|EASTER - when this name is encountered, it is usually a misspelling of the Old Testament name "Esther," although it is possible that "Easter" (the holiday) was sometimes used as a given name in its own right. (The word "Easter," incidentally, comes from the name of an old Germanic fertility goddess whose spring festival was Christianized around the 7th century A.D.)|
EDIE, EDY - a nickname for Edith.
EDITH - an Old English name that combines the elements elements ead, prosperity or riches, and gyth, meaning strife. The name may have meant something like, "riches gained in battle" or "a valuable thing worth fighting for." Nicknames: Edie, Edy.
EDNA - an Anglicized form of the Scottish and Irish name "Eithne." St Ethenia (Ethna, Edana), the daughter of King Laoghaire of Ireland, was one of St Patrick's first converts. "Edna" was first used in England in the 18th century. Nicknames: Edny, Edney.
EFFY - a nickname for Euphemia.
ELEANOR - a very old name, probably of Germanic origins, found in England, Germany, France, and Italy. It is one of several Germanic names based on the root ali, meaning "foreign." The name was introduced to England by Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204), a French princess who became the wife of King Henry II. Nickname: Nelly, Ella, Ellie.
ELENDA, ELLENDER - variations of Eleanor.
ELISABETH, ELIZABETH - New Testament; the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:60). Her name means "God is her oath" in Hebrew. It is the equivalent of "Elisheba" in the Old Testament (Exodus 6:23). "Elizabeth" has been one of the most popular names in England since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It has also been common in Germany. There are many nicknames for Elizabeth, but "Eliza" and "Elisa" were the ones most commonly used in the Upper New River Valley of North Carolina during the 19th century. The nicknames Liza, Bettie, Betsy, and sometimes Zibba or Zibby can also be found, as well as the German variations Elzina and Elsa (Elzy, Alzy, Aisley).
ELLA - a Germanic name introduced to England by the Normans in the 11th century. Originally, it was probably short for various Germanic names that start with ali, meaning "foreign." "Ella" can also be a nickname for Eleanor or Ellen.
ELMIRA - see Almira.
ELSA - a common German nickname for Elizabeth. Variations: Elsey, Elzy, Aisley.
ELVIRA - a Spanish name popularized in England by the Mozart opera Don Giovanni (1787), Byron's poem "Don Juan" (1819-1824), and other versions of the famous legend about a dissolute Spanish libertine trapped in a web of lust and deceit. Elvira is Don Juan's long-suffering wife.
ELSINA, ELZINA - common German nicknames for Elizabeth. Variations: Elsey, Elzy, Aisley.
ELZY - a nickname Elsa, Elzina, or possibly Alice.
EMALY - phoenetic spelling of Emily.
EMER - phonetic spelling of Emma.
EMILY - a name found in England since the Middle Ages, believed to be a variation of the old Latin name "Aemilia," which in turn comes from a Roman family name meaning "rival." Note: etymologists believe that "Emily" is unrelated to the similar-sounding name Amelia, which has Germanic origins.
EMMA - an English name that originated in Medieval times as a nickname for "Ermintrude" ("entirely beloved"), "Ermagard" ("entirely guarded"), and similar Germanic names.
EMMALINE, EMMELINE, EMOLINE - a name of Germanic origin that was introduced to England by the Normans in the 11th century, possibly a variation of either "Emma" or "Amalia" (Amelia).
ENNICE - probably a variation of Annice.
ESTHER - Old Testament; the heroine of the Book of Esther who saved the Jews of Persia from the evil Haman. Her name comes from the Persian word satarah, meaning "star."
ESTRILL, ESTRILDA - Germanic, from Eastre (the name of a fertility goddess) plus hild (battle). Estrildis is the heroine of an ancient Celtic legend recounted by the chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth (c.1100-1154) in his book, Historia Regnum Britanniae ("History of the Kings of Britain"). Estrildis, a German princess, is captured and brought to England, where she falls in love with the Welsh king. They run off together and have a daughter, Sabrina. The story ends tragically with Estrildis and Sabrina being drowned in the River Severn by the king's jealous wife, Gwendolen. The names Estrild, Estrilda, etc. became rare in England after the Middle Ages, but were revived by the English poet Edmund Spenser in "The Faerie Queene" (1590-1596).
EUDICIA, EUDICY - see Eurydice.
EUGENIA - feminine form of the Greek name "Eugenios," meaning "well born." Although there was a cross-dressing female saint named St. Eugenia who lived in Egypt during the early Christian area (she disguised herself as a man, joined a monastery, and became an abbott), there is not much evidence of this name in English-speaking countries before the mid-1800's. The name enjoyed its greatest popularity after 1853, when the Spanish countess Eugenie de Montijo married Napoleon III of France. Queen Eugenie was a beautiful, stylish, and controversial royal figure with a bad marriage -- the Princess Diana of her era.
EULALIA, EULALIE - a Greek word meaning "good speech." This name was fairly common in England in the Middle Ages, probably due to the influence of St. Eulalia, a 4th century Spanish martyr. See also "Euphemia."
EUNICE - New Testament; a Jewish Christian woman who was the mother of Timothy (2 Tim. 1:5). Her name means "good victory" in Greek. Nicknames: Nica, Nisa.
EUPHEMIA - Latin form of a Greek word meaning "good speech"; a common female name in England in the Middle Ages. St. Euphemia was a 4th-century Greek saint. Nickname: Effy, Phemia. See also "Eulalia."
EURYDICE - the wife of the hero Orpheus in an ancient Greek legend recounted by the Roman poet Ovid (1st century B.C.) After Eurydice is killed by a snake bite, Orpheus descends to the underworld and convinces the god Hades to release her from death. However, Orpheus violates Hades' instruction not to look back before reaching the light of day, and Eurydice is returned to the underworld. This legend, which is reminiscent of the Biblical story of Lot's wife, was the subject of many paintings and poems during the Middle Ages. As a girl's name, "Eurydice" seems to have come into vogue in England around the beginning of the 18th century. Examples can be found in American records as early as the 1720's. Nicknames: Eudicia, Eudicy, Dicey.
EVA, EVE - the Biblical mother of humanity. Her name comes from the Hebrew word chava meaning "living" or "giving life." "And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living." (Genesis 3:20.) Both "Eva" and "Eve" have been used in England since the Middle Ages. "Eva" was also quite common in Germany. The Puritans, notably, shunned the name "Eve" because they considered it ill-omened. Nicknames: Evy, Evie.