THELONIOUS AND TIFFANY.

Two interesting name derivations:

I’ve loved the music of Thelonious Monk for many years, but I just discovered that his given name is a Latinized form of the Low German name Till (best known from Till Eulenspiegel), which in turn is a medieval nickname for Dietrich and other names beginning with Diet- (meaning ‘people, race’; deutsch ‘German’ is from the same root); there was an 8th-century St. Tillo who evangelized in Belgium and France. According to Thomas Fitterling in his biography of Monk, “German missionaries could have brought the name to the Carolinas in the Bible Belt.” Other derivatives of Dietrich are Terry (brought to England, as Thierri, by the Normans) and Derek (brought by Flemish settlers engaged in the cloth trade).

And while I was investigating that (in Hanks & Hodges’ wonderful Dictionary of First Names), I discovered that Tiffany is “the usual medieval English form of Greek Theophania ‘Epiphany’… This was once a relatively common name, given particularly to girls born on the feast of the Epiphany (6 January), and it gave rise to an English surname. As a given name, it fell into disuse until revived in the 20th century under the influence of the famous New York jewellers, Tiffany’s, and the film, starring Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).”

Comments

  1. Any word on “Britney”?

  2. A form of Brittany, which was not in the original book, but I’m happy to report it’s been added to the newer Concise Dictionary: “…taken from the traditionally Celtic-speaking region of north-west France.. Its adoption as a given name has also been influenced by Britt [Swedish contracted form of Birgit=Bridget], of which it is sometimes regarded [ie, by nitwits] as the full form. In recent years it has rapidly established itself as a very popular name in North America; in one 1989 survey it was the most commonly used of all girls’ names in the United States.” The question is, have any of the parents who give this name to their children heard of the region of France?

  3. As for Dieter and Deutsch, it’s the same stem as Teutonic and the Irish Tuatha.

  4. Also, wasn’t Monk the only person to have ‘Sphere’ as a middle name?

  5. The name Tiffany always reminds me of a little story.

    When my India-born sister-in-law and her Anglo-Texan (then) husband were awaiting their first daughter, they invited family and friends to help them brainstorm about culturally hybrid names. My contributions were:

    Lakshmi Mercedes
    Texmati Sue

    As for Thelonious, before our first child was born I persuaded my wife to agree that in the unlikely event that we had triplet boys, we would name them Mingus, Monk (legally Thelonious) and Miles.

  6. To pick a nit, it appears from where I’m sitting that Thelonious (or Tillonius) is a derivative of a Latin form of Till, perhaps by analogy with Apollonius < Apollo.
    One episode of Daria has a teacher absently address Brittany (the obligatory airhead cheerleader) as Normandy.

  7. marie-lucie says:

    T- names

    derivatives of Dietrich are Terry (brought to England, as Thierri, by the Normans)

    Thierry is a male French name, indeed of Germanic origin. It is not very common but not considered outlandish either, and used as a last name as well as a first name. There is a town called Château-Thierry, probably named after the lord that had it built.

    The English equivalent Terry does not start with Th because that digraph reflects a Germanic spelling for simply t.

    Tiffany is “the usual medieval English form of Greek Theophania ‘Epiphany’… This was once a relatively common name, given particularly to girls born on the feast of the Epiphany (6 January)

    The French equivalent is Tiphaine, common in the Middle Ages but perhaps revived recently. It was given to girls born on that day because it was probably taken to be the name of a female saint (most days listing several saints from which to choose a protector for a newborn who will bear their name).

    Another variant is Tiphaigne which still exists as a last name (I had a classmate by that name).

    the famous New York jewellers, Tiffany’s, and the film, starring Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).”

    Isn’t their name from another tradition?

  8. Isn’t their name from another tradition?

    Not sure what you mean by “another tradition,” but the English surname Tiffany is from the same source (Epiphany).

  9. marie-lucie says:

    I did not realize it was an English surname, it looked more foreign to me. But I accept the evidence!

  10. The variants Tiffen and Tiffin are more English-looking.

  11. It’s kind of amusing, but it’s Russian version – Feofaniya – is used exclusively by nuns.

    Suitable name for a strict and slightly saintly abbess.

