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Latinised form of the Greek form of Andrew, meaning “manly”. Saint Andreas of Alexandria was an early martyr. The name has been used in Germany since the Middle Ages; a famous medieval namesake is Andreas Osiander, a Lutheran mystic and theologian, while a contemporary one is the German opera singer Andreas Scholl. The name Andreas was used in Britain too, although probably the name was still pronounced the same way as Andrew in everyday life. There is an Old English poem called Andreas about Saint Andrew, which turns him into an Old English warrior, battling the forces of evil. Another English literary connection is the 12th century author Andreas Capellanus (Andrew the Chaplain), who wrote a satirical treatise on the courtly love. Just outside the Top 100 in Germany, Andreas is a popular name in Austria and Scandinavia. It’s not often seen here, perhaps because of fears it will be be confused with its feminine counterpart, Andrea. Pronounced something like ahn-DRAY-ahs in Germany, this German classic seems like a fresh update to flagging Andrew, and has recently had some publicity from the disaster movie San Andreas.
The equivalent of Antony, used throughout Europe since the Middle Ages, and a traditional name amongst European nobility and royalty. Famous namesakes include the Austrian composer Anton Bruckner, and Russian writer Anton Chekhov. A famous Australian namesake is SBS journalist and anchorman Anton Enus, who was born in South Africa. Antons in fiction tend to be baddies, which isn’t a help to the name’s image. One exception is the American children’s book Summer of My German Soldier, where Anton is an escaped German POW who befriends a little Jewish girl. Anton is a popular name in Germany, and around the 400s here. A suave multicultural choice – and even the many villainous Antons in fiction give it a bit of an edge.
From from the Roman name Florianus, derived from Florus, which is from the Latin for “flower”. Florianus, or Florian, was one of the Roman emperors, and the noble von Blumenthal family from Brandenburg claimed descent from him via an imaginative legend whereby his sons fled to northern Germany, and taught everyone how to make wine. Saint Florian was a Roman soldier whose duties included organising fire brigades; he was martyred by drowning in a river which is now in Austria, and he is a favourite saint in central Europe. Saint Florian is the patron of Poland, and the city of Linz in Austria, and in Austria and Germany, Florian is used as a call sign for fire engines and stations. With such imperial, noble, saintly, patriotic, and rather butch firefighting associations, it’s little wonder Florian is a common name in Germany, and still on the Top 100. It’s rare here, but the rise of Florence in some ways gives it more familiarity, and I have seen an Australian baby named Florian. It seems hip and elegant.
Latin form of Ioannes, the Greek form of the Hebrew name Yochanan, which in English is John. Famous German namesakes are seriously heavy duty achievers. Johannes Gutenberg, who introduced the printing press to 15th century Europe – it began a cultural revolution which changed the world and is largely responsible for most of us being able to read. Astronomer Johannes Kepler, a key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution whose works provided the foundations for the theory of gravitational force. Johannes Brahms, one of the great composers of the 19th century, honoured in the German hall of fame. A famous Australian namesakes is former Queensland premier Sir Johannes “Joh” Bjelke-Petersen, husband to Florence, and a force in conservative politics; he was of Danish descent. Popular in central Europe and Scandinavia, Johannes is #56 in Germany. It doesn’t chart here, but I do see it sometimes in birth notices. In Germany it’s pronounced yo-HAHN-nes, while here it may be pronounced in order to give the nickname Joe. A strong, handsome, intelligent classic.
Latin name meaning “just”. A Christian named Jesus Justus is mentioned by St Paul in the New Testament, while Joseph Justus is a disciple of Christ considered as a possibility to become an Apostle to replace Judas – he is venerated as St Justus of Eleutheropolis. There are quite a number of saints named Justus, including a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury. One of the most influential is a legendary one named Justus of Beauvais, who was beheaded as a child and went for a stroll holding his head: one of those fashionable saintly miracles which sent you straight to the top of the medieval pops for some reason. A famous German namesake is Justus Perthes, an 18th century publisher who founded the Almanach de Gotha, a directory of European royalty and nobility. An Australian namesake is Justus Jorgensen, who founded an artist’s colony in Melbourne called Montsalvat which is still open. Justus is #99 in Germany, and is on the US Top 1000. It seems like a solid alternative to the English virtue name Justice, although pronounced quite differently in Germany.
