Latin Baby Names: Most influential choices

Latin culture is influencing everything in the United States, including baby names.  With the growing prominence of Latin stars and parents of all ethnic backgrounds more interested in using culturally significant names, Hispanic choices are moving up the popularity lists.

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Jessica Alba and Ricky Martin may be among the most famous Latin celebrities, but their names were inspired by the general culture and are hardly inspiring modern baby namers in search of an authentic Latin choice.  The Latin celebrities (and a few fictional characters) from the worlds of film, music, sports, and fashion whose names have proven influential in the U.S. include:

Female

AMERICA FERRARA

CAROLINA HERRERA

DAISY FUENTES

DORA the Explorer

EVA MENDES

ISABEL TOLEDO — A favorite designer of Michelle Obama‘s

OFELIA — The young heroine of Pan‘s Labyrinth

PAULINA RUBIO

PENELOPE CRUZ

SALMA HAYEK

SELENA

SHAKIRA

SONIA BRAGA

THALIA

Male

ALEX RODRIGUEZ

ANTONIO BANDERAS

DIEGO LUNA

GAEL BERNAL GARCIA

IVAN RODRIGUEZ

JAVIER BARDEM

NARCISO RODRIGUEZ

OSCAR de la RENTA

RODRIGO SANTORO

Several names that rank high on the popularity list in the U.S. have a Latin flavor and are well-used by Hispanic parents along with parents of many other ethnic backgrounds. Isabella, Olivia, Sophia, Angelina, and, for boys, Gabriel fit into this group.  Names (and variations) with a more distinctly Latin heritage that are climbing the popularity list in the United States – and are definitely not for Latin babies only — include::

Girls

ALEJANDRA

ALICIA

ALONDRA

ANA

BIANCA

CAMILA

DULCE

ELIANA

ESMERALDA

GUADALUPE

KARINA

LILIANA

MARIANA

SOFIA

VALENTINA

VALERIA

XIMENA

Boys

ANGEL

ANTONIO

CARLOS

CESAR

CRISTIAN

DIEGO

EDUARDO

EMILIANO

FERNANDO

HECTOR

JESUS

JORGE

JOSE

JUAN

LEONARDO

LUIS

MANUEL

MARCO

MATEO

MIGUEL

SANTIAGO

SERGIO

XAVIER

For parents who love Latin names but want to look for choices less well-known in the U.S., here are some names with a Spanish, Catalan, or Basque background virtually unused here but ripe for import:

Girls

AINHOA

AITANA

ALBA

BELEN

CANDELA

INES

IRATI

LAIA

LEIRE

LORENA

MAR

MIREIA

NAIARA

NEREA

NOA

NURIA

ROCIO

YAIZA

Boys

ANDRES

DARIO

GUILLEM

IKER

JOAQUIN

ORIOL

POL

UNAI

YERAY

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22 Responses to “Latin Baby Names: Most influential choices”

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Sebastiane Says:

July 14th, 2009 at 8:07 am

Some of those Basque and Catalan names are especially pretty. I really like Laia (LYE-yah). Candela is one of my favorite Spanish names. Rocio I don’t like as much as its meaning, but the reason why I like Rocio is because of its meaning and associations, if that makes any sense at all. Noa I have always prefered on a girl. Nuria reminds me of the Arabic Noor, which I also like. I have always loved Otthilie so Otelia is very pretty to me.

Brooke Says:

July 14th, 2009 at 8:16 am

I love so many of these names! Dulce is my favorite for a girl. I also love Joaquin and Valentina/o!
Great list full of inspiration

PunkPrincess Says:

July 14th, 2009 at 9:56 am

FWIW, the protagonist of “Pan’s Labyrinth” is called Ofelia – as in Ophelia – not Otelia. Although…Otelia does have a nice melody to it!

linda Says:

July 14th, 2009 at 10:03 am

Thanks–I’ll correct Ofelia.

teabee Says:

July 14th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Cool post! These have really grown on me over the years, especially Penelope, Gabriel, Diego, Lorena, and Sonia. I have to take this opportunity to gush over “Pan’s Labyrinth,” too; it’s amazing. For the record, it’s Gael Garcia Bernal, btw.

