If You Like Elsa, Then You'll Love...

Norwegian soprano Kirsten Flagstad as Elsa of Brabant in Lohengrin, circa 1929

Hello everyone, back again with another of my posts where I suggest alternatives to popular names! Today's choice is Elsa, a name which has always had a bit of popularity, but skyrocketed to fame after Frozen came out in 2013. One of the best qualities of Elsa, in my opinion, is its universality--it's used in Germany, Italy, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, English and many more countries, making it a great choice for a multilingual family. Elsa is soft but strong, and calls to mind snow and Northern lights.

Asta - Short, sweet and full of strength, Asta is a perfect alternative to Elsa. Asta is a Swedish, Danish and Norwegian short form of Astrid, which comes from Old Norse elements áss, meaning "God", and fríðr, which means "beautiful" or "beloved". While popular in Denmark, where it sits comfortably at #14, Asta is practically unused in other countries, making it ripe for the picking! However, if you're worried about it being too unusual, Asta has recently been used in the Syfy channel program Resident Alien on the character Asta Twelve-Trees, and for classic movie lovers, is most memorable as the name of the dog in the Thin Man films, which starred Myrna Loy and William Powell! A little trivia for name lovers: Asta was one of Roald Dahl's sisters, who was born later in the year after his sister Astri died of appendicitis. His other two? Alfhild and Else!

Elin - I've been seeing this lovely Nordic beauty bandied around more lately on name forums, and I have a feeling we'll be seeing a few more Elin's soon, but of course I highly doubt it will ever reach the level of fame that Elsa has attained. Elin, like Elsa, is a form of a classic name--Helen. It is also the Welsh form of Helen, alongside being the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish one. Elin ranked in the US from 2010 to 2016 until it vanished again. Notably, it was around this same time that professional golfer Tiger Woods was embroiled in a infidelity scandal, and eventual divorce, with his Swedish wife Elin Nordegren.

Nella - This name has been on my radar ever since I read The Lost Apothecary late last year, where it featured as the name of one of the protagonists. As I said in this post, it fits perfectly in with what's popular with girls names of the modern era, most notably the Ella-Ellie-Elle-Bella-Belle crowd, but with enough of a difference to stand out. Nella is sometimes used as a short form of Italian Antonella and Hungarian Kornélia, and occasionally on its own in Finland.

Leni - Leni is short, modern and stylish German form of Helene or Magdalena. It even has the celebrity seal of approval--Heidi Klum is the mother to an 18-year-old Leni. If you need any more proof of its appeal, which hovers somewhere between ultra-cool and tomboy, it has ranked recently in Austria, Germany and Israel, and a decade ago in France. My only word of warning is the association to Hitler golden-girl director and actress Leni Riefenstahl, which is probably one that most people don't even know about, unless you're a WWII buff like myself!

Lilias - I've had a love for this unusual name for many years now, after first coming across it while watching The Secret Garden as a child. The garden itself once belonged to Lilias, the deceased wife of Archibald Craven and mother to his son, Colin. Lilias is a Scottish form of Lillian, which started life most likely as a diminutive of Elizabeth. The first recorded instance of a Lilias dates back to around the 16th century! I can't get enough of this name and its soft, lilting sound. It's simply enchanting!


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