A versatile, international classic

Catherine (Yekaterina) the Great (née Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg) as a Grand Duchess

Though I’ve previously featured the many nicknames for Katherine in all its forms, and my personal favourite forms of the name, I’ve never done a post on the name itself in all of its many international variations.

Katherine derives from the Greek name Aikaterine, which has a disputed etymology. It may come from another Greek name, Hekaterine, with the root hekateros (each of the two), or be derived from Hecate/Hekate (possibly from the root hekas, far off). It also may come from the Greek word aikia (torture), or a Coptic name meaning “my consecration of your name.” Eventually, it became associated with the Greek word katharos (pure), and the Latin spelling was thus changed from Katerina to Katharina.

The name has been extraordinarily popular ever since the fourth century, on account of St. Catherine of Alexandria, an early Christian martyr. Because some scholars believe she was fictitious or confused with Neo-Platonist philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria and St. Dorothea of Alexandria, she was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969. In 2002, she was put back in as an optional memorial.

Princess Katarina Konstantinović of Serbia, 1848–1910

The spelling Katherine has long been a staple of the U.S. Top 100, from 1880–1934, in 1936, and 1940–2016. Its highest rank to date was #25 in 1991. The spelling Catherine (which is also French) has also long been a Top 100 mainstay, from 1880–1997 and 1999–2001. It was in the Top 50 until 1939, and then again from 1942–61, with its highest rank of #18 in 1914 and 1917.

Kathryn was in the U.S. Top 100 from 1881–1928, 1941–68, and 1974–2001. Its highest rank was #45 in 1951.

Other forms of the name include:

1. Katharina is German and Scandinavian.

2. Katarina is Scandinavian, German, Slovenian, Sorbian, Serbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Katarína is Slovak.

3. Katarzyna is Polish.

4. Kateryna is Ukrainian.

5. Katsyaryna is Belarusian.

6. Katariina is Estonian and Finnish.

7. Katerina is Macedonian, Bulgarian, Russian, and Greek. Kateřina is Czech, and Katerína is Icelandic.

8. Katarin is Breton.

9. Katelijn is Flemish.

10. Katelijne is also Flemish.

Hungarian singer and actor Katalin Karády (1910–1990), who was posthumously honoured by Yad Vashem in 2004 as Righteous Among the Nations for hiding a group of Jewish children in her apartment

11. Katharine is German and English.

12. Katalin is Hungarian and Basque.

13. Kattalin is also Basque.

14. Kotryna is Lithuanian.

15. Katrina is English. The alternate form Katrīna is Latvian; Katrína is Icelandic; and Katrîna is Greenlandic.

16. Kakalina is Hawaiian. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t recommend this name in an Anglophone area.

17. Katell is Breton.

18. Kateri is Mohawk, pronounced Gah-deh-lee.

19. Katarzëna is Kashubian.

20. Kateryn is Manx.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 1656–1680

21. Kattrin is a rare Coptic form.

22. Catarina is Portuguese, Galician, Gascon, Occitan, Provençal, Languedocian, Aragonese, and Sicilian.

23. Caterina is Italian, Galician, and Romanian.

24. Catrin is Welsh.

25. Catalina is Spanish, Corsican, Sardinian, Occitan, Catalan, and Galician. The alternate form Cǎtǎlina is Romanian.

26. Caderina is Sardinian.

27. Caitrìona is Scottish.

28. Catriona is Irish and Scottish.

29. Catala is Asturian.

30. Gadarine is a rare Armenian form.

Russian human rights activist and humanitarian Yekaterina Pavlovna Peshkova, 1887–1965

31. Kaa’dren is Sami Skolt.

32. Kasia is Vilamovian. This is also a Polish nickname for Katarzyna.

33. Catheleine is Picard.

34. Cathrène is Norman.

35. Cath’rinne is Jèrriaias.

36. Katel is a rare Cornish form.

37. Katarino is Esperanto.

38. Keteriine is Yakut.

39. Chatrina is Romansh.

40. Ekaterine is Georgian.

41. Ekaterina is Bulgarian and Macedonian.

42. Yekaterina is Russian.

The many nicknames for Katherine

In addition to being a venerable, versatile, timeless classic, Katherine also seems to be tied with Elizabeth as having the most nicknames, both in English and many other languages. It also has options for child-like nicknames vs. more grownup nicknames the bearer can eventually graduate to.

1. Kate/Cate is a nickname that works well on all ages.

2. Katie/Katy/Kati suggests a more youthful Katherine, the kind of nickname a young girl would go by before graduating to Kate.

3. Kathi/Kathie/Kathy/Cathy/Cathie might seem a bit dated now, since so many Boomer women have that nickname, but I’ve never found it intrinsically middle-aged. It helps when you’ve known people your age with a name more commonly associated with an older generation.

