How popular is the baby name Maha in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Maha.

The graph will take a few seconds to load, thanks for your patience. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take nine months.) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.


Popularity of the Baby Name Maha


Posts that Mention the Name Maha

More on Maha & Najla

A few months ago, in the Visionary Baby Names for 2020 post, I mentioned the names Maha, Najla, and Butta-kuz. Each of these names refers to the eyes of a specific animal, yet most books and websites define them only in the extended sense: “beautiful eyes,” or “wide eyes.”

This is frustrating if you’re aiming to find more detailed definitions — something I learned while writing that post, and something memoirist Najla Said learned the day she met a woman named Maha.

In Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family (2013), Najla recounted that Maha (of Syrian descent) asked her what “Najla” meant. She replied:

“It means ‘big black eyes like a cow,'” I told her with the “I am so proud of my special name, isn’t it exotic and beautiful” smile I had now perfected.

Then Maha surprised Najla by claiming that her name meant the exact same thing.

Najla, somewhat upset by this, asked her mother about the unlikely coincidence. Her mother confirmed that “[the names] are similar. But they are different.”

So Najla — like the rest of us — turned to the internet. There, she found a site about Arabic baby names.

I looked up “Najla” and I looked up “Maha” and sure enough, I found them to mean essentially the same thing. But what is weirder is that […] there were also about twenty other names that mean “big black eyes like a…something” — “big black eyes like a cow,” “big black eyes like a donkey,” “big black eyes like a horse,” “big black eyes like a monkey”…

Finally she consulted her younger brother Wadie, who’d taken Arabic in college. He told her that “Maha” meant “‘big black eyes like an ibex…or rather, an oryx, I believe?”

…I’ve seen conflicting information about both Najla and Maja, so I can’t quite tell if either one refers specifically to a wild cow, or to an oryx, or to something else entirely.

I am very curious about those other animal eye-inspired Arabic names Najla mentioned, though. So far, I haven’t found any of them. If you know of one, please leave a comment!

P.S. Najla is the daughter of scholar Edward Said.

Visionary Baby Names for 2020

Most of the babies conceived during 2019 will be delivered during 2020 — a year that happens to mirror “20/20,” the term we use for perfect vision. It’s such a strong association that, just for fun, I put together a list of vision-related baby names for all those parents anticipating the arrival of 2020 babies…

  • Aisling, Irish, “vision” or “dream.”
  • Basar, Arabic, “sight.”
  • Butta-kuz, Mongolian, “camel eyes.” Implies “wide, beautiful eyes” like Maha and Najla, below.
  • Charopus, ancient Greek, “glad-eyed” or “bright-eyed.” Also spelled Charops.
  • Daisy, from Old English dægeseage, “day’s eye.” Daisies open during the day and close at night.
  • Drishti, Hindi, “gaze.”
  • Hawkeye, originally a character in The Last of the Mohicans (1826).
  • Hitomi, Japanese, “pupil [of the eye].” Can mean other things as well, though, depending on the kanji.
  • Lochan/Lochana, Hindi, “eye.”
  • Maha, Arabic, “wide, beautiful eyes.” Refers to either wild cow eyes or oryx eyes specifically.
  • Maka, Hawaiian, “eyes.” Also: Namaka, “the eyes,” and Makanui, “big eyes.”
  • Mantius/Manto (masc./fem.), from ancient Greek mantis, “seer, prophet.”
  • Najla, Arabic, “wide, beautiful eyes.” Refers to either wild cow eyes or oryx eyes specifically. Also spelled Nagla.
  • Nayan, Hindi, “eye.”
  • Nayra, Aymara, “eye,” “sight,” or “past.”
  • Nazir, Arabic, “observant” or “spectator.” Can mean other things as well, though.
  • Panope/Panopea, ancient Greek, “all-seeing.”
  • Rana, Arabic, “eye-catching.”
  • Ruya, Arabic, “vision” or “dream.”
  • Sibyl, ancient Greek, “prophetess.” Also spelled Sybil.
  • Sullivan, Irish, “descendant of the little dark-eyed one.”
  • Tarisai, Shona, “look at, behold.”
  • Vision, which began appearing in the U.S. baby name data nearly 20 years ago.

And, finally, a few Esperanto words that could potentially be used as baby names:

  • Vidi, “see.”
  • Vidinda, “worth seeing.”
  • Vido, “sight, view.”
  • Vizio, “vision.”

Which of the names above do you like best?

If you’re expecting a baby in 2020, will you consider using a vision-themed baby name?

Name News from Saudi Arabia

Three bits of name news out of Saudi Arabia…

First:

The most circulated [baby] names in the Kingdom include Mohammad, Fahd, Abdullah, Abdulrahman, Turki, Bandar, Omar, Ali, Fatima, Aisha, Nora, Hessa, Sheikha, and Maha.

Unfortunately the article didn’t specify exactly which year (or years) this list covers.

Second:

Unusual or rare [baby] names have been reduced due to the work of authorities across the Kingdom who have enacted regulations to curb exotic or strange names.

Some of the baby names no longer being used are…

  • Faziah, female name meaning “one who is afraid”
  • Mureibah, female name, “fearful”
  • Najar, male name
  • Rashash, male name, “a gun machine”
  • Zaqam, male name meaning “to do with the mouth” (…?)

Here’s an earlier list of baby names (possibly) banned in Saudi Arabia.

Third:

Saudi society is facing a new phenomenon in which many young people are changing their names to be in tune with the latest name trends, Al-Hayat newspaper reported.

Several of the name changes mentioned in the article:

  • Fatimah to Hadeel (woman, 22 years old)
    • “I used the name Hadeel for my social media account before I changed it officially with the Civil Status Department.”
  • Salem to Faris (man, 27 years old)
  • Ethar to Maria (woman, 31 years old)
  • Nouf to Naifah (woman, age not mentioned)

Sources: Naming babies under scrutiny, The name game! Young Saudis changing names to be more trendy