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Names Meaning Hope Shine a Light

March 21, 2020 Clare Green
A Little Girl Leaps With Abandon In The Light Of The Setting Sun

Names meaning hope can be a source of optimism and positivity in an uncertain time.

Welcoming a baby into the world is a powerful act of hope…and if predictions of a December 2020 baby boom are to be believed, there could be a lot of hopeful people out there right now.

Parents through the ages have given their children optimistic names. You might especially think of the Puritans, who used virtue names like Hope and Grace (as well as ones that haven’t aged so well, like Diffidence and Silence).

Sometimes such a name can signify that a child is a medical miracle, or born in difficult times. Sometimes it simply expresses our wishes for their future. We hope for a world in which Maverick will make changes, or Bear will still be able to see his namesake in the wild, or Charlie won’t be pinned down by their gender, or Khadija will be proud of her heritage.

I can’t put it better than Abby, our Name Sage, in her latest newsletter: “no matter how daunting our moment, I believe that naming is an act of optimism.”

So if you’re looking for a baby name that signifies better things to come, here are some ideas. Encompassing literal and subtle, popular and rare, and from around the world, there’s a hopeful name for everyone. 

Names meaning hope

The English language gives us the word name Hope, and other languages have their own equivalents. They could be a way to honor heritage or a special connection, as well as looking forward to the future.

The best-known are Nadia and Nadine, from the original Russian Nadezhda. For a male equivalent, Nadan is a Serbian and Croatian name from the same root. Amal Clooney bears a unisex Arabic name, and long before Game of Thrones, Asha was an Indian name with the same meaning.

Others include Spanish Esperanza, Icelandic Von (a feminine name), Finnish Toivo, Swahili Taraji, and Japanese possibilities like Kazuki and Nozomi. And let’s not forget fictional languages: step forward Estel, from Tolkien’s Elvish languages, and Laini Taylor’s heroine Karou.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life

…and we’re feeling good about these names. Nova, meaning “new”, is a smash-hit name that perfectly sums up the hope a new child brings. Neo is the sci-fi version, and Nordic Dagny literally means “new day”.

Dawn, while lovely, is more likely to be grandma’s name than baby’s nowadays. More in line with current trends are international variants like Alba, Aurora, Roxana and Vihan.

Names meaning life are undoubtedly optimistic, and many are firm favorites with parents, especially for girls. From Hebrew, there’s the Eve family of names; from Greek, Zoe and all her variants; from Latin, Vivienne and co; and Scandinavian Liv.

Names meaning light

Light is a strong symbol of hope, and there’s a wealth of names with light-related meanings.

Classic Lucy is part of a whole name family, including international Lucia, suave Lucian and modern Lux. Evergreen Helen and her variants may also come from light-related roots, and the Clara / Claire contingent have a similar meaning, “bright”.

Noor is branching out into the mainstream, and unisex Kiran is a highly international option.  Liora has a melodic sound that’s right on trend now, and Abner is growing in popularity for its vintage-biblical style.

Some of the best offbeat options include underused Irish gem Sorcha, and Faro, which means “lighthouse”.

Hope is the thing with feathers

…as Emily Dickinson wrote. If Feather itself is too much of a word name for you, you could try a name with a hidden feathery meaning, like Penna, Pluma or Quill.

Then there are plenty of bird names with positive meanings. Phoenix rises from the ashes. Lark heralds the morning. Dove is an ancient symbol of reconciliation and peace (along with its equivalents such as Callum, Jonah and Paloma). Chirpy songbird names like Robin and Wren are upbeat, and names with a more general meaning like Birdie, Avis, Aderyn and Enda strike a similar note.

Names meaning happiness

Names with a positive meaning signify hope for a child’s future happiness. They include English word names like Joy and Blythe, and currently stylish names like Felix and Felicity.

Among the less common choices, we love Cornish twins Lowen and Lowena, vintage nickname Lettie, unusual biblical Tirzah, and streamlined Rafa, from Arabic roots.

Which of these names do you like? Would you consider using a name with a hopeful meaning?

About the author

Clare Green

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.

View all of Clare Green's articles

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