Editor’s note: This post was originally published on July 27, 2009. It was substantially revised and re-posted on September 16, 2013.
She’s saintly, regal, literary. No wonder so many of us love this classic appellation.
Thanks to JNE, Photoquilty, and Elisabeth of You Can’t Call It “It” for suggesting Beatrix as Name of the Day.
She went chasing rabbits.
Beatrix Potter, she of Peter Rabbit fame, was born Helen Beatrix in 1866. Her privileged upbringing included a rock solid education that eventually led to a series of enduring storybooks. That’s her, pictured to the right.
But where did her name come from?
Back in the 300s, two Christian brothers were tortured and beheaded for their faith. Their sister ensured they were given a proper burial – and she, too, was martyred for her efforts. Or so goes the legend.
Chances are that her given name was Viatrix – from viator, voyager or traveler. Viator, the masculine form, was also in use. The v changed to a b thanks to the influence of beatus – blessed. We know the saint as Beatrice, and she was so popular that the name caught on.
Royal and aristocratic bearers of the name include:
- Beatrice of Castile-León was the thirteenth century queen of Portgual
- A few decades later, Beatrice of Castile married King Alfonso IV of Portgual
- Beatrice of Burgundy was an heiress – her son became the first Duke of Bourbon, and his descendants lent their name to the French royal dynasty
- Beatrice of Savoy would give birth to four future queens of Europe, including Queen Beatrice of Sicily
- Queen Victoria bestowed the name on her youngest daughter
- Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands reigned from 1980 to 2013
- Born in 1988, Princess Beatrice of York is sixth in line to the throne of England
Literature gives us:
- In the 1300s, an unknown Dutch author penned a poem about Beatrijs, a nun who left religious life for marriage. The story was well known in the Middle Ages.
- Dante’s Beatrice, from his 1321 masterwork The Divine Comedy.
- Shakespeare’s feisty character in 1599’s Much Ado About Nothing.
- Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge also includes a Beatrice.
Beatrix Potter lends the name an innocent air, as do other uses from children’s lit:
- Ramona Quimby’s big sis Beezus is actually a Beatrice.
- Mo Willems’s pint-sized Park Sloper Trixie is the star of his celebrated Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale and sequels.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events includes mother Beatrice Baudelaire.
Variants abound, including Beata, Beatriz, and the Gaelic Beathag – a name with a history of her own.
In recent years, the name has transformed from 1980’s television Golden Girl – Bea Arthur played Dorothy on the hit sitcom – to Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill, better known as The Bride.
Just as Uma was seeking deadly revenge as Beatrix Kiddo, the name was staging a comeback.
The -trice spelling peaked at #36 in 1910. She plunged towards obscurity in the 1990s, but by 2006 had returned to the US Top 1000. As of 2012, she stands at #690.
Beatrix has always been more less popular, but she’s catching on, too – from 22 newborn Beatrixs in 2002 to 141 in 2012.
Today, it is Beatrix – with her x-ending, long history and quirky retro vibe, that seems poised for popularity. Ready nicknames, from Bebe to Trixie to Bea, coupled with a name that feels smart and stylish make Beatrix a winning possibility for a daughter.
I am currently 38 weeks pregnant with our 3rd daughter! Her name is Beatrice Claire, with the nickname Betsy. We also have a Lucille (Lucy) Jane & an Eloise Amy. Lucille & Eloise are on the 1920’s top social security names list, so we looked there to find Beatrice & chose the nickname Betsy- surely someone else has used this nickname, too? 🙂 & for the middle name, we wanted another simple classic like her big sisters’. Thanks for the great post!
I named my daughter Beatrix Alice; born September 2012! 🙂
I get either super nice comments or a twisted brow! 😛 But either way, I love it and its perfectly fitting for my little one!
I used to loathe Beatrice/trix but in the past few years it has done a 180 in my eyes. I think this is one of the few names that the more I hear, the more I appreciate. I prefer Beatrix myself, but Beezus of Beverly Cleary fame makes the trice ending endearing. Don’t spread the word too much though, Abby. One of our top contenders is a variation of Beatrix and I like that it’s comfortably obscure for now! 😉
There is also a book series (Divergent) that is starting to take off that has the main character named Beatrice with the nickname Tris. They will release the first movie next year, so I wonder if this name might start getting more use?
Good point about Divergent, Kelsey. And isn’t the nickname Tris great?
Great discussions everyone. Lovely t. Read
Love this name so much! I actually love Trixie (I used to adore the Trixie Belden series) but I also love Beatie – so wonderfully old-fashioned!
My future husband and I were pondering the names of our future children. He likes Hadrian and Hypatia. I can live with Hadrian but Hypatia is so unlovely-sounding, even though she was a cool lady. (First woman professor, to grossly simplify things.) Anyway, I love Beatrix for three reasons. 1) Future husband and I like adding -trix to feminize words as in ‘navagatrix’. 2) Much Ado About Nothing. 3) Beatrix Potter.
