velaA bunch of unusual v- names have come up over the years – Vada and Neva and Vesper, too.  Today’s choice is another intriguing possibility.

Thanks to Shelby for suggesting Vaela as our Baby Name of the Day.

There’s a long list of possible origins and meanings for Vaela, especially if you’re willing to include Vela and Vala as related spellings:

  • Vela is an Italian word meaning sail or sailing, from the Latin.
  • Vela is the Portuguese word for candle.
  • Vela may have some use as a Sanskrit name meaning coast, as in the shoreline.
  • The Old Norse væla meant a lament or cry – it is the source of our word wail.
  • In Finnish, vala is an oath.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  But my first thought had nothing to do with sailing or wailing … I wondered where J.K. Rowling came up with the idea of a veela.  Remember?  In The Goblet of Fire, future Weasley wife Fleur Delacour is part-Veela, a girl of captivating beauty.  Rowling’s veela are taken straight out of Slavic folklore – beautiful, nymph-like creatures with the ability to transform into fierce warrior creatures when provoked.  (The Harry Potter veela turn into birds.)   Rowling wasn’t the first to take inspiration from the idea, either – there’s the ballet Giselle, as well as a Puccini opera and countless modern references.

A minor character in Stargate SG-1 answered to the name Vala Mal Doran.  I was about to dismiss her as a rarity that no others would consider – except there were thirteen girls named Vala in 2011, compared to a dozen Velas.

But back to the nautical reference – if you look into the night sky, there’s a constellation called vela.  Vela has nothing to do with the enchanting creatures of Slavic myth.  Instead, Vela resembles a sail.  When Ptolemy recorded the constellations in the second century, he grouped Vela with a larger constellation – the Argo Navis, the ship of Jason and his Argonauts.  Since then, Argo Navis has become three constellations – the sails, Vela; the keel, Carina; and the stern, Puppis.

This could make Vela the most wearable of the spellings, an astronomical name on par with Luna and Stella.

But that’s not really the story here.  Vaela, Vala, and Vela are all about the letter v.  From Olivia to Ava and Avery, Victoria to Violet, the sharp, edgy letter v is in favor.  While some parents prefer their v in a more restrained, conventional name – Evelyn or Eva, perhaps – there are plenty who prefer a more modern choice.  Names like Vela and Vaela probably appeal to parents seeking something fresh and distinctly different.  For while Vaela may have roots in navigation or mythical creatures or other stories,, what really makes her Name of the Day worthy is her appealing, on-trend sound.
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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. This is weird to find! My fiance and I named our daughter this without finding it anywhere back in April of 2012. Just curious how old you are (to the Vaela that is obviously old enogh to reply)? 🙂 Beautiful name by the way… I may be biased.

  2. Vaela is a gorgeous name! One that I haven’t come across before (which is always exciting). My problem is it almost rhymes with my #1 name for a girl, which would make it too much to use in a sib-set with my favorite name. I still would love to meet someone named this one day.

    1. Haha my name is Vaela. I know this is a year old but thought I’d reply anyway in case anyone else comes across this page. I love my name. People have a hard time saying it but it doesn’t bother me. Go for it people, I’ve never ever met or heard of another Vaela. There should be more of us!

  3. Although not my style I certainly see the appeal. Definitely adding this one to my list for parents who are looking for something unusual.

  4. Thank you for this feature! I love it and am adding it to our list. It is beautiful and spot on with the current V trend!

  5. I like Vaela, very interesting astrological and nautical name. Vaela also makes me think of Haela, an Icelandic verb meaning “to praise” and a Norse word meaning “hero”.

  6. P.S. I would pick the spelling that most closely matches the pronunciation one wants.

    Vah-lah (Vala), Vay-lah (Vaela or Vaila), Vell-a (Vela)

    1. Interesting. I would pronounce Vaela vai-ee-la, Vala either vah-la or vay-la, and Vela like vee-la or or vay-la.

      It’s a pretty name, although my first thought was also the Veela from HP.

  7. Oh, Vela and Carina would make a wonderful sibset. (As would Vesper and Carina.) Argo and Navis could be their brothers.

  8. Thanks Abby for spotlighting this name! We came across it when searching for a girl name that could be little sister to a big sister Vesper. We love Vesper’s name so much it has been difficult to find something we we feel is on par with it- you know, that ever elusive name that many name enthusiasts want –> something that is unique but not unusual and easy to say upon seeing it written!