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What’s in a (Spanish) Name?

If you aren’t an aficionado of all things Mexican (which we weren’t when we first moved to Yucatan), during your first few months of living here, you will meet people with names that are unfamiliar. Some of them are cute, some are funny and some are just downright odd.

Let’s start with Spanish names. In our pre-Working Gringo days in California, we were familier with names like Jose, Jorge or Maria because California roots are, after all, Mexican. We suspect that perhaps many of the Mexicans we came in contact with may have adopted these more normal Spanish names to make life easier for themselves.

Upon immersing ourselves in Yucatan, we were confronted with names like Socorro, Izauro, Santiago and Ignacio… names that were definitely new to us. Some of these names (like the ones just mentioned), we found rather beautiful. Working Gringa’s Spanish name is Elena, yet another beautiful name. But Working Gringo’s name translated into Spanish has not been quite so painless. While "James" is a perfectly fine name in English, the Spanish version of James (pronounced "Hah-mess") is rather uncommon and not quite so pleasing. What’s more, the alternative of Jaime always raises a chuckle from our Spanish-speaking friends – we’re not sure why. Apparently, Santiago also means "James" and Working Gringo has found that much more amenable.

Of course, if you don’t like your name, there is always the option of a nickname. Nicknames are popular here, but connections to their antecedents have not always been obvious to us. Here are some Mexican nicknames that we have run across and the "given" names that they are related to:

  • Jesús (a common name here) becomes Chucho
  • José becomes Pepe
  • Ignacio becomes Nacho
  • Socorro becomes Soco or Coco
  • Maria Elena becomes Malena
  • Eugenia becomes Genny (pronounced "Henny")
  • Beatriz becomes Betty
  • Concepcion becomes Conchi
  • and so on…

Then there are the stranger dimunitives. There is a popular hardware store in the Yucatan named Boxito. From our Mayan language studies, we have learned that box means "black" and the Spanish suffix -ito means "little". As it turns out, we were right! Boxito is a nickname given to a little guy who has dark skin. It is a dimunitive name, given out of affection or familiarity, not out of disrespect. And it was probably the nickname of the man who started this very successful chain of stores. Other dimunitives in that vein are Flaco (skinny man), Gorda (fat female), Gordita (little fat female), Guera (white woman), Guapo (handsome man), Rubia (blonde woman). And of course, just change the "a" to "o" or vice-versa, and the name gets a sex change. Fun and easy!

While we’re on the subject, the habit of adding dimunitives to names is a charming one and we’re not sure how we lived without it before now. Mama becomes mamacita, abuelo becomes abuelito, gata becomes gatita and the list goes on ad infinitum. If you work at it hard enough, you can add -ito or -ita to almost anything and that thing is suddenly little, cute and endowed with charm and endearment. Of course, this is also used for names: Lupe becomes Lupita (at least one cafe in every town in Mexico is Cafe Lupita), Estrella becomes Estrellita, Angel becomes Angelito, etc.

But our favorites are the names we would never have thought of in a million lifetimes. Our assistant, the Amazing Beatriz, has told us about people she has met (more than one!) named Annirev. We pondered over that for a few minutes when we heard it but she finally had to tell us that it is the abbreviation for Anniversaire de Revolución (The Anniversary of the Revolution), which is the way the holiday on November 20 is often presented on a calendar.

We ourselves have met more than one young woman named Leydi Diana. All the Leydi’s we have met seem to be in their early twenties… hmmm! Certainly not a coincidence.

The Amazing Beatriz also told us about a story she read in the local paper a few years back. There was a local whose name was Onecent (pronounced "OHN-neh-sent"). We puzzled over this one too but she told us not to bother. The story was that the father of Onecent had been out in the milpa (corn field) one day, and he had found a coin on the ground. On it, the coin had the letters ONE CENT and when his son was born later that day, he was so named. He could have been named Ingodwetrust ("een-gohd-WAY-troost") but that probably didn’t trip off the tongue quite so lightly.

When we were researching this article, we found a story from last summer about the Mexican government cracking down on "strange" baby names, trying to save their little citizens (paisanitos?) from future embarassment in the schoolyard. Apparently, inventive names are a Mexican tradition and a custom that we think is rather endearing. Adorable. Charming. It’s a customita! (Okay, so it doesn’t work all the time…)

Have you heard any interesting names here in the Yucatan? Please tell us… we’re fascinated!

 


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95 Responses to “What’s in a (Spanish) Name?”

  1. My history teacher when I was in high school told us that “some dude” named his son “Masiosare” which is a misinterpreted verse from our national anthem.

    There’s a part where it says “Mas si osare un extraño enemigo, profanar con su planta tu suelo” which loosely means “But if a strange enemy dares to set foot on your soil”.

    So maybe the guy was feeling very patriotic and named his son after the “strange enemy mentioned in the national anthem, called Masiosare”, because when you hear the anthem, you could hear the beginning of the verse as “Masiosare un extraño enemigo” (Masiosare a strange enemy), or maybe he was just drunk.

