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.

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 have met no Jades…(for a long time, the only one I heard of was Jade Jagger). While it seems to have acquired a somewhat downmarket image, perhaps because of all the Jaydens, I quite like the name.

  2. You’re right JNE, my negative thoughts towards Jade have largely been brought on by poor examples of the name which is really unfortunate. I wish I had met a Jade like you sooner!

  3. I know 2 Jades – one a twenty-something at this point, and one a pre-teen. I know the younger grew up in Kenya, and her parents chose the name because the Kenyans called the lake they lived near Jade Lake (or something similar). It was sweet and it seems to suit her.

    I’ve never really felt strongly about this name otherwise. Gem names in general just don’t really appeal to me, and this is one that’s really flying under my radar.

  4. It’s interesting to comparing wearing a name to the outside thoughts on it. I actually really like my name and always have. In all of my life (let’s just say I’m safely in my 30s), I have personally known 3 Jades other than myself. Sure I know of more Jades, but it’s not a very common name. Now, 2 of the 3 were women, but 1 was a boy – a couple years older than me. Jade was more unique when there weren’t a billion more complicated spin-offs of the name, but to me, Jade is still more or less the unadulterated version of all the Jada, Jaden, Giada type names out there.

    While I’ve been aware of the “broken down horse/nag” and “harlot” associations since I was around 10 years old, I honestly haven’t run into others who have had that kind of association – not that it would matter – it doesn’t really bother me – the use of the “broken down horse/nag” definition fell out of common use in the late 1800s, for example. Now, the “jaded” association has always been there and some people are “clever” and say something like “Oh, aren’t you Jaded?” to me… Still, it’s not a common thing and it’s never bugged me (usually I just roll my eyes – what else can be done?).

    While I lived in England, lots of little girls were being called Jade and it wasn’t uncommon to be shopping and hear a ticked off mommy say “Jade, get over here now” or some such thing… Being as I’d had a few decades of being pretty much the only Jade in any given room, it always had me whipping my head around surprised to be admonished before realizing that it was, of course, not me that was getting the dress-down. And, with regard to Kate’s mention of Ms Goody – I am so thankful I had recently moed to the US when that season of Big Brother hit the air… yikes! I can understand the apprehension of any sensible Brit in using Jade as a name after that. (Aside – there was a less-famous Jade on ANTM in the US and she was not as bad, but pretty freaky.)

    All that said, I’ve enjoyed being Jade. The 2 women I’ve known who were also Jades also felt the same as me about their name. Everyone can spell it, read it/pronounce it and it’s not a confusing or difficult name for people, yet it isn’t all that common (especially among people my age, even in England). It’s also pretty immune to nasty teasing. All I can say is, to anyone considering the name – actually having it is pretty good. It seems poor examples of the name (in persona – reality TV stars) and Jada/Jayden type names have made it less desirable… shame really, it really has served me well!

    It’s fun to see how it comes across for everyone else!

  5. Interesting about it being male – a few years ago I knew a girl whose father was Jade. I remember being surprised at that – but then again, I have not actually met any Jades, male or female, so why would it be a shocker?

    I don’t think I would ever choose this one for my child (female, definitely). Although it has a lovely history, today’s Jade is a Walmart name, IMO. It’s up there with Bailey, Kayleigh, and Brianne. No thanks!

  6. JNE’s a Jade, I think! 🙂 I don’t mind the name but every time I see it, I’m reminded of the original slang, my Grandmother used it frequently, so it’s in my lexicon too and my Auntie Lesley (hereafter Buddy, as we called her) collected jade items from China & Japan as a hobby. So, it doesn’t bother me as a name but it’s not one I could ever bring myself to use. Except for Ruby, used to honor me, I don’t really like any of the gemstone names. Gemma slides by because she’s almost generic. 😀

    Onto other things:
    Agatha Appolline gets a *swoon* from me, gorgeous! I adore Agatha and need some good reviews to sell her to the other half, he still thinks ‘musty old lady’ or ‘stern Grandmama’. Funny too, as Agnes gets a green light. Probably because Agnes can shorten into the modern sounding Nessa. Agatha’s just got Aggie (although I keep trying to get Thea out of that last syllable!). I think Hedwig would make an awesome middle for something simpler: Jane Hedwig, Alice Hedwig, Frances Hedwig. I’m rather partial to Alice Hedwig, myself!

  7. Oooh … Agatha Appoline. It’s a great combination of granny chic and French flair, and both choices are unexpected but not unfamiliar. What a name! Lola asked for Agatha – she’s 2/25’s NotD

    Donald will be NotD on 1/25. I’ve been thinking about this one because of Eddie Cahill’s character on CSI:NY and then the Nameberry gurus started talking him up.

    Emmy Jo asked for Agnes, too – she’s 2/11.

    Pearl is getting lots of attention these days, isn’t she? She’ll be NotD on 2/21.

    As for Jade, we’ve considered using it somewhere in the middle as an Americanization of Jadwiga, in honor of my husbands’ beloved grandmother. The English translation is, of course, Hedwig, which I’m not sure works on a modern child. Or does it? Hmmm …

  8. I think of Jade and Gemma in the same breath, not just because of the obvious jemstone link but also because of their similar level of usage in the UK, there’s probably quite a few teenage siblings out there called Jade and Gemma I would imagine.

    Just like Gemma, I have never properly considered Jade due to overfamiliarity. I think I’ve always bypassed her because of negative social connections with the name (take the infamous Big Brother contestant Jade Goody as one such example and the huge variety of Jade spinoffs that Verity has mentioned).

    Now that I have actually stopped to consider Jade though, I’m no more enthralled by her. I had never connected Jade with ‘jaded’ before, but now you mention it I can’t think of anything else! And while, she may have meant ‘worn out horse’ and been used as a synonym for harlot a long time ago, I still don’t like the idea of so many negative associations attached to one name. In truth, I think that if I loved Jade, these reasons wouldn’t be enough to put me off but since I’ve never been a fan, they only serve to lessen her appeal further.

    Verity, you mentioned Pearl in the post, do you think she could feature as name of the day at some stage? I’d love to learn a bit more about her… Also, I don’t know whether Agnes or Donald have ever been name of the day but if not, I would love to here more about them too!

    Ps. I was flicking through the recent telegraph annoucements earlier and came across an ‘Agatha Appoline’ which I thought was rather swanky, what do y’all make of that?