Gwendolen

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Gwendolen
Gwen John - Self-Portrait.jpg
Gwendolen Mary John, Self-portrait, 1902
Pronunciation/ˈɡwɛndəlɪn/
GenderFeminine
Language(s)English, Welsh
Origin
Word/Namepossibly from Welsh gwen = "white, holy" + dolen = "loop, link, ring"
Meaning"white ring"?
Other names
Alternative spellingGuendolen, Gwendoline, Gwendolyn, Gwendolin
Nickname(s)Gwen, Wendy, Winnie
 
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Gwendolen
Gwen John - Self-Portrait.jpg
Gwendolen Mary John, Self-portrait, 1902
Pronunciation/ˈɡwɛndəlɪn/
GenderFeminine
Language(s)English, Welsh
Origin
Word/Namepossibly from Welsh gwen = "white, holy" + dolen = "loop, link, ring"
Meaning"white ring"?
Other names
Alternative spellingGuendolen, Gwendoline, Gwendolyn, Gwendolin
Nickname(s)Gwen, Wendy, Winnie

Gwendolen (/ˈɡwɛndəlɪn/ GWEN-də-lin; from Welsh gwen, meaning "white, fair, blessed", and dolen, meaning "loop, link of a chain, ring, bow") is a feminine given name, in general use only since the 19th century.[1]

It has come to be the standard English form of Latin Guendoloena, which was first used by Geoffrey of Monmouth as the name of a legendary British queen in his History of the Kings of Britain (c. 1138). He reused the name in his Life of Merlin (c. 1150) for a different character, the wife of the titular magician "Merlinus", a counsellor to King Arthur;[Notes 1] the metre shows that Geoffrey pronounced it as a pentasyllable, Guĕndŏlŏēnă, with the "gu" pronounced [gw]. Dr. Arthur Hutson suggests that "Guendoloena" arose from a misreading of the old Welsh masculine name Guendoleu; Geoffrey may have mistaken the final U for an N, then Latinized *Guendolen as a feminine name to arrive at Guendoloena.[1] In the Vita Merlini, however, Geoffrey Latinizes the masculine name of Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio as Guennolous. Spelled Gwendoloena, the name reoccurs in the anonymous Latin romance De Ortu Waluuanii belonging to Arthur's queen Guinevere.

It did not become a common English given name until the 19th century. Gwendoline was in use in England by the 1860s (an early example being Lady Gwendoline Anson, born c. 1837, a daughter of the 1st Earl of Lichfield),[3] and Gwendolen appeared in Daniel Deronda, written by George Eliot and published in serialized form 1874–6.[1]

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Footnotes

  1. ^ "Robert (de Boron) and his continuators also expand upon hints—in the Welsh poem Yr Afallennau (The Apple Tree) and the Life of Merlin—that Merlin has had a lover or wife. […] The pedigree of Merlin’s mistress as the daughter of a landholder favoured by the divine huntress Diana (who is not as chaste in medieval legend as in classical myth) or as an adherent of the Lady of the Lake crowns Merlin’s folkloric roots as Wild Man and forest dweller."[2] (See also John Jay Parry's 1925 translation of The Life of Merlin at sacred-texts.com)

Citations

  1. ^ a b c McMaster, Jodi (4 October 1999). "Concerning the Name Gwendolyn, Gwendolen, or Gwendoline". MedievalScotland.org. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Goodrich, Peter (2000). "Merlin". In Lindahl, Carl. Medieval Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs 2. p. 656. ISBN 1-57607-121-9. 
  3. ^ Sheard, K. M. (2011), Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names, p. 262, at Google Books, p. 262, ISBN 9780738723686.