Thoughts on Gwendolyn?

The two oldest and I were out at the mall the other night (cuz they just won't stop growing) and while they played on the play thing there was a little girl named Gwendolyn running around play area.  She couldn't have been more than two years old.  It's been a long time since I've heard this name, especially on a little.  


November 19, 2018 2:25 AM

I think it's lovely, and a name for all ages and lots of nn

November 19, 2018 10:51 AM

I love Gwendolyn. I'd love to see it get more use.

November 19, 2018 12:06 PM

I have long loved Gwendolyn (and Gwendolen, which some might argue is the more correct feminine spellling). Either way, I think it's a very timeless classic of a name; I know I've seen it on younger children as well as growing up with one. The Gwendolyn that currently comes to mind is a character in the space-opera graphic novel Saga, which I highly recommend if you are an adult (but not if you are a teenager violating the terms of service please). Although it is very much for mature audiences only, it's one of the most witty and compelling stories I've read in a while and I've been waiting for new installments with great eagerness, and then finding ways to read them that keep the books well away from my kiddos but also don't get me too many scandalized looks on my commute. The thing I like most about it is really the ability to cast absolutely ALL the characters in a very sympathetic, human way, but Gwendolyn is particularly great. If I were not a white girl, Gwendolyn would have been an obvious Halloween costume choice to make. 

And as a name, it would not surprise me if Gwendolyn continues to be a name that carries its distinctive flair into millennia into the future, either. It's avoided big trends and thus keeps feeling fresh, and I like that it's romantic but not frilly: more of a warrior princess name, but in a very smoothly blending in everywhere one goes kind of way. It's one of the few names that was at the top of my list when I was a teenager that would STILL be on the top of my list now.

If it weren't terrible with our three syllable, prominent o sound, G__en surname, I would totally have used it. If you have a different surname, I would want you to use it!

November 20, 2018 1:17 AM

This is perhaps the best response ever in the world.  :)

Gwendolyn Dillon isn't the worst; the ending sounds are similar but it doesn't bug me much.  

Adding this to the not-hubby-approved short list.

November 23, 2018 3:35 PM

I am not sure that I could do Gwendolyn D!110n myself, but I'm enough on team Gwendolyn that I'd strongly encourage you to use if it you find it a fun rollicking rhythm.

As for short forms, I don't think you ultimately NEED a nickname - my daughter has a heavier, one-more syllable mouthful of a name and she mostly goes by the whole thing in the outside world. However, I'm a nicknamer who likes a steady supply of pet names on hand, so I think I would use, in addition to Gwen (which I like), a repertoire of Win, Winnie, Dolly, Gwendo, Wendy, Wendel, Lyn or Len. Lots of variety to choose from!

I would probably not use Gwendolyn if I actively disliked Gwen as I think it's the most likely candidates for self-nicknames or outside-of-home nicknames that might stick later on (although inferred nicknames are at an all-time historic low, those that do happen tend to be based on the first syllable, sometimes with a diminuitive ending stuck on). However,  I don't think they're inevitable, and I think that if you're just neutral on Gwen I wouldn't let the possibility of nicknames put you off the name.

November 19, 2018 1:57 PM

I like it. I do prefer the Gwendolen spelling, which in my head sounds subtly different but probably doesn't really sound any different when I say it. I'm also getting a very subtle duck association...I thought for a minute it was because of the female duck on Ducktales, but she's Webbigail, not Webolen, so I don't know where that's coming from.

November 19, 2018 2:47 PM

I've always found the Gw- sound to be unappealing, but it seems I'm in the minority here! I would go with Elowyn before Gwendolyn, personally. 

November 20, 2018 1:19 AM

Elowyn is really nice too; we are struggling with whether or not Elodie is too unfamiliar, so I don't see ever talking Finn into Elowyn...that's my only thing with that one.

By mk
November 20, 2018 5:12 PM

I feel the same way, it's never been a favorite of mine. I also think of it as very 80s for some reason.

