The Game of the Name: Elizabeth

(WARNING: This blog post contains many Randomly Capitalized words, many strikethroughs, and many (((parentheticals))). I am aware that none of these are In Vogue with Professional Writing, but frankly, my dears, I don’t give a hoot.)

Hello, and welcome back to whatever the heck this is the blog.

I have a wide variety of really weird interests. Most of them directly relate back to writing, because writing is my Primary Interest. It is the Thing I Love Doing more than anything in the entire world. My genre of choice is fantasy, but I am also a hopeless romantic, so there is always a love story as well. The “fantasy romance” genre, sadly, does not really exist. (To any naysayers: paranormal romance is not, in my opinion, the same as fantasy romance. Twilight and anything of that ilk is paranormal romance.) Romance is a HUGE genre, and you don’t have to even be very good at it to make a killing. (Fifty Shades of Grey, though it belongs in the category of Pornographic Dumpster Fire in the romance genre, is both poorly written (according to many people who have read it) and extremely lucrative.) This is not why I write romance; I write it because I am pathetic lonely creepy a romantic at heart.

Moving on: one of my many addictions interests is names. Obviously, when I write a story, there are going to be characters, and I can’t just call them “this dude” and “that person.” They need names, and their names must suit them. Not every character can be Jane Smith and John Jones.

My mother will tell you, if asked, that I have always been obsessed with fond of names. One of her favorite stories is about me as a clearly insane small child of three or four. I was a tiny tot and I liked to play with Barbies; but even then I had very strange discriminatory tastes and my Barbies were not called Barbie; they were called “Theresia” and “Jacqueline.” (My aunt also made some unique Barbie clothes by hand for my Barbies, and my mother was somewhat startled to hear her Barely-Toilet-Trained Daughter inform her that Theresia and Jacqueline had “exclusive” clothing— which was accurate, because no other Barbie in the world had those clothes. True story, I knew the definition of the word “exclusive” at the age of three.)

My point is: I have an obsession problem addiction very great love for names and I like to stalk research them and see where they come from. Hence it is my great delight to introduce to you a sort of monthly series on this blog: The Game of the Name. I’m going to put this one up on every first Sunday. In this series, each entry will feature a name I am obsessed with like a lot and I will lecture tell you about the name’s meaning and linguistic origins, some of the earliest known uses and historical facts about the name, and a list of linguistic variants and diminutives.

This month’s name, as you might have gathered from the title, is Elizabeth. Elizabeth has been my favorite name for a long, long time. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t like the name Elizabeth. My middle name is Eliza, a diminutive of Elizabeth but also a name in its own right. I used to wish my middle name was Elizabeth, but I’ve grown to love Eliza and I think that Sarah Eliza rather suits me.

Elizabeth is an English derivative of the Hebrew name אלישבע (Elisheva), meaning “My God is an oath” or “My God is abundance”— as rendered in the Septuagint (the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament).

The first recorded Elisheva was the wife of the Old Testament prophet Aaron (brother of Moses). However, the Greek version, Ελισαβετ (pronounced Elisavet), was recorded in the New Testament— it was the name of the mother of John the Baptist.

The name Elizabeth was more commonly used in Eastern European countries since Elisheva and Elisabeth throughout the Grecian and Roman empires and during the Dark Ages and the Renaissance. This is likely due to the Hellenization of Eastern Europe (specifically modern-day Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, etc) by Alexander the Great. The Greek alphabet was modified to produce the Cyrillic alphabet, used in Eastern European countries; in the Cyrillic script Elizabeth is rendered as Елизавета (pronounced Yelizaveta) and is a common name in many Eastern European countries.

The name Elizabeth was canonized in Christianity in the twelfth century, contributing to its growing popularity. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary was the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary, and was canonized for using her wealth to help the poor.

In Western Europe, the form Isabel was more commonly used, especially in Spain and Portugal. However, this changed in the sixteenth century during the reign of the much-loved and popular Queen Elizabeth I. Since then, Elizabeth has enjoyed an explosion in popularity. It has been in the top twenty-five names of the United States (according to census records) for the last hundred years. It was also in the top ten names of the United States (according to census records) from 1925 to 1972. The French variants Isabelle and Isabella are also incredibly popular; Isabella has been in the top ten since 2004 and was number one in 2009 and 2010 (likely due to the popularity of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer).

Famous bearers of the name Elizabeth include Queen Elizabeth I of England, Queen Elizabeth II of England, Elizabeth Bathory (Hungarian countess and serial killer), Elizabeth Gaskell (British novelist, Romantic period), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (British poet, Victorian period), and Elizabeth Taylor (British-American actress, 1932-2011)

Famous fictional bearers of the name Elizabeth include Elizabeth Bennet (a primary character of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen), Elizabeth Webber (of the widely popular soap opera General Hospital), and Elizabeth Comstock (a primary character in the video game BioShock Infinite). I hesitate to include Elizabeth Summers, but Buffy is a traditional nickname for Elizabeth and so Buffy Summers may, in fact, be an Elizabeth. Only our fandom lord and savior Joss Whedon can tell us that.

Regional variants of the name Elizabeth: Isabel (primarily Spanish), Isabela (Spanish, Portuguese), Elisabete (Portuguese), Elixabete (Basque), Isabelle (French), Isabeau (French), Elisabetta (Italian), Elisabeth (German), Elizaveta (Russian), Elizabeta (Bulgarian), Erzsébet (Hungarian), Alžbeta (Slovak), Lisbeth (Norwegian), Elisabet (Swedish), Isibéal (Irish), Ealasaid (Scots), Elspeth (Scots), Isobel (Scots), Lileas (Scots), Bethan (Welsh), Ibb (Medieval English), Elikapeka (Hawaiian), Isave (Vietnamese), Irihapeti (Maori), Elbie (Afrikaans), Ilisabat (Arabic), and far more than I have desire to list at this time.

Diminutives of the name Elizabeth: Bess, Bessie, Beth, Betsy, Bette, Betty, Buffy, Elisa, Eliza, Ella, Ellie, Elsa, Elsie, Elyse, Leanna, Liana, Libby, Liddy, Lilian, Liliana, Lilibeth, Lillian, Lisa, Liz, Lisa, Lizbeth, Lizzie, Lizzy

Tag an Elizabeth you know, or something. Maybe they’ll be creeped out as fascinated as I am. Or maybe not. My Interests are Extremely Weird Unique.

(All factual information contained in this blog entry comes from either the fabulous website Behind the Name (which gets information directly from the US Census Records and cultural historians) or the Wikipedia entry for “Elizabeth (given name)”. I am Too Lazy to cite with MLA but I do not take credit for any of the actual research put into the discovery of these facts. I’m just taking the opportunity to talk about a thing I find really cool. Please don’t sue me.) (Additionally, all foreign translations were done with the aid of Google Translate and English-to-Hebrew/Greek/Russian keyboards. They may not actually be accurate. Again: please don’t sue me.)

If you’re looking forward to seeing this blog in the future, consider following. If you want to see Occasional Pictures of My Face and Food I Have Made, you can follow me on Instagram at hypotheticalelephants. If you want to see me being a Whiny, Immature Human, you can follow me on Twitter at sadINFJwriter.


3 thoughts on “The Game of the Name: Elizabeth

  1. Love that that you started a blog and reading all about my name! I learned something new and laughed while doing it (always a big plus!).


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