She’s a golden goddess with a musical air.
Thanks to Elta for suggesting Aura as Baby Name of the Day.
Elta actually asked about Aura Lee. It sounds like a good name for a dentist, but in fact “Aura Lee” was a Southern ballad popular during the Civil War, and it inspired plenty of parents. (Elta’s grandmother was named Aura Lee!)
While the song is mostly forgotten, you might catch it in an old movie – it was used at least twice, in the 1930s and 1950s. And “Aura Lee” lives on in Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” – his enduring song uses the same tune. (You can listen to a recording of “Aura Lee” here – obviously, it is far from the original, but predates the King of Rock.)
The original Aura was a minor goddess, a personification of the cool breeze. And today, aura has a vaguely spiritual vibe. The word is sometimes used as a synonym for halo. It’s also a term for a wreath of color said to surround some people. (Or, in some cases, said to surround everyone, but only to be visible to those with a gift.)
This lends Aura an offbeat vibe, and further cementing her geek chic status, she’s a major character in the Flash Gordon universe. Princess Aura is bad guy Ming’s daughter, but she and pops are on the outs in most storylines.
One of the actresses to play the princess in recent years? The nicely named Italian actress Ornella Muti.
That’s already a lot to take in, but there’s more. Aura is also:
- The personification of Finland. The young woman often depicted as the Maiden of Finland took her name from the Aura River in Turku. The river, in turn, comes from an old Swedish word which translates roughly to river;
- Nearly all Auras are always given gold hair. There’s an irresistible tendency to link Aura with au – the symbol for gold, from the Latin aurum. While some names – Aurelia, for one – do mean gold or golden, in Aura’s case this is pure folk etymology.
Aura appeared in the US Top 1000 most years from 1880 through 1901. Her success at the tail end of the nineteenth century suggests that most Auras were, indeed, named after the song. You might also come across an Auralee, but the smoosh version never appeared in the US Top 1000.
Today, Aura is rare. The sci fi princess failed to revive interest in the name. But she could appeal to parents seeking a New Age spiritual choice, kind of like Trinity but without the Christian associations. Her sound is undeniably current, too.
If you love Lyra and Luna, but fear that they’re becoming too common, Aura might be an attractive option.
Well i for one love the name and when i have a kid i will name her this beautiful unique name
Aura is an awesome name. Me and my husband wanted to give our kids unique names. Their names are Aura Sweet, Ability Rose, and Seek Spirit. Stand out names. Nobody at school will share their names I’m sure. And they all love their names.
In Spanish or Italian, it is pronounced it “Ow-ra” — it is a very round-sounding word. The “r” sounds a little like a “d.” I agree that the name is far more beautiful when pronounced in a Latinate language. There is a wonderful novel by the same name penned by the Mexican author Carlos Fuentes. In the historic district of Barcelona, a young historian writes the memoirs of a deceased patriarch in his suffocating townhouse. He falls in love with beautiful and seductive Aura, who is cast as the personification of youth and beauty. I love the name (and the character is deliciously intriguing).
Thanks for this! Down here we soften up the “a” to “awe-ra” instead of “or-a,” for me more pleasing. Loved the history, much appreciated!
I just did a little searching and it turns out Aura may be etymologically related to my screen name, Havoye, though I originally understood that Havoye was an early French variant of Hedwig. In any case, according to trusy old Wikipedia there was a third century saint of Sicilian origin who has been variously known as Aure, Avoye, Aur
Now that is fascinating, Havoye! There are a bunch of saints from the 8th/9th centuries called Aurea, but I’ve never come across your Sicilian Aure. Love some of the variants – Avoie, Avisa … stunning.
There is a rather strong new age, hippie vibe to this name and since I’m a rather preppy traditionalist, I’ll pass…
Doesn’t anyone else hear Aura Lee as Orally? That would be a really tough name to have in Middle School.
Christina Fonseca says
I like Aura with the Spanish pronunciation – it sounds softer.
I grew up with a woman named Ora. I know I submitted that name a couple of times…
Eh. I can take it or leave it. I’d probably roll my eyes at it. I think maybe Aura would be a nice nickname for Aurelia, but on its own, it’s just meh.
Wrong. Aura is a beautiful name. It’s not meh. What’s your name? It’s probably alot less cool than Aura, and way more meh.
I realize it isn’t comfortable to hear unpleasant things about a name that you love, but it might help to remember that the comment is directed at the name, not your child! No one gives their kids names they think will be anything short of a fabulous gift, regardless of the style they prefer.
I’ve said it here a thousand times, but my mother had a stand-out, truly unusual name. She hated it, and gave her children rather ordinary, mainstream names. Which we all heartily dislike. I’ve given my kids long, elaborate names with unusual nicknames in attempt to achieve balance. Ten bucks says that someday I’ll have grandchildren named Ann and Jane.
You really can’t win!
Ora. That’s what I hear.
Charlotte Vera says
Aura is very pretty with a very intriguing history, but since my brother occasionally suffers from migraines accompanied by an aura (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aura_(symptom) ), the word would sound a bit too much like a medical ailment to be used in my family.
I am also a migraine-with-aura sufferer… the auras are both freaky and upsetting (mine include flashing lights, tunnel/obscured vision, numbness that travels from my hand all the way up my arm and onto my face and can last 20 minutes or more just prior to the part of a migraine during which one’s head feels like it’s being pounded by a pick axe). Therefore, it’s associated with health issues and impending, excrutiating pain. That and really odd “gifted” people who say things like, “You really have the most incredible aura.”
Aura Lee – goodness… I am familiar with this, but cannot figure out how – is it the song? Gee, now that’s going to bug me all day long!
Ah, that’s a negative association I hadn’t come across – but certainly one that doesn’t boost the name’s appeal.
Aura is appealing, but she is still a bit too esoteric for my liking. I prefer Aurora or Aurelia.