Name Spotlight: Luena


Once rarely used throughout the Portuguese-speaking world, now spiking in popularity in Portugal. Luena looks similar to the more popular Luana, though its origins lie in far more different places.


Presumably, the name comes from the name of the town in Angola’s Moxico Province¹. One of the bloggers of O Blog dos Nomes¹ has said that through deeper searching, it is revealed that the word ‘luena’ comes from ‘luína’ which, it says, is one of the three language spoken in Barotseland in south-central Africa¹. Two dictionaries, one Portuguese¹ and one Brazilian¹, seems to back up what’s been said.


Luena was pretty much very rarely used before the 21st century. Results for Portuguese, Angolan and Brazilian profiles from professional social networking site LinkedIn² put the number of profiles combined to 75 (50 in Brazil, followed by 19 from Angola, includes those w/o profile pics).

From the graph below, taken from data provided by Filipa’s Nomes e mais Nomes²:

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 16.02.48

Before last year, it was given to 4 girls in 2011, rising slightly to 8 in 2014. Then came 2015 and a new telenovela had arisen to make its way to the top of the charts in Portugal. A Única Mulher³ debuted in March last year with shooting done in both Portugal and Angola.

One of the main characters in the telenovela is named Luena da Silva, played by Rita Pereira. The popularity of the telenovela helped not only Luena, but a couple of other names, namely Mara, to rise as well and the popularity helped the telenovela run for two more seasons. With the telenovela being the most watched show in Portugal for the 2nd and 3rd seasons and the possibility of a 4th season³, I would not doubt for a moment that Luena will continue to see some more momentum this year, but what I would ask myself is how much momentum will Luena continue to gain. The answer would lie in Filipa and her sources when the list would be revealed in January. Fingers crossed.

I hope you find this post a tad bit interesting. Let me know what you think in the comments section below the sources.

Portuguese Wikipedia article on the town of Luena –¹
Portuguese profiles on LinkedIn –² (for Angolan profiles, replace pt and Portugal with ao and Angola, for Brazil, it’s br and Brazil)
Wikipedia article on A Única Mulher –Única_Mulher³
Blog post on Luena by one of the bloggers from O Blog dos Nomes –¹
Nomes e mais Nomes (includes current name data for Portugal + data gathered from SPIE) –²
Infopédia on Luena (Portuguese) –¹
Dicionário Web on Luena (Brazilian) –¹
Wikipedia article on Barotseland –¹


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