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This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel looks at the baby names in the news and finds that many of them are living examples of our last week’s projections.

We know that Sophia and Ava, Jacob and Mason will probably stay in the US Top Ten for another few years.  But like many a name nerd, I’m fascinated by what’s next.  Will there really be more babies called Viggo, Juniper, January, and Walker?  We can only hope.

There won’t be many, of course.  Even amongst the name obsessed, a relatively small percentage of us dare to use a truly cutting edge name.  Sometimes we have a partner in naming whose tastes are more conservative.  Besides, our shortlists often range from William to Wilder, and there’s quite a bit of pressure to go with the equally stylish but more common of the two.

Of course, Isabella was once dismissed as too flowery and Aiden and Jayden as too weird.  Should Leo crack the Top Ten and Camden creep into the 25 most popular, many will embrace them as normal names and raise an eyebrow at whatever comes next.

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The most stylish palette for clothes this season may be orange, lemon, lime and other neon-bright colors, but baby namers are showing a real passion for purple, loving names from pale Lavender and Violet to deeper purpley shades. Purple itself has many associations– with royalty and nobility—as well as haze, rain, overwritten prose, an Alice Walker novel and screen version, as well as purple people eaters.

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Over 1500 new baby names joined the Social Security extended list this year, 641 boys’ names and 896 names for girls.  Nephele, one of the original Berries, tallied all the new baby names for us from the complete list of names given to five or more children in the U.S. in 2011.

Are there any gems in the bunch?  A couple, which we will highlight for you in a moment.  For the most part, though, the new baby names are either kreeatif spellings of old names – Cathrynn and Zakarri – or inventions such as Dhyey and Blessn unlikely to inspire many imitators.

Still, the names below are notable for a variety of reasons, though they’re not all recommended:


ACE – We’ve been hearing more boys named Ace, but think it’s a cute nickname-name for a girl.

ANSON – If you’re on board with the Emerson-Jensen style names for girls, Anson is one that might honor an ancestral Ann.

ARLINGTON – Of all the fresh place name possibilities, this one is particularly attractive.

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French Baby Names: Prune, Anyone?


I was lucky enough to go to Paris recently, and like most tourists, I ate croissants in sidewalk cafes, visited museums, and walked along the Seine.  Unlike most tourists, I also investigated the chicest French baby names.

Prune,” pronounced a very stylish and knowledgeable Parisian woman of my acquaintance.  “Prune is the newest, most charming name for little girls.”

It’s hard to imagine Prune as a charming name for a child in any country, until you realize that in French it’s the equivalent of Plum.  Now THAT makes sense.

For boys, this same friend offered the name Illan, another unlikely translation to English.  In France, it’s pronounced Ee-lahn and sounds quite elegant.

Another friend, who volunteers at a Montessori preschool near the Louvre, said her class includes children named Capucine, the French for nasturtium; Frostine, best known to American children as the queen in Candyland; and Zingo — though Zingo (a boy) is Japanese.

Further investigation turned up the following French baby names on the Paris most-chic list:


ADELE — Asleep in the U.S. but sprightly in Paris.

ANNAELLE — Names that end with AEL or AELLE, which is pronounced ah-el, are typical of Brittany in the north of France.

CLARA — Definitely on the rise in the U.S. as well.

ELOISE — Another name also being rediscovered in the U.S.

ENNA — Pronounced Ay-na.

HELENE — English speakers would say Hel-een but the French prononce this Hell-EHN.

LOU — Many Lou-related names are stylish in France as well as throughout Europe.  Other versions chic now include Lilou (lee-loo) and Malou (mah-loo).

LOUISE — I mention this long form separately from Lou to make the point that the French version of names typically does not end with an “a” sound — Louise vs. Louisa, Diane instead of Diana, Marie not Maria.

LUCILLEMay be part of the Lu craze.

MANUELA — Not a French name but a Latinate one stylish there.

MARGUERITE — In France, more the equivalent of Daisy than of Margaret.

SOLENE — Solange was fashionable a generation ago; this version, pronounced so-lehn, is the stylish one now.

THEA — Pronounced Tay-a.

THELMA — Prettier pronounced the French way — tel-ma — than with that thunk of a “thel.”

VIOLETTE — As Violet is stylish in the U.S., the French version, pronounced vee-oh-let, is chic there.


AMAURY — Bears some relationship to Amery or Amory, also stylish in the U.S.

AUGUSTE They would say oh-goost.

BASILE — Pronounced bah-ZEEL.

CESAR — The French version takes an accent over the “e.”  This imperial name might be more fit for modern American babydom thanks to the bestselling dog trainer.

EMMANUEL — Biblical choice overdue for revival in other places as well.

FERDINAND — An old pan-European name — do you dare?

FLORENT — One of those boys’ names that can probably only make it in Paris.

JULES — With Julius, taking over from Julian.

LOUIS — The Lou thing.

TANGUY — Very typically French, pronounced tangy with a very emphatic hard g.

THIBAUD — Another classic French choice, pronounced tee-bow.

A note on the illustration: I was hoping to photograph chic French babies, but they were all bundled up in down jackets and (mais oui) scarves, so I had to settle for a chic French baby shop window.

Plus, if you want to search beyond the recent trendies, here’s nameberry’s full complement of French baby names.

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