A primer on Estonian names

I’ve already done posts on Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish, and Hungarian names, so it’s about time for the next installment of my intermittent “A primer on ______________ names” series. These posts are mostly for people researching in search engines, since they don’t typically get all that many hits from my regular readers.

Estonian is one of a handful of non-Indo–European languages natively spoken in Europe. Together with Hungarian and Finnish, it’s one of the three major Finno–Ugric languages, on the Finno and not Ugric side. Estonian and Finnish are very similar languages, while Hungarian is quite a bit distant linguistically. However, while Finnish has a fair bit of Swedish cognates, Estonian has more German and Russian cognates.

One thing which is immediately obvious about Estonian names is that vowels are often doubled-up; e.g., Oliivia, Joosep, Regiina, Toomas. Due to the overwhelming influence of the Russian occupiers, a number of Estonians adopted Russianized surnames. However, native Estonian surnames look nothing like native Russian surnames. Examples of Estonian surnames include Alver, Kass, Kalda, Eskola, Jänes (“hare”), Orav (“squirrel”), Kukk (“rooster”), Kirsipuu (“cherry tree”), Masing, Tarvas, Sisask, Raud (“iron”), Pärn (“linden”), and Välbe.

Unlike the East Slavic languages, Estonian doesn’t have the custom of using patronymics, so people just have regular middle names.

A sampling of Estonian names and their nickname forms, where known:

Male:
Aabel
Aadam
Aarne, Arne, Arno (Arnold)
Aleksander (Sandro, Sandros, Sanno, Sander, Sass)
Alvar, Alver (Alvo)
Andres, Andrus (Andu, Anti, Andro, Ando, Andi)
Anton, Tõnis
Ardo, Arto, Artur (Arti, Arto)
Arvid, Arved (Arvi)
Edgar (Edi)
Eduard (Edi)
Eerik (Eeri, Eero, Ergi, Ergo)
Georg
Heino
Helmar, Helmer (Helmo, Helmu)
Hendrik
Iivo, Ivalo, Ivar (Ivari, Ivo)
Jaagup, Jaakob, Jakob (Jaak, Jass, Jako)
Jaan, Juhan (Juho, Jukk, Juss, Janno, Jan)
Joonatan
Joosep (Joosu)
Joosua
Kaarel, Kaarli, Kaaro, Karel (Charles)
Kalju (“rock”)
Kalmer, Kalmo
Kalvi
Kleement (Leemet, Leemo)
Koit (“dawn,” and the title of a famous symphony by Heino Eller, one of Estonia’s greatest composers)
Kristjan, Krister (Kristo, Risto)
Kustas
Kuulo, Kulmo, Kulno, Kurmo
Leevi
Ludvig
Luukas
Marek
Mihkel, Miikael (Mikk, Miko, Miku)
Nigul (Niilas, Niilo) (Nicholas)
Olev (Olaf)
Oskar
Paavo, Paavel (Paul)
Peeter (Peet)
Priidu, Priide, Priido (Priidika, Priidla, Preedik, Priidik, Priit, Reedik)
Saamuel (Saamu, Saamo)
Siimon, Simun (Siim, Siimo, Siimu, Simmo, Simmu)
Taaniel, Daaniel (Taano, Tanel, Tani, Tanno)
Taavet (Taave, Taavi, Taavo, Tavo) (David)
Teodor, Tuudor
Tiitus (Tiido, Tiidrik, Tiidu)
Tõivo (“hope”)
Toomas (Toom, Tommi)
Ülar, Üllar, Ülev, Üllas (Ülari, Üllo, Ülo)
Urmas, Urmet (Urmo)
Valmo
Villem (William)

Female:
Alda
Aleksandra
Aliise (Aila, Aile, Aili)
Alma
Anna (Anu)
Antonia
Asta
Aurelia (Reeli, Reelika, Reili, Auri, Auli)
Deboora
Doora, Dorotea (Tea)
Eerika, Erika
Eeva (Eevi, Eveli, Evi, Iivi, Ivi, Ivika)
Eha (Ehala) (“dusk”)
Eleonoora, Ellinor, Leonoora (Noora, Loore, Loora, Nora)
Eliisabet (Liisa, Liisu, Liis, Liisi, Eliise)
Elina
Erna
Esta, Ester
Gertrud (Truude, Truuta)
Hanna
Helena, Helina, Heleene (Leena, Hela, Heli, Helli, Häli)
Helga (Helgi, Helja, Helje, Heljo, Helju)
Helma, Hilma (Helmi)
Hilda (Hille, Hilli, Ille, Illi)
Ilme, Ilma, Ilmi (“air”)
Ireene (Reena, Reene, Rena)
Jaana (Jaanika, Janne, Jana)
Johanna
Julia (Juuli, Juulika, Lia)
Juudit (Juta)
Kaja (“echo”)
Karlotte, Karola (Kaari)
Karoliine
Katariina (Katrin, Kati, Kadri, Kaisa, Riina, Triinu, Karin, Triin, Triina, Kadi, Kaarin)
Klaara (Klaarika)
Kristiina (Tiina)
Lagle (“goose”)
Laine (“wave”)
Lea
Leelo (“folk song”)
Leina, Leine, Leini
Liidia (Liidi)
Liilia (Liili, Lilja)
Liivia (Liivika)
Loviise (Viise) (Louisa)
Luule (“poetry”)
Maaja, Maia (not to be confused with the word maja, which means “house”)
Maaria, Maarja, Mari, Maari (Maarika, Marika)
Magdaleena (Magda)
Maimu (“little”)
Malviine (Malvi, Malve) (Malvina)
Maret, Margareeta (Marge, Margit, Marit, Marita, Meeta, Reeda, Reet, Mareta)
Mariina (Riina, Riine, Riin)
Marta
Meeli (Meelike, Mella, Melli) (Melanie)
Milena
Mireena
Mirjam (Mirja, Mirje)
Moonika (Mooni)
Oliivia (Liivi)
Pauliine (Liina, Liina)
Rahel (Rachel)
Regiina
Ruta, Rutt, Ruuta (Ruth)
Sabiine
Saara (Saare, Saari, Salli)
Sofia
Tähte, Tähti (“star”)
Taimi (“young sapling”)
Tamaara (Maara, Maare)
Terje (“mist”)
Tuule (“wind”)
Ülla, Ülle, Ulla, Ulrika (Ülli, Ülve, Ülvi)
Ursula
Veroonika (Veera)
Viiva, Viivela, Viive, Viivi, Viivika

Advertisements

One comment on “A primer on Estonian names

  1. Fascinating! You really know your languages, Carrie-Anne. 🙂

    Like

Share your thoughts respectfully

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s