The Reesa Society

Origin of the Name | Origin of the Name, Part 2 | Legends: Risë Stevens | Reesa Society Members | Member Comments | Typing 'e' with an umlaut

The Reesa SocietyFor women named Risa, in all its spellings:
Reesa, Resa, Rissa, Reisa, Riesa, Raesa, Reasa, Riza, Risë, Reza, Reiza, Rhesa, Rhysa...




Origin of the name Reesa: A composite view of women with an unusual first name

© by Reesa Marchetti

"The name Risa ranked 2,152nd in popularity for females of all ages in a sample of the 1990 U.S. Census." —

It’s a vacation planet on  "Star Trek." But some women here want to know how on Earth they got the uncommon name, "Risa."

Is it Hebrew, Latin, Spanish, French, or just a mother’s whim?

For a title whose holders are relatively few, it has many different spellings — Reesa, Resa, Reza, Riza, Reisa, Riesa, Rise, Ritza, Rizsa, Raisa, etc. What better place for these uniquely named women to find each other than on the Internet?

Of 41 women who posted in the Reesa Society discussion group when it started in November 1998, 14 were named after a grandmother or great-grandmother. In most cases, the grandmother’s name was not actually Risa, but a similar-sounding moniker such as Ruth, Reba, Riva, Rebecca, or Rose.

When this website started, quite a few who took the "Reesa Survey" cited opera singer Risë Stevens (who appeared in such movies as "Going My Way" with Bing Crosby in the ‘50s) as their parents’ inspiration for the appellation. For others, it was their father, Reese or Reece, from whom the name derived.

One Risa, who was named after her Russian-Jewish grandmother, Ritza, said that in Hebrew, Reesa is a computer program that "keeps on running." As a child, this Risa was teased so much about her name that she changed it to Lisa in junior high school.

As an adult, she came to appreciate it.

"Risa is mentioned once in the Bible," she said. "It was a stop in the desert when Moses and his followers were wandering around for 40 years."

Several women referred to a Christian Biblical note as the source of their name. Graphic artist Rhesa Langley, whose father is a minister, said her name came from Luke 3:27. "It describes the genealogy of Jesus, and Rhesa is one of the names in there," she explained. "It's actually a man's name — I know it's so because the scripture only lists the father and sons."

In Latin, Risa means "laughter" or "one who laughs." Chicago accountant Reesa Kelly is dating a man from Latin America.

"He always sings this song to me in Spanish with the word `Risa’ in it," she says. "It’s great."

The culture/religion of the first women who took the survey or posted comments on the Reesa Society Web site was:

When she was growing up, Reesa Ryan says she was always told that the name came from medieval German and means "woman giant." She finds it amusing that after years of thinking she was the "only one," the Internet showed her otherwise. When she tried to register for an e-mail address, the name "Reesa" was already taken.

Risa Kay Hayes says the real spelling of her name is "Risë" with two dots (an umlaut) over the "e", just like the opera singer whose name her dad "loved." But she changed it because everyone called her "rise" with a long "I."

Risa Morrow of Tulsa, Okla., and Risa Dickson, also of Oklahoma, both changed the spelling of their names for the same reason.

In elementary school, Morrow experienced the name confusion as early as first grade. "My mom and I went to see my homeroom class assignment, and I was horrified to see my name on the list under the boys section," she said. "So, needless to say, I did not appreciate my name at that time."

Plus, her mother warned her if there was ever "trouble in their town involving someone named Risa," everyone would know it was her — since she was the only one. "What an incentive to stay out of trouble," Morrow recalled. (cont. in Origin of the Name, Part 2)