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New International Names Enter America’s Lexicon

January 6, 2020 Pamela Redmond
diverse international names

New international names are entering the American lexicon from around the world at an ever-faster pace, as parents look for names that connect to their countries of origin or ancestral heritage.

Muhammad and Aaliyah, in all their different spellings, made the US Top 10 last year for the first time, according to one parenting website.

And some parents are simply looking for names that have more international reach and meaning than the usual English choices.

Celebrities and athletes often popularize their names internationally. The current interest in multicultural mythology and religion is another source of international names.

We analyzed the Social Security list to find international names becoming more popular in the US. Most of the choices here were given to at least 100 babies in the US last year, but retain a distinctive flavor.

INTERNATIONAL GIRL NAMES

Aditi – Ancient Hindu mother goddess

Ainhoa – Religiously significant Basque place name that makes the Spanish Top 100

Akshara – Strong Sanskrit name

Amal – The beautiful Mrs. Clooney made her Arabic name famous.

Araceli – Spanish mountain climber name

Aranza – Basque name meaning thorns

AshantiWest African place-name

Atarah – Hebrew Biblical name

Avani – Hindi name meaning “the good earth”

Aviva – Hebrew name with a springtime meaning

Azeneth – Egyptian name popular in Spanish-speaking South America.

Brisa – Spanish for breeze

Eleni – Greek form of Helen

Elowen – Cornish tree name

Hawa – The Arabic version of Eve

Inaya – Arabic name meaning concerned

Irie – Jamaican word meaning positive and powerful

Kamari – Swahili for moonlight

Kavya – Sanskrit for poem

Lucero – Spanish nickname for Luz, meaning light

Maite – Basque name meaning beloved, top name in South America

Moira – Irish variation of Mary

Monserrat – Catalan place-name

Natalya – Russian form of Natalie

Nechama – Hebrew name popular in the Hasidic community

Noelani – Hawaiian for heavenly mist

Nori – Japanese for seaweed

Oriana – Italian name with a golden meaning

Raya – Hebrew name meaning friend

Sana – Arabic name that easily crosses cultures

SoleilSunny Spanish choice

Yaritza – This Yara variation is an Arabic name popular in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries.

Yesenia – Spanish botanical name

Yuna – Russian variation of June

Zaynab – One of the most popular Muslim girls’ names, with Quranic as well as botanical signicance

Ziva – Name related to Israeli independence

INTERNATIONAL BOY NAMES

Atreus – Greek mythology name

Bilal – Arabic name significant in the Muslim faith

Danilo – Ukrainian version of Daniel

Dhruv – Legendary king and devotee of Vishnu, one of the principal Hindu dieties

Eamon – Patriotic Irish name

Eliel – Hebrew relative of Eli

Emir – Arabic title of honor

Gianni – Italian version of Johnny

Isai – Spanish spin on Isaiah

Khaza — Arabic name with celebrity connection

Leif – Adventurous Scandinavian name being rediscovered

Lev – Hebrew for heart or the Russian form of Leo

Massimo — Italian for the greatest

Neymar – Invented name of Brazilian footballer

Osiris – Egyptian god-king who was reborn every year

Rishi — Sanskrit for seer or sage

Rodolfo – Romantic Rudolph

Seamus – Irish version of James playing tag with Top 1000

Yadiel – Spanish version of an archangel names

Yahya – Islamic name that honors John the Baptist

Zamir – Hebrew name meaning song or bird

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles

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