Names Searched Right Now:

Mardi Gras Names: Baby Names from the Bayou

Illustration by Jennifer Mehlman at artchixstudio.com

Guest blogger Elisabeth Wilborn of You Can’t Call It “It”, a writer, artist, and mother who lives in Brooklyn, New York, brings us this look at the jambalaya of names native to the Louisiana Bayou.

An inspiration for everything from vampires to voodoo, from zydeco to the Krewe of Zulu, Louisiana has been a colorful melting pot of divergent cultures for centuries.  Cajuns from Canada, Creoles and others of Haitian, African, Italian, Spanish, or Native American descent, all come together to form a mélange of backgrounds, and in point of fact, names.  Most share a history of French language and Catholicism, even if it’s not by blood. While these may not be the choices in use today in the Bayou, they have been culled from historical documents, maps, and folklore from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries.  The majority are either French proper, or my favorite, Frenchified.  Still more trace their roots to Classical GrecoRoman civilization, deep Southern culture, or are somewhere farther afield and include a curious preponderance of the letter Z.

So come on!  Allez-y! Chew on these names (and some maque choux), prepare to bare all for those beads, and laissez les bon temps roulez!

LADIES

Acadia– The word Cajun itself has its origins in Acadian

Adelaide

Alexandrine

Alma

Alzophine

Ambrosine

Ameline, Emeline

Arzilla

Avoyelles– This Cajun Parish might be picked up as a first name, piggybacking on the current Ava and Ellie love

Beatrice

Belle

Berangere

BernadetteA much beloved Catholic saint, and one of the prettiest songs in the native New Orleans Neville Brothers repertoire

Cezelia

Clotille

DelphineWhile Delphine is a lovely and lilting name, Delphine LaLaurie was a famous socialite and sadist who tortured her slaves

DixieUsed to refer to the South at large, this may have originated in New Orleans on the ten dollar bill, upon which a local bank printed “dix”, the French for ten.

Dolucila

Elva

Ernestine

EugenieNapoleon‘s first love

EulaEulalie

Evangeline– An epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow recalling the 1755 deportation of Acadian Canadians to the newly Spanish Louisiana

Ezora

Geraldine

Gertrude

Ghislaine

Heloise

Hiawatha Another tale regaled by Longfellow, Hiawatha may not have been from the Bayou, but she had namesakes here

Ida

JosephineNapoleon‘s (second) love

Leonie

Lougenia

Magnolia– The state flower of Louisiana

MahaliaMahalia Jackson is a gospel and blues singer from the area, with a name worth borrowing

MarieMarie Laveau was a reknowned Voodoo Queen who was visited by slaves and owners alike

Maude

Maxzille

Melba

Mellette

Minerva, Minnie

Oatha

Odilia

Ola, Olla Mae, Olima

Onezie, Onezime

Ophelia

Philomine, Philonese

Rosella

Sabine– The Sabine River runs through Louisiana

Sophronia

Tammany- Parish north of New Orleans

Ysabeau

Zeline

Zenobia (also spotted as Senobia)

Zerilda

GENTS

Alphonse

Amedee

AmosAmos Moses is a song by Jerry Reed about a fictional one armed alligator-hunting Cajun man

Armand

Auguste, Augustin

Bartheleme

Beau, BeauregardPierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was the most famous Civil War soldier from New Orleans and fought in the Battle of Shiloh;  his ghost is said to roam the streets of New Orleans whispering “Shiloh“, which means “place of peace”

BernardParish east of New Orleans

Bertrand

Buford

CharlesGeographically, Charles is everywhere, from a street in NOLA to the western city of Lake Charles to St. Charles Parish in the east

Cleophas

Clovis

Cornelius

Cyriaque

DagobertPere Dagobert was a well-respected 18th century priest who is still said to be heard singing “Kyrie” while keeping a watchful eye over the city of New Orleans.

Dempsey

Eloi

Gaston

Gilbert

Gustave –2008’s Hurricane Gustav (yes, that’s the way the storm was spelled) may have dampened enthusiasm for this name.

Hippolyte

Homer

Jacques

JeanBaptiste– JeanBaptiste Le Moyne de Bienville founded Nouvelle-Orleans in 1718

Jules, Julius

LandrySt. Landry Parish is home to many a Cajun

Leon, Leontel

LeRoyLeroy is originally from “le roi” or, “the king”

LouisLouis Armstrong and Louis Prima are both Louisiana natives

Octave

Otis

Napoleon

PhilippeThe city was named for Philippe II, Duc d’Orleans

Pierre– Pierre Augustin Charles Bourguignon Derbigny was among Louisiana‘s Creole governors

Remy

Rene

Rex

Theodore, Theodule, Theophile, Theophilus

Virgil


Read & Post Comments