Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Charlotte

The name Charlotte is the French feminine form of Charles. Charles, in turn, is ultimately derived from the German masculine name Karl/Carl (from the Germanic “karl” meaning “free man”); therefore, Charlotte would come to mean “free woman”. In ancient times, the Germanic term “karl” signified a “free” man but not one of nobility; i.e., from the same medieval root as the Olde English word “ceorl” which stood for “man of low birth, a common man”. In the later Middle High German or Middle English, the terms evolved their definitions to 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, had a lot to do with the name’s perpetuation among the earlier Franks (a Germanic tribe and precursors to the French people). The French eventually developed Charlotte as a female equivalent, and the English adopted the name by the 17th century. The name’s usage was later influenced by Queen Consort Charlotte of England, wife of King George III (18th century) and the novelist Charlotte Brontë (19th century). See historical references below for more information on these two illustrious Charlottes. Charlotte remains a very popular name in the Western World today. It’s most common per capita for babies down under in Australia, but it’s also a Top 30 favorite in Belgium, Canada, England, the United States and Scotland. It’s a Top 50 in France, the Netherlands, and Northern Ireland.

All About the Baby Name – Charlotte

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME CHARLOTTE

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 GIRL NAME CHARLOTTE

Charlotte is another old-fashioned name with enduring style and charm. The name has been in strong use in America for over a century, although it lost most of its popularity between the 1970’s and 1990’s. The iconic television series “Sex and the City” introduced a character named Charlotte York and during the years the show aired (1999-2004), usage of the name doubled. Aside from its peak popularity during the 1940’s, the delicately beautiful name Charlotte is experiencing some of its highest success right now. And for those tom-boys who feel their name might sound too “lady-like,” Charlotte is often shortened to Charley (as opposed to the antiquated pet form Lottie). You simply can’t go wrong with a name like Charlotte. It’s French. It’s high-class. It’s sophisticated. And it’s just too lovely for words.

Quick Facts

ON CHARLOTTE

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

11

PRONUNCIATION:

SHAHR-lәt

SIMPLE MEANING:

Free woman

Characteristics

OF CHARLOTTE

Communicative

Creative

Optimistic

Popular

Social

Dramatic

Happy

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Charlotte

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME CHARLOTTE

Charlotte is a relatively minor character in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, a friend of the Misses Dashwoods. She seems to be all surface and superficiality, but is good hearted and kind nonetheless. She and her husband provide much levity in the novel, as he reacts to her innocent inanities with curmudgeonly humor, and she good-naturedly laughs him off. They are oddly suited to each other and share a genuine warmth in their relationship that is not always evident upon first reading.

Charlotte is the barn spider in E.B. White’s children’s classic of 1952, “Charlotte’s Web.” Beloved by children the world over since its publication, the book is a standard must-read. Charlotte saves Wilbur the Pig from slaughter for bacon by weaving praises about him into her web (“Some Pig”, “Terrific”, etc.), so that Wilbur becomes famous and ultimately takes the county fair prize as best pig. Children and adults alike are enchanted by this tale that effortlessly imparts big life truths about friendship, loyalty and even death.

Charlotte is the unfortunate mother of the title character of “Lolita,” the very controversial 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Charlotte rents a room in her house to Humbert Humbert, who promptly becomes obsessed with her 12 year old daughter, the nubile Lolita. Charlotte is at first blissfully unaware of his true affections, believing him to be interested in herself, until she reads the sordid truth in his diary. She may be said to represent conventional society as a whole, for upon this discovery, she runs out into the street in shock and is killed by an automobile.

Charlotte is main character Elizabeth Bennett’s best friend in Jane Austen’s famous Pride and Prejudice. A quiet and good young woman, she sets out to marry the pompous and rather ridiculous Mr. Collins (whom Elizabeth has spurned). She is not beautiful and she is twenty-seven years old – on the brink of permanent spinsterhood. Often rejected by modern day feminists as a mealy-mouthed dependent who settles for less than second best, she is in fact a strong, intelligent and far-seeing individualist who knows the score. As a woman of her day, her prospects are slim indeed, and only marriage can assure her a position of security and respect. She is clearly aware of the shortcomings of her husband, but she takes on the challenge with a clear eye and steady hand, and attains her goal: “I ask only a comfortable home.” She gives as good as she gets, cheerfully and determinedly, and if there were a sequel, no doubt we should find the Collins growing old together in comfortable obscurity.

Popular Songs

ON CHARLOTTE

Sweet Charlotte Ann
a song by Ian Corigan

Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte
a song by Patti Page

Frozen Charlotte
a song by Natalie Merchant

Dear Charlotte
a song by Craig's Brother

Charlotte the Harlot
a song by Iron Maiden

Charlotte Street
a song by Lloyd Cole and The Commotions

Charlotte Sometimes
a song by The Cure

Famous People

NAMED CHARLOTTE

Charlotte Brontë (English novelist)
Charlotte Caffey (musician, formally with The Go-Go's)
Charlotte "Lottie" Dod (tennis player)
Charlotte Rae (actress)
Charlotte Rampling (actress)
Queen Charlotte (several European royal queens)
Princess Charlotte (several European royal princesses)

Children of Famous People

NAMED CHARLOTTE

Freddie Prinze, Jr.; Sarah Michelle Gellar;

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME CHARLOTTE

Charlotte was the wife of George III of England, dubbed “the mad king”. She lived from 1744 to 1818 and while enjoying some measure of respect as the namesake of Charlotte, North Carolina, unfortunately fares less well by her own adopted country. Largely overlooked, she has been the subject of recent speculation that she is of African origin. As a young princess in Germany, she was picked, sight unseen, to be the king’s consort. The couple had a solid marriage until his unfortunate descent, in 1788, into what was thought to be madness. They brought up 13 out of 15 children to adulthood. Charlotte was the grandmother of Queen Victoria. She was an accomplished botanist and helped to expand Kew Gardens. She was a patroness of the arts. She founded several orphanages and she was concerned for the general welfare and education of women. She saw to the comfort of her husband during his illness. However, the abiding notion is that she was “ugly” (Dickens wrote of her as the “queen with a plain face”) and had African forbears. So be it. In our opinion, that would give the current royal family a feather in its cap along with a little cachet – they should hope it is true.

Charlotte Brontë is best known as the author of the classic novel "Jane Eyre" published under the pseudonym Currer Bell in 1847. Her two sisters, Emily and Anne (aka Ellis and Acton Bell) also made massive contributions to English literature with Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, respectively. The character of Jane Eyre, who suffers childhood deprivations but maintains a strong and enduring dignity, is an integral part of our literary heritage, a timeless character to whom all good things come eventually. How this isolated, motherless daughter of a clergyman came up with the scenario and personages that illuminate the plot of Jane Eyre is almost unfathomable. Nonetheless, she did. And by the time she died, in 1855 at the age of 38, she had already lost her mother, four sisters and a brother, her marriage was less than a year old, and the child with whom she was pregnant died with her. Thank goodness for us she was able to manage what she did in that short, bedeviled life!