Family Names For Sale: Carole

Carole Middleton, mother of Kate, from

I love my (paternal) Grandma. She is just a slightly older version of me, and that gives me hope for the future, because she acts as if she were several years younger. At my sister’s confirmation, she came over all giggly at the end of communion, when the bishop started swigging back the wine. And that makes me want to name a daughter after her, especially since her name is rather pretty, but I can’t, although I have considered Coral as an alternative.

She is, first and foremost, associated with music, since some places give Carole’s meaning as hymn or song:

  • A carole is a festive song, or medieval dance
  • A carol is also a festive song, the modern-day version of a carole, almost exclusively associated with Christmas,

This makes it a a nice alternative to naming your Christmas baby Holly. And their are figures showing people in the UK do name December girls Holly, in 2009, the most popular baby girl name in December was Holly. The only month Holly ranked in the Top 10, and in the overall list, Holly sits at #19, with 2263 births. 516 were born in December, 69 more than overall #1 Olivia.

But back to Carole. She is the french feminine form of Carolus, itself the latin form of Charles.

Charles derives from the Germanic name Karl, coming from the Germanic word meaning man. This means Charles’ meaning is usually given as free man, and thus Carole means this, although some people prefer to feminise the meaning to free woman.

But there is another theory about Charles’ origins, being instead from the Germanic element hari, meaning army or warrior.

Onto notable Caroles, first of all we have Carole Shelley (born 1939), an english actress with a long-time association with Disney films, she’s appeared in, or lent her voice to Enchanted (Aunt Clara), The Aristocats (Amelia Gabble), Robin Hood (Lady Kluck) and Hercules (Lachesis the Fate).

Then we have:

  • Carole Merle (born 1964). A French Alpine Skier. She won a gold in the 1993 world championships.
  • Carole Landis (born 1919, as Frances). A Hollywood star of her time, she died in 1948. Her breakthrough role was in the 1940 film, One Million B.C., released a year before the name Carole had a peak in popularity in the US (see below).
  • Carole Bouquet (born 1957). A French model, who fronted Chanel between 1980s and 1990s.
  • Carole Bayer Sager (born 1947). An American singer, whose album released in 1977 contained an international #1 single.
  • Carole Lombard (born 1908, as Jane). Another Hollywood star, who was one of the highest paid stars of her time. She is listed as one of the greatest stars of all time by the American Film Institute. She died in 1942, again, the year before her name peaked.
  • Carole King (born 1942). An American songwriter, who wrote a string of chart hits in the 1960s.

It does seem, however, the population of the UK does not share my enthusiasm for the name. In 2009, 8 girls were named Carol, and so few Carole’s were born, it doesn’t even make an appearance on the list, which lists every name used for 3 babies or more.

For the sake of completion, there were: 55 Carolines (#664), 35 Carolinas (#932), 8 Carolyns, 3 Carol-Anns.

In terms of historical rankings:

Carole: #27 in 1944. #44 in 1954. #68 in 1964.

Carol: #12 in 1944. #7 in 1954. #21 in 1964. #84 in 1974.

Caroline: #81 in 1904. #95 in 1944. #62 in 1954. #15 in 1964. #19 in 1974. #46 in 1984.

Carolyn: #76 in 1944. #80 in 1954. #80 in 1964.

What’s interesting is the fact that currently in the US, three of the above names currently (2010) rank in the Top 1000, compared with just two in the UK:

Caroline at #88. Carolyn at #741. Carolina at #388.

In the US, the ‘Carol’ names all, mostly, peaked in the early 1940s:

Carol peaked at #4 in 1941. Carole peaked at #35 in 1942. Carolyn peaked at #10 in 1942.

Carol last appeared in the US Top 1000 in 2006, at #972, whilst Carole last appeared in 1977 at #932.

Both Caroline and Carolina peaked in the early 2000s:

Caroline at #62 in 2001. Carolina at #254 in 2004.

In 1942, Caroline ranked at #168, and Carolina ranked at #852.

However, there could be hope, since Kate Middleton’s mother is called Carole, a small hope, but one nevertheless.

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Family Names For Sale: Carole

  1. Awww your grandma sounds like a heap of fun. It’s funny you said it’s not so popular, but I just don’t see Carole as a very “English” name – it always seems like an American one to me, while Carol or Caroline seem more English.


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