Name Bank

Behind the Name: Agatha

Raise your hand if you’ve spent hours scouring baby name books and websites for the perfect name for your character. ::raises hand:: Yeah, I’m right there with you. It’s a common plight amongst writers. While I can’t end your search, I can add this name and its meaning to the back of your mind for next time. If you’re feeling intrepid, I recommend reading the history behind the name Agatha and then writing a quick scene with it as your prompt.


Agatha is the Latinized form of the Greek name Agathe, which is derived from the Greek word “agathos,” meaning “good.” If you’re looking to name a character born in the USA between 1880 and 1930, Agatha is a reasonable choice as it ranked in the census for popularity between those years.

Saint Agatha of Sicily is the Christian saint of breast cancer patients, wet nurses, bell-founders, and rape victims. She chose to live a life of celibacy as a consecrated virgin until a high-ranking official, Quintianus, decided he wanted her. She spurned his advances and he responded by tearing off her breasts off with pincers. She managed to survive that, and eventually died after more torture involving hot coals. Now, she is celebrated in Italy every February 5th with a delicious pastry that looks like a breast.

Saint Agatha’s name has been used throughout Christian Europe with various spellings, but the most famous barer of her name was the mystery writer, Agatha Christie. She created such characters as Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. While she may have died at the age of 85 in 1976, she disappeared without a trace for ten days in 1926. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even gave a spirit medium one of her gloves in the hopes of finding her. She turned up at a hospital with amnesia and her autobiography makes no reference to her disappearance.

Agatha is also the first name of Ms. Trunchbull, the primary antagonist of Ronald Dahl’s Matilda.


Variant: Agathe – This feminine name has seen a resurgence of popularity in France over the past 20 years.

Nickname: Aggie – This is also a diminutive name for Agnes.

Masculine Form: Agathon