She’s a 20th century nature name that helped propel many of today’s favorites to the top of the charts.
Thanks to JNE for suggesting today’s Name of the Day: Jade.
In the nineteenth century, plenty of parents turned to floral and gemstone names, calling their daughters Briony and Violet, Ruby and Pearl.
Jade failed to catch on, probably because she was already in use as slang. The Old Norse word jälda – mare – initially referred to a worn-out horse. By the 1500s, it had become our word jade – and a synonym for harlot. Something of this use continues today. If you’re jaded, you’re tired or worn out, usually from overindulgence.
The green gemstone has different origins. Piedra de ijada is the Spanish name. Ijada refers to the loins; once upon a time, jade was though to cure kidney ailments. In French, the term became l’ejade and was whispered down the alley into le jade. Jade appears in English as the stone’s name from the 1600s onward.
Early 20th century Jades appear in US census records, but they’re almost exclusively male. Jade ranked in the boys’ Top 1000 most years from 1968 through 1997. As late as 2001, more than 150 boys were given the name. When listed along with Jace, Jaden and Cade, Jade seems like a masculine moniker. Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon recently named her twin sons Jaid Thomas and Jax Joseph. British singer Jade Jones is a he – and father to Beau, along with Spice Girl Emma Bunton.
History aside, few would consider Jade a boys’ name. With the slang use fading into obscurity, Mick and Bianca Jagger chose the name for their daughter in 1971. Jade entered the US girls’ Top 1000 in 1975, and climbed into the Top 500 in 1982, finally peaking at #86 in 2002. It also made the UK Top 100 in the 1980s.
While Jade is falling in popularity, many of her spin-offs are gaining:
- Actress Jada Pinkett Smith debuted on FOX’s True Colors in 1990. While the name was in use earlier, it gained rapidly as Jada’s star rose. Today Jada ranks #95 and spelling variants Jayda and Jaida also rank.
- The ever-popular Jayden is used for girls, too. Jayden came in at #172, with Jadyn, Jaden, Jaiden and Jaidyn also charting.
- More creative options – Jadalyn, anyone? – aren’t popular enough to make the Top 1000, but are heard.
Celeb chef Giada DeLaurentis boosted the Italian version of the name. She called herdaughter Jade. Should you find yourself on a playground in Paris, odds are strong that you’ll hear the name called out – with a French accent, of course. Jade has been in their Top Ten in recent years.
On her own, the original Jade retains all the strength of the gemstone, and fits in nicely with frills free choices like Brooke and Blair. Depending on your perspective, Jade is either a modern classic that shares Taylee’s style but has far more substance, or a 20th century choice that suffers by association. She could make a nice compromise choice if you’re pulling for Pearl while your partner prefers Hayleigh.