Beatrix Potter about 1874Editor’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 BeataBeatriz, and the Gaelic Beathag – a name with a history of her own.

In recent years, the name has transformed from 1980’s television Golden GirlBea 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.

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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. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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! 😉

  4. 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?

  5. 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!