    Poor kid.

    Don’t forget also:
    Real name->Nickname->”Cute”(lame) Name
    Enrique ->Quique ->Quiquito
    Francisco->Pancho or Paco->Panchito/Paquito
    Eduardo -> Lalo->Lalito
    Alfonso ->Poncho->Ponchito
    Alberto -> Beto ->Betito

    Also, for some Nahuatl names that are a little… err.. “complex” to pronounce, you just need to say the first two morphemes.

    Cuitláhuac -> Cuitla -> Cuitli
    Huitzilopotztli -> Huitz -> Huitzi

    And since I’m Joseph I guess that makes me… Pepeph->Pepefito right?

    Oh.. not good.

  2. I always thought James translated as Diego. Am I wrong?

  3. Thanks for the piece about Spanish names.
    I also found the Jaime version of James less euphonic than Santiago. Also read that Diego is another variant of James… in fact that Santiago = St. James or Saint Diego = Santiago.

    Personally, I like Diego as my in-country monicker.
    Jim aka Diego aka Santiago aka Jaime.

  4. I loved this post!

    I have tried to figure out what my Mexican name would be, and haven’t been able to come up with anything…

    Would you have any idea what Nancy might be?

    Thanks!

  5. Great story! I have been travelling through Mexico, Central and Latin America for many years and have also heard alot of “interesting” names for just about everything from people to animals to locations. Gotta love our friends to the South.

    On the note above about the name Santiago translating to James, you’re right on. “Santiago” was originally referred to Saint James the Great, who brought Christianity to Spain and the Iberian Peninsula.

    Later, “Santiago” became the common Hispanic reference for Saint James, the brother of Jesus.

    On a more local note, in many historical references about the Texas Revolution, Colonel James Bowie is frequently called “Santiago” by the Mexican locals under his command, including Captain Juan Seguin (this was also carried into the movie ‘The Alamo’).

    Keep the great info coming and see you soon.

  6. Malquito.

  7. Nancy,
    We have asked around and “Nancy” is a common name here in Mexico and is pronounced the same. So you’re already Mexican!

  8. This is one of the funniest articles I have read, and it is so true the way people in Yucatan like to find out what your name is so they can start calling you by its variant, for instance my second name is Aurora, but there I was called Bora insted of Aurora, or Borita, instead of Aurorita. People who knew me by my first name never called me Lizbeth, but rather Liz or Lizita, always adding the diminutive at the end of my name. I think it is an adorable an sweet tradition.
    Thanks for the article Working Gringuitos.
    Regards,
    Lizita.

  9. In Merida I have always been Sarita. Or sometimes my family calls me Saronga. My one uncle calls me Sarajevo…And my Mayan nickname is Sarach.

    Great article!! :^)

  10. The custom is not only mexican it’s quite latin american. In Venezuela there are a great deal of very strange names. And in the western part of the country a lot of locals name their kids after famous people in history. More than individual I know is called “Jefferson” and another “Woody Allen”

    Diminutives are commonly used with the name Maria (since there are sooo many Maria, the second name is tacked on to the first). This Maria Fernanda becomes Mafer (mah-fair), Maria Paulina becomes Mapa (mah-pah), Maria Soledad beomes Marisol (mah-ree-sole), etc.

    Perhaps the strangest name of them all is usnavi (oos-nah-vee). Which is basically US NAVY, because that’s what’s etched on the side of USN warplanes which is clearly visible when they fly low.

  11. A friend of mine told me this storie about two mexican indians who did not speak spanish well. When they took their son to have him baptized in church the priest asked what is the name you would like to give to your son?. And both answered “USEBIO”, (trying to say “EUSEBIO”) and the priest said no it is not Usebio, it is with an “E”, referring to (EUSEBIO). The two indians said it was fine so, they baptized him “WITH AN E”, and the kid was from then on called “with an E”, in spanish “CON”E”, sounds funny. jejej. If you hear someone to be called “con-e”, now you know why. bye.

    by the way i am short that’s why my name in this page is manuelito.

  12. Unusual names I have come across in Yucatan:

    Neftaly

    Eleutario “Ay-lay-OO-tar-ee-oh” (so many vowel sounds!)

    Maverick (from the TV show?)

    Maximilianna (after the emperor?)

  13. Spannish names are wonderful. My mom, being white anglo saxon, with some Cherokee, from South Carolina, named me: Charles Daniel. After an uncle of hers. Gallegos is my fathers family name. Names given in mexico is different from anglo-saxon (USA)roots. Both father and mothers family names are represented. My wife is: Adlemy (1st) Ariadna (middle) Caceres (fathers family name) Caceres (mothers family name). Then she married me, and my family name was added as: de Gallegos. (5 names wow) Of course my wife just go by: Ariadna Caceres de Gallegos. When I moved to Merida I changed my 1st name to the spannish, Carlos. And, said my middle name, Daniel in spannish. So, U say my name in espanol: Carlos Daniel Gallegos, sounds more beautiful.

