Editor’s note: This post was originally published on July 14, 2008. It was substantially revised and re-posted on January 13, 2014.
She’s the Harry Potter character name most thoroughly embraced by Muggles.
Thanks to Unknown for suggesting today’s Name of the Day: Luna.
While Harry languishes at #718, Ronald hovers at a respectable #319, and Hermione flirts with oblivion outside of the Top 1000, Luna has steadily caught on, climbing to #223 in 2012.
Luna Lovegood first appears in the fifth book of the series, and initially she more than earns her nickname – Looney – with her conspiracy theories and unusual accessories. But by series’ end, she’s quite heroic.
The book was published in 2003, and Luna entered the US Top 1000 the same year. The movie followed in 2007, with Evanna Lynch cast as the quirky Hogwarts student. That year, the name was up to #453.
Mythological and astronomical names feature large in Rowling’s wizarding world, and Luna is both. The ancient Romans venerated Luna as goddess of the moon, and the word luna has referred to the planet for millennia. The same root gives us lunar, lunette (for the crescent moon), and lunatic – literally, moon-struck or moon-sick.
Ultimately, her roots can be traced back to the Latin lux or lumen for light. Like the fictional witch, madness is only at first glance. On closer examination, she’s almost as respectable as Lucy.
In fact, she qualifies as a vintage revival. Back in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Luna regularly ranked in the US Top 1000, peaking in 1881, and charting as late as 1921.
Hop a flight to Belgium and you’ll find Lunas aplenty on the playground, where she’s also spelled Louna.
She’s also a surname, a place name, and common name for fictional characters. And, of course, there’s the lime green luna moth.
My favorite reference is Luna Park – pictured above, in its glory days. The early amusement park at Coney Island inspired namesakes as far afield as Berlin and Budapest, Melbourne and Moscow, Tehran and Tel-Aviv, as well as across the US.
The amusement park was founded by Frederic Thompson and Skip Dundy. They first collaborated on a spacecraft-themed ride for the 1901 Pan-American Exhibition. The next year, the duo relocated the ride to Coney Island, and eventually built an entire park around it. The park could have been named for their signature ride – but it just so happens that Skip had a sister called Luna.
A fire destroyed the park in the 1940s, but it was rebuilt and re-opened in 2010, a mix of nostalgia and modern amusements.
High profile parents have embraced Luna:
- Uma Thurman and Arpad Busson welcomed daughter Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence in 2012. The couple reduced their daughter’s mouthful of a name to Luna.
- Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem chose the name for their daughter in 2013.
- Actress Constance Marie was an early adopter – her daughter arrived in 2009.
Between the admirable fictional character, her stylish sound, and her ties to the night sky, no wonder this celestial appellation is a stylish choice for parents in 2014. The only question is how popular she’ll become.