We’ve just named our baby girl Beatrix Blythe 🙂 We were tossing up between Millicent and Beatrix. Beatrix won, hands down, when she arrived early and fiesty. ALREADY people are trying to spell it Beatrice – but she’s definitely got the sassy x. Thanks to this site for such brilliant naming discussion.
I LOVE Beatrix. Here’s the question though, is it against the rules to use it with a B last name?
I’ve always disliked Beatrice, and Beatrix is worse. I just really don’t like the sound of either of them.
Beata is nice though.
My husband and I love this name. We plan on likely using it in the middle name spot as a way to honor me (Trisha), if we have a girl.
I love the ‘x’ on Beatrix. We’d be “Trixie” all the way, as far as nicknames.
I rather like Beatriu as well, a Catalan variation.
Beatriu is lovely!
This is the name that is in the number one spot for this baby if it’s a girl! (I waver between whether I love Rosemary or Beatrix more, but Erik dislikes Rosemary, so there you go!). I adore Beatrix, it’s classy, feisty, literary, cute, sweet, sassy, pretty much the perfect name. If feels really regal, unusual but familiar, very lady-like but with a fun childish spirit. A Beatrix would be a standout, but not stick out like a sore thumb. I like Beatrice, but much prefer Beatrix, as a ADORE Trixie on a little girl, I think it’s simply adorable! I find out what I have in two days, so we’ll see if another little Beatrix will be coming soon!
Two days! (More like one now, actually.) How exciting!
No two days, I was posting close enough to midnight to consider it the next day! lol, I find out on Friday! Squee! I really want to find out, because Erik won’t seriously talk about names with me until we find out what we’re having!
I really like Beatrix! I’m just not sure that I’d ever use it myself.
As for other nicknames, there was a character on the HBO show _The Wire_ named Beatrice, who goes by Beadie (bee dee).
Athgirl, I must be the only person on Earth who hasn’t seen The Wire. (Making a mental note to watch.) Anyhow, Beadie seems like a great nickname if your Beatrice turns out to be a bit of a tomboy. But Trixie has been a fave of mine ever since I saw the old re-runs of the Honeymooners – Alice was Ralph Kramden’s wife; Trixie & Ed were their neighbors and best friends. (Except that that Trixie was a nickname for Thelma.)
Trixie’s been a favourite of mine since the Trixie Belden books – I always loved those!
I like the way this one looks better than the way it sounds. Does that make sense?
We discussed Beatrix too… My husband is Mexican and we would have given her the nickname “Bea” pronounced in Spanish as Bay-uh.
That’s interesting – I like the sound of Bea in Spanish.
I’ve come to think of Beatrix as THE ultimate name nerd name; barely anyone on forums, blogs and boards seems to dislike it. And, besides, what is there to dislike about it? Classy but with a little sass, well-known because of Ms Potter and therefore quite easy to spell and say, and wonderfully, beautifully unpopular! However, like you say, there’s no reason why that shouldn’t change sometime soon, what with the current trend for undiscovered gems. Then again, I really can’t imagine it’ll be a top ten pick, so I suppose we’re safe.
PS. People on here have SUCH good taste; Jodi, I love your daughters’ names. It makes me smile to think there are such well-named children in a sea of Jaidens and Madisyns.
Emmy Jo says
Christina … ooh, I like Betty! Thanks!
I love Beatrix quirky, spunky yet sophisticated vibe. I adore the possible and utterly adorable nn option of Trixie.
Yay! Finally it’s Beatrix’s turn! (I think you can add me to the list of those who suggested it too, but I guess it was too long a list to recount in full.)
Our little Beatrix (#3 of four girls) was easily the hardest of all of them to name. She was the only one that actually required a list of names being taken to the hospital. Fortunately, once we met her, there was no question in either of our minds.
I think it was the “voyager” or “sojourner” meaning that caught our attention and made her stand out on our list. (Incidentally, Clementine was probably our #2 choice, and I have Imogen in mind should we ever have another girl, so apparently we apmtn readers all have similarly fabulous taste 🙂 ). We also swithered about the -x versus -ce, but we are both *so* glad we went with the x in the end. She’s feisty, and the x suits her personality perfectly 🙂
I like both Trixie and Bea, but ours really isn’t a Trixie. Occasionally she’s just Trix, but mostly she’s Bea. That’s what she calls herself now that she can talk, and that sort of seals the deal.
Thanks for a wonderful treatment of the name. It was well worth the wait. Now you’ve done all but one of my girls’ names 🙂
Emmy Jo says
Jodi — What are your other girls’ names? Now I’m curious.
