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All About the Baby Name – Kate

Quick Facts


ORIGIN: English
SIMPLE MEANING: Pure one, clear, innocent











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.



Americans have been using Kate as a stand-alone name since the U.S. government began tracking naming trends in 1880 (although it’s clear that the name was well in use before then). The name was most popular in the late 1880s when it was squarely on the Top 100 list of most commonly used girl names. As we entered the 20th century, the name Kate began to fall out of favor. Her low-point came in the 1940s and 50s when she almost fell off the naming charts altogether (although Kate as a nickname was still in wide usage). The name began to regain momentum back up the charts in the 1970s but some of her biggest gains in popularity came in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The name has yet to recapture a spot on the Top 100, but she has spawned other versions of herself along the way (Katie, Katelyn and Katrina). The one-syllable Kate is a simple, straight-forward, no-nonsense name with grace, confidence and spunk. We can’t help conjuring up Shakespeare’s hot-tempered, feisty shrew Katherine Minola (better known as Kate). Shrew, we know, isn’t the pleasantest of descriptors, but if you look beyond that, Kate was really a stand-out feminist in the restrictive 16th century, a time when women’s role was to obey her husband, produce children, and remain silent. She had no legal rights or identity of her own. Enter Kate. An intelligent, individualistic, speak-her-mind kind of gal. As she herself says: “My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, / Or else my heart concealing it will break, / And rather than it shall, I will be free / Even to the uttermost, as I please, in words.” Her words represented the only freedom she had. For this reason, and for many others, we give the name Kate a resounding thumbs-up!

Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Kate

Kate is the shortened version of the name Katherine which has developed into an individually given name in its own right. Katherine is the English version of the French Catherine, which was borne by a popular Christian saint martyred in Alexandria, Egypt in the 4th century, and a favorite in medieval times when the popularity of the name grew. The etymology of Catherine is debated, but she most likely shares her roots with the name Hecate, Greek goddess of the wilderness, childbirth, and crossroads. The 4th-Century Saint Catherine of Alexandria, nicknamed ‘the pure one,’ was a Christian martyr tortured on the wheel for upholding her religious beliefs. The name is associated with the Greek ‘katharos’’ meaning ‘pure.’ Our modern use of the Greek-derived “catharsis,” (to purge or cleanse), also lends to C/Katherine’s association with ideas of purity and innocence. The shortened version of Kate has been in constant use since the Middle Ages, and was particularly popularized by Kate, the character in William Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew (circa 1590).

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Kate

Literary Characters


Kate Nickleby (Nicholas Nickleby) – Kate is the put-upon younger sister of Nicholas Nickleby in Charles Dickens’ 1838/39 third (serialized) novel of the same name, Nicholas Nickleby, or the Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. After their father dies, leaving them penniless, the little family must rely upon the charity of an uncle, a heartless man who really cares nothing about them. Kate is forced to work for a while as a milliner, and she and her mother endure uncomfortable lodgings, while Nicholas is off earning a living. Kate, while gentle in the way of her contemporaries, shows considerable fortitude in her hard life, working hard, saving her virtue from the notorious Sir Hawk, avoiding her harsh uncle and – finally – finding her true reward in true love with the fortuitously named Frank Cheeryble.

Katherine “Kate” Minola (The Taming of the Shrew) – Kate is the sharp-tongued, wild and “shrewish” elder daughter of Baptista in Shakespeare’s much-performed 1590/94 play, “The Taming of the Shrew”. Kate has what we today would consider some very valid objections to the institution of marriage and the roles of men and women therein. Poor Kate – she is being forced into an unwanted marriage because her father will not allow the sweet younger sister, Bianca, to be married before the elder. (Bianca, in fact, is being auctioned off to the highest bidder, in the usual Shakespearean whirl of subterfuge, chicanery and double identities.) Long criticized for the physical abuse enacted by husband upon wife in a comical setting, the play remains one of Shakespeare’s most controversial. Whether or not Kate actually succumbs willingly to Petruchio, or whether she only appears to do so and works within the limitations of her circumstances, she is one woman not to be taken lightly. Our suggestion: put it in the context of its time and enjoy it – a little politically correct attitude goes a long way. We’re voting on the side that says #1 – it shines an early light upon the ancient inequality of the sexes, and #2 – it’s all in fun.

