Names and Terms in English
: Meaning and Origin
compiled by Fred Cheung
• Aaron is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of
Aaron is "mountain of strength". From the
Hebrew "har-on", or possibly of Egyptian origin.
Biblical: Moses' brother Aaron was the first high
priest of Israel.
• Abdul is of Arabic origin, and the meaning of
Abdul is "servant". Commonly used in
combination with another name, as in Abdullah,
or "servant of God". As such, the name
indicates religious service and devotion.
• Abdullah is of Arabic origin, and the meaning of
Abdullah is "God's servant". One of the most
common names in the Islamic world, and the
name of Muhammad's father. A royal name in
Saudi Arabia. Abdalla is a Swahili variant.
• Abelard is of Old German origin, and the meaning
of Abelard is "noble strength". From Adalhard.
The name may also ultimately derive from the
Hebrew name Abel, and the Spanish form
Abelardo may derive from the Spanish word
"abeja", meaning "bee". Made famous by the
12th-century French philosopher Pierre [Peter]
Abelard, who fell in love with Heloise, who
became a nun, and he became a monk.
• Abraham is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of
Abraham is "father of a multitude (of nations)".
The Hebrew form is Avraham. Biblical: Abraham,
celebrated for his great faith, was the ancestorfather of Israel and some of the Arabic peoples.
He had a son named Isaac when he was 100 and
his wife Sarah was 90.
• Achilles is of Greek origin. From Achilleus.
Mythology: name of the hero of the Trojan War,
celebrated in Homer's "Iliad", famous for his
valor and manly beauty. He was all but
invulnerable, having been dipped in the River
Styx by his mother, the nymph Thetis. She held
him, however, by the heel, which was thus his
one weak point: hence "Achilles' heel".
• Ada is of Old German origin, meaning noble.
• Adam is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of
Adam is "earth". In Hebrew, it is a generic
term for "man". Biblical: in the Genesis
account, he was the first man created from the
red earth of Eden.
• Adolph is of Old German origin, and the
meaning of Adolph is "noble, majestic wolf".
The Latin form Adolphus arrived in Britain in
mid-19th century, having been a German and
Swedish royal name and also a saint's name.
• Adrian is of Latin origin, and the meaning of
Adrian is "from Hadria". Place name: Hadria was
a town in northern Italy, which gave its name to
the Adriatic Sea. The name was borne by the
Roman emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus
(second century A.D.). Hadrian's Wall was built
across northern England during his reign. Also
the name of the 12th-century pope Adrian IV
(the only English pope in history).
• Aeneas is of Greek and Latin origin, and the
meaning of Aeneas is "to praise". Mythology:
the Trojan hero prince of Virgil's Aeneid, who
founded the Italian colony (Latium) that was
the origin of Rome.
• Agamemnon is of Greek origin, and the
meaning of Agamemnon is "working slowly".
Greek mythology: a mighty warrior and hero
or leader, who commanded the Greeks at the
siege of Troy. In the typical tragedy of Greek
myth, his daughter Iphigenia was sacrificed
before the Trojan war and when he came
home from the war, his wife Clytemnestra
killed him.
• Agnes is of Greek origin, and the
meaning of Agnes is "pure, holy". Latin
form of the Greek name Hagnes, from
the feminine form of "hagnos". The
popular Saint Agnes (fourth century)
was a young Roman virgin martyred by
the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Her
emblem is a lamb; the Latin word for
"lamb" is "agnus".
• Ahearn is of Celtic origin, and the
meaning of Ahearn is "horse-lord".
• Ajax is of Greek origin. Greek
mythology: the name of two heroes of
the Trojan War as told by Homer's
Iliad. Ajax Telamonius, or Ajax the
Great, was a Greek hero and legendary
king of Salamis. Ajax Oileus, or Ajax
the Lesser, was a Greek hero and
legendary king of Locris.
• Alain French variant of Alan.
• Alan is of Old German origin, meaning precious.
• Alaric is of Old German origin, and the
meaning of Alaric is "noble, regal ruler".
From Adalrich. Historical: Alaric I was the
Gothic king of the Visigoths who
plundered Rome in A.D. 410.
• Albert is of Old German origin, and the
meaning of Albert is "noble, bright,
famous". Perhaps made famous by Albert
Einstein, the great scientist and thinker,
who devised the theory of relativity.