  14. well — with a name like “maria,” people pause and wait for me to add the next name. always. because maria is so lonely alone. some days i’ll add something just because i feel like it but then i have to remember who i said what to. so, i’ve been thinking about developing an alter ego.

    lately, much to my dismay, many people have begun calling me the yucatecan nickname for “maria,” which is “mari”. are there too many syllables in maria i wonder? or does everyone just need a nickname?

  15. My favorite Merida name is Floricel (man’s name). Floricel couldn’t account for it except to say his parents liked the sound, so that’s all that was required.

    Nobody can pronunce my name, of course. They make it through the “Gran” part ok, but something about two consontants together in the same syllable makes the final “t” impossible. I stopped quibbling about it early on.

    Also strange is what happens to your name as shown in your US passport. As noted by other commentators, the normal hispanic name format is First Name, Father’s Surname, Mother’s Surname. A US passport has First Name, Middle Name, Last Name. So people at the bank, say, will look at your passport and address you as Mr. (Middle Name). The first couple of time this happens, it seems very odd.

  16. A question of a different color. Do you have any idea why the “X” in Xalapa or the “X” in Xilitla is not pronounced “sh”? I keep calling poor little Xilitla Sheeleetla because it sounds right. I think everyone else in SLP calls it “HEEleetla”. Is the “sh” for “x” an Argentinian thing or a Mayan thing? (I learned Spanish on the streets of Argentina)

  17. Hola Kathy,

    “X” is always pronounced like an English “sh” (or “ish”) in Mayan. But we’re lucky Mayan is consistent that way.

    When the Spanish arrived in the New World, they converted the Native American words they heard into their written alphabet and put an “X” for any sound they didn’t understand. (At the time, there was no letter “X” in the Spanish alphabet, we’re told. It was simply used as a placeholder.)

    This has lead to some confusion, for example, the alternate spelling for Xalapa (which isn’t a Mayan word) is Jalapa, just to clear things up. Some Nahuatl words with “X” are pronounced “sh” but others like “ch” or just “h”. Some argue that the word Mexico should be pronounced MEH-shee-koh.

  18. I was wondering if you know where I can see the calender with the names of the saints that correspond to each day. ( eg. Santos would be a male name born on Dia de Todo Los Santos)

  19. We went looking for a Saints Day Calendar as you describe, and it is not a simple matter. We point you, therefore, to the Wikipedia offering and let you take it from there:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendar_of_saints

  20. In northern Mexico they call me Chago. In Colombia they call me Santi. In my English class they call me Santi Chago and think it’s very funny.

  21. We think so too!!

  22. hello..its really interesting to come to know about spanish names..nicks n all..ehhhehh..and i would like to know hows my name like in spanish.thank you.tang kristyn.

  23. My Mexican boyfriend informed me that “Pepe” stands for “P.P.” or “padre putativo,” and that it’s the nickname for Jose because it refers to Joseph, the “putative” father of Jesus. I always thought that was fascinating! Thanks for your post–”Chucho” stumped me for a long time.

  24. The Mexican (from Aventuras Akumal–a fabulous waterfront tourist destination) who meets & greets guests of our oceanfront rentals was given the nickname “Pillo”, because when he was a child his hair looked like a brush (cepillo). Over the years the gringos he’s worked with adopted the spelling “Pio” (pronounced pee’-yoh). (We heard a Texan the other day roll his “lls” when he ordered pollo!”

  25. Ok.. if I have heard some interesting name in yucatan?? mmmmm… yea everyday my middle name is a little interesting, but I’m proud of it.
    My middle name is “TONATZIN” which means “son of the war” in Nahuatl.

  26. Maybe where you come from, NT, but here in Mexico, where there are still plenty of people who speak Nahuatl, the name Tonatizin (also spelled Tonantzin) is probably the most famous name there is. We have seen it translated as “Earth Mother” and “Mother of all Gods”, but most people know her as La Reyna de las Américas.

  27. Here I come with my 2cts about nicknames I know, later I will emai you with acronimos that just yucatecans uses:
    Joaquin-Huacho (I know one: my husband)
    Rosario-Chayo
    Dolores-Lolita
    Wilberth-Willy
    and the list goes on and on:
    Hasta luego.

  28. Hi Kristy…your name in Spanish is “Cristina” or short “Tina”
    Regards….

  29. Ohhhh…I forgot…I know someone in Venezuela (that is were I’m from) whos name is “macgiver” named after the TV show
    “Mc Giver”…Isn’t that funny???
    Oh, by the way, my commet above was for “Kristyn”..sorry for the error…

  30. Re: Neftaly/Neftali
    Wasn’t this Pablo Neruda’s real name?

  31. This is a great post! I grew up in Peru and Uruguay, so I’ve known my share of Pepes and Nachos and Maria whatevers. :)

    If I have a son one day, I would like to name him Santiago (after the full name of what I consider my hometown: San Felipe y Santiago de Montevideo), but I was having a hard time imagining what people in the States would end up calling him. I guess they could handle calling him Diego. :)

    My own family had ultra-boring nicknames: Juanita, Juanito, and Susanita. Except for my dad, who is Peruvian and comes from a list of odd names, including Abigail (my grandPA), Nehiel, Ner, Filadelfo, Virgilio, and Venus.

