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Annette & Paulette: The ‘ette’ girls

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

Juliette

Laurette

Mariette

Nanette

Nicolette

Paulette

Suzette

Yvette

NEWER-ETTES:

Alette

Aliette

Alouette

Ambrette

Arlette

Blanchette

Corette

Cosette

Doucette

Fanchette

Fleurette

Florette

Ginette

Henriette

Jacquette

Josette

Junette

Lisette

Lucette

Lunette

Musette

Ninette

Odette

Olivette

Pierrette

Sylvette

Toinette

Villette

Violette

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33 Responses to “Annette & Paulette: The ‘ette’ girls”

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Chelsea (cka) Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 12:33 am

Cosette has been one of my favorite girl and French names for a long time. Other ones on the list that I like are Lisette, Colette and Bernadette.

Other Carolyn Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 1:10 am

I quite like Jeanette and Yvette, though they do seem a little old for a baby girl — I’d certainly use them for a character. Juliette is nice but I prefer Juliet. I do love Cosette and Henriette, though, and they don’t have such a grandma vibe to me, probably because the weren’t so widely used.

VelvetCyberpunk Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 2:27 am

I have never liked ette names, save for two, Lisette, and Josette. I don’t know why but the others all seem clunky and awkward to me, of course I’m probably just not hip enough. ;0)

Lola Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 8:17 am

Aww, I like Annette! I also like Henriette & Violette. But really, the -ette ending doesn’t do much for me. I adore -ine enders though. (Josephine, Pauline, Caroline etc.)

Lola Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 9:33 am

Forgot Josette! Josie gets called Josette fairly often. Ah, the dangers of a “Dark Shadows” family! 😀

Josette sounds cute, but is definitely nicknamey to my ears, I would never use Josette in full on a girl.

Teresa Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 9:48 am

Bernadette is my favorite female name! I think it manages to sound fresh. There’s something very charming and distinctive about the “ette” names… maybe because they haven’t quite caught on again?

Jenny Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 9:49 am

Both ‘-ette’ and ‘-ita’ names have always sounded a little nicknamey to me. I still like a few of them, but I’m much more likely to have an Anne and just call her Annette. I’m on the fence about the feminizations. Sure, Henriette is adorable, but who wants to find out your name means ‘little Henry’?

Johanna Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 9:50 am

The only one I like is Alouette because it is unexpected.

corsue Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 10:27 am

On the Renesmee game, I created Theodette from the names given. I have quite liked it ever since.

KAshley Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 10:56 am

On the older “ette” side, but Antoinette was my grandma’s name & I love it! If I don’t use it as a first name with nn Annie, it will most certainly be my first daughters mn.

Amanda Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I’m very drawn to the “ette” names, even more so because it seems so many others are not so fond of them. 🙂 I like Colette, Cosette, Lunette, Henritette, Lulette, Bernadette, Antoinette etc.
My great Grandmother’s middle name was Antonetta which I love! 🙂

n Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 12:32 pm

as a nanette myself…i have to say i only like a few ette endings. i grew to like my own and i love cosette and colette. the rest i don’t care for at all.

Lisa Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 12:35 pm

OK, lunette is the singular of glasses (like eye glasses), and Villette is a diminutive of town (and without a French pronunciation of those LLs, i.e., vee-ETT, it sounds like it rhymes with Gillette) those seem a strange choice. That being said, we did have Colette and Juliet on our short list, and Pierrette in contention for the middle.

Jessica Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 12:56 pm

My Auntie is Teann Suzette and I have loved it as a middle since I can remember. -ette’s are underrated in my opinion.

JLyn Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I was surprised that my middle, Lynette, didn’t make the oldies list. I love Juliette and most of the newer ones.

isabel Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I like Georgette!

Zinkyowl Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I like these, but I tink I like “etta” better. seems morre like a full name: Henrietta, Marietta, ect. But still a cute list!

Boston Girl Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I have a good friend named Yvette, but since we are both in our 40s, I guess that qualifies her as an “old-ette”. Too bad really; I just have a problem with labeling some names “cool” and other names “uncool”. Even if everyone else thinks a name is dated, if I liked it enough, I’d still use it. It would be an advantage in that the child probably wouldn’t have to worry about being confused with classmates bearing today’s trendy names! 🙂

Out of the lot, the only one I really care for is Suzette, but generally most of the “-ette” names seem a bit contrived, especially the “newer-ettes”. To me, there seems to be something just a bit cutesy about an “-ette” name, with only a bare few exceptions like Annette and Jeanette.

@Jenny: I had a high-school classmate who daydreamed about having identical twins and naming them Annette and Anita. Double nicknamey! 🙂 I remember telling her that they are French and Spanish, respectively, for the same name. All that got me was a blank stare. Oh well.

Leila Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I seem to find something rather charming about Villette, thanks to the Charlotte Bronte novel. Also, I rather like Minette.

Andrea Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I went to school with an Annette.