• Albion is of Latin and Celtic origin, and the
meaning of Albion is "white; rock, crag". Albion
is an ancient poetic name for Britain. May derive
from the Latin "albus" referring to the
whiteness of cliffs seen from the sea.
• Alfred is of Old English origin, and the meaning
of Alfred is "elf or magical counsel". A rather
common name before the Norman Conquest of
Britain, being the name of Alfred the Great
(ninth century), King of Wessex. Queen Victoria
named her second son Alfred.
• Alessandra is of Greek origin. Italian and Spanish
form of Alexandra.
• Alex is of Greek origin, and the meaning of Alex
is "man's defender, warrior". Short form of
Alexander.
• Alexa is a variant of Alexandra (Greek), Alexis
(Greek) and Alix (Old German), and the
meaning of Alexa is "man's defender; noble".
• Alexander is of Greek origin, and the meaning
of Alexander is "man's defender, warrior".
From the Latin form of the Greek name
Alexandros. The name was probably coined
originally as a title of the goddess Hera,
consort of Zeus. Alexander the Great (356323 BC) conquered and ruled the greater part
of the known world before his death at the
age of 33. History describes him as a man of
high physical courage, impulsive energy, and
fervid imagination.
• Alexandra is of Greek origin, and the
meaning of Alexandra is "man's
defender". Latinate feminine form
of Alexander.
• Ali is of Arabic origin, and the meaning of
Ali is "high, exalted". Ali was the name
of the Prophet Muhammad's cousin and
son-in-law, known as the first male
convert to Islam. The name is one of the
ninety-nine attributes of Allah proposed
by Muhammad as excellent names for
boy children. The name is also borne by
the hero in "Ali Baba and the Forty
Thieves". Also, Muhammad Ali was the
name adopted by boxer Cassius Clay
when he converted to Islam.
• Alice is of Old German origin, meaning noble,
exalted.
• Alison is of Old German origin, and the meaning of
Alison is "noble, exalted". Norman French
diminutive form of Alice.
• Alix is of Old German origin, and the meaning is noble.
• Alvin is of Old English origin, and the meaning of
Alvin is "elf or magical being, friend". Also
possibly "precious friend".
• Amadeus is of Latin origin, and the
meaning of Amadeus is "God's
love". A saint's name that became
widely familiar as Wolfgang
Mozart's middle name due to the
1984 movie "Amadeus", which
dramatized the famed composer's
life. Amadeo is the Spanish and
Italian form.
• Amanda is of Latin origin, meaning loving;
[Latin: amare = to love; amo, amas, amat,
amamus, amatis, amant].
• Amen is of Hebrew (Bible) origin. [Hebrew acronym.
El Melech Ne'eman] Originally, it stands for God,
the true king. Eventually, it has become a
response to prayers or blessings, meaning so be
it, also meaning truth, certainty, thus, nowadays
extending to indeed, certainly = verily, truly,
so be it = a declaration of affirmation.
According to the American Merriam-Webster, “used
to express solemn ratification (as of an
expression of faith) or hearty approval
(as of an assertion).”
• Amor is of French origin, and the meaning
is "love".
• Amy is of Old French and Latin origin,
meaning "beloved". Anglicized form of
the Old French Amee, meaning "beloved",
which is originated from Latin: "amare",
meaning "to love". Roman Mythology:
wife of King Latinus, whose daughter
Lavinia married Aeneas and according to
the Aeneid (by Virgil), became the mother
of the Roman people.
• Andrew is of Greek origin, meaning warrior
[Biblical: the first chosen of the 12 apostles; Saint
Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland].
• Andromeda is of Greek origin, and the
meaning is "leader of men". Greek
mythology: an Ethiopian princess, the
daughter of Cassiopeia, was chained to
a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster
until Perseus rescued her. Also a
northern constellation. Also the name of
a shrub that blooms in spring.
• Angela is of Greek origin; Angel is
messenger of God".
• Anisa is of Arabic origin, and the
meaning of Anisa is "pleasant
companion".
• Annie is a variant of Ann (Hebrew)
and Hannah (Hebrew), and the
meaning of Annie is "He (God) has
favored me".
• Annisa is a variant of Agnes (Greek)
and Annis (Greek), and the meaning
of Annisa is "pure, holy;
satisfaction".
