Here’s a choice with a subtle link to wintry weather.
Thanks to Nicole for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day: Neva.
The seasonal story of Neva is that she’s related to the Latin word for snow – nivem. But it’s just one of several possible origins:
- She could be a short form of names that end in -neva. The only -neva ending name that springs to mind is Geneva, but as it happens, this tracks. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Geneva regularly appeared in the US Top 1000 a few dozen places ahead of Neva;
- Nevada also appeared in the US Top 1000 in the same era. While we don’t think of the American Southwest and snow, Nevada owes its name to the Spanish nevado – snowy, as in the Sierra Nevada mountain range;
- Neva also brings to mind the Gaelic Niamh, or the sometimes-related Neve, with an extra -a tacked on to the end;
- Then there are a few references to Niva, sometimes listed as a Hebrew name, but also a place name in Denmark and the Czech Republic;
- While we’re looking at the map, there’s Russia’s Neva River, and wouldn’t you know it? There’s a debate about the river’s name meaning, too. Options range from a Finnish word meaning sea, to a Finnish word meaning swamp, to a Swedish word meaning new. Or, well … possibly the Latin root for snow.
That takes us back to where we started, so let’s just say that Neva will make many people think of snow-covered fields and forests.
Others might think of one of a few famous Nevas, including:
- Former NPR Morning Edition producer Neva Grant;
- One of David Rockefeller, Sr.’s eight children is the distinguished academic Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, though she’s known professionally as just Neva R. Goodwin;
- Miss America 1953 was Neva Langley;
- Neva Patterson had a long career, from supporting roles in Hollywood classics like An Affair to Remember, to guest roles on many a television series, from The Waltons to Webster.
Neva almost reads like one of those names that is slipping out of fashion. After peaking at #212 in 1898, Neva held on in the US Top 1000 nearly every year through 1963. She’s been rare ever since. But given the rise of Ava, Eva, and company, she may be poised for a renaissance.
Which brings us to one of Neva’s enduring drawbacks: does she rhyme with diva, or Ava? Forvo gives the pronunciation as the latter. You might even hear Neva’s -ev pronounced like the -ev in clever – or Nevada. She’s so little used that you can take your pick.
She’s simple, distinctive, and manages to feel both pan-European and vintage Americana at once. Especially for a winter-born daughter, Neva could be a perfect choice.