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Category: European names

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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.

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Portuguese Names: Avelina & Amaro

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Perhaps because there are so few Portuguese-Americans–just about a million and a half —the name stock  of Portugal has been somewhat neglected by outsiders, especially since it shares so many similarities with the Spanish.

But many Portuguese names have a distinctive flavor of their own, as well as unusual pronunciation conventions, some of which are explained below.   And, as noted by Filipa on one of the nameberry forums, there are specific naming rules, limiting parents to traditional Portuguese names.  No Apples or Armanis in Amadora!  One consequence of these strictures, though, is an extremely  rich variety of diminutives and pet names.

For the royals of the past, there could be an interminable string of names, as for example the 19th century Queen known as Maria da Gloria Joana Carlota Leopoldina da Cruz Francisca Xavier de Paula Isidora Micaela Gabriela Rafaela Gonzaga da Austria e Braganca.

Being a 97% Roman Catholic country, many Portuguese names come from popular saints or from the Bible–Maria is the perpetual #1 girls’ name., as it is today.  And what are the other popular names in Portugal right now?  Here, according to one newspaper, are the top six of last year:

Girls

MARIA

BEATRIZ

ANA

LEONOR

MARIANA

MATILDE

Also popular:

AVELINA

CATALINA

ELENA

ELIANA

And for boys:

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Exotic Lite: Boys’ Edition

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We recently looked at girls’ names popular around the world yet exotic-sounding in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries, and today we turn to the boys’ version of this kind of name.

If you’re looking for a name for your son that has an international flavor yet is not too obscure or difficult to understand and pronounce, you might want to consider these choices.

ALESSANDRO – A top name in Italy, makes Alexander both softer and sexier to the American ear.

ALEXEI – Russian spin on Alex or Alexander popular there, pronounced Alex-ay or (less popular) Alex-ee. Down side: Its similarity to the very popular girls’ name Alexa.

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Exotic Lite: Girls’ Edition

Adam BabyBuggy BootWalker van Gogh Blowby_small1There are some names that are not quite English, or American, but not quite not English either.  These include international variations of classic English names – such as Katarina for Katherine – and names that are widely heard around the world but remain unusual in English-speaking countries.

The list below – we’re just doing the girls today – is taken from the most popular names rosters throughout Europe and South America and, in a few cases, further afield.  If you want an exotic name for your daughter that sill feels familiar, this list is a good place to start.

ADI – Israeli favorite meaning jewel, pronounced ah-DEE and used for boys as well as girls.

ALBA—Pronounced AHL-bah, this means dawn and is popular in Spain.

ANNIAnne diminutive used as a full name in Finland.

ANNIKA – Golfer Sorenson has made this one more familiar in the U.S., but it’s most popular in Denmark.

AURORA—This lovely name meaning dawn is growing in popularity in the U.S., but is most widely used in (odd pair) Finland and Italy.

BEATRIZ – Form of nameberry favorite popular in Portugal and Brazil.

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danube-river

We think and talk a lot about place names–countries like China, states like Georgia, cities like Dallas, even boroughs like Brooklyn.  And we also think and talk about nature names, of flowers and trees.  Well there’s one category that merges the two together, and that’s river names.

I was planning to put together a list of interesting river names worldwide, but I came upon so many intriguing and unusual possibilities in Western Europe alone, that I decided to save our own country, England and Ireland and others farther afield for some time in the future.  Some of those listed here are major waterways like the Seine, others are much smaller streams; and some run through more than one country.  And I’m sure you’ll notice that there are those that sound decidedly masculine (Arno), while others could be possible girls’ names (Adaja).

Not surprisingly, some of the most appealing  names come from the French countryside:

AIRE

ALZETTE

ANDELLE

ANOUX

ARLY

AUBETTE

CALAVON

CEROU

CLAREE

CREUSE

DADOU

EAULINE

ESTERON

LAITA

LAQUETTE

LOIRE

MIDOU

RAVILLOU

RHONE

VARENNE

VIENNE

And here are some Latinate choices from Italy, Spain, and Portugal:

ADAJA

ARAGON

ARBIA

ARNO

BREGGIA

CAIA

EBRO

ELVO

ENZA

JABALON

JALON

JARAMA

MAIRA

MARANO

MINO

NAVIA

OLONA

ORBA

PO

SELLA

TAJO

TIBER

TURIA

ULLA

ZANCARA

ZEZERE

And finally a few found in Germany, Austria, Holland, Belgium and Greece

ARDOS

AXIOS

DANUBE (which is shown in the illustration)

ELBE

ISAR

KRIOS

LADON

LEDA

LYS

MAURINE

MOSELLE

NEDA

NETTE

ORLA

RABA

REGEN

SENNE

THAYA

TYRIA

VLIET

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