Why talk about girl names that mean love?
If meaning matters, a name that means love is one of the most obvious choices. Not all of us exemplify Patience or Temperance. And I often wonder what it’s like to tell your toddler named Patience to wait!
Girl names that mean love aren’t exactly virtue names. Instead, a name that means love is promise and a wish.
Plenty of popular choices can claim this meaning: Mabel and Amy, as well as rising star Esme.
But for this Valentine’s Day, I went looking for rare names. Girl names that mean love and are currently outside the US Top 1000. In fact, most of these have never cracked the rankings.
Read on for ten rare, great girl names that mean love.
Amoret – Edmund Spenser invented many names for The Faerie Queene, and it’s almost always obvious what the character signifies. Amoret is no exception. It’s based on the Latin amor – love. Amoret is a bride in the poem, and represents the virtue of married love. No question, then, that this name belongs on a list of girl names that mean love. But how would it wear on a girl today? Girls’ names ending in -et and -ette are familiar, and Amoret picks up on past favorites like Amy and Amanda. I think it’s a win. In 2014, fewer than five girls were named Amoret, though there were ten girls named Amorette. The lovely Rubyellen at Cakies has four girls, including youngest daughter Glow Amorette.
Carina – Carina might be familiar to stargazers as a constellation, the keel of Jason’s ship in myth. It could also be a form of Karina, a nickname for Katherine in many a European language. But it makes this list because cara means beloved in Italian. Cara took off in the 1960s, though Kara is more popular today. Carina has been in the US Top 1000 in the past, and even cracked the Top 500 back in the 1990s. And yet it still feels quite rare. In an earlier generation, Carina might have become Carrie, but in 2016, I think it would be used in full.
Carys – Sometimes a celebrity chooses an unusual baby names and I think, “Ooh! That’s gonna be HUGE.” And sometimes I’m right. But when it came to Carys, I was completely wrong. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas named their daughter Carys back in 2003. Mom is Welsh, and Carys comes from the Welsh caru – love. It’s more common in the UK than the US, where it’s never cracked the US Top 1000. One possible hesitation? I rhyme Carys with Paris, but I’ve heard others say the ‘a’ sound differently. Still, Carys seems like a good mix of distinctive and interesting without being too out-there. It’s absolutely one of the great girl names that mean love!
Corazon – Corazon is the Spanish word for heart, making it a natural fit for a list of girl names that mean love. Except it’s not about romance. It’s actually a Marian name, a spiritual choice referring to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In Spanish, that’s Inmaculado Corazón de María. It’s been used for girls in the US in small numbers since the 1930s, and was given to eleven girls in 2014. It’s rare, and yet it feels accessible. It also fits in with all of the Cora names on the rise, like Cordelia and, of course, Cora.
Davina – David is an impeccable classic for a boy, nearly as evergreen as James and John. But none of the feminine forms of David have really caught on in the US. Davina is usually considered Scottish, and is more common in the UK. But why wouldn’t it work in the US? It’s a little bit like Ava and Olivia. And the meaning is great, too – David comes from a Hebrew word meaning beloved.
Elska – Elska was new to me last year, a name a parent asked about in a Saturday #namehelp post. As it turns out, Elska means love in Old Norse. (More or less. There’s a lot to this story!) Elska has a quirky-cool sound, somewhere between white hot Elsa and funky-clunky names like Lorna and Wilma. It’s rarer than even Amoret – it’s never been given to even five girls in a single year in the US!
Kalila – Kalila has been used for girls in the US in small numbers since the 1970s, around the same time the masculine Khalil started to rise. I assumed Kalila was a simplified form of Khalilah, the feminine form, and like those names, meant friend. But it appears that it’s the Arabic word for beloved – or perhaps lover. The name also appears in The Panchatantra, a collection of ancient fables, first written in Sanskrit. They’re all about animals, and the original version probably dates to around 200 BCE, but it’s been translated and changed over the years. Given our affection for names like Layla, Lila, and Delilah, it’s no surprise that Kalila was given to 38 girls in 2014, and make our list of girl names that mean love.
Kerensa – Kerensa means love in Cornish. It’s taken straight from the dictionary. British Baby Names traces the name’s usage to the nineteenth century, but in the US, it was first heard in the 1960s. The popularity of the unrelated Karen might have boosted Kerensa. But in 1965, Victoria Holt published a novel called The Legend of the Seven Virgins. It was the story of a village girl who aimed high. Her name? Kerensa Carlee. 1965 was also the first year that more than five girls were given then name in the US. It has never entered the US Top 1000, and remains very rare in the US – but with a straightforward spelling and sound, Kerensa should still be on the right side of wearable.
Philomena – In 1802, the remains of a young woman were found in the catacombs of Rome. Based on the inscription on her tomb, it was believed that she had died a martyr under Diocletian, and that her name was Philomena. Over the years, others suggested that the inscription may have been misunderstood. Many Greek names start with Philo, and philomene is the Greek word for loved. Whether it was an error or not, Philomena is still considered a saint, and the name remains familiar but rare. Just 64 girls were given the name in 2014, but that’s still a big increase from recent years. If long, lovely names for girls are your style, this could be one to consider.
Priya – Priya means beloved in Sanskrit, and the while the name is common elsewhere, it’s never cracked the US Top 1000. On long-running comedy The Big Bang Theory, Priya is the younger sister to Raj, which may make it more familiar. But the name comes from Hindu legend, making it far older – and more significant – than any American television show. With its easy sound and long history, Priya seems like an easy culture-spanning choice. The great meaning is just another bonus.
What’s your favorite of the girl names that mean love? Are there other names that you would add to this list?