Louisa: Baby Name of the DayLouisa is a gentle antique with a literary vibe and spunky nicknames galore. No wonder it’s slowly attracting more attention.

Thanks to Alicia and Kim for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.

Louisa: Literary Gem

This ladylike name has been used for characters galore, including characters from both Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.

But it’s the author of Little Women that makes this name so instantly and inescapably literary.

Louisa May Alcott was an abolitionist and a suffragette, the daughter of writer, reformer, and Transcendentalist Amos Bronson Alcott. The family was poor – just like the fictional March family – and included four sisters. Again, just like her most famous characters. Alcott is said to have based rebellious Jo March on herself. The novel was first published in 1868, and has remained a favorite ever since.

Louisa: Nineteenth Century Mainstay

Miss Alcott is far from the only distinguished Louisa in the nineteenth century.

There’s also Mrs. John Quincy Adams, who was First Lady from 1825 through 1829.

All of this tracks with the name’s peak popularity. In 1880, Louisa ranked #130. It fell steadily throughout the next several decades, suggesting that the name’s peak use was well in the past. By 1970, the name had exited the US Top 1000 entirely.

Louisa: In the Family

Of course, it wasn’t just Louisa. The name is part of a bigger family, all related to the Germanic Chlodovech, from the elements famous and battle.

It’s a fierce meaning for a dainty name.

Dozens of Louis names have been heard over the generations: Ludwig and Aloysius, Ludovic and Luigi. And those are just the reasonably familiar masculine forms.

The Latinate Louisa has traditionally come in second place to the French Louise, a Top 20 favorite in the early part of the twentieth century. Luisa is the title of a Verdi opera and Louise is the founder of a religious order.

It’s heard throughout Europe and Latin America, too, in various forms. One of the Von Trapp children answered to the name – though in real life, she was named Maria Franziska.

Louisa: Nickname Rich

All of the Lou- names are associated with accomplished women, but they’re not too much to wear. That’s especially true thanks to all of the possible nicknames, including Lucy – which is really an independent name; Lou, the choice of Heidi Klum for her youngest; Lulu, as in the 1960s singer and a nickname for Louise Brooks; Lula, calling on a mix of Pitbull and Breakfast at Tiffany’s references; and perhaps even Lola.

Louisa: Comeback Kid

This name should wear well in 2016. It fits right in with traditional, feminine names for girls like Sophia and Isabella.

It’s almost hard to believe that the name hasn’t been more common, but it’s true. Around a decade ago, barely 100 girls received this name every year. As of 2014, that number had increased to 271 girls – but that’s still far fewer than the nearly 19,000 newborn Sophias.

What do you think of Louisa? Do you prefer another Lou- or Lu- name?

This post was originally published on March 12, 2010. It was substantially revised and re-posted on April 4, 2016.

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. My little Louisa is 3 now, she’s so beautiful but does have a fiery side to her, she gets quiet a few nick names from different people she’s been called , lulu, Louise, Louisa lemon cheese, Louisa squeeze-er, weeza, weez, squeeze, but I absolutely love her name, her middle name is Grace as she was born on Tuesday (as the poem/nursery rhym states… Tuesday child is full of grace)

  2. My gorgeous baby girl is Louisa Margaux. Thanks for reposting this regarding the name Louisa 🙂

  3. Don’t forget the polish Ladusky/Laduskia coming from Louise. I love the name Louise. I just can’t stand the pronunciation being butchered. Too much weesing for me. I live in the south so they tend to be hard on the last syllable and not light And soft like in French tongue. The French pronounce it so prettily.

  4. My little girl is called louisa nicole and she is so beautiful and dainty her name suits her so well

  5. I always understood that Hludwig/Ludwig was Latinised to Ludovicus, which then spread to France and became Louis/Louise/Louisa on one hand whilst in Italy/France/Portugal becoming Luis/Luisa and the Basque Luiza. It’s probably also worth highlighting the difference in pronunciation.

    Luisa is a character in some Calabrese fairy tales (Southern Italy), and there are many famous women named Luisa such as Luisa Ignacia Roldan (first documented female (Spanish) Baroque sculptor), freedom fighter Luisa C

  6. This thread is a bit old but I wondered if you ended up naming your baby Louisa? My name is Louisa and I’ve never gotten any disgusting looks for it! Ha. Most people say “oh, what an interesting and beautiful name”. To be honest, it’s taken me a lifetime to warm up to it but it’s lovely to see that so many people like it. My nicknames have been everything from Lou to Lulu, Lula, Lulie, Louie, Lucy, Louisie, Weezy, and Weesa 🙂

  7. SO happy to hear your thoughts on the name Louisa. My grandmother, Ann, recently passed away but she was from Louisa, Kentucky so we are definitely going with Louisa Ann…such a pretty little name!

  8. I’m so glad to see Lucy as a possible nickname for Louisa! I’ve been mulling that possibility over in my head for ages but most that I’ve mentioned it to have looked at me like I was crazy. I don’t have a problem going against the grain since I do so love the nickname Lucy, but I was so longing for a little validation that it did make sense in this case!

  9. I adore the name Louisa! I am pregnant with my second child (I have a son named Solomon), and if this one is a girl, Louisa Bess is the name I’m rallying for. It has such a warm, intelligent, antique feel, and it’s undiscovered and yet familiar sounding. What else could you ask for?!

  10. It’s fabulous to see some love for my eldest daughter’s name. It was an easy coice for us, so I was surprised to find so very few babies and children named this. We think it’s perfect – and we’ve only had positive feedback from family. Maybe the key is to only discuss a chosen name after the birth.
    Louisa Frances is divine!