How popular is the baby name Undine in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Undine and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Undine.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Undine

Number of Babies Named Undine

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Undine

Babies Named Renault?

Renault Dauphine, commercial, car, retro
Renault Dauphine
We all know that Renault is a French automaker. But did you know that it’s also an American baby name?

In 1959, the name Renault (ruh-noh) appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 6 baby boys named Renault
  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 8 baby boys named Renault [debut]
  • 1958: unlisted

The name Dauphine (doh-feen), which was last on the charts since the 1920s, also saw a slight boost in usage around this time:

  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 6 baby girls named Dauphine
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 8 baby girls named Dauphine
  • 1959: 10 baby girls named Dauphine
  • 1958: unlisted

The cause? The Renault Dauphine, a “frisky, thrifty family car” introduced to U.S. consumers in 1957.

The car was widely praised (at first) and sales rose impressively during the late ’50s, peaking in 1959.

I even found a baby girl born in Texas in 1959 with the name Renault Dauphine Sanders. None of her four sisters — Netha, Andra, Elizabeth, and Tina — were named for cars.

Here’s a TV commercial for the Renault Dauphine. Notice how the American voice-over actor pronounces company name ruh-nawlt.

But the rise of the Renault Dauphine was cut short when problems began to emerge. The Dauphine was quick to rust, for instance, and it took more than 30 seconds to reach 60 mph. Sales started falling in 1960 and never recovered. Renault stopped producing new Dauphines altogether in the late ’60s.

Another name that may have been influenced by Renault? Ondine:

  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 5 baby girls named Ondine [debut]
  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

The Renault Ondine was a variant of the Renault Dauphine produced from 1960 to 1962. It came to America in 1961, and while it was typically called the “Deluxe” here, the name “Ondine” was mentioned here and there (like in Car Life).

So what do all these names mean? Ondine is the French form of Undine, Dauphine refers to the wife of the Dauphin (the heir apparent to the French throne), and Renault is a variant of the French surname Renaud, which has the same Germanic root as the English name Reynold.

(Ironically, a name very similar to Dauphine, Delphine, saw peak usage in 1958 thanks to a TV character. It’s possible that the character name helped the car name seem even trendier right around that time.)

Sources:


Undine – The First Movie-Inspired Baby Name Debut?

A while back we talked about a bunch of actress-inspired name debuts from the 1910s (Francelia, Ormi, Seena, Allyn). So far, though, we haven’t talked much about movie-inspired baby name debuts from the decade — even though there are over a dozen of them (including Zudora).

The earliest one I’ve seen so far? Undine.

undine, movie, 1912, thanhouser
From Moving Picture World, 1912

The name Undine comes directly from the word undine, which is a type of water nymph found in European folklore. The mythological creature was originally dubbed undina by Swiss-German physician Paracelsus during the 16th century. He’d based the name on the Latin word unda, meaning “wave.”

Undines later began making appearances in the arts — first in the German novella Undine, eine Erzählung (1811) by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, then in operas and plays, then in paintings and sculptures.

Eventually, Undine started seeing occasional usage as a female name. But the baby name Undine didn’t appear on the SSA’s baby name list until 1912 — the same year the SSDI shows a spike in the number of people with the first name Undine.

Year SSA SSDI
1909 x 8 Undines
1910 x 10 Undines
1911 x 6 Undines
1912 9 Undines [debut] 17 Undines
1913 x 9 Undines
1914 x 1 Undine
1915 6 Undines 8 Undines
1916 8 Undines 7 Undines
1917 5 Undines 6 Undines
1918 9 Undines 9 Undines
1919 9 Undines 8 Undines
1920 x 4 Undines
1921 x 4 Undines
1922 7 Undines 9 Undines

What was the cause?

Well, we have two films to choose from: Undine and Neptune’s Daughter.

Both were short, silent, black-and-white films based on the German novella and released in September of 1912.

  • In Undine, put out by Thanhouser, Undine was played by actress Florence La Badie (whose untimely death in late 1917 may have caused the 1918 spike in the usage of Florence).
  • In Neptune’s Daughter, put out by Essanay, Undine was played by actress Martha Russell.

My guess is that Undine had a greater influence on baby names than Neptune’s Daughter did, simply because it features the name in the title.

(The Edith Wharton novel The Custom of the Country, which was serialized in Scribner’s Magazine during the first half of 1913, features a protagonist named Undine Spragg. I wonder if Wharton wasn’t influenced by these movies as well…?)

What do you think of the name Undine? Do you like this version of the name, or do you prefer one of the other forms (like Ondine or Undina)?

Sources: Undine (Character) – IMDB, Undine – Wikipedia, How Much Did Edith Wharton Revise The Custom of the Country?