She’s an Ancient Roman goddess and a Spanish saint, too.
Thanks to Virginia for suggesting Laetitia as our Baby Name of the Day.
First, a confession: I hesitated to write this post because spelling Laetitia makes my head hurt.
Laetitia is a reasonable version of the oldest form, but this spelling has never cracked the US Top 1000.
Instead Leticia was most popular in the 1970s and 80s. Surprised? It was also the age of Alicia. Letitia was more popular in the nineteenth century, but also saw some use during Leticia’s heyday.
But the real star was Latisha, a name that peaked in 1979.
La- names were very much in vogue for African American parents in the 1970s and 80s: Latoya and Latasha also ranked in the US Top 200, and the spelling Latesha was also seen. Short form Tisha also had a good run.
This is an interesting split, then – on sound alone, this feels like a mom name, the kind of trendy choice that is tied to an era. Latisha is now mom to Ava or Zoe or Nevaeh, just like Tiffany and Jen.
But Latisha doesn’t quite seem like the same name as Laeticia, right? And Laeticia, with that -ia ending, possible short form Lettie, and her lacy, antique feel, seems ripe for revival.
There’s much more to recommend this name:
- Laetitia was a minor Roman goddess, charged with happiness and joy, from the Latin laeta – happy. (Cue the inescapable Pharrell song.)
- She’s been heard for ages. Medieval English gives us the lovely form Lettice – which is sadly dismissed as too close to lettuce to wear.
- Michelle Rodriguez has played Letty – Leticia – Ortiz in The Fast and the Furious franchise. Leticia is the most common Spanish spelling of the name.
- That said, the brand new Queen Letizia of Spain is a former newscaster. Either way, this feels like a potential crossover name, along the lines of Sofia and Lucia.
You may have heard of French supermodel Laetitia Casta. Laetitia is the most common French spelling, and Laetitia peaked in the early 1980s in France, too. But there’s more to her name. Casta’s father is originally from Corsica, and Corsica was home base for the cult of Saint Leticia, a virgin martyr of indeterminate date. The name seems to be especially popular there. Napoleon Bonaparte’s mother was Maria Letizia, the daughter of a noble Corsican family.
Both Oscar Wilde and Agatha Christie used versions of this name for fictional characters. Letitia Tyler was a former First Lady of the US, though poor health meant that she rarely made public appearances. A few years later, Vice President Adlai Stevenson was also married to a Letitia.
There are plenty of other examples of notables wearing one form of the name or another, from ancient history to the 21st century.
And yet, it isn’t clear which spelling would be the easiest to wear – I lean towards Leticia, but that’s based on nothing more than a preference for the look of the name, and, I suppose, an obvious means to reach the nickname Lettie.
Overall, if you’re after a romantic vintage name, Laetitia has the right look and feel, and Lettie is a very on-trend short form. But be prepared to choose your spelling, and repeat often!