- this week

Gender: Female Meaning of Catherine: "pure" Origin of Catherine: Greek Catherine's Popularity in 2017: #198

The name Catherine is a girl's name of Greek origin meaning "pure". Catherine is ranked #198 on our popularity charts and is often added to lists like Middle Names for Girls and discussed in our forums with posts like "Elimination Game".

From the experts:

Catherine is one of the oldest and most consistently well-used girls’ names, with endless variations and nicknames. The Catherine form feels more gently old-fashioned and feminine than the more popular K versions. Most stylish nickname for Catherine right now: Kate...or Cate, a la Blanchett.

While the popularity of the Catherine form has been waning in favor of Katherine with a K, we think that might turn around since Catherine Middleton, who reportedly hates the name Kate and never uses it, became the wife of Prince William and put a modern, stylish gloss on her already classy name.

The Catherine spelling was a Top 100 name until the millennium; it reached as high as Number 18 in the 19-teens.

Catherine has been well used throughout history for saints (one of whom, Catherine of Alexandria is the patron saint of philosophers, students, craftsmen, nurses,and librarians), queens, and commoners alike.

Catherine has also been associated with some of the great romantic heroines of literature, including Heathcliff's love in Wuthering Heights and the passionate nurse Catherine Barkley in Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.

And if your're wondering why all those interchangeable C's and K's, it's because when the name was introduced into Anglo-Saxon Britain, Catherine was spelled with a C because the letter K did not yet exist in the English alphabet.

Parents may also want to consider one of the attractive foreign variations, such as Caterina.

Find other names based on Catherine using our baby name generator.

Famous People Named Catherine

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 4th century Roman martyr
Saint Catherine of Siena, Italian nun
Catherine I (born Marta Helena Skowrońska), Empress of Russia; wife of Peter the Great
Catherine II "The Great" (born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg), Empress of Russia
Catherine, Queen consort of John III of Navarre
Catherine of Valois, Queen consort of Henry V of England
Catherine of Aragon, first Queen consort of Henry VIII of England
Catherine Howard, fifth Queen consort of Henry VIII of England
Catherine Parr, sixth Queen consort of Henry VIII of England
Catherine of Braganza, Queen consort of Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland
Catherine Elizabeth "Kate" Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, wife of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
Catherine (Caterina Maria Romula di Lorenzo) de' Medici, Queen consort of Henry II of France
Catherine of Lancaster, Queen consort of Henry III of Castile
Catherine Sunadotter of Ymseborg, Queen consort of Eric XI of Sweden and the Goths
Catherine of Bjurum, Queen consort of Charles VIII and I of Sweden and Norway
Catherine of Saxe-Lauenburg, first Queen consort of Gustav I of Sweden
Catherine Stenbock, second Queen consort of Gustav I of Sweden
Catherine Jagiellon, Queen consort of John III of Sweden
Catherine of Austria, Queen consort of John III of Portugal
Catherine of Austria, Queen consort of Sigismund II Augustus of Poland
Catherine of Bosnia, Queen consort of Stephen Thomas of Bosnia
Catherine Ann "Kate" Bosworth, American actress
Catherine Elise "Cate" Blanchett, Australian actress
Catherine Ann Keener, American actress
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Welsh actress
Catherine "Kate" Bush, English singer-songwriter
Catherine "Kate" Ceberano, Australian singer-songwriter
Catherine Oxenberg, American actress; daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia
Catherine Fabienne Dorleac Deneuve, French actress
Catherine Lisa Bell, American actress
Catherine Lucy Hawking, English journalist and novelist
Catherine Tate, British actress
Catherine Jinks, Australian author
Catherine Curtin, American actress
Catherine Judith "Kate" Markowitz, American singer-songwriter
Catherine Joan "Kate" Wilkinson, New Zealand politician
Catherine Winifred "Kate" Harcourt, New Zealand actress
Catherine Elizabeth "Kate" Pierson, singer of American band The B-52's
Catherine "Kate" Greenaway, English children's author
Catherine Davis "Kate" Higgins, American voice actress
Catherine "Catt" Sadler, American entertainment news reporter
Catherine Tate, English comedienne
Catherine Booth, English co-founder of the Salvation Army
Catherine Carey, Lady Knollys, cousin and Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth I
Catherine Willoughby, 12th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
Catherine Seymour, Countess of Hertford, sister of Lady Jane Grey
Catherine Thomson "Kate" Dickens, wife of novelist Charles Dickens
Catherine Skinner, Australian sport shooter
Catherine O’Hara, Canadian actress
Catherine Elizabeth "Cate" Edwards, attorney and daughter of former U.S. Senator John Edwards
Catherine Paiz, YouTuber from "The ACE Family"

