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.
Maëlys. A feminine form of the Breton name Maël, “prince” (a popular boy’s name in France too). Other forms include Maëlle, Mailys, Maelis and Maelyss.
Maïwenn. A modern Breton-style name, combining the BretonMari (Mary) with the -wenn meaning “white” and “pure” — cognate of the Welsh (g)wen.
Océane. Another modern French name, meaning “ocean.”
Oriane. French form of Oriana, coined by Renaissance poets from the Latin orior, “to rise.”
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.
Solenn. Further modern French name of uncertain origin. It may well have arisen simply as a variant of Solange, which is usually derived from sollemnis, “annual,” “established,” and “solemn.”
Taïs. French form of Thais, an Ancient Greek name meaning “bandage.”
Axel. Scandinavian form of biblical Hebrew Absalom, “father of peace.” The dashing Swedish CountAxel von Fersen (1755-1810) was a prominent figure of the court of Louis XVI. He was a close friend of MarieAntoinette, 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 Bretonluh “light,” but this isn’t convincing. In Cornish, elven does mean “spark.”
Enzo. Italian short form of names ending in –enzo, such as Lorenzo (Lawrence). Hugely popular in France at the moment, where it was recently ranked 3rd.
Farès. French form of an Arabic name (Faaris) meaning “horseman,” “knight.” Numerous names of Arabic origin are currently popular in France, and not just among the Islamic community.
Josse. A form of the BretonJodoc, “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.
Kylian. The Irish Cillian. For some reason a big favorite in France, with numerous spellings found in the top 500, including Killian, Kyllian, Kilian, Celian, Kelyan, Kilyan and Kelian.
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.
Toussaint. Literal meaning in French: “all-saint.” Used since at least the eighteenth century.