Lucy: Baby Name of the DayLucy topped the charts one hundred years ago – and is back on top again today.

Thanks to phancymama for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.

Lucy and Lucia

Sometimes we dismiss Lucy as a nickname. Only it isn’t so. In medieval English, formal, Latin names co-existed with vernacular versions. Cecily evolved from Cecilia; Margery from Margaret. (The Marjorie spelling? That’s courtesy of marjoram, the herb.)

Translating back and forth created a handful of entirely new names. Nigel, for example, evolved from Neil, in a complicated game of whisper-down-the-alley. And James wandered down many a path as it became the classic choice we know and love. But mostly, we find winners and losers. Cecily and Margery have fallen out of favor. Mary long outranked Maria – though that’s no longer so.

But Lucy outpaces the Latin Lucia from which the name emerged.


Lucia comes from Lucius, a Roman given name derived from lux – light. Lucius appeared in the ancient world, on prominent Romans and a minor New Testament figure. Popes – three in total – took the name. And Lucia was heard early days, too. There’s a fourth century saint from the era of the Diocletian persecutions of Christians.

More recently, in the 1920s, author EF Benson published the Mapp and Lucia stories, detailing the misadventures of two dear friends in their small English village.

But Lucy feels most English, while Lucia belongs to the romance languages.

Pevensie and Friends

CS Lewis chose the name for the youngest of the four Pevensie siblings in The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. The Narnia books eventually make her Queen Lucy the Valiant. That feels like an inspiring reason to consider the name for a daughter.

Other famous characters include:

  • Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, and Sir Walter Scott all gave the name to fictional characters. Wordsworth borrowed it for poems. Bram Stoker made her an early victim in Dracula. EM Forster gave us the unforgettable Lucy Honeychurch in A Room With a View, which became a celebrated 1985 film.
  • Nineteenth century reformer Lucy Stone puts in on the list of suffragatte names.
  • It belongs to a character from comic strip Peanuts, forever moving Charlie Brown’s football at the last second, and operating her not-always helpful advice booth.
  • The Beatles’ trippy hit song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” inspired at least a few real-life girls … sometimes with the middle name Diamond.
  • Rom coms love the name. Sandra Bullock has worn it twice; Drew Barrymore, once. Kristin Wiig voices the special agent who eventually marries Gru in the Despicable Me series. It’s her name, too.
  • Hale. Liu, and Lawless are just three famous actors by the name.

I Love Lucy

In the 1950s, Lucille Ball became a household name. A model turned chorus girl, she found success playing a ditzy housewife named Liz on the radio. It inspired her to play Lucy Ricardo, alongside real-life husband Desi Arnaz, on I Love Lucy. She fought to do the show her way, taking an early version of it on the road as a comedy act. Only after its success did CBS agree to move forward with the series.

The show debuted in October 1951, and occupies a place in American pop culture history.

Not only because the show remains beloved, all these decades later. Ball achieved many a first. As co-owner, and later owner, of Desilu Productions, she became the first woman to run a major television studio. When she needed rest after her second pregnancy, her show introduced the entire idea of re-runs. (They proved wildly popular.) She scored several Primetime Emmys and dozens of other awards.

Her daughter shares her name, too – though they spelled it Lucie.

Complete … or Short?

Some dismiss it as a nickname, but like Mary, it’s brief and complete.

But it could be short for a longer name, too. There’s Lucille, obviously. And:

  • Louise or Louisa, or maybe Eloise
  • Lucinda or Lucia, or even Luciana/Lucianna
  • On the super obscure side: Lucasta, Ludovica, Lucienne, or Lucretia

By the Numbers

It appears that parents prefer just Lucy.

The name ranked in the US Top 100 every year from 1880 into 1924. While it faded in the 1970s and 80s, edging towards obscurity, it reversed course in the 90s. As of 2010, Lucy returned to the Top 100. Today it ranks #51, the highest ranking for all of the twenty-first century. It’s popular across the English-speaking world, too.

I’d call the name preppy and polished. Literary and gutsy, but still antique and sweet. It’s a good girl name with a lot of spirit, a sister for Charlotte and Alice, an alternative to Lily. The name works for a child or an adult, an artist or a senator. Given the name’s popularity, odds are that it will be worn by both.

What do you think of Lucy? Do you prefer it as a nickname, or on its own?

First published on July 9, 2013, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on August 24, 2019.

