Looking for a nickname-proof name with history for a daughter? Here’s one that fits the bill.
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Leah as our Baby Name of the Day.
Leah: In the Beginning
Leah, she of the tender eyes, spends much of the Book of Genesis in competition with her younger sister, Rachel. They both marry Jacob and both bear him children.
Philosophers and writers loved to compare them. Philo associated Leah with reasoning and Rachel with feeling. Augustine made Rachel the symbol of monastic life; Leah, of the active one. In Dante’s Purgatory, Leah explained that Rachel’s “joy is in reflection, mine in act.”
Several meanings are suggested: weary, cow, ruler.
What we know for certain is that the name was among the Old Testament choice to find favor following the Protestant Reformation, and was in use by the late 1600s in the New World.
Leah: An Abundance of Leahs
There are Leahs aplenty.
The name hovered around the US Top 200 in the nineteenth century, then fell into the 300s and 400s in the 1940s and 50s.
By 1979, Leah had broke into the Top 100, and has stayed in or near the Top 100 ever since. The name peaked in 2010, at #24.
This makes Leah a mom name and a little girl’s name at once. Combined with Biblical roots, it also makes the name feel timeless.
Famous Leahs include:
- Late nineteenth century novelist Belle Kendrick Abbott’s Leah Mordecai is the story of the challenges faced by a young Jewish woman growing up in the South.
- Celebrated Israeli author Leah Goldberg wrote everything from poetry to children’s stories.
- Actresses include King of Queens‘ Leah Remini and Glee’s Lea Michelle.
- Roy Orbison recorded a single by the name in the 1960s. Donnie Iris scored a hit with “Ah! Leah!” in 1980.
- One of the Gosselin sextuplets of Kate Plus 8 fame wears the name.
- It’s the name of a werewolf in the Twilight series.
- Actor John Schneider has a daughter called Leah. So does Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.
That’s an awful lot of Leahs, right?
Leah: La La Lovely
It’s not just Leah, either.
There’s also Lee, popular for boys and girls for years, as well as Leigh, which peaked in the 1970s. Layer in all of those girls with names ending in -ley, -lie, -lee, -leigh, and -lea, and the sound is quite familiar.
The US Top 100 is also home to Ella, Lillian, Lily, Layla, Aaliyah, and Ellie, with Eliana, Liliana, Delilah, and lots of other lovely L-heavy names not far behind.
Alternate spelling Lia charted at #377, and hold-the-h Lea at #676.
Leah: Timeless Favorite
Despite such a long history of use, Leah remains far more ageless than many a 1970s favorite. It’s tough to imagine a newborn named Stacy or Amber in 2015. But Leah still seems pitch perfect.
If you’re after a nickname-proof name for a daughter with deep history, and a current, but not trendy, feel, Leah is one to consider.
What do you think of Leah? Is this name timeless, or is it starting to fade?