Georgia combines classic and cool elements, making it completely right for a child born today.
Thanks to Sarah for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
The regal George takes its meaning from humble origins. Despite being worn by five kings of England, the name comes from the Greek words for earth and work – farmer.
Legend tells us that Saint George slayed dragons before dying under the emperor Diocletian. Given the lack of dragons in the historical record, chances are that his story was embroidered, or at least misunderstood.
Thanks to the popularity of the saint, the name enjoyed plenty of use throughout history, and appears in many other languages, too. Layer on the first president of the United States, as well as writers and athletes, and reasons to use the name abound.
Change the -ge to a -gia, and you’ll have a feminine form of George.
Georgia: So Famous
In fifth century France, the future Saint Georgia lived as a hermit. Legend tells that a flock of doves followed her funeral procession.
There’s also theologian Harkness, silent screen star Hale, and singers Gibbs and Carroll.
But the artist O’Keeffe might be the best known.
Born in 1887, she studied art as a child, but soon abandoned the idea of becoming an artist. Only after a decade as an art teacher did she return to the possibility of creating her own work. O’Keeffe established herself as a leading artist, the Mother of American Modernism. A museum dedicated to her legacy stands in Santa Fe.
Georgia: On the Map
Thanks to the king and the saint, this name appears all over the map.
There’s the European country and former Soviet republic. Some insist the name comes from the dragon-slaying saint – but that’s probably not so. Instead, the Persians called them gurğān – which comes from a word meaning wolf.
In the US, the state, as well as the island in the Atlantic were named for English kings.
Georgia: Music and Lyrics
Of course, the US state makes us think of all sorts of things. It’s the heart of the American South, known for Atlanta and peaches.
The state’s official song, “Georgia on My Mind” might be among the most famous of state anthems. Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell wrote the song back in 1930. Hoagy’s sister was named Georgia; but he insisted the song has always been about the place.
Then there’s “Sweet Georgia Brown,” written in 1925. In this case, the song took inspiration from a real person. Dr. George Thaddeus Brown served in the State House of Representatives for years; he named his daughter after the state, a moment celebrated by an official declaration from the state’s General Assembly.
Today, you know the jazz standard as the theme song for the Harlem Globetrotters.
English singer Lillian Klot took her stage name – Georgia Brown – from the two songs.
Georgia: Frillier Forms
Elaborations like Georgina and Georgiana have also seen plenty of use. 2008’s The Duchess starred Keira Knightley as the daring Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Cavendish. Other references include a character in Pride and Prejudice and another from Gossip Girl.
Georgia: By the Numbers
The name has never left the US Top 1000; in fact, it ranked in the Top 100 during the nineteenth century. Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall gave the name to a daughter in 1992; plenty of other celebs have used the name, too.
And yet, the name has taken a slow, steady rise. As of 2015, it hovered outside the current Top 200, up 100 places from 2000 – but no overnight sensation.
If you’re after a cool, stands-out/fits-in name for a daughter, consider Georgia. Nickname-proof and nickname-rich at once, edgy and traditional, this name has it all.
Would you consider Georgia for a daughter?
This original version of this post was published on November 15, 2008. After substantial revision, it was reposted on November 8, 2016.
“Jorja” is a respelling, but not arbitrary. It comes from the male name “Jorge”, which is the Spanish form of “George”.
BTW, in Spanish there
Also a huge fan of Georgia O’Keeffe. The Santa Fe museum is a must-see-in-my-life location. I’ve only read Jorja Fox’s name. I’ve never heard it pronounced. Is the pronunciation softened by the “J’ at all?
Georgia…. I don’t love it nor do I dislike it. Unless you spell it Jorja, that looks awful. I kind of like frillier names for girls.. so I would pick Georgiana out of the George names. I like the British pronunciation with the long A. But I would pronounce it George-ee-ah-na.
Emmy Jo says
I prefer Georgiana to Georgia. To me, Georgiana is a lovely Victorian girl. Perhaps because it has never been very popular (and my main association is with Pride and Prejudice), it sounds more sweetly-old-fashioned than dated.
I’ve known several old women named Georgia, so perhaps that ruins it for me. It was in the top 200 until 1953. It’s not horrible, but it’s not a name I get very excited about. That’s a personal thing, though. I certainly have some “old-lady” names at the top of my list. (Clara and Violet were definitely my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s generation.)
