She’s a smoosh of some popular sounds, and a name in her own right, too.
Thanks to Emily for suggesting Livana as our Baby Name of the Day.
Livana is a rarity, one that’s tough to pin down. She’s been in sparing use over the years, but never enough to crack the US Top 1000, and the name was given to fewer than five girls in 2010.
But this is the age of Olivia. She’s been in the Top Ten since 2001, and related names have caught on in recent years: Oliver for boys, plus Alivia, Olive, and Livia on the girls’ side. Other choices, like Liviana, have been heard, too. This makes the case for Livana as an invention in the same key. Besides the olive-branch roots of Olivia and the blue-envy origins of Livia, there’s also the Scandinavian Liv – derived from an Old Norse name, but popular for its resemblance to the word life. Should you meet a little Livana, there’s a decent chance her parents cobbled her together from one source or the other.
Then again, there are a handful of possible origins for Livana, and they’re appealing.
- The Latin word levare means to lift. It’s also the source of our word elevation, and the meaning feels auspicious. In Ancient Rome, a mother placed her newborn on the ground, and the father picked up the babe to signal that he accepted the child as his own. At some point, the act was personified as a minor deity called Levana. It sounds affectionate, but the act was quite calculated. Let’s put it this way: healthy males were pretty much always lifted up. Girls … not so much.
- But what if the v can also be a w? Lewandowski is a very common Polish surname, from a place name ultimately from the Polish word for lavendar – lewanda.
- Speaking of place names, I’ve found Livana on the map in Croatia and Turkey – though the Turkish city is now called Artvin.
- That also brings to mind Levon and Levan, international variants of Leon – and thus related to the mighty lion.
- And then we hop over to Kveller, to find the most plausible explanation for Levana – she’s a Hebrew name meaning white or moon. That’s not Livana, of course, but I suspect the vowel is not significant in this case. Kveller also lists Livia and Levia as valid transcriptions of the same name – though one related to Levon and company, rather than Livana.
No matter what direction you go with Livana, she seems to return to a host of positive meanings, most with a nature theme. Olives, to elevate, lavender, life, lions, the moon … if you’re comfortable with not knowing the precise origins of a name, Livana boasts a smorgasbord of possibility. She’s a granddaughter for Diana or Leonard, an alternative to the wildly popular Olivia, a sure-fire way to make sure that your daughter will never answer to Ollie or Allie as a nickname.
If you’re after a name that feels modern, but still feminine, Livana has considerable potential.