The baby name Claudia feels confident and distinctive, a name that promises great things.
In honor of The Baby-Sitters Club arrival on Netflix, Claudia is our Baby Name of the Day.
This one comes straight from the ancient world. It’s the feminine form of Claudius, which means lame.
However, we remember Emperor Claudius as (mostly) capable. He expanded the empire into Britain and restored order after the chaotic reign of Caligula. Robert Graves’ twentieth century historical novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God shaped his legacy.
Plenty of women answered to the baby name Claudia in the ancient world. There’s a brief mention in the New Testament. The second pope, Linus, was the son of a Claudia – she became a saint. Pontius Pilate’s wife goes unnamed in the Bible, but Christian tradition often refers to her as Claudia. Various records mention a few other figures, including more saints.
Many names endured thanks to a popular saint, and Claudia is among them.
The seventh century Saint Claude was ordained a priest, served as an abbot, and then as Bishop of Besançon.
So it’s not surprising the name remained in use locally. But Claude also served as the feminine form of Claude, a unisex name ages before Riley and Jordan.
Queen Claude of France reigned in the 1510s and 20s, the wife of King Francis I. She appears in the first season of Showtime’s The Tudors. She was named for the French saint; and a small plum is called the Reine Claude in her memory.
Claude Debussy, the composer, and his wife, Emma, named their daughter Claude-Emma. So it remained unisex in France – and, in fact, still does today. (Though most French Claudes, male or female, qualify as senior citizens today.)
We hear Claudine and Claudie in use, too, over the years, and eventually Claudette, too.
In the Middle Ages, the Welsh name Gladys was frequently recorded in Latin as Claudia.
The masculine form Claud surfaces in sixteenth century Scotland, the name given to a member of the aristocratic Hamilton family. It might explain why names filtered into use in the English language by the late 1500s.
The baby name Claudia doesn’t feel especially midcentury, but it had a good run in the 1940s and 50s, routinely ranking in the US Top 200. It peaked at #111 in 1952.
Credit probably goes to Rose Franken’s stories. They became radio program Claudia and David in 1941, a Broadway play, two movies, and a television series in 1952, plus books along the way.
INTERVIEW WITH …
Anne Rice gave the name to a little girl vampire in her 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire. She’s terrifying! In the fictional account, Claudia was born in late eighteenth century New Orleans.
It seems plausible – though US name data isn’t recorded until 1880.
When the book was adapted for the big screen in 1994, Kirsten Dunst played the child vampire. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for the role.
SUPERMODEL, BABY-SITTER, PRODIGY
Along the way, famous Claudias also include:
- Former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson was born Claudia Alta Taylor. She was named after her uncle Claud. (Though she answered to her nickname from childhood forward.)
- 1967 Newberry Award-winning novel From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler sends siblings Claudia and Jamie Kincaid on an adventure in New York City.
- German-born Claudia Schiffer was among the most popular supermodels of the 1990s.
- On the small screen, fictional Claudia Jean “C.J.” Cregg appeared on NBC’s oval office drama The West Wing.
- Party of Five gave the name to next-to-the-youngest Salinger sibling and violin prodigy. Lacey Chabert played the part.
Other fictional Claudias have appeared on television, including Dynasty, 24, Army Wives, General Hospital, and Primeval.
From 1986 to 2000, a generation of young readers grew up with The Baby-Sitters Club. Kristy, Mary Anne, Stacey, and Claudia were the core four.
Claudia Kishi is the vice president. How’s this for quaint? She’s the only one with a telephone in her bedroom, so she takes all the calls and relays messages to the other club members. In the new Netflix series, Momona Tamada plays Claudia.
BY THE NUMBERS
The baby name Claudia peaked in 1952, but doesn’t feel especially mid-century.
Maybe it’s because of the steady use of the name, from antiquity to Claudia Schiffer. But it’s also accessible, thanks to fictional characters like Kishi and Kincaid. And despite all of these positive qualities, it ranks a relatively rare #872 as of 2018.
