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Category: French baby names

French Baby Names: What’s next in Nice

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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.

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French Names: What’s chic now?

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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.

We’ve blogged about modern French names a couple of times, but the uninitiated still think of French names as the now-tired Danielle and Nicole, or the even-tireder Jean and Jacques.

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.

Girls

Agathe
Amandine
Anais
Anouk
Apolline

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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.

OLD-ETTES:

Annette

Antoinette

Babette

Bernadette

Claudette

Colette

Georgette

Jeanette

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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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French Names: New Wave Classics

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In late 1950s France there emerged a group of young intellectual, experimental filmmakers, including François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and Jean-Luc Goddard, who became known collectively as La Nouvelle Vague or New Wave, and changed the face of film.

In films like Breathless, they rebelled against traditional French cinema, employing such groundbreaking techniques as using  real locations, hand-held cameras, natural lighting and improvised scripts, jump cuts, voiceovers and slanguage, all of which had a profound influence on such later American directors as Martin Scorese, Francis Ford Coppola, John Cassavetes, Robert Altman and Quentin Tarantino.

But though their techniques emigrated across the Atlantic, the names of many of the characters in their films did not, and, looking through the casts of characters in these movies, we find a variety of fresh options, particularly on the female side, with sleek ine-ending choices and feminissima ette names.

GIRLS

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