James C. Christensen

Gender: Feminine
Origin: German
Meaning: “spear strength.”
Eng (GER-trood); Ger (ger-TROO-də)

She has adorable nickname options; Trudy, among others. She has a similar feel to other current vintage trend-setters such as Matilda and Eleanor, yet Gertrude, for the most part remains unloved. Like Hildegard and Brynhild, this is one of those names where I often ask myself: why not?

She is strong, vintagy and no-frills, as mentioned before, she has tons of adorable nickname options. Is she really anymore grandmotherly or old sounding than Emma, Eleanor, Matilda or even Abigail? We have gotten used to hearing these names but I remember a time when the above names were considered “too old” until it took one famous person to use them and voila, they are automatically endearing and trendy.

Ok, I’ll get off my high horse and get onto the what the name is really all about.

Portrait of Gurtruydt van Leyden.
by James C. Christensen via

Gertrude is composed of the Germanic roots, ger (spear) and þruþ (strength).

The name was borne by several illustrious medieval women, two of whom are saints. Gertrude of Nivelles (626-659) is revered as the patron saint of cats! I am not quite sure how she came to be known as a feline patron, but she was the daughter of Pepin I and was supposed to be married off at the age of ten, but steadfastly refused, insisting that she would only marry Christ. After the death of her father, her wealthy mother constructed Gertrude her very own convent, making her the abbess. She is also invoked against mice and rat infestations.

Another Gertrude is Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) a German nun, mystic and great theologian of her time.

The name has been borne by German and Dutch royalty alike.

Gertrude is pretty well-known in the English-speaking world, but actually never experienced much usage. It was introduced into England in the 15th-century by Dutch settlers, where it was ocassionally used. It appears in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1600) as the name of the hero’s mother.  It was used sparingly in the United States at the beginning of the 20th-century, possibly being introduced by German immigrants. The highest it ever ranked was in 1898 coming in as the 573rd most popular female name.

In the United States, its most famous bearer is Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), famous writer and poet.

As of 2011, her Finnish form of Kerttu was the 20th most popular female name in Finland and Geertruida came in as the 491st most popular female name in the Netherlands, (2010). Meanwhile, its Dutch diminutive offshoot of Geertje is the 368th most popular female name in the Netherlands, (2010).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Gartred (Cornish)
  • Gertruda (Croatian/Czech/Lithuanian/Polish/Romansch/Slovene)
  • Geerdina (Dutch)
  • Geertje (Dutch)
  • Ge(e)rtruida (Dutch)
  • Geertrui (Dutch)
  • Gertrude (Dutch/English/French/German/Italian/Platdeutch)
  • Trudy (Dutch/English/German)
  • Truus (Dutch)
  • Kelli (Estonian)
  • Kertu (Estonian)
  • Kärt (Estonian)
  • Ge(i)rtrúð (Faroese)
  • Gortra (Faroese)
  • Jertru (Finnish)
  • Jerttu (Finnish)
  • Järtty (Finnish)
  • Kerttu (Finnish)
  • Kerttuli (Finnish)
  • Gesa (Frisian)
  • Gesche (Frisian/Platdeutsch)
  • Geesche (Frisian)
  • Gesina (Frisian)
  • Gerta (German)
  • Gertraud (German)
  • Gertrud (German/Scandinavian/Romansch)
  • Gertrúd (Hungarian)
  • Jerta (Hungarian)
  • Geirþrúður (Icelandic)
  • Jarþrúður (Icelandic)
  • Geltrude (Italian)
  • Gertrūda (Latvian)
  • Gjertrud (Norwegian)
  • Jartrud (Norwegian)
  • Geretrudis (Old High German)
  • Geirþrúðr (Old Norse)
  • Jarþrúðr (Old Norse)
  • Gertrudes (Portuguese)
  • Gearte (Sami)
  • Kearte (Sami)
  • Gertrúda (Slovak)
  • Trudla (Sorbian)
  • Gertrudis (Spanish)
  • Gardrud (Swedish)
  • Gertru(n) (Swedish)
  • Hjertrud (Swedish)

Common German and English short forms are Gertie and Trudi/Trudy.




Gender: Masculine
Origin: Lithuanian
Meaning: “to think strong like a tree.”

The name is composed of the Lithuanian elements, man- (manyti) meaning, “to think” and dravas meaning, “thick as a tree; or strong as a tree.”

The feminine form is Mandravė.

The designated name-day is February 27.


Gender: Masculine
Origin: Hebrew
Meaning: “strong; enduring; solid.”
Eng (EE-then); Heb (ay-TAHN)

Currently the 3rd most popular male name in the United States, Ethan is a Biblical Hebrew name that is mentioned eight times in the Bible.

Not much is known about the Biblical Ethan, other than that it was the name of a possible magi or cymbal player of King David.

