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Beloved Wikipedia says: Amadeus is a theophoric given name derived from the Latin words ama – the imperative of the word amare (to love) – and deus (god). As a linguistic compound in the form of a phereoikos, it means "Love god!".

Is it correct that Amadeo and Amadei mean "God's Love", rather then "Love God"? That's what I read elsewhere.

(I even read on dear BehindtheName.com that Amadei means "son of Amadeo")

I like Amadeus and it's meaning, but I'm worried it's a bit of a mouthful for my son's middle name and perhaps even a but too antiquated. So I'm wondering if I can use a shorter variant but not lose the meaning of "love God". Would Amadeo/Amadei/(Or even the French Amédée) lose the meaning of love TOWARDS God, and would instead mean love FROM God?

Edit: Having now read that Dee is the Vocative for Deus in Latin, would Amadee be a viable name?

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    Latin nouns are inflected, i.e. they take certain endings that show what they're doing in a sentence. English pronouns do the same thing (e.g. he, him, his), so Amadeus is equivalent to he, Amadeo to him, and Amadei to his. They don't actually have different definitions. – Anonym Oct 22 '17 at 3:16
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    @Anonym Can you post that as an answer? It's not a comment but an answer, even if it happens to be short or simple. – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 22 '17 at 11:46
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What better example to use than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!

Mozart was given the baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. The first two names (Johannes Chrysostomus) are his patron saint and so for our purposes we can ignore them. But I might point out, as an interesting aside, that Chrysostomus means 'golden mouth' in Greek, which certainly augured true.

Let's move onto the last three, Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. The first is a Latin version of his German name, Wolfgang. The last is the surname that he shares with his father. It is the second of these names, Theophilus, that helps answer your question.

Theophilus comes from Greek roots and it means friend of God. The Latin version is Amadeus. Mozart loosely translated this name into German, Italian, and French, which is what makes this example so useful. I will provide below the different names that Mozart used throughout his lifetime, and perhaps one of them will catch your interest.

Mozart's...1

Baptismal name: Wolfgang Theophilus ("friend of God").
Latin name: Wolfgangus Amadeus ("love God!").
German name: Wolfgang Gottlieb ("God's love" / "friend of God").
Italian name: Wolfgango Amadeo (Italian version of Amadeus).
French name: Wolfgang Amadè (French version of Amadeus).

As fdb points out, these names are not translations of each other. Amadeus means "love God!" whereas "Theophilus" means "friend of God". But they are conceptually similar, and were used by a famous figure, so they might be worth your consideration.


1. Wikipedia source

  • Thanks alot KTM! Thats alot if really good information, and yes, Mozart is exactly where I first heard this name from. But what I'm curious about is Deus being Nominative, Dei being genitive, Deo being dative/ablative, and Dee being Vocative, and whether or not that affects the meaning of the name. – user1988 Oct 22 '17 at 4:25
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    The inflections (nominative/genitive/dative/ablative/vocative) do affect the meaning. The genitive shows possession, so it might be translated "of Amadeus". The dative is often translated with the preposition "to" or "for", so it might be translated "to Amadeus" or "for Amadeus". The ablative is often translated with the prepositions "in, on, about, concerning". The vocative is the case used in address, e.g. "O Amadeus!". I personally would stick with the nominative (Amadeus) if you want to use the Latin name. This is the name we use for Mozart, after all. – ktm5124 Oct 22 '17 at 4:32
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    @user1988 Happy to answer! – ktm5124 Oct 22 '17 at 4:33
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    Amadeus means love of God when you translate the Latin roots. But it's also the name of a person. Much like Alexander means "defender of men" when you translate the roots, but it's also the name of a person. Thus Amadeo could be translated as "to/for Amadeus" or "to/for the love of God," depending on whether you replace the name with its meaning. That's for the dative case. The ablative would be "from/concerning Amadeus" or "from/concerning the love of God". – ktm5124 Oct 22 '17 at 4:43
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    A lot of this is simply wrong. Theophilus does not mean "love of God", it means "lover/friend of God". Amadeus is not a "translation" of Theophilus, nor is Gottlieb. – fdb Oct 22 '17 at 10:30
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As correctly stated in your first paragraph, Amadeus is a verb+noun compound (type: φερέοικος). The first component is an imperative, so Amadeus means “love God!” It is thus not synonymous with Theophilos, “friend of God”, a genitival tatpuruṣa. The German Gottlieb is the exact equivalent of Theophilos, but not of Amadeus, for which the German equivalent would be Liebgott. Compound names with an imperative as their first component were once fairly popular in German, especially in the milieu of pietism; I am thinking of names like Lebrecht. There was at that time in fact an Austrian diplomat called Johann Amadeus von Thugut, a name containing both a Latin (ama-deus) and a German (tu-gut) compound of this type.

