Name of the Day: Meredith

Addison. Callie. Isobel. Finn. Much has been made of Grey’s Anatomy, and the hit show’s impact on baby names. But there’s one that hasn’t taken off: Dr. Grey’s first name, Meredith.

Thanks to Corinne for suggesting our Name of the Day.

Meredith sounds smart. It’s a fitting choice for a doctor, fictional or not. While many Welsh names sound romantic, even fanciful – think Rhiannon and Gwendolyn – Meredith sounds quite down-to-earth.

Once upon a time, Meredith was more commonly used for men. The source is debated. While the last bit almost certainly comes from ludd – lord – the first part could reference either the word for great or sea. Mareludd, Maredudd and Meredydd all appear in the historical record, making for an etymological question mark.

Somewhere between the name’s debut and the present time, it also became a surname. We can’t help think of actor Burgess Meredith, perhaps best known as Mickey in the Rocky movies. And like several other names, it also came into use for women.

Since the 20th century, most bearers of the name have indeed been female. In addition to Dr. Grey, the small screen boasts Meredith Viera, formerly of ABC’s The View and presently co-host of NBC’s Today. Meredith Baxter was mom to Alex, Mallory and Jennifer Keaton on Family Ties.

In the US, Meredith was never especially popular as a boys’ name, though it did chart a few times in the 19th century, and ranked every year from 1904 to 1954.
For the girls, she’s emerged as a steady choice – never hot, never completely out of use. Meredith first charted in 1910, and has appeared every year from 1913 to the present. Her heyday was in the late 1970s through the 1980s, when she ranked as high as #140, and hovered around that mark for a few years.
Meredith straddles two trends – the rise of gender-neutral names and a return to the classics. She might appeal to parents considering Charlotte or Alice; but we think she might also appeal to those thinking of Madison or Morgan.
If the full name seems like too much for a small girl, there’s always the nickname Meri – or should that be Merry? – and maybe that all-purpose pet form for names that start with M, Mimi. (Though we concede that Mimi might be a stretch here.)
Overall, we think she’s a strong, intelligent choice for a daughter. Meredith is not quite as harsh as Gertrude or Helga, but she’s far more classic than many other frills-free choices for girls. It’s the kind of name we’d expect on a senator or a scientist – capable and confident. What more could you want for your child?

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22 Comments

My name isn’t spelled quite right, but oh well. I have never gone a school year without at least two Merediths in my class. Personally, I hate the nicknames Midge and Mimi. I’m Meri or Mer (think Mehr) if not Merideth. I don’t like my name. Too me it sounds really old fashioned and rigid. It was not an easy name as a kid and in elementary school I used to beg my mom to change my name to Ashley or Sarah.

My 4-year-old daughter is Meredith, a name my husband and I loved in spite of the Greys reference. My criteria for a name is that it be underused but not made up; a classic that has maybe never been at the top of any lists. Meredith fits the bill. Our Meredith is most often called Mere (sounds like mare) or Mimi, the nickname given to her by her younger brother Nolan when he couldn’t pronounce Meredith. We have yet to meet another child named Meredith and I love that; in her preschool world filled with Avas and Olivias she stands out in a good way.

My name is also Meredyth, though I’m slightly different than most of the others that have posted as such, as I am one of only two Men I know who have the name, the other being my grandfather who im named after. After reading all the posts about this name, I figured I would toss in my two cents. It’s a very tough name to do with especially as a child, people I didnt even know would make jokes in some of the most inappropriate places, like at my first holy communion or my graduation, days that should be counted among my prouder moments, tainted by bigoted people who dont even care about a names true origin. only in extremely liberal towns am i treated with at least humane levels of respect.

My name is Meredith. I’ve never liked it, but I don’t hate it either. I wish it were more unique and not so old-fashioned.

Sadly, in entertainment save for Grey’s lately, Meredith has become a “mean girl” name- see the mean almost-stepmom in the new “Parent Trap” and the villain in the live-action “Bratz” movie for examples.

As for me, despite two negative associations, I like the name.

I have seen Maradeth and Merideth and do not like those however.

I’m here to give Meredith some love! I had not realized it but I don’t think I have ever met a Meredith IRL in Central California. I’ve always thought it’s a great name and I have recommended for others who are looking for a “frills-free” name. I’ll choose Meredith over Lindsey any day! I can see Meredith as an athlete, a cheerleader, a dancer, a principal, the president of a bank, a mom, a CEO. The name can fit a sports lover as well as Martha Stewart type. Since I’m not into nicknames she’d always be Meredith to me.

