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What's the meaning of the yiddish girls name "Charnah" (most likely spelled, טשרנא)?

(There was a girl who is not frum that said this is her name and feels it's important to her to know the meaning of the name. I'm mentioning this so the question shouldn't be closed. She is on a Birthright trip and there will be some sort of "ceremony" for those that never had a Bar Mitzvah or a Bat Mitzvah. The names will be used or mentioned as part of the ceremony.)

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Your reason actually might make it too localized, but I like the question generally. +1 in spite of it. If anyone raises any objection, I say it's on-topic because it generally only exists as a Jewish name, and there likely are many women and girls who have this name and do not know what it means. –  Seth J Jun 5 '13 at 20:27
    
@SethJ so feel free to edit it in order it shouldn't get closed! We know what kind of stuff goes on here. Meanings of ones name is for sure a Jewish thing to know! –  Yehoshua Jun 5 '13 at 20:28
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Btw, a quick Google search turns up a bunch of (unsourced) claims that it is of slavic origin and means "black". –  Seth J Jun 5 '13 at 20:29
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My brother named his daughter that (as a middle name) and reports: From a Slavic word meaning "black" probably from the russian черная = dark –  Danno Jun 5 '13 at 22:11
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@Yehoshua: mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt3001.htm#5 –  Menachem Jun 5 '13 at 22:20

2 Answers 2

According to Alexander Beider's Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names (which, though well-researched, I haven't found to be entirely accurate for some individual names), the name Tsherne is borrowed from the Czech Christian name "Crne" (and Cernice, Crnohna, etc.) which comes from the word černa, meaning "black." Jews took the Czech name with them as they migrated and translated it into the local Slavic language (so in Poland, where "black" is said czarna, it became Tsharna).

It also, according to the Handbook, may have come from or been influenced by the rarely used Polish name, Czarna. In the German-Slavic Alps, there have been non-Jews named Zirneca, which, in modern day Slovenian is spelled Črnika - which according to Google translate, is a holm oak.

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The nice thing about this is that outside of Czech-speaking areas, it was really a thoroughly Jewish name. No one was named Czarna in Poland but the Jews. –  Charles Koppelman Jun 6 '13 at 1:23

I found this on this site, but I don't know what they are quoting. I thought it was worth posting as an answer anyways:

מקור נוסף:‏

."dark" שם יידי שמשמעו‏

מקור סלאבי. ביידיש נכתב: טשערנא.‏

שם זה ניתן כדי להרחיק רוחות רעות ולהגן על התינוק, לפעמים לאחר מות אח של התינוק. המטרה היא לתת לילד שם "מכוער" ואולי כך הרוחות לא יחשבו שהוא ראוי למאמצים שלהם

Inexact Translation:

Jewish(?) name that means "dark". Slavic Roots. In Yiddish it is written "טשערנא".

This name was given in order to keep away the bad spirits and protect the child, at times [-it was given] after the death of a brother of the baby. The purpose is to give the child an "ugly" name. This way, perhaps the spirits will think that it is not worth their efforts.

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