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Gender: F Meaning of Irene: "peace" Origin of Irene: Greek Irene's Popularity in 2013: #640

Serene Irene, the name of the Greek goddess of peace, was hugely popular in ancient Rome and again in the United States a hundred years ago.

One of the most popular names of the Roman Empire and the name of several early saints, this originally Greek name (then spelled Eirene) represented a daughter of Zeus who was the goddess of peace. Often pronounced with three syllables, it spread throughout Europe in a range of variations and is a royal name in Greece, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Much of Irene's popularity in England stemmed from the character Irene Forsyte in Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga, while Americans identified it with the sparkling Irene Dunne of Hollywood's Golden Age. Irene was a Top 20 name from 1915 to 1925, remaining in the Top 100 until 1945. It is currently high up at Number 13 in Spain.

Some other references include the eponymous early smash hit Broadway musical, famed ballroom dancer Irene Castle (portrayed on film by Ginger Rogers), the Hollywood costume designer known simply as Irene, the Uma Thurman character in Gattaca, Irene Denholm, a Harry Potter student at Hogwarts School, and the lullaby-ready song Goodnight, Irene.

Trivia tidbit: Carreen, the name of Scarlett O'Hara's younger sister in Gone With the Wind, was a smoosh of Caroline Irene.

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Famous People Named Irene

Irene Marie Dunne, American actress
Irene Bordoni, Corsican French singer
Irene Cara (Escalera), American singer
Irene Castle, American ballroom dancer
Irene Joliot-Curie, French scientist, daughter of Marie Curie
Irene Urdangaria­n y Bourbon, daughter of Infanta Cristina of Spain
Irene (Lentz), American costume designer
Irene Vanbrugh, English actress
Irene Vernon, American actress
Irene Frances Rich, American actress
Irene of Athens, Byzantine Empress
Irene Papas, Greek actress
Irene Handl, English actress
Irene Worth (born Harriet Elizabeth Abrams), American actress, pronounced it "eye-ree-nee"
Irene Ryan (born Jessie Irene Noblett), American actress
Irene Angelina, Queen consort of Sicily and Germany
Irene Mathyssen, Canadian MP
Irene Morgan, American civil rights activist
Emily Irene VanCamp, Canadian actress

Pop Culture References for the Name Irene

Irene Adler "the Woman," the only one to ever beat Sherlock Holmes
Irene Heron, character in John Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga
Irene Cassini, character in movie "Gattaca"
Irene Lorenzo, character on TV's "All in the Family"
Princess Irene, character in "The Princess and the Goblin" by George MacDonald (pronounced eye-ree-nee in its 1991 film adaptation)
Irene Lapham, character in "The Rise of Silas Lapham" by William Dean Howells
Irene, Queen of Attolia, character in The Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
Irene Denholm, character in the Harry Potter series
Irene Frederick, character on TV's "Warehouse 13"
Irene the Concierge, character on TV's "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody"
"Irene," 1940s movie
Goodnight Irene, American folk song
Hurricane Irene (2012)

Irene's International Variations

Irka, Irenka (Czech) Eirini, Ereni, Rena, Eirene, Nitsa (Greek) Iren, Irenke (Hungarian) Eireen (Irish) Yaryna, Ira, Irisha, Jereni, Irya, Irena, Arina, Rina, Arinka, Yarina, Irina, Iryna, Irini (Russian) Irenea (Spanish)

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