When parents are choosing a name for their new baby, there are thousands of choices. Some folks are interested in names with a cultural significance. Possible names can have been brought here by the immigrants from many countries. Perhaps a Native American name might be selected as well as names from the African American culture or other parts of the world.
Names From Native American and Hispanic Culture:
Anahi: This is a female name that is reputed to be the name of an Indian princess who married a Spanish conquistador. It has had frequent use in Central and South America and has begun appearing in North America.
Araceli: This is a female Spanish name which means “altar of heaven.” It has had frequent use in Spain and some use in this country.
Belen: “Bethlehem” is the meaning of this Spanish female name. It became the name of a Brazilian jungle area in the Amazon. It has recently come into some use.
Brisa: “Breeze” is the meaning of this female Spanish name. It may relate to a place that is considered breezy regarding weather. It has been used during the last few decades.
Cheyenne: This female name means “unintelligible speaker” and comes from the Dakota tribe of Native Americans by way of the Algonquin tribe. Apparently some of these names were created by neighbor tribes creating names that were then adopted by the others. This has been a fairly popular name with a number of derivative spellings such as Shyanne.
Concepcion: This name means “conception” from the Immaculate Conception and is a female Spanish name. It was most popular during the early 20th century but would be rare today.
Consuelo: “Consolation” is the meaning of this female Spanish name which is one of the references to Mary, “Our Lady of Consolation.” The name had some use early in the 20th century but is rarely used currently.
Cruz: This is actually a Spanish name for both genders which means “a crucifix.” Today it is used more for males than females.
Dakota: This is a name for both genders that means “friends or allies” which was the Sioux name for their tribe. It became part of the name of two states that bear the name Dakota which comprised their territory. It has had frequent use in the recent decades. Most of us recognize the name of the young actress Dakota Fanning.
Diego: This is a male Spanish name. There are several theories regarding the history of the name but none have been proven. The name has been used for centuries.
Dolores: “Sorrows” is the meaning of this Spanish female name which relates to ‘Maria de Dolores” or “Mary of Sorrows.” The name was most popular in the early decades of the 20th century but is rarely used today.
Guadalupe: This is a Spanish name for both genders that means “valley of the wolf.” It became popular with the Mexican Our Lady of Guadalupe. This name has had fairly consistent use. Lupe might be the nickname.
Inez: This Spanish female name is a derivative of Agnes. It is another name that was used in the 20s and 30s but is rarely used today.
Itzel: This is a female name that might have Mayan roots. The name is used in the Hispanic community.
Luz: “Light” is he meaning of this Spanish female name which could be derived from Lucy. It was most popular in the mid 20th century.
Milagros: “Miracles” is the meaning of this Spanish female name. The name had some use in the mid 20th century but is not used currently.
Nakia: This name for both genders has Navajo and Mexican roots. It had some use in the 70s.
Nayeli: The origin of this female name is not known but is thought to mean “I love you.” The name has had some recent use.
Pilar: “Pillar” is the meaning of this female Spanish name and is related to “Our Lady of the Pillar.” This name has been rarely used.
Ramioro: “Famous advice” is the meaning of this male Spanish name. It has been used in Spain for generations and has been used here in the last few decades.
Shania: This is a female name that means “I’m on the way.” The name became popular in the 90s possibly because of singer Shania Twain.
Shasta: This female name seems to come from some language used in California where it is the name of a mountain lake. It had some use during the 80s.
Shawnee: This is a female Algonquin tribal name which means “southerners.” It has been used since the late 19th century.
Trinidad: “Trinity” is the meaning of this Spanish name for both genders. It is also the name of an island. It was used primarily during the first part of the 20th century. The name would be used rarely at this time.
Winona: This female Dakota name means “first born daughter.” The name has been use since the early 20th century and, in addition to people, it has been used as a name for some towns. Currently we are familiar with singer Wynona Judd and Winona Ryder, the actress.
Yajaira: This is a female name of unknown meaning.. It was the name of a character in a Spanish soap opera during the 70s. The name might be connected to South and Central America.
Middle Eastern and African Names:
During the last quarter of the 20th century, there was an increased interest in African names. Islam is prevalent in Northern Africa which also led to an interest in names of Arabic origin. The following is a selection of some of these names.
Ali: This is an Arabic male name meaning “sublime or exalted.” It is a name that has had use in the last decades. All of us recognize the name Muhammad Ali, the famous prize fighter.
Amina: “Faithful or honest” is he meaning of this Arabic female name. It has had a bit of use in the last decades.
Asha: “Life” is the meaning of this female Arabic name. This type of name also exists in other cultures and, as an Indian name may originate with the Sanskrit name meaning “wish or desire.”
