By K. M. Sheard, Nook of Names
During a month spent in France a little while back, I came across quite a few interesting names.
These are some of the zestiest:
Lilou. A modern name, popularized in France by its appearance (in the form Leeloo) in the film The Fifth Element (1997), ranking 12th. It probably began life as a pet-form of one of the many French names ending in -lie. Other variants in regular use include Liloo, Leelou and Lylou.
Océane. Another modern French name, meaning “ocean.”
Sirine. Probably from sirène, the French for “siren” — not the noisy alarm kind, but the alarming mythological monster of mesmeric voice, who lured sailors to their deaths. It also means “mermaid.” Syrine is a variant.
Axel. Scandinavian form of biblical Hebrew Absalom, “father of peace.” The dashing Swedish Count Axel von Fersen (1755-1810) was a prominent figure of the court of Louis XVI. He was a close friend of Marie Antoinette, and many think he was her lover.
Elouan. One of many Breton names which have come into vogue in France in recent years. The name of a very obscure saint, “known” (insofar as the name is recorded!) in Cornwall as Elvan and Elven, and Welsh as Elwen. The etymology is very obscure. In France it tends to be derived from the Breton luh “light,” but this isn’t convincing. In Cornish, elven does mean “spark.”
Josse. A form of the Breton Jodoc, “little lord,” which first spread out of Brittany in the Middle Ages, when it is also found in England. There, the usual form became Joyce, and as time passed became exclusively female.
Loup. French name from Latin lupus ,“wolf.”
Télesphore. French form of the Greek Telesphoros, the name in Greek mythology of a son of the healing God Asclepius. Telesphoros himself is the personification of getting better after sickness. Greek: telesphoros “bringing fulfillment,” “able to fulfill” and “bearing fruit in due season.” Little seen in France (or anywhere, for that matter) any more, but probably my favorite of the many wonderful French versions of classical names embraced at the time of the French Revolution.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.