Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Spanish Versions - Biblical Girls' Names

Now it's time for the girls' list of Biblical names and their translations! I tried to list only the names of Bible characters, avoiding word names like Faith and Hope. While these are lovely choices, I believe that they deserve their own list in a future post. There are many women in the Bible, and Wikepedia gives a long list with explanations for each name at As with the boys' list, I chose the best-known names and my favorites, adding variations, if known. I also placed asterisks by the names of people I have met. Feel free to comment with any names I missed!

Eve - Eva
Sarai - Saraí*, var. Zaira* and Zahira*
Sarah - Sara, Zara
Hagar - Hagar
Rebecca - Rebeca*
Rachel - Raquel*
Abigail - Abigail*
Anna - Ana*
Asenath - Asenat
Bilhah - Bilha
Leah - Lea
Deborah - Débora*
Dinah - Dina
Tabitha - Tabita
Elisabeth/Elizabeth - Elisabet, var. Isabel, Isabela*
Esther - Ester
Eunice - Eunice
Hannah - Ana*
Jemima - Jemima
Joanna - Joana*
Jochebed - Jocabed
Judith - Judit, var. Judith*
Lois - Loida
Lydia - Lud
Martha - Marta
Mary - María,* var. Marisol,* Marisela,* Marbella,* Marlene* and many others.
Miriam - Miriam*
Naomi - Noemí,* var. Naomi*
Orpah - Orpa
Ruth - Rut,* var. Ruth*
Phebe/Pheobe - Febe
Priscilla - Priscila
Zilpah - Zilpa
Zipporah - Séfora

This list was a bit more tedious to put together, but it was definitely worth the effort. Many of these women are so inspiring, and I hope that this list has inspired you as well. There are so many great options in both languages! For example, I prefer María over Mary and Séfora over Zipporah, but I prefer Sarah over its many Spanish variations and Lydia over Lud. Which version of your favorite name would you choose, the Spanish or the English version?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Spanish Versions - Biblical Boy Names

In my last post, I mentioned the popular use of the Spanish translations of biblical names in Mexico, but I only wrote about the ones that I thought were the most common.  In this post, I would love to mention a few more, starting with boys' names. Although there are literally hundreds of biblical names, and sites like can give you a long list, I chose the most common biblical names, adding in a few less common favorites.  The translations for these names come straight out of the Reina Valeria translation of the Bible, but I will give as many name variations as I know.  I also put an asterisk next to the names of people I have met.  Enjoy!

Adam - Adán
Abel - Abel* var. Abelino*
Seth - Set
Enos - Enós
Enoch - Enoc *
Jared - Jared
Mathuselah - Matusalén
Lamech - Lamec
Noah - Noé*
Abram - Abram
Abraham - Abraham
Ishmael - Ismael
Isaac - Isaac
Jacob - Jacob, var. Jacobo*
Ruben - Rubén*
Simeon - Simeón
Joseph - José,* var. Joselo*
Judah - Judá
Levi - Leví
Naphtali - Neftalí
Asher - Aser
Issachar - Isacar
Zebulon - Zabulón
Benjamin - Benjamín*
Israel - Israel
Ephraim - Efraín var. Efrén*
Manasseh - Manasés*
Shiloh - Siloh
Moses - Moisés
Aaron - Aarón
Gershom - Gersón* (The namesake I know spelled it without the accent and accented the first syllable.)
Joshua - Josué*
Caleb - Caleb
Isaiah - Isaías
Elijah - Elías*
Elisha - Eliseo
Jeremiah - Jeremías
Ezekiel - Ezekiel*
Daniel - Daniel*
David - David*
Nathan - Natán
Jonathan - Jonatán*
Solomon - Salomón
Samuel - Samuel
Ezra - Esdras
Jonah - Jonás
Nehemiah - Nehemías
Malachi - Malequías
Amos - Amós
Micah - Miquías
Matthew - Mateo 
Mark - Marcos* var. Marco*
Luke - Lucas var. Luca*
John - Juan*
Peter - Pedro*
Jesus - Jesús*
James - Santiago*
Simon - Simón
Timothy - Timoteo
Thomas - Tomás*
Titus - Tito*
Paul - Pablo*
Matthias - Matías
Stephen - Esteban*
Jude - Judas
Zachariah or Zachary - Zacarías

Although many of the Spanish variations only differ in pronunciation,  I see some real gems in the Spanish Biblia!  Would you prefer these names over their English versions?  Which biblical names should I add to the list?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mexican Name Trends - Using Catholic Names

The first name trend I discussed was the more common use of middle names in Mexico than in the U.S. So now maybe you're wondering, what makes the middle name so appealling? I've observed that Mexicans have similar first names because of the religious influence of Catholicism in Latin America.  

