Baby Name Meanings: Why We Chose Paloma


Even before I was pregnant, my husband and I knew we wanted to give our baby a name that wasn’t super common and didn’t have any personal connotations for us. I went to an all-girls school, so I’ve heard just about every normal girls’ name; I wanted something different for our daughter.

That being said, we wanted a “real” baby name, not something we’d made up or a word that’s not really used as a name. I really liked to the idea of picking a girl name that’s common in other countries, and “Paloma” certainly fit the bill. It’s very popular in most Spanish-speaking countries and in Hungary, too -- there’s even a popular Spanish folk song called “La Paloma.”

Besides being unique and beautiful, I liked the baby name meaning of Paloma. The name means “dove,” a well-recognized symbol of peace. This meaning would give my daughter a “spirit animal” of sorts, even though it turns out she’s very strong and feisty --not very dove-like at all!

It also wasn’t something I had to go searching through baby name books for: As an art history student, I knew that Picasso’s daughter was named Paloma. Although I didn’t want to pay homage to Picasso per se, I was aware of the name and threw it out there when my husband and I were discussing potential baby names. He really loved it -- not only was it unique, but it sounded really nice with our last name.

At first, I was a little concerned that giving our daughter a Spanish name might seem odd, because we are not of Hispanic heritage. My husband and I both look very Irish. Even so, I liked the idea of giving our baby a name that connected her to other cultures -- and it has: She was playing with a Spanish-speaking little boy while we were waiting to board a plane, and his entire family got so excited when they heard our red-headed toddler was named Paloma. 

As much as we loved our baby name, I don’t think our families were crazy about it at first. My husband’s family is a little more traditional, so I wanted to give them time to get used to a more unique girl name. When we told them we’d decided on Paloma, they were definitely taken aback. However, within weeks, everyone was totally on board, even referring to my baby bump as “Paloma.” Now, I don’t think anyone could imagine our daughter with any name but Paloma!

Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash

by Madeleine Day