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User comments for Gretchen

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This name isn't used as a given name in Germany. It's of German origin but has hardly ever been used in Germany and never as a full name. Gretchen is a nickname for Margarethe (German form of Margaret) and Margaretha. Even the name of the "Faust" character was Margarethe. Gretchen is just her nickname. Read the book and you'll see. In Germany this name is quite outdated. It is difficult to explain how to pronounce it in German but it is way different than you would pronounce it in English. The Gret-part is pronounced "Grayt" (kind of), not "Grett" and the -chen part is pronounced with a sound that English speakers can't make because it doesn't even exist in the English language. I agree this name is kind of cute but it's nickname and you are able to find much nicer German names. The "Faust" character wasn't exactly what I'd call inspiring plus she died in the book.
-- Lily8  8/2/2008
The name Gretchen was given to 201 baby girls born in the US in 2012.
-- Oohvintage  7/17/2013
Whether this is a nice name or not is a boring question: it is obviously a matter of taste.

The point that I would like to make - as a German native speaker - is that it is not really a name. More specifically, it is a common misunderstanding that it is a German name. It is not. It is an old-fashioned nickname for "Grete" or "Greta", which both are actual names (who had both been fiercely uncommon until recently in the German-speaking region). "Gretchen" means "small Grete". As most people are aware of, it made it into popular consciousness simply because Goethe used it as long ago as 1806 for a figure in a play.

Please be aware that does not quite have the same connotation as an abbreviation like "Nick" for "Nicolas". It would as such really be used for children *only* - and even that use is very much out of fashion.

So everybody naming a person "Gretchen" should be aware that it definitely sounds ridiculous to every German native speaker. So if this person should be expected to have an international lifestyle and move around, it does not sound like too a good idea to name a child like that. This seems particularly relevant if people have to smile at the name in a chunk of Europe that embodies >150 million people.

Think about it.
-- jense  9/5/2015

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