French Baby Names Update

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, LouAnn(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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14 Responses to “French Baby Names Update”

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Emmy Jo Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 2:57 am

How strange! In general, I’m not a huge fan of French names, but my tastes seem surprisingly in line with this list. Our son’s nickname (Jules for Julius) and his middle name (Arthur) are both on the list, as is our #1 choice should we have a girl someday (Clara).

I’m surprised to see Jade on the list (feels too American) and also Inez (feels too old to be a stylish chioce).

BasicSand Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 5:46 am

I’m really surprised that Lucas is number one. I expected something more distinctly French like Lucien.

With the girls’ list I feel the same: why not more French? Shouldn’t it be more likely to be the longer form of Emmanuelle?

French Baby Names Update « My Cool Baby Names Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 7:32 am

[…] Read more… […]

Nicole Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 9:12 am

Interesting list. I was also expecting a list of more French-y names, but many of these names seemed to be borrowed from other cultures (Enzo, Inez, Jade).

mayberry Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 11:14 am

I’m struggling to imagine how a French speaker would pronounce “Jade.” Anyone know?

Rita Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

mayberry: something like [zhahd].

I agree with previous comments. It seems to me that many people favour Old Testament names which may sound classic to English-speaking-people (Noah, Nathan, Ethan) but historically have never been used in Catholic countries. L- names seem hugely popular for girls, too!

Inès [ee-NESS] has nothing to do with the basterdised/dated Inez [eye-ness] used in America. It’s actually a very stylish popular name for young girls in my country. On a French girl I’d prefer Agnès, though.

Elisabeth@YCCII Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 1:37 pm

France is also now largely atheist (44% according to a study posted on Wikipedia) and has a sizable Muslim population. It would be interesting to see a religious breakdown of how people name their children there.

Bella Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

How interesting, I am quite floored to say the least~!

Julia Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Very interesting list! Especially Lou-Ann! Killian also stands out – I can see why names like Enzo and Inez would catch on since they’re more continental, but I wonder how Killian caught on.

@Rita – Inez is a Portuguese/Spanish variant of Ines, also pronounced ee-NESS, at least wherever I have heard it (I live in the US).

Julia Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

It’s also interesting to compare this list to that of Quebec’s
http://nameberry.com/blog/2010/04/13/most-popular-names-quebec-2009/

That list has a lot of more “traditional” names like Guillaume, Etinenne and Philippe, even though Quebec presumably has a higher proportion of native English speakers. The Quebec list does list “Jade” as a top 10 girls name, though

Nicole Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Jade would be pronounced, I think, JAH-d. The j sound is soft.

Julia Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 5:54 pm

@ Julia: In Portuguese it’s Inês and in Spanish it’s Inés. Inez is throughly English 😉

Savannah Says:

November 8th, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I love almost all these names!! Who knew I have a thing for French names. 🙂 Love Clara, Jade, Louise, Luna… Nice list.

Gingersnap Says:

November 9th, 2010 at 7:30 pm

I went to school with a girl named Manon in the 1960s. She wasn’t French; she was Irish. But she knew that there was a French opera called Manon, which there is.

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