Most given names fall into one of these five categories:

  1. Pre-Christian Latin and Latinate names. Examples: Vincent, Anthony, Julia, Lucy.

  2. Pre-Christian Greek names. Examples: Philip, Nicholas, Helen, Chloe.

  3. Biblical names. Examples: John, Paul, Elizabeth, Ann.

  4. Ethnic names. Examples: Malcolm, Edward, Linda, Alice.

  5. Made-up comical names. Examples: Ace, Chase, Rain, Serendipity.

What do you call pseudo-Biblical names, such as Christopher, Christine, Angela, Annunziata, etc?

  • 1
    You might want to rethink your 'biblical' category. John and Elizabeth are of Hebrew origin, but Paul is the Latin family name assumed by Saul (Heb), probably when he became a Roman citizen, and Catherine is a post-biblical name of Greek origin. And why should names of Celtic and Germanic origin be characterized as "ethnic", as if Latin, Greek and Hebrew speakers belonged to no ethnos? Dec 22, 2015 at 23:59
  • @StoneyB: Good catch: Catherine, yeah, I laid an egg there. Confounded absentmindedness, nothing more. When I say Biblical, I mean "encountered in the Bible (KJV)," no more and no less. Latin, Greek, and Hebrew words (not speakers) that are part of any European language today (and some non-European ones as well) transcend ethnicity. Just like when you hear the word cuisine, you know you'll have to discuss French first and Italian second before you can move on to all kinds of ethnic muck and lard that is only called cuisine for fear that some excessively touchy souls might take offence.
    – Ricky
    Dec 23, 2015 at 0:48
  • Hmm ... It's a sorta random taxonomy! Dec 23, 2015 at 1:04
  • @StoneyB: It ain't random. Come on. I mean, Chinese and Japanese "cuisines" may be popular, and Greek is certainly something you might want to fall back on in Paris when you're on a limited budget, and the American fare has its good points, but when all is said and done, it's arts vs crafts. I personally favor Italian because it has a number of items (and I don't mean pizza, either) that don't take a week to prepare. Oh, and certain Chilean and Australian wines are pretty good; but when you think of wine, you think of the province of Bordeaux and the state of California first.
    – Ricky
    Dec 23, 2015 at 1:15
  • I had in mind the mix of linguistic and literary categories and arbitrary divisions between them (e.g. all of your queried category are either Latin or Greek, or both) in your question. Dec 23, 2015 at 1:21

1 Answer 1


I would call those Christian names, as opposed to Biblical names. And I quarrel with your classification. For common English names, I would split them into Latinate, Hellenic, Germanic, Hebraic, Celtic, African, and others. I bet you could catch 90% of used names in the non-other categories. Almost certainly 90% of names used with significant frequency.

And there's a pretty big chunk of Germanic names, still. Edward, Henry, Eric, even Richard. :) Celtic is surprisingly prevalent, with Kevin, Jennifer, Logan (though the Scots first used it for people), and it has a lot of importance of adding name variants as they passed through Celtic languages from other places, like Caitlin from Katherine, Sean and Ian from John, Liam from William, and many others.

Edit: I guess I'll drop my favorite name etymology trivia bit here: Henry is a name for something you probably wouldn't expect. Henry, Henri (French), Heinrich (probably Frankish? Now German), Haimirich (old German, from home-rich, rich as in regal), and then back up through Latin Emericus, Amerigo in Italian, and as Amerigo Vespucci signed his name in Latin, Americus, which someone feminized to name America.

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