Boy Baby Names: Can Remy Be Saved?
They have the perfect name for their next child – if they can resolve spelling and pronunciation challenges. Can it be done, or should they move on to another choice?
My husband’s family has a great name that has been passed down (to boys only so far) for many generations: Remy. I love names that aren’t too common, are familiar, pack a good historical punch (either familial or popular history), and feel nice to say.
The only holdup is that the family pronounces it Ray-mee. My husband’s family has been in the US for many generations, originally from Belgium. My mom’s side of the family is very French. To them, this pronunciation sounds like an Anglicized version of the French original (which it likely is). I’m not French enough to feel comfortable committing to the ‘r’ rolling French pronunciation.
So … is there any way we can salvage this name? I think this name could work for either sex and aside from a bit of confusion, no one in my husband’s family would be insulted by a different take on the name.
I think an obvious solution would be to use the “Rem-mee” pronunciation and maybe use the Remi spelling to signal that it is an ode to Remy but a different name. I need some convincing on this though.
Our older son has a name that has two possible pronunciations. I am constantly correcting people. If possible, it would be a bonus to find a name with a straightforward pronunciation and spelling … which might be challenging with this name!
The Name Sage replies:
Remy is a great name! All that family history combined with a stylish sound make it a logical choice for a child. And you’re right – it has potential for a son or a daughter.
But that’s not quite the case anymore.
First came 2007’s Ratatouille, featuring a talented chef who just happened to be a cartoon rat. Since then, plenty of fictional characters have answered to the name on television and in movies. There’s X-Men character Remy LeBeau, a.k.a. Gambit, who appeared in a 2009 film. Add in characters from House of Cards, The New Girl, Devious Maids, and Reign, and this name is slowly becoming mainstream.
In fact, Remy debuted in the US Top 1000 back in 2009. It currently stands at Number 468 for boys, and Number 717 for girls. Remi ranks Number 295 for girls. Surname name Remington is also on the rise, with many of those children potentially using Remy/Remi for short.
This could be good news for you.
First, it means that more people will recognize the name. It also means that there’s general agreement on the pronunciation: Rem-mee. Would your families pronounce it differently? Maybe. But it sounds like your concern is with the wider world – teachers and classmates, neighbors, other kids on the playground. As long as you don’t mind the Americanized pronunciation, I think you’re in the clear.
Next, let’s talk about I versus Y. Very rarely does changing spelling result in a changed pronunciation. We keep trying, of course – hence, Alivia and Madelyn. But in this case, Remi seems to signal something different. Like Jordyn or Charleigh, Remi looks like an attempt to transform a masculine name into a feminine one. Nearly 1,100 girls were named Remi last year, versus fewer than 200 boys. The –y spelling, on the other hand, leans masculine.
This raises another question: is Remy still wearable for a son? I’d say yes, with enthusiasm. First, the numbers still give this one to the boys. And remember that X-Men character? In 2019, we’re expecting a big screen version of Gambit, featuring Channing Tatum as Remy LeBeau.
My suggestion: use Remy with enthusiasm, and confidence that spelling and pronunciation challenges will be minimal. (Though you may have to say Remy-with-a-y, or explain that it’s not short for Remington, from time to time.)
The downside, of course, is that your Remy won’t be the only one. While it’s not Noah or Jackson, it is increasing in use. But it seems like that works to your advantage here, allowing you to use a beloved family name without the associated challenges of a truly unfamiliar choice.
Readers, how do you pronounce Remy? And do you like this name better for a boy or a girl?
Also, we have an update on an earlier post from August. So glad they used their favorite name!
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on January 17th, 2018 at 12:27 am
I don’t think pronunciation should be a problem. Nearly everyone will say it correctly. It’s a great name!
on January 17th, 2018 at 1:08 am
I actually know someone who just named their baby boy Remi. Most people I know use the francophone pronunciation, but I’m in Canada and the name is not uncommon in certain pockets of the country.
on January 17th, 2018 at 5:48 am
I’ve always loved Remy! I agree that -i gives it a feminine look.
on January 17th, 2018 at 6:40 am
Remy is perfect!!! (Though if I’m being honest I much prefer it for a boy.) Keep the spelling that the family uses. 99% of people you encounter will pronounce it the way you like. When some people do the French pronunciation you can just say oh that’s how my in law’s pronounce it too! We actually prefer rem-me. Easy fix. I don’t think it’ll be confused often. I also don’t think he or she will encounter tons of peers with the same name. A couple throughout their life, sure. But though it’s more known than it used to be, I still think it’s relatively uncommon. Good luck.
on January 17th, 2018 at 7:45 am
My son-in-law is named Raimy, pronounced your preferred way, and I love it!If you explain it’s a French pronunciation, people won’t think it’s weird.
