Nova

NovaOrigin: Latin
Meaning: “new”
Gender: Feminine
(NOH-vah)

The name comes directly from the Latin word nova (new). As a given-name, it has been used in Scandinavia, Hungary, France, Quebec, and England since at least the 18th-century. It became even more widespread in the 19th-century. Its use as a given-name in Scandinavia may have been kicked off by Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) when he first described the various types of stars known as novas.

Several baby name sites have listed this name as unisex, though possible, I cannot find any historical records indicating this name was ever used on males. Perhaps this confusion stems from its similarity to the male name Noah.

Nova also occurs as a place name of numerous locations throughout the Western World.

In the United States, the name entered the U.S. Top 1000 in 2011 and has risen exponentially since. As of 2016, Nova was the 136th most popular female name, jumping several hundred spots since its inception in 2011 when it was the 886th most popular female name. In the Netherlands and Sweden, it is among the most popular female names, ranking in at #23 (Netherlands, 2017) and #31 (Sweden 2017).

In the UK, Nova was the 400th most popular female name (2016).

Other forms include:

  • Noova (Greenladic)
  • Nowa (Swedish)

Sources

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Saif

SAIFOrigin: Arabic
Meaning: “summer;” or “sword.”
Gender: Masculine
(Sah-eef)

The name can either be derived from the Arabic صَيْف (summer) or the Arabic  سَيْف, (sword). The latter is believed to be a borrowing from the Greek xiphos or the Ancient Egyptian word sfet.

Saiph, traditionally pronounced (SAFE) in English, is also the name of the 6th brightest star in the Constellation of Orion. Saiph itself is a latinized form of the Arabic سَيْف, (sword). This form may make an interesting option for a celestial name.

Sources

Citlali, Citlalli

Citlalli.pngOrigin: Nahuatl
Meaning: “star”
Gender: Feminine
(seet-LAH-lee)

Citlali is a Hispanicized form of the Nahuatl, citalli (star). The name was popularized in Mexico by a 1922 opera by Manuel M. Bermejo and José F. Vásquez of the same name.

The double L spelling is more accurate but since this creates a “Y” sound in Spanish, it is often rendered Citlali. The name is also sometimes spelled Xitlali, however the X in Nahuatl represents a “sh” sound and this is thus an inaccurate translation of the word.

Citlali appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 between 2001 and 2006 and peaked at #915 in 2005, whereas Citlalli appeared between 1999 and 2001 and peaked at #609 in 2001.

Other forms include:

  • Citlalin
  • Citlalí

Sources

Tala

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This name is one of the ultimate cross-cultural names, it has various meanings and legitimate origins from Europe, to Asia and to the Middle East.

The name has been recorded in use in Northern Europe since Medieval Times, possibly being a contracted form of Adalheidis, its offshoots of Talea and Talina have experienced minor recent resurgence in Germany. Tala also been used in most Scandinavian countries, though today, it is considered very archaic.

Tala appears in a 14th-century Swedish folk ballad Herr Holger (which is the subject of a 1996 song by the Swedish band, Gamarna). The ballad recounts the exploits of a greedy tax official who steals tax money for himself. He is caught by King Christian and beheaded. He is condemned to hell, but is able to return to warn his wife, Fru Tala (Lady Tala). He pleads with Tala to return all the wealth she inherited from him, (which in turn was the result of his stolen money), to its rightful owner or else she will experience a similar fate. Tala refuses, as she would rather condemn herself to hell than give up her wealth.

Its Finnish and Estonian form is Taala and Taali, and a Scandinavian  masculine version is Tale.

Tala is also the name of a Tagalog goddess of the morning and evening star. In one legend, she is the daughter of the sun god Arao and the moon goddess, Buan. Arao and Buan had a large number of star-children, the eldest being Tala. Arao was afraid his heat would burn up his star-children, so he and Buan decided to destroy them, but Buan reneged on her promise and hid her children behind clouds. Arao got wind of Buan’s secret and, according to legend, continues to try and destroy her, which explains the phenomenon of eclipses. Each morning, Buan runs to hide her children behind the clouds, her eldest Tala being the lookout before dawn, being the personification of the morning star.

