Is she a modern coinage? A traditional diminutive able to stand on her own? Or something else entirely?

Thanks to Laney McDonald for suggesting the elusive Alina as Name of the Day.

In past posts, readers have (mostly) agreed: despite their roots as short forms, Nina and Lena wear well independently, too. If that’s the case, the three-syllable Alina ought to feel even more substantial.

Plenty of names lend themselves to Alina:

  • Rarities covered here, like Evelina and Sumarlina;
  • Popular picks like Angelina (#69 in 2008) as well as up-and-comers like Carolina (#355) and imports like Magdalena (#903).
  • It’s a stretch, but virtually any name ending in -line, from Madeline (#56) and Caroline (#94) to Evangeline (#450) might adopt Alina, too.

In the midst of these choices, you’ll find Alina herself, ranked #245, as well as variant Alena at #686. Depending on the guide, you’ll find both versions listed as nicknames for Adelina, Helena, Maddalena and more.

But there’s also a long list of similar choices that are current – and viewed by many as modern, even original. Think of:

  • Alaina – sometimes listed as a variant of Elena or Elaine;
  • Alana – usually linked to the male Alan;
  • Alyssa – now fading, she was once as popular as can be, while fairytale Alice languished.

And that’s without considering names like Allison, Alexis or yet another version of one of the above.

There are nearly as many possible meanings for Alina and company as there are origins. (A few include Romanian for soothing; Germanic or Arabic for noble; Greek for light.) On the one hand, if you’re looking for a name with a positive meaning, take your pick. But if you hope to have a rock-solid explanation for your chosen name’s meaning? Look elsewhere.

Given all of her possible origins, you’ll hear multiple pronunciations, too.

Most bearers of the name are Eastern European – a Ukrainian gymnast, a Romanian ballerina, a Russian violinist, a member of the Polish parliament.

I’m guessing, but I imagine that many Eastern European Alinas answer to Alinka or Alenka. In the US, she’d probably be Ali – choose your spelling.

You can find the name in use globally and throughout history:

  • Alina Fernández is the illegitimate daughter of Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and an outspoken critic of her father’s regime – her memoir has been optioned for a movie;
  • There was a seventh century Belgian saint named Alena;
  • The Normans bestowed Aline as an independent given name, and brought her to England. You’ll find Aline, Alina, Adelina, Adela and more in use through the fifteenth century;
  • She’s currently popular in GermanyMelina, Celina, Helena and Annalena are all heard, too.

Does this make her pan-global, or just plain rootless? That depends on your perspective. If Alina appeals as a means to honor your Romanian roots without choosing something decidedly Slavic, then she’s probably just international enough. But if you’re looking for a name that is definitively Celtic or Arabic or Russian? Alina isn’t quite the one.

Still, she’s a nice compromise between the antique and the modern – feminine but not frilly and current but not trendy.

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. My name is Maree (like Marie) Alena. My dad wanted a variation of a song he loved called Maria Elena(??) I was born in 65 and don’t know the song. Wish I did. 🙂

  2. We just named our baby girl Alina. My husband is Arab and I am of Polish heritage and we live in the US. We think it is a great name that honors her mixed heritage and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the name.

  3. we have two girls: ayla and amira. we are expecting baby girl #3 and are strongly considering alina. i found a website that said that alina(h) was arabic for “noble”. it would be a perfect addition to our other girls’ names which are also hebrew/arabic

  4. My aunt’s name is Alina! She’s called Alina, no nickname now, but when she was a kid people called her Ala. We’re from Poland, and so Alina was called a Polish nickname, Ala. Ala is also a nickname for the name Alice/Alicia (in Poland, at least).

  5. If ou do know an Eastern European woman with this name, make sure you do not call her Alika. Just adding the -ka to a name is highly offensive. However, you can call her Alinka or Alinchka, but only if you are close to her. It would be good to ask her permission for you to call her this as well.

  6. My name is Alina! But I am in the USA, not Poland or places where it’s more common. I was looking to find a nickname for someone named Alina, any ideas? Anyway, love this article! hahaha and you all that commented have absolutely beautiful names!
    Sincerely Alina (:

    1. Hi Alina – besides the obvious Ali and Lina, how ’bout Lia or Lin? Neither are a stretch. There’s also Lila, Lilou, Alix, Nina or Laney – all a bit more of a reach. Are you buy chance Slavic in any way? You could go with their practice – I think you’d be Alenka. There’s something rather exotic and substantial about the added k – IMHO.

    2. My name is Alina. I’m from Ukraine. Short form for my name is Alya. Sometimes i can be called Alinka. But it is not Slavic name it is Greek name.
      Alena (Alenka) is totally other name. You think it is similar only because of difference in languages. You just don’t have sound in English for letter E, that is used in Slavic languages.

    3. hey! my name is alina 2 but im from russia. my sister calls me alik or alinka wich is a short and cute nickname!

  7. She has a fairly rich heritage and history, but I find Alina’s sound simply too bland for my tastes.

  8. I love Alina either as a stand-alone name or as a nickname. a-LEE-na, so pretty and feminine. Catalina is another name she can be short for.

  9. I’ve always liked the name Alina, its quite common in Poland. From what I understand, Alina is a form of Adeline, while Alena is a Czech contraction of Magdalena. I have read elsewhere that Alina could be a form of the Arabic Alima. There is also the French form Aline, which was made popular by 1950s pop sensation Christophe when he sang the song entitled Aline.