Looking for a unique name with some historical cachet? The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources is the place to go. It is a hefty work of scholarship that “aims to contain all given (fore, Christian) names recorded in European sources written between 500 and 1600, less the names of historical/non-contemporary people and names occurring only in fictional literature or poetry.”
The dictionary so far has over 1000 names, documented with citations and etymologies. They are constantly adding to the collection, planned in two phases, first looking at Western Europe and Hungary and then Eastern Europe. They also maintain an active blog with interesting facts about medieval naming practices and a “Mystery Monday” feature, covering documented names that have uncertain etymologies.
Here are 23 medieval names that would make great hipster baby names today.
This name of a 7th century Northumbrian saint comes from the Old English for “war god.”
This variant on the word cherub showed up as a name in Rome in 1527.
There were spelling variations on this one, including Eilwardus, Aloardus, and Æðeluuard, but this one probably works best for the Kindergartener learning to write.
Related to the Old German words for "enclosure of peace," this one showed up in France in 1388.
From the Old English for "bright stone," this one can be pronounced sort of like Brixton (which has a different etymology).
The origin of this name is obscure, but it was also sometimes spelled Dunes.
An adorable choice, from the Middle Dutch word for "sweet."
For your dangerously cuddly cub, ever goes back to the Old High German for "boar," and bern goes back to the word for "bear."
It’s a solid English word, why not also a name? Someone had the same thought in 1420.
The etymology is uncertain, “but perhaps related to Latin Isaura, an ethic byname derived from the region of Isauria in Asia Minor.”
Goes back to a Germanic term for "help friend."
This delicious choice is from the Latin name for the Celtic tribe who lived in Galicia in Spain.
Name your daughter for Iðunn, the Old Icelandic name of a goddess associated with apples and youth.
Found in France in the 9th century, this is a combination of the Old Breton words for "royal" (roen) and "valorous" (uuallon).
It sounds cute, but it can also be traced back to something like "goth raven."
Feel like Magnus is too common? Go for Magner, which can be traced back to the Old High German for "mighty army."
This name of a 10th century French saint means "noble helmet."
Also good is the 9th century Latin version of this name: Willulphus.
This name going back to "land friend" was popular in early medieval France.
Formed from the Old English cwen and gifu, Queniva is a "Queen gift." It's also spelled Kueneva or Kweneve.
Take little Rustic to the farmer’s market with you, just like they did in the 12th century.
Snorri may sound like a sleepy choice, but it’s actually from an Icelandic word for "smart, sharp-witted person."
There is no one like your baby, says this name, from the Latin for "unique, sole, singular." It was recorded as a name in England in 1552.