[ 2 syll. (c)har-les, ch-arl-es ] The baby boy name Charles is pronounced as CHAAR-ahLZ (English) or -SHAERL (French) †. Charles is largely used in the English and French languages, and it is derived from Germanic origins. The Old German element 'karl' (meaning man, free man), cognate with the Old English 'ceorl', gave rise to the German names Carl and Karl. In Italy, the name became Carlo, and in Spain, Carlos. The form Carolus (Latinized) gave rise to the French name Charles, as well as eastern European forms such as Karel or Carol.
The name Karl has been borne from the early days by aristocrats and members of royal families, especially in Germany, Sweden, and Norway, and by seven emperors of Austria. The equivalent words for 'emperor' in languages such as Czech, Hungarian, and Polish are ultimately descended from the name Karl.
As for the name Charles, the most famous bearer was the Frankish king and Holy Roman Emperor, Charles the Great (742-814), also known as Charlemagne in French and Carolus Magnus in Latin. It was also borne by Charlemagne's grandfather Charles Martel (688-741), and by later numerous Holy Roman Emperors and kings of France. It was first introduced to Britain by Mary Queen of Scots, who came from France and gave the name to her only son, James Charles Stuart (1566-1625) who became King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England. The name Charles was thus borne by many succeeding members of the Stuart royal family, such as his son and grandson, who reigned as Charles I (1600-1649) and Charles II (1630-1685) respectively. The name was later made known by Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart, 1720-88), the exiled Jacobite claimant to the throne whose tale was romanticized and later captured in two films, both named Bonnie Prince Charlie (1923, 1948).
The continuing popularity of the name among British royalty is in modern times seen in the current heir Prince Charles (1948-). Over the years, the name has thus acquired royal associations, despite the allusion of its meaning to an ordinary man. In literature, it has appeared as the name of the fictional Charles Primrose in Oliver Goldsmith's novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766). In Scotland, the name is used as an Anglicized form for Teàrlach, and in Ireland for Cearbhall and sometimes Cormac. The name Carla (English, German, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, and Scandinavian), the name Caroline (English, French, and Scandinavian), the name Charlene (English and French), the name Charlize (English), and the name Charlotte (French, German, Dutch, English, and Scandinavian) are the female equivalents of Charles.
Charles is a widely used name; it has 84 variants that are used in English and other languages. Variants used in English include Arlo, Cale, Carel, Carl (used in German and Scandinavian as well), Carle, Carlton, Carollus, Carolus, Cary, Caryl, Chad, Chareles, Charels, Charl, Charlea, Charlee, Charleigh, Charlen, Charlese, Charli, Charls, Charlton, Charlz, Chars, Cholly, and Karle. Other English variants include the short form Charle, and the diminutive forms Chae, Charley, Charlie, Charly, Chas, Chay, Chaz, Chazz, Chick, Chilla, Chip, Chuck, Chuckie, and Chucky.
Foreign variants of Charles include Carles (Catalan), Carlino (Italian), Carlito (Portuguese and Spanish), Carlitos (Portuguese and Spanish), Carlo (Italian and Spanish), Carlos (Portuguese and Spanish), Carlus (Irish), Carol (Romanian), Carolo (Italian), Carolos (Greek), Carrol (Romanian), Carroll (Romanian), Cathal (Irish), Kaarle (Finnish), Kaarlo (Finnish), Kale (Hawaiian), Kalle (Finnish, German, and Scandinavian), Kalman (German), Kalolo (Hawaiian), Karcsi (Hungarian), Karel (Czech, Dutch, and Slavic), Kari (Hungarian), Karl (German, Russian, Scandinavian, and Slavic), Karlen (Latvian and Russian), Karlens (Latvian), Karlik (Czech), Karlin (Russian), Karlis (Latvian), Karlícek (Czech), and Karlík (Czech). Another foreign variant is the diminutive form Charlot (French).
See also the related categories, emperors (king), mary, holy, son (heir), man (humanity), element, polish, exiled, modern, czech, roman, equivalent, anglicized, french, germanic (german), literature, cognate, and hungarian.
Charles is a classic favorite. Currently it is still popular as a baby name for boys, though to a lesser extent than it was before. At the peak of its usage in 1932, 2.894% of baby boys were given the name Charles. It ranked at #6 then. The baby name has since fallen in popularity, and is of occasional use in recent years. In 2018, its usage was only 0.342% and its ranking #52, but it was nonetheless the most popular out of all boy names in its group. In 2018, Charles was twice as popular as the next most popular name, Carlos. Charles has mostly been a baby boy name, though in the past century it has also been used for girls. In 1975, the name Charles was given to 108 times as many baby boys than girls.
Baby names that sound like Charles include Cearúil, Cerel, Ciril, Cirill, Cyrill, Cyrille, Cyryl, Sherill, Sherly, Sherril, Sherrill, Sherryll, Sheryl, Sorel, Sorelle, Soril, Sorlee, Sorley, Sorli, and Sorlie.
† Pronunciation for Charles: CH as in "cheese (CH.IY.Z)" ; AA as in "odd (AA.D)" ; R as in "race (R.EY.S)" ; AH as in "mud (M.AH.D)" ; L as in "lay (L.EY)" ; Z as in "zoo (Z.UW)" ; SH as in "she (SH.IY)" ; AE as in "at (AE.T)"
Details of famous persons named Charles:
Actor Charles Bronson, born Charles Buchinsky (Buchinski), 3 November 1921 - 30 August 2003, Ehrenfield, Pennsylvania.
Actor Robert Redford, born Charles Robert Redford, Jr., 18 August 1937, Santa Monica, California.
Actor Charles Nelson Reilly, born 13 January 1931 - 25 May 2007, New York, New York.
Actor Charles Rocket, born Charles Claverie, 24 August 1949 - 7 October 2005, Bangor, Maine.
Actor C. Aubrey Smith, born Charles Aubrey Smith, 21 July 1863 - 20 December 1948, London, England.
Animator Chuck Jones, born Charles Martin Jones, 21 September 1912 - 22 February 2002, Spokane, Washington.
Artist Charles M. Russell, born 1864 - 1926, St. Louis, Missouri.
Author Henry (Hank) Charles Bukowski, born Heinrich Karl Bukowski, 16 August 1920 - 9 March 1994, Andernach, Germany.
Author Lewis Carroll, born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 27 January 1832 - 14 January 1898, Daresbury, Cheshire, England.
Author Charles Dickens, born 7 February 1812 - 9 June 1870, Portsmouth, England.