Looking for a name that is supremely familiar, fits in with current naming trends, and isn’t in the top 1000? Consider the literary Louisa.
Louisa, of course, is a Latinate feminine version of the royal French Louis, which originally comes from the German Ludwig and thus mean “famous warrior.” Louisa (usually pronounced loo-EE-zuh) is the spelling most common in English. In Spanish, Italian, or Portuguese, the name is spelled Luisa and pronounced with an S sound (loo-EE-suh).
Some feminizations of male names seem rather hard for a girl to wear — take Jamesina, Thomasina, or Henrietta for example. They’re either too frilly or downright silly. But Louisa has more in common with effortless Josephine, Georgia, Charlotte, or Daniela. It’s a pretty girls’ name in its own right.
Surprisingly enough, the name has never been extremely popular in the U.S. Name data is only available since 1880, but the highest it ever charted was #119 in 1881. It hasn’t been in the top 200 any time this century, and it hasn’t even been in the top 1000 since 1969. The French Louise fared much better. As a first name, it was in the top 50 from 1880 until 1937, and it didn’t exit the charts entirely until 1991. According to a survey done by Name Nerds, Louise is the 7th most popular girls’ middle name in the U.S. In fact, chances are good that you have a mother, aunt, grandmother, or friend with that middle name. If you’re looking for a way to honor her, and if Louise sounds rather old-ladyish to you, then Louisa might be a good way to update it.
Louisa fits in well with several current naming trends. Nineteenth-century literary names are in. Current chart-toppers or chart-climbers include Emily, Emma, Isabella, Charlotte, Amelia, Caroline, Lydia, Clara, Alice, Eleanor, Eliza, and Josephine. Spanish and Italian names are also fashionable. Spell the name Luisa, and she seems like a fitting sister for Sofia, Gianna, or Gabriella. Additionally, it is remarkably similar to Lucy and Lucia, respectively ranked #135 and #311, and both on the rise.
Louisa has a host of literary and historical namesakes, including too many princesses and duchesses to list. Here are just a few:
- The best-known is probably Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women.
- President John Quincy Adams married the London-born Louisa Catherine Johnson. She is the only First Lady to be born outside of the United States.
- Louisa Musgrove appears in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Though she is the main character’s romantic rival (which makes me want to dislike her), she’s still a charming, high-spirited, 19-year-old girl.
- Louisa Hurst, another Austenian character, appears in Pride and Prejudice as sister to Mr. Bingley.
- Louisa is a name shared by mother and daughter in Austen’s work of juvenilia, “Lesley Castle.”
- Louisa Gradgrind, the main female character in Dickens’ Hard Times, is a schoolmaster’s daughter who has been taught to repress her emotions.
- Louisa Chick is the self-satisfied middle-aged sister in Dickens’ Dombey and Son.
- Louisa von Trapp is the third child from movie The Sound of Music, sibling to Liesl, Friedrich, Kurt, Marta, Brigitta, and Gretl. Among her accomplishments is listed the ability to climb through her governess’s window with a whole jar of spiders in her hand.
- Louisa Ulrika of Prussia was an 18th-century Swedish queen.
- Louisa Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, was considered one of the most notable beauties of the Victorian era.
Or spell the name Luisa in honor of one of these women:
- Luisa Miller is the title character in an 19th-century opera by Guiseppe Verdi.
- Luisa of Medina-Sidonia was a 17th-century queen of Portugal.
- Baroque sculptor Luisa Roldán was the first female sculptor in Spain.
- Luisa Tetrazzina was a famous Italian soprano of the early 20th century.
- Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi was a Venezuelan freedom fighter.
- Luisa Futoransky and Luisa Valenzuela are Argentinian authors.
- The sixteenth-century Luisa Carvajal y Mendoza was a religious poet and Catholic missionary to England.
- Princess Luisa Maria, born 1995, is a member of the Belgian royal family.
- One of Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women of 2007, Luisa Diogo is the prime minister of Mozambique.
While I know a few older women named Louise who have gone by the asthmatic Wheezy, you have tons of more appealing nickname options. The tomboyish Lou would fit in with girls called Sam, Alex, and Charlie. The flashy European Lulu is reminiscent of a 1920’s showgirl. If you pronounce the name the Spanish way, then Isa (EE-suh) becomes a reasonable nickname. And it’s not a far step to Lucy, Lizzie, or Lissie.
With so many great namesakes and marked similarities to popular girls’ names of today, why isn’t Louisa on the charts?