Mattie: Baby Name of the DayMattie sounds like a nickname-name in the key of stylish choices Frankie and Sadie.

Thanks to Beth for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day. (I think this is our very first suggestion via Instagram!)

Mattie: Girl or Boy

In our age of Madison and Madelyn/Madeline/Madeleine, it’s no surprise that this name sounds feminine. Maddie names have dominated the US Top 100 in recent years.

But it has history as a masculine nickname for Matthew, too – especially in Ireland.

As an independent name, though, the numbers give this one to the girls. The name ranked in the US Top 50 in the 1880s and 1890s, and remained in the Top 100 through 1920.

In more recent years, Mattie has hugged the fringes of the US Top 1000, or even left the rankings entirely. As of 2014, the name ranked a mere #957 in the US.

Of course, it would make a logical nickname for Matilda, Mattea, Martha, Marta, Martina, Margaret, or many of Margaret’s many international variations.

Mattie: Famous Women

History gives us a few women by the name, including Florida judge Mattie Belle Davis, one of the first women to hold that office in the US, and gospel choir director Mattie Clark. The Clark daughters went on to become bestselling gospel singers under their mother’s direction.

Then there’s the first Mrs. Earp, born Celia Blaylock, but known as Mattie.

Miss Blaylock met the famous lawman sometime in the early 1870s. She’d run away from strict parents and Iowa farm life, ending up as a prostitute in the Wild West.

The second Mrs. Earp, Josephine, went to great lengths to conceal her predecessor from official biographies. But Mattie can be found in US Census records, as well as memoirs from the era.

Mattie: Literary

Cover of "Ethan Frome"

The best known bearers of the name are fictional.

First up: the young and lovely Miss Silver from Edith Wharton’s 1911 novel Ethan Frome. Wharton’s Mattie is a cousin, sent to help care for the ailing Mrs. Frome. She and Ethan fall in love, but it cannot be – and tragedy follows. It’s a bleak and sorrowful tale.

Patricia Arquette played the character in the 1993 movie adaptation, with Liam Neeson as the title character.

Mattie: True Grit

If you’ve seen True Grit – either the 1969 original or the 2010 remake – you have another reason to associate this name with the Wild West.

Based on a 1968 novel, True Grit is the tale of a feisty farm girl named Mattie Ross. She hires a lawman to help her hunt down the outlaw who killed her father.

The 1969 version starred John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn as the lawman, and Kim Darby as the determined Miss Ross. Wayne won an Oscar for the role.

In 2010, Hailee Steinfeld was the daughter, while Jeff Bridges attempted to fill John Wayne’s boots. Bridges and Steinfeld both earned Oscar nominations for their work, and the movie was also nominated for Best Picture.

Mattie: Wearable Rarity

Mattie: Baby Name of the DayA handful of other uses include characters in August: Osage County and the original British version of House of Cards. (In the American remake, she’s renamed Zoe.) It’s also the nickname for Martha Franklin, one of Marvel Comics’ versions of Spider-Woman.

But despite the literary and pop culture ties, the name has never been anywhere near as popular as it was way back in the nineteenth century. That could make it a great choice for parents after something unexpected, casual, and cool.

What do you think of Mattie? Does it work as a stand-alone name, or would you use it only as a nickname?


About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. This is my name and I like it- you should name your kids Mattie. It’s my nickname because my real name is Matson, but I’ve been called Mattie my whole life. The only objection I have to it is that people never spell it right but it’s fun to have a unique name also people are always interested in it

  2. My bubba is due in 6 weeks and I have always loved Mattie as a name (since reading the Cranford books by Elizabeth Gaskell – she uses the spelling Matty but I prefer the “ie” variant). We are thinking of naming her Margaret Alice nn Mattie, to give her options when she’s older (just in case). Problem is her Daddys namr is Matthew. Although he is rarely called Matt, is the similarity too great? On the onr hand I love the idea of it being something she can share with her Daddy – buy on the other Im hesitant about the similarity and others finding it odd or confusing. Thoughts?

    1. I think it works! After all, one of the biggest objections to having a senior and a junior is confusion on official paperwork. There’s very little chance of that here. And if it does prove challenging, well … you have plenty of alternatives in Margaret Alice. I suspect, though, that most will appreciate the father-daughter connection between their names, and Matthew and Mattie are not so close that I think it would be a headache.

  3. Growing up in the south I know a lot of Mattie’s but they’re older ladies, it’s not a nickname it’s a stand-alone name. So yes you can use it the same way!

  4. Thanks so much for including my request! At first it felt very nickname to me, and I thought she would want a formal name to adult with… But it’s growing on me as a stand alone name. I think it could also be ripe to be paired as a double name in good southern style.

  5. I loved it in True Grit, but it was a nickname for Martha there (in the book anyway, don’t remember it being addressed in the movies) and that’s how I like it best.

    1. Thanks, Josie – I haven’t read the book, and I don’t *think* it comes up in either version of the movie. I do like Mattie as a nn, and Martha nn Mattie is great!