It’s the fifth most popular letter for girls’ names. No surprise, as L fits right in with our love of smoothly flowing “liquid” names. This is the age of Ella and Mia, Elena and Aurora. A great many girl names starting with L fit this style perfectly.
While that might feel new, it’s worth noting that we’ve long loved L names for our daughters. Linda and Lisa previously held the top spot in the US. And for every name that makes this list, there are five that I’ve overlooked.
After all, L is the letter of all the many Laura names, from tailored Lauren to flowery Loretta. And it’s also the letter of the Lous and Lus, from classic Louisa to sparky, retro Luella.
So let’s dive into the girl names starting with L, from the chart-toppers to the well-why-not possibilities.
GIRL NAMES STARTING WITH L IN THE US TOP 1000
The Latin and Spanish word for moon, Luna rose on the strength of an unexpected Harry Potter heroine, combined with our love of night sky names for girls.
Eric Clapton recorded “Layla” with Derek & the Dominos in 1970. That’s fifty years ago! Clapton wrote the song about a real woman, but borrowed the name Layla from a twelfth century Persian poem. The song remains a classic, and it put the name on parents’ radar – though the sound makes it more popular than ever today.
A classic flower name, elegant and sweet, Lily outpaces any of the longer forms of this name – of which there are dozens.
An Old Testament favorite that blends an on-trend sound with deep and lasting roots.
The medieval English form of Lucia, Lucy is brief and complete. It’s a vintage favorite enjoying a comeback these days, but Lucy never really falls out of use.
Fun fact: Lily likely started out as a nickname for Elizabeth. Lillian evolved as an elaboration of Lily. But today, it’s the opposite – Lillian is the formal name, and Lily the sweet short form.
A gorgeous Hawaiian name with an equally appealing meaning: heavenly flowers.
A New Testament name referring to a region of Greece, Lydia is a flowing, distinctive name that fits right in with Olivia and Amelia.
An elaboration of Lillian, this is yet another appealing Lily possibility.
Whether it’s spelled Lila, Lilah, or Lyla, there are a few possible meanings and origins for this pretty, compact name. But it’s Lyla that’s the most popular of them all.
A gorgeous romance language name, the original version of Lucy. Lucia can be pronounced at least three ways, though – loo shah, loo see ah, or loo chee ah.
A creative take on spelling London, more popular than the original as of the year 2020.
Another Layla spelling possibility.
Lily with an extra L.
A storied city, London makes for an appealing place name for a son or a daughter.
It might be another of the Layla names, but most Americans rhyme Lila with Kyla.
A Beatles baby name, Lennon feels meaningful and modern.
And yet another spin on Layla.
Lilah fits right in with Norah.
Teen rom-com She’s All That launched Laney, a nickname name that feels traditional and modern all at once. It’s a sister for Sadie, a substitute for Avery, a feminine form of Lane. Laney – hold the ‘i’ – also ranks in the girls’ Top 1000, but Lane charts only for the boys. Laine appears on neither list, and Layne only makes the girls’ Top 1000 – at least for now.
Originally short for Dolores, sparky Lola now stands on its own.
A longer Lily name with a dark edge. The name means “of the night” and ancient myth makes her Adam’s rebellious ex-wife, or possibly a demon. Or maybe just a misunderstood goddess. After Lilith Fair became a wildly successful female-centered concert tour in the late 1990s, the name was rehabilitated as more of a strong and independent Lily option.
A longer name for Lucy, sweetly French and, thanks to Lucille Ball, a little mid-century, too.
Sleek and stylish, Lena brings to mind the incomparable singer Lena Horne. It’s a globe-trotter name, easily recognized and pronounced in much of the world.
As in the heroic and enduring Princess Senator General Leia Organa of Star Wars fame.
The Italian spelling of Lia, and a logical nickname for any longer name ending with the letters.
A favorite for boys, occasionally borrowed for girls.
Currently the most popular of all the Laura names. Hollywood star Lauren Bacall was born Betty. But it’s her stage name that caught on, and remains the perfect blend of classic and cool.
One of many long, Lily elaborations – double L or single, two Ns or one, and an i or a y make for a great many spelling options.
A sort of retro-glam choice, Lana might bring to mind Hollywood legend Lana Turner – or Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey.
Pronounce it like Layton, but spell in with a Leigh, possibly thanks to actor Leighton Meester, who rose to fame as wealthy heiress Blair Waldorf on the original Gossip Girl.
A classic girls’ name, Laura refers to laurel, as in the leaves used to make victory wreaths in the ancient world. It’s a name both feminine and auspicious.
A Lucia elaboration that fits right in with longer names for girls.
