Written by Linda Rosenkrantz for Nameberry.com
Ring out the old, ring in the new -- an auspicious beginning for babies born at this time of year, with its sense of freshness and hope and a new dawn dawning. We’ve split our name suggestions for New Year babes into three parts: names that mean happy, names that mean new, and even a couple that mean year. So put them all together, and you have HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Beatrice: The name Beatrice is defined as “she who brings happiness,” a wonderful aura to project onto a little baby Bea. A literary inspiration for Dante and Shakespeare, the classic Beatrice is definitely moving back into popularity. Sister-name Beatrix, as in the name of the creator of Peter Rabbit, is a livelier possibility.
Asher: The New Testament Asher means both happy and fortunate in Hebrew—a winning combination. The solid but sensitive biblical Asher, with its appealingly romantic nickname Ash, has been rising rapidly since the Millennium, and has now reached Number 113.
Farah: Farah is an exotic Arabic name meaning happiness and joy that became popularized here in the alternate Farrah Fawcett spelling during the Charlie’s Angels 1970’s. Farah Pahlavi was the last Empress of Iran; Princess Farah is a character in the Prince of Persia game trilogy.
Felix: A literal translation of the Latin word for ‘happy,’ Felix is a Nameberry fave that has moved far enough beyond its old Felix the Cat association to reach Number 311 on the national list. The feminine forms Felicity and Felicia share in the felicitous meaning.
Gwyneth: Just short of being a single-owner name via Oscar-winner Paltrow, Gwyneth, a Welsh name meaning ‘happiness’ or ‘shining, holy girl,’ deserves wider circulation. Some other Welsh girls’ names worthy of consideration: Bethan, Branwen, Carys, Olwen, Rhonwen and Tegan.
Leticia: Leticia and Letitia are modernizations of Laetitia, who was a Roman goddess of gaiety, though the original spelling is still commonly used in France. Leticia is one of those prim and proper mauve-tinted vintage names that’s easily enlivened by a sweet gold locket nickname -- Letty or Lettie.
Naomi: The somewhat serious biblical image of Naomi (despite its meaning of delight and pleasantness) has been softened and updated by such notable modern bearers as model Campbell, actress Watts, singer Judd and controversial writer Wolf. We also like the mellifluous Italian/ Spanish/Slavic/German version, Noemi.
Zelig: Zelig is a Yiddish variation of the rarely heard Hebrew-German Selig, meaning ‘happy, blessed,’ and which is sometimes used as a translation of Asher. To most of us, though, Zelig is strictly the transmogrifying Woody Allen character in the eponymous film -- even though his first name was actually Leonard.
Neo: Moving on to names that mean new, Neo, the Greek prefix signifying new or young, is the nom d’adventure of the charismatic protagonist (birth name Thomas A. Anderson) of The Matrix franchise, portrayed by Keanu Reeve. Neo could make a cutting-edge middle-name cousin for Leo and Theo.
Dagny: Dagny, a Scandinavian name meaning ‘new day,’ was brought to the attention of the international book-reading and movie-going public via the powerful character Dagny Taggert, in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. With the newfound interest in Scandinavian names going on, Dagny is accessible and appealing enough to catch on.
Nova: A nova is a star that suddenly becomes thousands of times brighter and then gradually fades away. As a name, Nova reentered the popularity list this year for the first time since 1938, part of a trendlet of celestial names that also includes Luna, Aurora and Orion.
Année: Since there are very few -- if any -- names that mean year, why don’t we just get creative and choose some other-language words that could conceivably be used as names. The French Année is similar enough to Annie and Aimée to be considered, and the Italian Anno could be a novel addition to the o-ending boys’ name group.
Plus, here are Nameberry’s predictions for baby names in 2013.