29 May 2019

Naming Our Daughter, Naïa (and Rheo)



We’ve got a ton of questions and comments regarding her name, predominantly the pronunciation. As you can imagine, we got similar inquiries with big brother (I shared a post on his name a long time ago here but it’s kind of old, and outdated compared to my current style so will update it).

However, for now, addressing how to say her name, it’s the same as the name(s) Nya or the popular Maya but with an N and pronounced: “n-eye-ah” / “ny-uh”.

I liked the name Nia when I thought it was or could be pronounced the same way, and then found out it’s a known Welsh name pronounced “knee-uh”. We noticed that people had that spelling and pronounced it otherwise, but I didn’t want to take away from a strong traditional name or another culture to make the pronunciation my own, and that wasn’t the version that sounded like the name for us, so we left it.

We knew Maia was a highly international spelling of the increasingly popular U.S. name, Mya or Maya and similar name Mia but didn’t think much of it at first so continued juggling our other contenders.

But then almost like a sign, we came across the name with an N spelt Naia, Nai’a (Hawaiian) and Naïa (highly used in Europe) and my husband was instantly in love. When we researched the name and found the name held a meaning of flow, the very same as Rheo, it seemed kind of too coincidental to be true.

We toyed with names literally up until the month of our due date — and when I say “we” I mean “me” because the boys were long sold. But it seemed like a balance of unique (with the spelling), but familiar (with the pronunciation), and fitting (with it’s meaning).

• • •

As for big brother, because we still get this question an awful lot... his name Rheo is pronounced the same as the city, Rio / “ree-oh.” The lesser seen spelling came from our wedding night. Our very first wedding gift was from the officiant who married us. She had a tradition of giving the bride and groom a gift from the city’s famous chocolatier, Rheo Thompson (who for the record, I had long loved and made road trips with my mum just to get their products, for many years prior).

It was the only thing we opened that night and my husband asked where the store’s name came from. I explained it was actually the name of the original chocolatier and again — it’s unique but short and sweet sound, plus meaning and personal connection, had us sold.

We did however, choose to give both kids very common middles names: Jackson (after my mother, Jacqueline) and Grace (a name I’ve long loved) because I do still have a thing for traditional names, especially old ones and kind of like how it balances out their unique first names as a whole.

And in the event that they turn around one day wondering what the heck mom and dad were thinking? They can always opt to go by those second names instead (although, I hope they will embrace their names that took us much thought and consideration to choose).



x Olivia, Tyler, Rheo & Naïa.
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