Meta

Meta is a Scandinavian, German, and Slovene short form of Margareta from English Margaret meaning “pearl” which comes from Ancient Greek margarítēs μαργᾰρῑ́της (pearl) which derives from an unknown origin, though it could be derived from an Indo-Iranian origin.

Meta (μετά) is also the name of a minor figure in Greek mythology, the first wife of Aegeus (the king of Athens and father of Theseus with a different woman). The name means “beyond” and derives from the same Greek prefix meaning “after” or “beyond” which derives from a PIE root word.

Meta is also a surname- first an Albanian surname whose meaning I couldn’t find, and it’s also a Japanese surname written with the kanji 米 (rice) + 田 “rice paddy, rice field” and written in hiragana as めた.

Origin: uncertain though possibly from an Indo-Iranian source; Proto-Indo-European

Meaning: a shorted form of Margareta “pearl”; also a Greek prefix “after” or “beyond”

Usage: German, Danish, Swedish, Slovene, Ancient Greek

Hera

Hera is the goddess of marriage, women, birth, and family in Greek mythology. She is also the queen of the gods, the wife of Zeus. Apparently, Zeus fell in love with her at first sight but she refused his marriage proposal. Refusing to give up so easily, he turned himself into a cuckoo bird (knowing that Hera loved animals) and pretended to be in trouble. Feeling pity for the small creature, Hera held the poor creature to her breast. Zeus transformed back into himself and she agreed to be his wife out of shame. Their marriage, though, was anything but a happy one. Zeus was a womanizer and fathered many children with many women, to Hera’s intense jealousy, and she would often go after these poor women and their offspring with vengeance.

Hera and Zeus had several children together, including Ares (god of war), Eileithyia (goddess of childbirth), Hebe (goddess of youth), and Hera is the mother of Hephaestus, god of fire and the forge, whom she bore on her own without Zeus’s help when he gave birth to Athena through his head. 

Some symbols of Hera are the cuckoo bird, peacocks, pomegranates, the scepter and the diadem, as well as the cow, the lion, the apple tree, the willow, the fig, the myrrh, lily, and the orange tree.

Although the etymology behind the name Hera is uncertain, it’s often been associated with Ancient Greek hora ὥρᾱ (time, season) or heros ἥρως (hero, warrior), perhaps in reference to her as a protectress. It’s also possibly the name likely originated from a pre-Greek source.

Origin: uncertain

Meaning: uncertain though it’s been linked to Ancient Greek hora “time, season” or heros “hero, warrior” 

Usage: Ancient Greek

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Variants:

  • Era (Italian)
  • Héra (French, Hungarian, Czech
  • Ira (Modern Greek) 

Zeus

Zeus is the main god in the Greek pantheon, the god of the sky and thunder, law and order, and oaths. According to mythology, he was the youngest son of the Titan Cronus and Rhea. Because his father was told that a son of his would overthrow him just as Cronus had overthrown his own father Uranus, Cronus would swallow every child Rhea gave birth to, boy or girl. When Zeus was about to be born, Rhea devised a plan to save him by swaddling a bundle of blankets or clothes with rocks and switching it out with the baby Zeus whom she gave to some nymphs to take care of. When Zeus came of age, he somehow managed to make his father gorge out the children he had swallowed and together they banded together to fight against the Titans, ending in victory for the Olympians.

The name ultimately derives from PIE *dyḗws meaning “sky, heaven; god”, a derivative of root word *dyew (bright, shine; sky, heaven).

Origin: Proto-Indo-European

Meaning: “sky, heaven”, “god”, “bright”, “shine”

Usage: Ancient Greek

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Male variants:

  • Zeno (Latinized Ancient Greek, Italian)
  • Zenon (Ancient Greek, Polish)
  • Zinon (Modern Greek)

Female forms:

  • Zenais (Ancient Greek)
  • Zenaida (Late Greek)
  • Zénaïs (French)

Melissa

Melissa is the name of a nymph in Greek mythology who helped nurse the infant Zeus along with Amalthea, when he was hidden from his father Cronus. She fed him honey and was also credited with the art of bee-keeping.

Melissa is also the name of a 3rd century BC Pythagorean philosopher and mathematician although very little is known of her life- actually, nothing at all.

Melissa is also the name of a good sorceress in the Italian epic poem Orlando Furioso and features in the Matter of France (a body of medieval literature and legendary material associated with France, especially involving Charlemagne). 

Melissa is the name of a genus of plants which also includes the lemon balm.

The name means “bee” or “honeybee” via Ancient Greek mélissa μέλισσᾰ (bee; honey) which derives from PIE *mélit (honey) and *leyǵʰ- (to lick).

