Unisex Names: Guadalupe


My sincere apologies for the huge delay of the unisex name of the month. There had been a lot of things that are going through my head for the last week, including my worries about this blog, and it was difficult for me to focus my attention away from trying to sort them out.

So, our unisex name of March takes us to the Spanish-speaking world. It’s the Marian name Guadalupe.

The meaning

At best, the meaning of Guadalupe is uncertain and there are two theories, focusing on the Spanish river of the same name, to its meaning that I’ll be looking at. The first theory that is most often used is that it means “river of the wolf,” “wolf valley” etc., where it resulted from a combination of Arabic wādī (وادِي) meaning “river” or “valley” and Latin lupus with the most commonly referred meaning being “wolf.” (Note that the Online Etymology Dictionary lists the last word as being the Roman name of the river, though this is the only source that I can find that says that).
The second theory that I’ve found comes from a page by Bill Casselman about the origin of 5 Spanish feminine names that he picked, Guadalupe included. He says that the Moors named the river, in Arabic, wad(i)-al-hub, which, to me, looks to be written like  وادِي الحُبّ. He says that it means “river of love” and checking the dictionaries below, there’s no doubt that he got the meaning right.

How feminine is Guadalupe?

Many of these countries do not have lists of popular names year by year, unlike the United States. Instead, here’s a map below showing the overall gender ratio of Guadalupe by country in the Americas.

Guadalupe Americas

As you can see in this map, there is a near-definite continental split between countries where Guadalupe is mostly seen on females but sometimes seen on males as well (mainly seen in North and Central America) and countries were Guadalupe is mainly seen on females and male usage is pretty much infrequent (mainly seen in South America).

In Spain, where Guadalupe is also used, the name leans very strongly towards the feminine side. In fact, when dividing the number of female Guadalupes who are born and bred in Spain by the total number of born-and-bred Spanish Guadalupes, the percentage, when multiplying the answer by 100, is revealed to be 99.822%.

As for finding out what the current ratio for Guadalupe is, unfortunately, the only data that I can use is the SSA popularity statistics for the United States, which, of course, borders Mexico to the south. For babies born in 2014, 731 Guadalupes born in that country who were issued social security card, 650 of them were girls, which gives it a ratio of 88.919% on the feminine side, which is above the 1880-2014 total ratio of between 72.063 and 72.090% on the feminine side. Compare that to some of the years in the 1930s and 1940s where the ratios for those years, particularly 1931, were below 60% on the feminine side.

Do you have any thoughts on Guadalupe and/or this post in general? Please leave them in the comments section below.

Dictionaries and meanings:
Arabic dictionary: Aratools
General dictionaries: Wiktionary and Online Etymology Dictionary
Latin dictionaries: Latdict and Latin Dictionary from University of Notre Dame
2nd theory meaning: Bill Casselman’s The Origin of 5 Spanish Female Personal Names

Popularity data for the US: Social Security Administration
Historical data used for other countries: FamilySearch


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