Lumi: Baby Name of the Day

Snow Cat

Snow (Photo credit: clickclique)

She’s a seasonal pick rare in the US.

Thanks to Shannon for suggesting Lumi as our Baby Name of the Day.

Lumi means snow in Finnish, putting her in the company of names like Neve and Neva, names that mean snow but don’t scream snow, like, well … Snow.  Or Winter or Frost or other plausible names that conjure up weather well-suited for dashing through.

In fact, Lumi sounds more like illumination and luminous – a different meaning, but a solidly positive one.  Names associated with light are pleasing to many parents.  And if you want to stretch a point, Esperanto – a language invented in the nineteenth century – does use lumi as its word for light.

But lumi is a Finnish word, and Finnish is a quirky tongue, unlike most other European languages.  Popular girls’ names include vowel-rich appellations like Aada, Aino, and Siiri, each of which looks like the tiniest bit like a typo.  But Lumi is easy to say in English without sacrificing any of the name’s authenticity.

As you might guess, snow is big in Finland.  According to the country’s meteorological institute, the first flakes fall in in late August or early September in Lapland, the northernmost part of Finland.  Helsinki is just behind Reykjavik for the title of northernmost world capital.  You’re likely to find snow in Finland much of the year – more than half of the year in Lapland, and more than a quarter of the year in other parts.  Snow isn’t just a weather event.  It’s a way of describing the landscape.  As names go, this almost puts her in the company of Prairie and Lake.

Lumi has never been in the US Top 1000, and was given to just seven girls born in the US last year.  She’s equally rare in Scandinavia, though I can’t tell if that’s because she’s a modern innovation or for other reasons.  Lumi appears in the official Finnish name list, and she’s most common in Finland, along with some uses in Sweden.

Her oo sound might be her biggest selling point.  From the current US Top 1000, there’s:

  • TheJul- family: Julia, Juliana, Julianna, Juliet, and Juliette, plus Julissa and Julianne.
  • Top 100 pick Lucy, plus tons of ways to get to Lucy, from Lucinda to Lucienne.
  • In the Top 200, there’s Ruby.
  • A big higher up in the rankings, we find Lucia and Luna.
  • Vintage revival candidates Ruth and June.
  • Imports like Zuri and Luz sneak into the upper end of the rankings, too.

Just outside, there are other possibilities, like the zippy Lulu, the retro Trudy or the classic Judith and Louisa.

Overall, Lumi would fit right in, her sound stylish and her name easy to explain.  If you’re looking for a subtle name for a daughter born in winter, Lumi is one to consider.

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5 Comments

I am of Finnish heritage and my daughter named her daughter, my granddaughter, Lumi. She was born on leap day, Feb. 29, 2012, It is a lovely name and sometimes I call her “luminescence”.

It’s also an affectionate diminutive for” Luminitza”, Romanian female name,meaning “small light”;derived from “lumina”(light).That’s how my close friends call me.