Meaning: “mother city; the end”
Amaya is the name of a village in Castille-Léon, Spain. It is believed to be from the Basque meaning “mother city” or is perhaps related to the Basque Amaia (the end). The name is often hispanicized as Amaya and is also a common Spanish surname of the same origin. In history, the village of Amaya played a key role in the Roman conquest of Hispania and later among the Visigoths. As a given name, the name was popularized by the Spanish novel Amaya o los vascos en el siglo VIII (Amaya, or the Basques in the 8th century) by Francisco Navarro-Villoslada (1879). Amaya is the name of the main heroin in the novel. The book later inspired a Spanish opera, Amaya (1920) by Jesús Guridi.
Alternately, Amaya has been listed as a Japanese female name meaning “night rain.” There seems to be a debate regarding the actual existence of this name’s use in Japan. I was unable to verify if Amaya is in fact a truly Japanese name, but many sites list Amaya as composition of the kanji characters 雨 = ama, 夜 = ya (hence: night rain). Amaya may be a newly invented manga name that has only recently come into use in Japan, though there are several well-known Japanese people who have this is as a surname. If any of my readers have any more details regarding its use as a female given-name in Japan, please come forward.
In the English-speaking world, Amaya has recently risen up the charts. In the United States, it is currently the 204th most popular female (2016) and in the UK, the 159th most popular.
In the US, the name seems to have gone up and down since 2000. It peaked at #181 in 2003. Its alternate American spelling of Amayah currently ranks in at #980. Amaia on the other hand has yet to make an appearance in the charts.
In the Netherlands, Amaya currently ranks in as the 393rd most popular female name (2016).
In France, the name has had some minor use among people of Basque descent.
In English, possible short forms include: Amy, Maia and Maya.