Hi Emmy Jo 🙂
They are Pippa (Philippa, technically), Romilly and Juniper. I think Pippa’s the only one who hasn’t made an appearance here, if memory serves. I discovered this site when somebody saw Romilly here and sent me the link, then later I discovered Juniper was the first ever NotD – fun!
Jodi, those are fabulous names! And Phillipa is up this week. 😉
Oh my – Philippa, Romilly, Juniper and Beatrix. I think I’ve died and gone to baby name. Never have I heard a more perfect sibset! I love and adore every single name that you’ve chosen!
*baby name heaven. Not sure what happened there!
Emmy Jo says
What lovely names! They’re all so fun and spunky.
Jodi, your daughter’s names are adorable! Beatrix is on our own list, as well as Phillipa/Pippa?, Romilly and Juniper! I love your taste in names!
Count me on the list of those who love the names you choose — Romilly is in my top five, Juniper is in consideration for a middle name to honor my mom (who was born in June), and Pippa is one of the most adorable nicknames! Of course, I’ve already stated my love for Beatrix, so I feel only a slight need to say it again. 🙂
Thanks so much for all your kind words – you’ve made my day!
Charlotte Vera says
Since Imogen has been mentioned so much in these comments I would like to add that Imogen was a name that I requested by my husband vetoed (actually, it was in my top three). We work very well together, but not when it comes to choosing girls’ names!
Christina Fonseca says
Nicknames: Beti or Betty is used in Mexico for girls named Beatriz. I can certainly see an English-speaking household using Bettie or Bette for their little Beatrix or Beatrice.
As for Beatrix and Imogen, what a wonderful pair of names for sisters.
Betty – fun! thanks! I can barely wait the 10 more days to find out if it’s a girl or boy!
Charlotte Vera says
Beatrix was a name that my husband suggested when we were tearing our hair out trying to come up with a name for our daughter. It was one of the few names he suggested that I actually considered before saying that, while I liked it, I don’t think I could see myself giving the name to my daughter. (He also suggested Clementine and lorded it over me this morning when he saw that two of his suggestions were in the “top three” on nameberry.com.) We ended up doing the time-honoured thing of naming our daughter after a relative, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Beatrix comes up again should we be expecting another girl in the future.
Incidentally, my sister is also seventeen weeks pregnant. In Canada only a few clinics in each city will actually provide a gender identification, so Emily has to wait until the beginning of September for her ultrasound.
Emmy Jo says
JNE … how far along are you? I’m 17 weeks. We get to find out if it’s a boy or girl in about three weeks.
And I’d also love to hear any alternate nickname suggestions.
Emmy Jo – I’ll be 17 weeks on Wed. We find out in 2.5 weeks. Same sort of schedule as you. 🙂 From a naming perspective, girl seems like it would be easier at this point.
Hm… NN alternatives… For Beatrix, Bertie could work (if you like that sort of Gertrude-like name), Attie (which might cause confusion with the Addie/Maddies roaming around), Trilly (which I think is fudging adorable), and perhaps Trini (TREE-nee). But Trini seems to work better with Beatrice. OH! Betty could work too, as with Bette (a la Midler). Betty isn’t too far from Beatrix/trice, but again, it might fall into the stuffy category for some. Bix could work, though it sounds canine-inspired, Bixie (like Pixie, though a bit softer), and Billie (which sounds too country hick for me) are great for Beatrix, while you could stretch for Reece on lil ol’ Beatrice. Trici (TREE-see), Trish, Trishi, and Trisha could work for Beatrice too.
Hope some of that enamor you further to Beatrix/Beatrice! (I myself love Bea/Bee/Trixie/Trilly on a Beatrix.)
Emmy Jo says
Beatrix and Beatrice are both lovely. I think I prefer the softer sounds of Beatrice, but my husband recently suggested Beatrix for our girls’ name list — he likes the association with Ms. Potter.
My only problems with these is that I’m not crazy about the nicknames. Bea and Trixie are both okay, but I don’t love them.
Thank you for covering this name, Verity! As of right now, Beatrice/Beatrix (we waffle between the two) is a serious contender should this second baby be a girl. We love the feisty ‘x’ of Beatrix, but also kind of like the sound and buttoned-up feel of Beatrice. Today’s apparent love-fest for Beatrix has given us new confidence in that version.
Bea (said BEE uh) and Trixie are the only two nicknames we’ve come up with and we’re not over the moon with them… any other suggestions?
We think that Beatrix would fit well with our first’s name, Imogen. (That’s also a point against Beatrice for us, since it gets a little too Shakespearean in our house, and mostly by accident.) Right now she’s one of three top contenders for a girl baby… in a few weeks we’ll know whether or not it’s all about these names, or if we have to conquer the even more difficult subject of boy names.