Daya rhymes with Maya, a Top 100 favorite for more than a dozen years.
Our Baby Name of the Day is inspired by the young pop singer who scored some serious hits in 2016.
Pittsburgh’s Grace Martine Tandon released her first studio album in October 2016 under her stage name, Daya. She’d only graduated from high school the previous June.
Music is nothing new for Tandon, however. She took her first piano lesson at the age of three, and eventually learned saxophone, flute, and guitar, too.
The newcomer has already been nominated for her first Grammy.
So where did she find her unusual mononym?
Tandon’s grandfather is Indian American. Her name means compassion, mercy, or kindness in Sanskrit. Maya, incidentally, also comes from Sanskrit.
But this name goes beyond simple virtue names like Faith and True.
Followers of the Sikh religion consider it a fundamental teaching, along with truth, contentment, humility, and love.
The concept exists in Hinduism, too. Different types of compassion are explained. Daya, in particular, represents the desire to relieve the sorrow and troubles of others.
The other types of compassion include anukampa and karuna. Karuna, you might recall, is the middle name of actress Uma Thurman. Her father, Robert Thurman, a professor of Buddhist Studies, chose her unusual names.
Daya: Masculine Name
Daya appears as a given name in many parts of the world – almost always for men. I found a nineteenth century Urdu poet, a twentieth century Indian philosopher, along with government officials, actors, and other notables from the last few centuries.
Perhaps that’s not a complete picture, though. I found a few cases where Daya is used as a woman’s name. In 1998, a Malayalam-language movie featured a female lead by the name. Daya rebooted traditional stories from One Thousand and One Nights. It reinvented Aladdin as a young woman rather than a man, while keeping the same historical setting. The movie won several Indian film awards.
On the other hand, Orange is the New Black has become a staple. It boosted the name of main character Piper, and may be lifting other names, too.
Dayanara Diaz answers to the nickname Daya. Her pregnancy becomes a major plot point during the first season, and she remains a central character right through the fourth season. With three more seasons in the works, the character’s adventures show no signs of ending.
Daya: By the Numbers
The name debuted in the US Social Security charts way back in 1964, when five girls received the name. By the 1980s, five or six girls received the name every year, and sometimes more.
The rise of Maya led a few more parents to discover this rhyming name. By the early 2000s, around twenty girls received the name every year.
OITNB debuted in 2013. By 2015, the name reached a new high – 42 girls in a single year.
With the singer becoming better known, and the television series remaining a fan favorite, it’s easy to imagine more parents hearing this name. Thanks to a great meaning and its similarity to Maya, odds are that it will appeal to many parents.
That said, 42 births in a single year remains well under the radar – and this name could just as easily fizzle before it catches on.
What do you think of Daya? Would you consider this name? Do you think it will catch on?
I named my daughter in 2004 Daya as a diminutive of Damyata, a Sanskrit word. Originally I pronounced it Dha-yuh, and out didn’t rhyme with anything. Unfortunately the only way people would pronounce it was DAY-yuh or DAY-uh, which are so close I didn’t bother to police people on. Still, none of those rhyme with Maya. It does go skiitng with Zendaya, though, and I’m surprised she’s not mentioned in the article.
A nickname we use is DayDay.
My name is Dayanara And allmost everyone give me the short name of iT, Day: not like toDay, but you say this name more like the rime of may. Dhay…
I would have intuitively said Day-ah as well. When I said this name out loud to someone it sounded more like Dire, which is unfortunate.
British American says
I’m not familiar with the singer, so I was saying the name Day-ah – like Dayna, but without the “n”. I thought it was a spin on Dayna.
So it’s more like Die=ah? Kind of like Diana without the “n”?
Not really my cup of tea.
Yes, like Die-ah, rhymes with Maya. Though it’s a good point that it could easily be confused for Day-ah, too.