Girl Baby Name


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Quick Facts on Gretchen

  • Gender:
  • Girl
  • Origin:
  • German
  • Number of syllables:
  • 2
  • Ranking popularity:
  • N/A
Simple meaning:
Little pearl

Characteristics of Gretchen

  • Authoritative
  • Powerful
  • Tough
  • Tenacious
  • Wealthy
  • Problem-solver
  • Achiever

Etymology & Historical Origin - Gretchen

Gretchen is the German diminutive of Margareta (Margaret). Grete, Greta and Gretel also developed as diminutive forms of Margareta in Germany, names which eventually spread beyond the German borders. Margareta, like Margaret, both originated from the Hebrew “margaron” meaning “pearl” (as a diminutive form, Gretchen therefore means “little pearl”). For more information on the name Margaret, please see that name page. Generally considered isolated to Germany, Gretchen gained outside attention with the publication of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's tragic play, “Faust” (1808). In the play, Faust’s love interest is a German peasant girl named Margareta but whom Goethe mainly refers to as Gretchen throughout the story (see literary references below). Largely considered one of the great masterpieces of German literature, “Faust” actually influenced the German language – for instance, “Gretchenfrage” (literally, “Gretchen question”) is now a German term that generally refers to a penetrating question that gets to the heart of the matter (such as when Gretchen asks Faust if he’s religious). In any case, today, the name Gretchen is largely considered old-fashioned and out-dated in Germany (where, by the way, it’s pronounced GREHT-khen). In fact, we cannot find Gretchen on the naming charts of any country today.

Popularity of the Name Gretchen

Gretchen just recently dropped off America’s Top 1000 list of baby girl names – her last appearance was in 2009. This means that Gretchen is used so rarely today it’s hardly on the American radar; parents have largely forgotten about this strong German beauty. Greta is on the charts, but Gretchen isn’t. However, there was a time when Gretchen had her moment in the sun. The name first appeared on the U.S. naming charts in the late 19th century and she remained there for almost 130 years (not too shabby). Her heyday came during the 1970s, at which point Gretchen briefly managed Top 200 positioning. Her best year ever was in 1973 when Gretchen was the 191st most popular girl’s name nationwide (moderate at best). Gretchen and Gretel are both darling sounding names, particularly for a baby girl born to American parents with German heritage. We agree that many Germanic names have a harsher sound when compared to Latinate names, but that just means no wilting wallflowers need apply. Carrying a name like Gretchen takes confidence.
Popularity of the Girl Name Gretchen
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Gretchen

  • Literary Characters of the baby name Gretchen

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name Gretchen

    Gretchen (Faust) Gretchen is the hapless lover of Faust in Goethe’s masterpiece, Faust, a tragic two part play written between 1806 and 1831. Faust, of course, makes a pact with the devil in exchange for the sublime reward of knowing the answers to the unfathomable questions of the universe. To his credit, when he meets Gretchen, Faust knows he has the power to ruin her and tries to resist his yearnings. Hint: resistance doesn’t work. Poor Gretchen! She is a God-fearing, rule-abiding young woman when she meets Faust. At story’s end, she has been complicit in the murders of her mother and brother and she has had an illegitimate baby and has murdered it. She stands condemned to death for her actions and has fallen into insanity. When Faust and the devil visit her in jail to try to convince her to escape, she makes one last valiant stand and decides to embrace her awful fate. Fearing the same fate, Faust and his sidekick, Mephistopheles, flee the jail. Gretchen looks better and better to us all the time.

  • Popular Songs on Gretchen

    Popular Songs on Gretchen

    Gretchen - a song by Jandek

    Gretchen am Spinnrade - an operatic solo written by Franz Schubert and sung by Renée Fleming

    Gretchen Goes to Nebraska - a song by King's X

    Marguerite & Gretchen - a song by Akercocke [explicit]

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name Gretchen

    Children's Books on the Baby Name Gretchen

    Clever Gretchen (John Warren Stewig) - Poor Hans is only allowed to marry Gretchen after promising that in seven years he will go off with an evil dwarf unless he is able to pose a question the dwarf cannot answer. Recommended for ages 5-8.

    Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Folktales (Alison Lurie) - Sleeping beauties? Not Clever Gretchen or Kate Crackernuts or Manka or any of the other young heroines in this wonderful collection of folktales. Active, witty, brave, and resourceful, these girls and young women can fight and hunt, defeat giants, answer riddles, outwit the Devil, and rescue friends and family from all sorts of dangers and evil spells. These stories and many others like them were gathered by scholars from all the countries of Europe, but are usually left out of the popular collections of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when women were supposed to be beautiful, innocent, and passive. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Gretchen and the Gremlins (Jerome Alphonse Holst) - The story of a little girl who discovers what happens when she does not take care of her toys and keep her bedroom tidy. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Gretchen and the Lost Carousel (Joan Phillips) - Gretchen and her friends help a group of carousel horses looking for their missing carousel after a day magically spent in the forest as real horses. Recommended for ages 5-8.

    Gretchen Asks, "How Do Cars Work" (Angel Neuschwander) - Gretchen is a seven-year-old girl who loves to explore the world around her. Her best friend and cat, Lucy, joins her on her many adventures. Together they always find new things to learn about. In this story, Gretchen wonders what makes the wheels of a car turn. Her mother explains how power for the car is made. They will discover that a car works a lot like a bike. Join Gretchen and Lucy as they learn how a car works. Recommended for ages 6-9.

    Gretchen Gorgonzola Helps a Pirate (Robin E. Lee) - Gretchen Gorgonzola is a young girl from Maine. Who visits her grandma by plane. On the beaches of Nassau, Gretchen there saw...'A real-life pirate!' she exclaimed. Their adventure starts as they search for a box hidden by a tourist. Across the sky, over the sand and underwater they look. They end up finding the most wonderful treasure of all; friendship. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Gretchen Groundhog, It's Your Day! (Abby Levine) - It's almost Groundhog Day, and the town of Piccadilly is all a-buzz because Gretchen Groundhog will not Go Out. Her Great-Uncle Gus is too old to look for his shadow anymore--now it's Gretchen's turn. But she's too shy. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Gretchen The Bicycle Dog (Anita Heyman) - Gretchen, a spunky, lovable dachshund, tells the true story of how she loses the use of her back legs after an accident but triumphs over her disability with the help of a set of wheels. Candid photographs, engaging text, and a scrapbook-style format gives this real-life story an immediate appeal. Gretchen's tale will be inspirational to all as she overcomes her challenge and keeps her friendly, funny personality intact. Recommended for ages 3-7.

    Gretchen The Orphan Groundhog (Tom Mershman) - When Gretchen, a baby groundhog, is separated from her family by a flood, an owl assumes the responsibility of finding suitable adoptive parents for her. Follow the adventures of Gretchen, the orphan groundhog, as she lives with different animal families and tries to learn how to be a good groundhog. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Gretchen's World (Alice Hoffer) - A little girl in need of friends is advised by various animals and sprites on how to make them. Recommended for ages 5-8.

  • Famous People Named Gretchen

    Famous People Named Gretchen

    Famous People Named Gretchen - Gretchen Mol (model/actress); Gretchen Wilson (country musician); Gretchen Magers (tennis player); Gretchen Peters (folk singer/songwriter); Gretchen Franklin (English actress); Gretchen Bleiler (snowboarder)

  • Children of Famous People Named Gretchen

    Children of Famous People Named Gretchen

    Famous People Who Named Their Daughter Gretchen - We cannot find any celebrities or famous people who have named their child Gretchen.

  • Historic Figures

    Gretchen - Girl Baby Name - Historic Figures

    Gretchen - We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Gretchen.

Personality of the Girl Name Gretchen

The number Eight personality has everything to do with power, wealth and abundance. Somehow, this personality has been blessed on the material plane, but their authoritative and problem-solving traits provide evidence that their good fortunes are not just the luck of the lottery. They are well earned. This is the personality of CEOs and high-ranking military personnel. Eights are intensely active, hard-driving individuals. Success is only meaningful to them after a job well-done.  They are remarkable in their ability to see the larger picture right down to the smallest details, and organize a strategy around success. They then have the ability to direct a group around them toward any goal, and realize individual potential to get the most out of their team.

Variations of the Baby Name - Gretchen

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