• Annissa is a variant of Anisa (Arabic)
and Annalisa (Latin), and the
meaning of Annissa is "pleasant
companion; graced with God's
bounty".
• Antigone is of Greek origin.
Mythology: the daughter of
Oedipus.
• Anthony is of Latin origin. English form of the old
Roman family name Antonius, probably of
Etruscan origin. Mark Anthony (82-30 B.C.),
Roman triumvir and general, sat on the throne
and had a tempestuous political career with
Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. Saint Anthony (third
century) was an Egyptian hermit monk who
founded the first Christian monastic order and is
traditionally renowned for his resistance to the
devil. According to legend, he lived alone in the
wilderness for over 80 of his hundred-some
years. In England, the name is usually spelled
and pronounced without the "h".
• Aphrodite is of Greek origin, and the
meaning of Aphrodite is "foam". Name
of the Greek goddess of love, known to
the Romans as Venus. She was said to
have been born on the sea foam.
• Apollo = Greek god of the sun (a brand’s name of icecream, the name of the space project to the Moon by
the USA in the 1960s); Apollo is of Greek origin.
Mythology: the Greek and Roman god of light, music,
poetry, who drives the sun across the sky in a
carriage, and also rules over healing and prophecy,
speaking through the famous oracle at Delphi.
• Arachne is of Greek origin. Greek
mythology: a young maiden who
challenged the goddess Athena to a
weaving contest and was turned
into a spider for offending her.
Spiders are also known as
"arachnids".
• Archibald is of Old French and Old
German origin, and the meaning of
Archibald is "genuine, bold, brave".
Brought to Britain with the Norman
Conquest.
• Archie is of English origin. Nickname
of Archibald.
• Archimedes is of Greek origin, and the meaning of
Archimedes is "contemplating, pondering". The
name of a brilliant Greek mathematician in the
second century BC.
• Arthur is of Celtic origin. King Arthur of Britain
(sixth century) and his Round Table of knights
have become legendary figures. His name was
first found in the Latin form Artorius, which is of
obscure origin. Other possible sources include
"artos", the Celtic word for "bear"; an Irish
Gaelic word meaning "stone"; Arnthor, an Old
German name meaning "Thor, the eagle". Often
used in the Middle Ages. Arturo is the Italian and
Spanish form; Arto and Arrturi are Finnish.
• Athena is of Greek origin, and the meaning of
Athena is "wise". Mythology: the virgin goddess
of wisdom and war, identified with the Roman
goddess Minerva. Homer, in the Odyssey, refers to
her as "gray-eyed Athena".
• Aubrey as a girl's name (also used as boy's name
Aubrey) is of Old German origin, and the meaning
of Aubrey is "elf or magical being, power".
Originally a man's name, from Norman French,
that arrived in England with the Norman
Conquest. This was the name, according to
German mythology, of the king of the elves.
American use of Aubrey is mainly as a girl's
name, perhaps under the influence of Audrey.
• B
• Barack is of Hebrew, Swahili and
African origin, and the meaning of
Barack is "lightning; blessing".
Biblical: a valiant warrior who
cooperated with the prophetess
Deborah to win victory in a battle
against overwhelming odds.
American President Barack Obama.
• C
• Candice is of Latin origin, and the meaning of
Candice is "clarity, whiteness".
• Carmen (as a girl's name but also used as boy's
name) is of Hebrew origin, meaning "garden,
orchard".
• Carol is of Old German origin, and the meaning
of Carol is "free man". Originally a male name,
an anglicized form of Carolus (see Charles).
Probably originated as a short form of Caroline.
• Charles is of Old German origin, and the meaning
of Charles is "free man". From "karl", similar to
Old English "churl", meaning "man, serf". The
first Holy Roman Emperor (seventh to eighth
century) Charlemagne (Latin Carolus Magnus,
meaning "Charles the Great") was a powerful
German/Frankish leader who created a more
ordered society out of the chaos that followed
the fall of Rome. He united France and much of
central Europe. His widespread fame gave rise
to many forms of his name. Charles is the
French variant of Carolus or Karolus.
•
Clio is of Greek origin, and the meaning of Clio is
"glory". From Kleio (which derives from "kleos"), a
name from mythology of the muse of historical
poetry. There are nine muses, the daughters of Zeus
and Mnemosyne, and each represents an art or
science, Clio is the goddess of history, Xanadu is the
goddess of dancing and singing, Calliope (epic
poetry), Terpsichore (choral song and dance), and
Thalis (comedy) have survived as given names. Also
used as a variant of Cleo, nickname of Cleopatra and
short form of Cliona.