November 23, 2018 3:44 PM

Gwendolyn did have a pretty broad peak of increased American usage from the 19teens through the 60s, so the 80s and 90s actually represent a period of lull in the US statistics. Although, really, it's a fairly timeless name that has just tided in and out -- ebbed and flowed without ever becoming very popular or very unpopular -- so it's certainly possible that you met a bunch of the 1980s Gwendolyns and thus they provided a datestamp for you. 

I do think it has a vague fantasy air to me, even before Saga -- I think because many fantasy worlds, like Lloyd Alexander and Tolkein, used Welsh and Welsh-ish names. I was poking through comments on behind the name to see if there was actually an 80s fantasy movie or other association that I'm not thinking of that would explain both the 80s feel...and someone mentioned Gosalyn from Darkwing Duck  -- I'm wondering if that accounts for the duck association someone mentioned upthread? 

November 23, 2018 3:54 PM

Aha, Winnie Cooper from the Wonder Years (which I never watched but my spouse has fond childhood memories of) was a Gwendolyn. I wonder if that's the explanation to why the name has an 80s feel while actually being at historic low useage in that era? The show ran from the late 80s through the early 90s, exactly when Gwendolyn was at its lowest usage point.

By mk
November 28, 2018 6:03 PM

I've actually never met anyone named Gwendolyn, which is why it's odd I assocate it wiht a that time. My guess is it is either from Winnie Cooper or it popped up in books I read back then.

I don't think an 80s feel is bad though! That would not keep me from using a name I like.

November 19, 2018 4:21 PM

I like it, and would love to meet a young'un with the name. I never considered using it myself - I know a few older ladies named Gwen or Gweneth, and the sound is a bit heavy for my tastes - but on someone else, I'd love it.

November 20, 2018 1:21 AM

That's my minor hesitation.  Nicknames?  I don't love Gwen.  I do have a healthy respect for Gwen Stefani but in this case, I think I'd prefer just Gwendolyn.  Or Gwendolen; I could get behind that spelling too.  Wendy crossed my mind for a brief second but I don't especially like that one either.  Winnie could work.  I'd have to think on that one for a bit.

November 20, 2018 2:22 AM

Gwenda or Gwyneth is nice to.  or Gwennie.  Elodie is lovely too

Wendy is nice/cute  Winnie could be ok to

My cousin is Gwendalyn now a grandma the kids call he Gwenma - very cute

November 23, 2018 6:17 PM

I don't love Gwen, either (but don't hate it), but Gwenna is one of my favorites in the two-syllables, ends-in-a category as a stand-alone name or as a nickname for any of the Guin/Gwen names.

November 23, 2018 11:24 PM

Oh, Gwenna is adorable!  The more I mull it over, the more I also like Winnie.  

November 19, 2018 9:47 PM

I know a four-year-old little Gwendolyn. Love it!

November 20, 2018 6:02 AM

I really like Gwendolyn, although I think I love your other contender of Genevieve more in the lilting female G name category. 

I think Wendy or Winnie could both be good nicknames, or how about Dolly? Otherwise, I don't think the whole Gwendolyn would be too hard to enforce in childhood, though Gwen might be a losing battle once she gets to high school

November 21, 2018 1:39 AM

Dolly is cute.

We always figure that once they're old enough to choose a different nickname or go without a nickname altogether, we'll respect that so if eventually it came down to Gwen I would cope.  Ace seems to be introducing himself to new people as Atticus and lately he's been bringing home papers with Atticus written on them.  So I think the writing is on the wall there, and that's completely fine!

November 20, 2018 10:08 AM

One of my all-time favourite names! I prefer the Gwendolen spelling but know that the vast majority of people default to Gwendolyn. It would definitely be a top contender for a hypothetical second daughter if Gwendolyn weren't already taken by a recently-born, very close family member!

November 25, 2018 10:05 AM

I think Gwendolyn is becoming new again. I think it's very pretty and like it's meaning. Also it's easy to pronounce and spell for most people.