Katherine and its variations are feminine names. They are popular in Christian countries because of their similarity to the name of one of the first Christian saints, Catherine of Alexandria.

Origin and meaning

The name originated from the Greek Αἰκατερίνα or Αἰκατερίνη (Aikaterina, Aikaterinē), which is of unknown etymology. The earliest known use of the Greek name is in reference to Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The theory that the name comes from Hecate, the name of the Greek goddess of magic, is regarded by the editors of the Oxford Dictionary of First Names as unconvincing.

The name subsequently came to be associated with the Greek adjective καθαρός (katharos), meaning "pure", leading to the alternative spellings Katharine and Katherine. The former spelling, with a middle a, was more common in the past and is currently more popular in the United States than in Britain. Katherine, with a middle e, was first recorded in England in 1196 after being brought back from the Crusades.

Popularity and variations


In Britain and the U.S., Catherine and its variants have been among the 100 most popular names since 1880. The most common variants are Katherine, Kathryn, and Katharine. The spelling Catherine is common in both English and French. Less common variants in English include Katheryn, Katharyn, Katherin, Catharine and Cathryn.[2][3][4][5]

Kathleen or Cathleen, an Anglicized form of the Irish form Caitlín, has become established in the US among people with no Irish background, but is less popular in England and Wales.

The form Karen, of Danish origin, is now often considered an independent name in English.

Diminutives include Katie, Katy, Kate, Kathy, Kathe, Kath, Kay, Kat, Katya, Katyusha, Kitty, Kit, Kasia, Kaya, Kaká, Kah, Kee and others.

Other languages