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“Fearless Females” – March 3

Today’s prompt: Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

Well, the most unusual name in my family tree is my own – Antra. I wasn’t named for anyone, it was a name my parents saw in the Latvian name calendar and liked. It is not a particularly common name – growing up, other Latvian-Canadians would ask me if my name was Latvian, and I, confused, since I knew my name came from the name calendar, would tell them that it was. I only know two other Latvian-North-Americans with this name.

It is more common in Latvia though – nowhere near the top of the list, but popular enough that I can find pre-printed items with my name on them. It is more popular than names that I thought were quite common, such as Zinta and Krista. Despite modern-day (relative) popularity, I have yet to see it in any old record.

Women’s names in my family do not seem to follow any sort of pattern. A count of women’s names in my family tree (my name included, direct line only):

  • Anna – 4.
  • Ieva – 3.
  • Līze – 2.
  • Aina, Antra, Dorotea, Ēde, Jūle, Kače, Karlīne, Kristīne, Lilija, Marija, Mārīte, Mērija, Mīle, Vija, Zenta – 1.

There we have 18 names, 24 individuals. Anna and Ieva still remain some of the most popular female names, though the popularity of Līze has dropped off dramatically. Other names, such as Aina and Vija, I haven’t seen anywhere in old records, even though they are very popular now. Names that appear frequently in old records, such as Mīle and Jūle, are almost unheard of these days.

Tomorrow: – marriages! And hopefully I’ll get my post on farm names up as well.

4 comments to “Fearless Females” – March 3

  • Chelli

    I’ve got Rasma Lilija, Erika, Inara, Dzenija, Berta Helene, Skaidrite, Ludmila, Katte, Alise
    And a whole bunch of Annas and Ievas :)

  • I am not Latvian myself, but I went to school with a Latvian girl named Baiba, she said that it was an ancient Latvian name that nobody knew the meaning of.

  • To my mind, Latvians have so many unique first names that you don’t see appearing in other cultures. For example, names like Christina and Margaret and Mary appear in so many countries with slightly different spellings and pronunciations.

    Antra, I would be interested to know if there is a difference (in meaning or pronunciation) above between Marija and Merija (I can’t place the diacritic mark on the latter).

  • Antra


    I’m not sure if there is a difference between Marija and Mērija, etymologically speaking. Pronunciation-wise, there is the variation in the second vowel, but I think Mērija is just a variation on Marija. In fact, my ancestor named Mērija is, in some records, referred to as Marija. This actually came up as a point of contention in the ownership records of their farm when it came to reacquiring ownership after the end of Communism. It was resolved favourably, but it was an extra hurdle to work through.

    I do love uniquely Latvian first names. My future children will definitely possess such names. My favourite girls’ names are Daila, Kaija and Teika, while my favourite boys’ names are Druvvaldis, Saulnesis and Viesturs.

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