    I wonder how name Tiffany got to get such different impression

  12. David Marjanović says:

    Thierry is a male French name, indeed of Germanic origin. It is not very common but not considered outlandish either, and used as a last name as well as a first name. There is a town called Château-Thierry, probably named after the lord that had it built.

    The English equivalent Terry does not start with Th because that digraph reflects a Germanic spelling for simply t.

    No, the th is real; that’s why it’s d (Dietrich) and not z in German. Evidently the English version has been routed through French.

    Tiffany is “the usual medieval English form of Greek Theophania ‘Epiphany’… This was once a relatively common name, given particularly to girls born on the feast of the Epiphany (6 January)

    The French equivalent is Tiphaine, common in the Middle Ages but perhaps revived recently.

    Indeed revived a few decades ago, though not very common either.

  13. I happen to know someone called Tiphaine, and I’ve wondered why it’s not more like “Tiphanie”, which I assume is the version which was borrowed as Tiffany. Is the former a reflex of the latter?

  14. Trond Engen says:

    Is the former a reflex of the latter?

    More the other way around, I think. It looks like several borrowings or relatinizations. Tiphaine is older and more nativized. The variant Tiphaigne even more so.

  15. marie-lucie says:

    Tiphai(g)ne

    dainichi: Latin endings in -nia transmitted orally first gave French -gne (with a palatal nasal), as in Hispania : Espagne, Britannia : Bretagne, Theophania : Tiphaigne.

    Later, learned adaptations have -nie, as in Epiphania : Epiphanie, Virginia : Virginie, Patagonia : Patagonie.

    Trond: one would expect Tiphaigne to be older, but Tiphaine (attested from the Middle Ages) could be from a different dialect originally.

  16. > One episode of Daria has a teacher absently address Brittany (the obligatory airhead cheerleader) as Normandy.

    I did know a Lori whose full name was Lorraine…

  17. marie-lucie says:

    F: The teacher who addressed Brittany as Normandy was obviously aware that the student’s name was that of a French province and momentarily confused it with that of the neighbouring province, the name of which is much better known in the US because of its role in WW2. But since this happened in a show (TV series? that I am not familiar with) rather than in real life, the scriptwriter may have exaggerated somewhat.

    On the other hand, Lorraine is not as obviously a geographical name as the other words, and it shares its initial spoken syllable with Laura, Laurie, Lorene, Loretta, and perhaps more, which are traditionally feminine, as is the ending -aine as for instance in Germaine. Your acquaintance’s parents may have found the name in connection with the playwright Lorraine Hansbury rather than the French province.

  18. Bbbut Brittany is a common female name while Normandy is (virtually) non-existent. I can understand it happening the other way ’round.

  19. It would be fun to hang out with a girl named Champagne

  20. marie-lucie says:

    D.O.: That’s why it is relevant that the situation described is in a work of imagination.

  21. I only know Thierry from Thierry la Fronde. Particularly liked the theme song.

  22. per incuriam says:

    I only know Thierry from Thierry la Fronde. Particularly liked the theme song

    Me too. And it seems the king’s outlaw may have been indirectly responsible for many other Thierry’s. According to French Wikipedia,
    Il a été le premier prénom donné pendant une brève période au milieu des années 1960, sans doute sous l’effet de la diffusion du feuilleton télévisé Thierry la Fronde. L’année record fut 1964

  23. January First-of-May says:

    On the other hand, Lorraine is not as obviously a geographical name as the other words

    Marty McFly’s mother is named Lorraine (Baines) McFly.

  24. Brittany is a common female name while Normandy is (virtually) non-existent. I can understand it happening the other way ’round.

    On the other hand, given the way the campaign went, US soldiers would have associations like this:
    NORMANDY – that place where we spent two months being constantly mortared in a bullet riddled hedgerow smelling of dead cow.
    BRITTANY – that place where we drove through one beautiful town after another being greeted as liberators by happy crowds bringing us Calvados, and not being mortared hardly at all.

    Understandable that they’d want to preserve the memory of one over the other.

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