Charlotte is an antique name with a royal history – and it's having quite a comeback. The name is of French origin, means "free man" or "petite," and is the feminine form of Charles.
Since Charles was a favorite among royal boys, Charlotte became a popular name for queens, princesses, and duchesses. Charlotte of Bourbon, born in 1388 to a French count, went on to become the queen of Cyprus and Armenia, and is one of the earliest known Charlottes.
Charlotte is a charming name with several equally adorable nickname options that include Lottie, Lotta, and the gender-neutral favorite Charlie. In this way, Charlotte's recent popularity illustrates a couple of baby-naming trends: gender-neutral names and vintage names.
Charlotte also has literary associations thanks to renowned 19th-century novelist Charlotte Brontё and beloved children's classic Charlotte's Web. Names with these kinds of literary associations are also having a moment with 21st century parents. Olivia (from Shakespeare) and Harper (after To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee) have both joined Charlotte in the top 10 baby girl names, and the Dickensian Oliver has spent time in the top 10 boy names.
While "free man" feels like an unfairly masculine meaning for a feminine name like Charlotte, the idea of freedom and independence is an objectively positive characteristic to influence a child's life. And Charlotte's alternate meaning, "petite," feels like a whimsical reminder of the name's French origins.
As the fourth most popular baby name in the United States in 2020 (according to the Social Security Administration), this 14th-century name is enjoying the most popularity it's had in at least 100 years. It's been one of the 500 most popular baby names since at least 1900, but has become more popular than ever in the past few decades, climbing from number 100 in 2007 all the way to the top five in 2020.
Charlotte is a classic name with vintage appeal, and thanks to its gender-neutral nickname Charlie, it remains as evergreen today as it has for the last 700 years. Charlotte has proven its staying power and will doubtless remain a beloved name for years to come.
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz : Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and wife of King George III, who reigned from 1760-1820
Charlotte Emma Aitchison : British musician known as Charli XCX
Charlotte Brontё : English author known for Jane Eyre
Charlotte "Lottie" Dodd : English athlete; youngest woman to win the Wimbledon Ladies' Singles Championship in tennis
Charlotte Forten Grimké : American anti-slavery activist
Charlotte Perkins Gilman : American writer known for her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper"
Charlotte Ray : First African-American woman to become a lawyer
Charlotte Bronte : novelist and the eldest of the three famous Bronte sisters
Charlotte Rampling : actress
Charlotte Church : Welsh singer
Charlotte Allen : writer
Charlotte Brown : published author
Charlotte Caffey : guitarist
Charlotte Cooper : tennis player
Charlotte Gaskell : model
Charlotte Grimshaw : writer
Charlotte Hutchinson : published author
Charlotte Jay : writer
Charlotte Lewis : actress
Charlotte Masaryk : published author