Pop Culture References for the name Catherine

Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Catherine "Kitty" Bennet, two characters from Jane Austen's "Pride & Prejudice"
Catherine "Cathy" Earnshaw, character in Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights"
Catherine Linton, daughter of Catherine Earnshaw, character in "Wuthering Heights"
Catherine Barkley, main love interest in Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms"
Catherine, minor character in "The Great Gatsby"
Catherine Willows, character from TV's 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation'
Catherine Tramell, main character in movie 'Basic Instinct'
"Catherine," Atlus video game and main character
Catherine Leigh Dollanganger, from the Dollanganger Saga by V.C. Andrews
Catherine Morland, character from Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey
Catherine Chandler, character from TV's "Beauty And The Beast"
Catherine Martell, character on TV's "Twin Peaks"
"Catherine," series of novels by Juliette Benzoni
Catherine Rollins, character on TV's 'Hawaii Five-0'
Lavinia Catherine Swire, character from Downton Abbey
Catherine "Charlie" Demarco, character from the TV Series Graceland
Catherine Jane "Cat" Grant, character on TV's "Supergirl"
Catherine Meyer, Selina's daughter on TV's "Veep"
Catherine Wilder (née Henderson), character in Marvel Universe


MidnightSky Says:


Catherine the Great. Very elegant and classic with quite a history, from queens to saints. Equally striking as a middle name.

vintageisfave Says:


One of my favorite names. Classic, not frilly, and a bunch of nickname options!!! Also one of my favorite actresses is Catherine O’Hara :)

paulapuddephatt Says:


One of my all-time favourite names. I change my mind sometimes, but currently, am preferring this classic spelling again. I prefer Kate and Katie as their own names, not sure why. I love Cath and Kitty.

kxlly0614 Says:


Katherine is nice, but Catherine makes me imagine a gorgeous vintage actress for some reason.

Catherine Rose Says:


I agree, it is softer.

Catherine Rose Says:


To: Mary Kathryn- My name is Catherine and people pronounce my name with both the C-A-T-H-R-Y-N and the C-A-T-H-A-R-U-N pronunciations. I myself fluctuate between the two as well.

Catherine Rose Says:


My name is Catherine and I go by Wren! I've always preferred the C spelling.

Impwood Says:


I love this name! It is so beautiful. I am also very fond of Catriona and Cateline.

vintageisfave Says:


I like this spelling much better than Katherine! I can see it on a sweet little girl. My favorite nicknames are Kit/Kitty. I know so many Kates/Cates and Katies that I would never use those!

ThistleThorn Says:


I feel like if you want to call your daughter by her full name you should choose Catherine. But, if you like the nicknames Kate and Kit, Katherine would be a better choice.

ThistleThorn Says:


So cute and classic.

scblovesnames Says:


I do like this name. Catherine is gorgeous. I also like the variant Caitlin. so pretty.

casch Says:


Cruz is adorable! Catherine is my name, but I have always been known as Kit. As many Katherines as I know, I've always preferred my C over their K.

Catastroffy Says:


Much softer and prettier than Katherine, although I like both.

Guest Says:


I'm usually for C instead of K. I think Cs are usually prettier. I love Catherine. It's a lovely soft name. I don't really like the nicknames because they're so common. Kate, Katie, Cat, blah boring. Spruce it up a little bit. Try Wren as a nickname. Stretch far with classics. I know a cute little Catherine who goes by Cruz! 😍

mabespark Says:


I prefer Katherine, mostly because I like the looks of Kay and Kate more than Cay or Cate. :) Such a lovely and classic name, though, with either spelling.

kitchi1 Says:


Oh, Catrinel is pretty! Never heard of that before.

Guest Says:


One of my favorite classics. I'm still waiting for the pretty Romanian version Catrinel to come to Nameberry :(

AnonymousPerson Says:


I prefer the Katherine spelling on the whole, but it depends on the girl. With a C, it makes me think of a gentle and caring person. Catherine seems more of a sweet and classic spelling to me, too.

MaryKathryn Says:


I pronounce my name Kath-rinn, however I have a friend named Katherine and I pronounce her name the same exact way. I guess it depends on where you live.

Theodora_Phoenix Says:


I have to admit, the Kathryn spelling is unusual to me.
Do you pronounce all the spellings as kath-rinn? Typically, in my area, Katherine is used, with a longer pronunciation: kath-ah-runn. Just wondering

MaryKathryn Says:


I'm rather biased to the K-a-t-h-r-y-n spelling, but if I had to choose an alternate spelling I would choose the C-a-t-h-r-y-n over the K.

Theodora_Phoenix Says:


I like it better this way. I personally find the name Katherine boring and overused, but it looks cooler with a C. The two spellings I like are Catherine and Katharine.

Renee5322 Says:


I somewhat prefer this spelling over the "K" version but either way, it's a lovely, classic name.