Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Charles

The name Charles is the French and English version of the German name Karl or Carl, derived from the Germanic word “karl” meaning “free man.” A long time ago, the Germanic term “karl” signified a “free” man but not one of nobility; i.e., from the same early medieval root as the Olde English word “ceorl” which stood for “man of low birth, a common man”. In the 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). By the 15th century, upper-class people of England began to adopt the name, and Mary Queen of Scots (having been influenced by her French upbringing) named her first son Charles James. He would eventually become King James VI of Scotland and then King James I of England, uniting Scotland, England and Ireland under one monarchy. Both his son and grandson (King Charles I and II) reigned as king after him. One of the most successful English and French names ever, Charles still reigns supreme on the naming charts of England, the United States, Canada, Australia and France. Carl, Chuck, Charlie, Chas and Chip are all considered short forms of Charles.

All About the Baby Name – Charles

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME CHARLES

The Three energy is powerful and enthusiastic. These personalities are cheerful, full of self-expression, and often quite emotional. They have an artistic flair and "gift-of-gab" that makes them natural entertainers. Their joyfulness bubbles over, and their infectious exuberance draws a crowd. The Three personality is like a child - forever young and full of delight. They are charming, witty, and generally happy people. The Three personality lives in the "now" and has a spontaneous nature. Threes seem to live with a bright and seemingly unbreakable aura that attracts others to them. In turn, they are deeply loyal and loving to their friends and family. Luck also has a tendency to favor number Threes.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME CHARLES

Charles has remained a long-time and persistent name choice for American baby boys. From the years 1890 to 1954 (65 straight years) the name was a Top 10 favorite. Every decade since the 1950’s, Charles has dropped an average of 10 spots per ten years, so that today he hovers around position #60. Still quite popular from a relative perspective, Charles may be turning into an old-fashioned option that doesn’t quite meet the same appeal as other classic English names (William, James, John and Henry). Nonetheless, it’s a dignified and erudite sounding name, and borne by many famous people from literary genius Charles Dickens to jazz great Charlie Parker to naturalist Charles Darwin to aviator Charles Lindbergh to basketball star (and struggling golfer) Charles Barkley. It’s a name that speaks volumes without even having to try. The pet form, Charlie, is a less formal form of the name that stands on its own, as well. A risk-free choice, Charles will probably never fall too far down the charts. This one will likely retain his Top 100 status for centuries to come.

Quick Facts

ON CHARLES

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

1

RANKING POPULARITY:

57

PRONUNCIATION:

CHAHRLZ

SIMPLE MEANING:

Free man

Characteristics

OF CHARLES

Communicative

Creative

Optimistic

Popular

Social

Dramatic

Happy

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Charles

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME CHARLES

Citizen Kane is the 1941 movie, directed by and starring Orson Welles, which was nominated for several Academy Awards, and is regarded by scholarly sources as the greatest film ever made. Purportedly based in large part upon the life of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, that gentleman gave fuel to the rumor when he forbade mention of the film in any of his newspapers. The character of Kane, while self-absorbed and manipulative, is ultimately a synonym for the devastating effects of the removal of love from a human being. Kane is given over to guardianship by his mother when he is only eight years old, and it seems his entire life is devoted to regaining that ineffable gift back again – the love of the mother. Kane attains great wealth and power, amasses properties and possessions, may have any woman he desires – there is nothing beyond his reach, except, of course, that which must be given freely – the love of one human being for another. At the end of this magnificent movie, as Kane lies dying, his last word is “Rosebud” – the name of his beloved sled from childhood, a symbol of all that has been lost and will now never be recovered. One longs to rip away the years and take the little child in hand and start all over again for him.

Nora is the protagonist of Dashiell Hammett’s sophisticated 1934 novel, The Thin Man, and she is indelibly entwined with the image of the incomparable Myrna Loy, who portrayed her in the movies of the thirties and forties. No “doll-wife” she – she is witty, urbane and beautiful and goes toe to toe with her adoring husband, Nick, on any and all issues imaginable. Seemingly able to eschew housework and cooking entirely (oh, where are those devoted servants of yesteryear?!), Nora spends all her time sleuthing in fashionable outfits, usually with a drink in one hand and her dog Asta’s leash in the other. At some point in the series she becomes a mother, but this puts nary a wrinkle in her finely tuned activities. She simply hands the boy over to Nick, who promptly tutors him in the fine art of racetrack betting.

Darnay is the aristocratic counterpart to Sydney Carton in the Charles Dickens’ classic "A Tale of Two Cities" about the French Revolution. A French nobleman, he denounces his background and moves to London, hiding his identity, working as a tutor, and falling in love with Lucie Manette. Historical Fate will not let him be, however, and he returns to France to participate in what he believes to be his duty in freeing a friend caught in the crossfire of the revolution. Imprisoned, he is saved in a swap of identities by the seemingly ignoble Sydney Carton, and he and Lucie, married, name their child Sydney in his honor.

Charles Ingalls is the father of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and occupies a lofty position 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 Michael Landon as Charles and Melissa Gilbert as Laura. People everywhere then and today warmed to the strong family bonds depicted. Charles is always portrayed as a kind, wise and loving husband and father, who overcomes many obstacles and saves the day for his family in often dramatic settings. The real Charles Ingalls may have been a tad less heroic, but we will forgive his daughter for some whitewashing in the interests of the legacy of a marvelous father figure to whom many men might aspire.

