Classic Girls’ Names: Good Charlotte
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.
The name was popularized by British King George III’s queen, Charlotte Sophia, whom he married in 1761, and even further by his granddaughter Princess Charlotte. Before the late eighteenth century it was a rarity in England and America; by the early 1990’s, Charlotte was a top name in Britain.
In the US, she is currently at Number 27, its highest position ever–though it has consistently been in or around the Top 300 since records have been kept. Charlotte is even more popular in other countries: it’s Number 6 in Australia, 14 in Belgium, 16 in Canada and 20 in England and Wales, and is also in the Top 70 in Scotland, France, Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands.
Real Life Namesakes
Charlotte Bronte is surely the best known bearer of the name. Born in 1816, she wrote her three great novels, Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette under the pen name Currer Bell, but when her real name became known, and her novels became bestsellers, it had a pronounced effect of the popularity of the name Charlotte. Charlotte Yonge was a prolific novelist, but she is best known to name nerds as the author of the 1863 History of Christian Names,which has been described as “the first serious attempt at tackling the subject.”
Charlotte Grimké, an African-American anti-slavery activist
Welsh singer Charlotte Church
Literary and Pop Namesakes
One of her earliest fictional appearances was in the Beaumont and Fletcher 1613 play The Honest Man’s Fortune; another early reference is the character of Lady Charlotte Harlow, the mother of the eponymous heroine in Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa, and another influential one was the Charlotte in Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. The beautiful Charlotte Stanley is the protagonist of the 1790 novel Charlotte Temple by Susanna Rowson, which was a huge bestseller. Other Charlottes appear in Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, in Dickens’s Bleak House (where Charlotte Neckett is known as Charley), and as the memorable heroine of Henry James’s The Golden Bowl.
In more recent times, there’ve been Charlotte the endearingly gallant spider in E B White’s Charlotte’s Web; Lolita’s mother, Charlotte Haze; the Charlotte known as Lottie in The Little Princess, Charlotte York; the most buttoned-up of the quartet of female friends in Sex and the City; Scarlett Johansson’s haunting character in Lost in Translation, while others bearing that name appear in the Tom Wolfe novel I am Charlotte Simmons, in Lost, Private Practice, The Princess and the Frog (known as Lottie), Gossip Girl (nicknamed Charlie), and Revenge. There’s also the ghoulish Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte— about which the less said the better
And she’s even a dessert, the Charlotte russe, a cold Bavarian cream-like concoction invented in France and named in honor of Princess Charlotte Augusta, daughter of George IV. Plus she’s the name of the largest city in North Carolina.
Pierce Brosnan and Sigourney Weaver (nee Susan) were among the first when they named their daughters Charlotte in 1972 and 1990. They was followed by Amy Brenneman’s daughter, Harry Connick’s, Embeth Davidtz’s Charlotte Emily, Dylan McDermott’s Charlotte Rose, and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr’s Charlotte Grace.
Charlie, Charley, Lotta, Lotte, Lottie, Lotty, Tottie and Totty. I know a Charlotte who has always been called Charty, a family nickname. In the series Pushing Daisies, Charlotte’s nickname was Chuck.
Could you ask for anything more in a name?
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on March 4th, 2013 at 1:43 am
I adore Charlotte! It’s one of my very favourite names, but I’m a little put off by its popularity. However, I’d definitely consider using Charlotte as a middle! Audrey Charlotte is one of my favourite combinations. I think it’s a stunning name.
on March 4th, 2013 at 2:54 am
Do you have documentation for the stated history of Charlotte? I’ve read that Carlotta is actually the Italian form of Charlotte, and that Charlotte is the feminine form of Charlot. Charlot is a French diminutive of Charles.
on March 4th, 2013 at 7:30 am
I can’t help but think ‘Harlot’ when I see/hear Charlotte! It surprises me that it is so popular! Without the ‘Harlot’ thing, it’s just nms in general, I don’t consider it a visually pleasing name, and it’s very popular and ‘used’.
on March 4th, 2013 at 8:24 am
Oh, not a Charlotte fan at all. It’s been ruined for me by the nicknames Char and Charlie. The sh sound in names is one that always sounds kind of cheap to me (I have an sh name myself and loathe it).
on March 4th, 2013 at 9:55 am
Since it looks like the spam filter doesn’t like links in blog comments either, I’ll repost it with the “split-up links” like I did in some of my recent forum posts.
The comment was about how I find it interesting in that unlike many of the other “comeback” names, Charlotte’s last peak was more recent – the 1940’s. I discussed that in more detail at my blog a few months ago:
millennialkelly (dot) blogspot (dot) com/2012/09/charlotte-example-of-early-comeback-name.html
on March 4th, 2013 at 10:09 am
Charlotte is my middle name, I like his nicknames – Lotte, Lottie, Charie.
on March 4th, 2013 at 11:32 am
I love the name Charlotte! I would definitely consider it if I were expecting my daughter today.
on March 4th, 2013 at 11:33 am
I think Charlotte is pretty with the adorable nn Lottie/Lotta but it is very popular here in little England so would prefer to use Carlotta.
on March 4th, 2013 at 12:01 pm
Hmm. I wish I liked Charlotte. I don’t like the “sh” sound very much at all, and I despise Lottie (too sugary sweet/cutesy). I love Charlie, but only on a boy. I don’t understand the popularity of the name, myself…
on March 4th, 2013 at 12:21 pm
I am normally not a fan of the Sh/Ch sound in girl names. Charlotte is probably one of the only exceptions, but even then it is way too trendy where I live for my tastes. Where I live it has always been a very uncommon name. In fact I have never met a Charlotte my entire life. Now there is a bunch of them all under 5 years old.
on March 4th, 2013 at 1:36 pm
Hmm nameberry is acting strangely on my computer so hopefully this comment will work now…
I love Charlotte, she’s feminine, sophiscated and elegant. She looks delightful and despite her popularity always looks fresh. She’s a beatufiul classic name.