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I assume you are not planning to give your son a name in Latin, but merely a name from Latin. When used as names outside of a Latin-language context, the forms Amadeus, Amadeo and Amédée should all have equivalent meanings. The first is Latinate in form, the second Italian, and the third French. Due to phonetic sound changes between Latin and the Romance languages, the Latin nominative suffix -us corresponds to Italian -o. I don't really understand why the French form has a final mute "e", but that isn't related to inflected forms either: French -ée just corresponds to Latin -eus in many names (like Persée "Perseus", Thésée "Theseus", etc.)

Amadei is the genitive form of Amadeus in Latin. That is, it can mean more or less "of Amadeus" (or in Italian, "of Amadeo"). This sense naturally gives rise to the sense "son of Amadeo" when applied to a person; compare the example of the famous Galileo Galilei, whose name Wikipedia explains as follows:

The surname Galilei derives from the given name of an ancestor, Galileo Bonaiuti, a physician, university teacher and politician who lived in Florence from 1370 to 1450; his descendents had changed their family name from Bonaiuti (or Buonaiuti) to Galilei in his honor in the late 14th century. [...]

Latin inflection of "Amadeus"

In Latin, the name "Amadeus" would be inflected into different forms like "Amadeum", "Amadeo" etc. depending on the grammatical context, but inflected forms like this are not normally used as the basis for names in other languages. For example, the Latin name Marcus has the vocative form "Marce", but this is not commonly used as a name in English.

In any case, these forms would not change the understood meaning of the name. They would change how sentences containing the name would be interpreted.

The vocative of "deus" in Latin is actually complicated; it's often said to be "deus" instead of "dee" (although I have the impression that the latter form does occur sometimes). Actually, though, I think that you are right about Amadee being the vocative of Amadeus, because, assuming the name does in fact mean "love God" (something I'm not entirely sure of, despite the claims of Wikipedia), I can see no logical reason for it to contain the word "God" in the nominative case. (In the sentence "love God", "God" is the object of the sentence.) Therefore, it seems to me that the nominative suffix -us at the end of the word should not be considered to form the word "deus" along with the preceding "de", but rather, it should be seen as a suffix attached to the entire preceding word: it looks to me like it would be divided [Ama-de]-us, with the [Ama de] part coming from a truncation of "Ama deum" ("Love God") and the -us acting as a suffix to convert this phrase to a masculine name. I'm not certain that I'm right about this, but this kind of analysis makes the most sense to me provided we stipulate that the name means "Love God!", and it implies that the inflection in other case-forms should be like that of a normal second-declension noun rather than like that of "deus".

In any case, I found a post on the Textkit forum that does say "Amadee" is a correct vocative form:

Perseu est Perseus vocativo casu quod vocabulum Graecum.
Amadee est Amadeus quod Latinum seu Italicum.
Deus est Deus vocativo.

adrianus » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:21 pm

I also saw a WordReference post that refers to the name as "dog-Latin", so it may be a bit pointless to try to interpret it as a correctly formed Latin compound in any case – as ktm5124 points out, it is meant to parallel formations in other languages like Greek Θεόφιλος and German Gottlieb.

  • Wow wow wow wow. That is a WEALTH of information. Thank you so much. If only I could give two green ticks.. but I can't. Thats amazing. Thanks. I do indeed plan to give my son a name in Latin. His middle name. Amadeus -- and not any of its variants it seems since they merely seem to be inflections from what have just said. I can't get away with German because I'm not German, and even using French would be pushing it, and I'm certainly no fan of the Greek Theophilus, so that leaves me with Latin, which I'm perfectly happy using and thrilled to do so. Thanks so much for your fantastic help. – user1988 Oct 22 '17 at 8:14

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