Thanks to Carolyn for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
CLOVIS, LUDOVICA, ALOYSIUS, LADUSKY
Most traditional first names with a long history of use morph and transform over time and across languages. But few have shifted as dramatically as Louis.
From Old High German, Ludwig means “famous in battle” or perhaps “famous warrior.”
Charlemagne’s oldest son was Louis. He followed his father to the throne of France, as would – eventually – seventeen more kings by the name. In Latin, Ludwig became Ludovicus.
The French took Ludovicus and transformed it to Louis. (Though the earliest rulers of the Franks answered to Clovis instead.)
That makes Louise the feminine form.
Royals from various European houses continued to use forms of the name across the centuries, and so we can trace the evolution of Ludwig to a seemingly different name, Lovisa.
King William Frederick I of Prussia had a daughter named Louisa Ulrika back in 1720. The princess was named for her godmother, Queen Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden.
The Prussian princess grew up to marry the future Swedish king, Adolf Frederick. Her sons Gustav and Charles would both become kings of Sweden eventually.
But back to her arrival in her new country. Louisa Ulrika became known as Lovisa in Sweden.
History tells us that Sweden welcomed her with open arms. The princess was highly educated, beautiful, and known for her interest in science and the arts. She learned the language quickly, too. And, perhaps most importantly, Lovisa gave the Swedish royal family something it desperately needed: heirs.
As the years passed, though, Lovisa’s popularity waned.
In Prussia, monarchs truly ruled, with significant authority. But in Sweden? Even in the eighteenth century, their kings were more ceremonial, constrained by parliament as well as the constitution.
As the years went by, Lovisa plotted against the government, selling diamonds to help stage a coup d’etat. She quarreled with her sons and disliked her daughters-in-law. Accounts suggest that she was haughty at best; perhaps even cruel.
And yet, she definitely puts the royal stamp on Lovisa.
LOVISA and LOUISE
Born in 1851, Lovisa Josefina Eugenia was the daughter of King Charles XV of Sweden and his wife, the former Princess Louise of the Netherlands, also known as Lovisa in her new country.
The name continued to shift, appearing as Lovisa in Swedish, and with a U nearly everywhere else.
And so Lovisa is, ultimately, the Swedish form of the French Louise.
It’s not clear if the royals helped popularize the name; usage in Sweden predates the first Queen Lovisa.
V for U
Let’s talk about that letter V for a minute.
Luxury brand Bulgari stylizes their name BVLGARI.
It’s a nod to classical Latin, where a U is typically written as a V.
Founded by a Greek-born jeweler who launched his business in Rome, Sotirios Voulgaris, BULGARI is an invention that brings to mind engravings in the Eternal City.
Knowing this, it’s tempting to ignore the V and opt for the same pronunciation as Louisa.
In Swedish, Lovisa sounds almost like Louisa. Just with a hint of V.
But in American English, lou and lov are very different sounds. It looks like lo-vi-sa, with a long “ee” sound in the middle.
With baby girl names like Olivia, Ava, and Evelyn in favor, a middle V might be an on-trend bonus. In fact, Lovisa and Olivia share that “vee” in the middle.
GRETA GARBO and MORE
A handful of famous women have answered to the name, all with ties to Sweden:
- German-born Ester Salomon took the name Lovisa when she became an opera singer in eighteenth century Sweden.
- Screen legend Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson.
- Swedish middle-distance runner Lovisa Lindh has represented her country in track and field at the Olympics.
Astrid Lindgren, the author best known for her Pippi Longstocking stories, is also the author of Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter. It was first published in 1981, decades after Pippi debuted. She gave the name Lovis – Louise – to a character in that story. English translations sometimes call her Lena.
We often translate historical Lovisas into Louisa or Louise in English, making it tougher to pin down just how common this name might feel.
If you’ve been to the mall lately, you might’ve spotted Australian jewellery chain Lovisa.
BY the NUMBERS
In Sweden, the baby name Lovisa has enjoyed considerable popularity in recent years. It’s ranked in the Swedish Top 100 since the late 1990s, reaching the Top 25 early in the 2000s.
In the US, it’s been used in tiny numbers over the years, but often too few to register in the US popular names data at all. In 2022, just seven girls born in the US were named Lovisa.
The name has slipped in use in Sweden in recent years, too, but remains familiar.
READY for DISCOVERY
Lovisa appears on relatively few baby names lists, and yet it might have potential.
- We love our L names, from Lily to Lucy to Layla.
- Middle V is a style bonus, too – just ask tens of thousands of parents choosing Olivia, Evelyn, and Ava.
- Classic Louisa and Louise have returned to the US Top 1000 in recent years.
But it’s another factor that might just give the baby name Lovisa a boost.
In 2022, Love debuted in the US Top 1000 rankings. The name had been quietly trending upwards in recent years, but a character on Netflix series You probably put it over the top.
If you like the idea of naming your daughter Love, but worry it’s a little much, opting for the full name Lovisa (or Lovise?) and calling her Love could be the perfect name compromise.
Overall, this might be the perfect stand-out/fits-in name, particularly if you’re looking for something to honor Swedish heritage or just take a familiar classic in a fresh direction. The baby name Lovisa feels ready for discovery.
What do you think of the baby name Lovisa?
First published on February 18, 2014, this post was substantially revised and re-posted on June 24, 2023.