In another Tagalog legend, Tala is the daughter of the god Bathala. She is the sister of Hanan (the goddess of the morning) and Mayari, another moon goddess.

In Tagalog, tala means “star; planet; celestial body.”

Tala was recently a hit song by Filipina singer, Sarah Geronimo (2016).

In Indian classical music, Tala is the term used to describe musical meter and rhythm. It literally means “clapping; tapping.”

Tala can also be Arabic تالة (Tala) meaning “Turmeric tree; turmeric spice” or a “small potted palm.”

In Amazigh, one of the languages of the Berber people, Tala means “source; spring or fountain.”

Tala is also Farsi and means “gold.”

In Italy and Romania, Tala is used as a diminutive form of Natalia, a la Romanian actress, Tala Birell (1907-1958).

Tala is the name of a type of decidous tree native to tropical and subtropical South America. Its scientific name is celtis tala.

Other meanings include:

  • It is the Azeri word for “glade.”
  • tālā is the Samoan currency and is believed to be a phonetic corruption of the English word dollar.
  • In Polish, it is a feminine form of the Greek, Thales, though it is seldom used, it does appear on the nameday calendar.
  • In Pashtun, Təla/Tala means “weighing scale” and is the name of the seventh month of the Afghan Calendar, its meaning referring to the Zodiac sign of Libra.
  • It is the name of a minor Chadic language in Nigeria.

What the name is not:

Many baby name sources have dubiously listed this name as meaning “wolf” in “Native American,” (which is not a language by the way), while other sources have listed this as being Cherokee or Iroquois for “wolf hunter,” but there are no legitimate Cherokee or Iroquois sources collaborating this information. In fact, Native Languages of the Americas has written a fabulous list pertaining to faux Native American baby names and Tala made the list.

As a closing to this post, I recommend this blog post written by a mother explaining the reason why she chose this name for her daughter. It is from 2006, but still a wonderful read D-Log: The Many Meanings of Tala.

Sources

Lyra

Cygnus, LyraOrigin: Greek
Meaning: “lyre.”
Gender: Feminine
Pronunciation: LIE-rah

The name comes from the Greek meaning “lyre.” It is the name of a constellation which was named for the lyre of Orpheus, which was said to quell the voices of sirens.

Lyra is also the name of a type of ancient Musical instrument.

The name first came into use in the English-speaking world in the 19th-century. It first appeared in the U.S. Top 1000’s Most Popular Female names in 2015. As of 2016, it was the 932nd most popular female name. It’s recent appearance may be influenced by Philip Pullman’s popular trilogy, His Dark Materials (1995), in which it is the name of one of the main characters, Lyra Belacqua.

The lovely Breton, Lourenn (loo-RENN) would also make a wonderful alternative.

Other forms include:

Lourenn (Breton)
Lira (Catalan/Italian/Latvian/Occitanian/Romanian/Polish/Slovenian)
Lüüra (Estonian)
Lyra (English/Portuguese/Spanish)
Lyyra (Finnish)
Lyre (French)

Sources

https://www.behindthename.com/name/lyra
https://www.ssa.gov
https://www.familysearch.org
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyra

Leo

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “lion.”
Eng (LEE-oh)

The name comes directly from the Latin, leo, meaning, “lion.”

Its usage as a given name became popular among Christians after the ascent of Pope Saint Leo the Great (circ. 4th-century CE). It was borne by 12 other popes thereafter.

Leo was also a popular name among the Byzantine Emperors being borne by six.

Leo is also the name of a constellation as well as the 5th sign in the zodiac.