on January 17th, 2018 at 9:01 am
My name is Alivia! And yes, it does have a different pronunciation. It is “AH-Livia” NOT “O-Livia”
I also have a younger sister named Charleigh!
on January 17th, 2018 at 9:51 am
My cousin has a daughter named Remmington but she goes by Remy. I also knew a Remy in high school.
on January 17th, 2018 at 9:56 am
Love Remy and think you should use it for either gender, esp given the family connection. I would keep the original spelling for a boy or girl. Remy is one of the rare names that I like for either gender and I think changing the spelling takes away from the family name a bit.
on January 17th, 2018 at 10:20 am
I have an eight year old (male) cousin named Remy. He’s French-Canadian but lives in an English-speaking area. In French they use the French pronunciation and in English he’s Rem-mee. I don’t think it’s a problem to have both in play…they aren’t very different in any case. It’s a great name! (Though I do prefer it on a boy).
on January 17th, 2018 at 11:31 am
I’m french (like 100% French, my whole family is french, I was born in France, etc) and the « Ray-me » pronunciation doesn’t really bother me. Ray-me is close enough to the french pronunciation.
It’s my cousin’s name and we say it Reh-me. Just keep Remy (for a boy, it’s a masculine name) :)! It’s a beautiful name!
on January 17th, 2018 at 3:16 pm
I prefer it for a girl (I’ve met two girls named Remi [both short for Remington] and one girl named Remy [full name]) but I can picture it on a boy as well. I think in the US, most people would say it like Emmy with an R. I prefer the Remy spelling for either sex.
on January 17th, 2018 at 4:21 pm
I am American and I pronounce Remy as “Rem-mee” which I would guess is the more common occurrence. I like the name, more for a boy than for a girl. I agree with the Name Sage that changing the ending to “i” feminizes it somewhat and would cause more need for clarification. Personally, for girl, I would consider Remy (as is) better for a middle name. I would guess that with the growing popularity of Remington, a little girl Remy/Remi would constantly be asked if that was her “real” name.
on January 17th, 2018 at 6:29 pm
“Still wearable for a boy” Abby? Noooo. As in, “because once a name is used for girls it has GIRL cooties and is FEMININE and feminine things on boys are BAD because (insert sexism here) but ps. MASCULINE things on girls are GOOD and COOL.”
We can make it stop, and it starts with name columnists simply not going there. Please do better.
on January 19th, 2018 at 2:06 am
To me it’s a nickname. I first heard Remy many years ago as a nn for Ramona.
I love Remington for a girl, with Remy as the nn.
If I wanted to call a boy Remy, I’d name him Raymond.
on January 19th, 2018 at 4:03 pm
Why not use your husband’s pronounciation? If only your French family will pronounce it the French way, then let them do so and I doubt most Americans will be confused.
I’m a native French speaker, married to an English speaker and our kids use the American pronounciation of their names since we live in the U.S. I use both pronunciations when talking with my kids, my family uses mostly the French version of their names and I haven’t had any issues with it. It can be done! Good luck.
on January 21st, 2018 at 5:32 am
In Holland we pronounce it
Ray-mee with a rolling r. Love the name!
on February 5th, 2018 at 10:25 pm
I named my son Remy because it is French like my name. My husband thought of it and it is a great especially for our awesome 2 year old.
on February 25th, 2018 at 4:56 pm
Remy for a boy or Remi for a girl is beautiful. So what if it’s getting popular? That only means people will know to pronounce it better! As for your family, the I in Remi will tip them off to something being different and be a perfect way to introduce a new pronunciation with them.
on February 25th, 2018 at 4:58 pm
Pronouncing it RAY-mee will also be fine, since the child will easily respond to the rolled or unrolled R.
on January 12th, 2019 at 5:10 am
Ah, I am biased. Back in 2010 I perused the top 1000 list of names released by social security administration. I was pregnant and looking for a boy name that was not common but also not so unique or uncommon people would not know how to spell or pronounce. I went straight to the bottom of the list on the boy side and worked my way up till I got to Remy. That year the name was very very low, but I loved the sound and did research. I found that in France it is considered a masculine name and not given to girls. Big plus for me. So I went ahead and named my son Remy.
Fast forward through the years and hearing more and more parents name their daughters Remy or Remi (doesn’t matter to me it’s still the same pronunciation here in America) makes me sad because this was something I was trying to actively avoid. I didn’t want to give him a unisex name. I’m not sure why parents of daughters like to take masculine names but it’s not the first nor the last I’m sure, just ask men named Cary, Kelly and Leslie. And it’s getting worse as evidenced by this article > https://nameberry.com/list/79/Boy-Names-for-Girls on Nameberry called “boy names for girls”. If the aim is to be gender fluid in our modern era then articles like this should go the other way around as well, but I have never met any boys named Sophia, Olivia and Isabella.
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