Liana might be short for Liliana, or it could be an elaboration of Lia. Either way, there’s also a type of vine called a liana.
Musical Lyric has gone from edgy word name in the 1990s to mainstream possibility today
An Alexandra/Alexa/Alexis nickname sometimes bestowed independently.
A big, bold word name gaining in use for boys and girls alike.
A name borrowed from German folklore, pop culture boosted Lorelei a few times, but it’s more popular today than ever before.
A night sky staple, Lyra is named for the lyre of Orpheus. It’s a thoroughly musical choice.
A Leo name for a daughter.
The spelling used by Gilmore Girls for their unforgettable mother-daughter duo continues to gain on the original Lorelei.
Another spelling of Lyla.
A Scottish surname rising for boys and girls.
A modern virtue name, Liberty fits with so many three-syllable, ends-with-y names for girls, from Dorothy to Emily.
A Scottish surname name, long used for boys, that peaked for girls in the 1960s and 70s.
The nature name twist on Laura, rising fast.
Masculine in French, but in English, Lilian is just another Lily name.
Like Louisa, the French Louise makes for an impeccable classic that’s just slightly under the radar.
A slimmer take on Lainey.
Another spelling for Lena, or possibly a separate Arabic name meaning palm tree, or a Sanskrit one, meaning united.
The typical Turkish spelling of Layla.
This name surged in use following the success of 1965 movie Doctor Zhivago, based on a Boris Pasternak novel about the Russian Civil War. A sweeping romance about star-crossed lovers, it became a cultural sensation, influencing fashion and music. Today that’s faded, but the name remains simple and appealing.
It might be short for Olivia, but Liv also coincides with a Scandi word meaning life.
Traditional and vintage Louisa was long out of favor, and remains far rarer than you might expect.
Leah is the Hebrew spelling, a Biblical classic. But Lea is preferred in many European languages.
It looks like a twist on chart-topping baby girl’s name Olivia, but Livia claims separate roots. It’s from Livius, an ancient Roman family name.
It looks like yet another creative take on Lily. But this spelling actually outranked the botanical Lily for years, including the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Also spelled Lacy, it’s a surname name derived from a Norman town. But it sounds like the intridcate, elegant fabric.
Another spelling of rising Hawaiian favorite Leilani.
One more feminine form of Lane.
A midcentury favorite, this former #1 name coincides with the Spanish word for pretty.
Another Layla spelling possibility.
Lilianna looks relatively uncommon – but consider that other spellings rank far higher on the list.
Lauren with a Y.
Short for any of the Alexandra names.
Celebrated singer Loretta Lynn makes this name synonymous with “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” But Loretta has history before Lynn, and the -etta ending sounds fresh and ready for revival.
One more Liliana re-spelling option.
It’s hard to tally up all of the ways to combine Lee and Anne, but Leanna is one of the smoother possibilities.
A sparky, retro Lou-Ella mash-up with a throwback vibe.
Sometimes a surname, Landry comes from a medieval French saint.
A Game of Thrones spin on so many Lee-Anna names.
Royal and Loyal lean masculine: Royalty and Loyalty, feminine. There’s no good reason, except that the extra syllable puts Loyalty in the company of vintage virtue name favorites like Felicity.
A romance language take on Louisa, via masculine form Luis.
RARE & UNDERUSED GIRL NAMES THAT START WITH
Masculine in the Old Testament, this Hebrew name is solidly unisex in the US today.
A surname style choice that brings to mind nature name Lake.
The Hindu goddess of prosperity.
Ancient Roman poet Horace immortalized fair Lalage in one of his poems.
Short for many a name with a strong La sound, from Lalage to Eulalie to Laureline. Lolly is another spelling.
A frilly, romantic Russian import.
Wren makes the US Top 1000, but fellow bird name Lark remains surprisingly overlooked.
A favorite in the 1980s, Latoya comes from nickname Toya with the popular prefix La. La Toya Jackson, one of many siblings in the muscial family, pushed it into the spotlight when she appeared on the family’s CBS variety show and then released several albums of her own.
A lovely nature name possibility, boosted by that middle ‘v’ sound, as well as a minor Harry Potter character.
French sci fi gives us Valerian and Laureline comics, as well as a Luc Besson 2017 movie adaptation. It’s one of many underused Laura names.
Laurence is masculine in the US, though Lawrence is the more popular spelling. But in French, Laurent is the masculine form, while Laurence is typically feminine.
It might be associated with the Latin word for spring, but Americans probably still hear Laverne & Shirley, decades after the late 1970s/early 80s hit sitcom left the air.
A name with ancient Roman roots, made familiar by early seasons of Downton Abbey.
