French Baby Names: The latest trends in French prenoms

To check out the latest trends in French baby names, we turned to a true expert, Stéphanie Rapoport, creator of the popular site meilleursprénoms.com and author of L’Officiel des Prénoms 2010.  For anyone conversant in French, the site is filled with interesting lists, charts and analysis on French baby names.

And for those whose high school French is as shaky as mine, we asked Stéphanie to give us a recap, which she’s been kind enough to do:

Baby names in France have never been shorter: exit Sébastien, Alexandre, Frédéric, Caroline, Nathalie, Angélique—the popular names of the 1980’s.  Emma, Léa, Clara now take the limelight as the most popular feminine names, while Lucas, Enzo and Nathan dominate the masculine ranking tables.

As a result, diminutives such as Lou, Tom, Théo and Alex are doing wonders.  Few analysts would have predicted such a phenomenon in a culture which used to disdain diminutives as merely “half names.

Ending sounds are also shaping to a large extent what becomes trendy and what does not.  Fashionable feminine names tend to end in the vowel ‘a’ (Emma, Sara, Léa, Clara, Lola, Éva, Louna and Lina being in the forefront).  Then there’s the explosion caused by Lilou, a new name which has led to the discovery of Louane and renewed interest in hyphenated names such as LouAnne.  For boys, names with ‘eo’ vowel juxtapositions abound, as in Léo, Théo, Mathéo, also o-endings (Hugo, Enzo) and names ending in ‘an’—Nathan, Ethan, Kylian, Evan, Esteban.

American names are still used in France, but not nearly as much as in the 1990’s.  The new wave has brought more European names than ever.  Italian names (Carla, Enzo, Matteo), Greek names (Yanis), and Spanish names (Inès, Lola) are flourishing.  Not to mention the highly fashionable Irish names (Kylian, Ryan), which have had an international success.  American parents now pick names from all over the world, but it seems unlikely to me that they will adopt real, typical names such as Océane, Manon or Malo.”

On her site, Stéphanie also offers her predictions for the Top 20 boys’ and girls’ names for 2010.  These are not based on instinct, but on a careful analysis of data provided by the French National Statistics Office from the past five years, from which she makes her projections.  They are:

GIRLS

  1. EMMA
  2. CHLOÉ
  3. SARAH
  4. LÉA
  5. CLARA
  6. INÈS
  7. JADE
  8. MANON
  9. MAËLYS
  10. LOLA
  11. CAMILLE
  12. LOUNA
  13. LILOU
  14. LUCIE
  15. LOUISE
  16. ROMANE
  17. ANAÏS
  18. LINA
  19. LOUANE
  20. LILY

BOYS

  1. LUCAS
  2. MATHIS
  3. MATHÉO
  4. ENZO
  5. NATHAN
  6. NOAH
  7. RAPHAËL
  8. LOUIS
  9. KYLIAN
  10. ETHAN
  11. HUGO
  12. THÉO
  13. YANIS
  14. GABRIEL
  15. THOMAS
  16. EVAN
  17. TOM
  18. MAXIME
  19. CLÉMENT
  20. ARTHUR

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 prenoms” was published in 2002 and she has been enriching it with new name statistics analysis every year since.  On February 18th, a new book about unusual names, “Les 4000 plus beaux prenoms rares” will be coming out in France.

And if you still want more information, check out our Parisian style report on French baby names.

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27 Responses to “French Baby Names: The latest trends in French prenoms”

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Spiderweb Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 4:51 am

Interesting! I, myself, love French names and more. Some of my favorites are:
Louis
Arthur
Clément
Lucas
Hugo
Maelys (darn word won’t make the little dots at the moment. xD)
Lucie
Sarah
Manon
Lilou
Louise
Camille
Inès

And more. All really great. Great post!

Filipa Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 7:38 am

I truly adore names, we can figure out so many cultural aspects from them! It’s funny, because the French names have been a great influence in portuguese baby names and now we look at that list and except from Manon, Lilou and Anais, they don’t sound French to me ;D

phaedra Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 10:01 am

I just discovered Solange and think it’s pretty cool.

Ellen_B Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 10:24 am

I’m really happy to have the URL for Stéphanie’s website. It’s pretty easy to figure out, even with mediocre French, as the same pattern is used to give the states for any name: the name’s rank for the 20th century, in 2006, and the year of it’s highest rank. The listings begin with a statement giving the number of French men (Français) or women (Françaises) with that name as of the beginning of 2006.

For example, for François (the name of a French friend’s 5-year-old son):

Au début de l’année 2006, 254.355 Français portaient ce prénom.

FRANCOIS est le 19e prénom le plus attribué du XXe siècle, et se positionne en 184e position pour l’année 2006. De 1900 à nos jours, son année record d’attribution est 1963, avec 5.828 naissances.

At the beginning of 2006, 254,355 French men carried the name.

