Portugal may be a geographically small country, but it packs a punch on world influence! The oldest official country in Europe, it once ‘owned’ half of the new world. Portuguese is currently the official language in 9 different countries and over 236 million people worldwide are native Portuguese speakers. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome, and Equatorial Guinea.
Many Portuguese names are taken from the names of saints and derive from Greek or Latin words. Names honouring Mary are also popular, be it titles such as "Dores" or events in her life, such as "Inmaculada". Most people have quite long names as there is a tradition of having one or two given names followed by 4 surnames - the maternal and paternal surnames plus those of the grandparents. Women may also be given their husband’s surnames when they get married, so they may end up with a very long name such as "Maria do Carmo Mão de Ferro e Cunha de Almeida Santa Rita Santos Abreu’!
Portugal has many traditional and beautiful names to choose from. Have a look through these 25 more unusual names and see if you can find something to inspiring.
This is a pretty and quite popular girls’ name, recently boosted by the main character in the 2002 horror movie ‘The Ring’. It has several meanings. As a nature name, it could be derived from the word for the winged seeds which grow on trees such as maples and elms.
As a locational name, it refers to both the Iraqi city of Samarra and Samara in Russia. The novel 'Appointment in Samarra' (1934) by John O'Hara, refers to an ancient Babylonian legend about a man trying to evade death and is set in Samarra, Iraq.
A religious name, this beautiful girls’ title refers to the Virgin Mary. In Spain, there is a sanctuary containing a shrine with a famous statue of Mary. In the Catalan language, this is called ‘Nostra Senyora de Núria’, meaning ‘Our Lady of Nuria’. In Hebrew, it translates as ‘fire of the Lord’.
Nuria is also a place name, related to the word Norra, a variant of Andorra, and meaning .place between valleys’. This name is also reported to be Arabic meaning ‘brilliant, shining’ and is possibly a version of the Arabic name Noor.
Pronounced ‘NOO-re-yah’, the accent is used on the 'u' in Catalan but would be a grammatical mistake in Spanish.
An English boy’s name since the Middle Ages, Abel is now very popular in Portugal. Abel was the second son of the Old Testament’s first celebrity couple, Adam and Eve. He was famously the victim of a jealous murder rage by his older brother Cain. It originates with the Hebrew ‘Hevel’, meaning ‘breath’, or ‘breathing spirit’.
Ironically for the original Abel, people with this name are said to desire stable, loving families. They like to work with others and tend to be a bit visionary.
This is the Portuguese form of the girls’ name Agatha. Popular around the world, it takes various different forms including Agata in Poland, Jaga in Croatia and Agda in Sweden. Coming from the ancient Greek meaning ‘good’ or ‘kind’, Agatha was famously a saint from the 3rd century who was tortured and killed after refusing to accept the advances of a Roman official. Particularly revered in the middle ages, Agatha’s popularity has continued slowly but surely through the ages. A famous modern day Agatha is the novelist Agatha Christie.
This is a short form of the name ‘Adeline’, which in turn comes from the Germanic name ‘Adelina’. ‘Adal’ means ‘noble’, so Aline translates as ‘of the nobility, noble or pleasant’.
Girls with this name love change, excitement and adventure. They struggle to follow traditional conventions and love their freedom. Restless by nature, Aline is a dynamic person who can make friends easily and like to work with others.
Modern-day Alines include Aline Barros, the gospel singer, Aline Weber the model and the actress Aline Macmahon.
This beautiful unisex name is the Portuguese version of Bonaventura. This translates as ‘good fortune’, which is a great name to bless your child with!
Although it is unisex it is more commonly used for girls. A great exception to this rule is Boaventura de Sousa Santos, who is a Professor at the School of Economics at the University of Coimbra, and distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School.
If you enjoy a glass of wine then the Boaventura de Caires winery might well bring you good fortune.
This is a variation of the boy’s name ‘Alberto’, which in turn is the Spanish, Italian and Portuguese version of Albert. This translates as ‘bright, intelligent, noble’ and probably the most famous bearer of this name was the scientist Albert Einstein. Queen Victoria’s husband was also an Albert and
In Sweden, the name has a slightly different meaning of ‘strong as a bear’ whilst the Teutonic languages translate it as ‘illustrious’. Despite having all very complimentary meanings, this is a name that has actually declined in popularity over the last decade.
This charming masculine name is the Portuguese form of ‘Audamar’, which in turn comes from the German ‘Otmar’. The two elements of this name are ‘aud’, meaning ‘wealthy, fortune’, and ‘mari’, meaning famous. So with a name like this, your child is headed down the road to success!
