ERMINTRUDE is not a name much used in the UK. It may be popular in other places, but at my high school when one of the local teachers wanted to tease he called one Ermintrude. It never failed. We did not want to be known as Ermintrude. Curious, really, because the underlying meaning is ‘wholly or all loved’. Diminutives include Irma, Emma and Trude. Emma in particular is a popular choice for girls and the title of a much loved Jane Austen novel. What puts us off? Difficult to answer, I think. I know that cultural preferences and the sound of language must have a lot to do with it. I thought Heidi impossibly exotic and glamorous when I was a child and read the stories. Fast forward and I now know several people called Heidi – occasionally I still think it’s exotic and glamorous. But Ermintrude? I was hearing about another new baby the other day and the name? Elsie. I laughed which wasn’t much appreciated, but it underlines a point. All things come round again. Elsie is a diminutive of Elizabeth, but nothing like as popular as Liz, Lizzie, Beth have been. To my ear, it sounds old-fashioned. And it isn’t any more. It’s bang up to the minute. Let’s hear it for Elsie – oh, and Ermintrude. What up-to-the-minute names strike your ear as old-fashioned?
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