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Accentuating the Positive: Baby names with accents

December 7, 2014 Linda Rosenkrantz

By Adelina_sophia

I have always been a huge fan of names with French accents and German and French umlauts. They just look so pretty, elegant, chic and exotic. Below are some of my favourites.

Séverine – This beautiful and feminine name has long been popular in France, though it would seem unusual and rare for a British or American baby. It was the name of the last Bond girl. Last year, it was off the US popularity charts, though in France it ranked at #74 in 2000.

Athénaïs – This spunky and exotic name has olayed its part in history. Françoise-Athénaïs, marquise de Montesan was the mistress of Louis XIV of France, and in modern times, there is a little Princess Athénaïs de Ligne de la Trémoïlle, who is the daughter of Italian actress Isabella Orsini and her royal husband, Prince Edouard de Ligne de la Trémoïlle. It is related to Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom; its meaning is largely unknown, though it is thought to mean “sharp” or “praise.” In 2010, it was Number 496 on the French popularity charts.

Élisabeth – This sophisticated French variant of Elizabeth has the meaning of “God is my oath” or “my God is abundance.” In America, it ranked at Number 609 in 2013, whilst in Austria, it comes in at 53, in its native France at 408 and in the Netherlands at 118. Élisabeth also has a royal namesake, it being the name of the Duchess of Brabant, the daughter of the new King and Queen of the Belgians.

Adélia – This pretty and delicate French variant of Adelia, which in turn is a variant of Adela, means “noble.” In America, it reached a high of Number 324 on the popularity charts in the 1880s, falling off the list in the late twenties.

Ildikó – This quirky and energetic Hungarian variant of Hilda has the meaning of “battle.” At present it has a royal namesake, Archduchess Ildikó of Austria, a member of the Hungarian branch of the defunct Austrian Imperial Family.

Félicité – This pretty and dainty French form of Felicitas has the charming meaning of “good luck, good fortune.” It is not as popular as its English counterpart Felicity, and has never been used enough to rank in the popularity charts.

Désirée – This beautiful and dreamy name is from a French word with a beautiful, if obvious, meaning of “desired” or “wished,” is associated with the mistress of Napoleon. In America, it currently is in 629th place in the popularity charts after being in the Top 100 in the 1980s.

In the end, however, even though I adore names with accents, I recognize that there are some complications with their use in English-speaking countries. Some people may think that the names are pretentious, invented, too out there or difficult to pronounce. And there might also be some situations where the accents won’t be recognized, and they will perhaps prove a little difficult for a young child who is just learning to write.

I became interested in names after looking for alternatives for Elizabeth, when I stumbled across international variations and found them fascinating. Aside from names, I’m  interested in royalty and history and am an aspiring photographer. At the moment, I’m a student, hoping to become a journalist when I finish my education. I live in the United Kingdom, but I’m dreaming of the Spanish Balearic Islands.

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