  32. Anybody know nicknames for my ancestors names: I’m writing a story and curious what nicknames would fit for Narciso or Incarnation?

  33. We’ve heard “Chiso” for Narciso but our sources say there isn’t anything for Incarnacion.

  34. I’ll be visiting Merida this December. Is there an equivalent of my name (or those of my travelling companions: Nathan and Matthew)? Or are our gringo names readily pronouncable?

  35. Hi Lauren :)

    Your name is actually a variation of the latin name “Laura”, which is somewhat popular already around here, so… nice to meet you Laura!

    For your friend Matthew, his spanish name is “Mateo” (matt-eh-oh, with the stress in the “eh”)

    As for Nathan… well, this is not his lucky day… I can’t think of a spanish name for him, but his name isn’t hard to pronounce at all in spanish, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Just expect it to be pronounced a little different: “Nay-Tan”… even sounds chinese! 8-)

    Cheers

  36. Hey, my name is Rebecca, can you pronounce that in Spanish? Also is Susanita a full name or a nickname, because in a story I am writing she was called Susa as a nickname because I didn’t know all this Spanish name stuff. Thanks!

  37. Hi Becky,

    Rebecca has it’s Spanish “version”, sounds the same, just spelled different (with a single “C”).

    Susanita is a “cute” way to call “Susana”, which is a spanish name already. “Susa” is just a short way to call her.

    Cheers ;)

  38. I have a sister, ‘Enedelia’, whose apodo is ‘Yeya’, but other than that my family is just made up of the standards like ‘Chepe’, ‘Lupita’ (who is a ‘Maria’), ‘Chencho, ‘Beto’ and a ‘Linda’.

    My own name is rather more Anglo-Saxon (‘Elizabeth’) and became ‘Wichi’ (say it wi-TCHY) thanks to my older brother, but I wondered if that was standard, or if there is some other Spanish apodo for ‘Elizabeth’?

  39. Hi everybody, this is my first post here. Thank you all for your interesting posts. As you could see my name is Josep, catalan translation of José. Just to comment that Pepe doesn’t stand from padre putativo. The most serious theory about that, is that it has to do with the Italian word for Jose: Giuseppe. In the south of Spain woman’s say: “Pepe se llama mi padre, Pepe se llama mi hermano y Pepe se ha de llamar quien a mí me dé la mano”…. more or less: Pepe is my father’s name, Pepe is my brother’s name and Pepe is the name of who will marry me”..

    You could find here all the meanings of names in Spanish:
    http://www.educar.org/lengua/nombres.asp
    Regards from Barcelona, Spain.

  40. My Mayan family in the Yucatan pronounce my name Susan as Susam, and of course Susana.

    A person with the name Faustino had a diabolical role during my life in Merida. And people with old testament names like Eneas, Isaias, Eleazar, among others brought meaning to those times. The ultimate in sweetness, Dulce Maria still represents all goodness Maya.

    Joy of nostalgia reading your website…
    Una golondrina viajera

  41. Here in Chetumal:
    Eusebio is Chebo
    Mercedes is Meche
    Veronica is Vero

    My construction crew consists of Pollo, Chaparro, Chucho, Flaco, Tiliquis, Polo, Guero (don’t know where to find the dieresis), Moreno, and Pablo (whose real name is Angel Armin)…The engineer is Miguel whom they call Inge and the architect is Shiva (real name Ricardo) whom they call Arqui…Go figure…

    And I am Doña Katy

  42. I’m Caucasian American but my husband is from El Salvador. Everyone had so much trouble with my name. It would be pronounced “Tr-lacy” – with a random “L” thrown in. I don’t know why since it’s made up of 2 easy Spanish words “tres” “si” (three yes — sounds dumb in Spanish.)

    I considered calling myself “Theresa” when around in-laws but my husband said I should just leave my regular name. Besides being called “chelita” (on rare occasion for my fair skin), and “gordita” (until my husband told them most Americans don’t find it endearing. LOL.) … I have just been “TrLacy” … And I so wanted to be called “Traicita” …. ah well.

  43. I live in San Antonio, TX. I love the Yucatan and this site. I am in the insurance business and run across many NEW names on a daily basis. I must say that all cultures are just trying to be original while naming their children. We have the black folks with names such as Lakisha, Shevonda, Kanyatta, Shatoree, LeShawn, etc. OOHHHHHH and I have a white customer whose name is Barbie Girl Cox. Poor thing.

