Dandelion by rambletamble via Flickr

I recently had a reader request a list of names that mean wished-for child.  It’s a lovely, thoughtful meaning, and for so many families, a reflection of their journey.

It also isn’t a very Western meaning.  Light and bright, yes.  Battle-ready, sure.  References to animals and nature?  They’re abundant.

But the more poetic meanings can be elusive, turning the search away from Germanic, Latin, and Greek roots to Eastern-leaning ones.  That might not trouble you in the least – there are plenty of reasons to sidestep conventional Western choices.  The list is far richer for girls than boys – but that’s so often the case.

My only hesitation is that so many of these names have debated origins.  Perhaps it isn’t really a list of names that mean wished-for child … as much as it is a list of names lots of parents truly hope carry that auspicious meaning.

Amani – She’s a frequent entry on lists about this meaning, but the Swahili dictionary seems to indicate that amani translates to peace.  Could there be a separate meaning, either in another language or in a sense of the word native speakers understand?  Besides wish, I’ve also seen references to amani meaning safety – which seems consistent with peace.

Asha – She does indeed mean wish or hope in Sanskrit, as well as life in Swahili – making her a doubly-appropriate choice for some parents, as well as one that fits with recognizable English given names, from Ashley to Asher to Sasha.

Ava – She’s so mainstream that few will consider the possibility that her name was chosen for meaning.  And in fairness, Ava and company’s origins are a guess.  She might come from the Germanic element avi – desire.  This means Aveline, Avila, Evelyn, and all of those related names could possibly claim same meaning.  If you’re looking for a mainstream choice, she’s the logical pick.

Desiree – Another name that means desired, this time literally.  She’s a French appellation from the Latin Desideratus, the name of a sixth-century saint.  Desiree feels slightly dated – she peaked in the US in the 1980s – but it is tough to beat if you’re seeking a name that clearly indicates this meaning.  She’ll also share her playground with lots of little mademoiselles, like Genevieve and Vivienne, so her slightly frilly name will probably fit right in.

Hope – Exactly as it appears, Hope is a virtue name and an expression of desire, too.

Kayin – I can’t quite unravel this name, which seems to be Yoruba and has been repeated in a dozen message board threads.  Native speakers contend that this is a short form of longer names – and possibly should be spelled Kanyin.  I suspect the origins are a little different, though this likely appeals to parents seeking a modern name with this meaning.

Maram – Said to mean wish in Arabic, the only use I could find was a thoroughbred.  It also seems that Maram might mean wish in the sense of attainment of a goal – appropriate for a prize-winning horse, but possibly less so for a child.  Still, the sound is intriguing – exotic and tailored at once.

Miriam – Among many of her possible meanings, ranging from bitter to beloved to rebellious, one of Miriam’s speculated meanings is wished-for child.  Thus she’s the inspiration for a long list of the names that usually occupy these lists: Mariam, Maria, Marie, Mary, Molly, and even Mia – sometimes a diminutive of Maria – can all be listed with the meaning.  Is it legitimate?  Maybe.

Samuel – This might be a little bit of a stretch, but one of the interpretations of Shemu’el is that he means God has heard.  It’s indirect, but if you’re spiritual, it could be a great way to honor a long-awaited child.  It is also the first solidly masculine name on this list, though Kayin strikes me as male, too.  For girls, there’s always  Samantha.

Venya – Is she a Sanskrit name that means wished for, or a short form of Venyamin, the Russian version of Benjamin?

Would you use any of these names, or are there other ways to celebrate the arrival of a long awaited child?

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. I have cousins who are sisters named Amani and Maram, how funny! Now I need to ask my aunt if she was really in to meanings or something. I do know that the Arabic word for ‘Hope’ is a pretty common girls name: Amal, though I think spelled Emmel is a better transcription.

  2. I feel like Isaac should also be on this list, as the long-awaited son of Abraham and Sarah.

    His name means “laughter”, which I also think is something I would be doing a lot of if I were to finally conceive after all this time. 🙂