Willa, a feminine variation of William, has just reentered the U.S. Top 1000 after a nearly 50-year hiatus. Willa peaked as a name for girls in the 1930s, at the height of the fame of its best-known bearer, author Willa Cather.
Like Willa, Violet, Iris, and Olive are gently old-fashioned names that are coming back into fashion--a trend that we've seen celebrities embrace. Willa manages to feel both down-to-earth and unusual, familiar yet distinctive, perfectly in step with Russell's Brooklyn lifestyle with her carpenter husband.
Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman gave the name Willa to his youngest child, and David Mamet and Brian De Palma also have daughters named Willa. Additionally, it's the middle name of Meryl Streep's daughter Mary (Mamie.)
Baby Willa's middle name Lou is another old-school appellation newly back in style, especially in Europe where variations from Lulu to Lewis make the popularity lists. Heidi Klum and Seal's daughter is named Lou.
Willa originated as a short form of the forbidding Wilhelmina. Root name William, German for "resolute protection," is one of the most fashionable classic names for boys, thanks largely to Britain's young prince.
Photo: Joe Seer/Shutterstock.com
Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran are the creators of the baby name site Nameberry and the authors of ten bestselling books about names, including Cool Names for Babies and The Baby Name Bible.