[LMB] Names of girls

Elizabeth Holden alzurite at gmail.com
Mon Oct 4 03:15:04 BST 2021

Regarding the ending of female names with A, Pat Matthews said:

> In any culture with a leavy Latin influence, because the largest
collection of feminine nouns
> universally ended in "a" in that language.

True. Latin girls were given their father's family name with an A on the
end of it. So I asked myself: is this just true of Latin names, and in
countries where the languages were heavily influenced by Latin, or is it a
general Indo-European trend? And is that known?

I don't know enough about Proto-Indo-European to say, so I looked it up.
Found this list of names. Most of them are masculine names, but the female
names do seem to end in A.


This matches the few non-Latin languages of classical times that I know of,
like Greek (Anastasia, Cleopatra - though they also seem to have a lot of
female names ending in e.)  Thinking of a language not influenced by Latin,
I looked at Old Norse, where I find names like Helga, Hilda, Inga, Frigga,
Freya, Yrsa, and the like, but a lot of others like Astrid and Gro and
Tove. I see a lot of female a-names in Persian, too. In the cases of both
Persian and Norse, I don't see male names ending in A. It seems odd to me
that names like Abraham and Adam are listed, though, because surely they
are Semitic names. Or is it all more complicated than I thought? (These are
not scholarly websites, but I just wanted a few examples.)

Anyway, it's a long tradition in Indo-European languages. With variations
and counter-examples, but I think it's indicative.

The interesting thing is that the typical name endings of Latin names for
men haven't survived in the same way. You don't see a lot of men with names
ending in -us in modern English-speaking countries, compared to the large
number of women's names ending in -a. I wonder why.

Old Norse names:

Persian names:


whose name does not end in -a, but there are countries where I would be
called Elizabeta

Elizabeth Holden <azurite at azurite.ca>

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