Baby Name of the Day: Nishma


moonlight

Moonlight; Image via Wikipedia

She’s an exotic obscurity that could mean moonlight, or maybe hello.

Thanks to Lou for suggesting Nishma as our Baby Name of the Day.

One of two things happen before I agree to write about a name.

More often than not, I recognize the name and immediately have a hunch about how I’ll write the post. But sometimes you stump me, and I set off to Google the name, searching ancestry.com or Facebook or Wikipedia to confirm that it is a name with some history of use.

Then there are those other times – the times when I think I recognize the name, but I’m wrong.

Nishma sounded instantly familiar, thanks to Nisha, a Subcontinent staple. Nisha comes from the Sanskrit and Hindi word for night, and like Priya, I’ve often wondered if parents without Indian heritage might consider her. After all, she sounds something like former Top 100 choice Alicia.

I expected to find Nishma just as easily. Not so.

In fact, I could barely find her. Iraqi journalist and human rights activitst William Warda has two daughters, Shlama and Nishma. And there she is, worn by real women on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter … Two actresses and a singer wear the name, too, though they’re little known in the US.

But where did she come from?

A few sites suggest that she means moonlight, but I can’t confirm that in a dictionary. Another possibility is bright, but again, that’s tough to confirm.

What does pop up, time and time again, is a Hebrew origin for the word: מה נשמע translates roughly to “what’s up?” It’s a casual greeting, and strikes me as something like naming your daughter Shalom.

Except there’s so much more to the word.

Na’aseh V’Nishma is the phrase the Jewish people say as they accept the Torah. The phrase translates to “we will do and we will hear.” It is spoken after Moses reads the Torah aloud. There’s a Torah study organization called NISHMA.

I would keep going, assuming that there was some link between the Hebrew term and the given name. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Nisha and the related Nishi were given to a few dozen girls in the US last year, but they’re clearly Indian names.

My best guess is that Nishma is, indeed, an Indian name of relatively recent coinage, and one that has origins that I can’t quite uncover without a working knowledge of Hindi.

So, I turn to you: anyone know a Nishma?

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23 Comments

Hey my name is Nishma jain and I have been looking for its meaning since years. Would be great to know it now and I was thrilled as I was reading ahead to find a meaning finally to it. . But so many different meanings and origins have left me unsure again.

Hi i am Nishma Cherian, doing my mba. My name was picked out by my father, he said it was from a arabic word but cant say for sure. One of my teachers who knew arabic said my name has arabic origins. Though i dont know the correct meaning for my name in arabic but do know that it means bright in hindi.

my name is Nishma and i had read in a book “parsi and muslim baby name and its meaning” there i found my name and the meaning was “soft hearted” and realy i am….. :):)

My name is Nishma it means ‘a ray of light in darkness’ or ‘unique’….I was very curious. To knw Wat my name meant….I found. Out the meaning. In one of the baby name books

My name is Nishma Badgami and I’m Nepali. Once when I was in Australia a Assuie guy said my name meaning is smooth air floating… Also he said it’s an Arabian meaning but still I’m looking for correct meaning…

My name is Nishma and i have seen several different meanings. In Hinduism it means ‘Bright’. In Hebrew it the ‘breath of God’ in Arabic it means ‘Star’ (spelt in a slightly different way). Im happy in the knowledge i have a name that is universal.
When someone does find out it’s true meaning please let us know!

My name is Nishma as well. I understood Nishma being Aramaic and stood for “breath of life”. When I was young Grandfather always said it was Indian and meant “star of heaven”. I also learned Nishma was a son of Ishmael and Malchuth in the bible.

This is an interesting name. If I saw it on paper I would assume Nishma was Arabic or Indian. It reminds me of Najma, which means star. Does anyone know if Nishma is supposed to be pronounced with a short or long I?

My friend Nishma – who’s of Indian origin incidentally – rhymes the first part of her name (Nish) with fish and wish, thus a short i sound. She has told me once, I seem to recall, saying that her name means star, thus the association with the Arabic word najmah is plausible. She could just have picked her favourite meaning and run with it though, especially since she lived in Saudi Arabia for a few years when she was younger. Either way, thanks for covering her Abby 🙂

Interesting! Without reading this, I would have guessed Nishma was Ojibwe. Not that I know anything about the language, but the “nish” element seems to occur in a lot of their words. For instance the word they use for themselves is Anishinaabe and the word for “younger sibling” is Nishime.

I went to college with a girl named Nishma Patel. I didn’t know her very well, she was a few years younger than me (making her in her early 20s) but we were both science majors in the same Honor societies. Now I wish I’d asked her about her name. 🙂

I know a Nepali man named Nima — I can see Nishma being a nickname for that. There’s also the name Naoise, pronounced “NEE-sha,” a Gaelic name, mostly used for males, though the one I know is female and I doubt Nishma’s related.

My gut response is that perhaps this is a shortened form or nickname for a longer name that has become popular in its own right, but I have absolutely nothing to back that up. I quick checked Afghan and some Farsi/Persian lists but only found it on a Hindi list. My problems with Indian, Persian, etc., name lists are that they contain a name and a translation. I long for the name and the little paragraph where it is translated, then significance and origin are explained and lastly nicknames are given. A name list is a tiny bite of cake when I want to eat a whole slice. Sigh. Now, I will always be keeping one eye out for Nishma.