Born 689AD Othmar was a monk and priest appointed as the first abbot of the Abbey of St. Gall, a Benedictine monastery around which grew up the town of St. Gallen, Switzerland. His name is honoured annually in the Czech Republic on November 16th.
This lovely name is the Latin form of the Greek ‘Alkeides’, meaning ‘strength’, so a great name for your little boy. An alternative name for Herakles, this is a name steeped in Greek mythology. Known in the western world as Hercules, this god was the most masculine deity ever, with his claims to fame being Gatekeeper of Olympus, God of strength, heroes, sports, athletes, health, agriculture, fertility, trade, oracles and, as if that wasn’t enough he was also divine protector of mankind.
This pretty feminine name is the Portuguese version of Blanche. Not a very popular name nowadays, it comes from the Germanic word ‘blanc’, meaning ‘white’. In the medieval period, it became a popular French nickname meaning ‘white or fair’ and rose to popularity after Louis VIII married a Blanche.
Now very common as a surname, there are many examples of ‘Branca’ from the 12th-century Portuguese royal Infanta Branca, Lady of Guadalajara, to the modern day Italian footballer Marco Branca.
This masculine name is popular throughout Portugal, Spain and Italy, and comes from the medieval Spanish name ‘Velasco’. This translates as ‘crow’ in Basque. Vasco da Gama was the first person to sail from Europe around Africa and on to India in the 15th century. As he was a Portuguese explorer this name has great links with the country. If you like explorers, there was also Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, a Spanish explorer who was the first European to reach the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean by travelling through the jungles of the Isthmus of Panama.
This unusual boy’s name is the short form of Anacleto, or Anacletus, which in turn means ‘invoked’, or ‘calling forth’. Again deriving from the Greek word Anakletos, this name was taken by the third pope.
Pope Anacletus was a Roman who served as pope between c. 79 and his death, c. 92. Known as Cletus, he is said to have ordained a number of priests and is traditionally credited with setting up about twenty-five parishes in Rome. His name day is April 26.
Boys with this name are often practical, strong and solid. They prefer order and possess great self-discipline which allows them to stay calm in times of crisis. Methodical and organised, Cleto makes a great entrepreneur.
Cila is a gorgeous diminutive of Cecilia. It comes from the Latin ‘caecus’ meaning ‘blind’. Cecilia, in turn, is particularly interesting for its variety of pronunciations! In English, it is pronounced ‘se-SEEL-yə’, whilst the Italians would say ‘che-CHEE-lya’ and the Spanish go with ‘the-THEE-lya’.
Saint Cecilia is one of the more famous saints. From the 3rd century, she was martyred after refusing to worship Roman Gods. She was beheaded after they failed to suffocate her and became the patron saint of music and musicians.
Clotilda, pronounced ‘KLAW-TEELD’, comes from the super complex Germanic name Chlotichilda. Meaning ‘fame’ (hlud) and ‘battle’ (hild), the name translates loosely as ‘famous in battle’, or ‘renowned for war’.
Whilst constantly in the top 50 French girls’ names, Clotilda hasn’t been ranked in the USA since 1889, when it was number 951. Girls with this name value truth, justice and discipline and like their lives to be orderly.
Saint Clotilde was the wife of the 6th-century Frankish king Clovis, whom she converted to Christianity.
This is the feminine form of Dionysius, the Greek God. Dionysius is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy.
It is also a Biblical name meaning ‘divinely touched’. In the Bible Dionysius, The Areopagite was converted by St. Paul at Athens (Acts 17:34). He managed to get a notable posthumous reputation primarily through confusion with later Christians who were similarly named.
Dionisia Pacquiao, the mother of Manny, is an actress known for her role in the 2009 programme Show Me da Manny.
Here is a rare boys’ name deriving from the Latin word ‘quiris’ meaning ‘spear’. Quirinus was a Sabine and Roman god who was close in importance to Mars and Jupiter. He was a major Roman deity, yet very little is known about him. Some say he was another form of Mars, some say he later came to be known as Romulus. His festival, Quirinalia, fell on February 17 and he had one of the oldest temples in Rome.
Quirino is also a landlocked province in the Philippines located in the Cagayan Valley and named after Elpidio Quirino, the sixth President of the Philippines.
