American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names

Charming Charlotte

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Charlotte is a classic, sweet, and trendy name descending from ancient Karl, which means “man.”  She is one of a select few girls’ names to have been in the American top 1000 every year since 1880.  Now she’s even a top 10 name (#9).  She’s also highly popular throughout the English-speaking world, ranking #2 in New Zealand back in 2014.  The current rank in England and Wales is #23, and #21 in Scotland, but that was for 2014.  Princess Charlotte of Cambridge was born in May of last year; who knows where her name will the 2015 British data when it’s released?

One thing I’ve always found particularly interesting about this name is how she’s usually considered a feminine nickname for Charles in French, yet English treats her as a formal name.  Indeed, coinciding with Charlotte‘s rise is the return of Charlie as a girl’s name (current rank #207).  Nobody ever thinks of nicknames as having nicknames.  But, other feminine forms of Charles haven’t really caught on for long, besides maybe Carla.

Sophia Charlotte and her daughter, also Charlotte

How did Charlotte come to be so commonly used throughout the English-speaking world?  The answer probably lies in royalty.  The 17th-century saw the reigns of Charles I and Charles II, and then in the 18th-century King George III married a German noblewoman named Sophia “Charlotte.”  George and Charlotte had 15 children together, and at one point their granddaughter Charlotte was next-in-line after her father, who was later King George IV.  Her premature death eventually led to the coronation of her cousin Queen Victoria some twenty years later. 


In the same era of Queen Consort Charlotte and Princess Charlotte, there was a Jane Austen character named Charlotte Lucas (Pride and Prejudice).  Decades later, Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre.  There’s also, of course, Charlotte’s WebCharlotte has connections to some of the greatest books ever written.  If you’re looking for a literary name, this one definitely hits the mark.

What do you think of Charlotte



5 thoughts on “Charming Charlotte

  1. I like Charlotte, especially with the nicknames Char or Lotty. It is a classic name but one that’s never been really high on my radar although with the birth of the princess last year the name will probably be very high profile.

    Liked by 1 person

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