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Meaning & Origins

From Latin, meaning ‘foreign woman’ (a feminine form of barbarus ‘foreign’, from Greek, referring originally to the unintelligible chatter of foreigners, which sounded to the Greek ear like no more than bar-bar). St Barbara has always been one of the most popular saints in the calendar, although there is some doubt whether she ever actually existed. According to legend, she was imprisoned in a tower and later murdered by her father, who was then struck down by a bolt of lightning. Accordingly, she is the patron of architects, stonemasons, and fortifications, and of firework makers, artillerymen, and gunpowder magazines.
18th in the U.S.
English, Scottish, and Irish: generally a nickname referring to the color of the hair or complexion, Middle English br(o)un, from Old English brūn or Old French brun. This word is occasionally found in Old English and Old Norse as a personal name or byname. Brun- was also a Germanic name-forming element. Some instances of Old English Brūn as a personal name may therefore be short forms of compound names such as Brūngar, Brūnwine, etc. As a Scottish and Irish name, it sometimes represents a translation of Gaelic Donn. As an American family name, it has absorbed numerous surnames from other languages with the same meaning.
4th in the U.S.

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