  44. You are all correct about the fact that James is a variation of Santiago in spanish. You can actually find out that the Letter of James in the New Testament is “Carta de Santiago” in spanish.
    Here is why (according to a pastor that once explained this to us) Jacob or Jacobo was the younger brother of Jesus and he wrote this letter. He apparently lived in Tarsis (Spain) for a while and he was known there as San Jacobo (San is for Saint) it got transliterated over the years becoming Sangiaco>>> Santiago>>>> San Diego. In English, Jacob was simply translated as James.

    If there is an incorrect statement here please let me know.

    Javier

  45. i have no clue how to say my name in spanish i am stuying it all by myself because i have always been interested in it and i have learned alot i filled out a notebook on spanish words i havent yet leaned it but bt teaching myself i have learned but i have not one clue how to say elizabeth or lizzy in spanish could someone tell me??

  46. Lizzy, my Spanish teacher said that the nickname for Elizabeth (my name, too) is Isabelle. I go by Betsy, which locals have a hard time with. So I tell them my name is Pepsi, “like the drink”.

  47. Hi!
    I’m studying abroad in Mérida next semester and love your site by the way!
    It’s provided me with so much info and a bit of what to expect (I’m really excited =D)

    I never even thought of this aspect of pronouncing/changing my name though! I know the equivalent en español would be Ricardo, but hay un apodo? Gracias x todo y keep up the good work with all these great articles!

  48. Great work Working Gringos,
    I don’t know how it started, I think in the old days every servant, chauffeur or butler in movies or tv shows was called “Jaime”, so it stuck like “chicle” in our culture. So if a Yucatecan wants to tease a friend he would say “Jaime, go get me a “chesco” (soft drink)”. Now you know why your Spanish-speaking friends chuckle every time they hear Working Gringo’s Spanish name.

    Hasta la vista
    Carlos Canto AKA Carlitos or in a more Yucatecan fashion Calin

  49. ey do you know what the meaning of the last name Galvan is??? please i have to know!!!

  50. Hi
    Well you see my name is Guillermo (something like Gee-yer-moe)
    quite a puzzle for ya’ll english speakers, so when introduced to an american, brithish canadian or whatsoever, I say “just call me Will.”
    Accually, that would be the translation for my name, William.
    I just wanted to comment about a friend of mine’s name:
    Camilo Fernando Ramiro Bernardo José Otero Cámara, beeni Otero and Cámara his family names, first fron the father’s latter from the mother’s.
    So the guy has a first, a middle, a second middle a third and a last first name.
    And he has a brother with a five-names-name also, just a bit to much for me to remember.
    And we just call them Otto.

  51. Here’s one I didn’t see while skimming the list of replies. Inocencio => Chencho. Also, While Chucho is a common nickname for guys named Jesús, in some areas, namely Chiapas, chucho means ‘dog’ and thus would never be used with a person. :)

  52. What would the English name pronounced Lisa translate into in Venuzuala?

  53. My husband and I are coming to Yucatan the end of this month…
    I’m curious what we might expect to be called…

    My real name is Deanna; my nickname here is Dee.

    My husband’s name is David, Dave for short.

  54. Well….my name is Kim, simple enough in English, though the fact that I’m a guy often stumps people at first. “Jim? Ken? What did you say your name was?”

    But in Mexico, it becomes unpronounceable. Kem? Keem? (rhymes with cream) The short gringo ‘i’ is just not a sound found in Spanish.

    My boyfriend just calls me “gringuito,” or “chiquito” which is endearing.

    But your article is inspiring me to think of an apodo for when I am in México.

    Santiago sounds appealing.

    Regards,
    Kim G
    Boston, MA

  55. Deanna, your name would probably work as “Diana” and be pronounced the same way you pronounce it now. David is “dah-VEED” and is common here.

  56. My g.g. grandmother’s name was Guadalupe Prieto, when searching for her the only names that came up in New Mexico was Maria Andrea Prieto and Juana Prieto. Is it true the eldest daughter takes the name of Maria. Does Guadalupe stand for Maria also. Like the Virgin Mary (Guadalupe)?

  57. There are more:

    Gameba (a mix of Gaspar, Melchor y Baltasar) given to people born on January 6th.
    Anivderev (Given to a child who was born in November 20, it comes on the civic calendar)
    Usnavy Marina (Someone sent her IFE id to my mail)
    Franger (a mix of Francisco and Gertrudis, his parent´s names he lives in Pacabtun)

  58. Hey, just wanted to correct something – the ‘x’ used to be pronounced like ‘sh’ in Spanish up until about the 16th century, which is why it was used to represent the ‘sh’ sound in the indigenous languages. The Aztecs called themselves the ‘Mexica’ (pronounced Meshika) which is where ‘Mexico’ comes from. At the time, the ‘j’ was pronounced like the French ‘j’ (or the ‘s’ in ‘treasure’). After the 16th century, the ‘j’ started to sound like the ‘x’ (like ‘sh’), and then all of the ‘sh’ sounds began to sound like the modern Spanish ‘j’.
    Hope that clears things up.

