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Gender: Female Meaning of Willa: "resolute protection" Origin of Willa: Feminine variation of William Willa's Popularity in 2017: #454

The name Willa is a girl's name of German origin meaning "resolute protection". Willa is ranked #454 on our popularity charts and is often added to lists like Vintage Girl Names and discussed in our forums with posts like "A brother or sister for little Jack or Olivia".

From the experts:

Willa has become increasingly fashionable, with its combination of Willa (born Wilella) Cather-like pioneer strength and the graceful beauty of the willow tree. Actress Keri Russell named her daughter Willa Lou, late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman used Willa for the youngest of his three children, and David Mamet and Brian De Palma also have daughters named Willa, plus it's the middle name of Meryl Streep's actress daughter Mary (called Mamie.) Young Willa characters have appears on Six Feet Under and True Blood.

Willa originated as a short form of Wilhelmina. After a half-century hiatus, it reentered the U.S. Top 1000 in 2010 and soared to the Top 500, for the first time since 1949, in 2015.

Find other names based on Willa using our baby name generator.

Famous People Named Willa

Willa of Tuscany, Queen consort of Berengar II of Italy
Wilella Sibert 'Willa' Cather, American novelist
Willa Joanna Chance Holland, American actress; stepdaughter of director Brian De Palma
Willa Ford (born Amanda Lee Williford), American singer
Willa Beatrice Brown, American aviatrix
Willa McCord Blake Eslick, U.S. Congresswoman from Tennessee
Willa Fitzgerald, American actress
Willa Taylor, American actress
Willa Shalit, American entrepreneur; daughter of TV personality Gene Shalit
Willa Mamet, daughter of playwright David Mamet and actress Lindsay Crouse; sister of actress Zosia Mamet
Mary Willa "Mamie" Gummer, American actress, daughter of actress Meryl Streep
Willa Baker (b. 1993), daughter of actors Dylan and Becky Ann Baker
Willa Hoffman (b. 2008), daughter of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Willa Sun Pressnall (b. 2009), daughter of musicians Derek and Jamie Pressnall of Tilly and the Wall
Willa Lou Deary (b. 2011), daughter of actress Keri Russell
Willa Jean Batson (b. 2013), daughter of singer Ferraby Lionheart and Dawn Batson
Willa Getzlaf (b. 2014), daughter of ice hockey player Ryan Getzlaf
Willa Ashford (b. 2015), daughter of actor Matthew Ashford
Willa Gray Akins (b. 2017), daughter of singer Thomas Rhett and Laura Akins

Pop Culture References for the name Willa

Willa Burrell, baby vampire on TV's "True Blood"
Willa Jean Kemp, character in the Ramona Quimby novels by Beverly Cleary
Willa Jackson, main character in "The Peach Keeper" by Sarah Addison Allen
Isabella "Willa" Angelo, character in Ridley Pearson's "Kingdom Keepers"
Willa Monday, character on TV's "The Finder"
"Willa's Wild Life," animated TV series
Willa Thirdman, character in "Friends and Relations" (1931) by Elizabeth Bowen
Willa, called a "cute name" by Hank Hill of TV's "King of the Hill'
Willa, minor character in George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series
Willa Fisher Chenowith, daughter of Nate & Brenda on TV's "Six Feet Under"
Willa Penn, younger sister of Beverly Penn in book/film "Winter's Tale"
Willa McPherson, character on TV's "Dirt"
Willa Givens, Raylan's daughter on TV show "Justified"
Willa Warren, character on TV's "The Family"
Willafred (Willa) Havisham, main character of "The Wedding Planner's Daughter"
Willa Earp, character on TV's "Wynonna Earp"


sessylou Says:


We named our sweet baby girl Willa Florence. Family and friends absolutely adore it! The combination of first and middle name sure has been melting a few hearts. We were being pulled by trending names but so pleased my husband encouraged me to go with the ever beautiful Willa!

Oh Carol Says:


I don"t believe giving a baby a cutesy name as they have to carry the name throughout their life possibly through their nineties & into their hundred years.
Children should be given strong names name to carry them through life. Can you imagine a female president whose 1st name is Buffy or male president called Spike, etc.. Nicknames are fine to be used by loved ones & close friends.

Oh Carol Says:


It is wonderful that the strong, beautiful name Willa is known, not only in the U.S., but also in South Africa. I hope it continues to bring you success and much happiness to you and your loved ones through all the coming years!

