This post was originally published on September 9, 2010. It was substantially revised and re-posted on October 27, 2014.
It’s an ancient name worn by a twentieth century supermodel and a famous girl vampire, too.
Goth Week begins with Claudia as our Baby Name of the Day.
Claudia: Ancient Appellation
Ancient names are in favor, and ends-with-ia choices have fared well for girls in recent years. But despite the interest in Atticus and Olivia, Claudia remains rare.
Claudia is simply the feminine form of Roman family name Claudius.
The first emperor Claudius is more especially famous, thanks to Robert Graves’ historical novels, I, Claudius and Claudius the God. First published in the 1930s, they remain widely read today. The BBC adapted them for television in the 1970s.
Claudius was frail as a child, and stammered as an adult. It isn’t clear what ailed him – polio, maybe, or cerebral palsy. Rather than a soldier, he became a scholar – and so was never seen as a threat by his scheming and ambitious relatives. He survived the reign of his nephew Caligula, and at the age of forty-nine, found himself named the fourth Emperor of Rome.
In Latin, claudus means lame. The fact that the most famous bearer suffered from a mysterious affliction reinforces the meaning.
And yet, Claudia was common. The name is mentioned briefly in the New Testament, and by custom is considered the given name of Pontius Pilate’s wife. Mrs. Pilate is considered a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Legend has is that another Claudia was born a British princess and brought to Rome as a prisoner. Her son, Linus, became the second pope, and she is considered a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.
Claudia: 20th Century Vamp
From the 1900s on, there’s:
- First Lady Claudia Alta Johnson – better known as Lady Bird.
- The first woman three-star General in the US Army, Claudia Kennedy.
- Television characters on Dynasty, Party of Five, and 24, as well as The West Wing’s CJ Cregg – born Claudia Jean.
- A member of The Babysitter’s Club also wore the name.
Claudia headlines Goth week thanks to Anne Rice’s doomed vampire child, played by a very scary Kirsten Dunst in the movie version of Interview with the Vampire. Dunst was twelve, though the character of Claudia was just five when she became a vampire.
Lethal, chilling Claudia figures in several more books in Rice’s vampire series.
And yet that’s probably not most people’s first association with the name. German-born supermodel Claudia Schiffer comes to mind, lending the name some glamour.
Plenty of other feminine forms of Claud- have seen some use: Claudette, as in Hollywood actress Claudette Colbert. And then there’s Claudine – or Monster High’s Clawdeen Wolf.
The claw- sound might be off-putting. In other languages, the name sounds more like CLOUD yeh or cloud EE yeh.
Claudia: Familiar but Seldom Heard
Claudia is a perpetual member of the US Top 1000. But at #661 in 2013, the name has fallen quite a bit, and is at a low point.
That could make for a great opportunity. With her stylish -ia ending and ancient ties, Claudia will fit right in with favorites like Sophia, as well as stylish up-and-comers like Sylvia and Aurelia. And yet, since she’s relatively rare, Claudia will remain a stand-out choice for a daughter.
What do you think of Claudia? How would she wear in 2014? Or is her ‘claw’ sound too off-putting?