She’s a small screen staple, but no matter how high-profile her fictional uses, this name has yet to make a comeback.
Thanks to Frances for suggesting Trudy as our Baby Name of the Day.
We can’t talk about Trudy without discussing Gertrude, often considered one of those perpetually out-of-favor names.
But is she? Edith and Esther sound fresh again, as do Maud and Blanche. I’ll agree that Gertrude still feels less wearable than those four, but maybe that’s a matter of time.
After all, Gertrude has history by the ton. There’s a seventh-century Saint Gertrude in what is today Belgium. German prince Henry the Lion had a daughter Gertrude in the 1100s. A Duchess of Bohemia and several other German aristocrats also wore the name in the twelfth century.
Then came Gertrude the Great, a scholar and mystic. She spent most of her life in a Benedictine monastery in Saxony. But while many saints have boosted names, in this case, Gertrude seems to have already been in common use. Besides the many well-born Gertrudes listed above, the abbess of her convent was also named Gertrude.
She comes from the Germanic elements ger – spear – and trud – strength. Unlike many Germanic names, however, she wasn’t imported to England by the Normans. Instead she seems to have come straight from German-speaking immigrants in the 1400s. Could that be why she’s less refined and softened than her cousins Adelaide and Eloise, names altered by French?
In any case, Gertrude last ranked in the US Top 1000 back in 1965. But she appeared in the Top 100 from 1880 through 1930. Plenty of families have Gertrude on our tree, but today she’s just that – Great Aunt Gertrude. Or Hamlet’s deceased and haunting mother. Or Gertrude Stein, maybe. Any way you put it, Gertrude is a lot of name for a little girl.
E.T. featured a little girl called Gertie, played a pint-sized Drew Barrymore. Nickname Gatty was the go-to choice in England. If Hattie is back, could Gatty be wearable?
Then there’s Trudy. Compared to other forms of the name, Trudy feels completely current. She’s a friend for Lucy, a less common alternative to Ruby, even a conventional way to get to short form Tru without resorting to choices like Truly. If Ruth is making a comeback, why not Trudy?
Or, in keeping with Sadie and Sophie and Ellie, there’s also Trudie. The -ie spelling is an also-ran in the US, but the UK gives us early twentieth century suffragette Trudie Denman, as well as Mrs. Sting, Trudie Styler.
As an independent name, Trudy debuted in the US Top 1000 in the 1930s and lasted through 1978. Since fading from use, small screen uses have been plentiful, including:
- Detective Trudy Joplin on Miami Vice from 1984 through 1989.
- Monk‘s neurotic crime-solver Adrian Monk was fueled by the death of his wife Trudy, a murder he tried to solve from 2002 through 2009.
- But the biggest noise of the moment is Trudy Campbell, wife of Mad Men’s Pete, a fellow resident of Park Avenue.
Want one more glamor girl to boost your confidence in Trudy? Actress Trudy Marshall – pictured above – graduated from modeling to small parts in 1940s-era Hollywood flicks.
There’s a lot to love about retro Trudy. The only question is this: is she a stand-alone hipster appellation, or is it time to bring back Gertrude?