It’s a heart-shaped surname worn by a singer who is best known for being jilted.
Thanks to Nicole for suggesting Lovett as our Baby Name of the Day.
Lyle Lovett has been recording quirky alt country tunes since the 1980s, but he found himself in the spotlight in 1993. He met Julia Roberts on a movie set, and just three weeks after being introduced, the pair eloped. The marriage didn’t last, but the headlines seemed never-ending.
Between the headline-grabbing story and Lovett’s first syllable, you’re forgiven if you link this name to romance. But it isn’t necessarily so.
There are a few possible sources for Lovett:
- Wolf has history as a given name, and lou was the Anglo-Norman French for wolf, from the Latin lupus. Louvet was a wolf cub, or a nickname, much like names related to lions and tigers and bears have caught on over the centuries;
- There’s a Scottish clan known as Clan Fraser of Lovat. The clan chiefs are known as Lord Lovat, and have been since 1458. There’s no shortage of history and lore about the family, but sources are silent on the origins of Lovat. That might be because it could come from the Gaelic lobh – rot;
- There were several Anglo-Saxon names that meant love or dear – Leof, Lufu, and Leofa all appear in use. JRR Tolkien used Leofa for one of his fictional rulers, as a nickname to denote his generosity. Lufu is the source of our word love, and since -et, -ett, and -ette are all diminutive forms, it’s possible to link Lovett to love.
- Lovette George had a successful career on Broadway in the 1990s;
- Singer Lovetta Pippen has roots in gospel and soul, and is best known as a former collaborator with Warren Defever on His Name is Alive, a long-running experimental music project.
Others are likely wearing a family surname, like long-time University of Houston baseball coach Lovette Hill.
On a daughter, there’s something decidedly retro about Lovette or Lovetta. No names ending in -etta currently appearing in the US Top 1000. Juliette is the only -ette ender to rank. The spare Lovet is closer in style to 21st century favorites like Violet and Bridget, but looks a little off. Nancy’s list tells us that parents are far more likely to use plain ol’ Love or Lovely, or a nouveau coinage like Loveah.
Back in the 1930s, -ette names were all the rage The Top 1000 included Jeanette, Annette, Claudette, Antoinette, Bette, Bernadette, Janette, Lynette, Hariette, Paulette, Yvette, Nanette, Georgette, Colette, and even Margarette. A few years later, Suzette, Danette, and Ivette would appear, too. As for the -ettas, there was Top 100 Loretta, plus Rosetta, Henrietta, Marietta, Concetta, Annetta, Jeanetta, Georgetta, and Etta.
Should the trend return, doubtless we’ll meet more much-loved little girls with the name.
For now, this feels like the kind of wearable surname you’re lucky to find on your family tree. If you do, it is great in the middle spot – and on the right side of daring as a given name, too.