For example, if you meet a Mexican on the street and guess that they were at least baptized into the Catholic church, there is a 99.9% chance that you will be right.  Since Catholicism is the most popular religion in Mexico, most Mexican parents place what I call a "Catholic name" in the first name spot. This expression refers to  biblical names, especially names of Saints, variations of Mary, and virtue names.  Most Mexicans who are not Catholic practice another branch of Christianity, and these names are equally inspiring for them.  While I myself am a huge fan of biblical names and names with inspiring meanings, I have noticed that some of these names are so commonly used that they lose their appeal to their owners.  However, that does not mean that the practice will die out anytime soon,  especially since those who do go by their inspiring and classic "Catholic names" have fun nicknames and the option of combining their first and middle names. Here are some names that seem to be so popular in Mexico that no one seems to use them alone anymore:

For Girls:

María - Did you know that in some states, there was a law that required all daughters to be given the first name María?  Consequently, this lovely latin version of Mary is the most popular name in Mexico, but it is usually paired with it's middle name or skipped entirely. However, the variations Magdalena, Margarita, Mari, Marielena, Marisol, Marisela, Marlene, etc. seem more accessible to their owners.  These are beautiful options, but I would also love to see more little Marías - that actually go by María!

Socorro - This name means relief or mercy, but the people I know with this name would love to be relieved from it. One of my friends went by Coco, but my husband laughs at her choice of nickname because it's the name of the boogie man in Spanish!  Why parents kept using this name despite protests is beyond me, although luckily I haven't met any baby Socorros. Maybe they finally learned.

Ana - Among those of my generation, this biblical name is almost as popular as María, but it has the option of being paired with a middle name or standing on its own as diminutive Anita. 

Guadalupe - María Guadalupe is the name of the Virgin Mary of Mexico, so this name is hugely popular among all generations. Most namesakes (older and younger) go by Lupita.

Luz - Meaning light, this little yet inspiring name is usually paired with another biblical name. I knew a little girl named Luz Angélica, meaning "angelic light".  She was as adorable as her name.

For Boys:

Juan - John

José - Joseph

Miguel - Michael, Adam's name in Heaven as the archangel, hence Miguel's common use as Miguel Angel. Miguelangel is also the name that latin americans use for the great artist Michaelangelo.

Angel - This Heavenly name can be used in the first or middle spot.

Luis - Related to the word luz, meaning light, this classic is an extremely popular first name which many use together with their middle name.

Jesús - Skip the fluff and name your child after the best person to be named after. Although Jesus may sound weird in English, it's latin version is quite common in Mexico, and often stands on its own as a first name! Namesakes often go by Chucho or Chuy (pronounced "Chewy").  I would prefer to use Chucho for obvious reasons.

Manuel or Emanuel - Emmanuel.  If you like the idea of naming your child after Jesus but not the name or the looks you might get if someone reads their name with an American accent, try one of these two options. The version Emanuel seems to be uncommon enough to stand on its own, but watch out for the nickname Ema if you live in Mexico!  Manuel is a widely used middle name because it sounds well with other biblical first names.

 Are the other common biblical names among your acquaintance that seem to always be paired with something else?  Any in English?  I'd love to hear about them!

Mexican Name Trends - Going By Your Middle Name

If you live in Mexico, whatever you do, do not pick a middle name that you want to keep under wraps, since one of the first trends that noticed in Queretaro is the equal power and availabilty of the first and middle names.  In fact, many parents even place their favorite name in the middle spot!  And if parents don't use it, teachers will. When they notice an interesting middle name in their roster, they like to use it with the first name, or even better, switch off between the first and middle names of that student, who quickly learns to answer to both.  As adults, it is common that Mexicans with middle names choose to either go by their middle name instead of their first name, or go by both names said together.   Some children with a popular combination of first and middle names go by a nickname that combines them.  I've listed the combination nicknames that I have encountered below.

For Boys:
Juan Fernando - Juanfer
Luis Miguel - Luismi (The famous singer Luis Miguel was often called Luismi by adoring fans)
Juan José - Juanjo
José Maria - Chema

For Girls:
Maria Fernanda - Marifer and Mafer
Maria Jose - Marijo (Think Mary Jo)
Maria Elena - Malena
María de Lourdes - Malu
María Eugenia - Maru

Could you make a nickname by combining two latin names?  How about two American names?  I thought of Mary Jo, but I know there are more.  Do you know anyone who goes by a combination nickname that's not on this short list?

And, my Mexican and latino amigos, do you go by your middle name?  It seems like a much more common practice in Mexico than in the U.S., even for latinos who live here.

My Inspiration for Spanglish Baby

My name enthusiasm and baby fever have finally caught up to me, and now as a senior member of a baby name website, I have been actively (and even obsessively) participating in its name forums and blog-reading. But now it's my turn to give back. The lovely creators of have encouraged and inspired me to create a name blog of my own called Spanglish Baby, which is all about Mexican names!

Even though I am a quarter Hispanic and a Spanish Degree holder, I did not experience a true cultural immersion until I studied abroad, married a Mexican and worked as a teacher in Queretaro, Mexico. As a name enthusiast, I couldn't help but observe trends in the names that I had to memorize anyway! So whether you are looking for a distinctly Mexican name for your baby or are interested in the naming trends of latino cultures, I hope you glean some inspiration from Spanglish Baby.

As a disclaimer, I do not profess myself to be a name authority; this blog is my personal take on names.
But I would love to hear the experiences that you have to add, so thank you in advance for your feedback and comments!

Muchas Gracias!