baby name KerensaThe baby name Kerensa combines an intriguing sound with an appealing meaning.

Thanks to Clio for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.


The baby name Kerensa comes from the Cornish word for love.

Names that mean love are plentiful. There’s Carys, Amy, Esme, and Davina, to list just a few.

But Cornish names are an especially interesting bunch.

Some are traditional. Jennifer, the runaway hit from the 1970s, has deep roots.

Others are quite new, like Elowen. They reflect a newfound interest in preserving the culture. Kerensa is among this group, a name adopted in recent generations.

Located at the southernmost tip of England, Cornwall is traditionally a Celtic nation, with a language closely related to Welsh.

The language nearly died out in the 1800s, but experienced a revival early in the twentieth century. Many of the popular Cornish names date from this period.

Alternative spelling Kerenza appears in the data, too.


The baby name Kerensa first appears in US popularity data in the year 1965.

That’s thanks to a novel, The Legend of the Seventh Virgin.

Written by Victoria Holt – a pen name for Eleanor Hibbert – the 1964 novel hit the New York Times bestseller list. The story goes something like this: many years ago, seven novices in a Cornish convent struggle with their vows. Time passes, and the convent becomes a private home. Kerensa Carlee is hired as a lady’s maid, where her fate becomes intertwined with the past.


The novel’s success pushed the baby name Kerensa into sparing use in the US.

In 1971, 30 girls received the name – a new high.

But by the end of the 1970s, the name was slipping out of use again.

As of 2020, it’s been given to fewer than five years for seven years running.

Spelled Kerenza, it’s even rarer. Five girls were named Kerenza in 2019.

Karensa, another spelling variation, appears in the data during the 1970s, too.


Carenza seems like yet another take on the baby name Kerensa.

However, it first appears in an Occitan poem, Na Carenza al bel cors avinen. Written sometime in the twelfth or thirteenth centuries, by sisters named Alais and Yselda, the poem’s title translates to “Lady Carenza of the lovely, gracious body.”

The origins of the name Carenza remain unclear.


Young actor Kerensa Cooper has made appearances in Batwoman and Supernatural.

And the name occurs elsewhere in the real world, too.

There’s a tiny villa on the island of Tortola, available for rent on VRBO, called Kerensa. There’s a Cornish cottage near St. Ives with the same name.

It’s heard at least occasionally as a surname, too. Comedian Paul Kerensa was born in Truro, Cornwall. Though his birth surname was Young.


Efforts to preserve the Cornish heritage, culture, and language are significant and ongoing.

But the population numbers just above 500,000.

Even if every child born in Cornwall received a Cornish heritage name, the numbers would be small.

That leaves the baby name Kerensa a rarity, with a distinctive, romantic sound.

Easy nickname Keri helps it blend in. Except Kerensa seems like a choice meant to stand out.

If you’re looking for a name your daughter will never have to share, the baby name Kerensa could be just right for you.

What do you think of the baby name Kerensa?

First published on June 15, 2011, this post was revised and re-posted on December 15, 2021.

baby name Kerensa

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I’m not a huge fan of K names as our family is run amok with them, but I have read every Victoria Holt novel and I thought it was a beautiful name as well. I prefer Carensa, though I feel a tad guilty that it isn’t the “authentic” spelling.

  2. That’s my name and I love it a lot. Though because it was not common for an Asian born Australia to have that name I had a lot of trouble getting people to pronounce it properly over the years … ah ha the ways they try to remember 🙂 I’m hoping I can find a rare and beautiful name to call my child 🙂 still looking for one!

  3. How interesting that this was posted on June 15th – my mother Karen’s birthday was that day! 😀

    I’ve often considered Kerensa as a way to honor my mother, but the tenuous connection always holds me back. I prefer Karina anyway – which, by the way, I didn’t see in your master list (though I did notice Katrina). Any way you could sneak in Karina for a NotD? 😉

    I have a separate question – does anyone think that, not as first names together, Katherine and Karina would be acceptable for siblings? My grandmother’s name is Katherine and my mother is Karen. I know the names are related, but I’m afraid just using one name to honor both wouldn’t quite make it through to them. (I doubt my grandma knows that Karen is related to Katherine.) Katherine would be a middle name. For example, two combos I have right now are Karina Florence and Eloise Katherine. It’s a niggling thing in the back of my mind; I’m just wondering what others think.

    Not pregnant yet, of course, this is all just speculation.

    1. I don’t think it would be an issue at all if one was a first name and the other was a middle name. They sound distinct enough not to be confused, and the fact that they are family names is always special and significant.

      My sister was given the middle name Helen because my mum liked the fact that it was a variant of her own name, Elaine, and my name, Eleanor (this was when all name books listed Eleanor as “a variant of Helen”). No one else gets the connection, but we quite like the sentiment behind it.

  4. Thanks so much for featuring Kerensa! I first came across this name while looking for a way to honor my best friend Karen! I fell in love with the meaning, sound, & look of the name! Oh, I hope no one famous uses this name….I don’t want it to become too popular!

  5. Very pretty and usable; I think it would only take one prominent person to name their daughter Kerensa or Kerenza, and this name would take off like a rocket.

  6. Ah, one of my fave K names. I like the Kerenza spelling, but it is pretty with the S, as well. I really like this one, and my love affair with Welsh names (Arianwyn, Brynna, Gwynn, etc.) is obvious in this choice! And, unlike other Welsh or names with difficult spellings (like any authentic Gaelic name), it is easy to pronounce.