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.

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. She’s a rather pretty name, although it didn’t come naturally to me that she should rhyme with lava – my first thought was rather more along the lines of how one would say knave.