Francois was the 19th most popular name of the 20th century, was #184 in 2006, and was at its highest use in 1963.

I’m glad to have French baby name stats available, along the lines of our SSA lists.

Thanks so much for this post!

Ellen_B Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 10:40 am

PS Of course there’s so much more on the MeilleursPrenoms website than statistics. MANY fascinating lists/categories of names are presented, including a category I find most appealing: Les classiques. In this section are medieval names, names of queens and kings, names from classic literature, etc., etc. All in all, this looks like a very inclusive and well-researched baby name website (even for American parents, who could use some ideas gained here to consider the English forms of these names or the French forms as is). I think I may spend hours looking at this site, French-English dictionary in hand.

This is why I LOVE the Nameberry blog: so much of interest comes up that I haven’t found anywhere else on the Internet. I’ve looked for French naming patterns before, but never came across this magnificent website.

Nephele Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 11:05 am

Ditto what Ellen_B here wrote, especially: This is why I LOVE the Nameberry blog: so much of interest comes up that I haven’t found anywhere else on the Internet.

Stéphanie Rapoport, I’ve bookmarked your wonderful website and I plan to visit it often. I absolutely adore French names. Many thanks for this intriguing blog entry!

Stéphanie Rapoport Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 11:47 am

Thank you very much ! I also find this blog extremelly welll researched, dynamic and interesting . Long life to NameBerry and MeilleursPrenoms !

Nephele Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I’ve just checked Amazon.fr and I see that you’ve got a lot of books out there, Stéphanie! I’m ordering one or two of them today.

http://tinyurl.com/y8bhlgv

Nephele Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 1:19 pm

I’ve just checked Amazon.fr and I see that you’ve got a lot of books out there, Stéphanie! I’m ordering one or two of them today.

http://tinyurl.com/y8bhlgv
Should say great post. Can’t wait to reading your next post!

Barbara Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Stephanie…
Great ” oeuvre”

Barbara Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Great post. Lots of interesting aspects.

spicedchai Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I’ve always thought Manon is a gorgeous name, but English pronunciation turns it ugly, which doesn’t make it very user-friendly here.

3princesses Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Funny to see my name, Lina, on the list. I wonder if it’s pronounced LEE-nah, which is the Italian way and how I pronounce my way… Wonderful blog by the way, Stephanie!

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February 5th, 2010 at 9:29 pm

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Ellen_B Says:

February 5th, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Americans wanting to order Stéphanie’s books may find it easier and less expensive to order through Amazon Canada:

http://www.amazon.ca/officiel-pr%C3%A9noms-L-Stephanie-Rapoport/dp/2754013350/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1265420732&sr=1-1-fkmr0

Jill Says:

February 6th, 2010 at 4:34 am

Great blog! 🙂 My favorites are Lilou, Louise, Hugo, Gabriel, and Arthur.

Take care! 🙂

Ellen_B Says:

February 6th, 2010 at 11:15 am

MeilleursPrenoms.com is an amazing babyname website — so much of interest! I’ve been looking up some names used in the US and UK to see how they fare in France. For example, Henry (#943 in France in 2006) has been traditional in Flanders, while the French Henri (#330 2006) is more widespread but not much used today. (Neither spelling has the popularity of Henry in the UK (#38 2008) or in the US (#78 2008). ) Google translator can provide a quick and pretty accurate translation for those who don’t know French or want to check on the translation of a word or two: http://translate.google.com/#fr|en| .

http://legitbabenames.wordpress.com/ Says:

February 7th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Stephanie, are absolutely adore your site, I have been following it for years on the latest updates on French baby naming trends. Keep up the good work!

how to have a baby boy Says:

February 28th, 2010 at 12:15 am

Fantastic Web site! I was wondering if I would be able site some of your pages and use a handful of points for a term paper. Please drop me an email if that would be fine. Thanks

Luigi Fulk Says:

March 29th, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Great post thx!

Rinnova Says:

May 7th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Of course, what a great site and informative posts, I will add backlink – bookmark this site? Consider, reader.

Deborah Rajan Says:

October 26th, 2010 at 11:02 pm

COMMENTS

Share Quotes : Says:

October 28th, 2010 at 6:42 am

the google translator si a nice free tool that you can get online`”.

StephenStephen Says:

November 2nd, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Interesting post 🙂

Sam Ramu Says:

March 28th, 2011 at 8:59 am

Great website! this one also is not bad: http://www.prenomsgarcon.fr

Lily Pinky Says:

March 28th, 2011 at 9:05 am

Not bad but there is only boy names, here are other with different names: http://www.prenomsfille.fr , http://www.origineprenom.fr , http://www.los-nombres.com , xn--nombresnia-19a.com

French Names: What’s chic now? – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

September 22nd, 2011 at 12:29 am

[…] blogged about modern French names a couple of times, but the uninitiated still think of French names as the now-tired Danielle and […]

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