Girl Baby Name


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Quick Facts on Willa

  • Gender:
  • Girl
  • Origin:
  • English
  • Number of syllables:
  • 2
  • Ranking popularity:
  • 691
Simple meaning:
Valiant Protector

Characteristics of Willa

  • Communicative
  • Creative
  • Optimistic
  • Popular
  • Social
  • Dramatic
  • Happy

Etymology & Historical Origin - Willa

Willa is the English feminine form of William. William is an Old French name of Germanic origin. The name is derived from the Germanic words “wil” meaning “will, desire” and “helm” meaning “helmet, protection”; therefore, William essentially means “valiant protector”. William is by far the most successful and enduring of all the Old French names of Germanic origin. The name William was brought to England by way of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Ironically, the chief leader of the conquest was none other than William, Duke of Normandy, who later became William the Conqueror – and, of course, after his successful invasion, became William I, King of England. Not only did William’s reign carry Norman-French culture to England, but it also brought an almost immediate impact to the English language and an abrupt shift in naming practices. Gone were the days of names like Drogo, Aethelred and Radulf. The defeated Anglo-Saxons wanted to assimilate. Very quickly thereafter, the name William hit the charts and eventually Willa followed as a female version of the name (the Germans use Wilhelmina and Wilma). Although the name Willa went out of style over 100 years ago, it’s currently being mildly resurrected in the United States in reference to American author of frontier life Willa Cather (1873-1947).

Popularity of the Name Willa

Willa was a name used with respectable moderation at the turn of the 20th century. Mostly popular in the 1920s and 30s, Willa achieved her best place ever on the charts at position #273 in 1932. The name’s usage may have been helped along by American author Willa Cather who received a Pulitzer Prize for one of her novels in 1922. By the 1950s and 60s, however, Willa went from being a semi-respectable popular name to accumulating cobwebs. The name finally disappeared from the Top 1000 list of baby girl names in 1963. Passé, old-fashioned and forgettable, Willa remained off the American radar for almost 50 years (1963-2009). This once “uncool” old-lady name recently reemerged on the charts in 2010. Still hovering near the very bottom of the Top 1000, Willa has still managed to claw her way back. Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman named his daughter Willa in 2008 and actress Keri Russell followed suit in 2011. In some circles of modern-day parents, Willa is appreciated for her literary cachet and she’s been resurrected in the same vein as names like Dashiell and Beckett. Aside from her literary significance, Willa has a wistful antique charm that is both dainty and strong – like the “valiant protector” that she is! Willa you consider this name for your baby girl?
Popularity of the Girl Name Willa
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Willa

  • Literary Characters of the baby name Willa

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name Willa

    Willa (Willa) Willa is the title character of horror writer Stephen King’s 2006 short story by the same name. The story is short, indeed, and very effective. Willa is scheduled to meet her fiancé, David, at a railroad station, but she has left him with a group of stranded passengers there. David traces Willa to a bar in a nearby town (after a harrowing journey there, during which he escapes the attack of a wolf). Willa is sitting alone at the bar, and the other patrons seem to pay them no attention. The horrible truth will emerge soon enough – no spoilers here – Danish film maker Christopher Birk has a movie entitled Willa in post-production right now. The prodigious Mr. King calls Willa one of his most beloved characters, because she “ushered in a new period of creativity for me.”

  • Popular Songs on Willa

    Popular Songs on Willa

    Willa - We cannot find any popular or well-known songs featuring the name Willa.

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name Willa

    Children's Books on the Baby Name Willa

    Forget Me Not: From the Life of Willa Havisham (Coleen Paratore) - Willa returns in this new adventure for the tween set! It is summer on Cape Cod, where Willa Havisham and Joey Kennelly are enjoying their status as most compatible couple. What does the summer hold? New friends, more books, lazy afternoons, and of course Willa will be busy planning more weddings with her mother, Stella Havisham, the Cape's most famous wedding planner to date! Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Little Wings #1: Willa Bean's Cloud Dreams (Cecilia Galante) - A sweet series about a lovable curly-haired cupid. Most cupids have soft straight hair, rosy cheeks, and silky white wings. Not Willa Bean! She has a crazy mess of hair, a million-bajillion freckles, and bright purple wings with silver tips. And lately those bright purple wings with silver tips have been giving Willa Bean an awful lot of problems. They won't fly! Cupid Academy is starting soon, and what if she's the only cloudbound cupid there? Nope, nope, nopeity, nope. Willa Bean just has to make her wings behave! Recommended for ages 6-9.

    Little Wings #2: Be Brave, Willa Bean! (Cecilia Galante) - Second installment in the series about the curly-haired cupid. Willa Bean is all wiggly with excitement. Her best friend Harper is coming for a sleepover! Willa Bean wants to make Snoogy Bars and play tricks on her big sister. But Harper has a different idea. She wants to go for a night flight. Willa Bean is not okay with that. Why? Willa Bean is scared of two things…flying up high…and the dark! Next titles in the series are: Little Wings #3: Star-Bubble Trouble and Little Wings #4: The One and Only Willa Bean. Recommended for ages 6-9.

    Willa and the Wind (Janice M. Del Negro) - Booklist review says: “Lively prose, eye-catching art, and a strong female protagonist characterize Del Negro's delightful story, based on a Norwegian folktale. After a mischievous wind blows away Sis and Willa's cornmeal, Willa sets off to demand restitution from Old Windy himself. The wind offers a trade--a magic handkerchief that provides food. After a greedy innkeeper makes a secret substitution so the magic handkerchief can't fulfill its promise, an angry Willa returns to challenge the wind.” Recommended for ages 6-9.