Origin: Proto-Indo-European

Meaning: “bee, honeybee”

Usage: Ancient Greek, English, French

Nicknames:Mel, Lissa, Lissy, Melly/Melli, Missy

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Variants:

  • Melyssa (English)
  • Melisa (English, Spanish, Bosnian, Turkish)
  • Melitta (Ancient Attic Greek)
  • Melita (Latinized Ancient Greek)
  • Melite (Ancient Greek)
  • Melisa (Turkish)
  • Melis (Turkish)
  • Melika (Hawaiian)
  • Mélissa (French)
  • Melissza (Hungarian)

Male forms:

  • Melissos (Ancient Greek)
  • Melissus (Ancient Greek)
  • Melisseus (Ancient Greek)

April

April is the 4th month of the year in the Gregorian calendar (the 5th in the Julian calendar), and is associated with the beginning of spring. The name comes from Latin Aprīlis “of April” though the origin of the name is uncertain. It’s traditionally been associated with Latin aperire “to open, to uncover” in reference to when the flowers begin to open and bloom. 

However, it may perhaps be based from Etruscan Apru, which is the Etruscan form of Aphroditethe month likely named after the Greek goddess of love and beauty.

April is also a surname originating from the given name, someone who was born or baptized in the month of April, or it might have originated as a nickname. 

Origin: uncertain

Meaning: uncertain, could be linked to Latin “to open, to uncover”, or based on the name of the goddess Aphrodite 

Usage: English

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Variants:

  • Avril (French)
  • Abril (Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian)
  • Aprile (Italian)

 

Penny

Penny is often used as nickname for Penelope, the name of the faithful wife of Odysseus in Greek mythology. Her name is of uncertain origin though it’s been linked to Ancient Greek penelops πηνέλοψ, referring to a type of duck. It’s also been linked to Ancient Greek pene πήνη (thread, weft) and ops ὄψ (eye, face), which is a more fitting meaning for the character in Greek mythology: Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, who was apparently faithful to him for the twenty years he was gone despite the many persistant suitors who attempt to woo her with marriage. In an attempt to ward off their persistance, Penelope tells them that she will choose a suitor when she has finished weaving a burial shroud for Odysseus, though every night she undoes some of it to give her more time. This goes on for 3 years before her trick is discovered.

Penelope (or Penelopeia) is also the name of a dryad, the daughter of Dryops and portrayed as the mother of Pan, the god of shepherds and hunters.

Penny is the name of the one-cent coin in the U.S., derived from an Old English word, penning, pennig (penny) via Proto-Germanic *panningaz which derives from an unknown origin.

Penny is also an English surname originating as a nickname for someone who had some wealth (since coins weren’t very common when they were first introduced in England).

Origin: unknown, possibly from a pre-Greek origin; unknown

Meaning: a nickname for Penelope either referring to a type of bird or from Ancient Greek “thread, weft + face, eye”; penny is also the name of a one-cent coin

Usage: English

Variants:

  • Pennie (English)
  • Penni (English)
  • Penelope (Greek)
  • Pinelopi (Modern Greek)
  • Pénélope (French)
  • Penélope (Spanish, Portuguese)

Leo

Leo comes from the Latin word meaning “lion” via Ancient Greek leon which derives from an uncertain origin; it’s possible it could have been adopted from a non Indo-European source, perhaps from Proto-Semitic *labiʾ-, *labuʾ- (lion). The name might have originated as a nickname for someone who was courageous and brave.

Leo is the name of a constellation representing to the Ancient Greeks the Nemean lion killed by the Greek hero Herakles as part of his twelve labors. Leo is also a Zodiac sign belonging to those born between July 22nd to August 23rd; apparently those born under this sign are stubborn, loyal and trustworthy, assured, confident and ambitious, but prone to arrogance, jealousy, and bossiness.

Leo could also be used as a nickname for names such as Leonidas (an Ancient Greek name meaning “son of the lion” or “son of a lion”), Leopold (a Germanic name meaning “bold people”), and Leonard (meaning “brave lion”), or any name beginning with Leo.

Origin: uncertain, possibly from a Proto-Semitic source

Meaning: “lion”

Usage: Late Roman, English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Croatian

Variants:

  • Leon (Greek, Ancient Greek, English, German, Polish, Slovene, Croatian, Dutch)
  • Leontios (Ancient Greek)
  • Leontius (Ancient Greek, Latin)
  • Levon (Armenian)
  • Leoš (Czech)
  • Léo (French)
  • Léon (French)
  • Léonce (French form of Leontios)
  • Lionel (French diminutive of Léon; English)
  • Levan (Georgian)
  • Leone (Italian)
  • Leonzio (Italian form of Leontios)
  • Leonas (Lithuanian)
  • Lef (Polish cognate of Lev)
  • Lev (Russian)
  • Leonti (Russian)
  • Leontiy (Russian)
  • Leonty (Russian)
  • Lyov (Russian)
  • León (Spanish)
  • Leoncio (Spanish)
  • Leonius (Late Roman)

Female forms:

  • Leona (English, German, Czech)
  • Leola (English)
  • Leone (French, English)
  • Leontina (Italian, Late Roman)
  • Leonia (Late Roman)
  • Leonie (French, German, Dutch, English)
  • Léonie (French)
  • Léontine (French)
  • Léone (French)
  • Leontýna (Czech)
  • Leontyne (English)