Charles Murry is a character in the Madeleine L’Engels series of books about the O’Keefe and Murry families, most notably the first , "A Wrinkle In Time," published in 1962. He is the youngest brother of Meg Murry, and a certified genius in his own five-year-old right. A whimsical sci-fi book aimed at the younger reader, it explores the “other dimension” to be found within the “wrinkle in time”, through which Meg and Charles travel to find their scientist father, who has mysteriously disappeared. Charles is a strangely precocious and gifted child who can read minds and discern what might be hidden to others. In a thrilling exploration of the dark side, L’Engels leads her young readers toward a conclusion that demonstrates that the powers of love must unite with the powers of intelligence to effect salvation.

Popular Songs

ON CHARLES

Charles in Charge
a song by Relient K

Mr. Charles Blues
a song by Ray Charles

St. Charles
a song by Jefferson Starship

Famous People

NAMED CHARLES

Charles Bukowski (author)
Charles Boyer (actor)
Charlie Chaplin (actor/director)
Charles Durning (actor)
Charlton Heston (born Charles Carter, actor)
Charles Laughton (actor)
Charles Schulz (cartoonist)
Charles Dickens (novelist)
Charles Dodgson (pen-name Lewis Carroll, author)
Chuck Berry (singer/guitarist)
Charlie Daniels (country musician)
Buddy Holly (born Charles Hardin Holley, musician)
Charles Ives (composer)
Charlie Parker (jazz musician)
Charlie Watts (musician)
Charles Gibson (journalist)
Charles Kuralt (journalist)
Charles de Gaulle (French leader)
Charles Darwin (naturalist)
Charles Barkley (basketball player)
Charlie Rose (TV personality)
Charles R. Schwab (businessman)
Charles Lindbergh (aviator)
Chuck Yeager (first man to break the sound barrier)
Prince Charles of Wales (royalty)
Charles Bukowski (author)
Charles Boyer (actor)
Charlie Chaplin (actor/director)
Charles Durning (actor)
Charlton Heston (born Charles Carter, actor)
Charles Laughton (actor)
Charles Schulz (cartoonist)
Charles Dickens (novelist)
Charles Dodgson (pen-name Lewis Carroll, author)
Chuck Berry (singer/guitarist)
Charlie Daniels (country musician)
Buddy Holly (born Charles Hardin Holley, musician)
Charles Ives (composer)
Charlie Parker (jazz musician)
Charlie Watts (musician)
Charles Gibson (journalist)
Charles Kuralt (journalist)
Charles de Gaulle (French leader)
Charles Darwin (naturalist)
Charles Barkley (basketball player)
Charlie Rose (TV personality)
Charles R. Schwab (businessman)
Charles Lindbergh (aviator)
Chuck Yeager (first man to break the sound barrier)
Prince Charles of Wales (royalty)
Charles Bukowski (author)
Charles Boyer (actor)
Charlie Chaplin (actor/director)
Charles Durning (actor)
Charlton Heston (born Charles Carter, actor)
Charles Laughton (actor)
Charles Schulz (cartoonist)
Charles Dickens (novelist)
Charles Dodgson (pen-name Lewis Carroll, author)
Chuck Berry (singer/guitarist)
Charlie Daniels (country musician)
Buddy Holly (born Charles Hardin Holley, musician)
Charles Ives (composer)
Charlie Parker (jazz musician)
Charlie Watts (musician)
Charles Gibson (journalist)
Charles Kuralt (journalist)
Charles de Gaulle (French leader)
Charles Darwin (naturalist)
Charles Barkley (basketball player)
Charlie Rose (TV personality)
Charles R. Schwab (businessman)
Charles Lindbergh (aviator)
Chuck Yeager (first man to break the sound barrier)
Prince Charles of Wales (royalty)

Children of Famous People

NAMED CHARLES

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME CHARLES

Charles Darwin is the biologist who essentially founded the science of evolution with the publication of his exhaustive and controversial tomes, The Origin of Species, in 1859, and in 1871, The Descent of Man. Published to vitriolic attack for their seeming denial of the existence of an Almighty Creator, the works stir controversy even today, over a century and a half later. Charles Darwin undertook a five year voyage on HMS Beagle, and his observations and collections of species led him to the theorization of all life forms having been descended from common ancestors (including apes), and that natural selection decided which would live and which would die out. Not a popular dish to put before the Victorian public of his time, as he suspected and was to find out. No matter that we are still debating his “theories” this much later - all things being equal, and with no disrespect to Mr. Darwin, he and the redoubtable Mrs. D. contributed to the species by ten of their own – no small contribution!

Charles Darwin is the biologist who essentially founded the science of evolution with the publication of his exhaustive and controversial tomes, The Origin of Species, in 1859, and in 1871, The Descent of Man. Published to vitriolic attack for their seeming denial of the existence of an Almighty Creator, the works stir controversy even today, over a century and a half later. Charles Darwin undertook a five year voyage on HMS Beagle, and his observations and collections of species led him to the theorization of all life forms having been descended from common ancestors (including apes), and that natural selection decided which would live and which would die out. Not a popular dish to put before the Victorian public of his time, as he suspected and was to find out. No matter that we are still debating his “theories” this much later - all things being equal, and with no disrespect to Mr. Darwin, he and the redoubtable Mrs. D. contributed to the species by ten of their own – no small contribution!