Maud: Baby Name of the Day

English: Matilda of Flanders, wife of William ...

This post was originally published on March 1, 2009.  It was substantially revised and re-posted on September 29, 2014.

Matilda is a stylish choice, migrating from the hipster list to a mainstream favorite.  So what’s a true trend-setter to do?

How ’bout using Matilda’s medieval counterpart instead? Thanks to Lola for suggesting Maud as our Baby Name of the Day.

The link between Maud and Matilda isn’t obvious.

Matilda comes from the Germanic Mathilidis – maht, or might and hild, or battle. In the tenth century, Mathilda of Ringelheim became a queen, and later a saint.

Royals continued to use the name.  Matilda of Flanders was a descendent of the Anglo-Saxon King Alfred the Great of England and wife of William the Conqueror.

Not surprisingly, it was among the many Norman names adopted in England.

Mahald was an informal version of Matilda.  In French, it became Mahaut.  Shorten them both a little more, re-import into English and voilà – Maud.

For centuries, the two names were interchangeable.

William’s queen consort was known by both names.  Plenty of women were listed as Maud (Matilda) or Matilda (Maud).  Or Maulde or Maude.

William’s last surviving granddaughter was called Maude. Betrothed as a child to the Holy Roman Emperor, she was known as Empress, despite never having been officially crowned.

Maude briefly ruled England in 1141, but lost the throne to her cousin, Stephen.  On the few surviving coins from her brief reign, she is called Regina Mathild.

Regina Mathild’s son, Henry II, eventually became King of England and founded the Plantagenet line.  He named his firstborn daughter Maud – or Matilda.

And so the name continued to be used in tandem, something like Jim/James or Bill/William in more recent years.

By the 1400s, the name was out of fashion.

But then came the Victorian era, when historical names were in vogue.  The name returned, bolstered by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s romantic 1855 poem “Maud.”

In the US, Maude and Maud both ranked in the Top 1000 in the nineteenth century:

  • Maud peaked at #68 in 1883, leaving the rankings entirely after 1933.
  • Maude ranked as high as #20 in 1882 and remained in the Top 100 until 1905.

Today, the ‘e’ spelling feels slightly more complete – possibly because it is shared by many a feminine names, like Brooke, Claire, and Sloane.

But is this name ready for revival?

Today’s parents might think of Bea Arthur’s character, the star of CBS’s All in the Family spin-off Maude.

Or maybe Amy Irving as one of Dudley Moore’s two wives in 1984 comedy Micki & Maude.

And then 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.

None of that makes the name feel like a revival possibility.  And yet, this name is making a slow comeback.  Design Mom Gabrielle Blair is mother to a teenaged Maude. Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann have a 15 year old Maude, now an actress in her own right.

The numbers still show both spellings in fashion limbo – with the ‘e’, just 17 newborn girls in 2013.  Without, just six.

And yet, this regal rarity could be set for a comeback – as spare as Blair, as feminine as Anne, as unexpected as Matilda was just a few short years ago.

Do you think Maud is due for a comeback?  Do you prefer Maud or Maude – or maybe Matilda?

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33 Comments

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 🙂

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

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…

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.

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!

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.