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?

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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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!