Thanks to phancymama for suggesting Lucy as our Baby Name of the Day.
In the Middle Ages, most names had a formal Latin version as well as a vernacular form for everyday use. Written records tend to favor the Latin. They’re not necessarily a neat, predictable set of equivalents, and entirely new names emerged from the process of Latinizing and Anglicizing – Nigel, for one.
Many of the Latinate versions are more popular – Cecilia rather than Cecily, for example. But in Lucy’s case, she’s the common form of Lucia – and far more popular than her lovely formal version.
There are plenty of reasons to love Lucy:
- Like Mary, Lucy is a brief, yet complete name.
- She comes from the Latin lux – light.
- Lucia, Lucille and Luciana all rank in the current US Top 1000, making her the go-to nickname for many formal names.
- There are possibilities beyond those three – this post on Lulu suggests lots of longer names, many of which could easily lead to Lucy.
Her popularity has soared and plummeted over the years. She ranked in the US Top 100 every year from 1880 through 1924. By the 1970s and 80s, Lucy seemed headed towards obscurity. But she reversed course in the 1990s, climbing again. She broke into the Top 100 in 2010, and made it to #66 by 2012.
References range from the musical to the literary to just plain fun:
- The Beatles’ trippy song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was a hit – and I’ve found references to girls named Lucy Diamond, both real and fictional.
- The youngest Pevensie sibling in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe answered to this name – that’s the darling Georgie Henley in the film adaptation in the photo to the right.
- Charlotte Bronte created a heroine by the name for her 1853 novel Villette. Jane Austen used the name, too, as did Sir Walter Scott.
- The funny pages give us The Peanuts, including bossy pants Lucy.
- Nineteenth century reformer Lucy Stone makes this a suffragette name.
- The poet Wordsworth was fond of the name, using it in more than one poem.
- It’s a saint’s name, though she’s often known as Lucia.
- 1950s sitcom powerhouse I Love Lucy made Lucille Ball a household name.
- There’s a Lucy in Dracula, one of the Count’s first victims.
- Actresses include Liu and Lawless.
- It’s the given name of Miss Honeychurch in A Room With a View.
- Sandra Bullock wore the name in two separate romantic comedies. Drew Barrymore answered to Lucy in one.
Doubtless I’m missing a few dozen, as the name’s long history of use has given us plenty of distinguished bearers.
Today Lucy is preppy and polished, but tough to pigeon hole. From Lucille Ball to Dracula’s victim, the Beatles song to the saint, there are plenty of images. She could be an artist or a senator, and given the popularity of the name, odds are that she’ll be both.
That’s the only drawback to this name. We’re in love with ‘oo’ names and ‘L’ names in recent years – think of Ruby and Lily and Luna and June. This makes Lucy a great, on-trend option – but one that many parents have on their shortlists.