• D
• Daisy is of Old English origin, and the meaning
of Daisy is "day's eye", and it is also a flower
name.
• Daniel is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of
Daniel is "God is my judge". History of Daniel:
from the Hebrew name (Daniyyel) meaning "God is my
judge". Daniel was a Hebrew prophet whose story is
told in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. He lived
during the Jewish captivity in Babylon, where he served
in the court of the king, rising to prominence by
interpreting the king's dreams.
• Daphne is of Greek origin, and
the meaning of Daphne is
"laurel tree". Mythology:
virtuous Daphne was a nymph
who was transformed into a
laurel tree to protect her from
Apollo.
• Delilah is of Hebrew origin and the
meaning is anguishing, lovelorn,
seductive. [Bible/mythology: a woman
who betrayed Samson] (name of a song
by Tom Jones in the 1960s).
• Diana is of Roman origin, in Roman
mythology, Diana = Greek Artemis =
Goddess of hunting and forest.
• E
• Echo is of Latin and Greek
origin, and the meaning of
Echo is "reflected sound".
Mythology: a nymph who loved
Narcissus and faded away until
only her voice was left behind.
• F
• Fenella is of Irish and Gaelic origin,
and the meaning of Fenella is "white
shoulder".
• Fidel is of Latin/French/Islam origin = faithful
[HiFi = high fidelity] (Fidel Ramos of the
Philippines, Fidel Castro of Cuba) [infidel =
unfaithful].
• Gabriel is of Hebrew origin, and the
meaning of Gabriel is "God's ablebodied one; hero of God". Biblical:
the archangel Gabriel is the only
angel besides Michael named in the
canonical Scriptures. Gavriel is a
Jewish variant popular in Russia.
• Hazel is of Old English origin, and the
meaning of Hazel is "the hazel tree".
A name from nature.
• Hebe is of Greek origin, and the
meaning of Hebe is "youth". Greek
mythology: Hebe is the goddess of
youth and cupbearer to the gods.
Also the name of a type of plant.
• Ignatius (Latin) "ardent,
burning". Saint Ignatius of
Loyola was the founder of the
Catholic Jesuit order; Inigo in
Spanish/Portuguese.
• Immanuel Variant of Emmanuel
(Hebrew) "God is with us".
German philosopher Immanuel
Kant.
• Juno is of Latin origin, and the
meaning of Juno is "queen of
heaven". Roman mythology: Juno
was the equivalent of Hera in
classical mythology, and the
protector of women and of
marriage; hence June is known as
the bridal month.
• Laura is of Latin origin, and the
meaning of Laura is "the bay,
or laurel plant". In classical
times, a crown was made from
the leaves of the bay laurel for
heroes or victors as a symbol
of honor and victory.
• O
• Odysseus is of Greek origin, and the
meaning of Odysseus is "angry
man". The derivation of this name is
uncertain. Possibly linked to the
Greek term "dys" meaning "to hate",
or also possibly "leg wound". In
Homer's epic poems "The Iliad" and
"The Odyssey", Odysseus was
known for his eloquence and his
talent for playing tricks. The Latin
version of the name, Ulysses, is
better known in America due to the
fame of President Ulysses S. Grant.
• Orpheus is of Greek origin. Possibly "beautiful
voice". In Greek mythology, Orpheus was given his
lyre by Apollo himself. Trained by the Muses, he
developed into a musician so talented he could
literally move mountains with his song. When his
wife, Eurydice, died from a snake bite, he
descended into the realm of the dead to win her
back to life. The gods were so moved by his music
that they agreed to her return on the condition
that Orpheus not look back at her as he led her
upward to the sky. He could not resist glancing at
her, and she vanished back into Hades. The
tragedy of his gallant failure has been made into
several operas.
• P
• Pamela is of Greek origin, and the meaning of
Pamela is "honey; all sweetness".
• Pandora is of Greek origin, and the meaning of
Pandora is "all gifts". Greek mythology: the first
mortal woman Pandora was created beautiful
and delightful by the gods, such that every man
was attracted to her. She was given charge of a
mysterious box/jar and told not to open it.
