Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Emma

We arrive at the name Emma after a lengthy evolution through time, beginning with medieval versions of ancient Germanic names such as Ermintrude and Irmengarde. These names were later shorted to Irma, Irmen or Ermen; which is the German word for “universal”. The name later evolved to the feminine form of Hemma and was first introduce to Britain by Viking conquerors who came to England via northern France (Normandy). In the 10th and 11th centuries, Hemma, daughter of Duke Richard of Normandy, would eventually marry the King of England, “Ӕthelred the Unready” and become the mother of two more Kings of England, Harthacnut and Edward the Confessor (more on Hemma below). A spelling reform in the nineteenth century eliminated the silent “H” leading us to the modern spelling of the name. Today, the name Emma is extremely popular throughout the English-speaking world. In 2010, it was ranked #2 in Canada, #3 in Ireland, #17 in Australia and #48 England. It’s the 11th most popular name in Scotland, and ranked in third place in the United States according to 2011 data. Emma is most popular in France, Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands where the name ranks in the #1 top spot.

All About the Baby Name – Emma

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME EMMA

The number Five personality loves the excitement of life and can easily adapt to all situations. As natural adventurers, these personalities thrive on the new and unexpected and prefer to be in constant motion. It makes them feel alive. They'll stir up some action if there's not enough around, and as inherent risk-takers they enjoy pushing the envelope. Naturally rebellious, the Five personality has no fear and never resists change.  Traveling and new experiences feed their souls. Fives are very social and attract friends with ease. People love to be around the Five fun-loving and exciting energy.  This is also a lucky number in numerology (like the Threes), so fortune seems to shine on them, helped along by their own optimism and good-nature. Fives have a quick wit, a cerebral mind, and are generally very persuasive. 

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME EMMA

Emma was particularly fashionable in the 1800s and early 1900s in the United States, but has always been a long-standing classic name. It started to decline in the 1940s and experienced its lowest usage in America in the 60s and 70s. The name regained favor by the 1980s before catapulting to the very top of the charts at the turn of the 21st century. In fact, Emma even secured the #1 position in one year (2008). Like her fellow sisters currently on the list of Top 5 most popular girls’ names (Isabella, Sophia, Olivia and Ava), Emma’s usage is following a naming trend that has popularized old fashioned, time-honored picks.

Quick Facts

ON EMMA

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

2

PRONUNCIATION:

EM-ə

SIMPLE MEANING:

whole, universal, complete

Characteristics

OF EMMA

Freedom-loving

Adventurous

Adaptable

Intellectual

Easygoing

Progressive

Sensual

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Emma

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME EMMA

Emma Bovary is the central character in the 1857 novel Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. The novel was considered scandalous for its day and attacked for its “obscenity” by public prosecutors when it was first serialized in La Revue de Paris between October 1 and December 15, 1856, resulting in a trial in January 1857 that made the story notorious (and widely-read, as well, which is surely not what the censors were hoping to happen). Today it stands as one of the most influential novels ever written. The story focuses on a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who refuses to acknowledge the banalities of her unsophisticated country life: wife, mother, provincial, empty, boring [yawn]. So what does she do? She engages in a couple of adulterous affairs, she spends money extravagantly accumulating insurmountable debt; she over-romanticizes and fantasizes the true realities of life right down to her own destruction. And yet the reader sticks by her with twisted compassion despite her bad behavior. Perhaps we fear there is a little Emma Bovary in us all.

Emma Woodhouse, the protagonist of Jane Austen’s 1815 novel “Emma,” is a beautiful, high-spirited, intellectual, and 'slightly' spoiled woman of 21. Her mother died when she was very young, and she has been mistress of the house ever since, certainly since her older sister got married. While she is in many ways mature for her age, Emma makes some serious mistakes, mainly due to her conviction that she is always right coupled by her lack of real world experience. Although she has vowed she will never ever marry, she delights in making matches for others. The popular 1995 movie “Clueless” is a portrayal of the modern-day Emma.

Frank Churchill is the utterly charming, handsome, well-bred sometimes suitor of Emma Wedgewood in Jane Austen’s 1815 novel, Emma. He is an accomplished horseman and a perfect gentleman. Well, perhaps he’s also just a teeny bit shallow (he travels all the way to London for his haircuts), but he is so difficult to dislike. When we take a closer look at Frank, we see that he is perhaps something of a cad. He is living off his wealthy aunt and is unwilling to declare his intentions for his true love, Jane, whose social standing is lesser than his. In that vein, he pretends to pay suit to the rich girl, Emma, in order to safeguard his potential inheritance. Now, that’s not nice! However, as in all lovely novels of manners, all comes right in the end and true love prevails. And to be completely fair, he does suffer for his sins, and he does seem to grow as a person over the course of the novel. It just seems to us that he’s so much like Emma that he ought to have been paired with her, but we wouldn’t dare presume on Ms. Austen….

George Knightly is the protagonist of Jane Austen’s novel, Emma, written in 1816. He is a wealthy, kind, well mannered man of high moral character – every mother’s dream of a son-in-law – who stands in contrast to the initially self-centered nature of the young Emma. He is, after all, seventeen years her senior, and wastes no time in pointing out her faults to her, all the while being very much in love with her himself. After a lot of meddlesome matchmaking on Emma’s part, mistakenly placed suspicions, petty jealousies and the like, the two get together when Emma finally comes to her senses. And how’s this for a good son-in-law? He moves in with Emma and her father at their estate so that the old man will not need to miss his daughter. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore!

