Name Spotlight: Rinoa


The character from the Final Fantasy series brought this name into the spotlight and unlike Kairi from Kingdom Hearts, Rinoa remains a rare (or sometimes uncommon) video-game inspired choice for baby girls.

So, what does Rinoa mean exactly?

From various sources, these are the possible etymologies:

  • It may be a Japanese form of Lenore
  • It may be a variant of Irish name, Ríona

Now, let’s work backwards and take a closer look at these etymologies.

“variant of Irish name, Ríona”

According to Behind the Name, it may be either a variant of Ríoghnach, derived from ríoghan meaning “queen,” or a shortened form of Caitríona, which is the Irish form of Katherine. The contributors at the Final Fantasy Wiki said, assuming that they think Katherine means “pure,” that both of these meanings “could be attributed to Rinoa, in the angelic appearance and in the Forest Owls members referring to her as ‘princess.'”
I suppose it could be the case, but keep in mind the bold phrase. At this point, it’s not known if the creators had ever heard of Ríona, so I would throw this etymology out of the window for now.

“a Japanese form of Lenore”

Normally, Lenore would be translated in Japanese as Renoa (レノア). However, according to an article published on July 20, 1998 by RPGamer, which used Shonen Jump (actually Weekly Shōnen Jump) as its source, Rinoa Heartilly’s name was previously translated as “Lenore.” So, this makes this etymology a more likely one at this point, even if Rinoa (リノア) isn’t really as common a translation of Lenore as Renoa (レノア).

Now that I’m done with sorting out the etymologies, let’s take a look at the popularity of this name, starting with the United States.

The name first appeared in 2000, shortly after Final Fantasy VIII was released there and throughout the rest of North America on September 9, 1999, when 5 baby girls were given this name. Since then, it steadily rise in number, reaching up to a birth count of 20 in 2012, until it jumped to a birth count of 39 in 2013 and I can’t find anything at all which influenced that jump. In 2014, it went down to a birth count of 26.

In the UK, the first Rinoas were born in the England & Wales area in 2000, again, after its release in Europe at a later date of October 27, 1999.
Rinoa appeared for the first time at the Office for National Statistics England & Wales popularity list in 2006 when 3 baby girls were born with that name and from 2000 to 2013, using data from both the ONS list and the Birth Index from Ancestry, an average of around 2 Rinoas are born every year with 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010 being the years where it was given to either 3 or 4 baby girls. In 2014, Rinoa was given to 7 girls.
The first Scottish Rinoa was born in 2010, followed by another one in 2014, but there are no Rinoas at all in Northern Ireland.

It’s not just the United States or Britain where Rinoa sees rare to uncommon usage.

Country Notes
Belgium 5 Rinoas, all from Flanders, were born between 1995 and 2014 (2 were born in 2006 & 2011 and 1 was born in 2007) while 32 Linoas (French form), 28 of them from Wallonia, were born in the same period.
Catalonia Less than 4 girls (I would presume only one) were named Rinoa in 2009.
Denmark The first Rinoa was born there in 2013.
France Linoa (French form) first appeared in the INSEE list (>5 babies) in 2000 when 6 girls were given this name. In 2012, it was given to 53 girls, off its high of 57 in 2010.
The Netherlands A total of 8 living females have Rinoa as their first name in 2014 and 1 Rinoa was born last year.
Italy Less than 5 girls (I would presume only 1) were born there in 2010.

And to top things off, here are the statistics from Japan (yes, even a couple of Japanese parents give this name to their daughters).

Apart from りのあ/リノア, all forms of Rinoa are found on Namae Jiten and their meanings can be found on Denshi Jisho:

梨乃亜 梨乃彩 璃乃愛 莉乃愛 利乃亜 璃乃亜 梨乃愛 莉乃彩 莉乃亜
凛乃亜 理乃愛 里乃愛 里乃明 利乃愛 里乃亜 理乃歩 理乃亜 梨乃明

Between 1989 and 2003, りのあ was the most popular way to write Rinoa, followed by 莉乃愛 and 梨乃亜.

Below is a table with year to year total statistics:

Year Total Percentage
1989 0 0.0000%
1990 0 0.0000%
1991 0 0.0000%
1992 0 0.0000%
1993 0 0.0000%
1994 0 0.0000%
1995 0 0.0000%
1996 0 0.0000%
1997 0 0.0000%
1998 1 0.0004%
1999 20 0.0077%
2000 13 0.0091%
2001 16 0.0088%
2002 13 0.0102%
2003 17 0.0139%

Even though Final Fantasy VIII was released on February 11, 1999 in Japan, the first Rinoa, written as 璃乃亜, was born in 1998. Could one or both of her parents have been Square developers? Could one of the parents have seen the name on Weekly Shōnen Jump or could it be an error in the data? Who knows…

Now that’s all over, if you have any thoughts on the name, the post, the statistics, anything relevant to this post, please comment below the ‘Sources’ section.

Rinoa Heartilly at Final Fantasy Wiki –
Behind the Name –
RPGamer’s article –
SSA popularity list for Rinoa via Our Baby Namer –
Ancestry –
England & Wales list from ONS –
National Records of Scotland –
INSEE (France) list via Meilleurs Prénoms and Journal des Femmes –
Netherlands: Meertens Instituut and Sociale Verzekeringsbank –
Statistics Belgium –
Kind en Gezin –
Institut d’Estadística de Catalunya –
Danmarks Statistik Name Barometer –
ISTAT (for Italy, in English) –
Namae Jiten (from 1989-2003, data not a full representation of Japanese baby names) –


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