Tiffany Says:

July 14th, 2009 at 2:19 pm

I was thrilled that it wasn’t listed, the greedy name-hoarder in me, but your top list might include Paloma, as in Picasso. One of the most lovely girl names!

Kat Says:

July 14th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

What do you think about Paloma? It is one we are seriously considering.

I also like Paola, but it’s a little too close to Paula, and I worry that folks wouldn’t pronounce it properly.

Naming Your Baby Doesnt Need To Be Difficult « Pregnancy & Baby News Says:

July 15th, 2009 at 3:43 pm

[…] LATIN BABY NAMES: The Famous and The Fantastic – Baby Name Blog … […]

Navi Says:

July 16th, 2009 at 10:35 am

Leire sounds strange, but when i looked at it’s page and saw that it’s pronounced LAY-ree, I fell in love!

Suzanne Says:

August 23rd, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I met a guy and his name was pronounced “oo-ny”. I am not sure how to spell it, but I love it. Anyone know?

MR.DAYRI Says:

August 31st, 2009 at 1:57 pm

YARELI OR YALENI WOULD BE GOOD NAMES FOR GIRLS.

Maria Says:

September 1st, 2009 at 3:55 pm

It’s not relevant (it does mention the name in this post however) but it annoys me a little how they don’t mention Selena Gomez on the Selena name post but they mention Miley on the Miley name post.

From Spain Says:

November 14th, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Suzanne, I think the name you like is Unai (“oo-ny”). It’s Basque

Angela Says:

December 11th, 2009 at 10:53 am

Maria, the reason that they don’t mention Selena Gomez is that for most people who speak Spanish, when they hear the name Selena, the association is with the famous Tejano singer, Selena Quintanilla Perez (known simply as “Selena”), absolutely not with Selena Gomez. For my daughters (ages 11 and 7), the association is with Selena Gomez, but that is not true for most Spanish-speaking adults.

nereyda Says:

April 5th, 2010 at 4:12 pm

well im only 18 and i still would associate the name selena with the tejano singer than with selen gomez but just like with miley cyrus im sure other girls before her were named the same now as to the names im expecting a baby boy and it is so hard to give him a name i like my family speaks spanish and my husband is caucasian his middle and last names will be reece taylor now we just need a first name that can be pronounced in both languages that sounds good with the middle name he liked payton and i like it as well but it does not sound right in spanish we’ve also been considering elisha

Sunshinetina Says:

May 20th, 2010 at 8:41 pm

I prefer Selma (as in Blair) rather than Salma.

NAILA MONTES Says:

June 6th, 2010 at 11:45 pm

ME GUStA MAS OTROS ESOS IA SON KOMO ANTIGUOS ME GUSTAN MAS LOS DE:

*-SOFIA,DANNA,ANDREA,ALLIZON,KIMBERLY,HELEN ,-

.-alexander,aron,brandon,kevin,cesar,jordan ….

haa esos me enkantann

mzcolon Says:

November 18th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

nereyda. i think David is a great name in both spanish and english.

la Says:

December 20th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Cameron Diaz

Baby Name of the Day: Aleydis | Appellation Mountain Says:

March 1st, 2011 at 3:04 am

[…] epithet of Athena.  The thread also mentions Aleydis was popular in Catalonia, an area known for some truly extraordinary names.  I found one medieval reference to Adalyde in Catalonia, but nothing suggests that it is a […]

Belen Says:

July 6th, 2011 at 7:52 pm

My name is Belen hehe. I’m not hispanic but my parents liked the name. It’s true, Belen is pretty un-known here. It’s pretty (but not in American English. In a Spanish accent it sounds beautiful but in an American accent it sounds blunt and dull), but no one knows how to read/write/say it. It’s “Bell-en”, not that hard! But I have about 15 spelling variations I’ve seen, I get called BAYLIN, BALON, BLAIR, I don’t even know. It’s frustrating. My friend from Paraguay says she knew 3 Belens, so that’s quite different from here. There is also a Spanish actress named Belen Ruez (or something like that…). Seeing her name on screen was so weird because I am so un-used to seeing/hearing my name when not directed to me.

amylove Says:

December 12th, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Er, Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Javier Bardem are Spanish, not Latin American.

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