Childrens Books


“Let’s Get a Pup!” Said Kate (Bob Graham) – When Kate and her parents visit an animal shelter, they first bring home a precious puppy, then return to adopt an older dog that had also captured their hearts. Graham’s cartoon-style, plump figures include a Mom with a tattoo and nose ring, and a disheveled Dad. The cozy domestic scenes include typical particulars like a forgotten piece of toast, toys on the floor, and cleaning gear in the bathroom. With the comprehensive characterization chronicled in these pen-and-ink and watercolor panoramas, readers easily embrace this family whose affections extend to include pets on the bed. This endearing book successfully compels those previously pledged to pedigree puppies to try an alternative route. Recommended for ages 4-8.

Caleb and Kate (William Steig) – When Caleb finds himself transformed into a dog and is unable to tell his wife his true identity, he decides to become her companion. Recommended for ages 4-8.

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa (Erica Silverman) – Set on a cattle ranch, this warm, beginning chapter book tells four spirited stories about young cowgirl Kate and her beloved talking horse, Cocoa. Young children will see themselves in both characters. In several episodes, for example, Cocoa puts off cow herding and even bedtime by employing a preschooler’s procrastination techniques, such as asking for food and for water. Children will also recognize the friends’ good-natured banter and lively dialogue as they negotiate their days together, in the barn and on the range. This book is part of a series which also includes Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: School Days; Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Spring Babies; Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Partners; Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Rain or Shine; and Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Horse in the House. Recommended for ages 4-8.

Emma Kate (Patricia Polacco) – Emma Kate and her elephant best friend sit next to one another in school, share lunches, play at recess, finish their homework, and go to soccer practice. They even have their tonsils out at the same time, sharing a hospital bed and gallons of pink ice cream. The girl’s bright red dress stands out against the white background and soft charcoal-gray pencil drawings of the large friendly elephant. Recommended for ages 4-8.

Kate and the Beanstalk (Mary Pope Osborne) – Kate and the Beanstalk stars a whip-smart girl instead of traditionally lazy, not-so-bright Jack. Osborne’s telling (aside from the gender switch) remains fairly faithful to the original: the hungry mother sends her child out to sell the cow, the cow is traded for magic beans, the angry mother tosses the beans out the window, a beanstalk grows, the hero(ine) climbs it, and vanquishes the evil giant, winning treasure in the process. A surprise ending (for Kate, anyway… astute readers may guess the outcome) gives the tale an extra jolt of happily-ever-after. Recommended for ages 4-10.

Kate Skates (Jane O’Connor) – When Kate receives new skates for her birthday, her younger sister inherits the old pair. Jen moves immediately (and without any practice) from “I do not know how to skate,” to getting laced up faster than Kate, and moving onto the ice where she “does not need any help.” Kate can’t wait to skate, but immediately discovers that the new blades are more difficult to handle than her old ones, and she slips and wobbles. A week later, the girls return to the rink; when a big kid knocks into Jen, Kate goes to her rescue and is aided by a skating star, who agrees to give Kate lessons. Recommended for ages 4-8.

Popular Songs


A Song for Kate – a song by the Sky’s The Limit

Ballad of Miss Kate – a song by Matt Costa

Kate – a song by Ben Folds Five

Kate and the Ghost of Lost Love – a song by Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer

Me and Kate – a song by Diesel Boy

Roller Skate Kate – a song by John Entwistle

Shimmy Like Kate – a song by The Olympics

Sister Kate – a song by The Ditty Bops

You Can’t Have Your Kate and Edith Too – a song by The Statler Brothers

Famous People


Kate Beckinsale (actress); Kate Chopin (writer); Kate Hudson (actress); Kate Bosworth (actress); Kate Bush (musician); Kate Capshaw, (actress); Kate Gosselin (reality TV star); Kate Jackson (actress); Kate Middleton (Princess of Wales); Kate Moss (supermodel); Kate Winslet (actress)

Children of Famous People


Famous People who Named their Daughter Kate

Charles Dickens (novelist); Gene Siskel (movie reviewer); Goldie Hawn (actress); Joan Lunden (journalist); Lee Remick (actress); Markie Post (actress); Meredith Baxter (actress); Peter O’Toole (actor); Richard Burton (actor); Sting (musician); Ted Danson (actor)

Historic Figures


We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Kate.

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