Straightforward and strong Maud peaked in the late nineteenth century. Could that make it overdue for a comeback?
Thanks to Lola for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
MATILDA’S MEDIEVAL COUSIN
Matilda comes from the Germanic Mathildis – maht, or might, and hild, or battle. That’s a fierce and powerful name.
In the tenth century, Mathilda of Ringelheim became a queen, and later a saint.
More royals followed. Matilda of Flanders descended from King Alfred the Great of England. She married William the Conqueror, and returned to the land of her great-great-great-great-grandmother to reign as queen.
No surprise that Matilda became one of the many Norman names adopted in England.
But, like many a Norman name, it evolved in England.
Mahald or Mahaut served as informal versions of the name. Shorten either one just a little, and you’ll eventually arrive at Maud.
For centuries, the two names were interchangeable.
More royals followed, in England and elsewhere.
William’s last surviving granddaughter was called Maude. While still a child, she married the future Holy Roman Emperor. More titles followed, including Queen of Italy, but she was known as Empress Maude. After a succession crisis in England, her son would claim the throne as King Henry II.
Henry named his eldest Matilda – or Maud.
The pattern repeats for many women over the centuries, with both names used depending on the circumstances.
The name might’ve faded into obscurity with Godelieve and Griselda and so many other medieval choices.
Then came Alfred, Lord Tennyson. He penned an 1885 poem called “Maud,” a romantic tale ending in heartbreak. It’s the kind of thing that can make a name appeal to parents. He wasn’t the first; Christina Rossetti wrote an 1859 poem named “Maude Clare,” but it’s not one of her best known works.
Though it appears the name was in the midst of a revival when Tennyson embraced the name. Maud peaked at #68 in 1883 in the US, while Maude reached as high as #20 in 1882.
One more literary note: 1874-born Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables and many more beloved works, was known by her middle name.
TWENTIETH CENTURY MAUDS
In the US, Maude remained in the Top 100 until 1905, and left the rankings after 1950. Maud departed entirely after 1933.
The final ‘e’ feels consistent with feminine names from Claire to Brooke to Sloane, so perhaps that explains the success of Maude over Maud.
Pop culture has given us more of the -e ending ones, too, at least in the twentieth century:
- There’s the spirited, vivacious – and 79 years young – Maude of enduring 1971 dark comedy Harold and Maude. In this case, Maude is short for Marjorie.
- Bea Arthur played the title character on Maude, a CBS sitcom spin-off of the wildly successful All in the Family. Her character was an outspoken activist who eventually served in Congress. The show ran for six seasons from 1972 to 1978.
- In 1984, Amy Irving played one of Dudley Moore’s two wives in 1984 comedy film Micki & Maude.
- Julianne Moore played Maude in 1998’s comedy The Big Lebowski.
READY FOR REVIVAL?
A handful of stylish parents have embraced the name for daughters. Gabrielle Blair, the blogger behind Design Mom, has a Maude. Director Judd Apatow and actor Leslie Mann are also parents to a Maude, who started out acting in her father’s films and has graduated to a career of her own.
As of 2018, just five girls were named Maud, plus an additional 25 spelled with the ‘e’. That marks the most Maudes born since the 1960s.
That’s still far too few births to call it a comeback, but it might signal an opportunity. If you’re all about undiscovered vintage gems, maybe this is the name for you.
Do you think Maud is due for a comeback? Do you prefer Maud or Maude – or maybe Matilda?
Originally published on March 1, 2009, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on September 29, 2014 and again on February 2, 2020.
That is a definite “no” for me. I have never liked this name, or the TV show.
I think Maud and Maude are among the dowdiest names ever, despite the glamour of Swedish Bond girl Maud Adams. I had elderly relatives by both spellings, and find Maud the least awful of the two. Matilda isn’t my style, but it’s infinitely preferable in my view to these two, which seem to me to be taking “old lady chic” into a kind of “gotta grab an old lady moniker for the sake of it” syndrome. Maud/e belongs with Ena and Bertha in the “shelve permanently” category. Having said that, at least, like Hilda (I’m thinking now of Abbess Hilda of Whitby Abbey) Maud has a fine strong female role model – Maud being the everyday name of England’s Queen Matilda.
I think DesignMom permanently altered my view of the name, probably because her daughter is so vivacious, obviously young, and quite stylish, too. But until that happens, I suppose it can be tough to see lots of “old lady” names making a comeback. I’ll never forget the first time I met a little Edmund. Would’ve sworn the name was gone for good, but nope. Totally works on a kid.
Beatrice Della Musea says
At later age, desiring a new name and considering Maud ~ of grace, clarity… perhaps harking to Medieval imagery.. Cadfael and his Empress Maud, romantic muse of Yeats, Maud Gonne… a mauvey, veiled, Victorian flower suggesting historic strength, a defined vision in literature and art.
Aw I love love love my name! Everyone always comments on how much they like it and no one ever forgets it 🙂 My full name is Maud Ellen Serendipity Morrish 🙂
Maud Bogaars says
My name is Maud,
I’ve always hated tge name.
I’m from the Netherlands and here, it’s a very populair name.
Idk why. I hated it ’cause I thought people in England could not say my name that well.
But I think my name is getting better and better
My name is Maud as well, usually where I live there is very few of us and even fewer without the final e. I always loved my name and every person I met told me I was the first they encoutered, I guess it was a nice feeling of uniqueness. People says it is a very soft name. Never had a bad joke on it even though we have the french word ‘maudite’ meaning damned.
