by Clare Green for Nameberry

Names meaning hope can be a source of optimism and positivity in an uncertain time.

Welcoming a baby into the world is a powerful act of hope… and if predictions of a December 2020 baby boom are to be believed, there could be a lot of hopeful people out there right now.

Parents through the ages have given their children optimistic names. You might especially think of the Puritans, who used virtue names like Hope and Grace (as well as ones that haven't aged so well, like Diffidence and Silence).

Sometimes such a name can signify that a child is a medical miracle, or born in difficult times. Sometimes it simply expresses our wishes for their future. We hope for a world in which Maverick will make changes, or Bear will still be able to see his namesake in the wild, or Charlie won't be pinned down by their gender, or Khadija will be proud of her heritage.


I can't put it better than Abby, our Name Sage, in her latest newsletter: "no matter how daunting our moment, I believe that naming is an act of optimism."

So if you're looking for a baby name that signifies better things to come, here are some ideas. Encompassing literal and subtle, popular and rare, and from around the world, there's a hopeful name for everyone.

Baby names meaning hope

The English language gives us the word name Hope, and other languages have their own equivalents. They could be a way to honor heritage or a special connection, as well as looking forward to the future.

The best-known are Nadia and Nadine, from the original Russian Nadezhda. For a male equivalent, Nadan is a Serbian and Croatian name from the same root. Amal Clooney bears a unisex Arabic name, and long before Game of Thrones, Asha was an Indian name with the same meaning.

Others include Spanish Esperanza, Icelandic Von (a feminine name), Finnish Toivo, Swahili Taraji, and Japanese possibilities like Kazuki and Nozomi. And let's not forget fictional languages: step forward Estel, from Tolkien's Elvish languages, and Laini Taylor's heroine Karou.

Baby names meaning new life

Nova, meaning "new", is a smash-hit name that perfectly sums up the hope a new child brings. Neo is the sci-fi version, and Nordic Dagny literally means "new day".

Dawn, while lovely, is more likely to be grandma's name than baby's nowadays. More in line with current trends are international variants like Alba, Aurora, Roxana and Vihan.

Names meaning life are undoubtedly optimistic, and many are firm favorites with parents, especially for girls. From Hebrew, there's the Eve family of names; from Greek, Zoe and all her variants; from Latin, Vivienne and co; and Scandinavian Liv.

Baby names meaning light

Light is a strong symbol of hope, and there's a wealth of names with light-related meanings.

Classic Lucy is part of a whole name family, including international Lucia, suave Lucian and modern Lux. Evergreen Helen and her variants may also come from light-related roots, and the Clara / Claire contingent have a similar meaning, "bright".

Noor is branching out into the mainstream, and unisex Kiran is a highly international option. Liora has a melodic sound that's right on trend now, and Abner is growing in popularity for its vintage-biblical style.Some of the best offbeat options include underused Irish gem Sorcha, and Faro, which means "lighthouse".

Baby names meaning hope

"Hope is the thing with feathers," as the poet Emily Dickinson wrote. If Feather itself is too much of a word name for you, you could try a name with a hidden feathery meaning, like Penna, Pluma or Quill.

There are plenty of bird names with positive meanings. Phoenix rises from the ashes. Lark heralds the morning. Dove is an ancient symbol of reconciliation and peace (along with its equivalents such as Callum, Jonah and Paloma). Chirpy songbird names like Robin and Wren are upbeat, and names with a more general meaning like Birdie, Avis, Aderyn and Enda strike a similar note.

Baby names meaning happiness

Names with a positive meaning signify hope for a child's future happiness. They include English word names like Joy and Blythe, and currently stylish names like Felix and Felicity.

Among the less common choices, we love Cornish twins Lowen and Lowena, vintage nickname Lettie, unusual biblical Tirzah, and streamlined Rafa, from Arabic roots.

Which of these names do you like? Would you consider using a name with a hopeful meaning?

This post was originally published on Nameberry.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.


Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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