Is it naianoia when you start seeing Nayas and Naias everywhere?
Exhibit A: Naya Shoes
A newish line of women’s shoes that are, according to the official story, “beautiful on your feet, soft on your step and gentle on the environment.” The official story also claims that “Naya means renewal,” but doesn’t specify in which terrestrial language. Anyone have a suggestion? (UPDATE: In a tweet, a Naya Shoes spokesperson informed me that the language is Hindi.)
Despite the spurious-sounding name story, I confess I’m very fond of Naya shoes. My next pair:
Naya “Tova,” at Zappos. I like saying “Naya Tova”; it sounds like a Jewish greeting.
Exhibit B: Naia wine.
According to Wine.com, this Spanish white wine has a “great nose of lanolin, vanilla biscuits, lemon curd and minerals.”
Exhibit C: Gelateria Naia
A Bay Area chain of gelato shops; the first shop opened in 2002. According to the About page:
Naia has many meanings, in Greek it means “flowing” and “pure,” but to us, it also has a special meaning. Naia is the name of one of the owner’s daughter [sic], who was born at the same time our first store opened.
The grammar is shaky, but this etymology is plausible. In Greek mythology a naiad was a water nymph; the root word is νάειν (“to flow”), Nāïas in Latin. Is “Naya” a popular baby name in modern-day Greece? I don’t know.
Exhibit D: Naya Body Care
Not just organic—solar-powered, vegan, sustainable, and handcrafted, too! Also “MindFUL and thoughtFUL.” No name-origin story, but lots of exclamation points. Based in Marin County, California.
Exhibit E: Naya Rivera
And that doesn't include acronyms like the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics or Ninoy Aquino International Airport (in Manila).
Besides “renewal” and “flowing,” Naya is reputed to mean “captain” (in “Indian,” whatever that means), “new” (in Arabic), and “God answered” (in Hebrew). All of these purported meanings come from popular baby-name sites, and are accompanied by the usual surfeit of romance and lack of scholarly rigor.
My own two cents: I think parents and marketers alike just like the sound and ambiguously exotic look of “Naya” and “Naia,” and they ascribe whatever meaning they like to it.
According to the Baby Name Voyager*, neither “Naya” nor “Naia” has ranked among the top 1,000 names given to babies born in the United States since recordkeeping began, in the 1880s. (“Naya” was ranked #1,720 in the decade 2000-2009, according to BNV’s sister blog, Baby Name Wizard. The statistics come from the Social Security database.) However, both “Maya” and “Maia” have been popular in the last several decades; “Maya” did not crack the top 1,000 at all in the 1970s, but has been the top 100 since the 1980s. The “Maia” spelling is less common, but it’s been holding strong in the top 1,000 since the 1990s. Maybe “Naya” is just the new “Maya”?
* Warning: Highly addictive.