Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Edith

Edith is one of the few Olde English female names that survived the Norman Conquest of 1066. Originally rendered as Eadgyð, Edith is ultimately derived from the elements “ead” meaning "riches, prosperity" and “gyð” meaning "war, strife". Edith (or Eadgyð as it were) was the illegitimate daughter of the 10th century King of England, Edgar the Peaceful. Edith’s mother was a young noblewoman whom Edgar took by force from a nunnery. As a child, Edith was returned to the nunnery as soon as her mother could escape the clutches of Edgar (the king would later do penance for his crime). Although Edith became a nun herself at a very early age, she had no qualms about adorning herself in fancy garments and, when reproached for her dress, she simply stated: “For pride may exist under the garb of wretchedness; and a mind may be as pure under these vestments as under your tattered furs.” Beautiful, noble, intelligent and pious, Edith was celebrated in both life and death. She would later become an important medieval saint throughout England and small miracles were attributed to her (her Feast Day is September 16). The name remained common during the Middle Ages in England but became unfashionable by the 16th century. It was later revived in the 19th century, particularly in the United States, but has since fallen from favor once again in more modern times. In Sweden, however, Edith is a Top 100 favorite girl’s name today.

All About the Baby Name – Edith

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME EDITH

The number one personality is a leader - strong and competitive. They are willing to initiate action and take risks. One personalities work hard toward their endeavors and have the ability to apply their creative and innovative thinking skills with strong determination. They believe in their ability to succeed and are too stubborn to be hindered by obstacles. Ones meet obstacles head-on with such mental vigor and energy that you better step aside. They resent taking orders, so don't try telling them what to do either. This is an intensely active personality, but they are also known as starters rather than finishers. They have a propensity to become bored and will move quickly to the next project if not properly challenged.  They are the ones to think up and put into action new and brilliant ideas, but they are not the ones to stick around and manage them. This personality has an enthusiastic and pioneering spirit. They are distinctly original.

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME EDITH

Edith has maintained a spot on the American female charts since the U.S. government first began tracking naming trends in the late 1800s. In fact, Edith was a Top 50 name choice for little girls for at least 50 consecutive years. In 1894, Edith was the 26th most popular girl’s name in America. A true turn-of-the-century favorite, Edith was a soul-sister to names like Myrtle, Pearl, Hazel, Martha and Gertrude. Unfortunately, like these others, Edith has not held up against the test of time. Instead, old-fashioned names like Emma, Lillian and Ella are preferred today over “grandmotherly” names like Edith. Edith fell off the Top 100 list of most commonly used female names in the early 1940s and pretty much went into a free-fall decline from there. Non-interest in this name escalated more by the 1990s and its fall on the charts has since become more extreme. Today, the name Edith is given rarely at best. Parents have a hard time picturing this frumpy “old lady” name on a young child, but it’s really just perspective. When you think about it, Edith is an old Anglo-Saxon name with a long history of usage. And if you look hard enough, you’ll appreciate her charm.

Quick Facts

ON EDITH

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

719

PRONUNCIATION:

EE-dith

SIMPLE MEANING:

Prosperous war

Characteristics

OF EDITH

Independent

Individualistic

Ambitious

Strong-willed

Inventive

Successful

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Edith

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME EDITH

Edith Bunker is the beloved character played by Jean Stapleton, on the groundbreaking, iconic television series of the 1970’s, All in the Family (and its lesser successor, Archie Bunker’s Place). While her husband refers to her often as “Dingbat”, it is generally acknowledged that, while naïve about the workings of the world, Edith is wise in the ways of the heart. In episode after episode, she proves that Edith knows best, as she lovingly guides her husband, daughter and son-in-law in the ways of goodness and decency. This she does unerringly, but always hilariously, and the portrayal has carved out a special niche in our hearts for one of our all time favorite series’ characters. In just one example out of thousands of her endearing ways, in one episode Edith looks for a number in her address book under “G”, for “Gloria’s girlfiends”. You gotta love her. While the series treated such (up until then) sensitive subjects as racism, extramarital sex, menopause and rape (to name but a few), these themes were easily swallowed by the general public when offered with a spoonful of Edith’s sweetness, and the path was blazed for an entirely new generation of television fare.

