Why we named our daughter Greta

Baby name story: Greta

Jen, a mom in Massachusetts, gave her third child — and first girl — a name that is popular in Europe, but hovers around #700 in the US naming ranks. Why did she choose that particular name for her daughter? Find out here!

Choosing the name Greta

Greta baby name story

How did you come up with this baby name?

Greta” is a nickname for “Margaret,” and our daughter comes from a line of Margarets called something else. My husband’s mother was Margaret called “Peppy” (because she couldn’t say “Peggy” as a toddler) and his grandmother was Margaret, called “Peg.”

My husband’s mother (Peppy) passed away in 1988, and I always knew that if we had a girl she would be named after her. In 1998, when my husband’s brother and his wife were expecting, I suspected they would want to use the name Margaret, too, if they had a girl, so I started looking for an alternate nickname to “Maggie” so we could both use the name.

I came across “Greta” and we both liked it. Then they had a boy, and we had another boy, and they had another boy… and then we had a girl, and could have gone with “Maggie” as nickname, but we both thought “Greta” was still perfect.

Did you have any particular naming guidelines in mind?

I could have spelled “Greta” with two Ts, but decided on one since all my kids’ names would have five letters. I’m a knitter, and when the boys were young, I’d made them matching sweaters with their names spelled out in nautical flags. Five letters was just right for such a project — six is too many. With all the kids having five letter names, I could make another round of sweaters, I thought!

Yes, that’s one of the most inane naming decisions ever. Gotta get to that project…

Also around the time I was looking for the alternate nickname for Margaret, I was also noticing lots of (adorable) dogs in town named “Maggie.” It was yet another reason to stick with an alternative as the years went by and I met still more dogs named Maggie (three in my neighborhood still!).

Amusingly, after Greta’s birth, my college roommate with whom I’d lost contact with got back in touch, and she had a dog named… Greta. Oh well.

When did you decide on a name?

We chose her given name, oh, 15+ years before she was born, and her nickname about 5 years before she was born.

When did you tell people the name you had chosen?

We told a couple of very close friends before she was born, and most family members assumed (correctly) that Margaret would be her given name once we knew were having a girl. Most people learned after she was born that she would be called Greta.

How did people react to the name?

The reaction was very positive, especially among family members that knew the history of the name Margaret.

Do you think the name suits your child now?

Yes, definitely. It’s just spunky and different enough for my spunky, all-her-own girl.

Would you recommend this baby name — and the three best things about the name Greta?

Yes, I would. It’s a little different, but not too different. — it’s not common, but it’s not exactly uncommon. I love that my daughter’s name comes with such a history and connects her to some amazing women that came before her. Her name also works with our ethnic heritage (German surname).

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