Celebrity Names Blog

Names in the News: Tilda Swinton

Names in the News: Tilda Swinton

Moonrise Kingdom actress (and fantastic dresser) Tilda Swinton is causing a ruckus on Twitter and elsewhere this week with her announced plan for a performance art piece called “The Maybe” which involves sleeping in a glass box in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. Bloggers are going nuts for this Sleeping Beauty-esque show, which will be popping up at random times in various places throughout the museum.  All this Tilda trending on Twitter had us asking exactly one question—what’s the story with her name?

The British actress was born Katherine Mathilda Swinton but goes by a shortened version of her middle name. We are delighted to see a middle name get some love—especially in light of the Name Lady’s recent column.  And we think that with or without the H Mathilda is an underused old-fashioned name that deserves a second look here in the US.  Matilda got some press back in 2005 when co-stars Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger named their daughter Matilda (perhaps a nod to dad’s Aussie roots), it had been out of the top-1000 most popular names for some 50 years.  However, there are a few other celeb daughters named Mat(h)ilda and interestingly enough they are all close in age—Gordon Ramsay, Moon Unit Zappa and her rocker hubby, and Molly Ringwald each have used the name.

Matilda has maintained a wide popularity in the UK, most recently clocking in at #48 on the England and Wales charts. One of the most beloved Matildas, the namesake of Roald Dahl’s children’s book, is due to arrive on Broadway in three weeks. Perhaps the combo of Tilda in a box and Matilda on stage will give Matilda a boost among American baby namers.

What do you think of the names Matilda and Tilda? Do you think Matilda is due for a comeback?



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