The Name Everybody Likes, Except Us

Jun 28th 2012

Hey, American Parents! What do you think of the name Louise?

Yeah, I thought so. I couldn't help but notice that more American girls were named Halo, Symphony and Calliope last year than Louise. Not to mention Jazelle, Angely and Arlette. In fact, not a single girl's name with the letters "louis" ranks in the U.S. top 1000. The closest we come is #449 Eloise, which gets a pass because of the enduring popularity of the children's book by that name. (The book makes Eloise a natural successor to the hit name Madeline.)

The England and Wales girls' list looks rather different:

#109 Eloise
#208 Louise
#259 Louisa
#471 Ella-Louise
#786 Elouise

And for good measure, let's toss in #127 Lois, which is almost never heard in the States today.

A look at other countries reveals more of the same. Louise is top-10 in France and Belgium. Luisa is top-40 in Germany and Austria. And the boy's name Louis, in various local spellings, is hot around the world too. Lewis, Louis and Louie are all top-100 in England; none comes close over here.

Why not? A look at names like Lucas, Luke and Luna shows that American parents are generally on board with the global "lu" trend. But the Louis family doesn't get invited to our baby showers.

When it comes to Louise in particular, I think I get it. The rhythm of the name seems to place it in the Pauline-Laverne-Doreen family. Any of us who watched the sitcom "The Jeffersons" also have the hollered nickname "Weezy" stuck in our heads. But Louisa? Now that names like Amelia and Lydia have come roaring back, Louisa seems like a natural. And while it may not be a kid-lit character like Madeline, isn't a kid-lit author the next best thing? (Louisa May Alcott, author of the beloved Little Women.) Boy, is this name bursting with potential.

Once we've gotten Louisa squared away, come back and we can talk about Louis. But psst...spell it Lewis and it's a Celtic surname! What could be trendier?

Comments

1
June 28, 2012 12:27 PM

I love Louise for a middle name or Louisa for a first. I have yet to convince my husband though. *sigh*

2
By Kristen R. (not verified)
June 28, 2012 12:30 PM

I love Louise (also Louisa and Eloise), but have noticed none of my friends do. I've wondered if it's because I read a lot of novels by British authors, so I've gotten accustomed to Louise that way.

 

3
By betsyphd (not verified)
June 28, 2012 12:38 PM

I'm done having kids & was recently thinking about the names I'll never get to use. One name that I never considered when we were having girls was Louise, with the nn Lou. Love! I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me when we were picking names. I keep suggesting it to friends now, in the hope that someone will use my "lost" name. 

4
By Sarah Jay (not verified)
June 28, 2012 1:20 PM

I've actually noticed Louise and Louisa showing up as a middle name option/suggestion in quite a few baby name discussions lately. Maybe we're still too shy to use it as a first name.

 

5
By KelseyQ (not verified)
June 28, 2012 1:27 PM

Its rhythm also eems to make it a natural alternative to the over-used "Marie" as a middle name. I personally know an "Ada Louise" and I love the cadence of that particular combination.

6
June 28, 2012 1:49 PM

My daughter's middle name is Louise -- so I like it!  :)  I think the part that threw me off a little at first was the "wheeze" sound -- like trouble breathing.  It is after a family member though and it flowed nicely.  I think it has kind-of an old-fashioned and unexpected feel to it, and it's not super common. 

I also like Louisa.  Reminds me of "The Sound of Music." 

7
June 28, 2012 1:52 PM

Just last week, I told my husband that I feel like Louisa is due for a comeback.  Now I wish I had bet money on it! :)

8
June 28, 2012 2:06 PM

I love both Louise and Louisa, but have only come across two in the last ten years (and two more girls with the middle name Louise). The Louise had a French father and the family has since moved to France. The other girl is named Luise (pronounced Louisa) and has German parents. The two girls with the middle name Louise have the first names Amelia and Heidi.

 

I expect both names to hit the charts in the next five years or so, much like Isla did.

 

I have heard of a young Pauline recently. She has very fashion-forward parents!

9
June 28, 2012 2:12 PM

I've wondered about Louise, too. In my hipstery naming pocket especially, it seems like it should be a shoe-in with all the little Hazels and Coras and Alices - other names which have a similarly British/clunky/oldfashioned feel. I think it might be the EW sound that is putting people off -- but other ou-sounds like Beulah and Ursula (and Rupert, ha!) are starting to be heard on the playground, at least here (again, note my hipster naming pocket), so I think Louise and Louisa should be spotted soon! If anything, they're more mainstream and more "pretty" than the other EW-sound names. Anyway, I predict an upswing!

