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. It’s beautiful and I think am going to use it. Between Linnea & Felicity. I feel Linnea, while less recognizable, “Linn-what?” I feel it has more gravitas and is worth the effort. We shall see.

  2. I love this name. The one person I know who has it pronounces it le NAY (like Renee). I always want to spell it Linnae, though.