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French Baby Names: The latest trends in French prenoms

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To check out the latest trends in French baby names, we turned to a true expert, Stéphanie Rapoport, creator of the popular site meilleursprénoms.com and author of L’Officiel des Prénoms 2010.  For anyone conversant in French, the site is filled with interesting lists, charts and analysis on French baby names.

And for those whose high school French is as shaky as mine, we asked Stéphanie to give us a recap, which she’s been kind enough to do:

Baby names in France have never been shorter: exit Sébastien, Alexandre, Frédéric, Caroline, Nathalie, Angélique—the popular names of the 1980’s.  Emma, Léa, Clara now take the limelight as the most popular feminine names, while Lucas, Enzo and Nathan dominate the masculine ranking tables.

As a result, diminutives such as Lou, Tom, Théo and Alex are doing wonders.  Few analysts would have predicted such a phenomenon in a culture which used to disdain diminutives as merely “half names.

Ending sounds are also shaping to a large extent what becomes trendy and what does not.  Fashionable feminine names tend to end in the vowel ‘a’ (Emma, Sara, Léa, Clara, Lola, Éva, Louna and Lina being in the forefront).  Then there’s the explosion caused by Lilou, a new name which has led to the discovery of Louane and renewed interest in hyphenated names such as Lou-Anne.  For boys, names with ‘eo’ vowel juxtapositions abound, as in Léo, Théo, Mathéo, also o-endings (Hugo, Enzo) and names ending in ‘an’—Nathan, Ethan, Kylian, Evan, Esteban.

American names are still used in France, but not nearly as much as in the 1990’s.  The new wave has brought more European names than ever.  Italian names (Carla, Enzo, Matteo), Greek names (Yanis), and Spanish names (Inès, Lola) are flourishing.  Not to mention the highly fashionable Irish names (Kylian, Ryan), which have had an international success.  American parents now pick names from all over the world, but it seems unlikely to me that they will adopt real, typical names such as Océane, Manon or Malo.”

On her site, Stéphanie also offers her predictions for the Top 20 boys’ and girls’ names for 2010.  These are not based on instinct, but on a careful analysis of data provided by the French National Statistics Office from the past five years, from which she makes her projections.  They are:

GIRLS

  1. EMMA
  2. CHLOÉ
  3. SARAH
  4. LÉA
  5. CLARA
  6. INÈS
  7. JADE
  8. MANON
  9. MAËLYS
  10. LOLA
  11. CAMILLE
  12. LOUNA
  13. LILOU
  14. LUCIE
  15. LOUISE
  16. ROMANE
  17. ANAÏS
  18. LINA
  19. LOUANE
  20. LILY

BOYS

  1. LUCAS
  2. MATHIS
  3. MATHÉO
  4. ENZO
  5. NATHAN
  6. NOAH
  7. RAPHAËL
  8. LOUIS
  9. KYLIAN
  10. ETHAN
  11. HUGO
  12. THÉO
  13. YANIS
  14. GABRIEL
  15. THOMAS
  16. EVAN
  17. TOM
  18. MAXIME
  19. CLÉMENT
  20. ARTHUR

Stephanie Rapoport created MeilleursPrenoms.com with her husband Stuart in 2000, frustrated because “it had been so hard to choose the names of our children and the web at that time did not provide great sites such as Nameberry and MeilleursPrenoms”  Her first book, Officiel des prenoms” was published in 2002 and she has been enriching it with new name statistics analysis every year since.  On February 18th, a new book about unusual names, “Les 4000 plus beaux prenoms rares” will be coming out in France.

And if you still want more information, check out our Parisian style report on French baby names.

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