Happy Nameday to Tonks....
This post may be too geeky even for Harry Potter fans.
Variant spellings are the bane of my Googling. However, I think we can all see why a parent might decide against naming a daughter "Nymphodora"....
Feastday: September 10
Martyr with her sisters, Metrodora and Nymphodora. They were orphans of Bithynia, in Asia Minor, who were denounced as Christians and taken before the local Roman governor, named Fronto. They refused to worship the pagan gods, and Menodora was beaten to death, as was Nymphodora. Metrodora was tortured, burned, and beheaded.
If you read this Australian Greek Orthodox info, you'll see that the sisters were notably stubborn and have a nice icon. I wonder if the stubbornness and the three good sisters were a sort of backhanded tribute to Narcissa and Bellatrix?
Probably a literal translation from the Greek acta, by some Russian Orthodox. We are told that in exchange for their monastic life, "God adorned them with the gift of wonderworking", and that they looked very young and beautiful in spite of being old nuns. So there's the morph.
Menodora means something like "passion's gift", Metrodora is "measure's gift", and Nymphodora is...well, "numpha" has a _lot_ of meanings. The primary one actually isn't nymph, but maiden/bride. Another meaning is a certain four-letter female bodypart, which probably was just loads of fun in Ancient Runes class. Go look it up on the Perseus online dictionary.
I still think Metrodora sounds like a good name for a girl born on a subway. :)
There's also an 1836 Russian crime novel called Nymphodora Ivanovna which Rowling may have run across, given her interest in literature and mysteries. Unfortunately, however, the heroine is described by the author as "a silly goose", which has to be even more delightful for an ambitious young Auror.
Here's the Orthodox feast, with slightly different info.
A poetic September saints' calendar, with a verse for our three:
Menodora, Metrodora thought,
Like Nymphodora, torments of the flesh gifts [dora].
Smitten and died on the tenth were the three whose name has the meaning gifts [dora].
There's also this verse:
On the same day, Saint Severos met his end by the sword.
‘Ready I am all torment to endure’,
Severos said, ‘And is the sword for me?’