Modern poets hum and haw about love being in the air, but rarely are they being literal. We see love in the physical affections of one being to another, but, how often do we step back and notice the meaning behind what we see – or in this case, what we hear! Sometimes, what’s in a name isn’t that which is a rose, it’s love itself! With February, the month of love, being right behind us, let us reminisce in 12 names that remind us what love is.
Also known as Mara, Kamadeva is the Hindu god of human love.Deva means heavenly or divine while Kama roughly translates to "desire" or "longing", especially in the form of sensual or intimate love. What is most interesting about Kamadeva is that he is an adult male as opposed to female (like Aphrodite) or an innocent, child-like cherub (like Cupid, ignoring Eros for a moment).
Kamadeva is represented as a young, handsome winged man with green skin and a curly moustache who also wields a bow and arrows. His bow is made of sugarcane with a string of honeybees, and his arrows are decorated with five kinds of flowers. After being killed and revived by Shiva, the disembodied spirit of love formerly possessed by Kamadeva is now spread across the cosmos.
When gender and gender roles in Hinduism have always been flexible, some have noted that this is an interesting depiction of a love god, as in many ancient mythos men tend to be depicted in a way that emphasized strength and masculinity while women tend to be depicted in a way that emphasized conventional femininity and passivity.
Kamadeva emphasizes sensitivity and tender passion as much as he encapsulates other depictions of love. His poised appearance and affiliation with flowers and colorful animals remain unbridled in the face of adversity – unless it’s getting eviscerated by Shiva.
Greek for “mutual love” and Latin for “brother of Eros (the Greek god of love)”, this name describes a particular strand of love we all wish to have: fulfilling, requited love with someone who cares for us unconditionally. Originating in Greece, Anteros was the Greek god of requited love (gasp!) whom of which was also brother to Eros, the god of love (shocking!).
In popular mythos, Anteros was the son of Ares and Aphrodite. Anteros was originally conceived to serve as company for his brother Eros, as the child felt isolated from others – the rationale behind it being that love must be requited if it is to flourish. Alternatively, he was said to have arisen ritualistically from the love between Poseidon and Nerites.
Physically, he is depicted as similar to Eros in every way, but with long flowing hair and large, radiant butterfly wings instead of fluffy angel wings. He has been described also as armed with either a golden club or arrows of lead, as he is meant to punish those who do not requinto the love of others (the friendzone is real and it is horrifying). Interestingly enough, he looks more like an archetypal cherub than his brother.
If you are a church-goer, you are very likely acquainted with this name. Roughly translating to “beloved”, Erasmus is more than familiar with all different walks of the life that is antiquity. Erasmus of Formia was a 4th-century martyr who, during the persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian Hercules, left his station and went to Mount Libanus where he hid for several years.
According to known legends, an undisclosed period of time later, an angel is said to have appeared to him, and had helped convince him to return to his city. From that point on, Erasmus narrowly escaped death with the help of the angel multiple times before ultimately succumbing to his fate. To give you an idea of what did him in, it’s worth noting that he is venerated as the patron saint of abdominal pain.
If the name seems a bit intimidating, it’s also worth knowing that a related name to Erasmus (and also what served as the nickname to our now known martyr) is the name “Elmo”. That’s right -- everyone’s favorite red fluffy monster.
Carys is a Welsh feminine given name, formed from the stem of the Welsh vocabulary word caru, which means "to love" and the suffix –ys, which is typically found in common Welsh names like Dilys, Gladys, Glenys, and Nerys. What makes Carys a rather unique name is its innate linkage to the concept of love itself. A related name to Carys, Cara, can be spelt as “Kara”, which means “love” in Cornish.
Another related name to Carys is Cherise, which translates to “cherry”. Cherry is not only just a well-known fruit of love, the gorgeous cherry blossoms of Japan are seen as symbols of blossoming love as well.
Interestingly enough, Carys is listed as being similar to the name Cheryl, a name which also went into circulation around the same time as Carys did. Like all names related to Carys, Cheryl has a rather lovely twist to its name history as well: Cheryl is a combination of Cherie (The French version of Cara, which translates as "precious" in Latin) and the +yl suffix common in early 20th century names like Meryl and Beryl.
The former portion of this concoction inadvertently sounds similar to the French expression “ma cheri” or “mon cherie”, which, as consumers of romantic media know, means “my beloved”. One could go on about the inter-linkage of the Carys family tree, but I believe you get the point.
Meaning “beloved sister”, Adelpha is Greek in origin. Do not be misled, “sister” here is used in a religious context as opposed to a familial one – so take note if you’re planning on running away with a new identity and joining a nunnery.
Not much is known about the history of Adelpha throughout the ages, but there is good reason to believe that the name is taken from adelpha butterflies. Adelpha is a genus of butterfly found in regions stretching from the USA to South America. They are often known as sisters because of the white markings on their wings, which resemble a nun's habit.
Humorously enough, this genus of butterflies is also sometimes included with Limenitis butterflies which are colloquially known as admiral butterflies (like in the military). These butterflies, in turn, are sometimes grouped with Moduza butterflies, which is a taxonomic subcategory of south-east Asian brush-footed butterflies that are commonly called the commanders.
Altogether, you have a trio that consists of a nun, an admiral, and their commander. Take note if you’re planning for three kids!
Short and sweet, Aiko (pronounced eye-koh) is, in most general terms, Japanese for “little loved one” and is very common overseas. What makes Aiko unique is how the spelling of it in kanji can manipulate the name meaning. Wikipedia generously provides a list of the ways Aiko can be written.
Writing Aiko as 愛子translates to “child of love”. Writing Aiko as 藍子 translates to “tinctoria child” which encapsulates the Japanese proverb: 'Blue dye is made from tinctoria' which is meant to describe a scenario where a child supersedes its parents.
