International Baby Names from India to Iceland

and other news of the week

By Clare Green

This week’s news includes what’s hot in Scandinavia, in India and other international names, babies named for ancient legends and places, and the new trending middle names for girls.

Nordic name news

Scandinavia has long been a source of fresh baby names that are just a bit different, from mid-century powerhouse Karen to newer imports like Astrid and Magnus. For lovers of Scandi baby names, here’s news from three different countries.

Is Ida your ideal name? You’d feel at home in Denmark! The country has just released its most popular baby names of 2018 – find the full lists here – and both Ida and William hold the top spot for another year. I said the same thing last year, but I still can’t believe that, between the popularity of Ada, Ivy and Isla, vintage Ida still hasn’t returned to the US Top 1000. So use it now and you’ll be ahead of the curve! Fun finds from further down the lists include Asta, Frida, Naja, Mads, Storm and Top 10 new entry Valdemar.

Finland also released their baby name charts a few weeks ago, with Eevi and Eeli (better known to English speakers as Evie and Eli) taking the top positions for the first time. Something cool about Finland is that they publish the most popular names for Finnish speakers and Swedish speakers separately, so we can see that Swedish-speaking parents’ favorite names were Saga and, oh hello again William!

Over in Iceland, the naming committee has had another round of approving baby names. New to the safe list are Hrafnhetta for girls and Muggi for boys. But if you want to call your daughter Cleópatra, Ingadóra or Kona, or your son Ewald, you’re out of luck.

River babes and city kids

Moving from north to east for international names, some meaningful stories from elsewhere in the world.

In Saudi Arabia, a baby born while his parents were on pilgrimage to the city of Medina was named Ahmed Madina after the sacred site. The Arabic name of Medina simply means “the city”. It’s a beautiful-sounding place name off the map to consider, especially if one of the many places around the world called Medina has significance to you.

From India, another name with religious meaning: a boy born on a boat on a flooded river got the name Krishna. According to legend, when the Hindu deity Krishna was born, his father saved his life by carrying him across the Yamuna river, which parted to let them pass. A meaningful name for what must have been a memorable birth!

If you’re interested in Indian baby names, you might enjoy this Twitter thread of the stories behind Indian users’ names. (Or, if you don’t want to fall down a rabbit hole, the highlights here.) Although I don’t know the cultural context, what stands out to me is that so many stories are ones we know in the western world of names. People love/hate their names because they’re too common/too rare. Parents reach a compromise, or try to sneak their favorite name through, or make a snap decision when the baby arrives. It’s worth a read for a feast of stories that are multicultural but familiar – and of course for the names!

Go-to girl middle names

It hasn’t been a big week for celebrity babies, but those personalities who welcomed babies (almost) all had something in common. They had girls, and those girls have dinky one-syllable middle names that have become modern staples.

Starting with the “ay” crowd, they are:

Olivia Mayactor Heather DeLoach
Ramona Raemusician Ryan Lewis
Skylar Grayactors Gretchen Rossi and Slade Smiley
Myja-Jae AnnieAustralian reality star Lisa Hyde
Delta JoLevi Johnston, Bristol Palin’s ex
Carley Rosereality couple Tiffany Franco and Ronald Smith 

All that’s missing is Grace! These all flow very nicely, but if you want to go beyond the basics we have lots more ideas for fresh one-syllable girl middle names.

Did I say almost all? The exception to the group was a boy with no middle name that we know of: Tetnekai, a son for New Zealand politician Tamati Coffey and his husband. It’s a name with a lot of background, and Coffey said they had “come up with ten good reasons” for using it. In Maori legend, Hinemoa and Tetnekai were famous lovers, with T?t?nekai playing his flute to guide her across a lake to find him.

The real name bullies

This story didn’t even start out as a name story. A mother spoke to the local newspaper about the cost of school uniforms, and the trolls of the internet noticed that the names of her oldest children – Jackdaniel and Tiamarie – sound a bit like alcoholic drinks. And did what trolls do best.

Anyway, let’s not bother with them. I was more interested to learn the real stories behind them, that Jackdaniel was named after a running coach, and Tiamarie after a friendly waitress. The family also responded with a video of them chatting, along with younger siblings Sydney, Princess and Albert, about how they’re proud to be themselves and the haters should get a life. And how other children don’t say nasty things about their names, only the “grown-ups” of the internet.

The point being: if we’re worried about children being teased for their names, it’s often adults, not other children, who are the ones to worry about.

Clare Green writes Nameberry’s weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world. Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

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3 Responses to “International Baby Names from India to Iceland”

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mamanmia Says:

July 18th, 2019 at 2:18 am

Actually, Hinemoa’s lover and the name of Tamati Coffey’s new son is Tutanekai not Tetnekai 🙂

beynotce Says:

July 18th, 2019 at 8:20 am

Do the Danes pronounce Ida as EE-dah, rather than EYE-duh? I would love it a lot more if that were the pronunciation. Alas, at least in my part of the US, that would forever be a losing battle.

Selkit Says:

July 19th, 2019 at 9:10 am

My grandmother’s name was Ida, so I could just never see that on a child. Too weird for me!

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