baby name AshaThe baby name Asha might get a boost from a new Disney movie.

Thanks to Pree for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.


Surname Ashley rocketed to the top of the popularity charts for girls in the 1980s. Boys’ names like Ashton followed. Now Asher is a favorite for our sons. Names like Ashlyn, Ashby and Ash itself have enjoyed some use, too.

But the baby name Asha is something different. It fits in that broad category, but it has an intriguing, pan-global backstory.

Depending on who you ask, the pronunciation might be different, too. Asher rhymes with Dasher and sounds just like Ashley. But Asha sounds more like Sasha. It’s subtle, but noticeable.


There are several potential meanings of the name to consider.

Most sources attribute Asha to a Sanskrit origin. It means wish or hope. That tracks with the plot of the 2023 Disney movie. More on that in a minute.

Another possibility? Asha derives from a Swahili word meaning alive. Alternate spellings like Aisha, Aysha, and even Iesha are seen, too.

Hope and life are two positive meanings, auspicious choices for a child’s name.

And then there’s another possibility.

Zoroastrianism was once a major religion, and its sacred text was written in Avestan. Like ancient Aramaic or Old Church Slavonic, we know most of the language through its use in sacred works. In Avestan, asha implies a sort of universal justice and order, symbolized by fire. The word can be translated as truth or justice, order or righteousness, depending on the context.

Lastly, the Polish nickname Asia sounds like Asha. It’s short for Joanna. (The nickname for John sounds close to the English Josh.)


Most famous Ashas hail from India, like Bollywood icon Asha Bhosle.

Grammy-nominated and Guiness Record-holding grandmother Asha Bhosle has contributed to countless movie soundtracks. In fact, she holds the world record as the most recorded artist – she made her first studio recording way back in 1947. She’s not better known because technically Bhosle is a playback singer – other actors lip-sync to tracks she has recorded.

in 1997, a relatively obscure British band called Cornershop recorded a modestly successful single in her honor, “Brimful of Asha.” Fatboy Slim remixed it, and Bhosle’s reputation got a boost in the West.

Other places parents might’ve heard the baby name Asha include:

  • Long-running UK television series Coronation Street includes characters Dev and Sunita Alahan. They welcomed twins in 2006 – a son called Aadi and daughter Asha. Asha Alahan has been a regular on the show for years, currently played by Tanisha Gorey.
  • Also in the early 2000s, Jessica Alba rocketed to fame on Dark Angel, The cast also included a character named Asha Barlow.
  • Author Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy gave the name Asha to a character in her fantasy novels set in nineteenth-century England.
  • Australian YA sci fi author Amie Kaufman has also given the name to a character in her Illuminae Files series.
  • In The Tales of Beedle the Bard, the Wizarding World’s fairy tale collection oft-referenced in the Harry Potter stories, Asha was the first witch, her story and romance with a Muggle recounted in The Fountain of Fair Fortune. 

But possibly the best known Asha from the last decade actually answers to Yara.


George R.R. Martin’s long-running series of novels became a global sensation as HBO’s Game of Thrones.

In the books, Martin named a character Asha Greyjoy.

But in the adaptation, writers worried Asha sounded too much like another character, the wilding woman Osha.

So Asha became Yara Greyjoy, played by Gemma Whelan.

Either way, Asha/Yara is a memorable character. Despite expectations about conventional gender roles, she fights as a warrior, commands her own ship, and is smart and bold.

All of this might’ve boosted the baby name Asha considerably … but instead, Yara rose in use.


From 1989 through 2000, and once more in the year 2003, the baby name Asha ranked in the US Top 1000.

In many ways, the baby name Asha fits with pan-global favorites. It’s a sister name for Maya or Kai.

But it’s fallen in use over recent years. As of 2022, just 132 girls and 5 boys were named Asha. That’s down from a peak of 250 girls in the year 2000.


But all of that might be about to change.

Disney movie Wish will introduce the world to Asha, a brave and principled young woman living in the kingdom of Rosas. She and her companion Star face off against King Magnifico, a ruler who hoards others’ wishes, leaving them unfufilled.

It’s a very Disney-esque plotline, but it’s also significant. 2023 is the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company. And Wish builds on the many storylines about wishes becoming reality, across Disney’s long history.

The fictional kingdom is set on the Iberian Peninsula, and the other character names are nicely eclectic: Amaya, Valentino, Sakina, Dario, Hal. As a name of many meanings and multiple cultures, Asha fits right in – but it’s the Indian name meaning “wish” that makes Asha the only possible name for this animated hero.

Will other parents consider Asha a potential girl’s name after the movie debuts? It’s too soon to say, but this name could succeed for so many reasons.

What do you think of the baby name Asha?

First published on February 22, 2012, this post was revised and re-published on November 7, 2023.

baby name Asha baby name Asha

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Asha was a name I encountered fairly frequently while growing up in India. More typically the name was worn by women of my mother’s generation, but I did have [identical] twin friends named Isha and Asha.

    Sarah A mentioned Usha, another name I more frequently came across on women a generation older than myself. The Ushas I met were almost invariably “the salt of the earth”, but I always thought the name itself sounded too much like “whoosh” for my personal taste.

    A sidenote: It’s not uncommon to find organisations in India named Asha Kendra, because the phrase literally translates to coming like “place of hope” or “centre of hope”, or even “seat of hope”. In addition to its meaning, it’s a sanskrit-root word that transliterates easily into English, hence the popularity.