be French when actually its origin is that of Italian.

A web site, Behind the Name, assists the researcher in learning more about those first, second or third names of our relatives and what they mean.  Because of its meaning it is many times the very reason a parent selected a certain name for the baby.  That name is then repeated or carried on by a grandson or nephew or great niece.

The site has set up an easy system for looking up a name. There is a search box where you just type in a name. However, a reminder, there are countless variations in spelling any name.  So you can browse the names which are in alphabetical order.  This way you can spot any similar given names.

Once you locate a name, such as ‘Adelaide’ it shows whether is it mainly a feminine or masculine name, how to pronounce the word, what national regions is the name commonly found, the origins and history of the name and when it came into common usage.

For Adelaide:  it is feminine, used in English and Italian nationalists, pronounced ‘AD-a-layd‘. It comes from the French form of a Germanic name of ‘Adalheidis’ which means a type of noble person. The name started in the 10th century with Saint Adelaide, the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great. Its popularity grew in the 19th century in Great Britain with the Queen Adelaide, the wife of King William IV.  A city in Australia, Adelaide, was named in her honor in 1836. Adelaide reached its peak of popular given names from 1880 to 1900. During most of the 20th century the name Adelaide decline greatly.  Only since about 2005 has there been a surge in its popularity, making it rank to 434. That compares to its rank back in the mid-1920s.

The site also include variations of the spelling of Adelaide:  Adelaida, Adelais, Alesha and Adelajda; including nicknames, like Addy, Addie or Ada.  A listing of famous people in history with the Adelaide name is provided. There is offered a listing of where the name is assigned to a certain month and day.  For Adelaide it is December 17 in France.

A most interesting rating is offered for each name.  It is the impression that name gives from a survey of people.  For Adelaide, most felt it was a good name, a classic and formal name, possibly one born into the upper class.

Some of the more unusual given names our ancestors had were: Fanny, Keziah, Hephzibah, Calib, Lazerus, Obadiah, Lettice, Mathy, Osbert, Ranulf, Sawal, Abell, Ealse and Temperance to name a few.  It is always fascinating to learn the story behind a name when during genealogy.

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