10
June 28, 2012 2:11 PM

I also wonder whether it's one of those names that due to rhythm has been banished to the middle name slot, where we don't  have any stats on popularity. (I think Rose also LOOKS much less popular than it actually is, due to the frequency of its use as a middle name.) I think Louise in particular makes me think of ____-Lou double names in the old-fashioned southern tradition, just like ____-Jo, and that might be putting people off using it as well.

11
June 28, 2012 2:11 PM

My middle name is Louise and I've always hated it.  It just doesn't sound pretty to me.  Lou-wheeze.  The Jefferson's didn't help the name at all, nor did the Weezer character from Steel Magnolias.  

It's a multi-generation family name for me, and I was so glad not to have girls so I didn't have to decide between tradition and a name I just don't like.  However, I did consider Louis for a boy (husband hated it).  Without the harsh wheeze at the end, it has a much nicer sound.

Louisa and Eloise are a little better, but still not my cup of tea.

12
By E Fin (not verified)
June 28, 2012 2:46 PM

Louise and Louisa are two of my faves! We've already picked out a 1st name for our 1st baby, due in August. We're torn on using Louise for a mn because I'd really want to use Louisa if we have a second girl. My husband was cool to Louisa for a first name because he thinks it's hard to say (Loo-ee-Sah or Loo-ee-Zah - I'd go with the latter). We landed on the perfect name before we could continue that debate. 

13
By Allison Margaret (not verified)
June 28, 2012 3:10 PM

I think I'm the only American I know who likes Lois. But like others, I've seen Louise get plenty of use as a middle.

14
By AngelaAiea (not verified)
June 28, 2012 3:29 PM

I'm going to say that the iambic rhythm (like that of Marie) is currently dictating Louise's more common position in the middle name spot.

15
June 28, 2012 3:47 PM

Well, maybe it's because I'm Canadian, but if it weren't for the sound-alike properties with my daughter's name, Eloise would be near the top of my list, and Louisa is one that keeps coming on and off.

16
By Anne with an E, nli (not verified)
June 28, 2012 3:55 PM

I LOVE Louisa. For the Little Women reference, and the Sound of Music one, and it's just a classic, beautiful name. But, sadly, my husband is not on board.

He's worked with two guys named Lou who were both chubby and bald, and he can't get over 'Lou--" for a girl. :(

17
By Anne with an E, nli (not verified)
June 28, 2012 3:56 PM

I LOVE Louisa. For the Alcott reference, for the Sound of Music reference, and for its classic beauty.

Sadly though, the hubby does not like it. At all. :(

18
By Birdonthestreet (not verified)
June 28, 2012 4:23 PM

One of my twins in named Louis and a friend from high school's daughter was born the same day and was named Louise--perhaps there is a comeback in the making?

 

19
By J.
June 28, 2012 4:38 PM

I'm currently working on convincing my husband that Louisa is a candidate. (I know full well that Louise would be beyond the pale.)

20
By Jane 7 (not verified)
June 28, 2012 4:40 PM

I don't care for the "-eez" sound at all, but Louis/Lewis was on our long list for a boy, and Lois is a name I adore. I've always thought it very pretty, and always wondered why it wasn't much more popular. It sounds like Lotus, but softer, and it's biblical! How many pretty Bible names are there for a girl - even the standards, like Abigail or Rebecca or Mary don't usually have the pretty sound of Lois.

21
By SLV
June 28, 2012 5:30 PM

Louise is my middle name, as well as my mother's and grandmother's. If I am blessed with a daughter someday, you can bet her middle name will be Louise. :)

22
By D--50Guest (not verified)
June 28, 2012 5:47 PM

I would love to use Louise, as it honors an idol of mine.  I just can't get over the wheeze sound, though. I love Louis and Lois,though!

23
By mkbd (not verified)
June 28, 2012 5:54 PM

Oh my goodness, @KelseyQ, Ada Louise was our second choice name for our baby girl! I still LOVE it. Hoping we have another one someday so I can use it. :) I also loved Lewis for a boy, but my husband mixed that one.

24
By enid
June 28, 2012 5:55 PM

I know a young lady who goes by Louise, as it is her middle name.  I just don't like it.  I don't like the boyish "Lou."  I think it sounds like a gangster.  (I don't like it for boys either.)  I also don't like the "wheeze" sound.  It is a name I would never use.

