Baby Names Trend: Camilla, Willa, Priscilla–the new killer ‘illa’ names

February 7, 2013 Linda Rosenkrantz

Guest blogger Angela  Mastrodonato, of Upswing Baby Names spots an impending baby names trend: names ending in ‘illa’ replacing the ubiquitous ‘ella’s.

When it comes to names, a small change can make a big impact. Ella-ending names have been loved for a while for their elaborate elegance. To find fresh alternatives, simply swap a vowel in the suffix: Illa-ending names are just as graceful, but not nearly as ubiquitous, as their Ella-ending cousins.

The most popular illa-ending name, Camilla, has steadily climbed the U.S. Social Security list over the past decade, but is still relatively uncommon compared to its super popular ella-ending counterpart. There were over thirty Isabellas for every Camilla born in 2011, the latest year Social Security statistics are available.

Camilla’s numbers could increase in coming years as name styles evolve, just as the currently popular ella-names are successors to the elle-names (such as Michelle and Danielle) common in the mom generation.

The next group of popular names could well be the illa-names,  but for the moment, let’s celebrate illa-names’ relatively low profile. Only three names on the following list are also on the Social Security top 1000: Camilla, Priscilla, and Willa, and none of these names have reached the top 400 yet.

Aracilla – is derived from a fascinating Spanish name, Araceli, which means “altar of the sky”.

Camilla – In Roman mythology, Camilla is a warrior maiden and in contemporary times, the wife of Charles, Prince of Wales.

Drusilla – This stately name is derived from a Roman family name and appears in the New Testament book of Acts. This name hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1914. Modernize this vintage discovery with the nickname Dru.

Illa – A short form of the Hebrew name Ilana. Short I-names, such as Iris, Isla, and Ivy, are in demand, giving this name potential.

Jamilla – An easy-to-wear name derived from at least three similar Arabic names all meaning “beautiful” or “lovely”: Jameelah, Jamillah, and Jamila.

Lilla – Perfect for those seeking names like Lily, but not recommended for those suffering from Lily-fatigue.

Lucilla – is a diminutive of the stylish Lucia and the name of a martyred saint. Surprisingly, Lucilla has never reached the top 1000.

Ludmilla – Conventional parents might prefer the smooth sound of Lucilla, yet this noble Slavic name has an impressive pedigree. Ludmilla was a saint who was also a Bohemian princess.

Marilla – appears in Anne of Green Gables as Marilla Cuthbert, the older women who adopted Anne. The name briefly visited the top 1000 in the late nineteenth century.

Milla – This short form of Camilla, Jamilla and Ludmilla is very similar to fast rising Mila.

Priscilla – was popular among the Puritans and was the name of Mayflower passenger, Priscilla Alden, who was featured in Longfellow’s poem, The Courtship of Miles Standish.  In modern times Priscilla is most associated with rock royalty.

Quilla – boasts the quirky Q and ancient roots. Mama Quilla was the Inca goddess of the moon. Also comes from the word quill as in quill pens. A good nickname forAquila or a spunky independent name.

Sevilla – comes from an ancient city inSpain, and has the popular L/V combo found in top names such as Evelyn, Olivia, and Violet.

Sybilla – comes from the same family as Sibyl/Sybil, which originated from the ancient Greek word for “prophetess”. Sybil may come into style thanks to the TV show, Downtown Abby. If this happens, Sybilla may catch on too.

Tehilla – An intriguing choice, most likely a variation of the Hebrew name Tehila, which means “praise.” There is a 17-year-old Swedish actress named Tahilla Blad.

Willa – A promising revival name that just re-entered the top 1000 in 2010 after nearly a fifty-year absence. Willa has a sweet charm similar to fashionableWillow.

Yarmilla – Slavic names such as Casimira, Ivana, andTanis, are bold and promising. Yarmilla is a bold Slavic name with an industrious meaning, “trader”.

Zilla – has the trendy Z, but the possible connection to Godzilla could hold it back.Granted, some of these names are risky, namely Zilla, and the suffix by itself, Illa, looks a bit sparse—perhaps incomplete as an independent name.  But, a few risky choices aside, these are wonderfully underrepresented names. Modern parents might gravitate towards these first: CamillaLucilla, Jamilla, Milla, Priscilla, and Willa, while these might appear on bolder parents’ lists: Aracilla, Drusilla, Quilla, Sevilla, Sybilla, and Tehilla.

Overall, these names feel like discoveries from a museum archive or your grandmother’s attic. They have been around a long time, and hidden away for at least a few decades, but once they come out of storage, others will remember what made them special.

Angela created the blog Upswing Baby Names out of an obsession with baby name statistics, trends, and predictions. She put her predictions into a book, The Top 22 in 2022. She is also an avid runner, wannabe foodie, and devoted mom of two.  


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