University Club Entryway Pilaster Letter N (New York, NY)
Photo by takomabibelot via Flickr.

She’s vaguely botanical, slightly invented, a little bit hip hop, too.

Thanks to Emily of It’s All In The Name for suggesting Nolia as our Baby Name of the Day.

You might have stumbled across Nolia on Namberry’s Lost Names of 1880 list. Along with Letta and Rella and a long list of others, Nameberry describes them as “lopped-off pieces of longer names.”

Rella stumps me, but in the case of Nolia, Magnolia comes immediately to mind. Nolia ranked in the US Top 1000 just three times – 1880, 1897, and 1901, but Magnolia was relatively common.

Check the US Census records, and there’s no shortage of women named Nolia. One of the interesting quirks is that a number of Nolias seem to have made names for themselves in Oklahoma. One that stands out was Mrs. Nolia Johnson, the wife of Nolia, Oklahoma’s first postmaster – the town was named in her honor. Not so far away, Durant, Oklahoma hosts the Magnolia Festival every June and calls itself the Magnolia Capital of Oklahoma.

Another notable Nolia was the mother of Alabama-born Dean Jones, the actor who played race car driver Jim Douglas in Disney’s Love Bug movies.

Magnolias do conjure up the American South, with or without moonlight and hoop skirts. 1989’s enduring Steel Magnolias was set in Louisiana. Nolia, too, conjures up Louisiana, but not necessarily in a positive light.

New Orleans’ CJ Peete Projects were long known as the Magnolia Projects – or just Nolia. Nolia was notorious for crime and violence, but also for launching a number of hip hop artists. A trio of rappers known as UTP scored a Top Ten on the Rap and Hip Hop charts with “Nolia Clap.”

It’s catchy, but not much in the way of inspiration for a child’s name. Neither is Nolia Chapman, an obscure actress with one credit to her name – a bit role in 1962’s Satan in High Heels. The movie is remembered partially because it was an early role for actress was Grayson Hall. She had a long career in television and film, even garnering an Oscar-nomination.

And yet it almost doesn’t matter. Nola has been on an upswing. Pronounced NO lee ah or no LEE ah, she fits with classic three-syllable names like Julia. Or pronounce her NOL yah, and she works as well as up-and-coming two-syllable choices like Anya.

According to Nancy’s 2009 list, there were fewer than five Nolias born in the US in 2009. The Spanish Noelia – a feminine version of Noel – was given to 200 girls. With more parents saying yes to No- names, from Noemi to Noa, it seems like the kind of choice that more parents could discover.

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. Hello,
    My name is Noka. Don’t try to look it up. You wont be able to find it any where. Except maybe in Russian. the word noka means “Hello”, at least according to Google. I have always hated my name. Too me it is just too strange. I wish my mother had named me Nolia that name is so feminine and lovely.

  2. My name happens to be nolia and I heard that it means to be “full of grace” an grace is my middle name!