Classic, Old, and Traditional Names

Name Profile: Gertrude

Is it time for Gertrude to become a popular baby name again?

Gertrude is about as old-fashioned as it gets. Germanic, heavy on the consonants, and not-at-all frilly, it doesn’t sound like a name that could be popular for baby girls in 2022 or 2023. It’s quite rare, and many people probably treat it like the dodo – extinct! But I wonder if Gertrude‘s time is coming.

For one thing, it’s already more popular than it was 25 years ago. In 1998, only 5 baby girls were named Gertrude, which is the lowest count by far since the U.S. birth data starts in 1880. Just think – 100 years ago, several thousand girls were named Gertrude every year! While it hasn’t fully revived yet, you can now expect about 25-35 girls to receive the name each year and in 2021, the last year for which we have data, the count landed at 29 baby girls. There is no longer a major risk of Gertrude‘s name extinction. If anything, her long absence from the spotlight is a bonus because of the hundred-year-cycle, an idea that suggests names circle back around after a century. We’ve seen names like Evelyn return that way.

Another thing to consider is that Gertrude has fantastic nickname potential. There’s always classic Trudy or Trudie, which benefits from simultaneous cuteness and maturity. As it happens, today’s child is just about as likely to have Trudy as a legal name as they are to be called Gertrude (30 girls were named Trudy in 2021). Oddly enough, Gertie is starting to pop up again after a long absence (5 girls were named Gertie in 2021), so if you love old lady names you’re in luck! Geri might be too dated for a modern baby, but Gigi, Rudy, and Rue are adorable. Another nickname that makes Gertrude more accessible is True, a gender-neutral option which is wildly trendy thanks to Kardashian influence. You can also find that spelled without the ‘e’ (Tru), and sometimes with one extra (Truee) or even a second ‘u’ (Truu).

Bonus points for Gertrude include namesakes from Shakespeare (Hamlet’s mother), saints, Gertrude Stein, and Ma Rainey. Gertrude also gets to join the ever-growing compendium of Christmas baby names thanks to an adorable little girl in Violent Night, a 2022 Christmas movie that combines Die Hard, Home Alone, and other famous holiday movies to create a jolly dark comedy action flick. That character, named after her grandmother, goes by Trudy; funnily enough, her teenage cousin Bert’s full name is Bertrude (also after their grandmother, the family matriarch). Gertie itself boasts a modern, contemporary reference in the popular children’s book Gossie and Gertie about a pair of ducklings who are friends. If names like Gertrude, Trudy, True, and Gertie all have recent reference points in pop culture, it’s only a matter of time before they all start rising.

What kind of middle names suit Gertrude? Gertrude‘s Germanic root words mean “spear” and “strength,” which is just plain awesome! Methinks Gertrude pairs well with other strong and powerful vintage names like Hedwig (“war”), Queen, and Millicent (“work + strength”), but I also think it could be a great idea to balance it out with softer options like Evelyn, Estelle, and Winnie. Nature-related names also work well in the middle spot, such as Rose, Holly, and Sage. You can imagine a Gertrude Sage, can’t you? And when in doubt, Katherine, Marie, and Elizabeth pair well with everything!

Final thoughts: unlike most people, I’ve actually met a younger Gertrude and have wonderful associations with the name as a result. Associations are often the key.

What do you think of Gertrude? Do you have a favorite middle or nickname? Does it work as a baby girls’ name? Let me know what you think!

2 thoughts on “Name Profile: Gertrude

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