25
By meJen (not verified)
June 28, 2012 6:01 PM

I went from liking Louisa best to liking Louise best a few years ago.  Not sure about using it ... don't think we're likely to ever have a girl at this point.  But I like it, and my husband is at least as fond of it as he is of most names.

26
By Keren not signed in (not verified)
June 28, 2012 6:17 PM

I'm surprised to see Louise doing so well in England, my kids are teens and I've never come across a Louise in their age groups. Louisa sounds more trendy, Louise is very middle-aged.

 But Louis, Louie and Lewis are incredibly popular.

27
By Liz Harvatine (not verified)
June 28, 2012 6:34 PM

My husband and I were set on the name Louise for several months when I was pregnant with our daughter.  I ended up vetoing it because he couldn't stop calling her Wheezy.  I was fine with that being an affectionate family nickname but I knew if we called her that too much it would BE her name.  Friends who knew the name had already started to refer to her that way and my husband couldn't guarantee that he would keep the name between family.  Sure enough, we named her Virginia, nickname Ginny and she is ONLY Ginny to us, our family and good friends.

Also, funny you'd mention Louisa May Alcott, we'd already decided on the middle name Mae after my mother in law who was sick and passed away shortly before Ginny was born.  I love the author but certainly wasn't intending to name my daughter after her.  It wasn't enough to turn me off of Loiuse Mae but it did seem a little weird.  Oh and we also have a cat named Marmee after the mother in Little Women.  We would have been LMA super fans!

28
June 28, 2012 7:04 PM

For me, it just...doesn't sound pretty. "Ew" and then "wheeze"--in our accent (deep south US) it sounds simultaneously whiney and harsh.

Louisa, on the other hand, I think is lovely. The A on the end softens the whole thing and makes it sound feminine. No more "wheeze" noise. I'd consider it for sure, especially with the Louisa M. Alcott association!

29
By Ann83 (not verified)
June 28, 2012 7:31 PM

I like Louise and love Louisa. I wonder at all the people noting the "wheeze" sound, since that's not how I've pronounced either.

Instead of Lu-wheeze, I've always said Lu-weese, like Elise...Same with Louisa, I've said Lou-EE-suh rather than Lu-wheeze-uh.

Maybe that's "wrong", but I think it sounds less harsh, more feminine, and more in line with current naming trends.

30
June 28, 2012 7:40 PM

I'm wondering whether the English say Louise any differently than Americans. If they use an unvoiced 's' instead of a 'z', the "wheeze" association goes away, and the name sounds much more useable.

31
June 28, 2012 8:37 PM

This is really interesting! I didn't realise Louise and it's variants were so uncommon in the US.

In Australia it is a totally different story. I don't know many Louises that are under 35. Most are in the 35-55 bracket. I do know several Louisas though who are young.

Eloise, I adore but it's top 100 here, and sadly too popular for me :(  I have come across a couple of Lois' but it seems much more hipsterish.

My only negative with Louise, is that it is the standard middle name of my generation. Virtually all my friends from school had either Marie or Louise as a middle name.  Now they have all given their kids the middle name Rose :)

I also don't hear the wheeze sound as much. It's definitely LOU-eeze or LOU-eez-uh to me. Maybe that is why it's more popular here?

32
By Beth the original (not verified)
June 28, 2012 9:49 PM

I'm with the people who like Louisa but not Louise (or Lois, which sounds like it's in the Doris/Phyllis/Gladys family).

If you don't voice the "s" in Louise -- and it sounds like "Lu-wheese," then it's easy to confuse with the Spanish name Luis. 

33
By Louise Ducote (not verified)
June 28, 2012 10:16 PM

Helloooo! My name is Louise and it sounds lovely in the Mississippi accent of my mama, in the Memphis accent of my grandmother, and in my father's version: Lulu.  I love having a name that nobody else has; when I call someone and say, "Hi, it's Louise," I don't EVER have to specify which Louise is calling. . .my maiden name was Redd, also unusual, and it was fun to have a memorable name, whether others liked it or not.  

34
By Louise Ducote (not verified)
June 28, 2012 10:17 PM

Helloooo! My name is Louise and it sounds lovely in the Mississippi accent of my mama, in the Memphis accent of my grandmother, and in my father's version: Lulu.  I love having a name that nobody else has; when I call someone and say, "Hi, it's Louise," I don't EVER have to specify which Louise is calling. . .my maiden name was Redd, also unusual, and it was fun to have a memorable name, whether others liked it or not.  