Myyyy name is Meredith! I did not like it all until recently, but now I do. I’m definitely the “frills-free” type. Oh, and I am a dancer!

I’ve known 3 Merediths, plus it’s my sister-in-law’s middle name, and her 2 year old daughter’s first name. It seems to have been very popular in my East coast area – all the ones I knew growing up were around my age. I’ve never liked it and this was helped along by the fact that the one I knew best was the meanest, cruelest, most spiteful person I knew in my tween years. I can’t like the name, despite my sweet niece and her delicious hugs. 🙁

I like Meredith a lot. I’ve only known one Meredith — she was a little girl who lived down the street from my grandmother’s house.

The name sounds strong and sophisticated but still fresh and kind of breath-y, if that makes sense. I think I like the “th” ending that isn’t seen too often (except on Elizabeth and a few very dated-sounding two-syllable names). Meredith’s not at the top of my list, but she’s one I’d readily go for if my husband ever suggested it.

Sophie, as a TV addict, I find no shame in loving anything on the tube! After all, the small screen has launched more names than I can list. 🙂

So I’m showing my age, but the one thing that troubles me about Meredith is that I tend to glance at the name and see Megadeth, as in the 80s metal band. It wasn’t my kind of music, but I grew up with big-haired cousins. I suspect this is a minority reaction, but it makes me even less willing to consider spellings like Merideth.

Still, I can see Miri working for a nickname. It’s less of a stretch than Mimi, and sidesteps the jolly holly vibe of Meri. In the Seth Rogen/Elizabeth Banks movie, Miri is short for Miriam – but I don’t know many Miriams these days.

Meredith’s not for me but I think it’s pleasant sounding and certainly not overused. And feminine, except in Wales. Meri’s alright but would lead to jokes when you are not feeling merry.

I have to admit that I’m a little bit in love with Grey’s Anatomy *shame*, so I will usually see Meredith as a name to don a girl that is obviously hard working and confident, but is always a little down – or at the very least, pessimistic. Like Katharine, here in Australia I have never met a real-life Meredith, so the only preconceptions I have of her really, are from Grey’s!

Overall, I like her sound – as strong but not too harsh – but she isn’t for me.

Oh, my little Mer! I found her first as my sister’s middle name, and it was bittersweet that Grey’s had a Meredith, to me. I thought that it would skyrocket, and figured “Hey, at least it’s a great name!” Then the people chose Addison. Now I love Addison. I love the character, I love the name (it’s my one guilty pleasure surname and my one guilty pleasure androgynous name) but I’m now sad that Meredith isn’t in the spotlight. And now it’s too far gone for a huge surge of Merediths, but I’m waiting nonetheless.

As for nicknames, I prefer Mer. Meri would be the only way to get “MEHR-ree”, Merry is too Christmas-ey for me. Mimi might be a stretch, though I have seen Merideth and Mirideth before, so maybe Miri? Not sure how you’d say it though…

I used to think she’d fit in quite well with my Gemma & Veronica, but I’m not so sure anymore.

Wow, Meredith has Welsh roots, pardon my ignorance… I think my only experience of Meredith is via American culture – isn’t that stange for a Welsh name? I first became aware of her whilst watching the children’s show Annie Mac and of course the singer Meredith Brooks is another famous bearer of the name – there are probably others but those sprung to mind.

The fact that I’ve never come across a real-life Meredith tells you how popular the name is in the UK, saying that though – she doesn’t feel unusual or try-hard, more practical and friendly. Infact you summed her up brilliantly when you described her as ‘capable and confident’. Overall I quite like Meredith, I don’t have a problem with the ‘Merry’ beginning but I do have a bit of an issue with the surnamey roots, I’m just not into surname-names not even ones that don’t sound like surnames…

Maybe it is regional, Just for reference (in case someone can shed light on Mimi/Midge) My “MIL” grew up in MA, moved to NJ as a 20 sonething and is still there. I asked her to clarify, she says her best friend Margaret was a Midge and told her that Midge was for any girl whose name started with M back in the 50’s. *shrug* beats me! I can ask her what ethnic group Margaret belonged to (but I’d be willing to guess where she grew up, WASP). 😀

Midge … hmmm … maybe it is. Maybe it is a regional thing, or maybe it changes over time. Or maybe it’s based on ethnic background? I can’t imagine an Italian Midge …

I’m intrigued. And at a loss! Anyone have any thoughts?