Baby Name Etta-quette

Baby Name Etta-quette

By Linda Rosenkrantz

Since the meteoric rise of Ella and Isabella, parents have looked around at other ella-ending baby names, such as Mirabella, Arabella, Annabella and Ariella.

But now Ella’s cousin Etta is also beginning to attract some attention, already picked by one celeb, Carson Daly, who was inspired by the great soul singer Etta James, and it has made appearances on several TV shows.

With this in mind, I thought it was time to take a look at etta-ending names, and make our picks of the best.

AlouettaThis is a pretty phonetic-twist spelling of the stylish bird name—it means lark—made familiar via the charming French children’s song, Alouette, gentile alouette. It is also a nickname used for Cosette as a young girl in Les Miserables.

CorettaA name tightly linked to the civil rights activist Coretta Scott King, an elaboration of the recently revived Cora. Coretta appeared briefly on the popularity list in the late sixties, undoubtedly as a tribute to Mrs. King.

Elisabetta—One of the loveliest and most feminissima of five-syllable Italian names, easy to spell and pronounce. Widely used in its native habitat, notable namesakes include painters, authors, actresses, and athletes named Elisabetta.

FlorettaOne of the more unusual of the ‘etta’ girls, an exotic take on Flora that has appeared as characters in two operas.

HenriettaThe English feminization of Henry has been off the popularity list since 1969, but had an extremely long run, in the top 500 through 1956, and as high as 127 in the early 1900s, and is still at 484 in the UK, where it has a rather aristocratic image. It has been in the spotlight recently via the bestselling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cells made a key contribution to scientific research. A variety of nicknames includes Etta, Etty/Ettie, Hetty, Henny and Hattie.

IsabettaThe short form of Elisabetta makes a lovely substitute for the ubiquitous Isabella.

JuliettaSpelled Giulietta in Italy, this takes the JulietJuliette progression one step further. There is an opera named Julietta, as well as two movies.

LorettaLoretta, which combines sweetness with sultriness, was a Top 100 name from 1931 to 1944, the heyday of the elegant actress Loretta Young–shown in illustration– (born Gretchen and namesake of singer Loretta Lynn). Off the list since 1990, Loretta doesn’t feel quite as dated as some other names of that period, such as Linda. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick’s twin daughter Marion is called by her middle name, Loretta and Cher won an Oscar for playing the feisty Loretta Castorini in Moonstruck.

MariettaThis ‘etta’ member of the Mary family was long associated with the Victor Herbert operetta Naughty Marietta, and more recently with the character of Marietta Edgecombe, a witch student at Hogwarts School in Harry Potter.

MusettaAnother operatic option, associated with Puccini’s La Boheme, Musetta would make a lilting musical choice.

NicolettaA lacy, dainty appellation that moves beyond Nicole and Nicola. Both Luciano Pavarotti and actor Roberto Benigni have wives named Nicoletta.

OdettaMore unusual than the French Odette or even the place name Odessa, it was used as a single name by the iconic folk singer and leading voice for civil rights, Odetta Holmes.

PaulettaPauletta popped onto the pop list briefly in the last decades of the 19th century, and then again in the 1940s, but was never as popular as the French version, Paulette. Actress Pauletta Washington has been married to Denzel for 32 years.

Rosetta—One of the fragrant garden full of Rose names, Rosetta lasted on the Social Security list for 73 straight years, peaking in 1935 at Number 270. In addition to its name cred, it is associated with the stone tablet that provided the key to reading ancient Egyptian (and Rosetta Stone is also the name of a popular language learning system). The birth name of actress Piper Laurie, it took off in the UK when the Rosetta Stone arrived in England in 1802.

SimonettaAdding some frills to the sleek Simone and Simona; an iconic namesake is Simonetta Vespucci, the Florentine beauty said to be the model for several of Botticelli’s Renaissance paintings, including The Birth of Venus.

VallettaAn interesting alternative to Vanessa or Valerie, Valletta is the name of the capital city of the island of Malta, and takes on an air of glamour via model Amber Valletta.

ViolettaA delicate floral elaboration of the popular Violet, it’s the name of the heroine of the tragic Verdi opera La Traviata, and is also the title of a Disney Channel series. Violetta made one appearance on the SS list—in 1884– so is more than ready for a comeback.

ZettaDefinitely the most unusual name on this list, Zetta, a Hebrew name meaning Olive, also heard in Portugal, where it means rose. It appeared in the top 1000 for several years in the early 1900s. Adds some zip to Etta.

So are you ready for a switch from the _ella_s to the _etta_s?

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.