|ABI, ABIAH - Old Testament; mother of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:2), also wife of Hezron (1 Chron. 2:24). The name means "the Lord is my father" in Hebrew.|
ABIGAIL - Old Testament; the wife of King David (1 Sam. 25:3). Her names means "father's joy" in Hebrew. Nicknames: Aby, Abby.
ADELE, ADELINE, ADELAIDE - different forms of an old Germanic name meaning "noble one." "Adele" and "Adeline" were brought to England by the Normans in the 11th century. "Adelaide" is a more recent German variation. All three names can be found in American records. Variations: Adella, Adelia, Della, Delia, Delany, Ada, Addy, Attie.
ADELPHIA - a nickname for Philadelphia. Variations: Delphia, Delphy, Della, Dilly, Alphia, Alpha.
AGNES - a Latinized version of the Greek name "Hagne" meaning "holy." St. Agnes was a Roman virgin who was martyred in the 4th century. During the Middle Ages, the name "Agnes" was reinterpreted as a variation of the Latin word agnus, lamb; thus St. Agnes is traditionally pictured holding a lamb. "Agnes" was a fairly common name in England in the Middle Ages. Nicknames: Agga, Aggy, Ackey.
AISLEY - a nickname for Alice, Elsa, or Elzina.
ALBINA - the feminine form of an old Roman family name "Albinus," from the Latin word albus, "white." Although the name is quite ancient, it does not appear to have been used in English-speaking countries until the Classical Revival period, e.g., in the song "Lovely Albina" by Henry Purcell (c.1695). The variation "Alba" can occasionally be found in English records from the Middle Ages, but subsequently fell out of fashion.
ALDONIA - originally a nickname for Caledonia (a poetic name for Scotland), but often used as a name on its own, especially in the 19th century.
ALETHEA - the Greek word for "truth." Introduced as a girl's name by the English Puritans. See also "Althea."
ALICE - an English and French variant of the name "Adelaide," which is an Old French spelling of the Germanic name "Adalheidis" which means "noble one." Nicknames: Alzy, Elsy, Aisley.
ALIDIA - probably a variation of Lydia, but perhaps related to the Scottish name "Elida."
ALLY - a nickname for Alice, Almeda, Almira, or any other name that starts with "Al".
ALMEDA, ALMEDIA - probably a variation of the German name "Almetta." Examples can be found in both Northern and Southern states beginning around the mid-1700's. Nickname: Media.
ALMIRA, ELMIRA - "Elmira" is a Spanish name that means "admirable one." Both Elmira and Almira were fairly popular names in America in the 19th century, and can be found in both the northern and southern U.S. states. I've found examples of Almira as early as the 1780's and Elmira as early as 1800. Some Baby Name books claim that Elmira is an Old English name, but this seems to be little more than speculation based on its similarity to "Elmer." In fact, it does not appear that Elmira/Almira were used in England prior to the 19th century. The name "Elmira" appears in Moliere's play Tartuffe (1669), and "Almira," which is doubtless a variation of Elmira, is the title character in operas by Giulio Pancieri (1690 or 1691) and Handel (1705).
ALTHEA - a name from Greek mythology that was popularized by English poet Richard Lovelace in "To Althea, From Prison" (1649). See also "Alethea."
ALVA - prior to the 19th century, the Old Testament name "Alvah" (Genesis 36:40) was usually given to boys. Its use as a female name appears to date to the 19th century in the American South. Perhaps it originated as a nickname for Malvina. There is no evidence that it is related to the Irish female name "Alva." Nickname: Alvy.
ALZY - a nickname for Alice, Elsa or Elzina.
AMANDA - this name may have been coined by English playwright Colley Cibber for his bawdy comedy, Love's Last Shift, or, Virtue Rewarded (1696). The name apparently comes from the Latin word amanda, meaning "lovable."
