Ethnic Variations of Names

Many of the names commonly used today in the United States have other forms in a variety of other languages.

Many names in common use in the U.S. today can be linked to a foreign heritage merely by using the form of the name that relates to a specific country. While this approach doesn't work for every name, you'll find that there are foreign forms for many popular and classic names.

Boys of a Feather

What's in a Name

The burgeoning Hispanic and Latino population in the U.S. has rocketed a number of Spanish forms of popular boys' names onto the most popular lists, including Jose, Antonio, Alejandro, Luis, Juan, Carlos, Jorge, and Miguel.

These are common and uncommon variations of many popular American names in today's name pool:

Alexander: Aleksander (Czech, Polish), Alexandre (French, Hungarian), Alexandros (Greek), Alsander (Irish), Alessandro (Italian), Aleksandr (Russian), Alasdair (Gaelic), Alejandro (Spanish), Alastair (Scottish).

Andrew: André (French), Andreas (German), Andras (Hungarian), Aindréas (Irish), Andrea (Italian), Andrzej (Polish), Andre (Portuguese), Andrei (Rumanian, Russian), Anders (Scandinavian), Andrés (Spanish).

Anthony: Anton (German, Russian, Rumanian, Scandinavian), Antal (Hungarian), Antaine (Irish), Antonio (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish), Antoni (Polish), Antonin (Czech or Slovak), Antoine (French).

Christopher: Christoph (German), Christophoros (Greek), Cristoforo (Italian), Christôvao (Portuguese), Cristofor (Rumanian), Crisóforo (Spanish), Christophe (French), Krzysztof (Polish), Kristofer (Dutch), Kristoffer (Scandinavian).

Jacob: Jakub (Czech), Jacques (French), Jakob (German), Iakobos (Greek), Jakov (Hungarian, Russian), Giacobbe (Italian), Jakób (Polish).

James: Giacomo (Italian), Jaime (Portuguese, Spanish), Séamus (Gaelic).

John: Johan (Czech), Jean (French), Johann or Johannes (German, Scandinavian), Ioannes (Greek), János (Hungarian), Giovanni (Italian), Ivan (Polish, Russian), Ioan (Rumanian), Eòin (Scottish), Juan (Spanish), Giovanni or Gianni (Italian).

Joseph: Josef (Czech, German, Scandinavian), Ioseph (Greek), Guiseppe (Italian), Józef (Polish), José (Portuguese, Spanish), Iosif (Rumanian), Ioseph (Russian), Iòseph (Gaelic).

Matthew: Matej (Czech), Matthieu (French), Matthaeus (German), Mattathias or Matthias (Greek), Maitias (Celtic), Matteo (Italian), Mateusz (Polish), Matteus (Portuguese), Matvei (Russian), Mathias (Scandinavian), Mata (Gaelic), Mateo (Spanish).

Michael: Michel (French), Mikhail (Greek, Russian), Mihály (Hungarian), Mícheál (Gaelic), Michele (Italian), Michal (Polish), Miguel (Portuguese, Spanish), Mihail (Rumanian), Michiel (Dutch), Mikel (Swedish), Mihangel (Welsh), Mícheál (Irish), Miguel (Portuguese), Mikkel (Danish, Norweigian), Micheil (Gaelic).

Nicholas: Mikolás (Czech), Nicolas (French), Nicolaus (German), Nikolaos (Greek), Niccolo (Italian), Nicolaio (Portuguese), Nicolae (Rumanian), Nikolai (Russian), Nikolaus (Scandinavian), Niels (Danish), Nicolás (Spanish).

Robert: Robert (pronounced ro-BARE; French), Robert (pronounced RO-bairt; German), Roibeárd (Irish), Roberto (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish), Raibeart (Gaelic).

Steven: Stepán (Czech), Stefan (German, Polish, Swedish, Rumanian, Russian), Stephanos (Greek), István (Hungarian), Steafán (Gaelic), Stefano (Italian), Stephan (Scandinavian), Esteban (Spanish), Étienne (French).

Girls of a Feather


What's more embarrassing to your child than giving him or her a bad name? Mispronouncing it. If you decide to use a foreign form of a name, make sure you know exactly how it should be pronounced. For instance, if you adopt traditional spelling on any Spanish name, remember that the j is pronounced as an h—Jesus is Hesus and Alejandra is Alehandra.

The majority of the most popular girls' names in use today in the U.S., like Kaitlyn, Madison, and Ashley, are unique to the American name pool and do not have equivalents in other languages. Of the top names, these are the ones that do:

Alexandra: Alastríona (Irish), Alessandra (Italian), Aleksandra (Polish, Russian), Alejandra (Spanish).

Elizabeth: Alzbeta (Czech), Elisabeth (French, German, Spanish), Erzsébet (Hungarian), Eilís (Irish), Elisabetta (Italian), Elzbieta (Polish), Elizabeta (Portuguese, Russian), Elisabeta (Rumanian), Elisabet (Scandinavian).

Emily: Émilie (French), Emilie (Czech), Emelie (German), Emelia (Spanish).

Katherine: Katharina (German), Katarina (Hungarian), Caitrín and Caitríona (Irish), Catarina (Italian, Portuguese), Katarzyna (Polish), Ekaterina (Russian), Katrine (Danish), Catherina (Spanish).

Madeline: Madeleine (French), Madailéin (Irish).

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