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 Germany – Melina, 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.