Charles Name Meaning

baby boy

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What Does Charles Mean?

If you're looking for a traditional, masculine name that seems to never go out of style, consider using the name Charles. The name Charles is derived from the Old English word “ceorl,” meaning “free man.” The word “ceorl” was used to distinguish a free person from a bondsman or slave (“thew”) and a noble person (“eorl”).

  • Origin: Charles is the French spelling of the Germanic name Karl (or Carl).
  • Gender: Charles is traditionally the masculine form of the name. Feminine variations include Carla, Carlotta, Charlotte, and Charlie.
  • Pronunciation: CHARLZ

Although baby names are often separated by gender, Verywell Family believes that sex need not play any role in your name selection process. It’s important to select the name that you feel is best suited for your new baby.

How Popular Is the Name Charles?

Charles has been a popular name for boys in the U.S. for over a century. It was in the top 10 boy names from the late 1800s until the mid 1950s, dropping to No. 11 in 1955.

The name dipped in popularity in the second half of the twentieth century, but even at its lowest point (No. 63 in 2010) it was still one of the top 100 boy names in America. It has rebounded somewhat in the past decade, rejoining the top 50. The latest statistics show that Charles is ranked as the No. 46 names for boys in the U.S.

Although the name Charles is typically used as a masculine name, it can certainly be used however you see fit as sex doesn't have to be a part of your name selection process.

Name Variations

Here are just a few of the most common forms of the name Charles:

Masculine Forms:

  • Carl
  • Carlito
  • Carlo
  • Carlos
  • Chad
  • Karl
  • Karel
  • Karlo
  • Karlos

Feminine Forms:

  • Carla
  • Carli/Carlie/Carly
  • Carol/Carole
  • Caroline/Carolyn
  • Charlene/Charline
  • Charli/Charlie/Charlee
  • Charlize
  • Karla
  • Karolina

Common Nicknames

  • Charlie
  • Chas/Chaz
  • Chuck

Famous People Named Charles

The name Charles has long been associated with royalty, going back as far as Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor, whose name means “Charles the Great.” There have been two kings of England named Charles—Charles I and Charles II—and the current heir to the British throne is Charles, Prince of Wales. Kings named Charles have also reigned over Austria, Romania, Sardinia, Spain, and Sweden.

Other notable figures named Charles:

  • Charles Addams, American cartoonist known for creating “The Addams Family”
  • Charles Barkley, American athlete who was an NBA All-Star player and currently provides commentary for “Inside the NBA”
  • Charles Baudelaire, French poet best known for his book “Les Fleurs du mal”
  • Charles Babbage, English mathematician, philosopher, mechanical engineer, and computer scientist
  • Charles Bronson, American actor known for his role as a crime-fighting vigilante in the “Death Wish” film series
  • Charles Bukowski, American poet, and novelist
  • Charles Curtis, American politician who served as Vice President of the United States under President Herbert Hoover
  • Charles Darwin, English scientist known for his book “On the Origin of Species” which introduced the theory of evolution
  • Charles G. Dawes, American politician who served as Vice President of the United States under President Calvin Coolidge
  • Charles Dickens, English novelist known for immensely popular books such as “A Christmas Carol,” “Great Expectations,” “Oliver Twist,” and “A Tale of Two Cities”
  • Charles Dodgson, English author who published “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” under the pen name Lewis Carroll
  • Charles W. Fairbanks, American politician who served as Vice President of the United States under President Theodore Roosevelt
  • Charles Grodin, American actor who appeared in such films as “Midnight Run” and “Beethoven” before hosting “The Charles Grodin Show” on CNBC
  • Charles Laughton, English actor known for his roles in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Witness for the Prosecution”
  • Charles Lindbergh, American aviator who was the first to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean
  • Charles Martinet, American actor known for performing the voices of Mario and other characters in the Super Mario video game series
  • Charles Harrison Mason, American preacher, founder of the Church of God in Christ
  • Charles Myer, American major league baseball All Star second baseman
  • Charles Mingus, American jazz bassist and composer
  • Charles Nelson Reilly, American comic actor and game show regular
  • Charles Sifford, American golfer who was the first African American to play in a PGA tour
  • Charles M. Schulz, American cartoonist, creator of the comic strip “Peanuts”
  • Charles R. Schwab, American stock-broker and founder of the Charles Schwab Corporation
  • Charles Davis Tillman, American musician, pioneer of Southern gospel music
  • Charles Webb, American novelist, best known as the author of “The Graduate”
  • Charles Wesley, American cleric who co-founded the Methodist Church
  • Charles Wilson, American politician who was the subject of 2007 movie “Charlie Wilson's War”
  • Charles Zadok, American businessman, art collector, and patron

Famous people named Charlie:

  • Charlie Chaplin, English actor, filmmaker, and composer, known for his contributions to silent film
  • Charlie Daniels, American singer-songwriter known for his number-one country hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”
  • Charlie Parker, American jazz saxophonist whose virtuoso playing and improvisation style revolutionized jazz 
  • Charlie Rose, American television personality, host of the program “Charlie Rose” on PBS
  • Charlie Watts, English musician, drummer for the Rolling Stones

More Baby Names

Still searching for the perfect baby name? Check out these related baby name lists for even more options:

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Social Security Administration. Popularity of name.

  2. Britannica. Charlemagne.

Additional Reading

By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a lactation consultant and writer covering maternal/child health, parenting, general health and wellness, and mental health. She has worked with breastfeeding parents for over a decade, and is a mom to two boys.