Language Matters May 2011: The Wonderful Etymology of LingoStar’s First Names

Dear Language Friend,

Our first name defines us, is part of us, and still, we often don’t think about its history. How many of us know the exact origin, meaning, and popularity of our given name? Very few, actually.

Thus the LingoStar team decided to unveil the mysteries of our international team’s first names. Let’s take a closer look at the true sense (Étumon, in Greek), and at the reason (Logia, in Greek) – that is to say the etymology – of our Canadian, Czech, French, and Japanese names.

Contributed by Coralie Tripier and Cecilia Rose.

LENKA /leŋkə/ – Owner of LingoStar

“Lenka” is a female Slavic name that was originally a diminutive of “Magdalena” or “Elena”, before being used as an independent name. “Lenka” is mostly to be found in Czech Republic and Slovakia.

In Slovak, the meaning of the name is “light”, but “Lenka” is thought to be a clear reference to Magdalena, meaning “woman from Magdala”, a town that might have existed on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  However, there could also be another meaning to “Lenka”, or to “Magdalena”, as the word “migdal” means “tower” or “elevated and great”, in Hebrew.

It is also a clear reference to Mary Magdalena, the apostle to apostles, the most elevated of all, hence the first one to see Jesus after his resurrection.

CECILIA – /sɨˈsiːliə/ -Project Manager at LingoStar

“Cecilia” is a female name derived from the Latin word “caecum”, meaning “blind”. Although it doesn’t seem at first “sight” to have a glorious meaning, especially considering that “Caecilian” is also used to describe a blind worm, it is in fact a name full of history and pride.

Indeed, Appis Claudius Caecus was a Roman politician of the 3rd century BC who, after having gone blind, delivered the first recorded political speech in Latin, proudly announcing that Rome would never surrender. He ended his speech with a famous quote of his own: “Every man is the architect of his own fortune”. A glorious meaning, no?

EMELINE /eməli:n/ – Assistant Project Manager at LingoStar

“Emeline” is a female French name coming from the German name “Amelina”, itself derived from the Old High German words “Heimi”, meaning “home”, and “Alamaht”, meaning “strength”.

Hence, the name “Emeline” is often interpreted as “peaceful/reassuring home”. The name reached its popularity in the 18th century in several countries, and is now very uncommon, except in France, where it currently ranks in the top 100 most popular first names.

CORALIE(S) /kɔ:rəli:/ – Assistant Project Managers at LingoStar

Surprisingly, we have two “Coralies” in the office, although it is not a very common first name!

“Coralie” is a female French name stemming from both Latin and Greek. In each of them, “Coralie” has a slightly different meaning. Indeed, this first name can be thought to be deriving from the Latin word “coralium”, meaning “coral”, and thus referring to the beauty and richness of the sea.

On the other hand, it can also be thought to be deriving from the two Greek words “kore”, meaning “maiden”, and “alos”, meaning “sea”. The combination of the two words would grant “Coralie” the meaning of “the girl who comes from the sea”. This given name is mostly to be found in France and Quebec, where it was ranked the eighth most popular name in 2007.

亮(RYO)/ri:əʊ/ – Assistant Project Manager at LingoStar

“亮” (Ryo) is a masculine Chinese and Japanese name that appeared in Chinese history around 2000 years ago. “亮” (Ryo) comes from “亭” (Tei). The only difference between these two characters is the bottom part, being respectively “儿” (Nin) and “丁” (Tei). “儿” (Nin) means “human” and “亭” (Tei) refers to a simple observation post elevated from the ground and made of a cloth roof and pillars, without any walls.

As “亮”(Ryo) was a combination of “亭” (Tei) and”儿” (Nin), this Chinese character was originally used to describe a person that stood in an observation post, or in other words, a sentry. But, as this sentry could see very clearly all that was surrounding him, the meaning of “亮” (Ryo) evolved and became “clear”.

Nowadays, “亮” (Ryo) is a quite  popular Chinese character for a first name, not only because of its profound meaning and its sound, but also in honor of the famous Chinese historical figure 諸葛亮公明 (Zhuge Liang), one of the most accomplished military strategists of his country, in whose name we find “亮”(Ryo).

Thus, “亮” (Ryo) is a fascinating name that experienced a lot of transformations and its main contemporary meanings are: “clear”, “wise”, “sincere”, “helpful”, “bright” – a nice list of qualities!

妃世里 (Hiyori) /hi:ɔ:ri:/ – Assistant Project Manager at LingoStar

“妃世里” (Hiyori) is a very uncommon female Japanese name, made of three different characters. In order to understand the meaning of the name, it is necessary to analyze each of its characters:

“妃” (Hi)is made of the characters “女” (Jo), meaning “woman”, and “己” (otsu), that used to mean “beginning”. “妃” (Hi) thus used to stand for “a new woman”, that is to say “a married woman”. Its meaning then evolved to “princess” and “empress”.

“世” (Yo) is the combination of “丗” (senjuu), meaning “thirty”, and “十” (juu), meaning “ten”. Thirty years was thought to be the time needed for a generation to turn into another. Thus, “世” (Yo) can mean “generation”, or “era”.

“里” (Ri) is the combination of “田” (Ta), meaning a square rice paddy and “土” (Do), referring to the soil.

Combined, “里” (Ri) has the meaning of a land perfectly divided into equal parts of rice fields.  Thus, people want to gather and live in “里”(Ri), this place of equality and togetherness. “里” (Ri) is a very popular Chinese character for little girls’ names.

Hence, the name “妃世里” (Hiyori) can define a woman with whom everybody – a whole generation – wants to live, a kind of hometown, a safe and protective haven.

What about your name?

Every name has its meaning, its origin, and it can be quite fascinating. Indeed, the LingoStar team is and always has been passionate about linguistics and the history of languages.

Do you want to know more about your own name?

Contact us at, and let us research its origins and meanings for you!