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?
I’m a 21 year old Trudy and I love my name! I constantly get compliments. For me, biased as I am, it feels like something appropriate for any age. The perfect blend of sweet and spunky and so well suited for me. I find myself loving the name Wanda because it has a similar not-quite-hip-yet feel.
Trudy Collins says
My name is Trudy Ann. I’ve always liked my name too. I was the only Trudy in my school district. I liked having my own name. I named my daughter Tessa. I didn’t know anyone with that name.
Another TV reference: Trudy Weigel from the former Comedy Central series Reno 911. She would not inspire any baby namers, though.
Sarah A says
I’m a Mad Men fanatic, so Trudy is all Trudy Campbell to me. I love that Trudy and Pete named their daughter Tammy, even thought I really dislike the name Tammy.
To my ears, Trudy is much like Judy – frequently bestowed independently but still best as a nickname imho. Gertrude has grown on me, along with Ethel and so many other ‘granny chic’ names. Though with Hattie on the rise, I think any little Gertrude would probably be Gertie or Gatty before Trudy.
I thought of Pete and Trudy’s Tammy too! It’s so perfect for them. Sally Draper’s nane always felt a little off. Susie or Debbie would’ve made more sense.
Sorry, I really don’t like this name. For me, the way the sounds come together make it difficult to say. My birthname was Judith nn Judy which I also seriously disliked for a similar reason, among other things. So, I guess I am a bit wary of names that claim to be ‘clunky but cool’, or ‘old-fashioned but fresh’.
C in DC says
The mother of my best friend in high school is named Trudy, and she’s a wonderful lady, which makes me love the name. Trudy’s mother’s name is Muriel, which I also love.
My other thought is the TV show Facts of Life.
Elizabeth Johnson says
That was Tootie, not Trudy.
I don’t like Gertrude, but I don’t hate it either. Whenever my mama is in a mischeivous mood, she’ll introduce me as “This is my daughter Charmaine, but it doesn’t matter what you call her because she can’t hear you. She’s deaf. You can call her Gertrude if you want!” lol. I like Gertchen/Gerta better than Gertrude. I realize Gertchen hasn’t been done on here so I’d like to suggest this name for your blog! 🙂
I never really thought about Trudy until I started watching Monk. The character just loved his wife SO MUCH that I can’t help but like the name now. (Heck, maybe I even love it.) I would name a girl just Trudy; despite all the old clunky-but-cool names that are coming back, I think Gertrude still falls too far on the clunky side. I don’t know if a girl would thank the parent who named her Gertrude.
If we’re going to go with -trude names, I like Ermintrude/Ermentrude. Also, my friend’s cat’s name is Gertrude, called Trudy.
Not to mention Gertrude/Gertie, the daughter in the movie Jersey Girl.
Personally, I like Gertrude/Gertie a lot better than some of the names that have already made a “come back”, but not Trudy which has “rude” in the middle there.
I love Rue & True/Truly, and I love names with Ds in them like Edie & Adele. But using them in combination to get Trudy/Rudy doesn’t work for me. I couldn’t put my finger on why until I read your post but its the “Rude” sound that is definitely turning me off.
That’s right! Nice addition.
Elizabeth Johnson says
I love Gertrude.