If you’re a less sentimental person, you can write Aiko as愛幸 which means “Love fortune” – as Donna Summer once said, “she works hard for the money”! As you can see, Aiko’s relatively short length is compensated by its flexibility that packs a real punch.
Aiko cannot only be bent, it can be broken as well. As specified here, Aiko can be shortened to “Ai” which simply means “love” or Koko which means “here” or “individually” which isn’t as meaningful but still very cute.
As anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows, love is as much about receiving as it is about giving – and sometimes, demands are rather blunt. A common Nigerian given name of Yoruba origin, Femi can mean “love me” or alternatively and more bluntly, “marry me”.
Not much is known about the origin of this name but its commonality can lead one easily to assume that the name-bearer is not inherently seen as prideful or conceited. It appears not only that Femi rolls off the tongue quite well, invoking thoughts of femininity and tenderness in less than five letters, but its literal meaning accentuates it in a romantic way.
Interestingly enough, it is the short form of Olufemi, which accordingly means “God loves me”. Olufemi juxtaposes Femi in a dichotomous way: on one hand, Femi demands physical, mortal love and appears to relish in affection in this temporal plane we call life. On the other hand, Olufemi is a name that practically speaks unbreakable conviction (like our pal Elmo from earlier), as if the name bearer is proudly beaming “God has blessed me”.
A fresh new take on the name “David”. Hebrew in origin, Davis means “beloved” and, like David, is typically ascribed to boys. Feminine forms of the name include Davida, Davetta, and Davina. Like its feminine forms, Davis is only one of the plethora of alternate spellings and forms of David, but what stands out to me is how the “s” makes it sound softer than the typical hard “d”.
The brevity of the “s” gives Davis an early departure of the name’s end as it escapes your lips, contrasting the strength of the “d” at the end of David. What is also imperative here is that we all know a David or twenty; but how many of us know a Davis?
Though not love-related, in Welsh, Davis means “son of Saint David”. Saint David was renowned for his miracles involving doves (he was something of a dove-whisperer) and his patronage during his sainthood. A gruesome side to this tale exists, however, as some linguists speculate that his life story served as the origins for Davy Jones’ Locker!
Latin in origin, the word Amoris (meaning simply ‘love’) is not commonly used as a name – but this does not stop it from possessing its own distinctive edge. Aside from its foreign origins and fantasy-like sound, Amoris sounds similar to other words that can invoke feelings of wonder and interest when pieced together.
For example, Amoris sounds similar to the aurora borealis – the fantastic mysterious lights that light up the northern sky. Amoris also sounds similar to the word ‘amorous’, meaning the mood of love, giving it twice the loving impact.
Amoris has a rather poignant position in the history of love as well. Vena Amoris is a Latin term meaning "vein of love". Traditional belief explains that this vein ran directly from the fourth finger of the left hand to the heart.
This theory has been celebrated in western cultures as the explanation of why the engagement ring and wedding ring are placed on the fourth finger, or "ring finger". Though we know today that that is anatomically inaccurate, it is still a romantic thought.
Do you remember that one girl you knew in elementary school who was really into horses? The one girl who would draw and talk about them frequently, maybe even took riding lessons?
Well, we found her prince charming. Philip is a name of Greek origin that means “horse loving” or “fond of horses”. According to various sources, in Ancient Greece, the ownership of horses was available only to those rich enough to afford them. Thus, "lover of horses" can also be understood as "noble".
As with all status symbols, there are many variations of Philip that fulfil the same purpose while also looking stylishly different, such as: Phil, Flip, Feli, Philly, Lip, Pep or Peps, and Pippo.
There are also feminine forms such as Philippine and Philippa. The love for horses transcends the Greek language as well, with the Italian name Filippo meaning ‘friend of horses’. What is interesting is that Philip, in spite of its outdated cultural connotations, still maintains a presence in the 21st century. Will Philip fall into obscurity as time goes on? Personally, I say neigh.
We like nostalgia. Nostalgia paints our memories of the past in a way that ignites our will to make more memories in the future. Nostalgia allows us to reflect on things in a fond, positive way that fills us with feelings of humility and warmth. Halia appeals to the sensibilities of those whose pasts have been kind to them.
Meaning “remembrance of a loved one”, Halia is Hawaiian in origin. What is most unique about this name is its extremely specific nature. Halia is not simply ‘remembrance’ or any vague combination of remembrance and another subject, but “remembrance of a loved one”. Those very words can stir an immediate wave of feelings in one’s mind.
If I were to tell you to think of a loved one, what would you think? Would you think of an ex? A deceased relative who you cared for deeply? Or perhaps you thought of you and your partner at a much earlier stage in your life, clumsily becoming acquainted with one another. Regardless of your unique feelings, Halia is a name not just loaded with meaning, but with memories and heartfelt emotion.
Alternate forms of Halia are Hallia and Heulia.
This (relative) behemoth of a name translates to simply just ‘love’, but its origins are shuttered in mystery. While many claim that it is African in origin, there is also reason to believe that it may be Latin. This dichotomy does not even breach the spectrum of other possible nationalities that have been postulated such as Spanish.
Not much is known about this name (it’s not even on any other top or popularity lists!), but it’s still charming enough in its presentation to warrant a place on this list.
It is also worth noting that Luthando is a unisex name. Luthando may understandably come off as masculine, but I believe that it can also invoke of a sense of resilience and hardiness that is typically reserved for women akin to that of Joan of Arc.
The name “Luthando” in itself is reminiscent of the hero of a fantasy epic, whom in which is overflowing with a wealth of knowledge and power. While Luthando has flown under the radar for possibly hundreds of years, it retains a quality that evidently transcends gender.