Sunday, November 11, 2012


The latest Wizard of Oz sequel - called 'Dorothy of Oz' - is due out in 2013
Dorothy will be voiced by 'Glee' star Lea Michele
Dorothy is a special name for me, as it was the name of my paternal grandma. To many people that’s all it is, a “grandma” name, meaning they think it is old fashioned and not cool or spunky enough for a child of today. But as other names once considered as “grandma” names are being dusted off and resurrected, Dorothy may soon be on the rise.

In 1922 when my grandma was born, Dorothy was the second most popular name for girls in America, a position held from 1920 to 1927. Unfortunately there is no data for it’s popularity in Australia at the time, but it’s likely it was somewhat similar. In the U.S., since 1880 it has only been out of the top 1000 a handful of times – in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. While Dorothy is far from a popular name currently, it has always held some attraction to parents.

One of the most famous Dorothy’s of course was Dorothy Gale, the girl with the ruby slippers from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ that every little girl pretends to be at least once. Being such a popular name there are plenty of other examples to look to, such as the characters of Dorothy in ‘The Golden Girls’ or ‘Jerry Maguire’, Dorothy the Dinosaur, or real life examples American figure skater Dorothy Hamill, poet Dorothy Parker, actress Dorothy Dandridge, and writer Dorothy West, to name just a few.

In Australia, it was a different fictional Dorothy that caught our imaginations – pint sized Dot of ‘Dot and the Kangaroo’. The book ‘Dot and the Kangaroo’ was about a five year old girl who gets lost in the Australian bush and is befriended by a kangaroo, amongst other bush animals. The book was written in 1899 by Ethel Pedley and later made into a movie in 1977. The movie was a combination of animation and live action, and spawned eight sequels between 1981 and 1994.

Dot is one of the many cute nickname options for a little Dorothy, with other traditional options being Dottie and Dolly. Incidentally, my grandma went by Dot herself as her family had a cow named Dolly when she was growing up and she didn’t want to go by the same name as a cow (can’t really blame her). Newer nickname options also being used today are Dora, Doro, Dodie, Thea, Tia and Dory/Dori, which help to give Dorothy a fresher, updated image.

The name Dorothy was derived from the Greek name Theadora, another option if you have a Dorothy in the family that you’d like to honour but aren’t keen on the idea of Toto or big green dinosaur references. Both have a beautiful meaning, which has probably contributed to Dorothy’s enduring appeal. Dorothy means ‘gift of God’. And I certainly like to think that’s what my Grandma was.


  1. Both my grandmas were named Dorothy - one went by Dora (but not exclusively), and the other was always called Dolly.

    With their middle names, they were Dorothy Agnes and Dorothy Margaret.

    (Dorothy was the #4 girl's name for the 1920s in NSW, and probably very similar in other states).

  2. What a strange coincidence! I just started my own baby name blog and the post I have been working on all day is "How to get the nickname Dori"... so of course it features Dorothy. I like Dorothea a bit better, because of the book Middlemarch.

  3. I believe girls baby names are cutest. In Britain you can have amazing names. Indeed an informative article. I love baby names. You know what i even visit baby names sites and suggest names to my friends and family. helps me to collect my favorite baby names.

  4. My name is Dorothy. I have never liked it at all. Old fashioned, in a bad way. All of those annoying Wizard of Oz jokes that just never end (as if I haven't heard them all). I have been called Dot and Dottie, and I hate them. I have also been called Darcy, which I like very much, and it's the name I go by.

  5. OLd fashioned and very much don't like it. Too many bad jokes to be made.