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Nala Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Nala, including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Nala Overview

  • Meaning: Nala means “queen,” “lion,” and “successful” in Swahili, as well as “prosperity” and “abundance” in Zulu. In Arabic, Nala means “first drink of water” or “water in the desert.” In Latin, Nala means “olive,” while it means “hollow reed” in Sanskrit. It also refers to “calm skies” in Hawaiian.
  • Gender: Nala is a unisex name but is predominantly used for girls.
  • Origin: Nala’s origins are primarily African and Arabic, though it also originates in Sanskrit, Latin, and Hawaiian. It was once associated with a “queen” or “leader” since it denotes a “lioness.”
  • Pronunciation: Nala is pronounced “NAA-lah” in English.
  • Popularity: Nala entered the top 1,000 U.S. girls’ names in 2014 and mostly ranked between 800 and 1,500. Nala peaked between 2018 and 2019 where it ranked in the top 750 names.
  • Nicknames: Ala, Ali, La, La-La, Lala, Na-Na, Nah, Nal, Nali, Nalita, Nally, Naloo, Nals, Nalz.
  • Variations: Nahlah, Nalah, Nalea, Nalia, Nalla, Nallah.
  • Namesakes: Nala Wayans, American social media star and daughter of actor Keenan Ivory Wayans. Nala Ryan Dyrdek, American actress and daughter of Rob and Bryiana Dyrdek.

What Does Nala Mean?

Nala means “queen,” “lion,” and “successful” in Swahili. It can be summed up as a name meaning “lioness.” In Zulu, it means both “prosperity” and “abundance.” When originally spelled Nahla, it refers to the “first drink of water” or “water in the desert.”

Other meanings include “honeybee” in Arabic and Maltese, “olive” in Latin, and “calm skies” in Hawaiian. Nala is mainly used for girls, but when translated into Sanskrit, it becomes a boy’s name, meaning “hollow reed” or “beloved.”

What Is the Origin of the Name Nala?

Nala is a unisex name with beginnings in multiple African cultures, including South Africa and East Africa. It was first spelled Nahla in Arabic after the Nahla Valley in Iraq. Nala also originates in Sanskrit and is the name of a king in Hindu mythology. It mostly registered as a name for girls in Africa and the U.S. during the 1920s and spread worldwide.

In Swahili culture, Nala means “success” and “power” and is associated with female leaders. It also means “lioness.” Nala became a well-known name for female leaders or queens, especially in Africa. Nala is famously known as a good friend to Simba in the movie “The Lion King.”

Nala is also a “vanara” or monkey in the Hindu epic Ramayana. Nala is the name for the Indian dynasty, which ruled from the 6th- to the 8th-century CE. It’s also used for various place names throughout the world.

How Popular Is the Name Nala?

In the U.S., Nala has been somewhat popular since entering the top 1,000 girl’s names in 2014. In the last few years, it’s fluctuated from the top 800 to the top 1,500 U.S. girls’ names. Nala peaked in 2018 at 743rd among girls’ names in the U.S. There is also evidence that it peaked in 2019 at 682nd place for girls.

How Do I Pronounce Nala?

The unisex Nala is pronounced “NAA-Lah” in English.

Is Nala a Boy or Girl Name?

Nala is considered a unisex name but is much more common for girls. Although it is used in India as a boy’s name, it has been overwhelmingly used for girls in the last 100 years.

Variations of Nala

Try on these special variations for Nala until one speaks to you and your little one.

  • Nahlah
  • Nalah
  • Nalea
  • Nalia
  • Nalla
  • Nallah

Nicknames for Nala

You can use loads of cute nicknames for Nala, some of which are longer than Nala itself.

  • Ala
  • Ali
  • La
  • La-La
  • Lala
  • Na-Na
  • Nah
  • Nal
  • Nali
  • Nalita
  • Nally
  • Naloo
  • Nals
  • Nalz

Similar Names to Nala

If you’re looking for names similar to Nala, many of these offer good choices.

Middle Names for Nala

Give your Nala a beautiful middle name they won’t forget.

Sibling Names for Nala

Nala’s brother or sister will appreciate these cool-sounding names to go alongside Nala.

Famous People Named Nala

Find out who the most famous Nala is of all time here.

  • Nala Damajanti: French entertainer.
  • Nala Ryan Dyrdek: American social media star and daughter of Rob Dyrdek.
  • Nala Wayans: American actress and daughter of actor Keenan Ivory Wayans.

Nala in Popular Culture

You may be surprised how Nala has shown up in popular culture.

  • Nala: Character from “The Lion King.”
  • Nala: Character in The Ramayana Hindu text.
  • NALA Films: Film production company.
  • Nala Se: Character from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”

Nala FAQs

Discover even more unique facts about Nala you didn’t know.

What Does Nala Mean in Hebrew?

In Hebrew, Nala’s meanings mirror those of its African origins, including “successful,” “queen,” and “lion.” It also means “stem,” “hollow reed,” “drink of water,” and “honeybee.” These meanings link Nala to its Hebrew and Arabic origins, along with Nala’s meaning in Sanskrit, including “beloved” or “loved one.”

Is Nala a Goddess?

Nala is not an official goddess in Greek mythology but appears as one in the Percy Jackson fanfiction wiki online. Here, the character of Nala is a daughter of the Greek gods Zeus and Hera.

She was born in 1934 on Mount Olympus and is known as their “favorite” (and youngest) daughter. As a goddess, Nala makes a splash among kids and adults who love modern role-playing games.

Who Is Nala in Mythology?

In Hindu mythology, Nala appears as a character in the “Vana Parva” book of the “Mahabharata.” Nala, a male figure, is the king of the Nishadha Kingdom and the son of Veerasena. He is known for his proficiency with horses and cooking in the kitchen. The Hindu Nala is married to Princess Damayanti of the Vidarbha Kingdom.

Who Is Princess Nala in “The Lion King”?

In Disney’s 1994 film “The Lion King,” Nala is a female lion born to Sarafina, Simba’s closest friend. In the movie, Nala marries Simba to become Mufasa and Sarabi’s daughter-in-law and Scar’s niece-in-law. In addition to being Simba’s wife in the story, Nala is called his “Queen Consort.”

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About the Author

Maryana Vestic

Maryana Vestic is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and food photographer with a background in entertainment Business Affairs. She studied film at NYU, Irish Theatre Studies at Trinity College Dublin, and has an MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction from The New School. She loves cooking, baking, hiking, and horror films, as well as running a local baking business in Brooklyn with her boyfriend.