This boy’s name is a version of the Roman Deodatus and is also a variation on Adeodatus and Deusdedit. Meaning ‘given by God’, this was another popular name in religion, with two popes choosing it. The 4th century Saint Augustine named his son Adeodatus. Before his conversion, Saint Augustine was not so holy, and Adeodatus was borne to his mistress, an illegitimate son.
The most famous contemporary Deodato is Eumir Deodato, a Brazilian pianist known for his skills in composing, arranging and recording primarily jazz music.
Another name stemming from Greek origins, this boys’ name comes from the name ‘Eleutherios’, meaning ‘free’. Along with the female version Eleftheria, this name is very ancient. There is a variety of well-used nicknames for this rather lengthy name including Lefteris, Lefterakis, Akis, Takis and Ritsos.
There are a number of saints through history with this name and so a number of naming days including May 26 for Pope Eleuteris, February 20th for Eleutherius of Tournai and August 26 for Eleutherius of Auxerre.
This masculine name is a variation of ‘Firmin’, a name that was very popular in French and England in the Middle Ages. Originally from the Latin Firminus, this name means ‘firm’.
In name analysis, Firmino can seem abrupt, bossy and even aloof, but this is to cover up his shyness and general lack of confidence. Firmino can be slightly vain and will spend a lot of time taking care of his appearance. Once you get to know him you will appreciate his warm and friendly nature.
The patron saint of Barcelona, Eulalia is a rare name. It means ‘sweetly-speaking’, from two Greek words ‘eu’, meaning ‘good’ and ‘laleo’ translating as to talk’.
The 4th-century Spanish martyr St Eulalia is a famous bearer of this name. After suffering 13 tortures she was decapitated, at which point a dove is said to have flown from her mouth.
Short forms are Olalla and Lalla, whilst Lalia is becoming a popular name in its own right. The Arabic meaning for Lalia is ‘Queen of the Night’. Introduced into England in the middle ages, they pronounced it wrong and it became ‘Hilaria’.
The Portuguese are certainly keen on Greek names and gods, and this boy’s name is no exception. From ‘Glaukos’, meaning ‘bluish-grey’, Glaucus was a merman, whose tale was told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Beginning life as a mortal fisherman, Glaucus discovered a magical herb that brought his fish back from the dead. So he decided to try some and was upset to find that it caused him to grow fins and a tale. Now an immortal merman, he was forced to live in the sea, where he spent his time saving fishermen and sailors from storms.
This is the gorgeous Portuguese version of Irene, a name that is pronounced differently all over the world! In English, it is pronounced ‘ie-REE-nee’ whilst in Spain, it is ‘ee-RE-ne’. In Finland, you would say EE-re-ne whereas in Holland the second syllable is stressed - ‘ee-RAY-nə’.
This name, common in ancient times, means ‘peace’ and is the name of the Goddess of Peace. In the 8th century Byzantine Empire, Empress Irene was the first woman to lead the empire. She originally served as regent for her son, but later had him killed and ruled alone. Not exactly in keeping with ‘peace’!
Pio is the short and sweet Italian and Portuguese form of Pius, pronounced ‘PEE-oos’. This is a Latin name meaning "pious, dutiful", so unsurprisingly has been the name of twelve popes.
Only canonized in 2002, Padre Pio is a modern day saint whose full name is Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. Famous for bearing the stigmata, he was also known for his gifts of healing, bilocation, levitation, prophecy, miracles, extraordinary abstinence from both sleep and nourishment, the gift of tongues, and pleasant-smelling wounds!
In the Tupi language of Brazil, this name translates as ‘lies’. The Tupi are a group of American Indians living in the Amazon Valley. In modern urban slang this has all come down to mean ‘a person that acts stupid or says silly things’, so possibly not the most flattering name for your child!
Beautiful sounding, it features in the 1781 Brazilian epic poem ‘Caramuru’ and is the title of a painting by Victor Meirelles. It is also a district in the borough of Vila Mariana in Sao Paulo.
Heliodoro (e-lyo-DHO-ro0, comes from the Greek Heliodoros. ‘Helios’ means ‘sun’, and ‘doron’ means ‘gift’, so Heliodoro is a ‘sun gift’, or ‘gift from the sun’.
Modern examples of this name include Heliodoro Gustines 1940-present), a retired Panamanian-born jockey and horse trainer. In 1967, TIME magazine called him ‘the best grass-course rider in the United States’ and shortly after that he won the American Classic Triple Crown Race.
For a more historic example, you could name your child after Saint Heliodorus, who was the first bishop of Altinum in the 4th century.
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