Romancing the Name: Melissa to Melisande
Let’s say you have a dilemma: There’s someone dear to you who would make a great namesake, but who has a not-so-great name.
Or there’s a name you’ve always loved that has become a bit too popular over time.
One solution you might consider is finding a foreign variation of the name that adds a little pizzazz to it, while still retaining the family connection. No reason why Great-Aunt Florence can’t inspire a little Fiorella, or Grandpa Henry can’t bond with his relatedly-named Enrico. (Granted, the idea might take a little getting used to on the part of the honoree.)
It doesn’t take much to change a conservative straight guy or Plain Jane kind of name into a Latin lover or a French flirt. Sometimes it’s only a matter of adding one final vowel to give it that extra bit of exotic flair–say going from Leonard to Leonardo–or dropping a letter, as in making Flora into Flor; while others require some more elaborate translating. In any caseo Romance language cognates can definitely make a name more romantic, and the possible variations are almost endless..
Here, first, are some pairs with minimal differences, where the relationship between the two names is fairly obvious:
ADRIENNE — ADRIANA
BEATRICE — BEATRIZ
CHARLOTTE — CARLOTTA
CLAIRE — CHIARA
EMILY — EMILIA
ESTELLE — ESTELLA
FELICE — FELIXA
FLORA — FLOR
FRANCES — FRANCESCA
GENEVIEVE — GENOVEVA
JACQUELINE — JAQUETTA
LEONA — LEONIE (LAY-oh-nee)
LOUISE — LUISA
LYDIA — LYDIE
MELISSA or MILLICENT — MELISANDE
NAOMI — NOEMI
NICOLE — NICCOLA
PATRICIA — PATRIZIA
PAULA — PAOLA
PEARL — PERLA
RACHEL — RAQUEL
SYLVIA — SILVIE
VERONICA — VERONIQUE
VICTORIA — VITTORIA
VIOLET — VIOLETTA
ADRIAN — ADRIANO
ANTHONY — ANTONIO
CALVIN — CALVINO
CONRAD — CORRADO
ISAAC — ISAACO
LAWRENCE — LORENZO
LEONARD — LEONARDO
LUCAS — LUCA
LUCIANO — LUCIANO
MARK — MARCO
MATTHEW — MATTEO
MICHAEL — MIGUEL
OLIVER — OLIVIER
PAUL — PAOLO
PHILLIP — PHILIPPE
SAMSON — SANSONE
TERENCE — THIERRY
THADDEUS — TADDEO
And now some where the connection isn’t quite as clear-cut:
CYNTHIA — CINZIA (CHIN-zee-a)
FLORENCE — FIORELLA
HYACINTH — JAQUETTA
JADE — GIADA
JEWEL — BIJOU
MICHELLE — MIGUELA
CYRIL — CIRO
ELIJAH — ELIO
HENRY — ENRICO
HERMAN — ARMANDO
JAMES — DIEGO
JULIUS — GIULIO
LOUIS — CLOVIS
ROLAND — ORLANDO
STEPHEN — ESTEBAN, ETIENNE
WILLIAM — GUILLAUME
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on June 3rd, 2009 at 12:30 am
ROMANCING THE NAME: MELISSA TO MELISANDE – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry…
This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009 at 12:02 am and is filed under French baby names, Italian baby names, Spanish baby names, Uncategorized, boys’ names, ethnic baby names, exotic baby names, family names, girls’ names, ……
on June 3rd, 2009 at 12:45 am
on June 3rd, 2009 at 3:28 am
Lovely list of names! My favorites are Engracia and Sansone.
on June 3rd, 2009 at 8:44 am
Love this list!
Esteban was a contender for our son’s middle name, after an uncle Steve. (Stephen was out because the first name HAD to be Alexander and our last name starts with S.) But my husband boycotted it. Too bad, because I’ve never totally loved our son’s middle name.
And Matteo is another fave, but my little sister has threatened me with bodily harm if I steal it. 🙂
There are tons of great Leo- names. My favorite for a girl is Leocadia, after the saint. And for a boy, Leonidas – though I suppose the movie 300 has made that one less obscure.
on June 3rd, 2009 at 11:06 am
I thought the translation of James is Santiago – Diego is David.
on June 3rd, 2009 at 11:16 am
I think you’ll find that Diego is the Spanish form of James and Santiago means St. James–a melding of the words for saint and James.
According to my Spanish name reference, David is used as such.
on June 3rd, 2009 at 11:33 am
None of the original names on this list seemed very plain or awful to me. I would have liked to see transformations of some names that are more stodgy like Jane/Joan/Jean, Marlene or Betty.
on June 3rd, 2009 at 7:29 pm
There are some really great suggestions on this list. I love Paolo and Matteo.
Adriana is starting to become so popular that Adrienne is beginning to look fresh to me.
on June 4th, 2009 at 2:44 am
I greatly enjoyed this post, although I have to say that I’ve met far more Biancas in my life than Blanches.
on June 4th, 2009 at 3:23 pm
2 of my friends have daughters named Leonie (both pronounced wrong) because I told them that I waned to name my future daughter that! KEEP YOUR NAMES TO YOURSELF LADIES!
on January 9th, 2010 at 1:47 pm
Nice list. I sort of get what the commenter who asked about plain Jane names us saying. Most of these are not romanticizing or latinizing Anglo names, but taking one Romance language name and finding its equivalent in another Romance language. Victoria, Lousia, Genevieve ets are all ALREADY “foreign”, in that sense. Interesting because it shows how over time, we bring names into the name pool and no longer see them as being foreign.
bilingual mama Said
on January 5th, 2011 at 7:13 pm
The problem with several of these is that they sound awful in an english accent.
I am currently trying to find names that sound nice in both english and spanish because we divide our time pretty evenly between north and south america and am coming up blank because of just this problem. There are very traditional names like Julian, sara, david, etc that can be pronounced nicely in both languages but the problem is that everyone I know who lives a life immeresed in both Spanish/English has already named their children these names…
Some sound nice in English–even to a spanish speaker’s ears–but really Flor? how will this sound different than floor? And also remember that regardless of how good your french italian or spanish is many of the people your child will know will call (tadeo): “tah day oh” (the soft e is difficult for english speakers and the “o” will sound like the “oh” of “oh no!”) Graziella likewise sounds ghastly in english as the ella part would most likely pronounced like the ella in ella fitzgerald–which sounds lovely alone but not so nice connected to what may end up sounding like Grassy….
My parents were kind enough to give me a bilingually appropriate name. My brother was not so lucky… What two people that had lived most of their lives in spanish speaking countries were thinking when they called him Stuart, I can’t begin to think–he was called Estuarrr most of his life. Horrible.
on March 27th, 2011 at 12:17 am
I’m sorry, but Jaquetta REALLY reminds me of the Spanish word for jacket (chaqueta, I think). Some of these are really lovely!
on August 9th, 2011 at 2:16 am
Does anyone have an idea on how to change up Edna?
on August 25th, 2011 at 1:58 am
Edna -> Ethna/Eithne.
on November 10th, 2013 at 4:54 pm
Cinzia is an actual name? I made it up once. Of course, my version was spelled phonetically so pronounced SIN-zee-a, but still. I never woulda thought.
These are interesting. I never actually made the connection between Melisande and Melissa before, or Carlotta and Charlotte.
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