35
June 28, 2012 10:45 PM

Louise does seem a little middle-aged to me (Canadian/Brit), but not impossibly so. I went to primary school with a brilliantly zany Louise, which certainly colours my thoughts on the name. In my first high school, there were three Louises in my year of 150 or so students (now aged 26/7). 

Lois and the welsh Lowri are both ones I've heard on British children, and which I really like. It helps that the only adult Lois I know is the most stylish 85-year-old I've ever met! I guess I also like a number of *is ending names, and can see Lois picking up here in the light of the popularity of Alice and Iris (and as a more sedate official name for those parents drawn to Lola). I'm not a huge fan of Eloise.

Louisa certainly seems more stylish at the moment- it's sort of 1910s soft curls and ruffles to Louise's 1950s French chic. 

I wonder if Louella is due for a come back? 

36
June 29, 2012 1:24 AM

I typically try to stay positive in my comments, but since you asked...

I tend not to like middle-age and old-lady names, and to me, Louise is squarely in the middle-age category. To me, it feels frumpy - and it doesn't help that my primary association with the name is a dumpy, slow-witted assistant at a framing store whom I met once in the late 1980s. I've never thought of the "wheeze" association, but I've personally never liked the name. Nor am I a fan of the (nick)name Lou.

Louisa/Luisa, on the other hand, while not my style either, sounds charmingly old-fashioned. Like others have mentioned, I also think of The Sound of Music, a movie I've seen so many times that I can basically recite it. I wouldn't pick the name, but it's grown on me a bit and it's more-or-less pretty enough for me to understand why people might pick it.

Eloise was the name of the mother in the 1986 Disney Sunday Movie Mr. Boogedy. She was played by Mimi Kennedy and had the most irritating and yet amusingly imitable laugh. Silly, yes, but I watched that movie and its sequel, Bride of Boogedy a LOT as a child. As a name it's... alright. I don't hate it, but I don't love it.

Lois? Nope. Not that one, either. It's a middle-age woman's name, from the mothers of kids at school to the wife on Family Guy.

We recently discussed Louis/Lewis on a forum thread, but I'll recap that I very much dislike the Louis spelling. It's all of the place in Quebec and just feels unfashionably old. I always read it as LOU-ee, then wonder after-the-fact whether it was intended to be said like Lewis. Lewis isn't my style, but I'd have no problem if someone else used the name.

Louie, to me, is the name of elderly Jewish men, like my deceased great uncle. To me, it fits with Saul, Abe, and the like.

Yes, overall, this Canadian is not a fan of the Louise family of names.

37
By Louise (not verified)
June 29, 2012 2:58 AM

as a Louise myself I love my name

1. because its slightly unique, slightly traditionala and slightly old-fashioned

2. its actually pretty uncommon ive only come accross 3 louise's so far unlike the many jessica's, sarah's and catlin's

3. it has many variations, , you can use Louisa, luisa or eloise

4. nicknames if you like it them, i get lulu, lulubell, louisey, louiseianna

hope this helps

38
By Louise (not verified)
June 29, 2012 3:04 AM

im have a very simular story expect my middle and last name a very common so i like that my first name is kinda slightly uncommon

39
By Louise (not verified)
June 29, 2012 3:04 AM

im have a very simular story expect my middle and last name a very common so i like that my first name is kinda slightly uncommon

40
June 29, 2012 9:42 AM

I wonder if the American pronunciation is the issue?

Louise is lou-ease (-eh) in French/German/Scandinavian with lou like loo but shorter. To me lou-ease sounds more pleasant than low-wheeze. Louis and Louise are also historic names; that may boost the appeal. 

How is Louise pronounced in British English? 

41
June 29, 2012 6:39 AM

I think you may have hit on a big part of why Louisa is getting more love than Louise, Ann83: I say "luh-wheeze" for the latter but the much prettier-to-my-ear "Lou-ee-sah" for the former. There's, for me, a huge pronunciation difference.

 

As a written name, I prefer Louise, though. Go fig.

42
By Amy3
June 29, 2012 8:46 AM

I have a young cousin whose middle name is Louise after her great-grandmother. I've also known a Louise (Canadian) and a Luisa. I wouldn't use Louise, Louisa, or Eloise myself, but I do love Lois (along with Phyllis). 

