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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: How Will the Royal Engagement Affect the Name Kate?

Ellen writes:
I want to ask your opinion of the name Kate, which is one of the few girl names both my husband and I agree upon. Specifically, because I happen to be one of the many people interested in William and Kate's engagement and the upcoming royal wedding, I'm wondering if you think that all of the interest in the couple is going to cause a rise in the popularity in the name Kate/Catherine. I don't mind names in the top 100, but I don't want a trendy name. I looked up Diana on Name Voyager, and it doesn't look like there was a spike in that name in the early 80's here in the U.S. So, perhaps my concern is for naught? (Also, something relevant to my particular situation is that if we have a son--either with this pregnancy or in the future--he will quite possibly be named William after a family member.) I'd appreciate your thoughts!

Oh, interesting question about whether Kate/Catherine will get more popular! And...I don't know! On one hand it brings the name to our attention, and on the other hand there are a lot of people who are probably saying right this minute, "Well, we can't use Kate now---everyone would think we used it because of Kate Middleton."

Okay, I will make a prediction, but then I want to hear everyone else's: my prediction is that there will be no net effect on the name---that some people will be MORE inclined to use it, and that those people will balance out those people who will be LESS inclined to use it. I also predict that it will be very difficult to tell the effect, since the name Kate is used as a standalone name AND as a nickname.

To answer the second part of that question, I don't think the name Kate/Catherine CAN get trendy. I think it's too established a name to even have that potential. Even if it got into the top ten, it would always be a traditional/classic name, not trendy. (Now, if Middleton were to take off, that would be a different story!)

And to answer the part about your particular pregnancy: In my opinion, from now on each family may have EITHER or a Kate OR a William---just as each family may currently have a Charles OR a Diana.


Name update! Ellen writes:
My husband and I had a little girl in June, and Kate remained a front-runner for her name up until the end of my pregnancy. However, we disagreed on if we'd name her Katherine and call her Kate or if we'd just name her Kate, and William is the name we're quite set on if we do have a boy someday. Those two things caused us to scrap Kate. We ended up naming our daughter Emeline Anne. We pronounce the last syllable like the last syllable of Caroline...I read your post about the pronunciation of Emmaline (http://swistlebabynames.blogspot.com/2011/07/baby-naming-issue-pronunciation-of.html) with great interest! I have a small amount of namer's remorse because I fret over Emeline needing to spell and pronounce her name for the rest of her life, but we really do love the name. Here's a picture of our Emmy:


Thanks for addressing my question, Swistle, and thank you to the commenters who weighed in, too!

22 comments:

Christine said...

I would use Kate and/or Catherine still. In fact, if my husband would go for it, I would use it in a heartbeat. BUT I would never combine a Kate and a William, which is a shame since they are both lovely names.

(And sort of on topic, can I tell you how sick I am of the "news" coverage. Holy cow. I would love to turn on the TV once in a while without hearing about it.)

Naomi said...

I 100% agree with Swistle's take on it. I think Kate is too established and too classic a name to become trendy. I don't see a huge impact in popularity happening because of the royal wedding. Good call on looking up Diana, and I think it's fair to expect a similar non-effect for Kate.

That being said, Kate/Catherine is a beautiful name, and I say go ahead and use it!! :)

Abriana said...

I think Kate is a solid name on its own, and there are so many Kates in the world, that I just don't think people would jump to Kate Middleton, even with the upcoming wedding. Just my thought!

StephLove said...

I have no prediction about Kate/Catherine's future popularity, but I agree if you're set on William, I'd skip Kate, though Catherine and William would be fine, if you called her that. Actually, that's a very nice sibling pairing. I think I could even endorse Will and Catie/Katie, though I'm borderline on that one.

M.Amanda said...

My 2yo is Catherine/Kate. Since our last name is pretty close to Middleton, I've worried that people will assume we named her after the future princess and/or make constant references. So far, that has not happened at all. In fact, people usually just say how much they always liked that name. The same can be said of the name William, I think.

I don't think they will be "trendy." They have been used too regularly for that. If there were 20 or 30 years where nobody used those names and suddenly they jumped into the top 20, then I might make the connection to the royals. But currently they just seem like nice, classic names.

Anonymous said...

I agree, having siblings Kate and William would be a bit weird, although if William were a middle name I probably wouldn't notice. But keep in mind there are more ways to get Kate now with Caitlin/Katelyns around.

Anonymous said...

As a Diana born just a few years before Charles and Diana were married, I can say that yes, the name absolutely spiked immediately afterwards. It may not show up in Name Voyager, but if you look at the Social Security records, it jumped from #118 in 1980 to #64 in 1982---that's a lot of extra Dianas floating around! I didn't mind too much since it never got overly popular (and hadn't exactly been uncommon beforehand---was very popular for most of the 50s and 60s) and there was a magic point around 1984 when people stopped calling me "Diane" and stopped misspelling my name "Dianna." So there is an upside. But, yes---expect a jump this year and next.

Therese said...

I agree with Swistle, that I don't think Kate/Catherine will be affected much by the (to-be) Princess Kate. I think it is such a classic and strong name and really already popular that it just doesn't matter. I know tons of females of all ages named some variation of Catherine/Kate. Frankly, if my niece wasn't named Catherine (Cate) then I would be using that name for my daughter. William is also a very classic and standard boys name. It might be a little odd in the future years to have a William and Kate sibling match but either name alone would not make me think "trendy" due to the royal wedding.

