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Raya Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Raya Overview

  • Meaning: When translated from Hebrew, the name Raya means “friend.” When translated from Arabic, Raya means “flag.” In Bulgaria, the name Raya means “heaven,” and in Russia, it often means “counsel.” In the Malay language, Raya means “celebration.”
  • Gender: Raya is traditionally a feminine name.
  • Origin: The name Raya has Arabic and Hebrew origins.
  • Pronunciation: “RAY-uh” or “RYE-uh.”
  • Popularity: Raya is a fairly popular girls’ name in the United States, Canada, and Ireland. It’s very popular in Oman (among the top 30 most popular names).
  • Nicknames: Aya, Rae, Ray, Ya-Ya.
  • Variations: Raia, Raija, Rayko, Rayna.
  • Namesakes: Raya Carmona, internet personality. Raya, the fictional character from the 2021 film Raya and the Last Dragon.

What Does Raya Mean?

In Hebrew, Raya loosely translates to “friend” (ื—ื‘ืจ), though it can also mean “companion” or “boyfriend.” (1) But in Arabic, Raya means “flag.”

In Bulgaria, the name Raya most often means “heaven” or “paradise.” This name is also a nickname for the Russian name Rayna, which means “counsel” or “queen.”

In the Malay language, Raya means “celebration.”

What is the Origin of the Name Raya?

The name Raya originates from the Middle East. It’s a common term used in Hebrew, a Canaanite language originating in ancient Israel and Palestine (2).

How Popular is the Name Raya?

Raya is relatively popular in the United States, ranking in the top 1,000 baby names.

This name has enjoyed a measurable increase in popularity since 2020. This boost in popularity is likely due to the release of the Disney animated film Raya and the Last Dragon.

This name is relatively popular in English-speaking countries, including Canada, Ireland, and the United States. However, it’s a very popular name in Oman, ranking within the top 30 baby names.

How Do I Pronounce Raya?

The name Raya is pronounced “RAY-uh” or “RAI-uh.”

Is Raya a Boy or Girl Name?

The name Raya is feminine, though it can also be used as a nickname for the masculine name Raymond.

Variations of Raya

The name Raya has few variations. The most common alternative spellings include:

  • Raia (English, German, Irish, Italian)
  • Raija (Spanish, Portuguese)
  • Rayko (Bulgarian)
  • Rayna (German, Russian)
  • Reya (English)

Nicknames for Raya

Short monosyllabic or two-syllable names don’t tend to generate many nicknames. After all, many nicknames originate as a shortened form of longer names.

That said, the name Raya has a few nicknames, including:

Similar Names to Raya

Several names are similar to the name Raya, including:

  • Arya
  • Rae
  • Raina
  • Rayla
  • Rayna
  • Reina
  • Rhea
  • Roya
  • Maya

Middle Names for Raya

If you’re looking for a complimentary name to pair with the first name Raya, you’ll be glad to know that you have several options. Some of the most popular middle names for Raya include:

Sibling Names for Raya

There are tons of compatible sibling names that pair well with Raya. Some top-notch examples include:

Famous People Named Raya

Because the name Raya was relatively uncommon before the 2000s, only a handful of famous people have this first name. Some of the most notable include:

  • Raya Abirached: A Lebanese television presenter and journalist.
  • Raya Carmona: An internet personality, gamer, and YouTuber. More commonly known as GirlGoneGamer.
  • Raya Dunayevskaya: A 20th century American Marxist philosopher. Also known as Rae Spiegel and Freddie Forest.
  • Raya Garbousova: A Russian-American cellist.
  • Raya Haffar El Hassan: A Lebanese politician. Notably for being the first woman to hold the office of interior position in Lebanon.

Raya in Popular Culture

The name Raya is comparatively rare, so only a few instances of this name (and its alternative spellings) appear in popular culture. Some examples of Raya in popular culture include:

  • Raia: A character in the 1994 PC video game Monster Maker: Dark Dragon Knight.
  • Raya: The main character in the 2021 Disney animated film Raya and the Last Dragon; voiced by Kelly Marie Tran.
  • Raya: A character in the television show Smallville; portrayed by Pascale Hutton.
  • Raya: A brand of Ethiopian lager-style beer.
  • Raya: A networking app available on iOS devices.

Raya FAQs

If you have further questions about the name Raya, you may find the information you’re looking for below.

What Does Raya Mean in Latin?

In Latin, Raya most nearly means “full of drink” or “flow.” This meaning also applies to the Hindu translation of the name Raya.

However, the closest Latin term is “radium” or “radius,” which means “ray” or “line.”

How Rare Is the Name Raya?

Raya is becoming increasingly popular, being the fastest-rising girl’s name of 2021 (3). But it’s still a comparatively rare name.

Before 2020, this name was so rare that the Social Security Administration has no records of any children in the United States having the first name Raya (4).

What Is the Name Raya Short For?

The name Raya is often used as the shortened form of the name Raymond (also spelled Raimund).

Is Raya a Mexican Name?

In Spanish, “raya” means “stripe” or “line.” As such, it’s not a common name in Mexico, though it is a common word.

What Is the Personality of the Name Raya?

The name Raya is associated with several personality traits, including friendliness, persistence, and courage. Naturally, the personality of a person named Raya varies depending on their background and personal experiences.

Is Raya a Legendary Character?

The main protagonist in the 2021 animated Disney film Raya and the Last Dragon is an original fictional character. However, her character and personality are inspired by real people.

Malaysian screenwriter Adele Lim (who helped write the script for this film) has admitted that the character’s personality is a mixture of traits that she’s observed in Southeast Asian women (5).

The character Raya is also based on the Southeast Asian history of women becoming strong warriors. So, while Raya and the Last Dragon isn’t based on a specific legend, it is based on legendary female figures throughout Southeast Asian culture and history.

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