baby name CadyThe baby name Cady marries surname style with history and pop culture.

Thanks to Sara for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.


Born in New York in 1815, Elizabeth Cady Stanton became a driving force in the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. A writer, abolitionist, and organizer extraordinaire, her work helped secure women’s right to vote, among other reforms.

The Cady family was affluent. Young Elizabeth received an exceptional education for a young woman, studying Greek and mathematics. She met her husband, Henry Stanton, through their mutual work in the abolitionist movement.

History remembers her as Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It’s worth noting that she signed her name that way during her lifetime, at a moment when many women would’ve been known simply as Mrs. Henry Stanton. She deliberately preserved her birth name, and that makes Cady feel even more significant.


Like many short surnames, multiple possible meanings and origins attach to Cady.

One that feels particularly appropriate: Cady can from a Breton word meaning battle or warrior.


A go-to nickname for Katherine and Kathleen, Katie and Kate feel quite classic.

Cady, of course, sounds almost like an alternate spelling for Katie.

It might also be:

  • A nickname for modern musical favorite Cadence.
  • An elaboration of the initials K.D.
  • Or even a simplified spelling of Kaydee.

Actress Cady McClain started out life as Katie McClain. Particularly known for work on soap operas All My Children, As the World Turns, and Days of Our Lives, McClain has won multiple Daytime Emmys across her long career.

She also gets credit for some of the name’s early use.


The baby name Cady first debuted in US name data way back in 1970. It was sometimes given to boys, too.

It’s not clear what prompted the name’s increase in use, but nearly any accessible surname sometimes appears in the first spot.

But then Cady McClain became a fixture on daytime television as Dixie Cooney on All My Children. That was the late 1980s; by 1992 the name reached a peak of 155 births.


Then along came 2004’s Mean Girls.

The Tina Fey movie cast Lindsay Lohan as Cady Heron. Thanks to living overseas in Africa with her researcher parents, Heron had always been homeschooled. Until 2004, that is, when they returned to the US for high school – and a crash course in all that goes along with it.

Where did the character’s name come from?

It’s generally agreed that Tina Fey borrowed it from her college roommate, Cady Garey. Though it’s hard to imagine the connection to Elizabeth Cady Stanton wasn’t a bonus.

The movie was a smash hit, and it even inspired a Broadway musical in 2018.


The musical, in turn, inspired a movie: the current iteration of Mean Girls starring Angourie Rice as Cady.

And that’s where the story ends – at least for now.

Despite the runaway success of the movie, there’s only a tiny uptick in the number of girls receiving the baby name Cady, one that faded pretty quickly.

By 2022, just 26 girls were named Cady. Katie and even Kaydee were more popular.


But the baby name Cady should – and could – still succeed.

After all, it’s a surname name in the key of Avery, Emery, and Kendall.

It also fits with names like Ruby and Sadie – slightly vintage, perfectly at home in the twenty-first century, with that mix of history and spark.

And we do love a hero name. Elizabeth Cady Stanton should qualify … and possibly Cady Heron herself, too.

Plus, while Caden and Kayden are fading for our sons, Cade has risen in use. And Cady feels like a potential sister name for the entire category.

If you’re after a name that combines history and pop culture, all with a cool, current sound, Cady is worth considering.

What do you think of the baby name Cady?

First published on May 15, 2008, this post was updated on January 14, 2024.

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. My name is Cady and I HATE it. It’s not special because it sounds like “Katie” and those are a dime a dozen, and even though it’s a little different you’ll still be “Katie D.” Or “Cady M.” etc at school, except without the convenience of people that you don’t know getting your name right on the first try (Caddy, Cody, Candy are common mistakes). Every form someone else fills out for you will start with a “C” scratched over a “K” even though you said from the beginning, “It’s Cady, spelled C-A-D-Y”, which doesn’t sound like a big deal until your name is spelled wrong on your license, your credit card, school enrollment, or a representative “can’t find you” in a system you know you have an account in and they just didn’t listen to you the first, second, and third time you spelled it for them. Also, get used to saying that phrase, because every time you talk to any account person in any situation possible, you’ll be saying it. Your name isn’t Cady, it’s actually, “Cady, spelled C-A-D-Y”. And get used to people saying, “I’m gonna call you Caddy” because of the movie Mean Girls 2/3 times you meet someone new in a social situation and they’re feeling oh-so creative and hilari-o. Also get used to Mean Girls quotes all the time in general–actually just memorize them all because of you forget one that someone says to you then you’re weird, bc obviously you should know ALL OF THEM because the main character has your name. Also be prepared for a lot of people to not know the movie at all when they “don’t get” your name and you try to show them an example. Further, to me it reads as a child’s name. At least with Katie, as you grow older and are trying to be taken seriously professionally, and not patronized as women often are without a childlike name, you could be called Kate or Katherine or something. This name isn’t sexy, it isn’t strong sounding, and NO ONE KNOWS WHO ELIZABETH CADY STANTON IS ANYWAY. It’s more known for the movie or for the cheese company/as a last name. I hate my mom for naming me this name. It’s so stupid and I’ve always hated it. I would change my name legally, but it’s too much of a hassle and I feel weird naming myself. I can’t have any type of nick name from this name either, it’s just Cady. And everyone will ask if it’s short for something and when it’s not they’re just like, “Oh, interesting.” and I can’t put any of my own personal spin on what I want to be called because it’s SO plain. Even C-C doesn’t work because it’s the hard K sound. Cade is a boys name. And that’s about all the variations there is!

    Don’t try to be cutesy with your kids names unless you really think about what their life will be like navigating through life with said name. My mom saw an article of Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the hospital when she had me (alone bc my dad is an a-hole) and so she named me after her because of the feminist component of it, which I find self serving. She didn’t think of ME when she named me. She thought of her situation. And my middle name is June after my great grandma who I don’t even know. So that’s a dead end.

    Any suggestions are more than welcome.

  2. My name is Cady, and I love it. I was named after my great-great-great grandparents, Evajane and Jerome P. Cady. Jerome fought for the Union in the Civil War, and I love having a name tied to such exciting family history. I have gone through countless botched attempts at my name, including Caddie, Candy, Katie, and Cody. However, I don’t mind because it sets me apart just a little. Whenever someone messes up my name, I tell them that it rhymes with Lady. A lot of people also tell me that that they like the spelling of my name, which also makes me feel special. I do appreciate having a name that’s pronounced normally though, because in casual conversation I don’t have to go though the explanation of spelling it. I love being a Cady!

  3. I think it’s a really cool middle name. I wouldn’t use it for a first name because of the dearth of Katies in my generation. Despite having a very respectable namesake, it still sounds a bit too cutesy for me. I love the idea, though, and it would be a nifty middle name.