Being curious, she opened the box/jar, and
every kind of humankind's ills flew out, followed
by the one counterpart, Hope.
• Peter (=Π Ε Τ Ρ Α [Bible] = Pedro in
Portuguese) = founding rock.
• Samson is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning is
sun. Biblical: a judge of ancient Israel, endowed
by God with superhuman strength.
• Solomon is of Hebrew origin, and the
meaning of Solomon is "peace".
Biblical: Solomon, son of David and
Bathsheba, succeeded his father as
king of Israel. He wrote the Book of
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song
of Solomon. The wisdom of Solomon
is proverbial because when asked
what gift he would have from God, he
asked only for the wisdom he would
need to rule.
• Titan is of Greek origin. = the Greek
giants in the second generation of the
Greek myths of creation (gigantic, thus,
Titanic).
• V
• Valerie is of Latin origin, and the
meaning of Valerie is "strong,
healthy". Feminine form of
Valerius, a Roman family clan
name.
• Venus is of Latin origin. Roman
mythology: the goddess of love and
beauty, equivalent to the Greek
Aphrodite.
• Vito is of Latin origin, and the
meaning of Vito is "life-giving",
Vibrance, and Life.
• Z
• Zaccheus is of Hebrew origin, and the
meaning of Zaccheus is "the Lord
recalled". Variant of Zachariah.
Biblical: a tax collector who became
one of the disciples of Jesus.
• Zoe is of Greek origin, and the
meaning of Zoe is "life".
• Historical Terms:
• A.D.
• (Latin acronym. Anno Domini) Meaning "the
year of our Lord", it is a term used to refer to
the current period of time following the
death of Jesus. Many Jews and Muslims
take offense to the term and prefer to use
the term "C.E." meaning "common era" to
denote the same time period.
• B.C.E. = (Before the Common Era)
Alternative term for "B.C." (Before Christ),
used by many Jews and Muslims to refer
the same period.
• C.E. = (Common Era) Term often preferred
by Jews and Muslims to refer to the period
after the year 0, since A.D. (Latin. " anno
domini" or year of the Lord) refers to
Jesus.
• CEPA = Closer Economic Partnership
Arrangement (between Hong Kong SAR and
Mainland China).
• Common Market, the
• A group of countries in Europe imposing
few or no duties/taxes on trade with one
another and a common tariff on trade with
other countries initiated in the 1950s
[European
Economic
Community
or
European Union].
• Coup d’etat (Coup): Sudden violent
(often military &/or political) seizure
of power from a government.
• ECFA = Economic Cooperation
Framework Agreement (between
Taiwan and Mainland China).
• Jehovah: One of many names
thought
to
be
the
correct
pronunciation of the tetragrammaton
(divine name comprised of the
Hebrew equivalent letters YHWH or
Yaweh).
• Mesopotamia:
Literally
=
land
between the Rivers; now: Iraq; the
land of early Sumerian civilization as
well as the later Babylonian.
• SHANGRI-LA 1: a remote beautiful
imaginary place where life
approaches perfection: utopia;
2: a remote usually idyllic
hideaway. Origin of SHANGRI-LA:
Shangri-La, imaginary land
depicted in the novel Lost
Horizon (1933) by James Hilton.
• Yahoo was invented by Jonathan Swift
for the Travels. He and his friends used
the word among themselves while Swift
was writing he book, appearing in their
correspondence. In part IV of the Travels
- Houyhnhnm Land, Gulliver initially
mistakes the Yahoos for beasts, or
cattle, since they are so repulsive in
appearance and action. Eventually he
concludes they are human, possibly
descended from a pair shipwrecked long
ago. Once Gulliver determines humans
and Yahoos are the same, he begins to
call all people yahoos.
• Zollverein, 1834. A tariff or custom union in some southern
German states. (noun [German: from zoll duty +
verein union] Literally, a customs union;
specifically, applied to the several customs
unions successively formed under the
leadership of Prussia among certain German
states for establishing liberty of commerce
among themselves and common tariff on
imports, exports, and transit. (* In 1834 a
zollverein was established which included most
of the principal German states except Austria.
This was terminated by the events of 1866, and
in 1867 a more closely organized union was
formed, the administration of which was
ultimately merged in that of the new German
empire, with which it nearly corresponds
territorially).
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