The many forms of Irene

Irene was #102 when name popularity data began being tracked in 1880, and entered the Top 100 in 1883, at #99. It entered the Top 50 in 1894, at #43, and rose to #30 in 1900. In 1906, it was #20, and rose and fell slightly until 1915, when it entered the Top 20, at #17. Until 1925, it remained in the lower reaches of the Top 20, and it stayed in the Top 100, steadily sliding lower each year, until 1945. Ever since, the name has continued sinking in popularity. In 2016, it was #656.

Though many people think of Irene as an old lady name, I’ve never seen it as musty and geriatric. Unlike, e.g., Mildred, it was never a Top 10 name, followed by an extremely sharp decline and eventually falling off the charts. Irene has remained in regular enough use over the decades, even if its greatest popularity is long in the past.

The spelling Irene is used in English, German, the Scandinavian languages, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Finnish. The variation Irène is French; Irēna is Latvian; and Ireñe is Basque. Other forms include:

1. Irina is Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Georgian, Romanian, and Finnish. Russian nicknames include Irisha, Irinushka, Ira, Irusya, Ina, Rina, Irunya, and Irya.

2. Arina is an alternate Russian form.

3. Irena is Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian, Slovenian, Dutch, Lithuanian, Romanian, Italian, German, Icelandic, Scandinavian, and Croatian. Many people are familiar with the heroic story of Irena Sendler, who saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

4. Eirene is Ancient Greek.

5. Irén is Hungarian, with the nickname Iri.

6. Eireen is Irish.

7. Iryna is Ukrainian.

8. Irine is Georgian.

9. Iria is Galician and Portuguese.

10. Bakene is a modern, rare Basque form.

11. Erea is Galician.

12. Erina is Swiss–Italian.

13. Irea is Galician.

14. Ireene is Estonian.

15. Irenea is Italian and Spanish.

16. Irenia is an elaborated English and Latin American–Spanish form.

17. Irinæ is Ossetian.

18. Eirini is modern Greek.

19. Ereni is also Greek.

20. Iriana is an elaborated English form.

21. Irini is Romanian.

22. Jerina is a rare Serbian form.

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