You can call me G… but I prefer Geraldine

Scrabble alphabet letterG coasterI’ve blogged on the subject of names a few times. But thus far I’ve neglected to cover the singular most important one to me: my own.

So this post aims to put that right. Even if it is a little indulgent.

In case you’re wondering, Geraldine is pronounced [JER-əl-deen]. I’ve never actually had a problem with people mispronouncing my name, although I have found that people often want to spell it with a ‘J’.

Get to the point  

Geraldine is a classic name, not a modern incarnation.

As the feminine form of Gerald, it derived from the Germanic Gerward – a compound name composed from the elements ger (a spear) and wald (rule).

Hence Geraldine literally means “spear ruler” or “to rule with a spear”.

Boadicea statueI like that image. It reminds me of Queen Boadicea: strong, determined, fearless.

I also like the fact that my name has Germanic origins, seeing as I’m half German.

The Normans brought the name to Britain in the Middle Ages. Although it soon died out in England, it remained common in Ireland – developing into the Norman-Irish surname Fitzgerald.

A female member of the Fitzgerald clan was known as a “Geraldine”. That’s another apt connection as I have some Irish blood too.

Keeping it short

There are far too many pet names for Geraldine to list them all here, but a few of the more popular ones are:

  • Geri/Gerry
  • Jeri/Jerry
  • Dina/Deena/Dyna
  • G/Gee/GeGe
  • Ger
  • Gezza

However, I much prefer the full version, which is how I’ve always introduced myself.

Variants of Geraldine can also be found in other European countries, namely:

Celebs named Geraldine

There have been several famous Geraldines over the years, including:

  • Geraldine Chaplin, actress (whom I was apparently named after)
  • Geraldine James, actress
  • Geraldine McEwan, actress
  • Geraldine Somerville, actress
  • Geri Halliwell, pop star

Geraldine the goatAs for on-screen characters, perhaps the best known is Geraldine Granger (aka the Vicar of Dibley) played by Dawn French.

And who could forget my namesake on The Good Life? Thanks to the TV series, I expect quite a few goats bear my name, including this one spotted at a local rescue centre.

Popularity stakes

As a baby name, Geraldine was at its hottest from the 1910s through to the 1940s. After peaking in the US at number 38 in 1931, it now ranks a lowly 2,065. Here in the UK, it came in at 98th back in 1944, but is outside the top 1,000 these days.

Not surprisingly I’ve only met one other Geraldine in real life and that was on my modern languages course at uni.

Even though there might not be that many of us around, never forget that we Geraldines “rule by the spear”… so you’d do well not to mess with us!

Over to you

What do you know about YOUR name? What does it mean? Any unusual nicknames? Or do you share it with any famous people? I’d love to hear in the comments.

Image credits: G coaster via / Boadicea via Flickr under C.C. / Geraldine the goat via The Rescue Ranch

Posted in Names Tagged with: , , , ,
6 comments on “You can call me G… but I prefer Geraldine
  1. Geraldine says:

    I’m a Geraldine, friends and husband call me “Ger”, my mother has always called me “Gerri”, but my father and family call me Geraldine. As a young girl I didn’t like my name but as I’ve aged, I’ve come to appreciate having a different name and of course the meaning definitely fits. I live in a fairly small town, there are three of us and we all work in the legal field.
    Thank you for your article.

    • Thank YOU for your comment! Lovely to ‘meet’ another Geraldine – we’re a rare breed – although not so rare in your town by the sounds of it (I can’t believe there are three of you & all in the same line of work!). My sister calls me “Ger”, my brothers sometimes “Gezza” & uni friends (+ their offspring) have always called me “G”, but to everyone else I’m definitely Geraldine 🙂

  2. It’s interesting that some people want to spell your name with a J. I have the opposite problem, or people (e.g. call centres) ask ‘is that with a g or a j?’ I’m Jerry to old friends, Jer to a few, Jem to one or two, and Jezza as a joke with my old school chums.

    • In return I’d never have expected people to want to spell Jeremy with a G! But I guess it is confusing, especially to non-native speakers, as both our names start with the same sounding first syllable.

      I was Gerry at school (which I never liked because of mum being German) then G at uni. Old college friends still call me that, as do their children. But my own family all call me Geraldine.

  3. John Espirian says:

    Top tip: unfriend anyone who calls you Gezza.

Have your say