Some names have not-so-obvious ties

Posted in Family traditions, Name my baby
by Lorain County Moms

By Nameberry.com

When Matthew McConaughey chose the name Levi for his son, he was, in a subtle way, naming the baby after himself. How so? Because in the New Testament, Matthew and Levi are two names for the same person.

There are many other such pairs of names with close connections that aren’t immediately evident, whether they are different ethnic versions of the same name, double identities for the same person, having historic or literary ties, or as sharers of linguistic elements. Being aware of this can be a useful tool for baby namers seeking not-too-obviously linked twin or sibling names or, like McConaughey, another less egoey version of your or your spouse’s name.

And of course it could also come in handy when looking for a more modern substitute namesake for a fustily-named family member. As much as you may have adored your Grandpa Roland, for example, you still might prefer the more dashing Orlando for your baby boy.

Here are a few examples, though of course there are countless other ethnic-switching possibilities out there:


  • AURORA has the same meaning as DAWN
  • AZENOR is the Breton form of ELINOR
  • CHAVA is Hebrew for EVE
  • DAISY is a pet form of MARGARET
  • CHLORIS is the Greek goddess of flowers; the Roman is FLORA
  • DELIA is an epithet of the goddess ARTEMIS
  • DOROTHEA has the same elements, in reverse, as THEODORA
  • HADASSAH was the original Hebrew name of the Old Testament ESTHER
  • HOLLY Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was born LULA
  • ISABEL was originally a Spanish version of ELIZABETH
  • JACINTA is Spanish for HYACINTH
  • JENNIFER is a Cornish form of GUINEVERE
  • MAUD started as a vernacular of MATILDA
  • NELL and NORA are both related to HELEN
  • POSY is a diminutive of JOSEPHINE
  • SINEAD is an Irish Gaelic form of JANET
  • SUSANNA means LILY


  • ALISTAIR is the Scottish form of ALEXANDER
  • ARMAND is the French version of HERMAN
  • ARRIGO is an Italian equivalent of HENRY
  • AXEL is a cognate of the biblical ABSALOM
  • AZARIAS was the human name of the angel RAPHAEL
  • BARTHOLOMEW may have been the same New Testament personage as NATHANIEL
  • CASPAR is the Dutch form of JASPER
  • COLIN is a diminutive of NICHOLAS
  • CLOVIS has the same components as LOUIS
  • EAMON is the Irish version of EDMUND
  • HAMISH is the Gaelic form of JAMES
  • JACOB, in Genesis, had a name change to ISRAEL
  • MARS is an ancient god of war, as is ARES
  • ORLANDO is the Iralian form of ROLAND
  • PAUL, in the New Testament, was originally named SAUL
  • TORQUIL is a Gaelic name based on the Norse god THOR
  • ZEUS is the Greek supreme god, the Roman equivalent is JUPITER


VIOLA, in Twelfth Night, disguises herself as CESARIO, and is the twin of SEBASTIAN

Nameberry (http://nameberry.com) is a baby-naming site produced by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, co-authors of 10 bestselling baby name guides, including the newest, “Beyond Ave and Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby.”

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