Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets … or so proclaims the song from the musical Damn Yankees.
But what do Lola’s parents want to put on their daughter’s birth certificate?
It’s Just Lola
Lola as a given name is on the rise, fueled by a long list of celebrities who have given the name to their girls: Annie Lennox, Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards, Jennie Garth and Peter Faccinelli, and Kelly Ripa. We all grew up on The Kinks’ famous song, but somehow in 2012, Lola’s L-O-LA, Lola refrain sounds more like a lullaby than a cautionary tale.
For what is worth, Lola’s history is longer than you might imagine. She was in the US Top 1000 from 1880 into the 1970s. She disappeared for a few decades, but by 2002, she was back in the rankings. At #243 in 2011, she’s slipped a bit from her recent peak of #211 in 2010, but it is too soon to said if she’ll slide farther or resume her climb. With names like Lila all the rage, it is easy to imagine Lola – just Lola – wearing well on a little girl.
Plenty of parents will want something slightly more substantial to put on their daughter’s birth certificate, just in case Lola seems too showgirl. The options are plentiful:
Dolores is the traditional way to get to Lola, but even with names like Hazel and Harriet sounding clunky-cool, Dolores still seems lost in limbo.
Eleanor could work, too, though Ellie and Nora are more obvious.
Elizabeth seems like an unlikely way to get to Lola, but the famous dancer – and mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria – was born Elizabeth Rosanna.
Eloise – The most obvious of the El- options to get to Lola, Eloise’s strong o sound makes her a good candidate.
Lorelei is already a temptress, a siren from Germanic folklore. Lola is just as daring, but makes Lorelei quite approachable.
If Lorelei makes the list, how about Laura? It is easy to imagine a young child tripping over Laura’s aur sound and calling an aunt or a little sister Lola instead. There’s Lorna, too.
Charlotte seems like a ready way to get to Lola, with her lo combination in the middle. Again, like Eleanor, it isn’t that the sound doesn’t work – it is just that Charlie, Carlie, and Lottie are much more obvious options. Caroline is even more of a reach, but if Charlotte works, then why not Caroline? Or maybe it would be better to opt for Carlotta – a little bit clunky, but somehow I’d expect a Carlotta to have a spunky, unexpected nickname, too.
Here’s another thought: how ‘bout Lorraine? The French place name peaked back in the 1928, but was never so common that she feels dated. Today, she boasts the same retro swing as Irene or Loretta, and with that strong Lo sound, Lola follows naturally. Hmmm … how about Loretta?
If Florence and company can lead to the short form Flo, why not lose the F and call her Lo … la?
The Material Girl put the spiritual place name Lourdes on the map, along with nickname Lola. Madonna’s firstborn has long preferred Lourdes. Still, we now find the idea of Lourdes called Lola reasonable – or at least familiar.
Planning on using a family surname like Lowery or Lowell in the first spot? If the last name begins with Lo, you might be able to parlay that androgynous surname into a spunky short form for a daughter.
Starbaby favorite Marlow – or Marlowe or Marlo- seems like an obvious pick.
The same logic earns modern nature name Willow a spot on this list.
Mallory has had a good run in recent decades. Her lor sound made me wonder … could you call a little Mallory Lola?
Lolita is actually a nickname for Lola, not the other way around! But by American standards, the shorter name is always the least formal version. Could Nabokov’s scandalous novel ever recede into the background far enough to make Lolita an option for a daughter? Maybe …
Let’s end with a list of legitimate names that are seldom heard – but many of which could lead to Lola.
What do you think of Lola? Would you use her as a given name? A nickname? If so, for which name?