The highest Leo ever ranked in U.S. naming history was in 1903, coming in as the 37th most popular male name. As of 2011, he was the 167th most popular male name in the United States. His rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 4 (Finland, 2011)
  • # 4 (Léo, France, 2010)
  • # 14 (Sweden, 2011)
  • # 36 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 37 (Croatia, 2009)
  • # 42 (Austria, 2010)
  • # 42 (New Zealand, 2010)
  • # 59 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 61 (Norway, 2011)
  • # 64 (Catalonia, 2010)
  • # 65 (Australia, NSW, 2011)
  • # 79 (Slovenia, 2010)
  • # 80 (Spain, 2010)
  • # 96 (Ireland, 2010)

Leo is used in about every European country. Other forms of the name include:

  • L”v Лъв (Bulgarian)
  • Leo Лео (Catalan/Croatian/Dutch/English/Estonian/Finnish/German/Italian/Latvian/Portuguese/Romansch/Russian/Scandinavian/Slovene/Spanish)
  • Leoš (Czech)
  • Lev Лев (Czech/Russian)
  • Léo (French)
  • Leó (Hungarian)
  • Lew (Polish)

Estelle

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Occitanian
Meaning: “star.”
(eh-STEL)

The name is a franconized form of the Occitanian word, estela, meaning, “star.”

The name was borne by a 3rd-century Christian saint and martyr, who sometimes appears in the records as Eustelle, little is known of her, but she was adopted by Occitanian poets as their patron and much was written of her.

Estelle and Estella seem to have appeared in the English-speaking world around the 19th-century, via the Charles Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations (1860), in which Estella is the name of a major character.

In 1911, Estelle was the 106th most popular female name in the United States. While Estella was the 106th most popular female name in 1883.

As of 2010, Estelle was the 185th most popular female name in France.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Estella (English/Hungarian)
  • Estelle (English/French/Swedish)
  • Esztella (Hungarian)
  • Estilla (Hungarian)
  • Estela (Occitanian/Portuguese/Spanish)

The name is borne by British RnB singer, Estelle (b.1980). The crown princess Victoria of Sweden recently chose this name for her daughter in February of 2012.

Tara

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Various
Eng (TAH-rah; TARE-uh)

The name can be of several different origins and meanings depending on the bearer of the name. It could be from the Sanskrit and Hindi तारा meaning, “star.”

In Hinduisim, Tara (Devi), a Mahavidya of Mahadevi, Kali or Parvati is a star goddess, she is considered one of the Great Wisdom goddesses.

In Buddhism, Tara is the name of a tantric meditation goddess.

In the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, it is the name of the wife of the monkey king, Vali, who married the king’s brother, Sugriva, after Vali’s death.

Among the Irish Diaspora, the name was usually used in reference to the sacred hill, Tara, where the high kings were usually coronated. In this case, the name is an anglicized form of the Gaelic, Teamhair, meaning, “elevated place.”

It may have been further popularized in the English-speaking world by the 1936 Margaret Mitchell novel, Gone with the Wind, in which the plantation is called Tara, in honour of the hill in Ireland.

In South Slavic languages, it could either be a contracted form of Tamara, or it could be taken from the name of the river which runs through Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is also the name of a river in Russia.

As of 2009, Tara was the 30th most popular female name in Croatia. Her popularity in other countries are as follows:

  • # 50 (Slovenia, 2010)
  • # 62 (Ireland, 2010)
  • # 77 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 126 (Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 774 (United States, 2010)

It is also the name of a sea goddess in Polynesian Mythology.

Nedjma

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic  الكوكب,
Meaning: “star”
(NEJ-mah)

The name is derived from the Arabic word for star. Its Bosnian form of Nedžma is currently the 100th most popular female name in Bosnia & Herzegovina, (2010).

Lucero

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Spanish
Meaning: “planet Venus; morning star.”

The name comes directly from the Spanish word describing the planet venus or the morning star. It has recently been popularized in the Spanish-speaking world by Mexican actress and singer known simply as Lucero (b.1969).

Currently, Lucero is the 79th most popular female name in Mexico.

Sources

  1. http://www.babycenter.com.mx/pregnancy/nombres/nombres_populares_2010/