Category: classic girls’ names
by Linda Rosenkrantz
The crystalline clear classic Claire has seen an impressive rise recently—entering the Top 50 for the very first time in 2011—and bringing Cousin Clara and other relatives slip-streaming along with her. The perfect time to take a closer look at this clear-eyed family.
CLAIRE—Currently favored spelling Claire was introduced to England by the Normans, but its modern use only dates back to the nineteenth century. Now at Number 45, Claire has risen more than forty places since 2000, one of those solid ‘sweet spot’ names that is familiar but distinctive, feminine but not frilly, popular yet immune to trendiness. Most prominent Claire at the moment is Emmy Award-winning Homeland star Claire Danes (mother of a son named Cyrus), while characters called Claire have appeared in movies and shows from The Breakfast Club to Lost to Modern Family.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
There are few names that have given birth to as many variations as Ann, the simplest and softest of the classic girls’ names. But while others like Mary and Margaret and Elizabeth have spawned almost unrecognizable progeny—from Daisy to Bessie to Peggy to Polly—most of the Ann derivatives have stayed pretty close to their mother name.
Yet Ann herself is an offshoot, coming from Hannah, a Hebrew name meaning ‘grace,’ who in the Old Testament is the mother of the prophet Samuel. This version was taken up by the Puritans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and remained a commonly used name in the Jewish community for several generations.
Anna is the Latin form widely used in countries across the world, while Ann was originally the English spelling and Anne the French. St. Anne was the traditional, non-biblical name of the mother of the Virgin Mary, which explains its popularity among Christians—and is the name of several saints. In more modern times, the affection felt for the character Anne Shirley in the childhood classic, Anne of Green Gables, also contributed to the spread of this spelling.
For the past couple of years, Charlotte has been at or near the top of the list of Berry favorites, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a name at the very center of the Sweet Spot of names with a ton of great attributes and references—literary, historic, and royal. She’s demure, yet solid and strong, classic but not stuffy, British with the slightest trace of a French accent–one of the very best classic girls’ names.
She has so much going for her that we thought that she deserved a whole blog to herself.
Like her cousin Caroline, Charlotte is a feminine form of Charles, but arrived there in a roundabout way. Charlotte is actually the English and French version of the Italian Carlotta, itself a feminine version of Carlo, the Italian Charles, and has been in English-speaking use since the seventeenth century. In the fifteenth century, Carlotta of Savoy married King Louis XI of France, where her name became Gallicized as Charlotte, a form which then emigrated to England during the next century.