Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name 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).

All About the Baby Name – Willa

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.

Popularity

OF THE GIRL 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?

Quick Facts

ON WILLA

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

691

PRONUNCIATION:

WILL-ah

SIMPLE MEANING:

Valiant Protector

Characteristics

OF WILLA

Communicative

Creative

Optimistic

Popular

Social

Dramatic

Happy

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Willa

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME 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

We cannot find any popular or well-known songs with the name of Willa


Famous People

NAMED WILLA

Willa Cather (author)
Willa Ford (musician)
Willa Holland (actress)

Children of Famous People

NAMED WILLA

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Willa

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME WILLA

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.