For example, in the Old Norse myths there was a goddess named Nanna who died of grief when her husband Balder was killed. Nanna means ‘brave’ and derives from an older word ‘nenna’. And the name Nanfrid means ‘brave and beautiful’, ‘frid’ is like ‘fair’. Another female Norse name is Modgunn meaning ‘brave in war’.
German has a similar female name Kunigunde which derives from the word ‘kuoni’ meaning ‘brave’ and the word ‘gund’ meaning ‘war’. Saint Kunigunde was the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry II. And although Rigmor is a Scandinavian name, its origins are German; the word ‘rikmut’ means ‘mighty and brave’.
About 4,200 girls are named Rigmor in both Norway and Sweden and about 2,800 are so named in Denmark. But these days almost no parents chose this name for their children. We really don’t know why..
Turning to Celtic traditions we find a name such as Tracey
, like the almost identical Tracy
it was a name selected for heroines and can be translated as ‘brave maiden warrior’. Tracy Chapman (born in 1964), is certainly one of them; she entered the stage at Wembley Stadium when Stevie Wonder suddenly had to cancel his performance at the famous Nelson Mandela concert; she was just twenty two years old.Hero
is a name from the Greek word ‘heros’ meaning ‘hero’. In Greek myth Hero was the lover of Leander who would swim across the Hellespont each night to meet her. The name nowadays is used for both boys and girls. A variant is the name Hera
In Chinese the name Yong
is also used for both boys and girls and means ‘brave’ or, when spoken with a differing pronounciation, ‘perpetual’. Koreans use a variant: Young
But, predictably, most names with connotations of bravery and courage are male.
Many of them derive from an Old German word ‘hard’ or ‘hart’ and the Old English ‘heard’ which can be translated as ‘hardy, brave’. In English we have the names Hardy
In German there are many names with the ending ‘hard’:Bernhard
) means ‘strong and brave like a bear’ and has a female equivalent in ‘Bernadette’.Burkhard
derives from ‘burg’ which can be taken to mean ‘protection’ or ‘brave (stalwart) protector’. Saint Burkhard, for example, was a bishop who founded several monasteries in the 8th century. Eckhard
deriving from ‘eg’ meaning edge can be translated as ‘a sharp sword’ or ‘a brave swords-man’. Eberhard
derives from ‘eber’ meaning ‘wild boar’ and has a female form: Ebba
derives from ‘era’ meaning ‘honour and respect’.Gerhard
), derives from ‘ger’ meaning ‘sword’ and means ‘a brave spear hunter’ or ‘a spear bearing soldier’ Leonhard
) means ‘brave as a lion’ and was the name of a 5 th century Frankish Saint who is the patron of peasants and prisoners. Reinhard
) derives from ‘ragin’ meaning ‘advice’ or ‘brave advisor. Many of you will be familiar with ‘Reynard the fox’, a sly character who gives rather dubious advice in medieval fables. Rikard
), means ‘brave and mighty’. The Normans introduced the name to England and three English kings bore the name including Richard the Lionheart, the leader of the Third Crusade. Two great composers were named Richard, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. There is a female form: Ricarda
derives from Germany and the word ‘hug’ which means ‘heart’ or ‘mind’ hence the meaning ‘brave-hearted’. The name became the surname of one of the most powerful aristocratic families in England.
There are also a number of names starting with ‘Hart’ as in;Hartman
meaning ‘brave man’. Harmut
meaning ‘brave in mind’. Hartwig
meaning ‘brave in battle’. Hartwin
meaning ‘ brave friend’.
There are other names which have a component implying or meaning ‘brave’. These include:Konrad
, deriving from the German words ‘kuon’meaning ‘bold’ and ‘rad’ which means ‘counsel’.Baldwin
deriving from the words ‘bald’ meaning ‘brave/bold’ and ‘win’ meaning ‘friend’; Leopold
derives from ‘liut’ meaning ‘people’ and ‘bald’.Theobald
derives from ‘peud’ meaning ‘people’ and ‘bald’ and so can be translated as meaning ‘a brave(or bold) defender of his people’.
Turning to Norse we find the Norse word for brave, ‘mod’ appearing in a number of names such as:Tormod
: ‘brave as the God Tor’.Hermod
: ‘brave in the army’.Modulf
: ‘brave as a wolf’.
In Swedish Folke
which means ‘ brave chieftain’, is still very popular, with 20,000 Swedish boys having the name. Perhaps the most famous person to bear the name was Folke Bernadotte, a Swedish diplomat, who negotiated the release of more than 15,000 prisoners from concentration camps during the final weeks of World War II.
In several countries a popular name is Ferdinand
(variations include Fernando
and there is a female version: Fernanda
, short form: Ferne
These derive from the words ‘frid’ and ‘nand’ which mean ‘peace’ and ‘daring’; the meaning might be best expressed as: ‘fighting bavely for peace’. Ferdinand
was, for this reason, a name taken by many of the rulers of Spain, Portugal and The Holy Roman Empire. Another famous bearer of the name is Ferdinand Magellan, who led the first expedition to circumnavigate the world.Calvin
is a name derived from the French word ‘chauve’ which can be taken to mean ‘bold’.
In Romanian Decebal
means ‘powerful and brave’. The name was taken by Diurpaneus, a first century King of Dacia. For many years he successfully resisted incursions into his territory by the Roman Empire, but was finally defeated in 106 A.D.
In Serbian, Nebojsa
is equivalent to ‘fearless’.
Other languages which feature names with brave connotations include Turkish with Alp
When we turn to India we find the names Bahadar
which can be translated as ‘brave and mighty’.
In Indonesia the name Bima
, in Vietnam the name Hung
and in Japan the name Isamu
all carry the meaning ‘brave / bold / courageous’.
There is also a brave-name in Ethiopian, Haile
which means ‘living and brave’. The last Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, who famously resisted Mussolini’s invasion of his country, bore this name. He was deposed in 1974.