Oh Carol Says:


Willa, you will always be proud of
your name. It may be an older,
classic name that represents strength & resolution, but it will always be modern & new sounding & never be a cutesy, wishey-washy name like Willow (my granddaughter named her cat Willow).
My 73 years old high school friend is named Willa. She was the 1st female born in her family and was named Willa after her grandmother & mother. As every 1st born female baby in her family is named Willa, the name has been passed down proudly in honor of the 1st Willa. There now has been 6 generations who have proudly loved & carried the 1st name Willa ~ from the great, great grandmother to the great, great granddaughter.
There are few if any 6 generations of females named the same name ~ especially with the the proud strong name, Willa!
I hope you also carry on the tradition!!!

RachelScarlettt Says:


I adore this name

breprih Says:


I love Willa and we are considering the name if we have a girl. It's an entirely different name than the trendy Willow; we don't even compare the two. Willa is classic but it is yet eccentric.

Kristinag Says:


I named my youngest daughter Willa Mae. It is a combination of both of my grandmother's names. It totally suits her and couldn't imagine her being anything other than a "Willa"!

paulapuddephatt Says:


Is it only me who can't see the attraction of this name? I like William, but none of the feminine versions. I don't see why people compare this to Willow, which is a nature name and lovely. I honestly have no idea why Willa is so popular. Billie would be a better way to honour a William via a female name. It isn't my favourite name ever, but it's kind of cute, at least.

Bellisaurusrex Says:


My husband and I are due in March, and we're seriously considering Willa Elizabeth. I love the name, and I know so relieved that my husband had grown to really like it as well.

Lacey Bach Moore Says:


We named our daughter Willa Rae and I constantly get comments on how much people love it! My grandmother's name was Willie Mae so we did Willa Rae to honor her, and also my husband's name is Ray so it works for both! I love how it's old fashioned but doesn't seem to dated, such as Agnes or Hazel does to me. It's unique but not too weird or hard to pronounce! Love it!!

Wittyusername103 Says:


I like it but William is very popular where I live.

TheSlothPrincess Says:


This is a soft but strong sounding name. Sounds happy and would suit all age groups. Willa is unusual and classier than the more popular Willow, in my opinion.

LostKid Says:


This is really cute, and would be a great way to order a William.

Marlaina Says:


Sounds like a lazy way of saying Willow.

athenamay24 Says:


Nice! I used it for a character in a book I'm writing. I love the name Willa!

lovelostlie Says:


If I have another girl I may name her Willa Caysee but if I have a boy I'm doing William Casey. I like derivative names.

EW314 Says:


I'm finally seeing the appeal of Willa! That's the great thing about NB - you discover new names, they pop up now and then in threads and in your mind, and then suddenly BANG! you're in love. I always thought Willa felt a bit plain, but it has a sort of quiet strength which has really grown on me. I feel that it would suit a smart, wilful, quiet but confident girl. Less in-your-face than Willow, which is more trendy and less original than everyone seems to think.

Willa May Maglaya Says:


woah. That's my name. =)

hufflepuff Says:


Willa is definitely an up and coming name, following a similar path as Hazel. I really like it!

athenamay24 Says:


I love the combo Willa May!

headintheclouds Says:


Willa to me sounds breezy and just rolls off the tongue, but it's also grounded and solid as a name choice. It's classic, lovely and vintage-y, familiar but not popular, more uncommon but not unheard of, graceful and classy. Would be a great alternative for those who like the feel of classic names such as Olivia, Sophie, Emma, but want something a little more offbeat.

Zelliew Says:


I prefer Willow

frenchdreams Says:


I love Willa! I think we might use it for our daughter.

BoogumCQ Says:


Willa has a barbed penile thing.

Rachel J Says:


We're due any day now. Naming our sweet baby girl Willa Marygrace. We feel it's super sweet, feminine, and vintage southern. LOVE Willa!

snowsbeloved Says:


Not my cup of tea. It sounds "aimless" and plain. Gives me the same vibes as Ida-- oafish and clumsy.

Shaebaby Says:


Everytime I hear Willa I think.. Willa Jean from the Ramona books! Which isnt a bad thing, I think it's quite cute.

rie Says:


This is a nice name overall, but I see it mentioned on every NB thread. It isn't /that/ good imo...

willa Says:


Im Willa and it rocks

Willa Says:


My name is Willa and I'm 13 and proud of my name!

Alicia1 Says:


Its a cute name and a break from the more popular Willow.

emsky Says:


I used to think this name was too soft for me, ie lacked an edge, but I am loving it more and more every day. It has a poetic feel, and I love the Willa Cather connection.

Willa Says:


I am a 23 year old lady from South Africa. Have loved my name "Willa" my whole life. It has brought me happiness and success. Managing a Laser clinic at the moment and getting married in August this year. This name stands for determination, how can you go wrong?

Love Willa

AprilRobin Says:


A cute name but it seems too much like a nickname to me but still really cute if you like shorter names