The name’s popularity is relatively recent. It was not used much outside the Jewish community until after the Protestant Reformation, even then, the name was still very uncommon.

In 1880, Ethan did not appear in the U.S. top 1000, in 1884, he suddenly appeared coming in at # 613, then fell out of the top 1000 the next year, coming in again at # 846 in 1886.

For the next 80 or so years, Ethan had had a history of disappearing from the top 1000 every few years, and then reappearing, but never ranking very high. It wasn’t until, starting in 1956, that Ethan remained steadily in the top 1000 each year.

For ’56, he was the 948th most popular male name.

Ethan jumped several places towards the end of the 1980s. He came in at # 236 in 1988 and then jumped a couple hundred spots the following year, cracking the top 100, he came in at # 87 for 1989.

In 2002, he hit the top 10, coming in at # 5.

His popularity in other countries are as follows:

  • # 10 (Australia, 2007)
  • # 36 (Belgium, 2006)
  • # 1 (Canada, B.C., 2008)
  • # 15 (England/Wales, 2008)
  • # 24 (France, 2006)
  • # 46 (Ireland, 2007)
  • # 31 (Scotland, 2008)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Etan (German/Polish)
  • Aithan Αιθαν (Greek: Biblical)
  • Eitan/Eytan אֵיתָן (Hebrew: Modern)

The name is also borne American revolutionary Ethan Allen (1738-1789) and by actor, Ethan Hawke (b. 1970).

It is also the name of the protagnostis in Edith Wharton’s novel Ethan Frome (1911)

Svante, Svätopluk, Svatopluk, Świętopełk

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Old Slavonic
Meaning: “mighty army; mighty regiment.”

An old Slavonic name most notably borne by a 9th-century Moravian prince, Svätopluk, (the Slovakian rendition), appears on the Slovakian name-day calender for November 15. Though today it is a very rare name in Slovakia, it did rank in as the 95th most popular male name, (in the form of Svatopluk), in it neighbor country, the Czech Republic, for 2006. In the Czech Republic, its designated name-day is February 23rd. Its Polish form of Świętopełk, is also extremely unusual today, though it does boast two name days, June 1 and September 25.Slovakian diminutives are, Sväto, Svaťo, Svätoš, Sväťo.

There is a popular folklore attributed to Svatopluk I of Moravia. When the king knew he was about to die, he gave each of his three sons a twig and had them break it, which was easy for all of them to do, but then Svatopluk asked his sons to break the twigs a second time, and this proved to be even more difficult. The king was trying to prove to his sons that it is difficult, yet necessary to keep a kingdom united.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Svend (Danish)
  • Vante (Finnish)
  • Sventopolcus/Sventopelcus (Late Latin)
  • Światopełek/Świętopałk/Świętopełek/Wszetopełk (Polish)
  • Svjatopolk/Svyatopólk (Russian/Ukrainian)
  • Svante/Svantepolk (Swedish/Norwegian/Danish: name-day in Sweden is December 5. Svante was the 97th most popular male name in Sweden for 2007)
  • Swante (Swedish)

Notable Czech bearers are:

  • Svatopluk I, Great Prince of Moravia (c. 894)
  • Svatopluk II, Prince of Nitra (c. 9-10 centuries)
  • Svatopluk of Bohemia (1107-1109)
  • Svatopluk Inneman, Czech director (1896-1945)
  • Svatopluk Benes, Czech actor (1918-2007)
  • Svatopluk Havelka, Czech composer (1925-2009)
  • Svatopluk Skopal, Czech actor (b.1952)

Famous Polish bearers include:

  • Prince Świętopełk of Poznań (979-992)
  • Świętopełk II the Great, Duke of Gdańsk Pomerania (1220-1266)
  • Świętopełk Karpiński, Polish poet and satirist (1909-1940)

It was also borne by one Kievan duke, Svyatopolk I of Kiev.





Gender: Masculine
Origin: Lithuanian
Meaning: “nimble and strong.”

The name is composed of the Lithuanian elements švit– (which is from švitrus meaning “fast; nimble; frisky”) and gailas which means “strong.”

The name was borne by a Grand Duke of Lithuania (1370-1452) he was the brother of Jogaila and was known for his pro-Russian policies. The designate name-day in Lithuania is October 25. There is a feminine version Švitrigailė whose name-day is set for October 24.

Kęsgailas, Kęsgailė

fingertip-pushups_533aOrigin: Lithuanian
Meaning: “to withstand suffering.”
(kas-GUY-lahs); (kas-GUY-lay).

The name is composed of the ancient Lithuanian elements kęs- (kęsti) meaning “to suffer” and gailas meaning “strong.” Hence it would roughly translate as “one who withstands suffering.” Its designated name-day is September 29.