Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Nancy

The origin of Nancy is somewhat unclear. Apparently it developed as a medieval diminutive of Annis, an English form of Agnes in the Middle Ages. Agnes is the Latin form of the Greek Hagne derived from “hagnos” (‘αγνος) meaning ‘chaste, pure’. St. Agnes of Rome was an early 4th century virgin-martyr who refused to marry a pagan prefect’s son and was consequently condemned to death. Since it was against Roman law to execute a virgin, Agnes was dragged to a brothel in an attempt to deflower her. Of course the Holy Spirit interceded and all sorts of miraculous circumstances prevented her rape (she grew hair all over her body, the men were struck blind before they could attack her, and so forth). As with many early saints, a cult grew up around Agnes in the Middle Ages which served to popularize her name. The Latin word “agnus” means ‘lamb’ so you often see St. Agnes depicted with a lamb by her side or in her arms. Annis became the medieval English version of Agnes and Nancy developed as another vernacular. By the 18th century, Nancy became more associated with the name Anne and another diminutive Nan (in which case its meaning would be associated with “grace”). Nancy is also a city in northeastern France in the province of Lorraine.

All About the Baby Name – Nancy

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME NANCY

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 NANCY

The history of Nancy in the United States really caught us off guard. Her usage has been a lot more successful than we would have guessed. First of all, the name dates way back to 1880 on the charts (the first year the U.S. government began tracking naming trends). Not only that, but Nancy was ranked quite high back then (#62 in 1880). For all intents and purposes, Nancy remained a Top 100 favorite as we turned into the 20th century. Then in 1934 she hit the Top 10! The perennial favorite teen detective Nancy Drew was first introduced in 1930 to young readers across America. The name Nancy would remain a Top 10 favorite for the next 20+ years through the 1930s, 40s and early 50s. For instance, in 1940, the only names that had Nancy beat were Mary, Barbara, Patricia, Judith, Betty and Carol. It wasn’t until 1979 that Nancy fell from grace off the Top 100 list after more than 100 years of great success. Ever since the turn of the 21st century, however, Nancy has been falling dramatically from fashion. What was once red hot is now clearly passé. Today the name is given to a little over 500 baby girls per year (compare that to 1940 when 20,000 babies were called Nancy!). Nancy suddenly feels outdated and uninteresting to American parents. You just don’t come across many Nancys in the kindergarten classroom anymore. It has also become synonymous with an “effeminate male” among Commonwealth nations (i.e., “Nancy Boy”) and Nancy Botwin is the pot-dealing suburban mom in the popular Showtime series “Weeds”. Still, Nancy has a retro-charm that’s hard to define. During your pregNANCY, this might be a name to consider.

Quick Facts

ON NANCY

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

689

PRONUNCIATION:

NANT-see

SIMPLE MEANING:

Chaste, pure

Characteristics

OF NANCY

Communicative

Creative

Optimistic

Popular

Social

Dramatic

Happy

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Nancy

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME NANCY

Carson Drew is Nancy's father, a widower, and a respected lawyer in River Heights. Like his daughter, Carson has brown-hair and blue eyes. He enlists the help of his daughter for many of his cases and gets the young sleuth on her path. He guides her and assists her when necessary, both as an admiring co-professional and as a father. He frequently leaves Nancy to her investigations while he travels on business.

Nancy is a major character in Charles Dickens’ beloved novel, Oliver Twist, first published in book form in 1838. A young girl of the streets, she has been working for the master thief, Fagin, for twelve years, and is the lover of his brutal comrade in crime, Bill Sikes. Nancy, however, is a complex character, at once inured to her fate, yet sympathetic toward young Oliver and extremely protective of him. She regrets her role in Oliver’s kidnapping, and tries to make it up by informing Oliver’s benefactors of the wrongs perpetrated upon him. At the same time, she is conflicted over the possibility of betraying her lover while helping Oliver. Cruel fate may have led her to the life of the “fallen” woman, but Nancy exemplifies the most Christian-like of all endeavors when she sacrifices her own life for Oliver’s safety, and dies at the very hands of the man she loves. Hardly the usual role model for Victorian girls, she is nonetheless the type of woman to have in one’s corner – a self-reliant, spunky champion of underdogs who happened to be born in a very unaccommodating century.

