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Lionella & Lionel

Una and the Lion - Briton Riviere

For most Lio/Leo names the "i" or "e" sound is interchangeable in the U.S., making Leo sound LAY-oh or LEE-oh depending on who you ask.

Pronunciation of Lionel: LY-on-ell                Pronunciation of Lionella: lee-oh-NELL-uh

Potential nicknames: Lio, Lion; Lio, Lia, Lila, Liona, Nella

Origin: English variant form of Latin name Leo, meaning "lion," but the -el ending of Lionel makes it mean "young lion." Lionella is the female Italian variant, along with the equally obscure Leonella.

Popularity: For boys in 2011, Leo ranked #167 (2,226 births), Leon #405 (690 births), Leonel #459 (578 births), Lionel #786 (282 births), Leonard #705 (322 births), Leonardo #149 (2,631 births), Leandro #835 (257 births), and Leonidas #888 (232 births).

Non-ranking variants of Leo in 2011 included 5 Liandro, 5 Leondro, 6 Lyonel, 6 Leonte, 7 Lionardo, 7 Lion, 8 Leovardo, 8 Leonitus, 8 Leonidus, 9 Lionell, 9 Leonides, 9 Leonell, 9 Leone, 9 Leodan, 10 Leeon, 15 Lenard, 18 Leonid, 24 Lyon, 27 Leondre, 34 Leandre, 38 Leopoldo, 48 Leander, 51 Leopold, and  61 Leobardos.

For girls, Leona was #929 with 276 births, but no other female variants ranked. There were 5 girls named Liona, 6 Leonella, 8 Leonela, 32 Leonie, and 81 Leandra. By 2016 Leona rose to #598 on the charts, given to 501 girls. Liona was only given to 7 girls in 2016, Leonella to 5 girls, and Lionella to none. Leonie was given to 63 girls in 2016, Leandra to 58.

In 2010 there were 9 baby boys named Lio, 10 Lion, 225 Lionel, 6 Lionell. Lionel ranked at #904, a slight decrease in popularity in the past decade. Leo, on the other hand, ranked in at #193 in 2010. There were also 7 baby girls named Liona, 11 Leonela, 9 Leonella, but 0 spelled Lionella.

Fun fact: (1) Saint Lionello, and different Popes named Leo. (2) Actor Lionel Barrymore. (3) Singer Lionel Richie. (4) Sir Lionel, a Knight of the Round Table in Arthurian legend, cousin to Lancelot and son of the King of Gaul. (5) One of the sons of King Edward III of the 1300s. (6) Lionel Boyle, Earl of Orrery, member of Parliament from Ireland. (7) Country musician Lionel Cartwright. (8) Lionel model trains, founded by Joshua Lionel Cowen.



  1. I'm not terribly into Lionel, though I appreciate it -- but Lionella is great! Never thought of that variant.

  2. I, too, have never considered Lionella. She's a fascinating pick.


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