She’s the 1980s version of Bella, or maybe a feminine form of Shane.
Thanks to Sebastiane for suggesting Shayna as our Baby Name of the Day.
Review the Top 100 in 1980: there’s Shannon for girls; Sean, Shane, Shaun, and Shawn for boys, without counting names like Ashley or Joshua. The shh sound was no secret.
Only Joshua and Ashley are still holding on in 2012, and both are falling. Just like the long -a of Mason and Ava will someday feel dated, the once ahead-of-the-curve sh now bears the stamp of another era, though names like Shiloh can still sound fresh.
And yet Shayna has some advantages over, say, Sheila or even Shaylee.
First, unlike the former Top 100 Sheila, Shayna was never wildly popular. She charted from the 1970s through 2008, but never reached higher than the 300s. She could be a feminine form of Shane, a name that first caught on after the 1953 Western flick. Or she could be a cousin for Hailey and Kayla. Invented name Shayla still ranks in the US Top 1000.
But perhaps her greatest strength is her meaning. Shayna comes from the Yiddish word for beautiful, just like Jolie or Bella derive from the French and Italian equivalents.
You’ll find Shayna listed as Hebrew, but that’s not so. She’s Yiddish, and Yiddish is a younger language – it is first recorded in the tenth century – and Germanic in origin. The German word schön – beautiful – gives some hint to Shayna’s roots. The vowel sound in schön isn’t quite the long -ay of Shayna, but comes close.
Yiddish faded in Western Europe while it continued to thrive in the East. Perhaps that’s why we can find Shayna equivalents in Polish and Russian, but she’s seldom heard in, say, France.
I found a lovely name story on a blog called Rabbi in the Middle of America. (Nebraska, to be exact.) His Zoey Shayna is named after a Polish-born grandmother called Chaya Shayndle, confirming that the name was in use in the early twentieth century.
There’s also A Shayna Maidel – a pretty girl – the work of playwright Barbara Lebow, a drama about Holocaust survivors, originally performed in the 1980s, then adapted for television in 1992. The title was changed to Miss Rose White for the television version, or perhaps Shayna would have gotten an even bigger boost. Herman Wouk gave the name to one of his characters in The Hope, too.
Unlike Hadassah or Tzeitel, Shayna has a history of use outside of Jewish families. In fact, her sound makes her an easy export, a great option for parents seeking a name that can honor their heritage without sounding out of step with modern appellations. Variant spelling Shana would cause pronunciation challenges, but Shaina is another possibility.
There are plenty of 20-something and older Shaynas these days, some Jewish, but many not. Reviewing a list of Shaynas suggests that’s she quite portable. Her sound is slightly dated, but her meaning endures. It makes Shayna a viable option for parents seeking that elusive similar-but-different name.
Image credit: I Love Shayna Mesh Hats by Name_Gear Create your own trucker hat at Zazzle
Another wat to spell the Yiddish Shayna is Sheina, of which a pet form is Sheindel.
You all are just hating. Shayna is a BEAUTIFUL name. Thank you Mommy!!!
Shayla is a type of headscarf, long and rectangular, typically sold in the West as a pashmina or shawl. It’s hard for me to see that as a name since that’s what I typically wear.
Thanks for posting this. I have never thought of it as a dated name since it was never common. It never even got as popular as Bella has. I agree that Shana to me is (SHAH-nah).
Agree with Shannon. Shayna, Shayla…these have to be some of my least favorite names ever. I remember being skeptical when Charlotte got up in arms over her friend stealing Shayla on Sex in the City. It seemed such an unlikely choice for the ever classy Charlotte.
I was never the biggest fan of SATC, but that episode was my first thought when I saw today’s NOTD. The names the character actually choose for her daughters were much more fitting.
My husband’s stepdad has a new great-niece named Shaylee. I’m not a fan of the Shay+ random suffix, but at least Shayna has history as a name.
I remembered Charlotte’s name as Shayna … and I agree, Shayla isn’t a Charlotte name. Neither is Shayna!
Cannot get into Shayna, at all. The sh sound plus the y……just can’t like it.
C in DC says
Shayna brings to mind the scene between Jennifer Gray (“Jean”) and Charlie Sheen in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
C in DC says
Oh, and it’s interesting that the screenwriter named the sibs Ferris and Jean. Does that make any sense?
I grew up with many Shane/Shayne’s, but never met a Shayna. At first glance she seems made up, surprised it’s a legit name. As for Shayla, its the pronounciation of Sheila in several latin languages, I wonder if people wanted to translate it’s sound into english maybe?
Sheina Lilith is my “Hebrew” name — I put that in quotes because Sheina is Yiddish & Lilith is Akkadian…*insert smilie with rolling eyes here* I’ve always adored the sound of Sheina, but I only like it spelled my way. I worked with a Shana years ago & her spelling really annoyed me [since that’s SHAH-nuh to me].
To me Shanna is SHAH-nah.
Yiddish is so hard to spell with our alphabet.
To me Shanna is SHAN-uh, rhyming with Anna. 😀
I grew up with a Shana, pronounced the same way. Of course, being Jewish, the term shayna maidela is very familiar. I’d never use this name, though, especially spelled with a Y. That sound, that long A found on all the latest trendy names, it makes me roll my eyes.
I grew up with a Shana, pronounced the same way. Of course, being Jewish, the term shayna maidela is very familiar. I’d never use this name, though, especially sealed with a Y. That sound, that long A found on all the latest trendy names, it makes me roll my eyes.