Lovisa: Baby Name of the Day

Lovisa, 1828-1871, queen, married to king Karl XV

From Clovis to Aloysius to Ladusky, some of the most interesting name variants have come from Louis.  Here’s yet another.

Thanks to Carolyn for suggesting Lovisa as our Baby Name of the Day.

When I see Lovisa, my first thought is that the ‘v’ might be stylized.  Like the way that Bulgari jewelry writes their brand name BVLGARI.  The company was founded by a Greek-born jeweler who launched his business in Rome.  Bulgari is based on his surname, but the ‘v’ is based on classical Latin, where ‘u’ is written as ‘v’, reminiscent of ancient engravings – but with no implications for pronunciation.

When I see Lovisa, my instinct is to revert to Louisa, as in May Alcott.

But when my eye notices the ‘v’, I’ll say lo VEE sah.  Isn’t that an interesting sound?

Lovisa is an accepted spelling of the name in Sweden.  The pronunciation is somewhere between Louisa and lo VEE sah.  The ‘v’ isn’t as sharp as it is in English – it’s a little more like a ‘w’ – though I’m not sure I’m hearing it correctly.

What’s certain is that King William Frederick I of Prussia had a daughter named Louisa Ulrika back in 1720.  She was named for her godmother, Queen Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden.  The young princess grew up to marry the future Swedish king, Adolf Frederick.  Her sons Gustav and Charles both became kings of Sweden.  In her new country, she was known as Lovisa.

She wasn’t exactly beloved.  Sweden’s monarchy was ornamental.  In Lovisa’s native Prussia, kings ruled with absolute authority.  Lovisa sold her diamonds to plot a coup d’etat.  She quarreled with her sons and disliked her daughters-in-law.  Accounts suggest that she was snobbish and even cruel.

And yet, she definitely puts the royal stamp on Lovisa.

In 1851, another Swedish princess wore the name.  Lovisa Josefina Eugenia was the daughter of King Charles XV of Sweden.  Her mother was Princess Louise of the Netherlands, so presumably Lovisa was chosen to honor her, rather than the late – and controversial – queen.  The Dutch princess was also known as Lovisa in Sweden.  That’s her in the portrait above.

Other uses include:

  • Screen legend Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson.
  • German-born Ester Salomon took the name Lovisa when she became an opera singer in eighteenth century Sweden.

There are others, but we have a tendency to write their names Louisa or Louise in English, which makes it tough to track them down.  Lovise and Lovis are also used in contemporary Scandinavia.

Lovis is used in the 1981 Astrid Lindgren children’s book, Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter.  In English translations, Lovis sometimes becomes Lena.

Lovisa had a moment of popularity in Sweden, ranking in the Top 25 in the 1990s.  But she’s faded in recent years.

In the US, she’s nearly unknown.  But would she work?  Maybe …

  • The letter L is having a moment, from Lily and Lila to Lucy and other Lou-names.
  • We’re quite fond of the letter v in girls’ names, like Olivia and Ava.
  • While Louisa isn’t back in the US Top 1000, she’s been rising – and hovered just outside the rankings in 2012.
  • Lovisa has “lov” in the name.  If choices like Carys and Esme with similar meanings appeal, maybe Lovisa will, too.

If you’re after an unexpected Swedish heritage choice and names like Ingrid don’t appeal, then Lovisa could be a charming, satisfying name, something just a little different.

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4 Comments

Nah, it’s definitely the same V sound as in English. The pronunciation in the link sounds a little odd.

One of my great-great-great grandmothers, born in 1835, was called Lovisa. It’s a beautiful name but it’s so common here in Sweden that it’s also a little boring. :/

When I was a little, we lived in a small town that still had quite a few Scandinavian immigrants and you’d hear an occasional Lovis, however they were usually men! I’d truly love to meet a little Lovisa, it’s too lispy with my “S” surname, but this one name that deserves a second look.

I noticed a similar name in the obits in today’s newspaper: Lovila. Her parents were Soren and Annie; surnames sound Swedish. Lovila was born in 1929.