Baby Name of the Day: Nava

Copper Square Letter n

Image by Leo Reynolds via Flickr

Jolie. Bella. Looking for another beautiful baby name?

Thanks to Racheli for suggesting Nava as our Baby Name of the Day.

Nava comes from the Hebrew for beautiful. She rhymes with lava. (You can hear her pronounced at Forvo.) All of this makes her incredibly straightforward, despite the fact that she’s also incredibly rare.

Well, maybe not in Israel. A quick search turned up Israeli author Nava Semel, as well as Canadian chess champ Nava Starr.

But that same search suggested that Nava, like many a short name, has other possible meanings. She may not be common in many places, but this is the kind of name that is truly jetway-ready.

In Spanish, she’s a place name and a surname. Nava refers to a treeless plateau, possibly derived from Basque. (The Basque languages predates the Roman Empire and is unrelated to most other European languages.) There are plenty of notables with the last name, but one that you might recognize is Gregory Nava, the director behind Selena, the biopic about the tragically short life of the Mexican-American singer – and the movie that launched the career of Jennifer Lopez.

In Athabaskan, nava means field. Combined with hu – valley – and the result is Navajo, as in the largest Native American tribe in the US.

In Hindi, nava means new or young. Nava Bharat – New India – is a major newspaper. In Nepal, the crown prince’s son is traditionally referred to as Nava Yuvaraj – young crown prince.

In Sanskrit, nava is the number nine.

But I’ll admit, Nava makes me think of one specific thing.


James Cameron’s 2009 box office hit introduced the fictional world of Pandora and the Na’vi – vaguely human-ish creatures, except very tall. And kid of cat-like. Oh, and blue.

All of this makes Nava an intriguing choice. She’s decidedly simple, but impossible to explain. If you’re looking for an international exotic, Nava is a go-to name. She’s perfectly wearable for a child, and stunning on an adult.

On the downside, nava sounds an awful lot like the negative nada – zip, zilch, bupkus. But Nava also sounds like novel, and that’s an appealing association. Nava has a certain history, but she’s a true 21st century name, too.

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I love Nava! Too similar to other girl names in my family (Nora and Neva), but beautiful all the same.

Hey Abby, how about Viggo for NOD for a boy?

There are too many of these two syllable N__a names: Nadia, Nadra, Naila, Nahla, Naima, Nava, Neda, Neva, Nia, Nila, Nina, Nissa, Noa, Nola, Nora, Nova, Nyla.

They’re not bad names, I like a lot of them… but in my mind they tend to run together into an indistinct mass.

It’s interesting because the only Nava I know of is a male. It’s one of his middle names, and I love his names- Santos Oliver Nava (then a latino last name).
I can see how Nava, when you look at the Spanish meaning, it can translate as masculine.

Meh, not a fan of this one. It seems incomplete somehow, like it missing something. I don’t know what, exactly, but something. I would rather use Niamh or even Nora than this one.

My last name is Nava and my first name is Salvador(Savior), so i guest she has to have a last name that coencides with her first name to complete the meaning. Or to give meaning or power to her full name.

Nava is pretty, but my brain keeps wanting to say Navajo and then Na’vi. It’s a nice enough name, but doesn’t do a lot for me. There are other Israeli Hebrew names I’d use before Nava if we were going that route.

The Nava-lava link is hard to break. But I did recently meet a woma. From Syria named Nada – pronounced Nedda. I had never heard of it, and it’s so pretty!

I used to baby sit a girl named Nava. She had two brothers named Dylan and Casey and a little sister named Chloe. I feel the girls got the interesting names, since Chloe is now in her mid teens and she was named before Chloe became popular again.
Nava has always intrigued me. I like it better than Nova, but not as much as Neve or Neeve.