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Gender: Female Pronunciation: kath-LEEN; kat-LEEN Meaning of Kathleen: "pure" Origin of Kathleen: Anglicized form of Irish Caitlin Kathleen's Popularity in 2017: #871

The name Kathleen is a girl's name of Irish origin meaning "pure". Kathleen is ranked #871 on our popularity charts and is often added to lists like Names That Mean Pure and discussed in our forums with posts like "Heaven, Hell, Purgatory - Girls".

From the experts:

Kathleen is the early Irish import version that came between Katherine and Kaitlin, and which hasn't been used in so long it's almost beginning to sound fresh again. It was a surprise pick by one of the hip Dixie Chicks, Martie Maguire. Kathleen was a Top 10 name from 1948 to 1951, and it is the subject of several old sentimental songs, such as "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen."

From the eighteenth century, Kathleen Ni Houlihan appears in Irish songs as a symbol of Ireland, representing its struggle for independence.

Kathy Griffin and Kate Walsh were born Kathleen, and it's J.K. Rowling's middle name. JFK's sister Kathleen was known as Kick.

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

Famous People Named Kathleen

Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. health secretary and former governor of Kansas
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, American politician, former governor of Louisiana
Kathleen Hanna, American musician and activist
Kathleen O'Day Wynne, Canadian politician, premier of Ontario
(Mary) Kathleen Turner, American actress
Kathleen "Kathy" Ireland, American model/actress
Kathleen Doyle "Kathy" Bates, American actress
Kathleen Mary "Kathy" Griffin, American actress/comedian
Kathleen Erin "Kate" Walsh, American actress
Kathleen Winsor, American author
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, American politician; daughter of politician Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel
Kathleen Agnes "Kick" Kennedy Cavendish, sister of U.S. President John F. Kennedy
Kathleen Kenyon, British archaeologist
Kathleen Noone, American actress
Kathleen Deanna Battle, American operatic soprano
Kathleen "Kitty" McKane Godfree, English tennis player
Kathleen Denise Quinlan, American actress
Kathleen Barr, Canadian voice actress
Kathleen York, American actress & songwriter
Kathleen, Archduchess of Austria
Kathleen Munroe, Canadian actress
Kathleen Boyle, Scottish musician of group Cherish The Ladies
Kathleen Fuentes, YouTuber
Kathleen Genevieve "Katie" Ledecky, American swimmer
Kathleen Rose Perkins, American actress
Kathleen Biden, estranged wife of Hunter Biden, son of former US VP Joe Biden
Kathleen Margaret Edwards, Canadian singer-songwriter
(Erica) Kathleen "Kathy" Horvath, American tennis player
Joanne Kathleen "J.K." Rowling, British novelist
Kathleen Rose Park, daughter of Michael Park
Kathleen Emilie Maguire (b. 2004), daughter of Gareth Maguire
Aquinnah Kathleen Fox, daughter of Machael J. Fox
Gabrielle Kathleen McCarthy (b. 2008), daughter of Mike McCarthy
Paulina Kathleen Myers (b. 2015), daughter of Mike Myers
Ava Rose Kathleen McBride (b. 2005), daughter of Martina McBride
Kathleen DeLeon Jones, Filipino-Australian singer and children's performer, former member of Australian children's group Hi-5

Pop Culture References for the name Kathleen

Kathleen Kelly, Meg Ryan's character in "You've Got Mail"
Kathleen "Kathy" Duquesne, character in DC Universe
Kathleen, character in "Fall on Your Knees" (Anne-Marie MacDonald)
Kathleen, Elliot Stabler's daughter on "Law and Order: SVU"
Kathleen "Kat" Harvey, from the movie "Casper the Friendly Ghost"
Kathleen, one of the Twelve Dancing Princesses in the Barbie version
Kathleen Ni Houlihan, personification of Ireland
Kathleen Walsh, character on "Medium"
Kathleen Gregory, character in the "St Clare" book series by Enid Blyton
"Kathleen," song by Catfish and the Bottlemen
Kathleen, 1941 film starring Shirley Temple
Kathleen, character on TV's Call the midwife, Mary's baby daughter
Kathleen Mead, character in the Degrassi franchise


SugarCandy Says:


What a wonderful name. I know a particularly wonderful person with this name.

Eliza1303 Says:


I have a cousin named Kathleen and we call her Karter. Ya, ik the nickname doesn’t sound like the real name but I kinda like it that way. Idk it’s different.

dixiegirl02 Says:


I'm surprised at how much people seem to like this name. It is my name. When I was younger I wanted a name that people my age actually have like Lauren, Megan, Ashley, etc. I;m 20-30 years younger than most Kathleens. Be aware if you want to use it that people will constantly misspell and mispronounce it. I am called Katherine all the time as well as Caitlin. Some people even through an extra a in there Kath-a-leen. I like it better than I used to but do prefer Katherine. I don't like the nickname Kathy at all. Thankfully almost no one tries to call me that anymore. Older people love the name when they hear it.

Daiseymae Says:


This name is really growing on me! I think it is very attractive sounding.

meaganegibson Says:


I know a Kathleen, and this name fits her perfect! When she was younger she went by Kat (and still occasionally does), but she much prefers Kathleen now. I love how this name ages

ThDoctor Says:


I absolutely hate this name, not because of the name itself, because of how often people manage to misspell or misspeak it. I've been called Kaitlin, Kathaleen, Katherine, Katya, Katleen, Katerina, Katrina, Kathaleena, and Katie, and everyone *always* spells it with a C.

kxlly0614 Says:


I know a girl called Kathleen, and she really suits this name. I just imagine a very nice girl that is willing to help others. Also, I like it pronounced as Kath-Leen rather than Kat-Leen.

Wittyusername103 Says:


This is so lovely. I can see why this name is becoming a new nameberry.

thorn144 Says:


My name is Kathleen. Used to hate it, but I think it's becoming more classic and not outdated. I go by Kat actually, which is my initials as well as the first 3 letters of Kathleen, which I love!

EvaThyssen Says:


I love Kathleen. Another precious timeless name.

RoddyThlayli Says:


My middle name. Not a huge fan of it.

headintheclouds Says:


One of the names that was more popular in my parents' generation, but one that I don't find dated at all. I quite like Kathleen; I find it to be more of a classic-modern name, not so popular that it's heard everywhere, but starting to become timeless, similar to others like Russell and Cecilia.

Daiseymae Says:


How about Colleen? I knew two sisters named Colleen Ann and Cathleen Marie. Colleen seems so close to Kathleen.

SimoneKadele Says:


This isn't actually JK Rowling's middle name though. Joanne Rowling has no middle name. Kathleen was her grandmother's name, thus her pen name became JK Rowling.

SimoneKadele Says:


This was my favorite name (along with Matilda) in third grade. I got both of them from books- Kathleen came from the Magic Treehouse series. ;)

ThistleThorn Says:


The actual pronunciation of Caitlin is actually Kat - Leen. Which is much closer to Kathleen.

JazzieJonez Says:


This name is so pretty to me. One of those names that doesn't get a lot of credit nowadays, especially compared to Katherine (which is also a pretty name)

katenames Says:


My name is Kathleen! The fact that it's the 'K' in J.K. Rowling has special importance to me, because I'm a writer.