Wars have been waged over beautiful women throughout history and literature, from Helen of Troy to Eleanor of Aquitaine to Cleopatra. Legend details the romantic rivalry between King Arthur and Lancelot for Guinevere. Other entangled beauties include the lovely Juliet from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the ill-fated Isolde from Tristan and Isolde, and the doomed Deirdre in Irish mythology. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized the name Evangeline in his poem, "Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie," which tells the story of Evangeline Bellefontaine and her lost love, Gabriel.
Other lookers in literature: Jane Austen heroines Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich. More tragic are Emma Bovary, from Madame Bovary, and Anna Karenina. And then there is Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind, who is described by author, Margaret Mitchell, as "not beautiful, but men seldom realized it."
Aurora was blessed with the gift of beauty by one of her godmothers in the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, but in real life, parents like to choose names that look, sound, and feel beautiful. Among the names that mean "beautiful" in Latin are Bella and Belinda. In Greek, Kallista means "the fairest and most beautiful" as does Callista, Calista, and Callie. Mirabella is the Italian form of Mirabelle, which is French for "wondrous and lovely." In Chinese, Mei means "beautiful," as does Shaina in Hebrew, Zaina, in Swahili, and Jamilla in Arabic. Also in Arabic: Shakila, which means "pretty," and Shakira, signifying "woman of grace.Vashti means "lovely" in Persian. Jolie and Linda are "pretty" picks, in French and Spanish respectively.
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of beauty and love. In Roman mythology, she is known as Venus. Aphrodite had three attendants, known as the three graces or charities. Their names were Aglaea, Euphrosyne, and Thalia (our vote's for her).
In Norse mythology, Freya is the most beautiful of the goddesses and represents love, death, beauty, fertility, and war. Modern forms of the name include Freja, Freyia, and Freia. The day of the week named after her? Friday(also a cute name).
Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity, and wisdom. She is considered the very embodiment of beauty, charm, and grace. Closely associated with the lotus, she is known by many names including Padma, Kamala, and Lalima. Model and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi is doubly fortunate indeed.
Let's hear it for the boys. Beau is French for "handsome" or "admirer and sweetheart." Kevin also means "handsome" in Irish, as does the Irish name Cullen (hello, Twilight fans!). Irving means "friend from the sea" or "handsome friend." In Arabic, Hassan means "handsome and good."
Among the famous faces and beauty pageant winners whose names struck our collective baby-naming fancy are Dayanara Torres, Miss Universe 1993, from Puerto Rico, and Riyo Mori, Miss Universe 2007, from Japan. Recent winners include Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008, and Stefania Fernandez, Miss Universe 2009, both from Venezuela. Dayana is currently ranked at #410, up from #881 in 2000. Dayanara is following closely at #558, up from #713 in 2003. If none of these beauty queens strike your fancy, you could always go with Tiara, which means "a crown or headpiece of jewels or flowers" (always beautiful, indeed).
Supermodel names are instantly recognizable and glamorous, although it was much easier to keep track of them when they were more common (Cindy, Christy, Naomi, and Paulina). Today, foreign names, such as Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima, are turning heads. A few It-girl names we love now: Gemma Ward, Anja Rubik, Lara Stone, Lily Donaldson, Lily Cole, Coco Rocha, Freja Beha Erichsen, Iris Strubegger, Iselin Steiro, Karlie Kloss, Chanel Iman, and Sessilee Lopez.
And then there are the young women who aspire to be supermodels, like the contestants on America's Next Top Model. Among the striking names and faces hoping to follow in the footsteps of host Tyra Banks were CariDee English, McKey Sullivan, Toccara Jones, and Teyona Anderson. One cycle sported such unusual names as Katarzyna, Atalya, Amis, Marvita, and Fatima. The clear winner in the name game? Jaslene Gonzalez, whose invented first name is a newcomer to the most popular ranks, debuting at #597 in 2007 before making its way to #376 in 2008. (Jazlene is #831.)
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