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Category: European baby names

Belgian Names: Beyond Flemish and French

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Belgian native and guest blogger Sarah B. unscrambles the pieces of the complicated jigsaw puzzle that is the diverse naming structure of her native land by analyzing its Most Popular list of 2010.

Belgium is a small country with a mere 10 million inhabitants. Yet it sits right in the heart of Western Europe (the capital, Brussels, is often called the ‘capital of Europe’), and so is subject to more varied cultural influences than perhaps any other European country. One result of this is that Belgium has no less than three official languages: Dutch, spoken in the northern part of the country called Flanders (this variety is called Flemish– the differences between Dutch and Flemish are comparable to the differences between British and American English); French, spoken in the southern part of the country, called Wallonia; and German, spoken in a small part of Wallonia bordering Germany.

These three languages cause important differences when it comes to naming our babies, and this is why separate statistics are kept for the three parts of the country. Some names are popular in the whole of Belgium, but these names will usually be popular in all of Europe and even beyond (Emma is an example).

Being Flemish, I will limit myself to the names popular in Flanders. Here is the Flemish Top 10 for 2010 so far–( names given in Flanders only, regardless of their origin):

Girls

 Marie
 Emma
 Lotte
 Julie
 Ella
 Louise
 Noor
 Elise
 Lore
 Fien

Boys
 Louis
 Daan
 Lucas
 Milan
 Kobe
 Lars
 Mathis
 Liam
 Wout
 Senne

These Top 10 names popular in Flanders can be further divided into five different categories: International, Dutch, French, Flemish and a smaller group  of English names,  clearly showing Flanders’ central position in Europe, and the varied cultural influences involved.

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Dutch Boys’ Names: From Ho-Hum to Whoa!

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The complete list of Dutch boys’ names from 2009 is full of surprises.

There are the short, clipped boys’ names that are popular in the U.S. and widely used in the Netherlands, too, with such ethnically discordant choices as Finn and Levi ranking especially high, and nickname names such as Joey, Jordy, Mike, Nick, and Rick also in vogue.

Then there are the names that are familiar but relatively rare in English-speaking lands, from Bart to Dion to Guido. Milan, Ruben, and Bram, among this group, are some of the top boys’ names in the Netherlands – certainly startling to an outsider.

And then there are the many boys’ names that are widely used in the Netherlands and virtually unknown outside that country. Daan, the #1 name, is a form of Dan, but ever heard of Sem? Gijs, Rens, or Timo?

Most popular Dutch names, whether seemingly adopted from 1950s American sitcoms or native to Holland, feel abbreviated, with an occasional diversion to the Latinate (Giovanni) and the plain old Latin (Floris and Adrianus).

Here, popular Dutch boys’ names.

Familiar Names Popular in the Netherlands

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French Baby Names Update

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To check out the latest trends in French baby names—-and see what the future holds– we turn once again to our favorite French correspondent, Stéphanie Rapoport, creator of the popular site meilleursprénoms.com and author of L’Officiel des Prénoms 2011, the latest edition of which is available on French Amazon.

Here is my forecast for the Top 20 French baby names of  2011 based on statistical data from Insee, the national institute of statistics in France. The names displayed in italics are variant spellings which have been given to more than 500 babies this year.

Filles

Garçons

1. Emma 1. Lucas, Luca, Luka(s)
2. Jade 2. Mathis, Mathys, Matis
3. Chloé, Cloé 3. Noah, Noa
4. Sarah, Sara 4. Nathan
5. Léa 5. Mathéo, Matteo, Mateo
6. Manon 6. Enzo
7. Louna, Luna 7. Louis
8. Inès, Ynès 8. Raphaël, Rafaël
9. Lilou, Lylou 9. Ethan
10. Camille 10. Gabriel
11. Clara 11. Jules
12. Maëlys 12. Maxime
13. Zoé 13. Yanis
14. Louise 14. Théo, Téo
15. Lola 15. Arthur
16. Lina, Lyna 16. Tom
17. Lily, Lilly, Lili 17. Hugo
18. Eva 18. Timéo
19. Louan(n)e, Lou-Ann(e) 19. Thomas
20. Lucie 20. Kylian, Killian

 

This year, Gabriel, Samuel and Louis have shown unexpected gains in the rankings. On the other hand, Marie has plunged to 37th place, down almost 20 spots in one year. Marie was the most common name from the 15th to the 20th century in France, but although more than 1.3 million French women are still named Marie, it has finally had to let new names take over.

The rise of Old Testament names like Nathan, Gabriel, Raphaël and Noah (Noé) comes in striking contrast to the decline of Marie. The fact that the country is largely Catholic has, for centuries, resulted in the choice of traditional names such as Paul, Pierre, Luc, Jean, Mathieu or Anne, Marie, Jeanne, Catherine.

But today, Old Testament names have become more prominent, after having disappeared for centuries– Aaron, Adam, Éden, Samuel, Ruben, Maya, Noa, Eden and Talia are the rising stars of 2010.

Americans might ask: What about our consistent champion Jacob ? Well, this name has never made it into the limelight here; over the 20th century, it has never been given to more than 50 French babies in any year. In 2010, Jacob has been given to only 25 boys, so that it doesn’t even register in the top 1000. Unlike Joshua, with its dual dimension as a Protestant and Jewish name, (Joshua appears in the top 200 this year), Jacob tends to be considered as a very religious Jewish name, a tag shunned by most other parents in this increasingly secular society. 

 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 prenomswas published in 2002 and she has been enriching it with new name statistics analysis every year since.

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British Baby Names: The Latest Crop

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Every few months, about as often as I allow myself to relish a hot caramel sundae and with about the same amount of delicious anticipation, I dip into the London Telegraph birth announcements to see what the upper-crusty British baby namers are up to.

And as with that sundae, the results rarely disappoint.  There are always plenty of eccentric three-name combinations, lots of charming sibsets, and a collection of names not often heard in my neighborhood of New Jersey.

One trend asserting itself in this collection: R names, with a raft of children (far beyond those mentioned here) called Rory, Rufus, Rupert, Rex, and Rowley, and on the girls’ side, Ruby, Rose, Rosemary, Rosalind (and Rosalyn) and Romilly.  R is a letter that’s seemed dowdy for quite some time — blame all those Baby Boom Roberts and Richards — and is due for a resurgence.

The best of the recent British baby names are, for girls:

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Model Names

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With the fall fashion shows in full swing — showing clothes for next spring, now that the sizzle of summer 2010 has barely cooled — our thoughts turn to models.

We could care less about their figures or their style; what we’re interested in, of course, is their names.  While nameberry includes lists of Supermodel Names (where you’ll find lots more choices) and Supermodel Baby Names, we thought we’d look at the current crop of model monikers.

The list is heavy on Eastern European names, given that many of the girls hail from there.  But there are some good ‘ol American names here as well.

Names of the hottest 25 models right now, according to the rankings at models.com, are:

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