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Nameberry.com, Published February 13 2012

Nameberry: Twelve suggestions for heart-felt baby names

A baby born around Valentine’s Day automatically gets an extra measure of love, which can also be boosted by choosing an apropos name. Options include cutting straight to the heart of the matter with something like Valentine or Valentina, picking a name that embodies love in its literal meaning, or looking back to the appellations of ancient mythological goddesses of love. Here are some such choices that could make a child feel especially loved.

AMAIAS

Spelled either Amias or Amyas, this unusual Latin name comes from the word for love. The Amyas version became known via the hero of the once popular 1855 Charles Kingsley novel, Westward Ho! – Captain Sir Amyas Leigh. Unlike other ias-ending names such as Tobias and Zacharias, Amias is not a biblical name.

AMORA

Amora is a feminissima Spanish name practically overflowing with amor, and now beginning to cross over into the Anglo world. Some other names that are equally loving and lovable: Amadea, Amabelle, Amada, Amata.

ARROW

Arrow is a straight-shooting word name that comes right from Cupid’s bow. Arrow began to be heard occasionally in the hippy-dippy sixties, but feels more acceptable and usable now, with its connection to Arlo, Arno, Aldo, and all those other cool sounding o-ending names.

CARYS

Carys, a Welsh name which means ‘to love’ and was introduced to most Americans when Welsh-born Catherine Zeta Jones bestowed it on her and Michael Douglas’s daughter. Other names with the same endearing root include Cara, Carina, Carella, Caresse and Carissa.

DOVE

The cooing of turtle doves is very much associated with love birds, and Dove is one of the soft and gentle bird names, along with Wren and Lark, that are being heard more and more, especially in middle place. Other names that mean dove: Paloma, Columba, Calum, Jonah, and Jemima.

FREYA

Freya is the goddess of love, beauty and fertility in Norse mythology and, though it has long been popular in England and Scotland (currently a Top 20 name in the latter), it is just beginning to be noticed here. Freya Crescent is a character in the video game Final Fantasy IX.

KALILA

Kalila is one of those double-l names, like Lila and Lola and Lily, that fairly roll off the tongue. An Arabic term of endearment that means “girlfriend” or “sweetheart,” the lilting Kalila would make a delightfully, delicate choice.

KERENSA

Kerensa is a charming Cornish name meaning ‘to love’ and could make an updated namesake name for a Grandma Karen. In its native Cornwall, it also has the alternate spellings Kerenza or Carenza, which add a bit more zip.

MILA

Mila, a Slavic name meaning ‘dear’ or ‘loved by the people,’ can be a short form of Ludmila or Milena, though it is increasingly used on its own.

QUERIDA

Querida is a Spanish name meaning “beloved” and pronounced keh-REE-dah, which is rarely if ever heard outside the Latino community. Pretty names starting with Q are hard to find, and this is one that might be considered. Querido is the version for a beloved baby boy.

SUKI

Suki, though known in this country as an old-fashioned nickname for Susan – usually spelled Sukey – is also a Japanese name meaning “beloved,” and would make an ideal choice for a Japanese-American family. “True Blood” character Sookie Stackhouse puts a whole ’nother spin on it.

VALENTINA

Valentina has been picking up speed for girls, especially after being chosen by Salma Hayek for her starbaby, but we’d like to see more parents consider the dashing and romantic Valentino, the name of one of Ricky Martin’s twins. The more straightforward Valentine is another possibility.

Nameberry is a baby-naming site produced by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, co-authors of 10 bestselling baby name guides, including the newest, “Beyond Ave and Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby.” See more at http://nameberry.com .