4. Kay/Kaye might be out of fashion now, but I’ve always loved this name. It’s so cute.

5. Kit is a nickname I’ve always loved, in no small part because this is the name of one of my favoritest characters.

6. Kitty is rather out of fashion, though I’ve never understood why it’s not used so much anymore. It’s so cute, and has really nice vintage vibes. The Hungarian version is Kitti, short for Katalin.

7. Kasia (KAH-shah) is the Polish nickname for Katarzyna.

8. Kaja is the Scandinavian and Slovenian nickname for Katarina, and an Estonian nickname for Katariina.

9. Kari is Norwegian.

10. Kaia is Estonian and Norwegian.

11. Katya is the Russian nickname for Yekaterina.

12. Karin is Swedish.

13. Katrin is Estonian, German, and Swedish.

14. Kadri is Estonian.

15. Kati (with a long A, not like the English Kati) is Estonian and Hungarian.

16. Käthe is the German nickname for Katharina.

17. Kätchen is German.

18. Katja is Scandinavian, Slovenian, Dutch (for Katrijn), and German.

19. Trijntje is Dutch. I think Dutch nicknames are just adorable!

20. Rina is Dutch and Italian (for Caterina).

21. Ina is Dutch, German, Scandinavian, Limburgish, and Croatian.

22. Carine is French.

23. Kát’a (pronounced like Katya) is a Czech nickname for Kateřina and a Slovak nickname for Katarína.

24. Katka is Czech and Slovak.

25. Kačenka is Czech and Slovak.

26. Katuška is Czech and Slovak.

27. Kat’ka is Czech and Slovak. The letter T’ is different from plain T, and pronounced like the TY in Katya.

28. Káča is Czech and Slovak.

29. Kačka is Czech and Slovak.

30. Katika is Hungarian.

31. Kató is Hungarian.

32. Kata is Hungarian, Finnish, and Croatian.

33. Katica is Hungarian, Slovenian, Serbian, and Croatian.

34. Karina is Scandinavian.

35. Ríona is an Irish nickname for Catriona.

36. Cáit is Irish.

37. Kajsa is Swedish.

38. Katyenka is Russian.

39. Katyusha is Russian.

40. Katrė is the Lithuanian nickname for Kotryna.

41. Tina is Dutch and Croatian.

42. Cadi is the Welsh nickname for Catrin.

43. Kaisa is Estonian and Finnish.

44. Riina is Estonian and Finnish.

45. Triinu is Estonian.

46. Karen is Danish.

47. Iina is Finnish.

48. Rini/Riny is Dutch.

49. Cato is Dutch.

50. Tineke is Dutch.

51. Eka is the Georgian nickname for Ekaterine.

52. Cátia is the Portuguese nickname for Catarina.

53. Kaatje is Dutch.

54. Kat is English.

55. Katici is Hungarian.

My favorite forms of Katherine

Katherine probably ties with Elizabeth as having the most documented nicknames. It’s also a steadily popular, established classic that ages well, doesn’t date the bearer, sounds mature and professional, and never goes out of style. If you want to use the name but are off-put by its popularity, there are a lot of great foreign forms of the name to consider. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Yekaterina. This is the familiar Russian form, with the base nickname Katya. It branches off into all sorts of superdiminutives like Katyusha, Katyenka, Katyushka, Katyushenka, Katyushechka, and Katyulya.

2. Katerina. This is the Macedonian and Greek form, as well as a simplified Russian and Bulgarian form.

3. Caitríona. This is the Irish form, pronounced like Katrina. Catriona is a variant spelling, and pronounced the same way. Both spelling variations are also Scottish, except that the longer version has an accent grave (facing the other way) over the second I.

4. Katariina. This is the Estonian and Finnish form, with nicknames such as Katrin, Kadri, and Kati. I love the double vowels in Estonian names.

5. Katarina. This is the Scandinavian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian form, as well as a German variant. The Slovakian and Icelandic variation is Katarína, and the Czech variation is Kateřina (pronounced Kah-tehr-zheen-ah).

6. Caterina. This is the Italian and Catalan form.

7. Catarina. This is the Portuguese, Occitan, and Galician form, as well as an Italian variant.

8. Catalina. This is the Spanish form. The Romanian variation is Cătălina.

9. Kateryna. Surprisingly, this is the Ukrainian form, not the Polish form. I’m used to seeing a Y in place of an I in Polish names, like Krystyna and Izydor. The Polish form is Katarzyna.

10. Katrijn. This is one of the Dutch forms. I just love Dutch names, with all the Js and neat diminutives.