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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Isabel la Católica-2.jpg
Isabella the Catholic of Castile (1451–1504) the first Spanish queen regnant and a key character in the Reconquista, the Spanish Inquisition, and Christopher Columbus' discovery of America
Gender Female
Meaning "My God is my oath", "Secondary Ascendant/oath", "dark haired portrait", (Italian Beauty variant of Bella)
Origin Hebrew via Greek and Latin.
Related names Isabell, Isabella, Isabelle, Izabela, Isobel, Ysabeau, Elizabeth
Popularity Popular names page

The Romance-language given names Isabel or Isabelle (Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Provençal), Isabella (Italian), Isabelle (French) are etymologically related to the English Elizabeth, but are rarely translated as such. In English translations, they are instead substituted one for the other, seemingly arbitrarily. Isabella I of Castile, for example, is often rendered into English as Latin Isabella, rarely as French Isabelle, but (nowadays) never as Elizabeth.



This set of names is a southwestern European variant of the Hebrew name Elisheva. It also comes from the Latin "Helizabeth". It first appeared in medieval Provençal as Isabel. It is clear both etymologically and contextually (the use of Isabel as a translation of the name of the mother of John the Baptist) that these names are derived from the Latin and Greek renderings of the Hebrew name.[1]

According to Hanks/Hodges (166), the name is simply the Spanish and Portuguese form of Elizabeth, with loss of the first syllable and /l/ instead of /t/ (the latter sound does not appear word-finally in standard Spanish).Some people believed that this form of her name was first established sometime around 400 B.C. Some Romance languages now have both forms of the name concurrently. For example, Isabella and Elisabetta exist in Italian; Isabelle and Élisabeth exist in French. For instance, in French Canada, Queen Elizabeth II is officially called Élisabeth II.

An alternative etymology would suggest the ending -bel(la) comes from the Latin word bella "beautiful" (though it may be noted that it may also be translated as "wars"), while the origin of Isa- is somewhat uncertain, it may derive from a name, such as Isis, or Ye(ho)shua (known as Isa in Islam).

Still another suggests that it comes from the Phoenician name 'Iyzebel by a different route than that of the latter's most famous possessor; perhaps most likely is that "Isabel" is the result of a Hebrew, Phoenician, or Latinate name mutating under the influence of one of the other languages or of a similar name from one of the other sources, much like "Katharine."

Variants in other languages include the Scottish Isobel, the Scottish Gaelic Ishbel, the Danish Elsebeth and the Polish Izabela.



Other royalty



Other famous people


  • Isabella, a ship sunk in the Falkland Islands in 1813.



  • Hanks, Patrick und Flavia Hodges. 1996. Oxford Dictionary of First Names. Oxford University Press.

See also

  • Isabel (disambiguation)
  • A comprehensive list of article names that begin with Isabel
  • A comprehensive list of article names that begin with Isabella
  • A comprehensive list of article names that begin with Isabelle


  1. ^ Guido Gómez de Silva, Breve diccionario etimológico de la lengua española, Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1985.

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

by Alfred Tennyson
Information about this edition

EYES not down-dropt nor over-bright, but fed
    With the clear-pointed flame of chastity,
    Clear, without heat, undying, tended by
        Pure vestal thoughts in the translucent fane
Of her still spirit; locks not wide-dispread,
Madonna-wise on either side her head;
    Sweet lips whereon perpetually did reign
    The summer calm of golden charity,
Were fixed shadows of thy fixed mood,
        Revered Isabel, the crown and head,
The stately flower of female fortitude,
        Of perfect wifehood and pure lowlihead.

The intuitive decision of a bright
    And thorough-edged intellect to part
        Error from crime; a prudence to withhold;
        The laws of marriage character’d in gold
    Upon the blanched tablets of her heart;
A love still burning upward, giving light
To read those laws; an accent very low
In blandishment, but a most silver flow
        Of subtle-paced counsel in distress,
Right to the heart and brain, tho’ undescried,
        Winning its way with extreme gentleness
Thro’ all the outworks of suspicious pride;
A courage to endure and to obey;
A hate of gossip parlance, and of sway,
Crown’d Isabel, thro’ all her placid life,
The queen of marriage, a most perfect wife.

The mellow’d reflex of a winter moon;
A clear stream flowing with a muddy one,
    Till in its onward current it absorbs
        With swifter movement and in purer light
        The vexed eddies of its wayward brother;
        A leaning and upbearing parasite,
        Clothing the stem, which else had fallen quite
    With cluster’d flower-bells and ambrosial orbs
        Of rich fruit-bunches leaning on each other—?
        Shadow forth thee:—the world hath not another
(Tho’ all her fairest forms are types of thee,
And thou of God in thy great charity)
Of such a finish’d chasten’d purity.

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From the Spanish and Portuguese forms of the given name Elizabeth.

Proper noun




  1. A female given name used in English since the Middle Ages.


  • 1604, William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure: Act V, Scene I:
    Mariana. O my good lord! Sweet Isabel, take my part:
    Lend me your knees, and all my life to come,
    I'll lend you all my life to do you service.
  • 1852 D. H. Jacques, A Chapter on Names, The Knickerbocker, or, New-York Monthly Magazine, Volume XL, August 1852, page 119:
    There is a silvery bell-like music in the name, which is exceedingly attractive, and which has made it a favorite with the poets. - - - Mary Howitt, in her Flower comparisons, has the following melodious lines:
    Now for mad-cap Isabel: / What shall suit her, pr'y thee tell? / Isabel is brown and wild; /Will be evermore a child;
  • 1994 Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell), No Night Is Too Long, ISBN 067085560X ,page 110:
    I'm glad you spell your name like that. It's the best of all the ways to spell Isabel.
  • 2002 Cynthia Heimel: If You Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet? Grove Press 2002. ISBN 0802139507 page 177:
    How many poor girls, who would have been wild and raging and beautiful and free sex goddesses if only their parents had found it in their hearts to name them Isabel, instead had to stuff their poor psyches into the name Heather?





Proper noun


  1. A female given name of Spanish and Portuguese origin.


Proper noun


  1. A female given name, cognate to Elizabeth.


Proper noun


  1. A female given name, cognate to Elizabeth.
  2. (Biblical) Elizabeth.


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