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Alexander

Alexander (m) Originally a Greek name, usually ex-
plained as ‘defender of men,’ though Robert Graves in
Greek Myths suggests ‘he who wards off men.’ Alexander
became a royal name in Scotland in the twelfth century
when Alexander I came to the throne. Alexander’s mother, Queen Margaret, had been brought up in the Hungarian Court, where the name would have been familiar. Alexander II and III subsequently ruled in Scotland for most of the thirteenth century, thoroughly establishing the name.

In 1858 Alexander was the 4th most frequently used
name for Scottish boys. It was still in 5th position in
1935, and in 7th position in 1958. By that time several
Gaelic forms of the name, especially Alistair, Alastair
and Alasdair, were also in use. Diminutive forms such as
Alec, Aleck, Alex, Alick, Mile, Ally, Andy, Sander,
Saunder and Sandy have all been used as independent
names. It was Sandy which led in former times to the
general nickname for a Scotsman, namely ‘Sawney’ or
‘Sawny’. Lowland pronunciation of the name in the nine-
teenth century was Elshender or Elshie, as indicated by
Sir Walter Scott in The Black Dwarf (1816).

Alexandra (f) This feminine form of Alexander has now largely replaced Alexandrina in Scotland. Alexandra was in 69th position in the list of girls’ names used in 1958. Other forms of the name used that year included Alexa, Alexanderia, Alexanderina, Alexanderine, Alexandrea, Alexandrena, Alexandrine, Alexena, Alexina, Alexine. A Scottish pet form is Lexie. Woulfe (Irish Names for Children) mentions Alastriona and Alastrina as Gaelic
feminine forms of Alexander, but these do not seem to
have been used in Scotland. Helena Swan (Girls’ Christian Names) mentions that the ancient Greeks sometimes interchanged the names Alexandra and Cassandra, assuming them to be the same. One can hardly imagine two ladies more different, from an etymological point of view. Alexandra is ‘she who wards off men;’ Cassandra is ‘she who entangles men.’

Alexandrina (f) A feminine form of Alexander which was the 70th most frequently used name for girls in Scotland in 1935, but later it was replaced by Alexandra. In 1819 Queen Victoria was christened Alexandrina Victoria, her first name being in honour of her godfather, Alexander I of Russia.

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