Lucy: Baby Name of the Day

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. A very minor comment b/c it caught my eye — I doubt the derivation of the spelling “Marjorie” from the herb. The herb didn’t get the \r\ in the initial vowel until the 16th C, in English (the majority of the spellings in the Middle English dictionary are maj- not marj- for the herb,, while marj/mari- spellings of Margaret were in use by at least the 14th C (

  2. I love the name Lucy. Both on its own, and as a nickname for Lucinda, Lucina or Lucianna. I’ve also thought how lovely it would be as a nickname for Lucasta or Lucretia, and I like your idea of Louisa nn Lucy as well. I like the short and sweet but refined and elegant feel of Lucy, that it’s classy and present in literature, in a lot of my favourite books in fact, as well as that it’s the first name of my favourite writer Lucy Maud Montgomery. I guess the spelling Lucie would be slightly more original, or Lucia, but Lucy is gorgeous too.

  3. Lucy is so lovely! Lucia’s probably my favourite formal version but I love it as a full name too. My top three two-syllable, ends in the ee sound are Xanthe, Sylvie and Lucy.

  4. My father wanted to call me Lucy, with the given name of Lucifer. *sigh*

    That said, I find it strange that Wilhelmina with the nn Mina is my favorite name for a girl, given the Mina-Lucy connection in Dracula.

  5. Lucy is my husband’s favourite girl name. It was in 2005 when we named our daughter. He wanted to call her Lucy. I wanted to call her Lucinda, with the option of the nickname Lucy. In the end we named her Rose. Partly because my Nanna’s name is/was also Lucy. She was alive when our daughter was born and I thought it might be strange to choose one Grandma’s name over the other, when all 4 of them were alive.

    We also had babies in 2007 and 2011. Lucy was still at the top of our girl list, especially as my Nanna passed away in 2006. But both babies were boys, so Lucy is the ‘name that got away’ in our family. Her increasing popularity is slightly discouraging, especially when friends used the name. I also know of a family back in the UK who named their (now teenage) Lucy after the Beatles song – a sister to Eleanor (‘Rigby’.)

    1. My sister is actually a Lucy Eleanor! Which I would love to say was a Beatles tribute but actually neither of my parents are fans!

  6. Lucy is the name I have been trying to replace since my sister named her son Lucas in 2010. It has not been an easy task. Alice fits the bill nicely, but I don’t love the idea of reusing first initials. Cecily has the same issue as Alice. Lucy Pevensie sparked my love for the name.

    1. My Grandma Lucy had a sister named Alice. 🙂
      We used Rose instead of Lucy. Jane is another short & sweet name that I would use.
      I also like Sylvia. If you like Cecily, perhaps you’d like Sylvia?

      1. Great names! I do adore Sylvia (and Sylvie), but the husband does not share my enthusiasm. I, apparently, like names that have ‘s’ and ‘l’ sounds.

        1. How about Dulcie or Celia? Moves you away from the Lu- sound while maintaining the L and S sound.

  7. I really like Lucy and it’s on my husband-approved list for the next baby. I’m just afraid of the popularity. Our first daughter’s name doesn’t even rank in the top 1,000 nationally but Lucy is in the top 100 for my state.

  8. I am so glad you featured this name! Lucy is the most usable of my hubby’s favorites. So it’s a name we talk about a lot. I’ve wondered if it’s grown up enough to use with sisters Clare and Katharine.

    1. I’ve always thought Lucy and Clare went together perfectly – they both have very similar meanings and are both Latin in origin, not to mention both being saints.

      I think Clare, Katherine and Lucy sound wonderful together!

      1. I am so glad to hear that. I found out recently I am expecting and hubby’s heart is set on Lucy Caroline for a girl. I like everything about it except how Lucy and Katharine work as sisters. I’ll just have to reread your comment when doubt creeps up.

          1. Rereading this post and the comments more than 2 years later because that baby ended up being a boy. This time I’m expecting a girl and husband still favors Lucy Caroline! I still bounce around between Grace, Rosemary, Theresa, and a host of favorites. His consistency may win me over.

  9. Thank you! This is one of my favorite names! I am really in love with the nickname Lilou, short for Lucy, of late. I’ve always had a soft spot for “L” names, but most of them seem too girly and un-serious for a real person. That doesn’t mean I stop loving Layla and Lola, but Lucy could be worn beautifully on an actual person– and people would still take her seriously.