French Boys’ Names: From the Top 100 in France

April 27, 2017 namenculture

By Meredith Testa, namenculture

French names are perennially popular in the US, but there is still a host of undiscovered gems on the French popularity list. So today, the boys follow the girls we looked at the other day: 10 of the best possibilities for an unusual name taken from the popular names of France—all in the Top 100, including some imported from other cultures.

MathisThis name makes for an unusual spin on the classic Matthew. The French pronunciation is ma-TEES, but it’s also a surname with multiple pronunciations, as in singer Johnny. The most common for the surname is math-iss, exactly as it’s spelled. Mathis is now way up in the French Top 10.

Kylian– It’s the French variant of the Irish name Killian. Irish-inspired names have long been common in the US, and this one, with its three-syllable structure and -n ending, fits in with a lot of other popular trends.

Rayan Arabic for “brilliant,” Rayan is a trendy sounding name with a great meaning. Incidentally, it’s also a feminine Sanskrit name and a title in India. Rayan is extremely popular among North African families in France.

Nael- Nael is reminiscent of several names: Gael (as in Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal), Noel, Nile, and Neil. The origin is murky, but it could be related to any of those names- or some amalgamation of several of them.

Ilyes– Ilyes and alternate spelling Ilyas are the Arabic forms of Top 10 name Elijah. It’s a great option if Elias isn’t exotic enough.

CorentinIt sounds like some sort of variant on Cornelius, but Corentin actually derives from a Breton word for “tempest.” And like many fascinating names from history, Corentin is a saint’s name: its namesake possessed a magical fish that regenerated every night.

KenzoKenzo is an easily pronounceable and spellable common Japanese name with an upbeat and masculine -o ending: I’m quite surprised that it’s yet to catch on in the US. Notable namesakes include single-named fashion designer Kenzo (last name Takada), architect Kenzo Tange and painter Kenzo Okada. Kimora Lee Simmons and Djimon Hounsou used it for their son, honoring the designer.

Ilan– This gentle-sounding Hebrew name, pronounced EE-lahn, used as both a surname and a given name, means “tree.” It currently ranks at #79 in France and is also common in Israel. Variations include Alon, Elon and Ilon.

Kais- This fascinating name appears to have an Arabic origin and is a form of the ancient Roman Gaius, as in Gaius Julius Caesar; it is commonly heard in Tunisia as well as in France. Qais is a spelling variant.

MariusMarius has ancient roots; it comes from the name of the Roman god Mars and its variants (including Mario) have been in use throughout Europe for millennia. But somehow, it’s remained rare in English-speaking countries- though variants of it are popular in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, and more. But with the current enthusiasm for ancient Roman names, its moment may be coming. Characters named Marius have appeared in Les Miserables, The Vampire Chronicles, and now in the Amazon series Sneaky Pete.


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