Isla is a Scottish girls' name derived from Islay, the name of an island off the coast of Scotland. Chances are you didn't know any little Islas when you were growing up, but your child may have a classmate or two with the name now. Isla has skyrocketed in popularity in the past decade in the U.S., providing another option for parents looking for short, strong, and feminine names with prominent vowel sounds.
Isla is pronounced "EYE-la." Once you know that, it's not a leap to make the connection to "island," which follows the same pronunciation pattern. The name is also linked to the River Isla, a waterway in northeast Scotland. "Isla" also means "island" in Spanish, though it's pronounced with the "s."
Of course, water – especially moving water – has deep symbolism in cultures around the globe. Water symbolizes life, purity, and cleanliness. Because it's necessary for life, water is associated with feminine power and fertility. If you're looking for a name that's undeniably strong yet feminine, Isla fits the bill.
Many parents love that the name Isla is novel yet familiar. Sure – Isla may be occasionally mispronounced "is-la," but with the name becoming more prominent, those occasions will become more and more rare. Although you might need to clarify pronunciation at first, family and friends will quickly catch on to the charms of Isla.
Though it's been popular in Great Britain over the past two decades, it's not as common in the United States. Isla was very low on the Social Security Administration's list of the most popular 1,000 names in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But it's been slowly gaining ground, surging into the top 50 in 2020. We wouldn't be surprised to see Isla continue to climb, providing a fresh alternative to more popular names like Ella, Ivy, and Ava.
Although Isla is closely linked with Scotland, there are similar names in cultures around the globe, including Ila in France, Iola in Greek, and Illa in Hebrew. All of these names have strong nature ties, meaning island, dawn, and tree, respectively.
There are few alternative spellings for Isla, though some parents might like a more phonetic spelling like Iyla or Ila.
If you're looking for a modern-sounding name that's deeply rooted in nature, Isla is a refreshing choice.
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