Category: French baby names
There’s a new generation of names popular in Paris, all fresh and chic-sounding beyond the French borders. Will they translate to the English-speaking world? The Francophiles among us might like to try.
Capucine – Once associated with a hypersexy French actress, this ancient name is newly chic.
In the past few weeks, you’ve seen our predictions for the rising names in the US, and Eleanor Nickerson’s forecast of what will be 2013’s most popular in the UK; today we look to France’s upcoming stars.
To check out the latest trends in French baby names, we turn once again to our go-to expert, Stéphanie Rapoport, creator of the popular site meilleursprénoms.com and author of L’Officiel des Prénoms . For anyone conversant in French, the site is filled with interesting lists, charts and analysis on French baby names. But for those whose high school French is as shaky as mine, we asked Stéphanie to give us a recap en anglais.
When it comes to trends, one outstanding factor is that French baby names have never been shorter in length than they are today. In 2013, I see few names having more than five letters and a profusion of names containing only three, such as Léa and Léo, Zoé and Tom.
Sounds are another major component of French naming style. Girl’s names ending in “a,” not surprisingly, dominate the scene, with nine of them holding the top twenty ranks. More interestingly, the “éo” sound is bouncing back for boys, thanks to Léo and the newcomer Timéo.
Paging through the fat new issue of Vogue the other night, I found myself riveted not by the gorgeous models, not by the fabulous clothes, but by – mais oui – the names.
The French names, in particular, which seemed to jump out at me everywhere from the magazine, attached to chic grownup women as well as charming little girls and boys.
But there’s a whole new group of French names coming up, along with a raft of classic French names never widely used among English speakers which sound fresh and chic right now.
While international names such as Hugo and Luna, Old Testament choices like Sarah and Noah, and even English names such as Emma and Tom may dominate the French baby name popularity list, authentically French choices are fashionable too, in Pittsburgh as well as Paris.
Here, French names that are chic for your own little fille or garcon.
In Hollywood’s Golden Age, there was nothing that would make an actress (before they were called actors) seem more chic and sophisticated than a French-sounding name, especially one ending in ‘ette,’ as in the cigarette they often smoked in a long, ivory holder.
And so Pauline Levy became Paulette Goddard, Lily Chauchon (who actually did have French roots) was renamed Claudette Colbert, Ruby Fabares morphed into Nanette Fabray, and Jeanette MacDonald remained Jeanette MacDonald.
These and other glamorized Gallicized names caught on with the baby-naming public, which led to a lot of little Annettes and Nanettes. Many of these names sound terminally dated at this point due to their era-stamped ending and being overly obvious feminizations of male names. But there are also some less familiar ’ette’ names that aren’t necessarily Grandmas. And so here are two lists: those ette names that may have been overexposed in the past, and those that sound somewhat fresher.
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.
|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.
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 prenoms” was published in 2002 and she has been enriching it with new name statistics analysis every year since.