Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his November 8th column, he looks at the history of the name Irma.
The ninth edition of “Joy of Cooking” came out. Its first edition was privately published by author Irma S. Rombauer (1877-1962) in 1931.
Irma is a short form of Germanic names starting with “ermen,” meaning “whole” or “all.” Emma was originally a Norman French form of the same name. Several medieval saints in England and Germany had “ermen” names. Sixth-century forest hermit St. Ermelinde (“whole-soft”) is venerated in Belgium. St. Irmgard (“whole-enclosure”) of Chiemsee (830-866) was a great-granddaughter of Charlemagne who became an abbess. St. Ermenburga (“whole-fortress”) was a Queen of Mercia in England who founded a nunnery.
Unlike Emma, Irma wasn’t used as a name in its own right until around 1700. Though this began in Germany, Irma’s first big success came in France.
Homemaker humorist Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) is probably the most famous person with the “E” spelling, though gospel singer Erma Franklin (1938-2002), older sister of Aretha, is also well-known.
Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Irmas in history!