She’s botanical, feminine, artistic and undeniably underused, at least in the US.

Thanks to Bek for suggesting Linnea as Name of the Day.

Linnea isn’t new. She first appeared in the US Top 1000 in 1903. In 1945, she made it all the way to #744. But she’s been out of the rankings more years than she’s been in, and hasn’t appeared at all since 1955.

Meanwhile, Linda was a smash hit in the 1950s and 60s. Lynn and Lynne fared well, too, as well as Lynette and Lynda. In more recent years, we’ve seen the rise of Heather, Laurel and Olivia, as well as straight-from-nature choices like Willow and River.

True, the link to the natural world is a subtle one. Sweden’s Carl Linnaeus, he of the modern taxonomic system, was an eighteenth century botanist. When he wasn’t busy determining how to best classify things, Linnaeus was off re-naming the twinflower in honor of himself.

Actually, the twinflower is technically known as the linnaea borealis, and while a young Carl did initially christen the bloom after himself, in later years, he attempted to rename it the rudbeckia. Fellow botanist Jan Frederik Gronovious formalized the name.

While we’re on the subject of Carl, he already had a botanical link. The surname Linnaeus refers to the linden tree. So she’s a double botanical with a scientific edge.

Linnea may be rare in the US, but in Norway you’re as likely to meet a Linnea as an Emma – slightly more so, actually, as Linnea was the #1 name in Norway in 2008, while Emma came in at #2. She’s also a Top Ten pick in Sweden.

Search hard enough and you’ll find a few notables with the name. There’s scream queen Linnea Quigley, best known for her work in B-movies like The Return of the Living Dead. (She played Trash.) There’s also Linnéa Hillberg, a Swedish actress of a more serious bent, known for her work in Shakespearean productions.

Between the gore and the drama, there’s a lovely association for a child – the book Linnea in Monet’s Garden, a tale of a child who travels to Paris and Giverny to learn about Claude Monet’s water lily paintings. First published in 1987, the book has become something of a modern staple. Cristina Björk went on to write a few other Linnea adventures as well as similarly flavored stories like Vendela in Venice. The child in the story is thoroughly charming, and would probably thrill a little Linnea.

Now, in the great minds think alike category, I have to link you to Xanthe Linnea’s clever post about this name – which she featured yesterday! The post also provides a summary of the possible pronunication challenges – though linn AY uh seems reasonably straightforward.

She’s floral and feminine but with a surprising amount of strength. What’s not to love about Linnea?

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. I love Linnea! It’s elegant and yet down-to-earth. And I think it works well for a child or an adult.

  2. Linnea in Monet’s Garden is one of my favorite children’s books, so I’ve always liked the name. It’s not one I’d use myself. But if my grandchildren ever want to honor me, Linnea is my top pick of names related to Lyndsay!

  3. Congratulations, Muppy!

    As for this name, well, I just can’t seem to like it. I was trying to figure out why, and then I suddenly realised that I’m not very fond of names that have “in/lyn” in them anywhere. It’s not that I hate and despise the sound, it just doesn’t attract me that much (while “line” definitely does and “leen” frequently). So names like Linda, Madelyn, Rosalind, etc., never make it onto my lists of favourites.

  4. This name strikes a chord with me – I like it! When I was a child someone brought me a book about Claude Monet’s gardens in France and the little girl in the book was named Linnea. However, I have never met anyone with the name. I think it shall go on the list, seeing as how I am in the market for names of either gender at the moment (yes, Verity, that IS an announcement!)

    1. CONGRATULATIONS! I was just thinking that A. must be about to start nursery school this fall and I wondered if …

      Literally. This morning, as I walked through Baby Gap and realized that Clio will probably be in 2T by Christmas. WAHOO!

  5. Yeah, I have noticed the popularity of Linnea in Minnesota too. As are other Scandinavian names. Its not surprising though.

  6. In Sweden, there are two ways too pronounce this name. Some regions tend to say (lin-NEE-ah) while others tend to say (lin-NEAH-ah) it rhymes with the E in yeah. My major was Swedish, believe it or not, and I actually lived there, so I know a ton of Linneas. Despite me knowing quite a few of them, I still love the name.

  7. I know a Linnea. She’s about my age. She has seven children and works full time as a nurse, so just seeing this name makes me tired. Otherwise, I think it’s got potential.

  8. A few years ago Linnea would of been near top of my list, but despite what the SSA says, it appears to becoming relatively common in my area (Minnesota).

  9. I want to like it, but it’s not my thing. That said, I’ve got no real beef with it, just that it’s not my style. I’ll admit to saying LIN-ee-uh, which may be part of the issue. It also always reminds me of math (linear algebra is always my first thought) – and I actually like math – but don’t necessarily want to think of it when I see a name. That isn’t a major issue though, it’s just my mind’s silly association. It is kind of surprising it hasn’t been more popular.

  10. It’s pretty, but intuitive pronunciation can be a problem. I couldn’t ever use it for two reasons: my L last name and the hubby’s dislike of the unfamiliar! That said, it would be on my list if I were a single mom. 😉

    1. Now, isn’t it funny, I am very attracted to names that start with the same letter: David Duchovney. Susan Sarandon. Kathleen Kennedy. It was one of the reasons I wanted an “M” name for my little girl. But it does seem to polarize people, doesn’t it? And I had no idea, since it always sounded good to me. That would be a good naming topic for discusion. Alliteration: Love it or Leave it!