German form of Christian. It is more common as a surname than a first name in Germany, and is rare here as well, but I do see it occasionally in birth notices, and one of the athletes we sent to the 2012 Olympics was named Karsten. That makes it seem unusual but normal, and it’s very much like familiar names such as Carson and Carter.
Short form of Nikolaus, a German form of Nicholas. The patron saint of Switzerland is Saint Nicholas of Flüe, affectionately known as Brother Klaus. There are many famous German people with this name, including Klaus Neumann, Luftwaffe flying ace, artist and musician Klaus Voormann, who designed album covers for bands like The Beatles, Klaus Badelt, who composed the film score to the 2003 version of Ned Kelly, singer Klaus Meine from The Scorpions, and actor Klaus Kinski, father to Natassja Kinski. There are famous fictional characters with this name too, such as teen bookworm Klaus Bauldelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events, vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus Mikaelson from The Vampire Diaries, and Olympian athlete-cum-goldfish Klaus Heissler from American Dad. Slightly dated in Germany, this charming name is very rare in English-speaking countries, probably because it reminds people of Santa Claus. Klaus is said to rhyme with house though.
Modern form of the ancient Germanic name Audo or Odo, originally short forms of names beginning with aud-, meaning “wealth, riches, fortune”. A name in common use by German royalty and nobility, there have been four Holy Roman Emperors named Otto. Otto I, or Otto the Great, was the son of Saint Matilda, and married an English princess. Otto IV was the son of Matilda of England, the daughter of Henry II. Two famous writers had dads named Otto: Anne Frank and Sylvia Plath. The name might also remind you of statesman Otto von Bismarck or film director Otto Preminger. In fiction, Otto has often been used as a comedic or joke name, but “Big Otto” Delaney from Sons of Anarchy is an example of it being both serious and powerful. Currently #320 in Germany, Otto is popular in Scandinavia and gaining popularity in both the US and UK. It’s around the 200s here, and seems hip and rather quirky.
Modern form of the ancient Germanic name Hrodulf, translated as “famous wolf”. It was commonly used by German royalty and nobility, and Rudolf II was a Holy Roman Emperor. Although not generally considered a successful ruler, his patronage of the arts made him a key player in the Renaissance, while his interest in the occult and alchemy helped bring about the scientific revolution – there would be no chemists without alchemists! A famous namesake of modern times is the great ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who partnered Margot Fonteyn. Another is the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who sought to find a system of thought which would be both scientific and spiritual in nature. Anthony Hope’s novel, The Prisoner of Zenda, is about two men named Rudolf – one a European king, the other his distant cousin visiting from England who must impersonate him. Despite all these interesting Rudolfs, the name is rarely used here as it reminds people of the Christmas song, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Rather a shame, as this name is strong and rather charismatic. I do know someone named Rudolf who has never been bothered by the song though.
Short form of names such as Wolfgang (“wolf path) and Wolfram (“wolf raven”), sometimes used as an independent name. A famous Australian namesake is Wolf Blass, a German immigrant who founded the famous winery in South Australia; his name was short for Wolfgang. The word wolf is the same in English and German (although pronounced differently), and you can also see this as a vocabulary name referring to the animal. Humans have always been fascinated by wolves, and in various mythologies they can be symbols of both danger (such as in the fairy tale Red Riding Hood) and nurturing (like the wolf mother who suckled the twins Romulus and Remus). A common thread in many legends from around the world is that of humans descended from wolves, or humans in wolf form, including werewolves. The power of the wolf makes this an attractive name, and it’s right on trend along with other animal names.
People’s favourite names were Otto, Wolf and Anton, and their least favourite were Justus, Johannes and Rudolf.