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Variations on a (Classical) Theme

John, the most common given name in the English language, is also a popular first name in many other languages. So, too, are classic names like Mary, which also appears as Maria in such languages as German, Dutch, Russian, and Italian; Marie in French; Marija in Czech; Marja in Polish; and Maire in Gaelic.

Other popular forms of classic and traditional names from various languages include:

  • Catherine: Ekaterina (Russian), Catriona or Catrina (Scottish), Katarzyna (Polish), Katharina (German), Caitríona (Gaelic), Catarina (Italian).
  • Elizabeth: Elisheba (Hebrew), Elisabeta (Hawaiian), Elisabetta (Italian), Elzbieta (Polish), Elisabet (Scandinavian).
  • Edward: Édouard (French), Eduard (German), Eadbhard (Irish), Eduardo (Italian), Edvard (Scandinavian).
  • Christopher: Christoph (German), Cristoforo (Italian).

Another way to make a classic or traditional name stand out from the others is the fashion of giving it an unusual spelling, such as Aimee or Ami for Amy and Kolin for Colin. Here are some other examples, gleaned from a sample of names given to newborns in 1997:

Girls' Names

  • Jessica: Jessika
  • Catherine: Cathryne
  • Victoria: Victorya
  • Christina: Krysteena
  • Margaret: Margret
  • Amy: Amey
  • Kathleen: Kathlen (this name, spelled Kathlyn, was given to the first-born daughter of Annette Bening and Warren Beatty)

Boys' Names

  • Christian: Kristjan
  • Timothy: Timmothy
  • Caleb: Kaleb
  • Jeremy: Jereomy
  • Chase: Chayse
  • Eric: Eryk
  • Zachary: Zakery, Zackari, Zacherie
  • Michael: Miykael

More on: Choosing a Name


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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