This post was originally published on June 3, 2010. It was substantially revised and re-posted on November 3, 2014 at the suggestion of Bertram Bergamot.
It’s a name so clunky it might just be cool.
Thanks to Paul for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day: Frederica.
Frederica: True Royal
Disney names their princesses Aurora and Elsa, Jasmine and Belle. But real royals tend to choose from a more conventional cluster of names, dictated by tradition and family ties.
Frederick has been a popular name for ruling families, so no surprise the feminine forms have seen plenty of use, too. In Denmark, Prussia, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and beyond, princes have worn forms of Frederick.
As for princesses, there’s:
- King Frederick III of Denmark and his wife Sophie named their second daughter Frederica Amalia in 1649. (That’s her in the portrait!)
- Many a German noblewoman wore the name from the 1700s forward, including Princess Friederike of Prussia, who married Prince Frederick, the Duke of York and son of King George III of England. In English, she became Frederica.
- Baden-born Friederike became Queen consort of Sweden in 1797.
The conclusion? Frederica is at home in a tiara.
Frederica: Vintage Gem
Besides the royals, there are a handful of other notable bearers of the name from the 1700s and 1800s, including:
- Eighteenth-century Swedish stage star Fredrique Löwen, born Johanna Fredrika Löf.
- Nineteenth century feminist and writer Fredrika Bremer. In Little Women, the fictional Mrs. March reads the real-life Bremer’s writing to her girls.
In the US, Frederick was a Top 100 choice for boys from the 1880s into the 1950s. But the feminine forms never quite caught on. Frederica cracked the Top 1000 a few times, but never after 1911.
Other Fred- names, like Winifred and Freda/Frida/Frieda had their moments. Alfreda was a Top 1000 regular into the 1960s.
Even Frederique, popular in France in the 1960s, remained obscure, despite our affection for French names and the success of the similar Dominique in the 1980s.
Maybe it’s the lack of a really high profile bearer of the name. The world of opera gives us the accomplished Frederica von Stade, and one of Georgette Heyer’s historical romances is titled Frederica. And then there’s Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, known for her progressive politics – and her fabulous hats.
Nearly any form of this name feels like it has potential in 2014, from the French Frederique to the Spanish and Italian Federica. I think Frederica is especially compelling.
The Case for Frederica
Need a good reason to consider Frederica for a daughter?
- The name has that elaborate sound so favored by twenty-first century parents. She’s a sister for Alexandra, an alternative to Isabella.
- Parents are embracing other names with that clunky-cool vibe. If Matilda is on the rise, why not Frederica?
- The names Eric and Erica are nested in Frederica. It could be a subtle way to honor a loved one with one of those names.
- And here’s my favorite reason to consider the name: you can call her Freddie.
While Fred might seem fusty for a boy, Freddie fits right in with those spunky, retro nickname names for girls. Sadie, Hattie, Winnie, Frankie, Freddie. It’s also the most popular feminine form of the name, appearing in the US girls’ Top 1000 from the 1890s into the 1950s.
And if Freddie isn’t for you, there’s also Rica or Fia, or even Freda as a contracted form of the name. Opera singer von Stade answered to Flicka as a child. And if Fritz is a short form of Friedrich, why not Fritzi for a girl?
If you’re looking for a name that feels traditional and surprising all at once, Frederica is definitely one to consider.