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Gender: Feminine
: English
Sorrel is the name of two different plants, the Genus Rumex (“dock” or “buckwheat) or the genus Oxalis. The word comes from the Old French term “surele” from the Germanic word “sur” meaning “sour.”

Sorrel is also a word of Old French origin meaning “brownish-orange” from the Germanic word “sor” meaning “red-brown.” The surname Sorrell comes from this word and may have referred to a person with “reddish-brown hair.”

The Penguin Dictionary of First Names (1999, Pickering) among others, claims the name Sorrel was established as a transferred plant name in the 1940s. Hard evidence, however, seems to be lacking, although the name is found in Noel Coward’s 1925 play Hay Fever. The character was named Sorel Bliss and was the spoiled daughter of an actress.

In any case, the name Sorrel is very rare.

Pronunciation: soar-ell.

Alternates: Sorrell, Sorell.

Percentage from the 1990 U.S. Census:
less than 0.001 % of females named Sorrel
0.003 % surnamed Sorrell

Popularity of Sorrel
Popularity (for newborns):
In the United States...
1880-2004: N/A

Selected Sources:
A Dictionary of First Names, Hanks and Hodges, 1990
The Penguin Dictionary of First Names, Pickering, 1999
A Dictionary of English Surnames, Reaney and Wilson, 1990

The Social Security Administration Actuarial Note 139 ( - For popularity stats 1880-Present
The 1880 U.S. Census- For popularity stats 1850-1880, and other information (it is available on-line at

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