Louisa: Baby Name of the Day


Louisa: Baby Name of the Day

Louisa 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.

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47 Comments

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)

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.

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

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 🙂

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!

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!

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?!

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!

My top choice for Beatrix actually! Got voted down, but I’m still hoping one of my girls will choose it for their child some day… not that I’ll interject. 😉

I like the name Louisa much more than Louise…I think that extra syllable makes it sound more poetic. It definitely could fit in with all those Ellas, Sophias and Avas amongst today’s little ladies.

By the way, on the topic of nicknames, I have a friend named Louisa who goes by the nickname Isa.

Louisa is gorgeous!!

I prefer the full name simply because I’m not much of a nickname person. I must start recommending this name – I like it so much better than Louise.

I love Louisa! It’s definitely in my top 10 for girls, and I remember it mostly from The Sound Of Music. (The other girls were Liesl, Brigitta, Marta and Gretl.)

Louisa made my LONG list because I once lived in an apartment on Louisa Street in Pittsburgh. The apartment was a dump and the street had seen better days.

But I LOVED saying and writing my address, which took some of the sting out of the collapsing ceiling over my roommate’s bed and the unreliable hot water heater.

Louisa is beautiful! I like it alot. I’d be most likely to use it as a middle name though, because I strongly dislike the nicknames for it.

I adore Louisa’s many literary connotations and now, thanks to you, I can add Aloysius, the teddy bear of Sebastian in Brideshead Revisted! Love it!

I hadn’t given any consideration to Louisa until just now, seeing it as a NOTD… and without much hesitation I can say I really do like it. (And FWIW, Kim W – Louisa Frances sounds absolutely lovely! Attached to a baby, others will come around, no doubt. My daughter’s name was not super-popular with my family at first, either, and now if someone doesn’t like it, they aren’t saying so.) Louisa takes the wheeze out of Louise (which, by the way, is the name of Ruby’s best friend on Max and Ruby) and is feminine without being frilly – add to that the list of nns Abby mentions and it’s a huge hit for me (I am such a sucker for Lucy and other Lu- type nns). Louis had appeared on our list for boy names, funny Louisa was never in the running on our girl names lists. Wow – now I can’t understand why it’s not more popular!

Thanks for covering Louisa!! It’s currently our top choice for a girl, mostly in honor of my husband’s grandfather, Lewis. I love the rhythm, the nicknames (especially Lou and Louie), the description from The Baby Name Wizard (“old fashioned warmth with intelligence”), the nods to Louisa May Alcott and Jane Austen. But no one I meet likes this name. My family HATES it. And my mother-in-law didn’t know how to pronounce it when she saw it written down. And when I throw in my favorite middle name, Louisa Frances, I really get laughs. Sigh. I love it so much, it might not matter to me.

Thanks again, Abby!

What Paul said!

And I know a little girl called Louisa, sister to Sophie, Max and Ida. Her mom calls her Lulu and you know, it really is the sweetest name.

Love Frances in the middle spot, too!

Louisa Frances sounds great to me! 🙂

I didn’t realize Louisa isn’t even in the top 1000! It’s hard to find pretty girls names that aren’t common.

Thank you for the kind words!! Today when I directed my sister to this site to show off Louisa’s many charms, she told me I’d be torturing my daughter if I gave her this name. This is why you don’t discuss names before the birth, huh?

Half of the names I like, my sister makes fun of. The other half, she says are “her” names. You really can’t win! Louisa Frances is GORGEOUS. I can’t imagine any child being tortured for it in this day of Violets and Matildas. Use it!!!

LOL, Caroline! My other sister told me that I couldn’t “take all the names.” If we’d had a second boy, Matteo was a serious contender and I know she’d have been irritated if I’d used it.

And you’re exactly right – Sophia, Louisa, Matilda – they fit together perfectly. And with all the nickname options, Louisa would have LOTS of choices if she thought her full name was too much.

Oh, there was a knock-down, drag-out over ‘Tom.’ I picked it for a boy (when we had Phoebe 2 yrs ago), and my sister had a fit because ‘Tom’ was on her “Names I Like” list from the year 2000-she broke that thing out and proved it! She still gets mad when I bring it up (but I’m still using it!)

For what it’s worth, Kim, one of my sisters still refers to my kids’ names as Eurotrash. But it’s true – no one argues about the name once the babe is in your arms, at least not in FRONT of you. 🙂

I guess your sister has different name tastes than you! If I was thinking of names that would be torture, Louisa would certainly not be on that list.

I’m a fan of not discussing names with family (and even friends) until the baby is born and you introduce the chosen name. 🙂

My 15 month old daughter is Louisa Charlotte in honour of my father’s grandmother (Louisa) and my husband’s grandmother (Charlotte). Both beautiful, old fashioned but modern names. I think Louisa is a beautiful name and suits lovely little girls. I can’t believe anyone would say such a name would be a torture! Maybe something like Fifi, but not Louisa. It’s very elegant; good for a baby, a little girl, and a woman.