Feminize a Greek name - Belisarius? (aka all Greek to me…)
February 23, 2022 7:49 AM   Subscribe

One of my COVID decisions (after some good wine in early 2020, week 4 of not leaving the house) I decided that I would name next two pets after my favoritas Byzantine historic figures, the General Belisarius And the emperor Heraclitus. Well I do have my first dog… rescue Spitz I picked up in Albania from a friend! But I have a female. I call her “Belle” for short, but for my own historical persnickety I’d like how to feminize it… Belisariaux? I am not sure for a non-Latin Language Thanks!
posted by aggienfo to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
Best answer: Looking at this list of Greek names for girls, I see patterns that support the idea of the name Belisaria or Belisalia.
posted by amtho at 8:14 AM on February 23, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: According to the Wikipedia biography you cite, Belisarius came from a Latin-speaking family from somewhere in Germania. Even though naming sites consider the name Greek, meaning swordsman, I don't see why you can't treat it like a Latin name, especially since the -ius ending is male in Latin. Unfortunately, I cannot find any female Latinate names that mean swordswoman. What about Belisaria, Belle for short? He was actually Flavius Belisarius, so you could add Flavia for formal occasions. (Flavia Belisaria, you let go of that bunny right now!)
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 8:18 AM on February 23, 2022 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks!I appreciate it
posted by aggienfo at 9:10 AM on February 23, 2022

Best answer: "-ος" is actually not a specifically gendered ending in Greek; it's most common on masculine nouns but there are a fair number of feminine nouns that end in it too. But there are a fair number of nouns with matched gendered "-ος" and "-α" forms in modern Greek at least, e.g. "ηθοποιος" (actor) and "ηθοποια" (actress), "σερβιτόρος" (waiter) and "σερβιτόρα" (waitress), so you'd be on fairly solid ground with "Belisaria" from either a Greek or a Latin loan-word front.

Heraclitus also has an "-ος" ending in Greek, but that ending "κλειτός" is an adjective meaning "honored"; that adjective conveniently has a feminine form "κλειτή" so the properly Greek feminization of Heraclitus would probably be Heracliti. But nobody seems to use that at all; Heraclita or Heraklita seems to be a much more common (albeit still rare) first name.

Disclaimer: I do not know Greek, modern or otherwise; I've just done some digging on Greek grammars and looked at some word lists.
posted by jackbishop at 10:12 AM on February 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

Βελισαρία and Ηρακλείτη sound right to me - never heard of either of them in actual use but they are very plausible.
posted by each day we work at 11:07 AM on February 23, 2022

Ηρακλείτη does not work, has to be ῾Ηρακλειτή (i.e., with the rough breathing). κλειτή is the correct Attic f.sing.nom. form of first-declension adjective κλειτός. That would usually be transliterated as Heraclite (the Η/η is the Greek letter eta, which is pronounced in English as a long 'a' and normally transcribed as 'e', as you can see in the first syllable), but the English preference for -a as a feminine name ending would argue pretty strongly for Heraclita, esp. given that transliteration is never exact.

If the -us endings are confusing you, it's because they're Latinized, Greek -os to Latin -us.
posted by praemunire at 1:42 PM on February 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

[N.B., my Greek is not wonderful but -ος is specifically gendered masculine. The reason there are feminine nouns with that ending is that Greek bends and breaks its own rule A LOT. Other than that, I agree that -a/α or -i/-η is your best bet.]
posted by Concordia at 8:16 AM on February 25, 2022

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