A Dictionary of First Names

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192116512
ISBN-10: 0192116517
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-- A wonderful book that provides the origins of 7,000 names found in the English-speaking world, giving their history, usage trends, and explaining how they are used in other languages. In addition, each entry highlights influences that determine popularity. Supplements list names from the often difficult to find Arab world and the Indian subcontinent.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

`Review from previous edition I have returned to this dictionary again and again for sheer pleasure' Jackie Wullschlager Financial Times

`full of anecdotal material as well as historical facts' Glasgow Herald

`a colourful hunting ground and interesting reading' Maternity and Mothercraft

`the best available work on the subject' Verbatim --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 443 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192116517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192116512
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.7 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,487,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have often found need for this book. It gives detailed etymologies of names, of famous persons bearing the name, and cross-references different forms of the name (as nick, male/female, and other languages). A name book done up as a proper reference book. It also has sections on Hindi/Indian and Muslim/Arabic names.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Head and shoulders above all other name books I have seen. Well researched and extremely thorough.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Happy Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm one of those nerds who loves reference books of all kinds, and the Oxford Dictionary of First Names is no exception. I purchased it with the eye towards getting ideas for ethnic names in storywriting. But then I kept perusing it just for fun.

This is the OXFORD dictionary, so the main dictionary is for English names, or rather, names used in countries where English is the main language. But that doesn't stop it from having tons of names I've never heard of. How about Abishag (Biblical derivation) or Dreda (a shortened form of Etheldreda, no wonder I've never heard of it).

But it also has appendices for specific ethnic/language/country names, which I'll list later.

I just ordered this book, and it's the 2006 2nd edition. [Added later: There is a newer edition available now.]
The book starts with two Introductions, one from the 1st edition, and a new one for the 2nd. I found these very interesting, with information on how first names have been created over the centuries.

The scholarship behind the names looks complete. There are times where it simply states, "derivation uncertain". For older names, especially, that's all they can do. Not all names "mean" something, but the Oxford Dictionary tells you as much as it can about when the name first appeared and where it is or may be derived. If you are looking for a more "fun" book of names, a "what shall I name my baby" type book, you may be disappointed with this. This is prepared more like a dictionary, a reference book.

To give you an idea of how it's put together, I'll take a common English name, "Henry" in the main dictionary, shown as a male name: "A perennially popular given name, of Continental Germanic origin, from haim 'home' + ric 'power, ruler'.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Schumacher on May 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the best references about personal names on the market. It is very scholarly in nature, yet very readable. The first two authors (Hanks and Hodges) are both linguists. The meanings and histories they give are reliable and accurate. There are many websites and books about baby names, but many of these are unreliable and emphasise quantity over quality. If you are looking for a book that will give you accurate information about the meanings and histories of names, this books is a good place to start. It's also a good book to read for the person who is interested in names.
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