So basically loving Charlotte 🙂
I also love Carlotta!
on March 4th, 2013 at 1:38 pm
I have a little cousin, Charlotte, who is a doll! I wished that they would give her a nn, but they won’t. I tried calling her little Lottie one time and my Aunt had a fit. She doesn’t want her to be anything other than Charlotte. It makes me sad because I really Love Lottie so much more.
on March 4th, 2013 at 2:12 pm
I love Charlotte. It’s such a classy name. However, I feel like it’s getting too popular. Bummer!
on March 4th, 2013 at 3:32 pm
I love the name Charlotte but just a word to correct misinformation on Princess Caroline’s daughter Charlotte Casiraghi. She is a commoner NOT a Princess. She holds no title and neither do her two brothers. Her only sibling with a title is her stepsister Princess Alexandra of Hanover.
on March 4th, 2013 at 3:45 pm
I am one of the few on here that can’t stand Charlotte. I understand the appeal, but it just sounds awful to my ears. I guess it might be because of the Charlotte’s Web movie, and I hated the way Wilbur said the name. Now, whenever I say or hear the name Charlotte, it just sounds kind of sneered. But it is a wonderful name, and it’s simply NMS.
on March 4th, 2013 at 4:11 pm
This was an awesome blog. Wish NB did more about particular names like this!!!
on March 4th, 2013 at 4:14 pm
I absolutely adore the name Charlotte, and have since I was young. If I have a daughter, her name will be Charlotte. Charlie and Lottie are my favorite nicknames for Charlotte.
on March 4th, 2013 at 4:31 pm
@LexieM, OK, we’ll try to do them more often. Any particular suggestions?
on March 4th, 2013 at 4:35 pm
Thanks, Mischa– I have now un-Princessed her.
on March 4th, 2013 at 5:08 pm
Charlotte is definitely NMS. I understand why a lot of parents like it, but IMO, it’s kinda of boring. It’s vintage, but not in the “Eccentric Aristocrat” way.
on March 4th, 2013 at 5:12 pm
I love Charlotte, but it’s too popular. Especially with our uber-popular last name.
My favorite nn for Charlotte is Lola!!! Can’t believe you didn’t mention it. the same Charlie from Gossip Girl stole her name from the original Charlotte – who went by Lola. 🙂
I like this post! Keep it up! pick a name… Like was Mary popular before Christianity? Was it much used after Jesus’ time? Idk… it’s the oldest name I could think of. 🙂
on March 4th, 2013 at 7:00 pm
Glad to see I’m not the only one who doesn’t like Charlotte! I don’t really like the Sh-sound very much. Charlie is cute, but I really don’t like Lottie.
on March 4th, 2013 at 8:39 pm
I don’t mind Charlotte, but it’s not my style at all. Would like to see Beatrice done and the lovely classic Catherine.
on March 4th, 2013 at 9:14 pm
@arunciblespoon: We did do Katherine a couple of years ago–
but Beatrice is a nice idea.
on March 4th, 2013 at 10:35 pm
I agree that there should be more blog posts like this! Maybe look at popular or trending names in the forums and do one based on that? I enjoyed reading this, even if I’m not a Charlotte fan.
on March 5th, 2013 at 12:15 pm
I think Charlotte will be a number one name. Or at least top three!
on March 5th, 2013 at 4:12 pm
I agree with the pps. You ladies should definitely do more blog posts like this. I am fascinated by the classics like this and how they tie together (Charles, Carlo, Carlotta, Charlotte) I’d love to see other names dissected like this.
on March 5th, 2013 at 5:45 pm
You’re definitely inspiring us to do more of these. How about a Name of the Month? Suggestions welcome!
on March 12th, 2013 at 4:25 pm
I have a teenage daughter named Charlotte, and we haven’t met too many others with her name–I guess I don’t know many babies. In our circles it’s not common, but not weird. She’s never been nicknamed, so no Charlie, Lottie or anything else for her. My husband’s family is Italian, so when we’re in Italy she is called Carlotta or Carlatina. She likes her name, and I’m still happy with my choice–I like it’s multicultural and historical aspects. And as an English major, it was a natural choice.
on June 1st, 2013 at 10:16 pm
My name is Charlotte pronounced the German way: Shar-lot-tuh. I am of German and British heritage so people always read it the English and American way. At school people get my name wrong quite often. I usually go by Lotte (Lotta) but people often read it Lottie. I love my name but there is the pronunciation issue. I like the British Charlotte as well but Charlie really isn’t my style. Lottie can be very sweet on the right person. I have a relative called the British Charlotte and one called the German Charlotte. The British one is Charlotte Emily and the other is Charlotte Josephine (Char-lot-tuh, Yo-se-fin-uh). I like both combinations. I am Charlotte Victoria and I like it despite the fact that it is not that unusual (though the pronunciation does make it more unusual). Caroline is another lovely option.
on June 25th, 2013 at 10:02 pm
I love the name Charlotte, and am thinking Charlotte Olivia Rose for a future daughter.
on August 25th, 2013 at 11:14 pm
Just to add to my last post here (which was ages ago):
My cousin is not Charlotte Emily, she is Charlotte Amelia and named after her mother,Kate Charlotte. I also have a grandma (who I was named after) called Charlotte Rose Elizabeth. I also have two cousins (twins) called Francesca Charlotte and Janet Charlotte (named after their parents, Frank and Janet as well as our granny). My Great Aunt on the other side is called Charlotte Rebecca but she hates it and has always gone by Becky. Really common name in my family. Plus my friend is called Jenni Charlotte.
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