What’s in a Puerto Rican name? As it turns out, the origin of names in Puerto Rico is quite interesting, and knowing more about them can help you find your ancestors! Not only that, but if you have Puerto Rican heritage, you might want to give your children names that tie them to their ancestors.
Learning what goes into a Puerto Rican name can give these names—the names in your family tree, the names you give your children, and maybe even your name—far more significance.
A Little Puerto Rican Name History
Because of the diversity of the culture and peoples of Puerto Rico, it should be no surprise that Puerto Rican first names are rich with history. The island is densely populated with people of many backgrounds; as a result, names come from Latin cultures as well as Puerto Rico’s own culture.
Because of the beauty of the island, names that have to do with nature are common, as are names that have a spiritual nature because of Puerto Rico’s rich religious influence. Some family historians have found that names were also given according to where people lived in Puerto Rico.
In the mid-1900s, first names in Puerto Rico started to take on a more Americanized tone. Many common names, such as Telesforo, Hipolito, Eluteria, and other names that were derived from Catholic tradition, didn’t make it into the 20th Century.
The 21st century has seen name preferences swing back to some more traditional names or a combination of traditional and modern naming conventions. For example, names such as Luna and Sol have become popular again.
Puerto Rican Nicknames
Puerto Ricans commonly go by nicknames, making family history research more difficult because the given name on a birth certificate may not be well known. If you’re having trouble locating an ancestor on your family tree, learning more about Puerto Rican nicknames might help.
Why Are Nicknames So Common in Puerto Rico?
One reason nicknames are so popular in Puerto Rico is because of Puerto Rican naming traditions. It is common for people in extended families or regions to share the same names—for example, Maria. To avoid being confused with 10 other Marias, a person may choose to go by his or her middle name or a nickname.
Puerto Rican nicknames can have many origins. Sometimes given names are shortened and then an “ito” (for males) or an “ita” (for females) is added to the end of the name. Other nicknames can refer to a physical feature, such as the color of a person’s eyes.
Top Puerto Rican Names
According to the United States Social Security office, here are the top 15 boy and girl names in Puerto Rico from the year 2019:
Puerto Rican Boy Names
Puerto Rican Girl Names
What Do Puerto Rican Names Mean?
Because Puerto Ricans take great pride in their names, it might be interesting to know what a few of the above names mean. Knowing the meanings of names can also help when you find these names in your family history and want to use them to name your own children!
Luis is one of the most popular given names in Puerto Rico. While it feels familiar, it also has a unique feel to it. Many famous people have the name Luis, which is why many people choose it. Two notable Puerto Ricans with the name Luis are baseball star Luis Aparicio and Luis Suarez of football fame.
Jose means “may God increase” and has always been on lists of popular names in Puerto Rico.
The name Diego has gotten popular again because of the cartoon Go Diego Go. It’s the Spanish name for “Jacob,” and Dee is a common nickname.
As for the girls, Valeria means “strong” and is of Latin origin.
Camila has recently risen in popularity and comes from the royal name “Camilla,” which originates in Roman mythology.
Alanis is a derivation of the once-popular Puerto-Rican name “Alana.”
Look for Puerto Rican Names in Your Family Tree
Do you have Puerto Rican heritage? If so, look at your own family tree. What names do you have in your ancestry? Getting to know the names of your ancestors can be an great way to learn more about your family.