Ashanti: This is a female name referring to the Ashanti people of Ghana. The popular use of this name has increased during the last few decades.
Barack: This is an Arabic male name that means “blessing.” The name also has a connection to Swahili. The most famous person we know with this name is President Barack Obama.
Hamza: “Strong” is the meaning of this male Arabic name. There was an uncle to Muhammed who converted to Islam and this name was used in honor of this uncle.
Jelani: This male name comes from Nigeria and means “mighty or strong.” The name has had some recent use.
Kenya: This is a Kikuyu name for both genders which means “white mountain.” It is also the name for a country. The name is currently used more for females.
Kenyatta: This is a name with roots in Kenya and means “white mountain.” It is used for both males and females. The name had a little use during the 70s.
Khalil: “Friend or best friend” is the meaning of this Arabic male name. It had some use in the 90s. Most of us recognize the name of Khalil Gibran, the poet.
Kofi: This male name from a language of Ghana means “born on Friday.” It is known to us because of the Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan.
Kwame: This is a male name that is Akan which is a language of Ghana and means “born on Saturday.” Ghana’s first president was Kwame Nkrumah. The name had some use in the 90s.
Latifa: “Gentle” is the meaning of this female Arabic name. Most of us know Queen Latifah.
Mustafa: This is a male Arabic name which means “chosen or selected.” The name is occasionally used in the US.
Najee: This is an Arabic male name that means “saved or rescued.” It is a rarely used name.
Omar: “Flourishing” is the meaning of this male Arabic name. It is well known in this country perhaps because of actor Omar Sharif.
Rakeem: This male Arabic name might mean “judicious.” It has appeared in use during the last couple of decades.
Samira: This is a female Arabic name which means “a lively conversationalist.” It has recently come into use here.
Syed: “Happy” is the meaning of this Arabic male name. It has had some popular use in the last few decades.
Tariq: “One who knocks on the door” is the meaning of this Arabic male name. It has also appeared in use during the last few decades.
Zaire: This name may one of the names for the Congo River. The area of the Congo was called Zaire but is again now called Congo. The name does appear as a person’s name occasionally today.
Pacific Area and Asian Names:
The last century did see an increase in the names that seemed to come from Asia and the areas of the Pacific. A number of people from Japanese, Korean and Chinese cultures adopt an American name when in America and do not always use their original given name. Many people from Indian culture continue to use their birth names.
Aditya: This is a male Hindi name which means “sun.” that has come into use recently.
Akira: This Japanese female name means “intelligent.” One might hear it used although it seems to be more of a male name in Japan.
Ananda: “Happiness or joy” is the meaning of this female name from Sanskrit. It is used at times in the United States and has a relationship to meditation centers.
Aniya: It is possible that this is a Japanese female name. The name has been used during the last few decades.
Anjali: This is a female Hindi name that means “joining hands.” It is just starting to be used here.
Chandra: This is a female name from Sanskrit which means “the moon or shining.” It became popular in the 70s for unknown reasons.
Kali: This is a female name. It may have a connection to the Hindu goddess of destruction or to a Hawaiian volcano goddess with the name. This name has had some use for the past few decades.
Kalpana: This is a female Hindi name which means “imagination,” There was an astronaut with this first name.
Karma: “Fate or destiny” is the meaning of this female name from Sanskrit.
Keanu: This is a Hawaiian male name that seems to mean “cool breeze.” The name has been used recently probably because of the actor Keanu reeves.
Kobe: This is a male Japanese name and is the name of a town. We all recognize the name of Kobe Bryant, the basketball player.
Leilanl: “Heavenly garland” is the meaning of this Hawaiian female name. There is a famous song called Sweet Leilani sung by Bing Crosby. It was a popular name in the 40s and has had increased use again in the last decades.
Mohini: “Enchanting” is the meaning of this female name from Sanskrit. This name is used at times.
Pranav: This is a male name from Sanskrit which is actually the name of the syllable ‘om’ which is sacred. The name is used occasionally.
Taj: “Crown” is the meaning of this male name from Sanskrit. We all know about the Taj Mahal but it has also come back to use recently.
Tamiko: “People-child” is the meaning of this Japanese female name. It is similar to the name Tamika. One may hear these names used.
Yoko: This is a female Japanese name and is most well known because of Yoko Ono, wife of John Lennon.
Yoshiko: “Good child” is the meaning of this female Japanese name. As early as the 1910s this name was used in the US.
There are some parents who are very interested in exploring baby names that might come from their own or other cultures. The preceding article has provided a selection of names that are of Native American, African, Asian and other cultural origins. Some of the names readers will recognize while others will be new. Perhaps new parents will be able to find a meaningful name for the new addition to the family.