Speaking of George, it’s my kitten’s name — that’s the name he was given at the shelter, and it suited him so well we couldn’t bear to change it. We sometimes call him “St. George” because he’s the better-behaved of our two kittens. (Bartholomew sometimes gets nicknamed “the Dragon” because he’s the wilder one.) I like George’s old-fashioned kingly feel, but the sound isn’t very appealing to me.
For me, Georgia is all about Georgia O’Keeffe. I’ve been to Santa Fe to see the O’Keeffe museum, and I have reproductions of her work in my bedroom and our main living/dining space, too. It tempers the associations with the state for me – though I recognize that Georgia is, to many, a Southern belle.
Still, I’d use it.
As for Georgina/Georgiana? I had no idea there was a potential pronunciation issue. I’ve always heard Georgina said jor JEE nah, and assumed Georgiana would be jor jee AHN ah. But I’ve heard both very sparingly, so I feel like it’s tough to say. That’s interesting about the movie, Lyndsay – I haven’t seen it yet. I wonder if it is a historical relic or just a quirk of the woman herself?
Crikey it just shows the difference in pronouciation across the Globe. Being British I know several Georgina’s – it’s one of those old British standards and if I wasn’t so in love with George, Georgina would definately be on my list as she strikes that great balance of well known yet under used. I’ve never even considered the possibility that Georgina has any pronounciation difficulties either as she is unequivocally pronouced George-EE-nah in the UK.
The Georgiana in Pride and Prejudice is how I first came across this name. Pronouced with four syllables: George-ee-ahn-ah – to me she feels like Georgina’s slightly frillier cousin and while I’ve never met one, she appeals in a way that overtly frilly names rarely ever do.
Back to the original topic for coversation: Georgia. I first decided that I really like Georgia whilst watching Ally Mcbeal (well I might as well be honest about these things!) prior to that I had heard precious little of her – not having the same overt associations with the name that American’s clearly do. I find her pucnhy, sassy and yes, flirty in her own old school southern way.
She’s much more well known in the UK these days, in a way that has put me off her a bit. I don’t know why, but to my mind she has lost some of her jazzy ‘Georgia on my mind’ appeal. Perhaps, this relates to an issue which I know I have prattled on about before but seems relevant here. To me, the name Georgia is intrinsically linked with the American state that bears the same name and indeed Southern culture in general (like any name who’s associations are rooted to a place). The point I’m making is that to name a child Georgia and have no links with that place/culture seems unnatural somehow and therefore a bit awkward…
Wow, Georgiana has always been 4 syllables to me: George-ee-ahn-ah. I could possibly make it george-EE-nah but don’t like to. And George-AH-na seems a bit, I don’t know; short? Georg-AY-nah seems to be a British thing. I have a Brit GF who says it that way, but admits the four syllable way I say it appeals to her more. I suppose simple Georgia wins in one area: unambiguous pronunciation! 😀 The way I say it makes sense to me, as most yanks I know say Giana/Gianna with three syllables. Add the one syllable George in front and Viola! Georgiana with 4 syllables!
I definitely agree with preferring Georgiana. How is it pronounced though? I’d always heard either George-EE-na or George-AH-na, but in the movie The Duchess it’s pronounced George-AY-na, which I had never heard and took a while getting used to in the movie, but now it’s the only one that sounds right.
I like Georgia, but prefer a little frillier names for girls, like Georgiana. I’m considering George right now for my boy… I feel like I’ve been saying that every day, but you’ve just been doing names I like over and over again!
I’m on the Georgiana camp. I have cousins in the state of Georgia and the Country too. Doesn’t feel like a name to me, just a location. (I don’t have the same problem with Charlotte or Virginia though!) I’d use Georgiana myself, if I could get the Mr. past Gigi, The dog his parents had when he was very little.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Georgia. She’s just not my style. She’s lovely for anyone else! I do like her, but I’d use Georgiana before Georgia, myself. That is, if I didn’t just love George on a boy. Which actually wans’t ruined by Dubya for me (and I hate him!). George is all St. George for me, and the St. George legend has long been a favorite.
I find Georgia warm, pretty and the tiniest bit flirty which is nice for a girl name. It makes her quite appealing. Whatever you do, please don’t spell it Jorja! 😀