AMARILLA - variation of "Amaryllis," which is the name of a shepherdess who appears in classical Greek and Roman poetry. The name is of Greek origin and uncertain derivation, possibly from amaryssein, to sparkle. Edmund Spenser included a character named Amaryllis in his allegorical poem, "Colin Clouts comes home againe" (1595). John Milton also used the name in his poem "Arcades" (1645). Subsequently, Europeon botanists in the early 1700's gave the name Amaryllis to a fragrant lily imported from Africa. Women named "Amaryllis" and "Amarilla" can be found in America as early as the 1730's. Nicknames: Marilla, Arilla, Orilla, Rilla. See also "Aurelia."
AMELIA - a Germanic name that is based on the word amal, meaning "work." It first became popular in England in the 18th century due to Henry Fielding's novel Amelia (1751). The usual German spelling is "Amalia." Nicknames: Melia, Milly. See also "Emily."
AMERICA - occasionally used as a girl's name, especially in the 19th century.
ANALISA - probably a variation of the German name "Analiese."
ANGELINE - a variation of "Angela" which is the feminine Latin form of the word for "angel." Angela and Angeline were first used in England and America in the 18th century.
ANN, ANNE, ANNA - an English, French, and German variation of the Biblical name Hannah. Nicknames include Annie and sometimes Nancy.
ANNABEL - a diminutive of "Anna." Anabel, Annabella, Anabilia and similar variations have been used in England since the Middle Ages.
ANNICE - an English name that originated in the Middle Ages, probably as a variation of "Agnes." Variations: Annis, Ennis, Ennice, Enes, Inez. Nicknames: Ann, Annie, sometimes Nancy.
ARABELLA - a name of uncertain origin found in England and Scotland since the Middle Ages. Possibly related to the name "Orabel" (from the Latin orabilis, meaning "entreatable," i.e., a quality of a saint). The Arabella was the ship that brought John Winthrop and the "Boston Pilgrims" to Massachusetts in 1630. The name appears in several influential literary works including Alexander Pope's "The Rape of the Lock " (1714).
ARAMINTA - this name first appears in American records in the mid-1700's. It is probably an elaboration of the classical Greek name "Amynta" ("defender"), which was introduced during the Classical Revical period by works such as Edmund Spenser's "Colin Clouts comes home againe" (1595), Henry Purcell's song "Amintas to my grief I see" (1679), and John Dryden's poem "Go tell Amynta, gentle swain" (1680's). These English writers may have borrowed th name from the Italian pastoral play Aminta by Torquato Tasso (1573). Note that the original Greek name is masculine; Dryden seems to have been the first to use it as female name. Variations: Arminta, Aramitha, Armitha, Minta, Mintha, Minthy, Minty.
ARENA - see Irena.
ARLENA, ARLEANA - a Southern U.S. invention that first appears in the 19th century. Possibly inpsired by the German name "Marlena" or perhaps by the city of New Orleans. Also spelled Orlena, Orleana.
ARTELIA, ARTELY - a Southern U.S. invention which may have originated as an Appalachian pronunciation of "Adelia." Nickname: Arty.
ARTEMISIA - a classical Greek name, from "Artemis," the goddess of the moon and hunting. It was popularized during the Classical Revival period by works such as "A Letter from Artemisia in the Town to Chloe in the Country" by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1679). The name can be found in U.S. records beginning around the late 1700's. Variations: Artemesia, Artemiza, Artramecia, Artramecy.
ASENATH - Old Testament; the Egyptian wife of Joseph (Genesis 41:45,50). The name is Egyptian and means "servant of Neith." Neith was the Egyptian goddess of war and weaving. She was often depicted in Egyptian art as a beautiful woman with the head of a lioness, sometimes nursing a crocodile! "Aseneth" was a popular name with the Puritans, despite its pagan connotations. The Puritans probably approved of the Biblical Asenath because she was a pagan who converted to the Hebrew faith. Nicknames: Sena, Senia, Sina, Cena, Cenia, Cina.
ATTIE - a nickname for Adele, Adeline, or possibly other names starting with "A."
AURELIA - feminine form of the French name "Aurele," which comes from the ancient Roman family name "Aurelius," from the Latin word aureus, meaning golden. "Aurelia" first appears in America around the 1780's.
It may have been introduced by the English novel Sir Launcelot Greaves (1762) by Tobias Smollett. Variations: Arelia, Aralia, Rilla, Riley.