Names and their history

The following is an extract from a post on Jewishgen, published here with the kind permission of Dick Plotz. Dick posted this in answer to a query about a Hebrew inscription which was hard to read. We thought this excellent answer and background description of the name Shraga Feivush would be of interest to others:

“Many people had two apparently unrelated names for various reasons, but often the two names will be related in a characteristic way. If that’s the case, figuring out one of them will help you figure out the other. Another clue is the double yod in the second name, which suggests that the name may be Yiddish rather than Hebrew. Double names often consist of a Hebrew name and a related Yiddish name (called a kinnui). This name is Shraga Feivush.

Shraga Feivush happens to be a combination with an interesting history. Shraga is an Aramaic name meaning lamp. It’s often paired with the Hebrew name Uri or Uriah, which carries the sense of light. Feivush actually comes from Chaim, through the Latin form Vives, but over the centuries that derivation has been largely forgotten. Instead, because of the similar sound, the name has become associated with Phoebus, one of the epithets of the Greek and Roman sun god Apollo; “Phoibos” is Greek for “radiance”, and is related to “phos”, light. So we have the odd path of a (late) proper Hebrew name being translated into Latin and then, because of a misunderstanding of its Yiddish pronunciation, becoming associated with the name of a pagan god and with a pair of entirely different Hebrew and Aramaic names whose meanings are related to the domain of that god. Carried further, by far the most common English name associated with the Jewish name Feivush is Philip, yet another Greek name meaning “lover of horses.”

Reasearching names? see Jewishgen’s Given Name Database


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