Amaia, Amaya

AmayaOrigin: Basque
Meaning: “mother city; the end”
Gender: Feminine
(ah-MYE-ah)

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.

Sources

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Siena, Sienna

Sienna, SienaThis name has somewhat of a complicated history, though it seems like a modern place-name, it has actually had a long history of use.

Sienna is an alternate spelling for an Italian city in Tuscany. The name itself is believed to be from Saina, which was the name of an Etruscan tribe that inhabited the area prior to the Romans. There is also a legend that it was named for a son of Romulus who was named Senius. The name has also been linked with the Latin senex (old) and the Latin verb, seneo (to be old).

As the name of a colour, it takes its name from the city, where the popular pigment used among artist was first produced. Its use as a colour name in the English language first appears in 1760.

Now as a given-name, this is where things get complicated. Its earliest use appears in the 18th-century, in Spain, Quebec and England. In the case of Spain and Quebec, it was most likely used in honour of St. Catherine of Sienna. In the English examples, it may have been used in reference to the colour. The British have a long history of using names of places and words since the 16th-century.

By the early 1800s, Sienna was a very popular middle name used in Bavaria and Ireland, attached to the name Catherine, so in these cases it was no doubt used in reference to St. Catherine of Sienna in devoutly Catholic pockets of Europe.

Sienna is also the name of several places throughout Poland and occasionally occurs as a surname. In this case, the name is derived from the Polish word, siano (hay).

Sienna currently ranks in the Top 100 of several countries. Its rankings are as follows:

  • #27 (Australia, NSW, 2017)
  • #28 (England/Wales, 2016)
  • #32 (New Zealand, 2016)
  • #68 (Scotland, 2016)
  • #71 (Ireland, 2016)
  • #236 (United States, 2016)
  • #354 (Netherlands, 2016)
  • #625 (Siena, United States, 2016)

A Dutch offshoot is Siënna.

A notable bearer is actress, Sienna Miller (b.1981).

Sources

Bree, Brígh

BreeBree can have several different origins and meanings, but is ultimately an anglicized form of the Gaelic female name, Brígh, which is a Gaelic word that can have several meanings, including: “essence, gist, matter, pith, purport, substance; meaning, sense, significance; point (of an argument); energy, force; and or “juice.”

Bree (pronounced BRAY) is also the name of a city in Belgium. In this case, the name is believed to derive from either the Medieval Dutch bred (wooden settlement) or the Dutch broek (brook, marsh). Bree appears as the name of places throughout the Dutch-speaking world, including Maasbree in the Netherlands and the Breede River in South Africa.

Brée (also pronounced BRAY) is also the name of a commune in France. In this case, its etymology is unknown.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Bree is the name of a village in Middle Earth, which is believed to be inspired by the village of Brill in Buckinghamshire in England and also a play on the Celtic element bre (hill).

In C.S. Lewis’ Narnia chronicles, the name features prominently in A Horse and His Boy, in which Bree is the name of a talking horse.

In recent years, the name has made an appearance in The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyers, as the name of a minor peripheral Vampire character who was featured in her own novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (2010).

Bree is also the name of one of the main characters in the American TV series, Desparate Housewives. Another notable bearer is American actress and model, Bree Olson (b. 1986).

In the United States, Bree appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 between 2006 and 2012 and peaked at #868 in 2010.

Sources

Asha

AshaThe name can have several origins and meanings. It is principally a Sanskrit name that can mean “hope; aspiration; wish; desire.” It is also the name of a concept in Zoroastrianism, roughly translating as “truth; righteousness; correct order.” It is is the name of several places across Europe, spelled Ascha, it is the name of several places in Germany. It also can coincide with the Polish diminutive form of Joanna (Asia) pronounced (AH-shah). Lastly, it is the Somalian and Swahili form of Aisha (life) and is also the Swahili word for life.

It is definitely a cross-cultural name.

It is the name of a village in Cyprus, according to legend the name derives from the Greek askia, which means “without any shade” and might refer to the fact the town has few trees. Alternately, it is also said to come from aski, which is the name of a type of alcoholic vessel and the villagers like to boast their town bears this name due to the fact they drank so much wine.

Ascha is the name of a municipality in Lower Bavaria. It is also the name of a tributary of the Schwarzach River in Bavaria. Its etymology is unknown, but is believed to derive from a Slavic source.

In the United States, Asha appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 2000 and 2003 and peaked at #882 in 2000. In the U.K. & Wales, Asha peaked at #313 in 2003.

A notable bearer is Indian actress and singer, Asha Bhosle (b.1933).

Sources

Avani

AvaniGender: Feminine
Origin: Sanskrit
Meaning: “the earth”
(UV-e-nee; UV-nee)

The name is derived from the Sanskrit अवनी (avani) “the earth.” It is the name of a small village in India that is known for its temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess, Sita, who is sometimes also known as Avanisuta (daughter of earth) as it is believed she was found while ploughing the earth.

Its pronunciation should be simple enough for most English-speakers, but is often butchered to (uh-VAH-nee). Avani sounds somewhat like Ebony; the emphasis is on the first and last syllable with soft a sounds, in some dialects the v is silent (UH-nee).

