Charles, Caroline

Gender: Masculine
Origin: German
Meaning: “man; free man”

The name is derived from a Germanic root word describing someone who is of the farm or peasant class. It corresponds with the Anglo-Saxon term ceorl (churl) and the Old German word karl. Both words were used to describe a male member of society who came from the lowest ranks but was not considered a servant or thrall. It is believed that its Old High German counterpart, karal, was originally used to describe any man. Interestingly enough, in the Poetic Edda, the progenitor of the peasant class is named Karl.

Its usage as a given name seems to have begun with the Frankish King and Holy Roman Emperor, Charles the Great also known as Charlemagne. As a result, the name became extremely common among French royalty and was later introduced to the British Royal Line when Mary Queen of Scots named her son Charles, later known as Charles I Stuart. Since Mary of Scots grew up in France, it is believed that her naming choices may have been influenced by her early habitation among French royalty.

The name was also extremely common among Swedish, German and Spanish Royalty.

It has also been borne by several saints.

Charles remains a fairly prevalent name throughout the Western World. In the English-speaking world, Charles’ rankings are as follows (vernacular forms are italicized):

  • # 72 (Australia, 2008)
  • # 85 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
  • # 2 Karlo (Croatia, 2009)
  • # 56 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • # 21 Carlos (Spain, 2008)
  • #63 (United States, 2008)

Its diminutive form of Charlie is often used as an independent given name, sometimes ranking even higher on the charts than its formal counterpart. His rankings are as follows:

  • # 26 (Australia, 2008)
  • # 7 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • #29 (Ireland, 2008)
  • # 1 (Isle of Man, 2009)
  • # 8 (Northern Ireland, 2009)
  • # 22 (Scotland, 2009)
  • # 42 (Sweden, 2009)
  • # 307 (United States, 2008)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Karlo (Albanian/Croatian/Finnish/Serbian)
  • Kirollis كيرولوس(Arabic: used primarily among Arab Christians if used at all)
  • Carllos (Asturian)
  • Carlos (Asturian/Galician/Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Karla/Karlos (Basque)
  • Karol (Basque/Polish/Slovak)
  • Xarles (Basque)
  • Charlez (Breton)
  • Carl/Karl Карл (Bulgarian/Finnish/German/Russian/Scandinavian/Ukrainian)
  • Carles (Catalan)
  • Charlys (Cornish)
  • Carlu (Corsican/Sicilian)
  • Karel (Czech/Dutch/Limburgish/Slovene)
  • Karelius (Danish/Norwegian: archaic)
  • Carolus (Dutch/Latin)
  • Kaarel (Estonian)
  • Kaarle/Kaarlo (Finnish)
  • Charles (French/English)
  • Charlot (French: originally a diminutive form, now completely out of usage. SHAR-lo)
  • Keerl/Kerll (German: rare form)
  • Karolos Κάρολος (Greek: Modern)
  • Kale (Hawaiian)
  • Károly (Hungarian: Kah-roi)
  • Séarlas (Irish-Gaelic)
  • Carlino/Carolino (Italian)
  • Carlo (Italian/Welsh)
  • Kārlis (Latvian)
  • Charel (Lexumbourgish: KAH-rel)
  • Sjarel (Limburgish. SHAH-rel)
  • Karolis (Lithuanian. kah-roh-lis)
  • Karlu (Maltese)
  • Carol (Romanian)
  • Carli (Romansch)
  • Carule/Carlus (Sardinian)
  • Tèarlach (Scottish-Gaelic)
  • Korla (Sorbian)
  • Kalle (Swedish: a diminutive form commonly used as an independent name. KAHL-le)
  • Siarl (Welsh: SHARL)

Czech diminutives: Karlík, Karlíček.
English diminutives: Charlie, Chas, Chaz, Chip, Chuck, Chuckie
French diminutives: Charlie, Charlot
Hungarian diminutives: Karcsi
Italian diminutives: Carletto, Carluccio
Polish diminutives: Karolek, Lolek
Portuguese/Spanish diminutives: Carlito, Carlitos

Its feminine offshoot of Caroline is a French borrowing. Pronounced (kare-uh-LINE) in English, it has always been a common name. She is currently the 94th most popular female name in the United States, (2008), her rankings in other countries are as follows: (vernacular forms are italicized)

  • #5  (Denmark 2009)
  • # 6 Carolin/Caroline (Estonia, 2007)
  • # 9 (Luxembourg, 2008)
  • # 74 (Norway, 2009)

Its more elaborate versions of Carolina/Karolina are also fairly prevalent in other countries. Carolina has had a history of usage among English-speakers as well, but among Americans, the name is usually associated with the States, both of which were named in honour of Charles I.

Currently, Carolina is the 355th most popular female name in the United States, (2008). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 33 (Chile, 2006)
  • # 4 Karolína (Czech Republic, 2009)
  • # 14 Karolina (Poland, 2009)
  • # 54 (Spain, 2008)

Charlotte (see Charlotte entry for more info)

  • Carlota/Carlotta (Liechtenstein, 2008)
  • Carlota # 41 (Spain, 2008)


  • Carla (Catalonia Spain, 2008)
  • # 39 (Chile, 2006)
  • Karla # 7 (Croatia, 2009)
  • # 42 (France, 2006)

Other feminine forms include:

  • Carolina (Catalan/English/Italian/Portuguese/Spanish/Swedish)
  • Karla (Croatian/Czech/Dutch/German/Scandinavian)
  • Karola (Croatian/Czech/German/Hungarian)
  • Karolina (Croatian/German/Hungarian/Latvian/Lithuanian/Polish/Scandinavian/Slovak/Slovene)
  • Karolína (Czech)
  • Karoline (Danish/German/Norwegian/Swedish)
  • Carla (Dutch/English/German/Italian/Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Carola (Dutch/German/Italian/Scandinavian)
  • Carolien (Dutch: cah-ro-LEEN)
  • Caroline (Dutch/English/French/German/Scandinavian)
  • Charlotte (Dutch/English/French/German/Scandinavian)
  • Carly (English: originally a diminutive form, now used as an independent given name)
  • Carolyn (English)
  • Charla (English: contraction of Charlene)
  • Karoliina (Finnish)
  • Carole (French)
  • Charlène (French/English: In French pronounced shahr-LEN, imported into the English speaking world where it is pronounced shar/char-LEEN)
  • Charline (French: shahr-LEEN)
  • Carolin (German: cah-ro-LEEN)
  • Karline (German)
  • Sarlott (Hungarian)
  • Séarlait (Irish-Gaelic)
  • Carletta (Italian)
  • Carlina (Italian)
  • Carlotta (Italian)
  • Carlottina (Italian)
  • Carluccia (Italian)
  • Tèarlag (Scottish-Gaelic)
  • Carlota (Spanish)
  • Charlotta (Swedish)

Their bearers are too numerous to list. Its designated name-days are: March 2 (France), November 4 (France).

For Caroline and her variations, May 9 (Poland), May 20 (Sweden), June 3 (Slovakia), July 5 (Lithuania/Poland), July 18 (Poland), August 6 (Lithuania) and February 2 (Hungary).

3 thoughts on “Charles, Caroline

  1. Karelius isn’t here!
    It’s been in use in Norway during the 1800’s and mostly as a middle name later on and is listed as Danish by my favourite Norwegian name source.
    There’s also a Norwegian singer named Jens Carelius and although Carelius is only listed as a last name in Norway, I think it’s safe to assume it’s been used as a first name as well 🙂

    Keep up the good work as always! ^^

  2. Pingback: Giancarlo, Juan Carlos, Jean-Charles | Legitimate Baby Names

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