Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Caroline

Caroline is the French feminine form of Carolus, the Medieval Latin form of Charles (the French pronounce it ka-ro-LEEN). Carolus, Charles and Caroline all derived from the same Germanic word: “karl” meaning “free man.” Originally, many centuries ago, the term “karl” signified a “free” man but not one of nobility (in other words, he wasn’t a serf or slave). The Olde English cognate “ceorl” (from the same root) defined a “man of low birth, a common man”. In later Middle High German and Middle English, however, both terms evolved their definitions to mean more simply “man, fellow, husband”. Despite the name’s rather “lowly” beginnings, many Europeans of high rank and those among the royalty bore names derived from Karl/Carl (such as Charlemagne, Charles, Caroline and Charlotte). In fact, the 8th/9th century Frankish leader, Charlemagne (Charles the Great), had a lot to do with the name’s perpetuation among the earlier Franks (a Germanic tribe and precursors to the French people). Caroline was brought to England by way of the Norman-French after the Conquest of 1066; however, the name found a particular audience among the upper-classes of England in the 17th century (probably influenced by the Stuart Kings Charles I and II). Later, two 18th century Queen Consorts of England, Caroline of Ansbach and Caroline of Brunswick, gave further notice to this lovely French name. The early 19th century aristocrat/novelist Lady Caroline Lamb had a well-publicized and passionate affair with the romantic poet Lord Byron – she was an English celebrity of sorts. By that time, the name Caroline was firmly rooted in the English aristocracy. Today Caroline is most popular in Denmark and moderately popular in France. It’s also a Top 100 favorite in the United States.

All About the Baby Name – Caroline



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Caroline has pretty much maintained moderately high usage in the United States for over 100 years. Despite the name’s endurance through the years and its ability to sustain its popularity through the several shifting styles of American naming practices, Caroline feels neither old-fashioned nor over-used. It’s a classic name that conjures up royalty (even “American royalty” in the name of Caroline Kennedy). Somehow Caroline rises above the fleeting fashions of the day. Daintily French, Caroline reminds us of Jacqueline and Josephine. It’s both traditional and modern. Caroline has a lovely femininity; it’s not surprising so many songs have been written about her.

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Cultural References to the Baby Name – Caroline

Literary Characters


Caroline Ingalls is the mother of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who fictionalized her family in the series of books she wrote about growing up in the 19th century Midwest, epitomized by "Little House On the Prairie." Very popular in its time and afterward as an inspirational story for children, the series became hugely popular after it was adapted for television in the 1970’s, starring Karen Grassle as Caroline, along with Michael Landon as Charles and Melissa Gilbert as Laura. People everywhere then and today warmed to the strong family bonds depicted. Caroline (“Ma”) is always shown as supportive, wise and loving, as both a wife and a mother, engaged in a never-ending struggle to raise little ladies in the pioneer Midwest.

Caroline Meeber is the title character of Theodore Dreiser’s great novel of realism, "Sister Carrie," published in 1900. Young “Sister Carrie” is a humble but aspiring Midwest girl who comes to the big city, Chicago, to seek a better life. At first, living with her sister and her sister’s husband in a dreary flat and toiling at a shoe factory, she sticks to the straight and narrow path she has been raised to respect, but it doesn’t take much to turn her eye to the larger, luxurious world afforded her by the first of her illicit lovers, Drouet. Although she struggles with the implications of her new life, fur muffs and sirloin steaks ease her pain considerably. It is not long before she “graduates” to another lover, the hapless George Hurstwood, who leaves his wife and family, embezzles money, loses his job and ultimately becomes a virtual derelict in the service of Carrie. Our heroine, in the meantime, appalled by his spiraling fortunes, turns to the New York theater, gradually making a name for herself. She leaves Hurstwood and in her farewell note she gives him twenty dollars. A shocking character for her time, Sister Carrie is a woman who defies social convention in the name of personal comfort and then makes it on her own when the men in her life fail her. She does not suffer a damning downfall as a result of her perdition, but she is perhaps somewhat morally empty at the end of the day.

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Caroline

Popular Songs


Sweet Caroline
a song by Neil Diamond

Oh Caroline
a song by Cheap Trick

His Daughter Caroline
a song by Chuck Berry

Goodbye Caroline
a song by Aimee Mann

Caroline, No
a song by The Beach Boys

Caroline Says Part II
a song by Lou Reed

Caroline Says Part I
a song by Lou Reed

Caroline I See You
a song by James Taylor

Caroline (Are You Ready for the Outlaw World)
a song by Steppenwolf

a song by Jefferson Starship

Famous People


Caroline of Brunswick (Queen consort of George IV)
Caroline Bonaparte (Napoleon’s sister)
Caroline, Princess of Hanover (royalty)
Caroline D' Amore (model/actress)
Caroline Graham (author)
Caroline Kennedy (daughter of JFK)
Lady Caroline Lamb (mistress of Lord Byron)
Caroline Rhea (actress/comic)
Caroline Trentini (model)
Caroline Winberg (model)
Caroline Harrison (U.S. First Lady)
Caroline Aaron (actress)
Caroline Corr (Irish musician)

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Caroline

Historic Figures


Born in Germany as Princess of Brunswick, Caroline was betrothed to the eldest son of England’s King George III and heir apparent to the British throne, George, Prince of Wales. At the time of their engagement, they had not met. When the day came, they were both sorely disappointed - he with her lack of decorum and tact, she with his fat appearance. Despite their general revulsion for one another, Caroline bore George a daughter (Princess Charlotte of Wales) nine months after their wedding. Shortly thereafter, the pair separated, and George spitefully restricted Caroline’s access to her daughter. Trapped in a loveless marriage, and about to ascend to the throne, George tried his best to discredit his soon-to-be Queen consort. She was exiled to Italy with an annual allowance of 35,000 pounds, but she returned to assert her position as Queen consort when George became king. Yet King George IV had a trick up his sleeve; he introduced the “Pains and Penalties Bill” into Parliament in an effort to prove her adultery and be granted a legitimate divorce on those grounds. Only George had a problem. The English public loved Caroline more than him and they had no intention of seeing her wronged. Caroline was the first “People’s Princess” long before Princess Diana came onto the scene, and beloved in the same way. Queen consort Caroline became the figurehead of a growing opposition that demanded political reform in England. Unfortunately she would die too soon for history to see how this might have played out. Knowing death was imminent; Caroline got her affairs in order, wrote out her will and planned her own funeral wherein she requested that her tombstone read: “Here lies Caroline, the Injured Queen of England."