The Meaning of the Name Elsa Origins, Variations, and Popularity

Are you curious about the name Elsa? Perhaps you’re considering it for your baby girl and want to know more about its origins and meanings. In this article, we’ll explore the rich history and significance of the name Elsa, including its variations and popularity over time.

Who is Elsa?

Elsa is a feminine given name that has roots in several cultures around the world. It can be a standalone name or a shortened form of other names like Elizabeth or Elisabeth. Some notable people with the name Elsa include:

  • Elsa Einstein, the cousin and second wife of Albert Einstein
  • Elsa Barker, an American writer and poet
  • Elsa Schiaparelli, an Italian fashion designer
  • Elsa Lanchester, an English actress best known for her role as the Bride of Frankenstein

What Does the Name Elsa Mean?

The meaning of the name Elsa varies depending on its origin. Here are some of the most common interpretations:

  • German: Short form of Elisabeth, which means “God’s promise” or “pledged to God”
  • Scandinavian: Variant of the name Elisabet, which means “consecrated to God”
  • Hebrew: Derived from the name Elisheva, which means “my God is an oath” or “God is abundance”

When Was the Name Elsa Popular?

Elsa has experienced fluctuations in popularity over time, with peaks and valleys in different regions of the world. Here are some notable trends:

  • Germany: Elsa was a popular name in the early 20th century, but its popularity declined after World War II.
  • United States: Elsa first appeared in the top 1,000 names for girls in the early 1900s, reaching its peak in the 1920s and 1930s. It saw a resurgence in popularity in 2013, likely due to the success of the Disney movie Frozen, in which the main character is named Elsa.
  • Sweden: Elsa has been a consistently popular name in Sweden since the 19th century.

How to Choose the Right Spelling for Your Baby’s Name

If you’re considering naming your baby girl Elsa, you might be wondering about the different spelling variations. Here are some options:

  • Elza: A variation commonly used in Slavic countries like Poland and Russia
  • Ilse: A German short form of Elisabeth that sounds similar to Elsa
  • Else: Another German variant of Elisabeth that can also be a standalone name

Ultimately, the spelling you choose will depend on personal preference and cultural background.

Pros and Cons of Choosing the Name Elsa

Like any name, there are both advantages and disadvantages to choosing Elsa for your baby girl. Here are some potential pros and cons:


  • Unique yet recognizable: While Elsa has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, it’s still less common than other classic names like Emma or Sophia.
  • International appeal: Elsa is a name that transcends borders, with variations in multiple languages and cultures.
  • Strong historical and cultural associations: From Elsa Schiaparelli to Elsa Einstein, there are many powerful women who have borne the name Elsa throughout history.


  • Association with the Disney character: While some parents may appreciate the connection to the beloved animated character from Frozen, others may worry that it’s too trendy or overused.
  • Pronunciation issues: Depending on where you live, people may struggle to pronounce or spell the name correctly.
  • Potential teasing: As with any name, there’s always the risk of teasing or mispronunciation by peers or strangers.

Alternatives to the Name Elsa

If you’re not sold on the name Elsa but still love its sound and meaning, there are several alternative names to consider. Here are a few options:

  • Elsie: A diminutive of the name Elizabeth that has a similar sound to Elsa.
  • Isla: A Scottish name that also means “island” and has a similar flow to Elsa.
  • Eliana: Another Hebrew name meaning “my God has answered”, with a similar rhythm to Elsa.

Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing the Perfect Name for Your Baby

Choosing a name for your baby can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:

  1. Start with a list of names you like: Whether it’s a long list of family names or a few favorites you’ve been considering, jot down all the names you’re currently considering.
  2. Consider the meaning and significance behind each name: Look up the origins and meanings of each name to see which resonate with you the most.
  3. Think about pronunciation and spelling: Say the name out loud and consider how it sounds with your last name. Make sure it’s easy to spell and pronounce correctly.
  4. Research popularity trends and cultural associations: Check to see if the name istrending upwards or downwards in popularity, and consider any cultural associations that may come with the name.
  5. Get feedback from family and friends: Share your top choices with trusted loved ones and get their opinions and suggestions.
  6. Narrow down your list: Eliminate any names that don’t feel quite right, and focus on your top choices.
  7. Sleep on it: Take a break from thinking about the names for a day or two, then come back to them with fresh eyes.
  8. Make your final decision: Once you’ve settled on the perfect name, make it official and start using it!

Comparing Elsa to Other Popular Names

If you’re still on the fence about the name Elsa, it can be helpful to compare it to other popular names for girls. Here’s how Elsa stacks up:

  • Emma: This classic name has been a top choice for parents for years, with origins in Germany and the meaning “universal”.
  • Sophia: Another timeless name, Sophia has roots in Greece and means “wisdom”.
  • Ava: This shorter name has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, with origins in Latin and the meaning “life”.

While Elsa may not be as common as some of these other names, it still holds its own as a unique and meaningful choice.

Tips for Naming Your Baby Girl

Naming your baby girl is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Consider the sound and flow of the name with your last name.
  • Think about the potential nicknames or shortened versions of the name.
  • Check the meaning and origin of the name to make sure it aligns with your values and beliefs.
  • Don’t be afraid to go against the grain and choose a less common name.
  • Remember that ultimately, the most important thing is that you and your partner love the name you choose.


In conclusion, the name Elsa has a rich history and many interpretations across different cultures. While it has seen fluctuations in popularity over time, it remains a unique and meaningful choice for parents considering names for their baby girls. By considering its variations, pros and cons, and alternatives, parents can make an informed decision about whether Elsa is the right name for their child.


  1. Is Elsa just a trendy name because of the Disney movie Frozen?
    While the popularity of the name Elsa may have been influenced by the success of the movie Frozen, it has roots in many different cultures and has been used as a name for centuries.
  2. Are there any famous people named Elsa other than the animated character from Frozen?
    Yes, there have been many notable people throughout history with the name Elsa, including fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli and writer/poet Elsa Barker.
  3. What are some of the most common nicknames for Elsa?
    Some common nicknames for Elsa include Ellie, Elle, and Elsie.
  4. What are some middle names that pair well with Elsa?
    Middle names that pair well with Elsa include classic choices like Rose, Grace, or Marie, or more unique options like Luna or Sage.
  5. Can Elsa be a unisex name?
    While Elsa is traditionally a feminine name, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be used as a unisex name if desired.

We’re Emma Carole Paradis and Kimberly Carole, the owners and designers of Impeccable Nest, based in Bedford, New Hampshire. A mother-daughter team with a love of design. Originally from Manhattan Beach, California, now based in Bedford, New Hampshire, we bring a Southern California cool and New England tradition to our design. Not only do we work together…we also live together in a multi-generational home…and a home that they are known to design for others.

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