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Leila (Persian: لیلا, Arabic: ليلى, Hebrew: לילה) is a feminine given name in the Semitic (Arabic, Hebrew) and Iranian languages. In Latin alphabet the name is commonly spelled in multiple ways, including Laela, Laelah, Laila, Layla, Laylah, Leila, Leilah, Leela, Leighla, Lejla, Leyla and Leylah.

Etymologically the word comes from proto-semitic layl-, which gives לֵילְיָא (lēləyā) in Aramaic, לילה (layla) in Hebrew, لَيْل (layl) or لَيْلَة (layla) in Arabic, and ܠܹܠܝܵܐ (lēlyā) in Syriac.

In Hebrew and Arabic the word Leila or Laila means "night", "dark"[1] and the name is often given to girls born during the night, signifying "daughter of the night".[2]

In Judaism, the identification of the word "night" as the name of an angel originates with the interpretation of "Rabbi Yochanan" (possibly Yochanan ben Zakkai, c. 30–90 AD) who read "At night [Abraham] and his servants deployed against them and defeated them" (Genesis 14:15, JPS) as "by [an angel called] night" (Sanhedrin 96a).

The story of Qays and Layla or Layla and Majnun is based on the romantic poems of Qais Ibn Al-Mulawwah (Arabic: قيس بن الملوح) in 7th century Arabia, who was nicknamed Majnoon Layla (مجنون ليلى), Arabic for "madly in love with Layla", referring to his cousin Layla Al-Amiriah (ليلى العامرية).[3] His poems are considered the paragon of unrequited chaste love. They later became a popular romance in medieval Iran,[4] and use of the name spread accordingly.

The name gained popularity further afield in the Persianate world, amongst Turkic peoples and in the Balkans and India.

In the Nordic countries, Laila or Lajla (pronounced lie-lah)[needs IPA] is derived from the Sami name Láilá, the Sami variant of Helga which means "holy"


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