By Linda Rosenkrantz
If you want to give your summertime daughter a name that reflects the season of her birth, but don’t want to pick the most obvious choices, we’re here to suggest a dozen interesting names that more subtly reflect the sun, surf and sandy beach, either through meaning or reference.
How about starting with the inspirational name of one of the top women surfers, Brazilian born Bruna Schmitz, who started her pro career at the age of 15. Unlike male counterpart Bruno, the Italian name Bruna still remains a rarity here; its meaning of brown makes it an unusual, beachy color name. Bruna is a Top 100 name in Portugal, Croatia and Catlaonia.
If you’re looking for something truly unusual, consider the German name Cordula, one of the meanings of which is ‘jewel of the sea’, and which appears as a character in Nabokov’s novel Ada. Far more familiar is the Celtic-rooted Cordelia, the name borne by King Lear’s youngest—and only faithful –daughter. Meaning ‘daughter of the sea’, Cordelia is a Nameberry fave, now ranking at Number 106.
There’s a lot of love these days for Russian nickname names like Sasha and Misha, and the less familiar Darya, the name of a character in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, is another one to consider. It’s also heard in Iran, where its meaning is “the sea.”
What name could be more beachy than Dune, calling up images of sand between the toes? It can also be spelled Doon, as it was by the acclaimed photographer Diane Arbus for her older daughter, the name inspired by a walk on the beach.
Although the etymology of these related names is a bit complicated, one definition is ‘white wave’. The vintage Genevieve is seeing a strong revival at the moment: it’s the 28th most popular name on Nameberry, with the Gen nickname feeling more au courant than Jen; Guinevere projects an intriguing Arthurian aura.
Among a number of appealing girls’ names related to mare, the sea are Marin, Marine (chic now in France), Marina and the Scandinavian Maren. Marin is currently Number 433 on Nameberry, while Maren is 261, and also in the US Top 1000.
Morwenna is an old Cornish name meaning ‘maid of the sea’ that has been revived and is now quite commonly heard in Wales. It was the name of a 6th century saint, and in the modern world, of a character on TV’s Doc Martin.
More distinctive than Melissa or Marissa, the delicate Nerissa has Shakespearean cred via a witty character in The Merchant of Venice, for which the Bard is thought to have created it, based on the Greek meaning sea nymph.
This name takes a straightforward path to the summer surf—or you could go Continental with the chic Océane version, which has been a Top 50 name (currently #31) in France for several years.
What brings Roxy onto a list of summer beach names? Anyone in the surfing world will know it as a surfboard brand that’s been popular since its creation in 2009, widely used by female surfers. The saucy name Roxy, originally a nickname for Roxanne, was used by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin for his daughter, and has been seen in numerous plays, films, TV, comics and video games, sometimes spelled Roxie.
A lovely ancient Greek name meaning “the sea,” Thalassa was a Greek sea goddess and became a recently named moon of the planet Neptune. Thalassa could join other currently popular Th-names Theodore, Theodora, Theo and Thea.