Saturday, March 2, 2013


Name inspirations can come when you least expect it - and this beauty I spotted on a personalised number plate in traffic this morning! There are many things that raced through my mind when I saw this, with the uppermost one being that this is a very pretty name.

Tarabella is a quite rare name. It has never charted in America, meaning it has never been given to more than five girls in any one year. And a quick Facebook search shows that while Tarabella is not used as a first name, it has been used as a surname in Italy. However there is no information on its origin or meaning as a surname.

As a first name, Tarabella immediately strikes one as an unusual smoosh name - a combination of the spunky Tara and the sweetly girly Bella. Bella is popularly recognised to be an Italian name meaning 'beautiful'. In recent years it has followed the extremely popular Isabella up the charts, helped largely due to the (Isa)Bella Swan character from 'Twilight'. It's currently particularly popular in Australia, America and Canada, but deceptively is even more popular than the charts tell us, because it would commonly be sued as a popular nickname for many other Bella related names.

Tara on the other hand has a couple of different origins and meanings. In Hindu mythology Tara was an astral  goddess, and her name means 'star'. There is also a goddess named Tara in Buddhist mythology. Said to be the most popular goddess in the Buddhist pantheon, Tara is considered to be the Goddess of Universal Compassion, and she represents virtuous and enlightened activity.

But perhaps the best known origin of Tara is from Irish Gaelic, where Tara means 'hill' or more elaborately 'hill where kings meet'. Ancient Tara was the site of the 'stone of destiny', on which Irish kings lived. It has been theorised that this reference is what author Margaret Mitchell had in mind when she named the famous home of Scarlett O'Hara 'Tara' in her novel 'Gone With The Wind'.

Tara enjoyed a burst of popularity after 'Gone With The Wind' was released as a movie in 1939, first entering the American charts that year. During the 70's and 80's it was a top 100 name in America. It has dropped in popularity recently (#877 in America in 2011) although you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise judging by the popularity of Tara as a character name in TV shows ranging from 'True Blood' to 'Boston Legal' to 'The United States of Tara'.

Tara also does quite well in many other countries, such as Australia, Croatia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Norway and Scotland. There are however some pronunciation variations - personally we pronounce it more like Tarr-aah here in Australia, while on American TV it seems to be pronounced Tah-RAH (or even Teh-RAH). Which I guess raises the question of how one would pronounce Tarabella. Would it be Tarr-aah-bell-ah or Tah-rah-bell-ah?

Pronunciation questions aside, I feel like Tarabella would be a great way to honour a Tara and/or Bella relative. Or to honour a combination of Italian/Indian/Irish heritage, or even a belief in Buddhism or Hinduism. And of course there are the two distinct and beautiful (excuse the pun) possible meanings - 'beautiful star' or 'beautiful hill'. 'Beautiful star' in particular is an almost swoon-worthy meaning.

I can definitely see Tarabella catching on. Maybe you're looking for an alternative to Isabella, but Arabella feels too frilly or vintage for you, or you're worried about it's current rising popularity. Tarabella could be a great way to stand out from the crowd.


  1. I'm Australian, and I've only heard Tara said as TAH-ra, never TARR-aah.

    I think tarabela is Spanish for "drill bit"; I wonder if the Italian surname is related?

    This would be very pretty and quite unexpected as a baby name.

    1. Hmmm... maybe it's one of those South Australia (where I grew up) only things - we do tend to have a few quirks. Like the building blocks Lego - it's meant to be Leg-go, but every SA native I know pronounces it Lay-go. I've lived in Victoria 10 years now and still have to mentally remind myself it should be said Leg-go before I say it :)