By Jesus Helguera

Origin: Mexican-Spanish
Meaning: debated
Gender: female
Pronunciation: EET-say-YAH-nah

I know when I created this blog almost 10 years ago, the intention was to focus on “legit names” with a history and origin. My views have evolved. I now no longer really believe that there are legit names and non-legit names. There are “name-snobs” who believe that created names that have become popular within the last 30-10 years are not worthy of any merit, but where do we draw the line? Of course, every name a parent gives a child has meaning and therefore has merit and is therefore a legit name. Take Itzayana for example, this has become a wildly popular name in Mexico and within the Mexican diaspora, yet I can find no sources for this name older than the 1980s. Many Spanish name sites claim this name is Mayan meaning “gift from God,” and while that is partially true, the name doesn’t seem to have been in use in any Mayan communities in Southern Mexico or Guatemala, nor are there any historical references to the name being used among the Maya of the past. The first part of the name is possibly related to a Mayan root, itz, which can pertain to any sort of secretion of fluid from tree sap, dew, to semen. It also vaguely resembles the Mayan diety name, Itzamna, whose etymology itself is debated. Not much is known about Itzamna other than he was a deity who lives in the sky and had creative properties. The meaning of the name has been contested to mean, “lizard house,” from the Yucatan roots, itzam (iguana) and naaj (house); to being referred back to the Mayan root, itz, (which again can pertain to any sort of liquid secretion created by plants and animals); and it has also been linked with the Mayan word itzam meaning “sorcerer” or “asperser.” As for Itzayana being related to Itzamna, it is only one of the many possibilities. It also closely resembles the Basque surname/masculine name Izaina (shepherd) and the Basque male name Itzal, which is also the Basque word for “shadow.” And the last, and in my opinion, the most plausible theory is that Itzayana may just be a blend of a Mayan word and a feminine latinate ending. Itzayana first made its appearance in the U.S. top 1000 this past year, coming in as the 769th most popular female name of 2016. Prior to that, the name seems to have first come into use in Mexico and the American Southwest in the early 1980s. While the name may be a recent invention, I find the name to be a rather interesting reflection of Mexican culture, if we take my last theory regarding the origins of this name, it is a name created out of a blend of indigenous culture and a popular Spanish European feminine suffix.




Gender: Feminine
Origin: Mayan

The name is derived from the Mayan name, Ix Chel, which was the name of an important goddess of the moon, midwifery and the earth in Mayan culture. Its modern Spanish transliteration is Itzel or Itxel and it is currently a very popular female name in Mexico. Its meaning is uncertain but it has been suggested to be related to the Yucatan word chel (rainbow).

Currently, Itzel is the 411th most popular female name in the United States, (2010). Two other forms are Itxel and Ixchel.