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International Baby Names: Fresh takes on classics

Anouk to Zalman

by Linda Rosenkrantz

International baby names can go a long way towards reinvigorating classic English versions. They can often add freshness, energy, romanticism, quirkiness, individuality and surprise to a name that has gone somewhat colorless after centuries of widespread use.

I was reminded of this by a terrific thread on our forums, one that was started recently by Berry ‘msbuntain’.  What follows are some of the great examples contributed by Berries on that thread, as well as some of my own favorite substitutes. (Not that we don’t love classics too!).

We’d really like to hear about the names that you like an international version of better than the standard English language one, so let us know in the comments!

International Baby Names: fresh girl variations

Anouk—Dutch and French for Anne/Anna

Cinzia—Italian for Cynthia

Constanza—Italian for Constance

Edwige—French for Hedwig

Eithne (eth-na)—Irish for Edna

Fiorenza—Italian for Florence

Gianetta—Italian for Janet

Guinevere—Welsh for Jennifer

Inez—Spanish for Agnes

Jacinta—Spanish for Hyacinth

Marit—Swedish and Norwegian for Margaret

Moira—Irish for Mary

Noemi—Italian and Spanish for Naomi

Patrizia—Italian for Patricia

Sinéad—Irish for Janet

Siobhan—Irish for Joan

Sorcha—Irish for Sarah

Varvara—Russian and Greek for Barbara

Vittoria—Italian for Victoria

Zuzanna—Slavic for Susanna

International Baby Names: fresh boy variations

Alasdair—Scottish for Alexander

Anders—Scandinavian for Andrew

Armando—Spanish for Herman

Axel—Scandinavian for Absalom

Arrigo—Italian for Henry

Clovis—French for Louis

Corrado—Italian for Conrad

Donal— Irish for Donald

Eamon—Irish for Edmund

Eero—Finnish for Eric

Enzo—Italian for Henry

Ewan—Scottish for John (via Eoghan)

Hamish—Scottish for Jacob

Haroun—Arabic for Aaron

Inigo—Basque for Ignatius

Jaffrez—Breton for Jeffrey

Lars—Scandinavian for Lawrence

Lorcan—Irish for Laurence

Matteo—Italian for Matthew

Niall—Irish for Neal

Orlando—Italian for Roland

Owain–Welsh for Eugene

Paolo—Italian for Paul

Piet—Dutch for Peter

Redmond—Irish for Raymond

Tavish—Scottish for Thomas

Umberto—Italian for Humbert

Vasily—Russian for Basil

Zalman—Yiddish for Solomon

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond Satran of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. In addition to contributing stories on trends and celebrity naming, she guides the editorial content and manages the Nameberry Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.

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3 Responses to “International Baby Names: Fresh takes on classics”

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CailinRua Says:

September 11th, 2019 at 9:23 am

Yorgos – Greek for George
Agnetha – Scandinavian for Agnes
Heinrich – German for Henry
Ludwig – German for Lewis
Karol – Polish for Charles

miloowen Says:

September 11th, 2019 at 10:08 am

Jordi – Catalan for George
Ishbel – Scottish for Elizabeth
Alekos – Greek for Alexis
Catari – Neapolitan for Catherine
Jaume – Catalan for James
Dvora – Hebrew for Deborah
Merce – Catalan for Grace
Assaf – Hebrew for Asaph

Anthiese Says:

September 13th, 2019 at 4:43 pm

Silvia (I know it’s only a different spelling, but Sylvia is more common in the Anglosphere)
Iscah (original Biblical name that spawned Jessica)
Ginevra (Italian version of Guinevere, which I also really like)
Eskarne (I like Mercy as well, but this Basque version is very interesting)
Thérèse (French version of Theresa)
Son(i/j)a (Russian diminutive of Sofia)
Wisdom (Sophia’s meaning!)
Katarina (continental version of Katherine)
Eirene (original Greek version of Irene)
Mererid (Welsh version of Margaret. I have the Margaret diminutive Begw on my guilty pleasure list.)
Ilaria (you already know)
Maren (Norwegian version of Marina)
Lisette (A favorite among Elizabeth’s huge family.)
Elisheva (See Lisette.)
Isobel (See Lisette, Elisheva)
Victoire (fresher than Victoria)
Melati (Indonesian for the jasmine flower)
Britta (I also like Brigid)

Eoin (Gaelic version of John)
Domhnall (you already know)
Fionn (as opposed to Finn)
Kester (English nickname of Christopher used from the 15th-17th century)
Gawain (original form of Gavin)
Guillaume (fresh take on William)
Laurent (La(u/w)rence is getting a bit old, so why not try this French version?)
Anton (I’m not sure why this version of Anthony dropped out of the 2018 Top 1000.)
Jonas (not to say I don’t like Jonah)
Rupert (Dutch variant of Robert that deserves more love here in the States)

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