Two television series have boosted this musical name.
Thanks to Jen for suggesting Aria as our Baby Name of the Day.
Aria has all the makings of a hit: she’s got that great ‘ia’ ending, and we’re mad about the letter A for boy and girl names alike. If Brielle and Bella come from Gabrielle and Isabella, then Aria owes something to Ariana – one ‘n’ or two.
Plus, we’re in the Golden Age of Word Names, where nearly any vocabulary word with a pleasing sound and attractive meaning has the potential to be bestowed upon a child.
This is a noun name, make no mistake, even if she’s a bit of an import.
In Italian, aria is the word for air, but not exactly the air that we breathe. Think of air in the musical sense – a melody.
An aria is typically – though not exclusively – part of an opera, so this name has something of the high arts about it. It’s a very different vibe than Banjo.
We’ll get to the pop culture uses of Aria – and, of course, Arya – in a minute, but is there any history before the small screen?
A few possibilities:
- You might see Aria listed as an epithet of the goddess Athena. Only trouble? I suspect it isn’t Aria, but Areia, as in Ares, as in are – ruin. We think of Athena as brainy, but she was also a warrior goddess.
- There’s also an early saint sometimes called Aria, though she’s usually called Ariadne. Ariadne was a slave and a Christian convert in second century Rome. She refused to worship with her pagan masters, and fled. Legend has it that the earth swallowed her.
You might also think of Ari, a fierce name in at least two linguistic traditions. In Hebrew, Ari means lion. In Old Norse, Ari meant eagle, and Ari has a history of use in modern Scandinavia, too.
Now let’s take a quick look at Arya. Sure, Arya is a respelling of Aria. But it’s a respelling that takes us deep into the mythology of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones. His Arya is a tomboyish member of the Stark family, and teenaged actress Maisie Williams has won significant praise for her portrayal of the character.
Martin recently mentioned that he keeps baby name books around for inspiration. I’ve seen Arya listed as a Persian name meaning noble – it’s the root of the word Aryan, as well as the place name Iran. It’s used primarily as a boy’s name in the Middle East.
Then there’s Lucy Hale’s character on Pretty Little Liars, the lovely and well-traveled Aria Montgomery.
Well before the small screen boosted interest in the name, a handful of children had been called Aria. There’s young actress Aria Wallace, born in 1996. You might know her as Mandy on Nickelodeon’s iCarly.
In fact, Aria didn’t come out of nowhere. As early as 1900, five newborn girls were given the name. Back in 1980, there were 33 newborn Arias. And in 1996, the year Martin’s first Game of Thrones novel debuted, eleven girls were named Arya.
While Aria might owe her current high profile to fictional characters, this name has the potential to become a modern classic, long after we’ve forgotten all about Westeros and Rosewood.
Do you think Aria is a fleeting or trend, or a name that’s here to stay? How high do you think she’ll climb?