It’s an appealing foreign name with ties to two different religions and cultures… so why isn’t it seeing more use in the U.S.?
I first came across the name Tova when I was a 15-year-old counseling junior-high summer camp. One of my campers was named Tova. I remember being intrigued by the name and asking her about it. She told me it was Swedish.
The name has always stuck in my mind, and it’s one I’m surprised I haven’t run across again. It sounds like a name that should have caught on here. Consider:
- It shares the two-syllable ends-in-“uh” pattern with many popular girls’ names (such as Emma, Ava, Hannah, Anna, Sarah, Kayla, and Layla)
- It contains the V sound found in top-10 Ava and Olivia and starbaby choices Vivienne and Violet
- It contains the O sound found in hot names like Sophia, Olivia, Chloe, and Lola
- It has an easy spelling and an unambiguous pronunciation
- It’s ranked in Sweden’s top 100
The name actually has both Swedish and Jewish roots. On the Swedish side, it comes from the Old Norse name Þórfríðr, meaning “Thor is beautiful.” Thor is, of course, the god of thunder in Norse mythology. On the Jewish side, it comes from the Hebrew word for “good” (as in the well known phrase Mazal Tov, meaning “good fortune).
Still, the name remains virtually unknown. Google “Tova” and the first thing you come up with is an acronym for the Test of Variables of Attention (used to identify children with ADHD). That shouldn’t put you off of the name, though. It’s not quite like naming your child Alexia (a brain disorder). There is also a cosmetics company called “Beauty by Tova,” founded by Tova Borgnine, wife of actor Ernest Borgnine. An actress named Tovah Feldshuh has starred on Broadway and played a recurring role as a defense attorney on Law and Order (one of my favorite shows).
Overall, I think this would be a great choice for parents wanting a rare name with some historical background that sounds at home among modern trends.