Looking for an impeccable classic with history and strength? Hoping for something less common than Katherine or Elizabeth? Here’s one to consider.
Thanks to Dani for suggesting Judith as our Baby Name of the Day.
Judith is another Old Testament name referring to a place. In this case, it’s Judea – which ultimately comes from the personal name Judah.
There are two Biblical Judiths: the first is Esau’s wife.
Then there’s the heroine of the apocryphal Book of Judith.
The young widow Judith is quite fierce. With the Assyrians threatening her homeland, the Israelites focus on praying for divine intervention. Courageous Judith makes her way to the enemy camp, where she wins the trust of General Holofernes. One night he has a little too much to drink, and Judith makes her move.
She decapitates him.
All of this bravery saves Israel, and makes her a heroine.
Only trouble is that there’s almost no historical evidence to support it.
But the story is well known, and from the Protestant Reformation onwards, Judith has enjoyed some use as a given name.
The first half of the twentieth century was her era:
- In 1880, Judith charted at #836.
- By 1900, she’d climbed to #449.
- Then came the 1920s, and by 1925, the name was in the Top 300.
- In 1934, Judith entered the Top 100 at #94.
- From 1939 through 1946, Judith was a Top Ten name, peaking at #4, and putting her in this elite sorority of the most popular given names of all time.
Some of that popularity is thanks to Judy Garland – born Frances. The Wizard of Oz premiered in 1938, with a young Judy famously singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Her star turn pushed the name into the US Top Ten.
Judy, too, benefited. In 1937, she briefly leapfrogged Judith to enter the Top 100 in 1937. But Judy peaked at #11 in 1946, as Miss Garland’s early movie career was on the wane.
Many of those Judiths probably answered to Judy at least some of the time, and famous bearers of both names are plentiful:
- Before Twilight, an earlier generation read Judy Blume.
- Actress include Oscar winner Judy Holliday, Oscar-nominated Judy Davis, and Arrested Development alum Judy Greer.
- Groundbreaking visual artist Judy Chicago was born Judith Cohen.
- Music includes 1963’s “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” 1968’s “Judy in Disguise,” and The Ramones’ 1975 “Judy is a Punk.”
- Turning to fiction, there’s perpetual space age teenybopper Judy Jetson, big sis to Elroy, plus the heroine of Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody books.
- Natalie Wood was Judy in Rebel Without a Cause.
- Don’t forget the immortal Dame Judi Dench – born during the name’s heyday. So was Judith Scheindlin, better known as the star of Judge Judy.
Add it up, and Judith is an aging name – somewhere between Dench and Scheindlin in terms of image. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
If your style runs to Eleanor and Margaret, the equally dignified Judith might be poised for a comeback. Judy has been out of the US Top 1000 for years, and Judith was a frosty #995 in 2013. But if the 100-year rule applies, 1930s names for girls could sound fresh again in a few more years. The Walking Dead already included a baby named Judith in the third season.
Name your daughter Judith in 2014, and you might be choosing an ahead-of-the-curve classic.
What do you think of Judith? Is she due for a comeback anytime soon?