Maude has always held a special place in my heart. It was my Grandfathers favorite name, Pap wanted to name my Aunt Maude but Grandma said no, and Judith she became. Then for every grand daughter and great grand daughter after that he suggested Maude every time. My sister and I did make a Build a bear horse and name it Maude for him, but as a quirky way of honoring him (he’s been gone 8 years) I would love to give a little girl that middle name, Juliet Maude F….. sounds great to me! Now to convince my boyfriend
Juliet Maude is gorgeous! And a fitting tribute, too.
I love Maud! I’m a fan of trim, simple girls’ names and Maud is exactly that. I prefer it without the E.
Love it! So cute. We shortlisted this name for our daughter, but my husband nixed it due to Julianne Moore’s erotic artist character in The Big Lebowski. And though the word ‘maudite’ has a negative meaning, the word is more of a compound mau*dite and I would never have associated the two…
My full name is Suzannah Juliette Maud (surname) and I really like having Maud as a middle name. I’m not sure about it as a first name, but Maud’s been in my family for at least four generations. (My mum is Gillian Maud; my grandmother is Iris Maud and both my great grandmothers on my grandmothers side were called Maud). However, my Mum didn’t like the name as a kid (hence giving me two middle names, so I could choose between them if I really hated one) but she felt that she had to continue the family tradition…
I love Maud, and I especially like your full name, Suzannah!
ahh – that reminded me – I read the birth announcements every day and there was a little girl the other day named Stella Artois, oh I cringed! The association isn’t really there down in Australia, but all the same…
Rockingfetal, I like the idea of Maud as a nn for Matilda.
To be honest, my first association with Maud is Maudite – the beer! But there’s no relation. Really. And hey, part of me still thinks Stella Artois is a pretty name for a daughter. (Except no, I would never.)
Sophie, Matilda *is* a great name for a daughter and I think you’re right – Aussies are just ahead of us in terms of name trends. Besides Heath Ledger’s Matilda Rose, Molly Ringwald has Mathilda Ereni (and twins on the way)! I don’t think she’s hyper-popular yet – simply super-stylish. 🙂
And yes, Emma thanks for mentioning Judd Apatow’s daughters! How could I forget?
I’ve had Matilda on my list for several years now, and I think nn Maud may be just the shot in the arm that it needs. With Matilda supposedly taking off right about now, Maud may be the key to setting it apart. The historical connection especially pleases me and also the fact that Maud sounds much nicer in the hypothetical sibset I have rolling around in my head. I don’t care for it enough as a stand alone but applaud Lola for her bold and distinctive taste.
I love the way that Sophie describes Maud: ‘she enfolds femininity, sweetness and strength in one little syllable’ , that balanced mixture is the key ingredient I always search for in girls names, well perhaps not the one syllable bit, but the rest…
Yet, whilst Maud is undeniably all those things, I am inclined to agree with Emmy Jo – I’m just not that into her. I too, can see what draws Lola to her, but just can’t quite get there myself. Perhaps it’s her Maudlin connotations or her slightly ‘mouldy’ sound – does anyone else get that? I think it’s the long ‘au’ sound. Either way, I want to love Medieval Maud but for whatever reason, can’t.
Matilda, a hipsters name, even in the US?! Oh man – I got the surprise of my life a few weeks ago when I found that Matilda was #13 for my state (Victoria, Australia). When my husband and I chose the name for our daughter – early to mid 2004 – the name was barely scraping into the top 100. I don’t know about our nation-wide stats though. She’s a bit lower all-round, I think. Victoria’s fairly cool, really – Alice and Stella charted in the 40s and Zara at #26 – I was astounded!
ANYWAY, to the point! I like Maud – her simplicity is awesome, as she enfolds femininity, sweetness and strength into one little syllable, though she seems a little stuffy to me. I’d love to see her on someone else’s child, but I personally prefer Maeve immensely! She has more of that floaty feminine vibe I rather like.
Charlotte Vera says
It immediately makes me think of Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame. She apparently went by Maud most of the time, not Lucy. I’m not sure I could see myself using it as a first name, but put it in the middle and it could work.
Love it! (Almost completely because of you, Lola! I’d never even thought about it before, then read it on your blog, and started to love it!) Right now I’m infatuated with Annora Maud or maybe Beatrix Annora Maud. I had no clue about the connection between Maud and Matilda!
I love Maud and Maude! I came across a director on IMDB, Judd Apatow (work includes Knocked Up and Superbad), who has two young daughters named Maud and Iris. Such refreshing choices in Hollywood, methinks!
I’m with Allison on this one. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s good.
Emmy Jo says
Sorry, Lola. I can completely see why you love it, but I’m just not a fan. I love Maud India Scarlett, but I’m not a fan of Maud on its own.
Gwyneth Paltrow played a professor of Victorian literature named Maud in the movie “Possession.” If not even the beautiful Gwyneth can make me come around to this name, I’m not sure I ever will.
It’s so medieval, though, that I really *should* like it, shouldn’t I?
She’s tops for me! Not only does she honor family, but I love that crisp, tailored sound. Her color’s delightfully purple and I love the possibility of not only Maudie but Mim (Maud India MacK)!
I love the sinplicity of Maud, am not thrilled by the final ‘e’ but can deal with ot on someone else’s kid. Maud’s honey sweet but there’s steel under that satin. I love Maud.
And then there’s Maude! Bea Arthur and “maudlin” are the only two associations I get from this name. I don’t think Maud could ever be more than dowdy and clunky for me.