Popular Songs

ON EMMA

Emma
a song by Hot Chocolate

Emma Jean's Guitar
a song by Chely Wright

Emma's Song
a song by Sinead O'Connor

Famous People

NAMED EMMA

Emma Thompson (actress)
Emma Watson (actress)
Emma Lazarus (poet)
Emma Thompson (actress)
Emma Watson (actress)
Emma Lazarus (poet)
Emma Thompson (actress)
Emma Watson (actress)
Emma Lazarus (poet)

Children of Famous People

NAMED EMMA

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME EMMA

Like many important women from the medieval period, Emma of Normandy was no different in terms of her determination and fortitude. She was born a noblewoman, the daughter of Richard the Fearless, Duke of Normandy. At the turn of the 11th century, Normandy was providing shelter to those pesky little Vikings, who were, of course, intent on invading England. The King of England, Ethelred II, had a few tricks up his sleeve. One was to try and buy the Vikings off with money, and another was to arrange to marry Emma (he needed all the alliances he could form). This would prove helpful, as the King of Denmark, Sweyn, decided England was his for the taking. Ethelred fled to Normandy and was given protection by his wife’s brother, so called Robert the Good. Sweyn was successful in his ambitions to ascend the English throne, but died shortly thereafter. So Ethelred returned and reclaimed the throne, only to die himself a couple years later. Houston, we have a problem; who is next in line to be King of England? A battle ensued between the heirs of Sweyn and the heirs of Ethelred. Canute, son of Sweyn, eventually won (after Ethelred’s son by his first wife, Edmund Ironsides, is suspiciously murdered). So what does the opportunistic Emma do next? Why, marry Canute, of course (thus cleverly protecting the lives of her own sons who were natural rivals to Canute). While the men were picking fights on the battlefield, young Emma was using her feminine wiles to jockey her own sons into power positions. Smart lass, this one. She would eventually succeed. Two of her sons, Hardicanute (by the Dane Canute) and Edward the Confessor (son by Ethelred) would go onto become Kings of England. Oh, and so would her nephew, William the Conqueror.

Like many important women from the medieval period, Emma of Normandy was no different in terms of her determination and fortitude. She was born a noblewoman, the daughter of Richard the Fearless, Duke of Normandy. At the turn of the 11th century, Normandy was providing shelter to those pesky little Vikings, who were, of course, intent on invading England. The King of England, Ethelred II, had a few tricks up his sleeve. One was to try and buy the Vikings off with money, and another was to arrange to marry Emma (he needed all the alliances he could form). This would prove helpful, as the King of Denmark, Sweyn, decided England was his for the taking. Ethelred fled to Normandy and was given protection by his wife’s brother, so called Robert the Good. Sweyn was successful in his ambitions to ascend the English throne, but died shortly thereafter. So Ethelred returned and reclaimed the throne, only to die himself a couple years later. Houston, we have a problem; who is next in line to be King of England? A battle ensued between the heirs of Sweyn and the heirs of Ethelred. Canute, son of Sweyn, eventually won (after Ethelred’s son by his first wife, Edmund Ironsides, is suspiciously murdered). So what does the opportunistic Emma do next? Why, marry Canute, of course (thus cleverly protecting the lives of her own sons who were natural rivals to Canute). While the men were picking fights on the battlefield, young Emma was using her feminine wiles to jockey her own sons into power positions. Smart lass, this one. She would eventually succeed. Two of her sons, Hardicanute (by the Dane Canute) and Edward the Confessor (son by Ethelred) would go onto become Kings of England. Oh, and so would her nephew, William the Conqueror.

Like many important women from the medieval period, Emma of Normandy was no different in terms of her determination and fortitude. She was born a noblewoman, the daughter of Richard the Fearless, Duke of Normandy. At the turn of the 11th century, Normandy was providing shelter to those pesky little Vikings, who were, of course, intent on invading England. The King of England, Ethelred II, had a few tricks up his sleeve. One was to try and buy the Vikings off with money, and another was to arrange to marry Emma (he needed all the alliances he could form). This would prove helpful, as the King of Denmark, Sweyn, decided England was his for the taking. Ethelred fled to Normandy and was given protection by his wife’s brother, so called Robert the Good. Sweyn was successful in his ambitions to ascend the English throne, but died shortly thereafter. So Ethelred returned and reclaimed the throne, only to die himself a couple years later. Houston, we have a problem; who is next in line to be King of England? A battle ensued between the heirs of Sweyn and the heirs of Ethelred. Canute, son of Sweyn, eventually won (after Ethelred’s son by his first wife, Edmund Ironsides, is suspiciously murdered). So what does the opportunistic Emma do next? Why, marry Canute, of course (thus cleverly protecting the lives of her own sons who were natural rivals to Canute). While the men were picking fights on the battlefield, young Emma was using her feminine wiles to jockey her own sons into power positions. Smart lass, this one. She would eventually succeed. Two of her sons, Hardicanute (by the Dane Canute) and Edward the Confessor (son by Ethelred) would go onto become Kings of England. Oh, and so would her nephew, William the Conqueror.