Elizabeth said...

I have been in denial over how STRESSED I am about this. But I found your answer very reassuring, so thank you.

Frazzled Mom said...

Catherine (at least the Catherine and Katherine spellings) are classics and can't get trendy.

One trend that might arise from Kate Middleton is the use of Kate as a nickname for the C spelling (Catherine). I think Kate for Catherine might be common in the UK, but my impression is that Kate is used more for Katherine (Katheryn, Katharine, etc.) or as a stand alone name here in the US, and Catherine (the less common spelling) usually stays Catherine or using another nickname such as Cate.

Perhaps the Catherine spelling will surpass the K spelling in popularity, but since the name has roots and is so established, I still don't think it will become trendy.

Naomi said...

I already commented, but I'm still wondering about the whole Kate and William for siblings thing. My gut feeling is that since they are both so classical and established, they would be ok to use for siblings. I don't think many people would make the connection, and those who might probably would not think that it was done on purpose. I know that I wouldn't blink if I heard of Elisabeth and Philip as siblings, and I just now realised that I know a set of siblings named Charles, Philip and William and I have never made the connection to the royal family. I think William and Kate could go as un-noticed.

The Schwant Family said...

I think Kate will be fine because it is already a very established name, same with William. If the princess to be had a very unique name you were considering using I think I'd have a different reaction. For example, a few years back I had a friend who named her baby George and I never thought twice about it being George Bush's name but if she named him Obama today I certainly would associate it. All that to say, I don't think anyone will think you are naming her Kate after the princess and I doubt the name will rise in popularity because it is already a name we've all heard many times before. I love Kate and I think I would even have a William and Kate sibling pair.

Patricia said...

I agree with Swistle that there most likely won't be a huge rush to name baby girls Catherine and/or Kate. Parents who like traditional names may give Catherine another look, but some may avoid it because of the current royal connection. Parents preferring androgynous names or new names won't suddenly decide to name their daughters Kate. I've always loved the name Catherine, named my first daughter Catherine (who, in turn, named her second daughter Catrina "Cate"), and would be happy to see Catherine-with-a-C increase in popularity in the US, but I doubt that will happen in a big way.

As for Catherine/Kate and William in the same family, I think it would work fine in a 3-or-more child family. So that, eg., the children were called Catherine" "Kate", Emily and William or Catherine, Oliver and William.

Even though you "quite possibly" would name your son William, there's no way of knowing if you'll ever have a son (my three sons each have 3 boys, no girls), so I'd go ahead and name this baby Kate if that's the name you most love. It may be that by the time you have a second child, you like some other name better than William. Or a relative or close friend may have had a William by then and you don't feel you can use the same name. Or the second baby could be a girl too. I'd name this baby the name you love most and not worry about a possible Kate and William dilemma in the future.

Shoeaddict said...

I don't understand the nickname Kate for the name Catherine. How? I guess I'm being no help, though, sorry!

Swistle said...

Shoeaddict- Nicknames are so weird. Like, Meg or Maggie for Margaret---or PEG for Margaret. Or Bill for William, or Betsy for Elizabeth. Or Sadie or Sally for Sarah, or Jack for John.

Frazzled Mom said...

Maybe a little change of subject, but the nickname I understand the least is Polly for Mary. How?!?!?!

Ellen said...

Thanks, Swistle and commenters! I'm so glad to read all of your thoughts.

Patricia said...

Mary to Molly to Polly. In Colonial times Polly was often used as a nn for Maria and Patsy for Martha, as was the case with Thomas Jefferson's daughters (Patsy being the elder).

Kate is an old nn for Katherine and is also used as a nn for Catherine, especially in the UK. Cate-with-a-C is a more recent adaption.

Penguin Reference (UK): KATE - English first name that developed as a diminutive of Catherine and its many derivatives, such as Kathleen...

This Dictionary of First Names gives Catherine (C-spelling) as the preferred spelling of the name.

M.Amanda said...

Shoeaddict, funny, isn't it? Truthfully, it never occured to me to use Cate instead of Kate. The very first time I ever saw Cate was when Cate Blanchet became famous. It has a very "new alternate spelling" feel to me.

Growing up in an area with heavy French and German heritage, I've commonly seen C and K used interchangeably for many names beginning with the k sound, but always seen Catherine/Katherine shortened to Kate.

I'm now hoping this won't prove confusing to my little girl as she begins to learn how to spell her name....

The Schwant Family said...

Apparently my scattered pregnant brain can not manage bathing children and commenting on blogs at the same time - shocker. : ). Anyway, meant to say Barack not Obama!

Nettie said...

Interesting that this came up, as today (Decemeber 3rd) the Toronto Sun published an article on the popularity of Kate. Page 43, if anyone has it.

"Ancestry.co.uk found that 230 million birth and marriage records dating from 1837 revealed a royal wedding naming pattern which saw popularity for names of princesses rise dramatically in the years they married"


They say the use of Diana doubled when she married in 1981, the same was true for Elizabeth and Victoria. Victoria went up 35%. The article also states that the same is true for royal babies, such as William, Harry, Zara, Andrew, Anne, Beatrice and Eugenie.

Leah said...

She is sOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO cute! congratulations!