    -Ben the Linguist

    PS. Anybody know of any lists of common Mayan names?

  59. Many people in Yucatán call “Us” to those named Eusebio.

  60. My boyfriend is Peruvian and named Jorge, but has always been called Coco. Does anyone know the history of this nickname for Jorge?

  61. How do you pronounce, or what would my nickname be?

  62. What would my name be in Mayan or Spanish if my name is Carol Ann???? Thank You

  63. Hi Ben, there’s some mayan names not too common but you can find some people with this names. Right now only one comes to my mind “Nicte-ha” that means flower of water.

  64. Christina, A good account of “Why Guadalupe?” is found here: http://www.sancta.org/nameguad.html

    “Guadalupe” is not the same as “Mary” but is the name or description used by the Virgin Mary’s apparition to (now Saint) Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City from December 9 through December 12, 1531.

    The short version: “Guadalupe” is an old term from Spain, used as both a male or female name and originally a description of terrain – a river. One theory is that when the Virgin Mary spoke to Juan Diego en Nahuatl, she used the word “coatlaxopeuh” which is pronounced “quatlasupe”, almost identical to Guadalupe — a word already familiar to the Spanish bishop-elect Juan de Zumárraga.

    Much more about La Virgin Morena at: http://www.sancta.org/

  65. Hi.

    Really interesting webpage here…

    In my family there seems to be a tradition to use Firstname and middle name, added with two last names as already mentioned… which is also the way that soap operas create names for their characters… so everyone in my family has rather… “theatrical” names.

    I’m Luis Gustavo Padilla López (Sorry if I dont try to put it in the english sound of it)

    Usually in web forms there’s not enough space for my full name so I use a shorter version for it.

    So My brothers are called: Jorge Luis and Luis David (I have two male brothers), My mom is called Maria Esther and my dad is Luis Arnoldo…

    I told you… Theatrical names

    The reason all of the children are called Luis is obviously because of my dad but there’s more to it.

    I’m the youngest of the 3 of us, so I’ll start from the older.

    The first baby was born… a Baby boy!!! he had to be called like his dad… but “Arnoldo” is not considered a nice name… so they only used Luis, but “Luis” is too simple so they called him Luis David.

    Then the second boy was born and exactly on St. Luis day… so thank’s to the coincidence he was called “Luis”, so Jorge Luis he is.

    Then the third one, the most handsome, the smartest one, the sexy one (well, maybe not then) was born (that’s me of course) and I HAd to be called after my dad as well, otherwise people would think I’m the milk-man son so my name came to be Luis Gustavo.

    As for nick names:

    Maria Esther: Nena (nothing to do with her name but she was the first girl on a family of 10 brothers so they called her “baby” which translates as Nena) she is almost 60 and is still “La Nena” the baby
    Luis Arnoldo: Nono (when he was younger he had a nephew who couln’t pronounce his name and turned “Arnoldo” to “Anono” and then to “Nono”) Again mi dad is over 60 and many of my cousins doesn’t even now his name hi is just Nono
    Luis David: Luisda (just shorter since theatrical names are too long)
    Jorge Luis: Jois (Jorge, but in cute. He is 30 Y.O. now so he doesn’t really like his nickname)
    Luis Gustavo: El Güero (stands for blond, when I was younger I had blond hair, but that was then, still, 27 years later I’m still “El Güerito”

    And there’s more and more names with my cousins uncles and so… but I have a 60 persons family and this is not my blog so I will not intrude… so much

  66. Brief history on the name “James” and why it’s “Santiago”…

    James is generally acknowledged to be a Biblical name, from one of Jesus’ brothers. However, in Hebrew that name does not exist. It is “Ia’akov”, which is “Jacob”. This made it into the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible as Iacobos, the Greek version of the name. This translated into Spanish as “Iago”. However, since many Catholics liked naming their kids after saints, it became “Saint Iago” or Santiago.

    However, when 1611 came along and the Bible was being translated into English, the King wanted his name not just ON, but IN the Bible, so “Jacob” in the New Testament was changed to “James”.

    One of my favorite name translations into Spanish is Jeff, which becomes “Jefe”. In Spanish, “Jefe” means “chief” or “Boss”

  67. A mail just arrived and it says:

    Lady Diana lives, and she lives in México.

    It came with a jpg archive. The picture is the official identification from
    Lady Diana Rodríguez Rodríguez.

  68. Would my name (charlotte) be translated as Carlita in spanish???

  69. Carlota, actually :)

  70. well as you can see my parents decided against using maria as my first name and opted to use it as my middle name thank god!!! but orignially my name was going to be quetzalxochitl which can mean precious flower or queen but my mom thought that most would never be able to say it here in the US so it became erika maria. i wish she would have gone with the first but at least my name isn’t just MARIA!

