siabhra (siabhra) wrote in little_details,

Female Gaelic name from the 6th century meaning “fire”?

Hello, Little Details. I hope someone can help me, because I’m at my wit’s end. I don’t know how long I’ve been searching. I thought my requirements were simple, but apparently not. All I need is a female Gaelic name from the 6th century that means “fire” (“little fiery one/little fire” or “born of fire” work perfectly well too). Sounds simple, right?

Setting: 6th century Britain and Ireland. Probably near the southern border of Dál Riata.

I’m writing a story in which an infant is the only survivor of a village that burns to the ground, so the natural conclusion is that the Gaelic adoptive parents would call the child “fire”/Áed or “born of fire”/Áedán. I had long ago read that the name Áed was very old, used in pre-history, and a very common Gaelic name in the past, so Áed stuck in my head. But for plot reasons the child has been changed from a boy to a girl and I cannot for the life of me find a suitable female equivalent of Áed/Áedán. I’ve run into various problems (some probably minor and petty in the minds of others) with every option I’ve found so far, primarily because of conflicting sources and less than ideal pronunciations.

I know Áed and Áedán were used in my target period but they’re both male.

And now for the details.

Edana: possibly the female version of Áedán/Aidan (‘little fiery one’), possibly a Latinized or Hiberno-English (source page was deleted) form of Étaín (“jealousy”), thus probably too modern, not in the original Gaelic, and the wrong meaning. I liked the sound of it when it was on (it got removed) but now it seems unfeasible.

Aideen: possibly the female version of Áedán/Aidan (‘little fiery one’), possibly an Anglicized form of Étaín (“jealousy”). Same problem as above. Mostly it looks too modern to me.

Aithne (sounds like Anna, Ahna or Ahana? I’m perfectly fine with any of those): possibly a female name meaning “fire” (another female equivalent of Áedán/Aidan ), possibly a variant of Eithne (“kernel, nut, seed”) (which may also be related to Áedán/Aidan ), possibly just a word meaning “meet” or “introductions”. So I have no clue what this one means anymore, but I like how it sounds, anyway.

Eithne/Ethniu: may be related to Áedán/Aidan , or may just mean “kernel, nut, seed”. I believe Ethniu (Enyu) is the Old Irish form but of course Eithne (Enya) sounds nicer.

Áine: might mean “fire” or “joy” or “ardent” or “little fire” or “splendor, radiance, brilliance”. Simple, short, sounds nice, easy to give English pronunciation for (Anya), but not sure about the meaning anymore. Pretty sure it’s old enough, though.

Lasairíona/Lasairfhíona (which spelling is correct/older?): meaning ‘fire/flame of wine’, ‘flame wine’, or ‘wine made from flames’. It sounds beautiful, it looks fancy on the page, it has ‘fire’ in the meaning. The problem is I have no idea if it would be old enough (6th century), my instincts tell me ‘no’, and the ‘wine’ does not apply (to the reason behind the naming in my story) so the meaning is a tad off for what I’m seeking. Now I feel really picky.

Áednat: another feminine form of Áedán, “little fire”, but I can’t say I’m very fond of the look or sound of it; “nit/nitwit” or “gnat” come to mind for an English speaker/reader. Also, again, not sure about how old it would be.

Áedammair: Well, I know it has Áed-/“fire” in it but I don’t know what the suffixal element means, or if it’s a male or female name, or both. It’s labeled Old Irish so that’s not a problem, for once!

Aíbell/Aoibheall: the meaning “radiance, spark, fire” is suitable, but the pronunciation EE-val, again, doesn’t work for English-speakers who will see, essentially, “evil”. Also, not sure about how far back it goes.

Laisre: For a moment I got excited upon finding this one, since it just meant “flame, fire” and the text pronunciation was LOS-ra, which looks easy to say. But it’s a male name too. The female equivalent is Lassar/Lasair (LOS-er), so the English-speaker will see “loser” on the pronunciation page… Not sure about that. Also, are either of these old enough to be used in the 6th century?

Fintan/Fiontan: “white fire”. Am I right in assuming this is composed of the elements Fionn “white, fair-haired” (Irish) and the Welsh tân, “fire”? It’s a male name, so I can’t use it for her, but are there any other Irish female names that might contain tân?

I only have a sadly casual knowledge of Gaelic, so I don’t know why the patronymic for Áed becomes “mac Áeda” with the A at the end, also pronouncing the D which I thought was silent in Áed. It tempts me to use Áeda (which has a nice/feminine sound to it to an English-speaker) as a feminine form of Áed, but I’m pretty darn sure any Gaelic-speaker will raise an eyebrow at that, if not laugh at it.

I could settle for naming her Luath (“ashes”, but also the unsuitable “swift”, “early”, or “soon”, according to the Scottish Gaelic and Irish dictionaries I’ve found), but since that was Cú Chulainn’s dog I’m not sure about someone naming their daughter that, especially around Cú Chulainn’s period (modern-day naming is more boundless, shall we say).

If someone with a (much!) greater knowledge of Gaelic could help me find an actual female Gaelic name with the meaning “fire” and from the period (6th century) I’m looking for, I would be eternally grateful. Or at least help me create something suitable that Gaelic-speakers won’t laugh at.

I’m sorry this was so huge and thorough and irritatingly picky. I just want to name this character already so she can go out into the fictional world and be awesome. :(

I also welcome input on people’s opinions on these names, as an English-speaker or Gaelic-speaker (heck, an any-language-speaker); whether any have positive or negative connotations I should be aware of. Any help is welcome. Thanks in advance!
Tags: 500s, ~languages: celtic, ~names

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