Bynames from 15-17th century Latvia.

by Rebecca Lucas (ffride wlffsdotter)

© 2020; all rights reserved
Last updated 15 November 2020.


The territory of the modern-day Republic of Latvia formed the southern part of the region of Livonia, with Finnic-speaking peoples in the modern-day territory of Estonia to the north. This brief list of names was compiled from a handful of articles, that mentioned some dated forms of bynames from southern Livonia. In particular, the articles were focused on how these bynames had recorded Latvian words, particularly descriptions of body parts (Balodis 2007; Laumane 2011), occupations (Balodis 2008, 2016), and daily life (Sehwers 1926).

As I do not speak or read Latvian, and Balodis's articles in particular would group names thematically but not necessarily provide a modern gloss, I relied heavily upon dictionaries to translate the meaning of these bynames. There is a very good chance that I have misinterpreted a name, and there are also some names that I could not understand at all. It is also important to note that some of these names are gendered, such as the occupational bynames ending in -nieks, relationship bynames, and ethnonyms. While it is possible to know what the modern feminine equivalent would be (eg. masculine prūsis, feminine prūsiete "Prussian"), I am unable to suggest what it would have been in the 15th to 17th centuries.

The bynames have been sorted by their broad theme, and where possible further grouped into a single theme.

Body Parts, Appearance and Personality

Masculine Occupational Bynames

Feminine occupational byname

Masculine relationship bynames



Masculine Ethnonyms



All links active as of 15 November 2020.