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Updated March 26, 2024

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Boy name origins & meanings

  • Old English: Manly

What does Charles mean and stand for?

The name Charles is of German, French origin and means "free man." The name derives from the Germanic name Karl, meaning "freeman". The royal name began as Charlemagne before being shortened to Charles.

Syllables: 2

How to pronounce Charles?

Charlies is pronounced [CHAALZ]

Discover more baby name meanings to learn what's behind every name. 

How Popular Is The Name Charles

Family name origins & meanings

  • French, Welsh, and English: from the French form of the Germanic personal name Carl ‘man’ (which was Latinized as Carolus). In France the personal name was popular from an early date, due to the fame of the Emperor Charlemagne (?742–814; Latin name Carolus Magnus, i.e. Charles the Great). The Old French form Charles was briefly introduced to England by the Normans, but was rare during the main period of surname formation. It was introduced more successfully to Scotland in the 16th century by the Stuarts, who had strong ties with France, and was brought by them to England in the 17th century. Its frequency as a Welsh surname is attributable to the late date of Welsh surname formation. Old English Ceorl ‘peasant’ is also found as a byname, but the resulting Middle English form, Charl, with a patronymic in -s, if it existed at all, would have been absorbed by the French form introduced by the Normans. Compare Carl. English variants pronounced with initial k- for the most part reflect the cognate Old Norse personal name Karl, Karli.
  • Swedish: ornamental form of a Frenchified form of the Old Norse personal name Karl.
  • This name was brought independently to North America from England by numerous different bearers from the 17th century onward. John Charles was one of the free planters who assented to the ‘Fundamental Agreement’ of the New Haven Colony on June 4, 1639.

Famous people with this first name

Famous people who gave their babies this name

Popularity of the name Charles

According to Social Security Administration data, Charles has been consistently popular, remaining in the top 65 since 2000. It enjoyed a brief stint in the top 50 in 2017 and again in 2020.

However, it is the 38th most popular name on

According to Google search data analysis, in the last five years Charles was at its peak popularity in May 2019.

Charles began as a royal name, starting with Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Lombards and Roman Empires in the 8th and 9th centuries.

Although not as popular as it once was, Charles is still a traditional favorite. The name conjures images of Charles Dickens, Charlie Chaplin, and Charles Bronson to name a few. It is also the name of the Prince of Wales and kings in France, Spain, England, Portugal and Hungary. Charles has been chosen by Jodie Foster and Russell Crowe for their sons, as well.

Popularity of the name Charles in the United States: 

Charles was searched for most often in the following states:

Nicknames for Charles

  • Chad
  • Charlie
  • Chaz
  • Chip
  • Chuck

Charles pairs well with these middle names

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