Edith is the second wife of Paul Dombey in Charles Dickens’ novel, Dombey and Son, published serially between 1846 and 1848, which has gone through many movie, television and radio adaptations. Edith is a social-climbing, proud and haughty widow, who marries Paul Dombey in order to further her social and financial status in life. He is no catch himself, marrying her in the hopes of siring a male child to replace his dead son in inheriting his business, and totally neglecting his own loving daughter, Florence. Once married, Edith finds she has won no prize, but she does form a close and loving relationship with her step-daughter. This latter liaison is indicative of a finer nature beneath her shallow exterior, but even this cannot hold Edith back. Despising her husband and his overbearing ways, she plots with the firm’s manager, Mr. Carker, to run away with her to France, leaving Mr. Dombey to deal with the disgrace. Perhaps not the most virtuous or laudable of characters, Edith nonetheless earns our respect with her refusal to accept her Victorian lot, and her willingness to risk scandal rather than kowtow to the domineering personality of her husband.

Popular Songs

ON EDITH

Edith and the Kingpin
a song by Joni Mitchell

She Thinks She's Edith Head
by They Might Be Giants

You Can't Have Your Kate and Edith Too
The Statler Brothers

Famous People

NAMED EDITH

Edith Wharton (author)
Edith Roosevelt (former First Lady)
Edith Head (Hollywood costume designer)
Edith Piaf (French singer)
Edith “Edie” Sedgwick (Andy Warhol muse)
Edith “Edie” Falco (actress)
Edith Frank (Anne Frank’s mother)
Edith Cavell (British nurse and WWI patriot)
Edith “Big Edie” Ewing Bouvier Beale (Jacqueline Kennedy’s aunt)
Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale (Jacqueline Kennedy’s first cousin)
Edith González (Mexican actress)
Edith Nesbit (children’s book author)
Edith Bowman (Scottish radio and TV personality)
Edith Stein (Catholic saint)
Queen Matilda of Scotland (born Edith, wife of King Henry I)
Edith Wilson (former First Lady)
Edith Wharton (author)
Edith Roosevelt (former First Lady)
Edith Head (Hollywood costume designer)
Edith Piaf (French singer)
Edith “Edie” Sedgwick (Andy Warhol muse)
Edith “Edie” Falco (actress)
Edith Frank (Anne Frank’s mother)
Edith Cavell (British nurse and WWI patriot)
Edith “Big Edie” Ewing Bouvier Beale (Jacqueline Kennedy’s aunt)
Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale (Jacqueline Kennedy’s first cousin)
Edith González (Mexican actress)
Edith Nesbit (children’s book author)
Edith Bowman (Scottish radio and TV personality)
Edith Stein (Catholic saint)
Queen Matilda of Scotland (born Edith, wife of King Henry I)
Edith Wilson (former First Lady)
Edith Wharton (author)
Edith Roosevelt (former First Lady)
Edith Head (Hollywood costume designer)
Edith Piaf (French singer)
Edith “Edie” Sedgwick (Andy Warhol muse)
Edith “Edie” Falco (actress)
Edith Frank (Anne Frank’s mother)
Edith Cavell (British nurse and WWI patriot)
Edith “Big Edie” Ewing Bouvier Beale (Jacqueline Kennedy’s aunt)
Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale (Jacqueline Kennedy’s first cousin)
Edith González (Mexican actress)
Edith Nesbit (children’s book author)
Edith Bowman (Scottish radio and TV personality)
Edith Stein (Catholic saint)
Queen Matilda of Scotland (born Edith, wife of King Henry I)
Edith Wilson (former First Lady)

Children of Famous People

NAMED EDITH

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME EDITH

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Edith