Today’s name falls somewhere between trendy nouveau coinages and undiscovered gems.
Thanks to Racheli for suggesting Rayna as our Baby Name of the Day.
There are names that have a clear, single origin – the poetic Pamela, the Scandinavian Astrid. Rayna just isn’t one of them.
She has multiple possible spellings, and a bunch of meanings, too:
- She’s the Bulgarian form of Regina, a name related to the Latin rex – king. Regina means queen, but thanks to a second century saint and Regina’s connection to Mary, she takes on a certain Catholic vibe, too, making her as saintly as she is regal;
- While we’re still in Bulgaria, there’s a cluster of names all related to rad – care. A man named Radomir or Radomil might answer to Radko as a diminutive; Radka is the feminine form. In Bulgarian, Rayno and Rayna are also used;
- Rai is a Bulgarian word for paradise. Perhaps that helps explains the popularity of Raina;
- In Yiddish, Reina is related to their word rein – pure. Because of a shared meaning and similar ending, Reina is sometimes listed as a Yiddish form of Katherine;
- Reina literally means queen in Spanish. This takes us back to where we started with Regina, and, in English, it is slightly more subtle than naming your daughter Princess.
Rayna has been on the fringes for a while, slowly gaining use. She charted in 1976 at #913, again in 1996 at #994, and has ranked every year since 1999. Her most popular year so far was 2008 when she made it all the way to #757.
She might just catch on. Consider:
- From Olivia to Willow, names with a link to nature are quite popular. While our word rain isn’t linked to any of the meanings above, Rayna’s sound gives her a meteorological vibe. Storm charted for boys in the 1990s. Misty peaked at #40 in 1970. It’s not a total stretch to put Rayna in their company.
- Then there’s the name blob: Kayla, Leyla, Kylie, Miley, Rylee, Raylee. Rayna sounds like part of that trend. While some parents have grown weary of the these sound-alikes, Jayden, Hailey, and many other members of the tribe rose in 2010.
There is a literary Raina, the heroine of George Bernard Shaw’s 1885 play “Arms and the Man.” While the play has faded into obscurity, there’s always the possibility of a revival. But Shaw’s Reina pronounces her name rah EE nah.
A handful of other uses includes:
- A contestant on VH-1‘s Flavor of Love, and another on America’s Next Top Model;
- One of the the Flutterfield fairies in the direct-to-video film Barbie Mariposa;
- A minor character in the extended Dune universe.
The references feel a little lightweight, but there are some inspiring 20th century namesakes: a pioneering Bulgarian aviatrix, Rayna Kasabova, and soprano, Raina Kabaivanska.
And the list would be incomplete without Rayna Knyaginya, the Bulgarian Betsy Ross, a nineteenth century revolutionary who did jail time for sewing the fledgling nation’s flag. She’s the fierce woman in the black and white portrait in this post, and I can’t imagine her answering to Cailei.
That’s me 1970 (1/100) day of birth.
Without a solid character, doom!
Surrounded by the envious and the boys threatened by the air that accompanies the sound, Truth, loved by God.
I was looking up this name and found Reyna was a more common spelling, and would be cute with star wars nick name Rey, but right there with Rayna. I also like Reina and Raina! So torn.
Am I being really dumb? Is there a way to pull up the full blurb for this? I don’t see anything beyond:
“Thanks to Racheli for suggesting Rayna as our Baby Name of the Day.
There are names that have a clear, single origin – the poetic…”
And it’s killing me, since its our number 1 leading pick for a girl – except we’re conflicted on which spelling – and I want to know what you said! (I love your stuff by the way, slightly obsessed!)
Sorry if this is being a pain. I searched it up in light of the new thing on Rory, its not on the master list.
How did you end up spelling it!?
Charlotte Sofia says
Oh, my 15-year-old cousin is named Rayna Blue. I’ve always felt like it was sort of annoying (her mom isn’t … the person I admire most in my life), but lately it’s grown on me. Blue is in an interesting middle name, unique at least, and cute. She is a gorgeous, tall, and lithe teenager with almost-black hair and bright blue eyes — it seems like the name suits her.
I do like Blue in the middle spot – good to hear that your cousin’s name suits her!
The only spelling I would ever use is Reina because of the Spanish word, but I would feel weird naming a child Queen, so I probably wouldn’t use Reina. I guess people who didn’t grow up around Spanish wouldn’t have this problem.
What serendipity! I just watched this video of a woman named Rayna who was at a Paul Simon concert in Toronto and called out that she had learned to play guitar to his song Duncan – he called her on stage and she got to play – it’s a great video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXBlY5CImUU&feature=related
I love Rayna, but I prefer the Reina/Raina spellings. Rayna just looks trendy.
When I was in the seventh grade we got a transfer student with this name, and I immediately fell in love with the sound of it. I like the spelling Raina because of the nature connection, but I like Reina because of [what I feel is] the clarity of pronunciation.
I have seen Reign and Reigna as well. I like the sound but its not for me.
It’s a beautiful name, although I prefer it spelled Raina. The first baby name book my mother owned, and the one that I read over and over again, was Lareina Rule’s “Name Your Baby.”
Oh, I know that book! I wonder if being a Lareina is what set her on her path? It’s a wildly unusual name.
I thought the same thing! Lareina Rule – “the queen” rules. I bet her parents had fun with that.
I love Reina. I wasn’t even aware of the Yiddish connection, which makes it all the more a better choice for me. I always liked that it had a queenly vibe. I also like Regina, but the unfortunate ending of that name has too much potential to lead to teasing in middle school.
I think if I were pregnant, this one would be on my list.
Lou @ Mer de noms says
I remember seeing this name spelt Raena once, but the spelling Reina is for me, since it sidesteps the probelm of looking like an elaboration of Rain (for me anyways), although the name would be vaguely ironic for a British baby 😉