43
By ET
June 29, 2012 9:58 AM

I am British and to me Louise is very middle-aged. If I heard the name Louise I would guess the person was between the ages of 30 and 48. It fits with names like Michelle and Clare.

In my generation (I am 22) it is the same as Chimu said, a very stock middle name along with Jade, Anne, Leanne, Elizabeth.

With children born nowadays I would be very surprised to come across a Louise, though I can imagine it is popular as a hyphenated name along with May/Mae, Rose and Grace. I can definately see people naming their children Ava-Louise or Mia-Louise. Louisa fits this patten even more. I also expect it is still a popular middle name choice for the same reason. My bf has a 3 year old cousin named Willow L0uise, but then she was named after her mother Claire L0uise (in her early 40s).

Tbh I do not like the name Louise. It feels worn out and pretty common. I have always like Eloise (there was one in my year at school), but have always been put off by the fact that it has Louise in it.

44
By Joni as Guest (not verified)
June 29, 2012 12:31 PM

I have grown to love the name Louise and Louisa over the years!

 

Intereting about the Eloise and variants (Ella-Louise, Elouise) which are being used in England/Wales.

 

45
June 30, 2012 8:52 AM

i also like Lois, the Smallville show helped a bit, plus my stepfather's mom and his own stepmother shared that name, and i really liked both those ladies. i'm beginning to consider it again because of this blog!

46
By Poppy528 (not verified)
June 30, 2012 2:34 PM

I think those are all great names although I'm partial to Heloise :)

47
By Kayt (not verified)
July 1, 2012 10:00 AM

I loooove Louisa! My mother's cousin Louise passed away last year, and Louisa was a serious consideration for an honor name. My husband despised the name, and then it just didn't feel right for the daughter we're expecting in October. We had a lightning bolt moment, and realized her name's supposed to be Fiona. However, if we are ever expecting a second daughter, I would most certainly put Louisa in the top three considerations. Just how sweet is Lulu on a toddler?

48
July 1, 2012 9:07 PM

What a timely post for us!  We are expecting our third child, a girl, this year, and are considering the name Eloise. Our other children are Konrad and Klara (except spelled with "C"s), and our top names right now are Eloise, Vivienne, and Dorothy.  Our last name sounds like Hickory. My husband also likes Esther and Iris (though I always think "eyeball"), and I like Briar, Aurelia, Everly, and Colette. Any thoughts on those, especially our top three, or other suggestions?

I like Louisa, too, but my secretary's name is Louise, so I have some hesitation there!

Thanks!

49
July 2, 2012 11:28 AM

I have to second the idea that it's the ugly American pronunciation of Louise that turns people off it. I've always hated the name Louise, something about the "wheezy" sound of it makes it impossible for me to say or hear it without it sounding like a sneer. Louisa is several levels nicer, though still not a favorite.

50
By KRC (not verified)
July 2, 2012 3:26 PM

@JennyAnna - I love your children's names!  I think Eloise or Dorothy would be my choice for you.  I love Aurelia, but I prefer the idea of the girls' names having different endings.

I didn't realize Eloise wasn't more popular here in the States.  I've always liked it, but our close friends have a daughter named Eloise, so it has never been on any of our lists. 

@Chimu - I don't know if you remember me, but my daughter Astrid was born right around the same time as your Astrid.  I always think of her little would-be playmate and doppelganger on the other side of the world!  I hope you and she are doing well.

After several years of fertility treatments to conceive the two children we have (Hugo, 3, and Astrid, 11 months), I recently received the shock of my life when I learned that I am pregnant again!  We are still processing the shock, but not so much that I can't start thinking about naming her! 

CVS showed that this baby is a girl and my top name is Rosalind, in honor of my mother, Linda.  Middle names are my problem.  I like middle names to be family names, and now that my Astrid is getting a sister, I really want to name her after my own beloved sister.  Unfortunately, being the quintessential child of the seventies, her name is Jennifer Kristin.  I have been thinking of several variations on Jennifer - Guinivere, Genevieve? 

Another possiblity is my grandmother's name, Hazel.  My grandmother will be 95 next month; I am very close to her and would love to give the new baby her name. 

Also my other children each have 4 names:

Hugo Thomas my LN his LN

Astrid Mary Leslie his LN

What do you think of

Rosalind Jennifer Hazel? 

My husband thinks it's too many different kids of names together in one.  I would appreciate your thoughts.