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Region of originUnited States, Germany
Other names
Variant form(s)Greta, Grete, Margaret
DerivedA major character in Goethe's Faust

Gretchen (German pronunciation: [ˈɡʀeːtçən]; English pronunciation: /ˈɡrɛən/, literal translation: Little Greta/Grete) is a female given name of German origin that is mainly prevalent in the United States.

Its popularity increased due to a major character in Goethe's Faust (1808) having this name. In German, the Gretchenfrage (question by Gretchen), derived from Faust, is an idiom for a direct question that aims at the core of a problem and that should reveal the intentions and mindset of the questionee. The question is usually inconvenient to the questionee since he or she shall confess to something crucial he or she was intentionally or unintentionally vague about before.

In German-speaking countries, Gretchen is not a common given name. As a rather colloquial diminutive form of Grete, which itself is a short form Margarete, it fell out of use when the popularity of the latter two names declined in the 20th century, such that they are now very rarely given to newborns.[1]


Fictional characters[edit]