baby name LuciaThe baby name Lucia shares much in common with Sophia and Amelia, but remains just slightly under-the-radar.

Thanks to Natalie for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.


Before we dive into the history of the baby name Lucia, let’s talk pronunciation.

Italians likely say loo CHEE uh. But loo SEE uh works, and is preferred in Spanish. And lots of people, especially in English, opt for loo SHAH. The emphasis shifts from language to language, too. Sometimes it’s LOO see uh or loo shuh.

There’s no wrong way to say the name.

That challenge highlights one of Lucia’s strengths: it’s an international name, the kind recognized everywhere in the western world, and beyond.


Saint Lucia was a fourth-century martyr in ancient Syracuse. Her story is familiar. She rejected a suitor in order to pursue her faith. In retaliation, he turned her into the authorities. Along with many other Christians, Lucia was executed in the early 300s.

Medieval artists fixated on a grisly detail: because her eyes were gouged out prior to her execution, she’s sometimes depicted holding her them on a platter.


The saint’s feast day is December 13th. And in Sweden, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, it’s become a big deal, a fixture of the Swedish holiday calendar.

A girl wearing a wreath of candles plays the part of Saint Lucia, and leads a procession of singers. Traditional sweets and drinks are associated with the day.


If you’re not religious, you might still find the story appealing. That’s because Lucia is often associated with the Latin lux – light.

In Sweden, and much of the Northern hemisphere, it’s cold and dark on December 13th. That’s about a week before the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The symbolism of candles and light feels especially significant.


From Sweden to the Caribbean, you might also associate the baby name Lucia with an island.

Located in the Lesser Antilles, legend tells that a group of shipwrecked sailors washed ashore on – you guessed it – December 13th. They called the island Sainte Lucie, in honor of her feast day.

If you’re keeping track, Saint Lucia is the only country in the world named after a historical woman.


So we’ve covered Italy and Sweden and the Caribbean.

Next, let’s go to Scotland.

Donizetti’s 1835 opera Lucia di Lammermoor takes place in a fictional version of Scotland. (All things Scottish were quite stylish at the time.) It’s a romance gone wrong, a Romeo-and-Juliet story of sorts, with tragedy to spare. Donizetti based his story on an earlier work by Sir Walter Scott, which had roots in real-life events.

There’s also the sophisticated, competitive character involved in endless small-town social machinations in EF Benson’s Mapp and Lucia novels, a handful of video game characters, and celebrity babies galore. In fact, Irish novelist James Joyce named his daughter Lucia way back in 1907. Lucia was born while her parents were living in Trieste, Italy. And then there’s ballerina Lucia Chase, who went on to co-found the American Ballet Theater in 1939.


The baby name Lucia appears in the US Top 1000 every year from 1880 onward. But most years, it hovers around the 500 mark. It was a little more popular in the late nineteenth century, and somewhat less in the 1970s.

But that started to change in the early twenty-first century. Credit three factors:

  • We’re all about long, lovely, and liquid girl names. If Olivia and Sophia top popularity charts, Lucia can’t be too far behind.
  • It became the #1 name for girls in Spain, and popular elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world.
  • Lucy and Luna rank in the current US Top 100, and both Louisa and Louise recently returned to the Top 1000. Safe to say that Lou names are having a moment.

As of 2018, the name reached #183 – a new high. But that’s still far below many names with similar qualities.

The baby name Lucia offers a great meaning, a fascinating set of cultural references and stories, and a gorgeous, on-trend sound … all in a familiar, not too-common package.

Would you consider the baby name Lucia? Which pronunciation do you like best?

First published May 27, 2008, this post was revised substantially on July 13, 2020. 

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. I think this name is beautiful and cool, for obvious reasons… my family says “Loo-SEE-a”, and I like when they call me “Loo-SHE-a”. “LOO-sha”, on the other hand…

  2. I love this name. My preferred pronunciation is “LOO-sha”, but in order to get my husband to consider it I had to compromise and say “Loo-SEE-a”. He likes the name Lucy, but I refuse to put Lucy on a birth certificate. So this is my compromise.
    I’m not too worried about the eyeball gouging story. I knew about St. Lucia but made it all the way to 35 without ever hearing the grisly details, so hopefully not many people will know them either.
    Also, we have a Spanish sounding last name (though it has been Americanized for many years), and I like the idea of choosing a vaguely Spanish-sounding name.

  3. A battery pack! Sorry, but I’m laughing. Lots. I can’t decide if that’s hugely clever or just crazy. Must be a little bit of both. 🙂

    I wonder if Lucienne might be another option for a formal name to get to Lucy, or if that’s a bit too French-fried?

  4. Yeah! My wreath was all saaaaafe. It had a battery pack in it that powered lightbulbed candles. Nice and safe for gangly ten year olds, I guess.

    I think that brothers of any Lucia would have a blast with the eyeball thing, but I find it an iffy kind of choice for a child, too. It is a very nice alternative for so many of the hyperpopular names out there.

  5. No way! I used to *beg* to be allowed to wear the wreath of candles on my head, but my parents were kinda funny about flaming headpieces on their gangly adolescent daughter.

    Names that don’t have a clear pronunciation make me nervous, too. And I’m not sure how I feel about that grisly eyeball gouging business. So Lucia wouldn’t make my personal Top Ten … but I think it would make a good alternative for parents considering Sophia. Or trying to name her little sister. 🙂

  6. Aww, I remember dressing up as Santa Lucia and serving my parents breakfast in bed. I totally blame American Girl books for my sudden obsession.

    I do love the name, but I’m slightly put off by the fact that it has so many valid pronounciations. I like loo-CHEE-ah the best, and I never liked loo-SHA or loo-SHEE-ah much. Call me weird, I guess.

    It’s a really cute name, and it would be nice to hear Lucy be short for something. Lucy sounds like a nickname to me. I prefer it being short for Lucinda, personally.