i (Photo credit: chrisinplymouth)

Isabella is big, and plenty of parents have went off seeking alternatives, names just a little bit different, but with many of the same sounds.

Thanks to Pauline for suggesting one that fits perfectly.  Isalore is our Baby Name of the Day.

Alternatives to Isabella are plentiful.  If you’re after a name that starts with Isa, there’s:

Given all of the enthusiasm for Isa, I was confident of two things: first, that I’d find the name Isalore in the historical record, and second, that she’d be solidly feminine.  Turns out that I wasn’t completely right on either count.

Let’s start with gender – while Isalore is out there, appearing in sparing use according to US Census records, it appears that Isalore might be either an alternative to – or a misinterpretation of – Isidore.  The saintly Isidore – there’s more than one – has never been big for boys in the US, but he’s not unknown, either.  Also spelled Isadore and Isidor, he’s the male cousin to Isidora and Isadora.

A handful of census records also suggested that Isalore – when it was clearly feminine – might actually be better recorded as Ivalou.  If that seems improbable, it is worth noting that Iva was once a popular given name for girls, and the element -lou had a good run, too.  In some ways it is more probable than Isalore.

This leaves us with two theories about the name:

  • The surname Isalor seems to have been in sparing use.  I can’t confirm Isalor’s origins or meanings, but I can find a few people by the surname.  The practice of bestowing family surnames as given names is common, and explains many a rare first name.
  • But the better way to think about Isalore, I think, is as a compound name.  Smoosh together Isa and Lore and you arrive at Isalore.

Isalore fits with lots of other smooshes: Liselore, Liselotte, Hannelore, Anneliese.  Isalore feels less obvious that some of those pairings.  We think of Isa as Spanish, and she almost always is, but she is also a possible German short form for Isabella.  Lore, on the other hand, is typically German, borrowed from Eleonore.  As an independent name, Lore is big in Belgium, too.  Lore sounds something like Laura, or should I say Lora?  There’s a separate Basque name Lore, derived from their word for flower.

This means her pronunciation is probably the four syllable ee SA lohr UH, but you could probably argue for the three-syllable ee sa LOR without any difficulty.

If you’re after the rarest of rarities, Isalore is one to consider.

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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. Ivalou seems like it would be a variation on the Icelandic Ivalo, meaning sinew a la Princess Josephine Sophia Ivalo Mathilda of Denmark.

  2. Isalore is neat-o! I could suggest it to someone looking for an alternative to Laura. I like it. But I too am more intrigued with Ivalou. I love Ivy(but He doesn’t) and am enamoured with the Lou/-oo sound.

    Maybe you could elaborate on Ivalou?
    If not, oh well. I still think Isalore is neat, especially since Isadore is so heavily used on His side: it’s his Dad’s first middle, His Grandpop’s first and His Great Grandpop’s middle. How my guy missed out, I’ll never understand! 😀

  3. Isalore is lovely, but I am far more intrigued by Ivalou (an interesting way to get to Ivy [or Loulou], which makes me curious to see if there are any other rare gems like it). I also love Isabeau and Isadora.


  4. I typically like names with lore in them. Hannalore, Lorelei, Loretta. Isalore just doesn’t do anything for me. I think I would go with Isadora or Isabeau for an Isabella alternative. Now, Ivalou, that seems sort of inspired!