Nancy Drew is the confident young amateur sleuth much loved by girls since the fictional series began in 1930 (and which has been highly successful in its transition to movies, television and games). The character was conceived by the publisher, Edward Stratemeyer, and the books were ghost-written under a collective pseudonym, Carolyn Keene. She has undergone many evolutions in those eighty-plus years, but at her core, Nancy Drew is perceived to be a plucky, intelligent and independent young girl with a knack for mystery-solving. Her back story is too good to be true – she is the (conveniently) motherless, indulged only child of a wealthy attorney father, who is looked after and cosseted by the family housekeeper, Hannah. Nancy is pretty, has admiring friends, drives a roadster and has a boyfriend. She does everything excellently – and everything includes, but is not limited to: tennis, golf, riding, bridge, swimming, shooting and gourmet cooking, not to mention, of course, solving mysteries that leave her elders baffled. And she’s generally about sixteen years old – what else could life offer her!? Also, apparently the Great Depression also gave a pass to the charming hamlet of River Heights, U.S.A. All that being said – we loved her! And so did you. And so will your little girl, whether or not you name her Nancy.

Hannah Gruen is the housekeeper in the Nancy Drew series of books by the collective pseudonym named Carolyn Keene (1930). Hannah has worked for the Drew family since Nancy’s mother’s death so she acts as an important surrogate mother figure to the young amateur detective. Caring, courageous, protective and kind, she is always there to lend wise advice to Nancy.

Popular Songs

ON NANCY

Bye Nancy Boy
a song by Hot Snakes

For Nancy
a song by Pete Yorn

Leaving Nancy
a song by Eric Bogle

Nancy
a song by G. Love & Special Sauce

Nancy (Let Your Hair Down For Me)
Prefab Sprout

Nancy Boy
a song by Placebo

Nancy Drew
a song by Relient K

Nancy Jane
a song by Fort Worth Doughboys

Nancy Sings
a song by Jandek

Nancy Whiskey
a song by The Town Pants

Nancy [With the Laughing Face]
a song by Frank Sinatra

Oh, Nancy
a song by Charlie Landsborough

Seems So Long Ago, Nancy
a song by Leonard Cohen

Famous People

NAMED NANCY

Nancy Reagan (U.S. First Lady)
Nancy Sinatra (singer)
Nancy Meyers (director)
Nancy Pelosi (politician)
Nancy Wilson (musician)
Nancy Grace (TV personality)
Nancy McKeon (actress)
Nancy Spungen (ex-girlfriend of Sid Vicious)
Nancy Mitford (writer)
Nancy Merchand (actress)
Nancy Kerrigan (figure skater)
Nancy Allen (actress)
Nancy Reagan (U.S. First Lady)
Nancy Sinatra (singer)
Nancy Meyers (director)
Nancy Pelosi (politician)
Nancy Wilson (musician)
Nancy Grace (TV personality)
Nancy McKeon (actress)
Nancy Spungen (ex-girlfriend of Sid Vicious)
Nancy Mitford (writer)
Nancy Merchand (actress)
Nancy Kerrigan (figure skater)
Nancy Allen (actress)
Nancy Reagan (U.S. First Lady)
Nancy Sinatra (singer)
Nancy Meyers (director)
Nancy Pelosi (politician)
Nancy Wilson (musician)
Nancy Grace (TV personality)
Nancy McKeon (actress)
Nancy Spungen (ex-girlfriend of Sid Vicious)
Nancy Mitford (writer)
Nancy Merchand (actress)
Nancy Kerrigan (figure skater)
Nancy Allen (actress)

Children of Famous People

NAMED NANCY

Katherine Heigl;

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME NANCY

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