When you shop through links on our site, we may receive compensation. This educational content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

Katherine Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Katherine including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Katherine Overview

  • Meaning: The name means “pure,” which comes from the Greek word “katharos.”
  • Gender: Katherine is predominantly a female name.
  • Origin: The name Katherine is Greek, with its earliest versions being Ekaterine or Aikaterine.
  • Pronunciation: Katherine is typically pronounced Kath-er-in.”
  • Popularity: Katherine is a very popular choice in many countries.
  • Nicknames: Kasia, Kass, Kassie, Kate, Katie, Kath, Kathy, Kat, Katy, Katty, Katya, Katyusha, Kay, Kit, Kitty.
  • Variations: Caitlin, Caterina, Cathareau, Catherine, Cathleen, Cathryn, Catriona, Karen, Katalina, Katarina, Katharine, Katherin, Katheryn, Kathleen, Kathrine, Kathryn, Katrine, Katrinka, Katriona Katryn.
  • Namesakes: Katherine Heigl Katharine Hepburn, Katherine Jenkins, and Katherine Johnson.

What Does Katherine Mean?

The name Katherine is most typically associated with the Greek word “katharos,” meaning “pure.” It can also be translated as “clear,” “chaste,” or “clean.” However, these latter meanings are less common.

What Is the Origin of the Name Katherine?

Katherine is of Greek origin, with the earliest version in ancient Greece being Ekaterine or Aikaterine. These names may have come from the Greek god Hekateros, whose name meant “each of the two,” or the Greek goddess Hekate, which translated as “far off.”

The most commonly accepted origin is the Greek word “katharos.” This influence eventually changed the spelling to Katherine (1).

Katherine spread as a name due to Catherine of Alexandria, an early Christian saint.

How Popular Is the Name Katherine?

Katherine has been a very popular name since at least the 19th Century in the United States and the United Kingdom. Its many variants across the world are similarly popular.

In the US, Katherine reached its height in the 1970s and 1980s. The iconic actress Katherine Hepburn may have influenced its rise. Katherine is the 42nd most popular girl name in the U.S. in the last 100 years (2). It dropped out of the top 100 in 2016 and ranked 158th in 2021 (3).

How Do I Pronounce Katherine?

In English-speaking countries, Katherine is pronounced as “Kath-er-in.” It can also be said as “KATH-rin,” depending on dialect and region.

Is Katherine a Boy or Girl Name?

Katherine has always been considered a name for a girl, and there is no male equivalent as was typical of many Greek forenames.

Variations of Katherine

There have been many variations of Katherine, depending on the region. The English version is most common, but others include:

  • Caitlin (Irish)
  • Caterina (Catalan, Italian, Romanian)
  • Cathareau (French)
  • Catherine (English)
  • Cathleen (Irish)
  • Cathryn (English)
  • Catriona (Irish)
  • Karen (Danish)
  • Katalina (Basque, Esperanto, Hungarian)
  • Katarina (Dutch, German, Swedish)
  • Katharine (English)
  • Katherin (English)
  • Katheryn (English)
  • Kathleen (Irish)
  • Kathrine (English)
  • Kathryn (English)
  • Katrine (Dutch, French, Gaelic, Scandinavian)
  • Katrinka (Dutch, German, Slavic)
  • Katriona (English)
  • Katryn (Afrikaans, German)

Nicknames for Katherine

People choose a variety of nicknames for Katherine. They can be influenced by language and region or by chance. You might want to consider:

  • Kasia
  • Kass
  • Kassie
  • Kate
  • Katie
  • Kath
  • Kathy
  • Kat
  • Katy
  • Katty
  • Katya
  • Katyusha
  • Kay
  • Kit
  • Kitty

Similar Names to Katherine

There are a variety of similar names to Katherine. Some also have Greek origins, while others have links to royalty, including:

Middle Names for Katherine

Choosing a middle name will depend on your preference for staying with a more classic theme, continuing with the multiple syllables, or adding a contemporary touch.

Possibilities include:

Sibling Names for Katherine

Personal preference will come into play in creating your family names. There is a sense of cohesiveness with names all beginning with the same letter but that doesn’t have to be your approach:

For a sister:

For a brother:

Famous People Named Katherine

Since Katherine has been such a popular name since ancient times, many famous people have carried it, such as:

  • Katherine Mary Dunham: American dancer, choreographer.
  • Katherine “Kaki” Elizabeth King: American guitarist and composer.
  • Katherine Heigl: American actress.
  • Katharine Hepburn: American actress.
  • Katherine Jenkins: Welsh singer and television presenter.
  • Katherine Johnson: American mathematician.
  • Katherine Langford: Australian actress.
  • Katherine Mansfield: New Zealand author.
  • Katherine Anne Porter: American author.
  • Katherine Schwarzenegger: American author and daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Katherine in Popular Culture

Katherine has been a mainstay in popular culture since ancient times. It has appeared in plays, literature, film, television, and music dating back centuries, including:

  • Katherine: Character in William Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew.”
  • Katherine Anne Austen: Character in the television fantasy series “Lost.”
  • Katherine “Kate” Houghton Beckett: Character in the television crime show “Castle.”
  • Katherine Bell: Character in the soap opera “General Hospital.”
  • Katherine Marlowe: Antagonist in the video game “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.”
  • Katherine Mayfair: Character in the television series “Desperate Housewives.”

Katherine FAQs

Read on to find answers to a selection of questions that are often asked about the name Katherine.

Is Katherine a Biblical or Religious Name?

Neither Katherine nor its derivative Catherine is found in the Bible. But there have been many sainted Catherines, which gives it a religious feel.

Is There a Male Form of the Name Katherine?

Although many classic female names were derived from a masculine version, Katherine was not. Some people would say the closest male counterpart would be the Romanian Catalin, the English Cates, or the Greek Theron.

How Many of Henry VIII’s Wives Were Named Katherine?

Katherine was such a popular name in the 1500s in England that three of King Henry VIII’s six wives were either Katherine or Catherine. His first marriage to Catherine of Aragon was the beginning of them all.

Katherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII, was married only for two years before suffering a treacherous, deadly fate due to supposed treason.

His sixth and final wife was Catherine Parr, who was named after Catherine of Aragon! She lived beyond King Henry VII and was the last queen consort of the House of Tudor (4).

Feedback: Was This Article Helpful?
Thank You For Your Feedback!
Thank You For Your Feedback!
What Did You Like?
What Went Wrong?