Spotlight on: Dunstan, Mihangel, Paderau

I’m familiar with a lot of names. I read name books all the time — over and over again — call me crazy, but I find them soothing and always interesting and I learn something new each time. But I was still blown away when I was re-reading one of my favorites last night — Oxford Dictionary of First Names — just flipping through it, looking up some specific names, reading on about others, and I came across three I’d never noticed before: Dunstan, Mihangel,  and Paderau.

Dunstan is a male name, “[f]rom an Old English personal name derived from dun ‘dark’ + stān ‘stone’, borne most notably by a 10th-century saint who was archbishop of Canterbury. The name is now used mainly by Roman Catholics” (emphasis mine). !!! Now, maybe I’ve heard of Dunstan, but the fact that, at least for the audience intended by the authors (mostly Brits I would think), the name is used mainly by Roman Catholics immediately made me want to take note. So cool!

Mihangel and Paderau were both listed in the “Welsh Names” section of the book. Mihangel is a male name, from an “[o]lder Welsh equivalent of Michael … representing a contraction of the phrase ‘Michael the Archangel'” — I don’t know much about Welsh pronunciation, so I’m not sure how to say it, but I love that it’s for Michael the Archangel.

Paderau is both a male and female name, and it’s a modern Welsh name “from paderau ‘beads, rosary’.” Again, I don’t know how to say it, but when I looked it up on behindthename.com, one of the comments said, “Reminds me of the Irish word for rosary; paidrín (probably because paidrín and paderau are related words). However, from reading the comments on Behind the Name, it would seem that many ‘modern Welsh names’ aren’t used by the Welsh at all, and they just sound ridiculous to them. I hope this is a real name in Wales (because that’s all that matters, if you’re choosing a Welsh name), but it really looks nicer than it sounds.” Paidrín! I love that too! It’s not listed as a proper name anywhere that I could see, but I think both Paderau and Paidrín would be amazing names in honor of Our Lady via the Rosary (maybe best in the middle though).

What do you all think of these names? Do you know anyone with these names, or how to say Mihangel and Paderau?

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10 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Dunstan, Mihangel, Paderau

  1. Hi there, I’d say the pronounciations are “mi-HANG-el” and “pa-DEH-rye”. There are lots of places in Wales called Llanfihangel, after a church dedicated to that saint. I too would be interested to know if Paderau has ever been used as a name in Wales – certainly it hasn’t for more than three children of the same sex in any year since 1996.

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  2. Llanfihangel means “the place (i.e. church) of Mihangel” – pronounced “thlan-vi-HANG-el” (ish). There are lots of place names that are Llan + saint’s name, e.g. Llanfair (Mair = Mary), Llanbedr (Pedr = Peter).

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    • You are my new expert friend! Thanks Clare!! Everything I know about Welsh I learned from you the past two days. One more question — when you say “HANG” you’re using a hard g, yes? Like green? Not a soft g like in the actual word angel?

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      • 😀 It’s a great language, I love learning it. Yes, g in Welsh is always hard (as is c), and ng together is one sound, like “hanger” and not like “anger” if that makes sense.

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