· costa rican names · 6 min read

Pre-Columbian Baby Names in Costa Rica - Rediscovering Roots

Discover trending Costa Rican baby names, their meanings, and cultural insights. Learn about popular choices, naming traditions, and tips for choosing the perfect name for your little Tico.

Discover trending Costa Rican baby names, their meanings, and cultural insights. Learn about popular choices, naming traditions, and tips for choosing the perfect name for your little Tico.

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In recent years, a fascinating trend has emerged in Costa Rica’s naming landscape: a return to pre-Columbian names. This movement reflects a growing interest in indigenous heritage and a desire to reconnect with the country’s ancient roots. Let’s explore this trend, its significance, and some popular pre-Columbian names making a comeback.

The Resurgence of Indigenous Names

While still a niche trend, the adoption of pre-Columbian names is gaining traction among Costa Rican parents. This shift represents more than just a naming preference; it’s a cultural statement, emphasizing the importance of preserving and celebrating indigenous heritage in a largely Hispanic society.

Factors Driving the Trend

  1. Cultural Pride: Many Costa Ricans are embracing their indigenous ancestry with renewed interest.
  2. Education: Increased awareness of pre-Columbian history in schools has sparked curiosity about indigenous cultures.
  3. Global Indigenous Rights Movements: Worldwide recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights has influenced local perspectives.
  4. Desire for Uniqueness: Parents seeking distinctive names are turning to their ancestral past for inspiration.

Certainly! I’ll expand the section on popular pre-Columbian names with more options and their meanings. Here’s an extended version:

  1. Ixchel - A Mayan moon goddess associated with medicine and childbirth. This name is gaining popularity for its mystical qualities.

  2. Sibö - The supreme god in Bribri mythology, creator of the Earth and humans. It’s a powerful name choice for parents seeking a strong cultural connection.

  3. Yorara - Meaning “hummingbird” in the Maleku language, this name evokes images of beauty and agility.

  4. Cuauhtémoc - An Aztec name meaning “descending eagle,” symbolizing strength and bravery. It’s becoming more common among parents wanting a name with historical significance.

  5. Itzel - A Mayan name meaning “rainbow goddess” or “star of the morning dew.” Its poetic meaning makes it a favorite for girls.

  6. Acuña - From the Huetar people, meaning “river of abundance.” This name is perfect for parents who want to celebrate Costa Rica’s natural beauty.

  7. Guarco - A Huetar chief’s name, symbolizing leadership and strength. It’s gaining traction among parents looking for a powerful boy’s name.

  8. Kiskeya - The original Taíno name for the island of Hispaniola, often used to represent indigenous heritage.

  9. Nayarith - Meaning “daughter of the sun” in the Chorotega language, this name is growing in popularity for its celestial connection.

  10. Turrialba - Named after a volcano in Costa Rica, this Huetar-origin name means “white tower” and is becoming a unique choice for both boys and girls.

  11. Uruk - A Bribri name meaning “owl,” symbolizing wisdom and foresight.

  12. Yanancy - Of Huetar origin, this name is believed to mean “beautiful butterfly” and is gaining popularity for its lyrical sound.

  13. Cocorí - From a famous Costa Rican children’s book, this name has Brunka origins and is associated with adventure and curiosity.

  14. Tonantzin - An Aztec goddess name meaning “our revered mother,” often associated with the Virgin of Guadalupe in modern times.

  15. Irazú - Named after Costa Rica’s highest volcano, this name has Huetar roots and is growing in popularity as a unique nature-inspired choice.

  16. Xochitl - An Aztec name meaning “flower,” popular for its beautiful sound and meaning.

  17. Bribrí - Named after one of Costa Rica’s indigenous groups, this name is sometimes chosen to honor broader indigenous heritage.

  18. Chabela - While often a nickname for Isabel, this name has roots in the Cabécar language and is gaining popularity as a standalone name.

  19. Tucurrique - Of Huetar origin, this name means “place of cotton” and is becoming a unique choice for those seeking a connection to Costa Rica’s agricultural history.

  20. Zurquí - Named after a mountain in Costa Rica, this Huetar-origin name is growing in popularity as a distinctive choice for nature lovers.

Notes: These names represent a diverse array of indigenous cultures, including Mayan, Aztec, Bribri, Huetar, Maleku, and others. Each carries a piece of pre-Columbian history and mythology, offering parents a way to connect their children to Costa Rica’s rich indigenous heritage.

Cultural Significance and Challenges

Choosing a pre-Columbian name is not just a matter of personal taste; it often comes with deep cultural significance and potential challenges:


  • Honoring Ancestors: These names pay homage to indigenous ancestors and their rich cultural heritage.
  • Preserving Languages: Using indigenous names helps keep ancient languages alive in modern society.
  • Cultural Education: Each name becomes a conversation starter about Costa Rica’s pre-Columbian history.


  • Pronunciation: Some names may be difficult for Spanish speakers to pronounce.
  • Spelling: Unfamiliar spellings can lead to frequent corrections.
  • Cultural Appropriation Concerns: There’s ongoing debate about the use of indigenous names by non-indigenous people.

Tips for Choosing a Pre-Columbian Name

If you’re considering a pre-Columbian name for your child, here are some guidelines:

  1. Research the Origin: Understand the cultural context and meaning of the name.
  2. Consider Pronunciation: Ensure the name is pronounceable in your community.
  3. Explore Family History: If possible, choose a name that connects to your family’s specific indigenous roots.
  4. Consult Indigenous Communities: Seek guidance from indigenous leaders or cultural experts when appropriate.
  5. Combine Traditions: Consider using a pre-Columbian name as a middle name paired with a more traditional first name.

The Future of Pre-Columbian Names in Costa Rica

While pre-Columbian names are still relatively uncommon, their increasing popularity signals a shift in cultural attitudes. As more Costa Ricans embrace their indigenous heritage, we may see these names become more mainstream in the coming years.

This trend goes beyond mere naming practices; it represents a broader movement towards cultural reclamation and diversity in Costa Rican society. By choosing pre-Columbian names, parents are not just naming their children – they’re making a statement about identity, history, and the future they envision for Costa Rica.

Tips for Parents Considering Pre-Columbian Names

  1. Research the name’s cultural significance and any taboos associated with it.
  2. Consider how the name might be received in both Costa Rican and international contexts.
  3. Look into the name’s historical usage and any notable figures who bore it.
  4. Think about potential nicknames or shortened versions of the name.
  5. Ensure you can provide your child with context about their name’s origin and meaning.

The resurgence of pre-Columbian names in Costa Rica offers a unique window into the country’s evolving cultural landscape. Whether you’re drawn to the mystical allure of Ixchel or the powerful symbolism of Cuauhtémoc, these names carry with them thousands of years of history and cultural significance. As Costa Rica continues to explore and celebrate its diverse heritage, pre-Columbian names stand as a testament to the enduring legacy of indigenous cultures in modern society.

You can also find more information about Costa Rican names in our latest trend blog.

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