Lula: Baby Name of the DayFile Lula with so many great Lu- names. Call it less formal than Louisa, but not quite as casual as Lulu.

Our Baby Name of the Day comes from the quirky girl names list, with thanks to Felecia for the suggestion.

Lula: Literary Charmer

If you think Lula is just some new-fangled twist on Lucy and Lola, this post might come as a surprise.

It’s the birth name of celebrated Southern author Carson McCullers. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, we learn that Holly Golightly started out life as a Lula, too. JK Rowling gave the name to a minor character in The Cuckoo’s Calling, and there’s a minor figure in To Kill a Mockingbird, too.

Lula: Vintage Gem

In fact, the name appeared in the US Top 100 from 1880 through 1911, and remained in the US Top 1000 into the 1960s.

Rockabilly anthem “Be-Bop-a-Lula” was recorded first by Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps back in 1956. At least a dozen others have covered it. While Vincent is singing about a girl, he probably chose the name simply because it worked – and, of course, would have been familiar as a woman’s name at the time.

Looking for one more musical tie-in? It’s also the given name of Stevie Wonder’s mother – and his first songwriter, Grammy-nominated for “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

Lula: Southern Flair

Maybe the song deserves credit, or perhaps the literary references shape the name’s image. But something about this one feels country – or maybe Southern is the right word. I expect to find a Dukes of Hazzard character called Aunt Lula. (Only I didn’t.)

Laura Dern wore the name in Wild At Heart, the 1990 David Lynch movie also starring Nicolas Cage. It’s dark and twisted, but the movie wraps up with a happy ending. The movie takes place in the American South, based on a novel by Barry Gifford. Gifford continued the couple’s story in additional novels.

A small town in Georgia bears the name – and the story fascinates. Apparently, the engineers building the railroad in the 1870s were taken with a local beauty, Miss Louise – or maybe Mary Louise – Phinizy. The daughter of a wealthy Georgia family, her nickname inspired the place name. The family tree is easy enough to trace, and the Phinizys and descendants feature in plenty of intriguing tales. Louise’s father invested in the railroad, so perhaps there’s more to the name choice.

Lula: Nickname Name

As Miss Phinizy might attest, despite ample evidence that this name stands alone, it likely started out as a short form of Louise and company.

Today, nearly any Lou/Lu name could lead to Lula. Tallulah includes the sound, of course.

But it seems more likely to be bestowed independently, an alternative to Luna, Lucia, Lila, Layla, and even Lily.

Lula: Celebrity Baby Name

Back in 1994, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore reigned as the hottest celebrity baby namers of the decade. They’d welcomed Rumer in 1988 and Scout in 1991 before third daughter, Tallulah Belle, arrived. By some standards, it might be the tamest name of the trio. The youngest daughter reportedly preferred the nicknamed Lula.

Fast-forward to 2016, and it’s the name Liv Tyler gave to her youngest child and only daughter, a sister to Sailor and Milo.

Lula: By the Numbers

Since leaving the US Top 1000 in the mid-1960s, this name has stayed under-the-radar. Just 9 girls were given the name in 2001. In 2002, it rose to fifteen.

But then all of those Lou/Lu names started to rise, and by 2008, 51 girls were named Lula. In 2016, that number rose to 116 – the highest count since 1965.

Liv Tyler probably put this name on some parents’ radar, but that’s not the only factor. Pitbull sings about a girl by the name in his single “El Taxi,” from Grammy-winning 2015 album Dale. It’s no lullaby, but it makes the name more familiar.

Incidentally, in Brazil this one goes to the boys. It serves as a short form of Luiz. Former president Luiz da Silva is known by the nickname.

Lula: Promising Possibility

While the name continues to rise in use, it remains comfortably outside of the US Top 1000. It feels vintage, Southern, and slightly offbeat. If you love Mae and Pearl, Sadie and Ruby, this might belong on your list, too.

If you’re after something as friendly and informal as Molly or Daisy, but far less frequently heard, Lula belongs on your list.

Would you consider this name for a daughter? Or do you prefer a different Lou/Lu name?


The original version of this post was published on November 7, 2013. It was revised and republished on September 27, 2017.

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. Lula or Blythe??? so torn for a thrid baby girl name. Have a Forrest (son) and Salem (daughter) so far. Lula is a family name on my side that my husband doesn’t love and Blythe is just something we both like, although he is not totally in love with either:( also scared about a third child which might be park of it. Planning to use Alice as middle name, for his Mom, even though Lula Alice and Blythe Alice are a mouth full… you don’t say them together all that often anyways. HELP!!!!

  2. And let’s not forget about Sailor and Lula in Wild at Heart;) I love Lula and that is my daughters name.

  3. The first Lula I think of is Stephanie Plum’s sidekick in Janet Evanovich’s novels. She’s one heck of a lady…if any one else has read the books.

  4. I love Lula- and pondered it for this baby on the way- but it was a name of one of my grandmother’s dear friends, and since I am using my grandmother’s name in the middle spot, I didn’t want her to feel trumped by Lula! (We have settled on Alice Joyzelle.)

  5. I name my chickens names that I hope to hear on more children someday. One of my hens is named Tallulah. I often call her by her nickname Lula Beth.

  6. I swear, image search is the bane of my naming existence. A questionable picture can completely ruin a name for me, because I just know a future child will at some point google their own name. I remember flirting with the idea of Elske at one point, only to discover that google images for “Elske” are pretty much exclusively women in demeaning positions (and I have filters for these things in place). Sad day…
    I do think this is a really pretty name. Lulu is so cutesy for my tastes but Lula is just a touch more serious. I think it would wear well at any age.

      1. Oh my goodness…I just killed half an hour on your Pinterest, lol! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who scours Etsy for personalized items when I’m bored 😉 What a good idea though, instead of being discouraged by the less than great image searches, why not find the loveliest images possible?

  7. Great timing. Today I found out that I have a great-great aunt called Lula. Her siblings were Jessie, Nellie, Mary, Robert, John “Johnny” and Alexander “Sandy.”

  8. Just been on a camping trip w 180 friends and 70 kid. Including many a lulu. Elura, Iluka, Louis, Luca and Elula. All nicknamed lulu.