  71. i have a tio named jesus and where we are from chucho is what we call dogs. cachu or cachuto is what we call my tio and others named jesus

  72. does anyone know what MILINA means?

  73. I admire and feel proud of the Mayan civilization and named my two daughters with a mix of Neutral, Spaniard and Mayan names plus the two last names accustomed in Mexico.
    The first one names Cielo Itzam-na Lucía. Cielo means sky, Itzam-na, means the Mayan father of gods, which had the male and female duality, and Lucía just a Spanish name.
    Mi second daughter is named Linda Yaxe Sak-Nik-Nahal. Linda means beautiful or precious, Yaxe means “Ceiba” the sacred tree of the Mayans, and Sak-Nik-Nahal, means Blanca conciencia de la eflorescencia or translated to English: White essence of the efflorescence.

    If you have an opportunity, you can buy a good book about Mayan civilization, and by reading carefully you can find a lot of interesting names. If somebody is interested in Mayan names for their babies, I’m attaching a few examples. Just take into account that Mayan names were based on natural objects and phenomena as well as subjective divinity.

    {Mayan*Spanish=English}
    Kaab * Abeja = Bee
    K’iin * Sol = Sun
    Ek * Estrella = Star
    Aak’ab * Noche = Night
    Ki’imak óol * Feliz = Happy
    Lool, nikte’ * Flor = Flower
    K’áak‘ * Fuego = Fire
    Sayab * Fuente = Water Spring
    Miis * Gato = Cat
    Yak * Gato montés = Wild cat
    Ki’ichpam * Guapa = Beautiful
    Kiik * Hermana = Sister
    Koh * Leoncillo = Little lion
    Chaanpal * Nene = Baby
    K’eech * Querida = Lovely
    Sit’riyo * Saltamontes = Grass hopper
    Kili’ich * Santo = Saint
    Muun * Tierno = tender
    Suhuy * Virgen = Virgin

    Also you can find a lot of Mexican indigenous names, including Mayan ones, at the site http://www.bebeespacio.com.mx/nombres_bebe_indigenas.html
    Be prepared with your dictionary to translate from Spanish to English.

  74. Hello WG’s!!!

    I always have found certain names in spanish quite funny, and having an unusual name in this part of the world (Shirin means sweet, in persian or farsee language), this has always been a fun topic of discussion, both with english and spanish speaking friends.

    I think I have one explanation for the snickering or quiet laugh that you have heard when you mention your spanish translation for James to locals or mexicans in general:

    Several years back, the powdered drink company called Tang, aired some funny British aristocratic commercials dubbed into spannish, on national TV of a family going on safari or in their very royal looking, stuffy Estate, where the children always asked their very british buttler, CALLED JAMES or JAIME, for more delicious Tang drink, and Butler Jaime would reply: “No se lo merecen!” or in english= They don’t deserve it!, in the spanish equivalent to a brittish, stuck up accent.

    A lot of yucatecans and mexicans remember these TV ads fondly, but have always found funny the mention of the name Jaime, reminding them of that butler character.
    Kinda reminds me of the equivalent to those funny, Grey Poupont mustard commercials that used to air on american TV, which also make me snicker on remembrance of them.

    Other funny, unusual names in spanish:
    Name= english translation= nickname
    -Primitivo= primitive= primi
    -Perfecto= perfect
    -Bartolo/a= Bartholomew (ok, not funny, but unusual to hear)
    -Agapito= no known equivalent = Pito (funny in itself, because Pito is like calling a Richard= Dick)

    And I was once sent a jpg of funny names that included the IFE picture of a girl in Campeche literally called: USNAVY MARINA!!!! No joke!!!

    Great fun article! I enjoyed it very much!

  75. This is a fantastic article! I really enjoy the work you are doing, I love learning about new cultures and this site is great for learning about Yucatan. My name is Joanna, and I don’t think there is a Mexican version, although the “j” is pronauced differently. my friends in Mexico call me bebe, :) not sure what it really means but I think it’s cute. My husbands name is really easy, it’s Pietro (italian), Pedro in Spanish, Peter in English, I have to say that I like Pedro best. What can I say? I love everything about the Mayan culture, the people are truly amazing and I will always vacation there.

  76. I don’t write many comments, but this time (at least) I agree completely.

  77. “Bebe” is exactly what it sounds like: BayBay = Baby! ;-)
    I’m sure they really like you!

  78. Well written, comprehensive…great post.

  79. Great article and great responses. I may add that the question about James or Jaime could be that, as the Tang commercial implied, all buttlers are called James or Jaime, and hence the chucles; they thought you were a buttler! :-) Being part of a famly with Mayan roots, it was always nice to hear mother called me with an affectionate “SH” (or X) added to my first name, which meant that she was in a very good mood, and she was showing her love to me at that time. X’Felipe was a name that I still cherish when I speak with her on the telephone, having switched places and live in the USA for a while. Y’all have a great day.

