0

Some people say "Melisande" is just French Melissa, which ''is'' clearly derived from "mel", but Wikipedia doesn't mention any such thing for Melisande, instead saying that the closest thing with an origin is Millicent, coming from Germanic amal "work" and swinth "strength".

1 Answer 1

4

It depends what you mean by "derived from". Lines of descent are often not as straightforward as dictionaries make them look!

The name "Melisande" and its variants do seem to stem from the Gothic "Amalswinthe", based on the transcriptions we see from the time (e.g. in texts talking about the Gothic queen by that name).

However, "Melissa" was also a well-known name at the time, taken from Greek via Latin. It's quite likely that this name contributed to "Melisande" taking on that particular form. It's very common for words, especially relatively rare ones like names, to change by analogy like this.

Similarly, the fact that the modern spelling "Millicent" looks like it comes from the Latin words for "thousand" and "hundred" is probably not an accident. It isn't actually derived from those roots, but people thinking it is can have a significant impact! Most people using the name nowadays (and even back in the Middle Ages) don't know Gothic, and have never heard of the ancient queen Amalswinthe, but probably do recognize the roots mille and centum.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.