With history and strength, the baby name Claudia makes for a winning choice.
Would you consider the baby name Claudia for a daughter?
First published on October 30, 2008, this post was revised and updated on July 7, 2020.
I am a Claudia, and I like my name a lot now, but not when I was growing up. I was named after a character from the “One Man’s Family” radio show from the 50s and 60s, I believe. My mother did not like the nickname, and I wound up being called “Coco”. To this day I really don’t like it when people take it upon themselves to just call me “Claude” without asking. When I was a kid, I was overweight, and the other kids called me “Clod-hopper.” But don’t worry about that happening to your child. I had a friend named Carol who was also overweight, and she was called “Carol the Barrel,” which just proves that when kids want to be cruel, they are up to the task no matter what your name. Now, as an adult, I really do like the idea that my name isn’t totally unheard-of, but is also rare. I only first me another Claudia when I was 17, and then in college, in my German class, it was the only other time I had to call out “Which one?” when the professor called out my name. I really like it now, as it does have that noble association and is still “different.” Best wishes!
Emmy Jo says
Claudia is one of those names that I should like but don’t. It’s familiar but not too common, it’s old-fashioned, and it has possible Biblical associations. I love the similar-sounding Clara, Cordelia, Celia, and Lydia. It sounds like it should be my style, but it’s just not, and I can’t quite put my finger on why.
Maybe it sounds rather dated to me, given my exposure to it in Babysitter’s Club days and also through my high school German classes. (It was one of those that always seemed to pop up in the textbooks and in those silly language-learning videos.) I can’t account for why, but I really dislike it.
I really like Claudia, it recently made it’s way onto my name list.
My little sister has a friend named “Cloudie” yes pronounced like the weather, i think that would be a nice nickname for Claudia.
I have a cousin Claudia, who goes by the whole deal, but I quite like little Dia as a nickname. I may be the only one…
My mom is Claudette, and goes by Claude with her friend Marie (who’s full name is Marie Griffin and so goes by Merv. Their emails are all them being, you know…women, but they use Merv and Claude, so it looks like two men writing back and forth. Good stuff).
I’d love to use Claudia, but I’m close-but-not-too-close to my cousin, and don’t want to confuse them or anything.
My baby daughter is Claudia, mostly because we liked the name, but a nice side note was the heroine of the children’s novel “The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler,” who runs away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A few people have mentioned Claudia Salinger the little pianist on “Party of Five” since my daughter was born – I had forgotten about that one. Never knew about the vampire – ooops! Guess I should have kept up on my vampire lit!
We tend to call her Claudie, which we didn’t plan, but seems to fit her.
Reaction from others has been mixed – our families didn’t seem to like it too much, to be honest. And from strangers, we mostly get, “Oh! Is that a family name?” which I’m guessing is not exactly a positive reaction! But we’re happy with it, and like the fact that she could travel anywhere and have a name that works in many countries.
I prefer Claud/Claude myself but I can easily see Claudia’s appeal. (I actually love her in Spanish! Clow-dee-ah) ahhh, Divine!
I went to HS with a Claudia, nn Cloudy. It fit her, she was a lovely, if slightly airy girl. 🙂 Beats Claud/e as a nickanem at any rate!
Didn’t even think “Interview” when I saw Claudia too. All Ancient Roman to me. I love her silky feel and her strength. If she just didn’t sound so cloddy in English! I’d love to see a few with that Spanish pronunciation, though!
I love Claudia! If the nickname wasn’t Claude, she’d be at the top of my list.
Does anyone remeber nerdy, Asian Claudia with the strict parents from the Babysitter Club books? That was my first experience with the name. Louis and Lestat’s Claudia was second.
Considering my love of Clara and Claire, I’m sure no one is surprised that I like Claudia, too. But that nickname is a sticking point. Just like Cal for Calvin, there’s something about Claud/Claude that irks me. If I ever have a duaghter, this one is a maybe, but there are others I like more.