It does seem to have been in style in the 1950s. My dad has a couple of first cousins named Carlette (her father was Carl) and Georgette. There was French-Canadian blood in the family, though, so I’m guessing that played into it. I don’t think they sound all that terrible. I’d find any or all of the above cute on a kid. Minette was what King Charles I called his little sister Henrietta Anne.

stephanie_elizabeth Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I adore Colette and Juliette, as well as Violette (although I prefer the Juliet and Violet spellings). My mom’s name is Paulet, spelled thusly, named after her dad. My grandma spelled it that way because that is how my grandfather spelled it in the letter he wrote. Apparently, neither of my grandparents were aware of the correct spelling!

Sarah A Says:

April 1st, 2011 at 12:41 am

I went to school with an Annette (I’m 27) who was named for her grandmother and she didn’t really like her name because, as she said, ‘it’s an old lady name’ but she liked that she stood out among all the Kristens, Ashleys, and Sarahs.

The actress Melissa McCarthy from the CBS show Mike & Molly has a little girl named Georgette (yes, I read People Magazine!). And Nicky on Big Love is really Nicolette.

I think a lot of the -ette names sound better as -etta, like Henrietta over Henriette. Even though some of them sound really dated, I think many of these names sound almost better than their originals, like Nicolette over Nicole. And doesn’t Michaelette sound so much fresher than Michaela/Mikayla? 🙂

Sara A. Says:

April 1st, 2011 at 12:19 pm

For a moment my eyes combined Cosette and Corette in to “Corsette” and I almost choked on my sandwich!

Claire Says:

April 1st, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Nicolette has been on my list for a real long time, along with Yvette, Josette, Lisette and Colette (as a nn for Nicolette). I have a much much older cousin (I believe in her late 70’s) whose name is Liliette, which I think is beautiful. She hates it and goes by the name Fern. In recent years, Annette and Jeannette are starting to sound good to me, along with Yvonne and Jeannine. Maybe it’s been so long since I’ve met one that they are starting to sound fresh again!

Charlotte Vera Says:

April 6th, 2011 at 3:58 am

My due date is a little over a week away and we’re still struggling over middle name options should this baby be a girl (we don’t know the gender). The other night my husband suggested Ouellette, his mother’s maiden. I think it’s pretty, but I’m turned off by the fact that we don’t know what it means. Additionally, our firstborn, Roseanna, is already named after her paternal grandmother, so it might seem a little unfair to my family if we use grandma’s maiden name on this one!

texsun Says:

April 28th, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Part of the problem with the -ette names is that they were more popular in an era when French culture was equated indisputably with sophistication and culture. That is no longer the case. Nowadays, even names like Stephanie and Marie sound kind of dated and downmarket.

Angela Says:

May 6th, 2011 at 4:11 am

I have a cousin Annette and an aunty Lynnette plus Jeannette and all spellings of the name is a big one in our family. Worked with an Odette, went to school with a Bernadette but these names are pretty rare these days.

I wanted to find one not on your list and only got as far as Antonia which had variants Antonette and Taunette. On the same page of the same book they had Arette listed under Aretha.

Rhiannon Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 11:51 pm

I LOVE ETTE names. Love them.
I really like Cosette, Minette, Colette, Nicolette, Annette – I think they are gorgeous.
I don’t get into naming trends.
I don’t like any of the ‘trendy’ names anyway.

rainie Says:

June 16th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

BRIDGETTE… which is my favorite name ever an also my daughters name <3

Laurent Says:

July 30th, 2011 at 12:28 am

Oh my! Names with “ette” end sound so old and red neck for french people. Worst are Ginette, Odette, Bernadette, Josette, Paulette, Yvette.

Well It doesn’t sound the same in each languages.
Doesn’t sounds good in french but apparently sounds good in english. Same for my name laurent which is nice in french, but lawrence in english sounds so old

About “Musette” it is not a human name at all.
Infact “musette” is an old music style plays in “les guingettes” a sort of old dance floor for old ppl. It plays very old popular musique with accordéon. It’s folklore

Very Importe Note: Be carefull with the “ette”
Plz – Never ever think about calling your Baby “Mouisette”.
Even if it sounds nice for you. But if you decided to never go in France or to talk with a french speaker or if you doesn’t care to be ridiculous…
BEcause it means sh!t in french. lol

BTW: “Lunette” means glasses in french – and “Alouette” is a nice little bird
About this we have a nice song: alouette gentille alouette – alouette quand te plumerais je ?” http://www.encyclopedie-gratuite.fr/Definition/loisirs/alouette.php

Somes are still in use and still sounds nice: Linette, Colette, Nanette.

Kiss from Paris 🙂

nativoyoung Says:

September 16th, 2012 at 11:51 pm

What about Harriet? My daughter’s beautiful name.

HerMajesty Says:

November 14th, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I love ette names! I know a girl named Brockette, and anotherone named Joette. And my grannys name us Violette.

abbijane Says:

October 9th, 2013 at 12:22 am

Georgette and Colette have been in my favorites for a while

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