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40+ baby names that mean hope and light

In times of stress and uncertainty, these baby names are a beacon of light.

baby names that mean hope

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.

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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.

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Tenth & Pine: Gender-neutral and butter-soft basics for littles + bigs

In 2016, after a stage four endometriosis diagnosis and a 10 year battle with infertility, Tenth & Pine founder Kerynn got her miracle baby, Ezra Jade. As a SAHM with a Masters in Business, she wanted to create a brand that focused on premium quality, function, comfort, and simplicity.

She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

Lucy Lue Organics: Sustainably and ethically-produced modern baby clothes

This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

Sontakey: Simple bracelets that speak your mind

Sontakey has been such a hit in the Motherly Shop that we knew it was time to expand the line. And since these beautiful mantra bands look so stunning stacked, more options = more fun.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

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@9_fingers_/Twenty20

As a mom, I say the phrase 'let me just…' to my kids more times a day than I can count.

Yes, I can help you log into your class, let me just send this email.
Yes, I can play with you, let me just make one more call.
Yes, I can get you a snack, let me just empty the dishwasher.

I say it a lot at work, too.

Yes, I can write that article, let me just clear my inbox.
Yes, I can clear my inbox, let me just finish this meeting.
Yes, I can attend that meeting, let me just get this project out the door.

The problem is that every 'let me just' is followed by another 'let me just'... and by the time they're all done, the day is over, and I didn't do most of the things I intended—and I feel pretty bad about myself because of it.

I wasn't present with my kids today.
I didn't meet that deadline.
I couldn't muster the energy to cook dinner.
The house is a mess. I am a mess. The world is a mess.

It's okay, I tell myself. Let me just try again tomorrow.

But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes and the list of things I didn't get to or didn't do well bears down on my shoulders and my heart, and all I can think is, "I am failing."

And I think that maybe I'm not alone.

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