Kari (pr. kah-ree or care-ee) is a Norwegian female name, a diminutive of Katarina, the Scandinavian form of Katherine which is the English form of Greek Aikaterine though the etymology behind the name is not certain. It could be derived from another Greek name, Hekaterine from hekateros meaning “each of the two” or from Hecate, the name of the Greek goddess of witchcraft, the underworld, and crossroads. Though her name is of uncertain meaning it’s often been associated with Greek hekas meaning “far away” so the name would essentially mean “one who works from afar” or “the far-reaching one”. It’s also been linked to Ancient Greek hekṓn meaning “willing”. It might also be derived from Greek aikia “torture”. Katherine could also be from a Coptic name meaning “my consecration of your name”. The spelling of the name was later changed to be associated with Greek katharos “pure”.
Kari is also a Finnish male name, the Finnish form of Makarios, an Ancient Greek meaning “blessed, happy” from Ancient Greek makar (blessed). Kari could also be used as a diminutive of Sakari (the Finnish form of Zechariah) or Oskari (the Finnish form of Oscar).
Spelled Kári, it’s the name of the Norse god of the wind in Norse mythology. His name, fittingly, means “wind”.
Kari is also a surname with several origins: as a Finnish surname meaning “rock (in water” or referring to a small, rocky island; as a Hungarian surname it originated as a pet-form of Károly, the Hungarian form of Charles which comes from Germanic Karl meaning “man” via Proto-Germanic *karilaz (free man) derived from a PIE root word; and as a German surname it’s a Carinthian pet-form of Zacharias (which comes from Hebrew meaning “Yahweh remembers” or “Yahweh has remembered”).
Kari can also be used as a Japanese female name with a variety of meanings depending on the kanji used:
- ka 佳 “beautiful, good; excellent” + ri 利 “profit, advantage, benefit” (佳利);
- ka 佳 “beautiful, good; excellent” + ri 璃 “glassy; lapis lazuli” (佳璃);
- ka 加 “add, addition, increase; Canada” + ri 梨 “pear” (加梨);
- ka 可 “can, allowed, passable” + ri 梨 “pear” (可梨);
- ka 歌 “song; to sing” + ri 梨 “pear” (歌梨)
There are other meanings depending on the kanji used. Written in hiragana it’s かり.
Origin: Proto-Indo-European, Coptic, Ancient Greek, Old Norse, Hebrew, Japanese
- Kári (Old Norse