With springtime just around the corner and sunnier days to come, I’ve been thinking about names that mean light or bright.
Then again, I think about names that mean bright and light during fall bonfires, the winter holidays and in the height of summer, too. As meanings go, the glowing girls are definitely among my favorites.
They’re also plentiful, and so this week’s Fetching Names list is dedicated to girls’ names that glow.
Aberash – This Amharic rarity attracted international attention with actress Mary-Louise Parker adopted daughter Caroline Aberash from Ethiopia in 2007. She answers to Ash. While my Amharic is completely non-existent, around the time Ash came home, a number of sources reported that Aberash meanings “giving off light.”
Bertha – Bertha feels heavy, but she is derived from the Germanic element beraht – bright.
Cassandra – She’s an ill-fated Trojan princess. The first half of her name is related to a Greek word meaning shining. Cassandra – and Cassidy and Cassie – had a good run in the 80s and 90s, but I think she’s still wearable today.
Chandra – A Sanskrit name that means moon, she caught on in the US in the 50s, and remained in use into the early 90s. Former Congressional intern Chandra Levy’s murder in 2002 made national headlines, and probably still colors parents’ perception of the name.
Claire – The French form of Clara, she’s a tailored option very much in favor these days.
Clara – A saintly Latin choice on the rise in recent years, Clara comes from clarus – clear, bright. She’s vintage, sweet, and has a built-in ballet connection.
Elanor – Clara and Elinor could be sisters. Eleanor, too. But this spelling actually takes us to the stories of Tolkien. She’s Samwise’s firstborn, her name suggested by Frodo. Little Elanor is born with golden hair – rare amongst hobbits – so Frodo suggests Elanor – the name of the sun-star flower. The spelling might be a headache, but she’s geek chic without being as over the top as another shining Lord of the Rings appellation, Galadriel.
Eloise – This is a stretch, but with so many parents considering Eloise, it might be one worth making. Eloise almost certainly comes from Germanic elements with a totally other meaning. But folk etymology links her to the Greek helios – sun. If you’re set on a celestial appellation, you might consider the rarer Heloise to strengthen the connection.
Keren – A Hebrew appellation with multiple possible meanings, she makes this list because one of them is ray, as in ray of light.
Leocadia – An obscure third century Spanish saint, Leocadia relates to the Latin leukos – light. Beyond her attractive meaning, there are several current favorites embedded in Leocadia – Leo, Leah, Cady, and Kate are all plausible short forms, but in our Isabella age, she might not need one.
Lucasta – Another Latin possibility, this one first surfaces in the seventeenth century thanks to a poet called Richard Lovelace. Lovelace pined for a woman named Lucy, so he coined Lucasta from the phrase lux casta – pure light.
Lucy – Along with Claire and company, she’s the most mainstream of the glowing girls. Parents love Lucy, and plenty of elaborations like Lucinda and Lucienne are popping up on lists of possibles.
Luna – Like Chandra, she references the moon – and Harry Potter.
Lux – The sparest option on this list, she’s simply the Latin word for light. The Spanish Luz is similar, but picks up an undercurrent of Roman Catholic saint, thanks to her association with another epithet for Mary, Our Lady of the Light. Like many an ends-in-x name, Lux could be a gender neutral option, though The Virgin Suicides character is current enough to make this generation of parents consider her a girl’s name – and perhaps an unlucky one.
As so often happens with these lists, there are too many good options to fit into one post! Would you use a name that glows? If so, are you more attracted to the popular picks, like Claire and Lucy, or do you prefer the more obscure names?