A rare, but wearable, feminine form of Leandro and Leander, a Greek name relating to lions.
A queen from Greek myth, Leda is famous for falling for the god Zeus when he appeared to her as a swan. Spell it Leta – or Lita or Lida – and it’s a slightly different name.
Pronounced Leidy, it’s a borrowing of the English title name Lady used primarily among Spanish-speaking parents.
Along with Lee, this name is everywhere – a common middle, and a ubiquitous sound in our daughters’ names, from Ashley to Riley to Leighanne. But as an independent name, it’s been out of favor since the 1990s.
One of the Leo name possibilities for girls.
A Spanish saint’s name, ultimately derived from the Latin word for joy. It’s also spelled Letitia.
A Leticia nickname with sweetly vintage appeal.
Originally short for Elizabeth, this German nickname name now stands alone thanks to the eldest von Trapp daughter in The Sound of Music.
Nearly every language has its compound names. In German, Lieselotte – or Liselotte – is a mash-up of Elisabeth and Charlotte.
Borrowed from a river in the city of Edinburgh.
Spin-offs of the ever-popular Eleanor.
More Eleanor-inspired names, but with a little more roar.
Lion names have been popular across the ages, for our daughters as well as our sons.
In Roman myth, Levana was a goddess of childbirth. It’s also similar to a Hebrew name referring to the moon.
An Elizabeth nickname that might just stand on its own.
Another underused flower name, Lilac fits right in with Lily.
Yet another Lily name, this one with roots in romance and Slavic languages.
A playful short form of Elizabeth, made famous by the current Queen of England, as well as her great-granddaughter.
A sweet nickname name, Lilou took off in France after The Fifth Element gave us Milla Jovovich as Leeloo in the 1997 sci fi blockbuster.
A tailored surname name, but also inspired a tree.
Also spelled Lindsey, this surname became a smash hit for girls in the US thanks to actor Lindsay Wagner – better known as The Bionic Woman on television in the 1970s.
Another flower name, with a lovely, on-trend sound.
A Hebrew name meaning “light for me,” Lior is unisex, while Liora is exclusively feminine.
A New Testament name, traditional Lois is best-known to contemporary parents through Lois Lane, of Superman fame, or The Family Guy’s Lois. (Or both!)
George Sand chose this name for a character in an 1833 novel; others followed, and it has been used in small numbers over the years.
In 1856, “Lorena” was the title of a hit song, popular on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line during the Civil War.
A 1960s smash hit, Lori felt like a fresher take on classic Laura during the era.
The feminine form of Lorenzo, and thus another Lawrence option for our daughters.
Created for the title character in 1869 novel Lorna Doone, this name was meant to be romantic. It’s also edible, thanks to the Lorna Doone cookies named after the novel.
A region of France, borrowed for our daughters.
A Charlotte nickname, vintage and sweet.
A daring flower name possibility.
A place name that feels a little bit like an elaboration of Louisa. After all, it was named for King Louis XIV of France.
Another French place name, Lourdes is famous for apparitions of the Virgin Mary. That makes Lourdes more a spiritual choice than a geographic one.
Maybe too big as a first, but possibly a richly appealing middle.
A medieval rarity kept alive in historical fiction.
Poet Richard Lovelace coined Lucasta in the 1600s, inspired by the Latin phrase lux casta – pure light.
A Spanish elaboration of Luz, meaning light – and also connected to the Virgin Mary.
The French feminine form of Lucien, this name seems at least as wearable as Vivienne and other French names for girls.
A Lucia elaboration created by Cervantes, rare Lucinda claims deep literary roots.
There’s something intense about Lucretia. Maybe it’s thanks to political power-player Lucrezia Borgia, a figure who continues to fascinate, centuries after she lived in Renaissance Italy.
A sweetly vintage nickname name for Louisa, Lula could stand on its own in our age of Luna and Lyla.
A Finnish word meaning snow, and sharing the Lu sound.
Lupita is a Spanish nickname for Guadalupe. It’s been made world famous by talented Kenyan-Mexican actor Lupita Nyong’o.
The Latin word for light, and a tailored, sharp possibility for a child’s name.
It’s possible that Linet and Lynet come from the tales of King Arthur and Camelot. A linnet is a type of bird. And Lynette or Lynette could simply be Lynn-plus-ette, a cousin to Annette and so many similar names. While some spellings never really caught on, Lynette had a good run in the 1960s.
A feminine form of Greek masculine name Lysander.
What are your favorite girl names starting with L?
First published on November 9, 2020, this post was updated and re-published on August 9, 2021 and again on August 22, 2022.