New Year Names
The start of a new year brings with it a sense of fresh beginnings, a new dawn dawning, and hopes for the future. These sentiments are embodied in the meanings of many names, including current favorites Aurora and Nova, and undiscovered gems Dagny and Von.
Along with Aurora and Nova, other New Year’s baby names in the US Top 1000 include Esperanza, Eve, Hope, Joy, Nadia, Xavier, Zara, and Zora. Names related to the month of January are also fit for a New Year’s baby, such as Gennaro, Januária, Janvière, and of course, January itself.
A New Year’s baby is a harbinger of hope for the year to come. Here are some baby names from various cultures whose meanings reflect the feelings of a new year, especially appropriate for a baby born in early January.
Description:Aurora is the name of the Roman goddess of sunrise whose tears turned into the morning dew. She was said to renew herself by traveling from East to West across the sky, announcing the arrival of the sun each dawn. Aurora is also associated with the scientific term for the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis.
Description:Nova is a name that has the feel of both newness, from his meaning, and great energy from being an astronomical term for a star that suddenly increases in brightness, then fades.
Description:Xavier originated is use as a given name after Saint Francis Xavier, cofounder of the Jesuit order, who got his name from the Spanish-Basque village where he was born. His birthplace was Javier, the name of which was derived from the Basque place name Etxeberria, meaning “castle” or “new house.” Many Americans pronounce the initial X, as in ex-ZAY-vee-er, but it's equally accepted to pronounce the name ZAY-vee-er, closer to the French pronunciation.
Origin:Hebrew and Arabic
Meaning:"blooming flower; God remembers"
Description:Zara has multiple origins, but most notably is a variation of Zahrah, a name derived from the Arabic zahrah, meaning “blooming flower.” Zara can also be a diminutive of the Bulgarian name Zaharina, a feminine form of the Hebrew Zechariah. Today, Zara is heavily associated with the Spanish fast-fashion empire of the same name.
Description:Eve, the oldest name in the Book, is now coming back into style, having the virtues of simplicity and purity, yet with more strength and resonance than other single-syllable names like Ann. British actor Clive Owen chose Eve for his daughter, as did Jessica Capshaw.
Origin:Latin or Tswana
Meaning:"new or gift"
Description:This nouveau name of Keanu Reeves's character in The Matrix has not enjoyed the same burst of popularity as its female counterpart, Trinity, but it definitely sounds, well, newer. Neo Rauch is an interesting contemporary German artist.
Description:Can a name as virtuous as Hope be cool and trendy? Strangely enough -- yes. But though this optimistic Puritan favorite is experiencing substantial popularity, Hope is too pure and elegant to be corrupted, a lovely classic that deserves all the attention it's getting.
Description:If you love both unique baby names and flower names for girls, Amaryllis might be a perfect choice for you. A showier flower name than Lily, but in the same botanical family, Amaryllis is not as outre as it might at first sound. It was used in Greek poetry as the appellation of pure pastoral beauties; Amaryllis is the heroine of Virgil's epic poem Ecologues, after whom the flower was named. Other references are characters in the George Bernard Shaw play Back to Methuselah and The Music Man. James Bond-creator Ian Fleming had a half sister named Amaryllis Marie-Louise Fleming, who was a noted British cellist.
Meaning:"hope; tender, delicate"
Description:Nadia, an accessible Slavic favorite, has a strong run of popularity in the US in the early 2000s, partially thanks to the character on Lost called Nadia but actually named Noor, but it's since slumped down the rankings. An earlier inspiration was Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who won the 1976 Olympics.
Description:Mika is a Japanese girls' name that translates easily to English. As a male name, it's a short form of Mikael, the Scandinavian and Finnish form of Michael. Both are spelled and pronounced the same.
Origin:English word name
Description:Joy is from an older generation of word names, which also included Merry, Bliss, and Glory -- all of which exert a certain amount of personality pressure on a child. One interesting name that means the same thing: Chara.
Description:Zora is a meaningful literary heroine name honoring Zora Neale Hurston, an important black writer and leader of the Harlem Renaissance.
Description:Asha is an Indian name that comes from the Sanskrit word for hope or desire, but it is also a Swahili name derived from Aisha, meaning life. Since the ascendance of Ashley through the 1980s and 90s, all baby names Ash-related have been used in the U.S. for both girls and boys, from Ashlyn to Ashby, Ashton to Asher. Despite its separate roots, Asha is part of this group. Asha is finding new life through its Game of Thrones connections.
Meaning:"of the sea"
Description:Retro short form of Marina, now dated to the era of the Hitchcock movie that made it famous. In the UK, it's one of the hottest vintage names of the moment, perhaps inspired by British singer Lily Allen, who gave it to her second daughter in 2013. It's also a character name on the hit TV show Girls.
Origin:Diminutive of Roxanne, Persian
Description:Roxy, also spelled Roxie, is one of those high-stepping showgal names with plenty of moxie, among the many sassy nickname names on the U.K. popularity list--currently Number 398.
Description:Vihaan comes from a Sanskrit word denoting the dawn, but has the symbolic meaning of the beginning of a new age, making Vihaan a wonderful choice for the first baby in a family's next generation.
Origin:Modern invented name
Description:Name of the female lead played by charming actress Zooey Deschanel in the movie "Elf," Jovie definitely has a lively, jovial sound and makes a fresh twist on old (and new) favorites like Jody, Josie, and Jolie. May be considered a short form of Jovita, Jovena, and Jovana, all feminine forms of Jove, the Roman king of gods. If you're looking for a cute, friendly, but unusual girl name starting with J, Jovie may be just the ticket.
Description:Oriana is a dashing medieval name, with a meaning similar to Aurora. At this point, though, Oriana is much more unusual than Aurora and makes a unique choice if you're searching for names that mean new beginnings or dawn.
