Yesterday we talked about the nicknames for Elizabeth, both in English and various other languages. Today, let’s talk about the various forms. For the sake of brevity, I won’t go into all of the forms, and try to stick to the ones most palatable in an English speaking context. Yesterday’s post was a bit of a novel, I’m afraid, and more for me than anyone else. Onwards and upwards!
- Elizabeth: The venerable English classic. As I said yesterday, this is a truly timeless name with a long history of use. The passel of nicknames keeps it fresh and relevant to any sort of trend that may be going on, and it has remained in more or less constant use. Unfortunately, the popularity of the name sort of deadens any appreciation for it; everyone knows a Liz, and most people don’t think of Elizabeth as exciting. Variant Elisabeth gives the name a softer look and feel.
- Eilís: The Irish Gaelic version of Elizabeth. On BtN it says that it is pronounced like IE-leesh, but I usually hear IE-lish, for what it’s worth. As IE-leesh, I don’t like it; it sounds like someone with a funky accent or speech impediment saying “Irish.” As IE-lish, it’s better but still comes off as a tad “Oirish,” a term that’s semi-common in the namenerd community used to describe people who want to “honor” their 1/64 Irish heritage by giving their kid an “Irish” name. These sorts of people generally just want a reason to follow the trend for Irish Gaelic names, and often confuse Irish with Scottish, which explains the popularity of the surname Mackenzie. Anyway, I like Eilís in a vacuum, but not too much in use.
- Elisabet: BtN calls this the Scandanavian and Finnish form for our Elizabeth. It’s fresh sounding and a nice tweak, I think, but bound to get confused with Elizabeth constantly. I think it sounds better with a pronounced s sound instead of the oft-substituted z sound; this serves to differentiate from Elizabeth a little further. I think it’s a nice slightly offbeat choice that doesn’t scream any sort of ethnicity or culture-posing, so give it a thumbs up.
- Elisabeta: The Romanian form, it’s sort of like Elisabet but is another step removed from the English. I would expect to see someone of Eastern European descent with this one, but wouldn’t be put off if that wasn’t the case. It’s pretty and feminine, but the -a ending is a little less strong than the -t or -th ending of Elisabet/h, I think. Overall, a pretty choice that I would be pleasantly surprised to see. Another thumbs up.
- Elisavet: Another slight variation, the Greek form of Elisabeth adds some Eastern European style. This one seems a little more culture-grabby than the others, for me, though. I would expect the parents to be Greek or of Greek descent, and would probably be a little put off if they weren’t. I do love the v sound in these names, though, and it’s quite trendy (Think Ava, Eva, and Vivian), so Elisavet could see a little bit of an upswing. I wouldn’t count on it though; it’s probably not “unique” enough for parents searching out these sorts of names. I’ll give it a thumbs up if culturally applicable.
- Elixabete: The Basque form. I’ll admit, this used to be my favorite variant of Elizabeth; I thought the x was just so cool. From what I can glean off of the internet, it seems to be pronounced pretty much the way it’s spelled, El-ixa-bet. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s a neat name, sure, but I’d keep it in the middle unless you are Basque or have some connection to the culture. This is a rather fun name, isn’t it?
- Elisheva: The Hebrew form, pronounced eh-lee-sheh-vah. I would just stay far away from this one unless you are Jewish; it seems a little unnecessary to use it otherwise. There are bound to be pronunciation issues and assumptions of your religion, which are annoying enough from time to time but would be really annoying on a regular basis. If culturally appropriate, a beautiful name that’s familiar without being outlandish. If not, the middle is probably the best place for this one.
- Elspeth: I like Elspeth, I really do. It’s Scottish without being overtly cultural, and really easy to pronounce in English. For some reason, I don’t have much to say about it expect for this: I like it. Thumbs up. 🙂
- Isabel: Commonly referred to as the “Spanish” form of Elizabeth, Isabel is actually a medieval form that retained more usage in Spain and Portugal, along with France. It’s definitely pretty, but very popular right now, so I would avoid using it if you care about popularity issues. I prefer the Scottish spelling Isobel, with a slight o sound; I don’t know if tha’s correct or not, though. I think it’s pronounced just like Isabel, but I like the o sound, damnit! Ahem, anyway, Isabel is a pretty name, but alternate spelling Isabelle sends it right off into fluffy frou frou land, in this blogger’s humble opinion. I also dislike Isabella; it’s too fluffy. I’ll give Isabel a thumbs up for sound, but a thumbs down for popularity.
Well, finishing up this post, I’m glad it’s not a total gabfest like yesterday’s! Elizabeth is really a timeless name, but your mileage with the different forms may vary. Out of this list, my favorites are Elspeth and Elisabet, with Elisabeta in third. What’s your favorite Elizabeth form?
*All pronunciatons, etymologies and usage data are from behindthename.com unless otherwise noted. If I’m wrong, blame them, not me!