Baby Name of the Day: Maya

Maia, in Pleiades Star Cluster

Maia, in the Pleiades star cluster; Image via Wikipedia

She’s only been in the US Top 1000 for a little over forty years, but she feels like a classic.

Thanks to September for suggesting Maya as our Baby Name of the Day.
Maybe Maya feels like a staple because she’s so connected to so many cultures:
  • In Sanskrit Maya means illusion, and Buddhist tradition tells us this is name of the Buddha’s mother.

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Maya is a pretty name with a greater depth of history more universal appeal than a lot of pretty names, but when I hear it I instantly think of the Sanskrit word. I’ve always found the concept of maya to be quite disheartening (and no, not trying to spark a religious debate!). Another issue I have with the name is the lack of an obvious nickname. So in other words, I wouldn’t personally use it, but have no issue with others doing so!

I just wanted to comment on the lack of nickname. That was my one reason for possibly not picking Maia for my daughters name…what would her nickname be? But as I got closer to giving birth I remembered the cartoon/book Maya the Bee. I started calling the baby Bee because I wasn’t ready to reveal her name until after I gave birth. So now Bee has stuck as her nickname even now that she’s here! It’s a stretch but it’s got a fun link to her name.

Cute! Seemingly random nicknames are the best. It’s easy to forget that a nickname doesn’t need an obvious tie to the given name in question.

I named my 6 month old Maia! Visually I loved the “i” spelling over the “y” but I also liked “Maia”‘s connection to mythology and astronomy. Maia felt like a sweet, girly name that was familiar but not too common (I personally have never met a Maia/Maya). And I really loved that it had so much meaning and history hidden in such a short name. I can not think of a better name for my Maia!

Maya is a bit more complicated than just “illusion” in Eastern philosophy. It’s the concept that we are shielded from reality and experience only a projection of it- that the world as we know it is an illusion. It refers to the relationship of consciousness v. reality, the idea that ultimate reality is not what we experience with our senses.
Similarly, Lila (LEE-la) refers to the concept of joyful gods creating the universe through their play, not just “play,” as it is usually translated to in name books.
I like both names and I think the spiritual connections make them even better!

Maya is pretty, but it isn’t in my personal taste. I prefer my girls names, in general, to be long, frilly, and old fashioned. The lone exception ot this is Claire. I wouldn’t be upset if my brother and his wife named a future child Maya, nor anyone else in my life. I like it, but it isn’t one that I would personally change.

I grew up with two Russian friends – well, actually, being from Brooklyn, I grew up with a lot more than two Russian friends, but I digress – one was Maya, whose family was Russian, but she was born in Israel, and the other was Maia, who was Russian.

10 years ago, I met a girl who had a two year old Maya. Two years later, a friend gave birth to a Maya. Last year, my cousin’s wife had a Maya. My cousin is American, but they live in Germany; maybe it’s less common over there. Finally, a few months ago, I signed my toddler up for a baby class, and we met an 18 month old Maya.

In my life, this has been a very common name! I think I’ve known as many Mayas as I’ve known Heathers or Stephanies or Jessicas or Jennifers.

I wouldn’t use it myself. I know some people don’t like having their name mispronounced or constantly correcting people who misspell or mispronounce it, so I want to give my children names with one clear spelling and pronunciation. Too bad I like the names Philip and Elliot so much. Sigh.

Oddly enough, I have spent my entire life having my name mispronounced and a lot of the time I don’t even notice until someone points it out to me.

A little Maya may be born into our family very soon (if there aren’t any change of plans and my brother doesn’t go for Catherine instead). I personally like the Maia spelling more, because of its links to Roman mythology, but it’s not my decision to make. It’s a name I hear a lot, but somehow I have yet to meet a Maya/Maia.

I think Maya/Maia/Maja is such a sweet name. If I could only pin down a spelling I like best it would totally be usable.
About ten years ago I knew a set of identical twins named Ava and Maya. I felt like those two names sounded great together.

I love Maya – am a huge fan of Maya Lin, and I love the reference to the Pleiades (my favorite star cluster) — and as a bonus there’s the Maya Angelou connection. Maya is also the name of the charming little girl in AS Byatt’s Posession.

Unfortunately the alliteration with my husband’s last name sounds terrible and my first name is April, so it’s right out. 🙁

Personally, I see her point. Even if it isn’t pronounced the same way as the month, the spelling brings the month to mind: April and Maya. I have the same problem with Caroline. Even though Katherine and Caroline aren’t pronounced similarly at all, I don’t like how similar they look on paper, so we discarded it as a possibility for a girl.

I am always happy to hear this name. If it were up to me, I’d pick May or Mia over Maya, but I still like it. I’m a sucker for a short but sweet girls name and Maya is very lovely. It strikes me as the perfect name for a daughter of university professors or intellectuals.

That’s funny Colleen, the only Maya I know is the 13 year old daughter of two university professors! One is from Israel and I think they wanted a global name.

I consider Maya and Maia both distinct and worthy names in their own right, though there has obviously been much cross-fertilization, and I know a lot of people treat them as interchangeable.