    Willa by Heart (Coleen Murtagh Paratore) - It's almost summer on Cape Cod, where Willa Havisham and Joey Kennelly are finally enjoying their status as the most compatible couple at Bramble Academy. When the community theater advertises auditions for Our Town, Willa and Joey seem fated to play the romantic leads. But when Marielle, the dazzling new girl, offers up some dramatic competition, Willa turns greener than the lawn at her parents' inn. With two inn weddings the same weekend in June, Willa, who is now the official assistant wedding planner, has enough to do just helping Chef Rosie bake the wedding cakes of the century, and keeping sixteen beauty pageant bridesmaids in check. When a dance with a Southern gentleman sends her spinning under the stars, there's no telling what is destined for Willa and Joey. Recommended for ages 9-12.

    Willa Cather: Author and Critic (Bettina Ling) - The School Library Journal says: “A respectfully written, slim biography that discusses the writer's life from her birth in 1873 to her death in 1947. Background information about the events and people who inspired Cather's novels is clearly presented, as is her search for spirituality in the later part of her life. Sidebars give additional information about social and political issues during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Archival photographs in sepia tones lend warmth to the text. A thorough index, a two-page time line, and selected lists of works by and about the author and Web sites conclude the book.” Recommended for ages 12-15.

    Willa the Witch: A Preteen and Young Adult Mystery (Tamra Rose) - Kindle edition. Trying to fit in at a snobbish school as a freshman can be difficult enough, but for Willa Burke, having two different color eyes only furthers her woes as she’s subjected to cruel taunts of “Willa the Witch”. Although she tries to rise above the situation, Willa’s blue and green eyes are starting to see red as the hate campaign shows no signs of relenting. So when a carnival psychic with her own set of mismatched eyes tells Willa that she, too, has “special powers” … Willa wishes it were true, but of course, the carnival psychic was just an amateur actress in an overwrought head turban. Or was she? Willa used to hope that something bad would befall her mean classmates, but these were just wishes made in the heat of the moment. Until, that is, her wishes suddenly start coming true. But instead of being glad for her newfound powers, Willa is beginning to panic -- especially when the guy that she's crazy about becomes the latest victim of one of her spells. Luckily none of these spells have proved fatal -- yet. But where was it all going to end? Was she really a witch, and if so, could she return to being a mere mortal before a fleeting negative thought turns someone she actually cares about into a newt? Recommended for ages 13+

    Willa the Wonderful (Susan Milord) - Willa knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up—a fairy princess, complete with wings, wand, and fairy dust. But being a fairy princess is not as easy as it looks, and soon Willa’s in trouble at school and in a fight with her best friend. Does Willa have what it takes to “make good things happen” and be a true fairy princess? Recommended for ages 5-8.

    Willa's New World (Barbara Demers) - Willa is a fifteen-year-old orphan shipped to Fort Edmonton in the new world from London in 1795. Recommended for ages 10-14.

  • Famous People Named Willa

    Famous People Named Willa

    Famous People Named Willa - Willa Cather (author); Willa Ford (musician); Willa Holland (actress)

  • Children of Famous People Named Willa

    Children of Famous People Named Willa

    Famous People Who Named Their Daughter Willa - Keri Russell (actress); Philip Seymour Hoffman (actor); Brian De Palma (film director); Lindsay Crouse (actress)

  • Historic Figures

    Willa - Girl Baby Name - Historic Figures

    Willa Cather (7 Dec 1873 – 24 Apr 1947) - Willa Cather was the Pulitzer Prize winning American writer whose novels of frontier life, such as O Pioneers! and My Antonia, provide a mirror of a bygone time on the Great Plains. Willa Cather’s family moved to Nebraska when she was about nine years old, where she was exposed to the immigrants and next generation farm settlers who worked the land and defined their times by it. Willa was an intelligent and independent young woman, who graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in English in 1894 – quite a feat for her times. She was known to adopt the nickname of “William” during her college days, shunned the company of her sisters, much preferring that of her brothers, and took as her writing idols such men as Dickens, Hawthorne and Emerson. Willa believed that women authors were too sentimental and ladylike; she was not to be accused of the same. While enjoying great fame up into the 1930s, the effects of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl had a negative impact on the appreciation of her prose as well. She was accused of harkening back to and eulogizing a more innocent time, while ignoring the real hardships of her contemporary countrymen. Not until the 1970s was there a re-emergence of favor toward her work. Willa Cather was an extremely private person. She never married or had children; there is no evidence of love affairs. She spent 39 years of her life in the company of her companion, the editor, Edith Lewis, whom she made her literary trustee. Before her death, Willa burned all her letters, diaries and personal papers. Willa Cather did it her way.

Personality of the Girl Name Willa

The Three energy is powerful and enthusiastic. These personalities are cheerful, full of self-expression, and often quite emotional. They have an artistic flair and "gift-of-gab" that makes them natural entertainers. Their joyfulness bubbles over, and their infectious exuberance draws a crowd. The Three personality is like a child - forever young and full of delight. They are charming, witty, and generally happy people. The Three personality lives in the "now" and has a spontaneous nature. Threes seem to live with a bright and seemingly unbreakable aura that attracts others to them. In turn, they are deeply loyal and loving to their friends and family. Luck also has a tendency to favor number Threes.

Variations of the Baby Name - Willa

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