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Nova Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Nova Overview

  • Meaning: The name Nova means “new” in Latin or “chaser of butterflies” in the native language of the Hopi people of the American Southwest.
  • Gender: Nova is typically a girl’s name, but is sometimes also used for boys.
  • Origin: Nova has been around as a word in both Latin and the Hopi language for hundreds of years, but was only first used as a name beginning in the 19th Century.
  • Pronunciation: You pronounce the nameNova as “NO-va.”
  • Popularity: The name Nova first appeared in the 1800s but did not gain in popularity until the 2010s and 2020s. Today it is the 38th most popular name for girls and 757th for boys.
  • Nicknames: No, Nono, Noves, Novi, Va.
  • Variations: Noova (Finnish), Novah (Latin), Novalee (English), Novva (Latin), Novvah (Latin), Novus (Latin).
  • Namesakes: Nova (fictional character from “Planet of the Apes”), Nova Skipp(English actress).

Nova is an unusual name that has only recently started to be used more frequently. What does it mean? Where does it come from? These are just some of the questions that will be answered.

What Does Nova Mean?

The name “Nova” comes from Latin. Nova can be used by both boys and girls but is predominantly used as a name for girls. The name comes from the feminine form of the Latin word “novus,” which means “new.”

In the American Southwest, Nova also has origins in the native language of the Hopi people. That version means “chasing butterflies” in the Hopi language.

Finally, Nova is also related to astronomy. The term “nova” describes a star that has suddenly started to glow as much as a hundred thousand times brighter than is usual.

What is the Origin of the Name Nova?

Nova has its origins in the Latin “novus.” That word means “new,” “fresh,” or “novel.”

As a baby name, Nova only first appeared in the 19th Century. It is unknown what the context was behind its inspiration. Perhaps it was inspired by its powerful association with astronomy or its symbolic meaning as “new.”

How Popular Is the Name Nova?

Nova is a name that has been gaining in popularity over the past several years with 4,940 baby girls and 315 baby boys named Nova in 2020. Nova currently ranks as the 38th most popular name for girls and 757th for boys.

Nova first appeared as a girl’s name in the 19th Century and remained in use until the 1930s. However, it didn’t catch on in popularity until it reappeared in the top 100 in 2017 (1).

How Do I Pronounce Nova?

You pronounce the name Novah as “NO-va” with the emphasis on the first syllable.

Is Nova a Boy or Girl Name?

While Nova is sometimes a boy’s name, it is most often used as a girl’s name because Nova is a feminine form descended from the Latin word “novus.”

Variations of Nova

For a novel spelling of Nova, you might want to play around with different spellings or regional variations. Names with a similar sound and feel to Nova include:

  • Noova (Finnish)
  • Novah (Latin)
  • Novalee (English)
  • Novva (Latin)
  • Novvah (Latin)
  • Novus (Latin)

Nicknames for Nova

Nicknames for Nova can include the following:

  • No
  • Nono
  • Noves
  • Novi
  • Va

Similar Names to Nova

If you like the name Nova but are not quite ready to settle on it, there are a few alternatives that have a similar sound and beauty, such as:

Middle Names for Nova

If you want to name your child Nova and are looking for some middle names that pair beautifully with it, including:

Sibling Names for Nova

If your child’s name is Nova and you’re looking for one that would work well for a sibling, you can’t go wrong with any of the following suggestions:

For a Sister:

For a Brother:

Famous People Named Nova

Nova is a pretty, but unusual name, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few celebrities Novas around. Some of the more famous Novas include:

  • Nova: American rapper.
  • Nova Miller: Swedish pop singer.
  • Nova Peris: First Aboriginal Australian Gold Medalist for hockey.
  • Nova Pilbeam: British stage and movie actress.
  • Nova Ren Suma: American author.
  • Nova Rockafeller: American recording artist.
  • Nova Skipp: English actress.

Nova in Popular Culture

Since the name Nova is still pretty rare, there aren’t a whole lot of Novas to be found in popular culture. The ones we found are pretty magical, though. They include the following:

  • Bossa Nova: A style of samba dance that was popularized in Brazil in the 1950s.
  • Nova: A character in “Planet of the Apes.”
  • Nova: A fairy on the Disney show “Once Upon a Time.”
  • Nova: A character in the Marvel video game “Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet.”
  • Nova Corps: An intergalactic peacekeeping force in the Marvel universe.
  • Novalee Nation: A character in the 2000 movie “Where the Heart Is.”

Nova FAQs

We have learned a lot about the name Nova, but here are a few additional facts that might interest you if you’re thinking about it for your bundle of joy.

What Is a Nova in Astronomy?

A nova is an astronomical event that occurs when a star undergoes a process where an immense burst of energy causes its light to exponentially increase in brightness for a time before slowly returning to its original level of light.

Is It a Good Idea To Name a Boy or Girl Nova?

While Nova is not as commonly used for boys, it is a beautiful name that evokes connotations of the heavens and stars. It carries with it an energy of new beginnings, making it a perfect choice for a baby girl or boy.

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