Cool Name of the Week: Louisa 28210

Photo: Pregnant woman via Ronald Summers/

My younger daughter has a delightfully wicked friend named Louisa—the kind of girl who slides down the banisters, cuts her bangs in a sharp V with her dad's razor, and hides my keys so the playdate doesn't have to end. And I think the name Louisa suits her—it's a strong name that means "renowned warrior," a perfect choice for a fearless female who'd rather run off on adventures than sit primly at a dainty princess tea party.

The name Louisa reached its peak of popularity in the 18th century, and hasn't broken the top 1000 names in the U.S. since the 1960s. But it's the perfect name to make a comeback here, as more and more parents dust off old-fashioned names from their family trees to use for the next generation. Louisa is a name with Teutonic roots, so it's a great choice if your family hails from Germany or France.

While you don't have to worry about running into too many Louisas in the U.S., world travelers may find plenty in other countries, as the name is much more popular in Europe and Australia.

Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, is probably the most famous bearer of the name, and renowned actress Meryl Streep also chose it for one of her daughters. Louisa was also one of the von Trapp children in the Sound of Music.

As for middle names, I can see this one pairing nicely with some of the more popular one-syllable middle names—a Louisa Rose or Louisa Belle, or even a Louisa May. And it lends itself to a few nicknames, like Lou or Lulu.

Do you think Louisa is ready for a comeback? And what middle names would you pair with this pretty, old-fashioned name?