Category: French baby names
When Americans think about chic European names, they tend to imagine the exotic, the elaborate, the intriguingly complicated and foreign.
Yet when Europeans think about chic names, they often these days mean the short and simple and sometimes even the Anglo-Saxon: Tom, Emma, Lou. Think of them as the baby name equivalents of a perfectly-cut bob or little black dress, elegant and always in style.
Short, simple names that are chic and popular in France, the Netherlands, and indeed throughout Europe include:
by Jeanette Soto
The name Jeanette was given to me by my young, hip parents during the infamous Chicago heat wave of 1987. The name had been out of fashion for over four decades and not coming back in style any time soon. The minute I learned how to spell it, I was frustrated by all the other people who couldn’t. One girl in grammar school insisted that it should be spelled with a ‘G’ because it sounded “too hard” to be spelled with a ‘J. Most often, people spell my name with one too many N’s or one to few T’s; misspellings include Jeannette, Janet, Jennet, Jenette, Jenet, Ginette and Ginet, but practically nobody gets it right.
Why did my parents give me a name that wasn’t just dated, but came with a slew of spellings? My mother’s excuse: Pregnancy amnesia, or brain fog caused by pregnancy hormones. It came over my mother at the time she was trying to remember the name she wanted to give me, so Colette Madeleine morphed into Jeanette Ashley.
What other names have Jeanette’s retro -ette ending and unusual style? Here, some choices:
I recently released an e-book called International Baby Names for Australian Parents, to help Australian parents find names that are uncommon, but not strange. My theory was that was a name that had never ranked here, yet was on the charts in other countries, would fit the bill of being seen as both “unusual” and “normal”.
Here are some names from the book that have never ranked in English-speaking countries, but are in the Top 100 elsewhere in the world.
Anouk (Top 100 in the Netherlands)
Hip and quirky while still having substance. As a short form of Anna, provides an alternative to that and related names.
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 2014 . 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.
Here is the way I see the French baby names for girls shaping up in 2014.
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.