Thursday, January 12, 2006

Giving the Charm of Latino Names to Your Baby

There are two ways to name your child: The traditional approach, in which you simply decide which names sound best together and flow with your surname, and the more complicated approach of choosing a name for its meaning. This is certainly the more rewarding of the two, because it will be nicer to know your child's name suits his or her personality than to simply veer toward whatever names are popular at the time.

English American names are no longer the only choices for modern babies; Latino culture is rapidly becoming a huge part of America's cultural tradition. Even if you are not Hispanic, many Spanish boy and girl names have a deeper meaning and sound more unique than your average Tiffany or Brittany. "Paloma" and "Carlotta" create an illusion of foreign lands and are much more exotic names for your baby girl. If you are of Hispanic heritage and wish to give your new baby a name reflecting his or her cultural background, there are tons of choices. "Hip" names for Hispanic babies are easy to find!

Let's start with boys' names. There are two ways to take this approach. If you know that you want a name to have a specific meaning, check out a baby name website or book that allows you to choose a meaning, and it will tell you which names have this meaning. Say you want your son's name to mean something heroic like "defender of mankind" or "victory of the people." Then you have chosen Alejandro and Nicolas. Or perhaps you want a religious name. Here are some Christian names below, including saints' and Biblical names:

Abdias (servant of the Lord)
Cruz (cross)
Domingo (belonging to the Lord)
Macario (blessed)
Manuel (God is with us)
Salvador (Savior)
Sancho (sacred)

You also may want to take nicknames into account. Whether or not you want your son to have a nickname, chances are that his school friends will certainly give him some. If you choose to give a nickname, remember that Rafa may make a cute nickname for Rafael, and Mac could be a short nickname for Macario. If you make a nickname from your child's name first, other kids may not try to come up with names of their own! Let's keep going with some names choices. Do you like Biblical names with a Spanish twist?

Rafael (Angel Raphael) meaning "God has healed"
Miguel (Angel Michael) meaning "Who is like God?"
Andres (Andrew) meaning "manly"
Bartolome (Bartholomew) meaning "hill, mound or furrows."

Now it's time to name the girls! The same principles can apply here, but perhaps you would have like a soft and sweet meaning for your baby girl's name. "Marina" seems like a perfectly good Spanish name, but take into account that it means "man of the sea." If you are not concerned with meaning, it's a lovely name. You'll have to go searching for name meanings, but here are a few with some meanings of particular interest:

Adela (nicknames Adella, Dela, Adi) meaning "noble"
Anarosa meaning "gracious rose"
Catalina (nicknames Lina, Cat, Calina) meaning "pure"
Esperanza meaning "hope or expectation"
Graciela (nicknames Ella, Grace, Gracia) meaning "agreeableness or pleasantness"
Maravilla (the "v" is spoken as a "b") meaning "wonderful, marvelous"
Paloma meaning "dove"

If you want a religious name for your baby girl, either the Spanish form of a Bible name or a name with Christian or Biblical meaning, there are also tons of choices here:

Cristina meaning "a Christian"
Isabela (Elizabeth) meaning "God is my oath"
Josefa (feminine form of Joseph) meaning "God shall add"
Lourdes, a world-renowned Catholic shrine, has become a popular girl's name
Raquel (Rachel) meaning "ewe"
Santana (Saint Anne) combines the meanings of "holy" and "gracious"

In your quest for a Spanish baby name, don't overlook the ever-popular Maria! Just because you may not want another Maria in a family with dozens of Marias, doesn't mean you can't use the name; just make it different! For a few ideas, try Mariana, Maria del Pilar, Maria Josefa, or Mariah. For something else that is different, combine names. "Marisol" and "Maristela" still use the root name you want but will make your child unique. If you still want to name your daughter Maria, give her a nickname like Mari or Malita, and make the nickname the name that you most often use. Use your imagination and there will be no limits!