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A Popular Swiss First Name

I recently had a conversation with one of my friends from abroad about the popularity of my name. As it is, my name "Irene" seems to be a quite normal and fairly popular name in English speaking countries. Living in Switzerland, however, it always seemed to me a name more suitable for grandmothers than for someone my age. While growing up I even was so unhappy with my name that I  dreamed of having a more popular name like Daniela or Sabrina.

The name 'Irene'

Luckily, I wasn't able to change my first name then because I started to like my name when I began to travel the world. Not only has "Irene" a beautiful meaning (it means 'peaceful') but it's also a very international name. Most western languages have their own version of it:
  • German: Irene
  • English: Irene
  • French: Irène
  • Italian: Irene
  • Spanish: Irene
  • Russian: Irina
  • Greek: Irini
  • Portuguese: Irene
Obviously, the pronunciations vary a bit more than the spelling suggests. 

Now, back in Switzerland I am happy with my name. Even when I found out that it is indeed a more common name with people a bit older than me. The Swiss Federal Department of Statistics allows you to research the popularity of your first name (and first names in general) from 1902 to 2011 with an online name tool.

Popular Swiss First Names over the Decades

I had to check and learned that in the 1950s and 1960s "Irene" was a very popular name with more than 300 babies named "Irene" every year. Not in the top 20 of first names but still a good number. However, the number quickly dropped in the 1980s and 1990 and since the turn of the century this number was reduced to as little as 10 a year. It didn't even come close to captura a place among Switzerland's most popular baby names in 2016!

It would be interesting to see how popular my name was/is in other countries but meanwhile I don't mind walking this world with my not so popular name... at least my English speaking friends are happy they can simply pronounce it the American way: "Ireeene".

What about your name? Do you want to find out how popular your name is in Switzerland? Consult the online name tool and share your findings.

Name Hats - Paul-Georg Meister  /

Online Name Tool of Swiss Federal Department of Statistics



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