Category: German boys’ names
In this global culture, many of the same boys’ names are popular in both Europe and the US: Noah, Jacob, and William, for instance. But there are other names that seem to flourish there while going largely ignored here. Not every European name can make it in America, but here are ten we consider ripe for appropriation:
Latinised form of the Greek form of Andrew. The name has been used in Germany since the Middle Ages; a famous medieval namesake is Andreas Osiander, a Lutheran mystic and theologian. The name Andreas was used in Britain too, although probably the name was still pronounced the same way as Andrew in everyday life. Just outside the Top 100 in Germany, Andreas is less often seen in English-speaking countries, perhaps because of fears it will be be confused with its feminine counterpart, Andrea. This German classic seems like a fresh update to flagging Andrew, and has recently had some publicity from the disaster movie San Andreas.
German names have had a spotty immigration record in the United States , even though one million Germans emigrated to America in the 1850s alone, and of course brought their native names with them. On the 1900 Social Security list, we find fairly high on the girls’ side such names as Bertha, Gertrude, Hilda, Irma, Frieda and Wilhelmina, while for the boys there were Carl, Oscar, Herman, Otto, August, Rudolph, Emil, Gus, Adolph (at Number 180!), and Fritz.
That aside, there are many, many attractive names with German roots, and here are just a few (which don’t necessarily reflect current popularity, where tastes run to more international favorites such as Mia, Hannah and Ben*:
- Adela—the a-ending of the rarely used German form of Adele (accent on the first syllable) makes it lighter and more feminine, as in Joanna/Joanne, Suzanna/Suzanne. Adela was the name of William the Conqueror’s youngest daughter and a character in E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India. Adel, which means ‘noble’ is a popular element in German names, as in Adelaide and Adelina.
- Amalia, Amalie—These pretty alternatives to Amelia derive from the Old German word meaning ‘industrious’.
- Cosima has become something of a hot choice, since it was chosen almost simultaneously last year by both Claudia Schiffer and Sofia Coppola. Though it has Greek roots, it has long been used in Germany, and has strong musical connections via the Cosima who was the daughter of Franz Liszt and the wife of Richard Wagner.
- Domino—Yes, it sounds like a black-and-white game piece, but this playful and dynamic o-ending girl’s name became popular in Germany in the late 80s. It was used for her daughter by British designer India Hicks.
- Ebba—Widely used in both Germany and Scandinavia, this seventh century saint’s name has a nice bouncy sound, and could be a follow-up to Emma and Ella. As could Elsa, the operatic bride who was the first to walk down the aisle to Wagner’s famous wedding march