  80. Answer for “David Herrera” (on June 26th, 2007) Maybe it is too late after your post but in Venezuela and Spain we call “Encarna” to Incarnations what is Encarcación in Spanish.
    Best regards, Vanessa

  81. Gracias a todos! My novel is almost finished and you helped me just in time!
    muchisimas gracias!
    - david herrera

  82. Jeff is nearly impossible to say (for a Mexican). So When I lived in Yucatan I was known a Yef, Marcos (middle name Marc) and in rural areas, Nohoch Winic. (I’m 6’7″)

  83. How about this one?
    A woman in Cozumel, born on January 6 (the day of the “Santos Reyes” in Mexico) was named Gameba for the two first letters in the names of the Three Wise Men (also referred to as the Three Kings, and as the Magi) who visited Jesus after his birth: GAspar, MElchor and BAltasar.

  84. well i have a question, due to the fact that my 1st name is nikita(already has ita at the end of it) would i just be nicola/cola for short? or could i still go by the usual niki? i’ve found that for my unusual middle name its easier to change it to “juanita” than anything else. thanks!

  85. Hey guys! I have always wondered what my name is in spanish :) . I love the cite… My name has always been unique so here it is …. Brooklyn Delana or Brook. My dad has nicknamed me Bonita which i have found out to be a good thing because it means Beautiful little one. Thanks guys!

  86. I love the way you all experienced with your names in Yucatan. It is so true that it is a learning experience about the nick names and the ones ended in “ito” and “ita”. My grandmother called me Elsita. When my mother was mad at me, she will call me my full name Elsy Noemi del Perpetuo Socorro te estoy hablando!! Just to hear that I knew I was in trouble.
    Anyway, I just want to add to your beautiful comments that when someone refers to a person who is not of her/his favorite…in Yucatan we add: x (sh)
    Example: I would call you Sh-James or Sh-Maria, or you would call me Sh-Elsy, etc.
    If you refer to a little child, you might say “Chan-Santiagito” or “Chan-Elsita” , Chan-Bonita, etc.
    Learning about the culture of names is so interesting, I see that you all have fun with it, and I am glad.
    By the way “sh” is a short form of saying `ixlá¨which in Mayan Language means ¨porqueria¨ or ¨despicable¨ or ¨no-good¨… Interesting?
    How about the word :re-patea el alma? this is your homework. Have fun my friends in Yucatán. Yours truly ¨Chan-Elsy¨

  87. Hi, my new baby brother is named Jorge, is Jorgito a nickname for Jorge?

  88. My name (Fabio) is Italian, so no big deal,as generally Italian names and Spanish ones are very similar, but Fabio is NOT common in Spanish speaking countries, although it is a common name in Brazil. People tend to misunderstand it into ‘Flavio’ which is a common name in Italy AND in Spanish speaking countries….or misspell my name writing it with B chica (v) rather than B grande (b)….
    as for Santiago from Diego ? I believe Diego is a totally different name (common in Italian and Spanish) from Jaime – and that actually Santiago comes from Jaime or James in English…..but this is as far as I know.

  89. hello! I’m Maja and I have problems with aliases. I do not want to call me Maya, Maychy, Maych but a little differently. you have any suggestions about my name? I ask because when I am large, I apparently became a singer, but don ‘t know how to call. Thanks in advance. I very glad of your responses. Maya

  90. I lOVE MY HERITAGE. I HAVE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.I AM 100% PURE PADILLA. MY FATHER WAS FROM MEXICO, ZACATECAS. MY MOTHER FROMMBARCELONA, SPAIN. THEREFORE. MY LITTLE HISTORY IS GRAND. CUZ MY MOTHERS MAIDEN WAS ALSO PADILLA. THEREFORE MAKES ME A100% PADILLA. AND A LITTLE MORE BIT OF HISTORY. THERES A BARRIO, IN ALBUQUERQUE,NEW MEXICO. (CALLED LOS PADILLAS). WHICH MY GREAT GRANDFATHER FROM MY MOTHERS SIDE FOUNDED. AND THATS WHERE I AM FROM. BOTHE BEST WORLDS. AND100% PURE PADILLA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  91. actually i liked the Spanish language and wanted to know my name in Spanish version.

  92. actually i liked Spanish languae but haven’t learned it yet and i want to know my name in Spanish version.

  93. My half brother’s name is Humberto and my family calls him beto.

  94. That’s cute about Pepe standing for “Padre Putativo,” but I’m sure it’s not true. Jose comes from the Latin Josephus (from Hebrew Yosef) so I’m sure there was some intermediate stage when people were called Josepo or Josepe or something like that. (Ph was pronounced more or less like p in Latin.)

    As for Nancy, a lot of English names were originally nicknames (Beth, Betsy, Eliza, Betty, Elise etc. for Elizabeth) so you have to go back to the original. I think Nancy is a nickname for Anne (Hebrew Hannah), which is Anna in Spanish.

  95. How about one for a pablo? I need a sweet nick name for My new husband

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