Sources

Darwin

DARWINGender: Masculine
Origin: Anglo-Saxon
Meaning: “wild friend; wild animal friend.”
(Dar-win)

The name is a modern English form of the Anglo-Saxon Déorwin which means “wild friend” or “dear friend.” The name fell out of use by the Anglo-Norman period, but survived as a surname, a notable bearer being the English naturalist and writer, Charles Darwin (1806-1882). It is also the name of a city in Australia.

Deorwin is the name of a character who is mentioned briefly in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. Another form is Derwin.

In the United States, Darwin appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 between 2001 and 2016 and peaked in 2010 at #734.

Sources

Eder, Ederne

Eder,EderneOrigin: Basque or Biblical Hebrew
Meaning: “handsome; beautiful;” or “flock.”
Basque (ED-er); Sp/Por (EY-deer). Fem. (ed-DER-neh)

The name comes from the Basque word for “handsome; beautiful.”

Alternately, Eder can also be from the Biblical Hebrew עֵדֶר; (flock). In the Bible, this is the name of the son of Beriah and of a place where it is said Rachel was buried.

Eder is also the name of a river that flows through Germany. It was first mentioned by Tacitus as the place the Romans crossed before destroying the Chatti stronghold of Mattium. It was referred to in Latin as Adarna, Aderna and Adrina. The etymology is unknown.

In Basque, Eder is techinically unisex but is more often used on males. It has crossed over in the Spanish-Speaking and Portuguese-Speaking world where it is popular rendered as Éder. The exclusive feminine forms include: Ederne and Eider.

Sources

11 European Place Names That Would Make Awesome Names for a Baby Girl

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Here is a list of European place-names for females I promise you will not find on any other baby name list or website.

Dysna
This is the name of a river that flows through Belarus and Lithuania

Roeselare
Pronounced (ROSE-e-LAR), this is the name of a Medieval town in Belgium, it probably means “place of reeds.”

Liseleje
Pronounced (LEE-se-LYE), this is the name of a resort town in Zealand, Denmark. In the 18th-century, it was named for the founder’s daughter, Elisabeth.

Kokkola
Pronounced (KOKE-ko-lah), this is the name of a Finnish city and means “place of the bonfire”

Chambéry
Pronounced (SHAWM-BEH-HREE), this is the name of a town in situated near the French Alps

Deblin
In Polish, this is pronounced (DEM-bleen), but in English (DEB-lin) would male a cool alternative to Deborah and Devlin

Cashel
Pronounced (kah-SHEL) this is the name of several towns in Ireland. It comes from the Gaelic meaning “stone fort.”

Brindisi
This is the name of a port city on the coast of the Adriatic sea in Southern Italy. The name is believed to mean “deer head,” referring to the shape of the port.

Dalarna
Pronounced (DAW-lar-nah) in Swedish (the r is barely pronouced), this historical region in Sweden is known for its distinct folk culture and the Dalarna horse.

Luiro
Pronounced (LOOEE-ro) in Finnish, this is the name of a river.

Samina
This is the name of a river that flows through Liechtenstein.

Aitana

AitanaOrigin: Spanish
Gender: Feminine
Pronunciation (I-tah-nah)

The name comes from Sierra de Aitana, the name of a mountain range located in Alicante, Valencia, Spain.

As a given name, it was first used by the Spanish poet, Rafael Alberti for his daughter, Aitana Alberti (b.1946). Supposedly the Aitana mountain range was the last thing he saw from the plain when he went into exile after the Spanish Civil War.

The name was further popularized by Spanish-Italian actress Aitana Sánchez-Gijón (b.1968), who was the goddaugher of Aitana Alberti.

Since then, the name has become extremely popular across the Spanish-speaking world.

The etymology of the place itself is debated, but a popular theory is that it is from the Latin Edetana, which means “mountain of the Edetani.” The Edetani were an Iberian tribe who had settled in the vicinity Sierra de Aitana.

Another theory is that it is related to some unknown Arabic source meaning “our people.”

As of 2016, she was the 30th most popular female name in Spain.

In the United States, Aitana first appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 Most Popular Female Names in 2015 and is currently the 549th most popular female name in the United States (2016).

Sources

 

Vienna, Vienne

800px-Volksgarten_Vienna_June_2006_300It seems like a modern place-name, but the name actually has been in use since at least the 15th-century. There are records of Viennas and Vienas in late Medieval/early Renaissance Italy Most sources believe that in these cases, the names are in fact related to the place.

The city of Vienna in Austria is known as Wien in German. Its etymology is debated. Most agree it might come from the ancient Celtic Vindobona, which would be composed of “vindo” (white) and bona (fort; camp). Others have linked it with a Germanic source, Vedunia, Old High German Wenia (forest stream).

As a given name, it perhaps was originally given in reference to the place, but it may also be a contraction of Viviana or Vivienne. Its French form of Vienne has been in occasional use since Medieval times. Vienne was also the name of the protagonist in the 1999 novel Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

The name enjoyed some popularity in the English-speaking world starting in the 18th-century.

The name was borne by the mother of the Catholic Saint, St. Francis of Paola (1416-1507).

Vienna first appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 Female Names in 2015. As of 2016, she is the 938th most popular female name.

Her Dutch form of Viënna is currently the 309th most popular female name in the Netherlands (2016) and the 486th most popular female name in England and Wales (2016).

Sources