Origin:French variation of Nadia, Russian
Description:Part of the vogue for French-sounding names in the 1920s and 30s, Nadine has been replaced by the Russian sound of Nadia and Natasha.
Meaning:"one who has accomplished a goal"
Description:Siddhartha Gautama was one of the real names of Buddha, making this an impressive and weighty name among the Buddhist community.
Description:There are more substantial names with the same golden meaning: Aurora (Latin), Zora (Arabic), and Roxana (Persian).
Meaning:"springlike, fresh, dewy"
Description:Aviva is vivacious and memorable, a fresh spin on the Vivian and Vivienne names that have been getting more popular since Angelina and Brad chose one for their twin daughter. Another A-beginning palindrome name: Aziza.
Description:Signe could make an offbeat, more unusual alternative to Sydney or Sigrid. In Norse mythology, Signe was the twin sister of Sigmund. Can also be spelled Signy.
Description:One of those midcentury shortenings that are starting to sound cool again, though we prefer Van.
Description:Esperanza is a Spanish classic that's found its way onto the national popularity list in recent years. It came into the spotlight not long ago when jazz singer Esperanza Spalding "stole" the Best New Artist Grammy from favorite Justin Bieber. It's also the name of the main character in the novel The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, about a young Latina growing up in Chicago.
Description:One of the original French names chosen by midcentury parents for their sophistication and je ne sais quoi, Desiree has since become completely assimilated in the US. It ranked in the Top 1000 from 1954-2017, but has since dropped back out.
Description:More often used in Britain than here, where most names ending in ville fall into the unthinkable class, this might make an exception via fans of the musical Neville Brothers.
Origin:Greek or Hebrew
Meaning:"new moon; pleasantness"
Description:An obscure yet on-trend name with two wonderful meanings associated with it. Neoma is one of the freshest celestial girl names with moon-related meanings, rarer than Luna or Phoebe but with the same fluid sound.
Meaning:"dawn; or, little star"
Description:The name of the wife of Alexander the Great, more attractive than the better-known Roxanne. Roxana was first used in the English-speaking world in the 1600s and was popularized by Daniel Defoe's novel Roxana, published in 1724. An underused and attractive possibility and perfect if you're searching for names that mean new beginnings.
Description:Jubilee has a joyous and jubilant aura, but it wouldn't be an easy name to carry, what with all that pressure to be a living, breathing, 24-7 party. Jubilee was the name selected by television's Duggars for their miscarried child.
Description:A fairly common Greek name that would fit in well here.
Origin:English word name
Description:Thanks to two cultural influences, January has joined March, April, June and August as a plausible month name.
Description:Eos -- that's pronounced with a short e like eros without the r -- is the Greek Titan of the dawn. Any ancient name with a sleek modern feel has definite revival possibilities. Eos could be an inventive way to honor grandma Dawn. Eos is also a Welsh bird name that is occasionally given to girls in Wales — pleasingly the nightingale, so this name covers both morning and night.
Description:Amal is an attractive name with a wonderful meaning that has long been used in many Middle Eastern countries, especially Lebanon (and migrant communities). It is of course getting a lot more coverage now since the fame of international human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney, who's singlehandedly made this one of the best-known Arabic names for girls.
Description:Kia is a sweet, simple name that is now, unfortunately, associated with a Korean car label. Better today: Nia, Thea, or Keira.
Description:If you're looking for a name with Scandinavian roots, this would make a stronger and more appealing import than Dagmar. With its meaning of "new day," it could make an ideal choice for a girl born around New Year's.
Origin:English word name
Description:Revel is a joyous word name that may appeal to parents wanting a non-traditional Biblical choice or simply a name that expresses how they feel.
Description:Both a first and last name, Zorina has a pretty, ballerina-like quality.
Meaning:"love again, renewal"
Description:Idony was the Norse goddess of spring and eternal youth, and variants of her obscure name could come under consideration with the rest of the fashionable I pack.
Description:More than zero, but perhaps too close to Vera.
Description:Tennis star Novak Djokovic introduced this new first name to the English-speaking world, though it had long been familiar as a surname. The celebrity Novak, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, might be an inspirational role model for a baby Novak. And the name Novak goes well with other stylish names that mean new, including Nova, Neo, and Nouvel.
Origin:Variation of Nova, Latin
Description:This Nova-offshoot is hot in the Netherlands, where it was recently one of the fastest-rising names of the year. It could eventually see great success in the US as well, however, it was only given to 14 American girls at last count.
Description:Tahani, a somewhat unusual Arabic name for girls, has popped up twice on TV recently: it's the name of one of the main characters on NBC comedy The Good Place and a teenaged contestant on So You Think You Can Dance.
Description:Naveem, which is also spelled Navim, is a traditional Arabic name that also has the sheen of modernity. It was introduced to a wider audience via Prince Naveen, the charming (if opportunistic), free-spirited royal of an unnamed European principality in Disney's animated 2009 Princess and the Frog, who wins the heart of Princess Tiana.
Description:This Basque name is quite popular in Spain, where it has long been in the Top 100 names. This is likely due to its pleasant meaning; the sound, dignified in Spanish and Basque, may not fare so well in English-speaking countries.
Meaning:"dawn, morning, awakening"
Description:This is a soft and strong Muslim name commonly heard in the Middle East.
Origin:Russian and Slavic feminine form of Galina
Description:Festive name of the wife of Salvador Dali.
Origin:Arabic or Sanskrit
Meaning:"one who hopes or unattainable"
Description:Hope is one meaning of the name Amil, which sounds similar to the German Emil; it can also mean unattainable in the sense of being so exalted as in royalty as to be out of reach. While Amil may not be familiar in the Western world, it's accessible and appealing.