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Rare French Boy Names

Charming French baby names for boys, far beyond old-fashioned Jean and Jacques, are just waiting to be discovered. Traditional names such as Charles and Louis are among the top French names for boys in the US today, although they also have a British feel from their connection to England’s Royal family.

Rare French boy names do not rank in the US Top 1000. French names for boys that are uncommon in the US but rank in the France Top 100 include Maël, Gabin, Clément, Marceau, Sohan, Maxence, Malo, and Basile. Stylish French names that are rare in both the US and France include Amaury, Corentin, Sylvain, and Victorien.

Also included here are French word names, such as Vrai, and familiar French surnames, including Didier and Thoreau. If you’re searching for a French name for any reason, these are some of our favorite options.
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BlaiseHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "to lisp, stammer"
  • Description:

    As modern as it sounds, Blaise is an ancient Christian martyr name. In Arthurian legend, Blaise is the name of Merlin the Magician's secretary. Its relation to the word and name Blaze gives it a fiery feel. Amanda Beard named her baby boy Blaise Ray.

LucienHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of Lucian
  • Meaning:

    "light"
  • Description:

    Sophisticated Gallic version of Lucian, Lucien may appeal to parents attracted to this meaning over that of Lucas and Luke, which have a different root, and also looking for a more unusual choice.

EtienneHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Stephen
  • Meaning:

    "garland, crown"
  • Description:

    It's the French Steve yet feels oh so much more debonair. Well-used and still a popular classic in French-speaking lands, but one of the many French names for boysunfamiliar to most English speakers, except maybe fashionistas who associate it with designer Etienne Aigner. A new way to honor Grandpa Steve?

RemiHeart

  • Origin:

    French, variation of Remy
  • Meaning:

    "oarsman"
  • Description:

    Makes the jaunty REMY a little more nicknamey and feminine.

YvesHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "yew wood"
  • Description:

    On paper, with its stylish ties to fashion legend Yves Saint-Laurent (born Henri), Yves looks great, but the pronunciation--EVE-- could lead to gender confusion. German variation Ivo might be cooler and clear up the issue.
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DarcyHeart

  • Origin:

    English from French, d'Arcy
  • Meaning:

    " from Arcy"
  • Description:

    Though Darcy is the ultimate Jane Austen hero name, it is rarely used for boys today though it's on the upswing for girls. A shame as it's a handsome, roguish kind of appellation that combines elements of French flair, aristocratic savoir faire, and a soft Irish brogue. And in terms of image, it's one of the quintessential English names for boys.

ClaudeHeart

  • Origin:

    French from Latin
  • Meaning:

    "lame; enclosure"
  • Description:

    Claude is a soft-spoken French name that conjures up the pastel colors of Monet and harmonies of Debussy. In France, it is used for girls as well, in fact in the Tracy Chevalier novel Lady and the Unicorn, the protagonist is a female Claude.

OlivierHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "olive tree"
  • Description:

    More and more frequently heard as the Gallic version of Oliver, Olivier could be seen as a tribute to the great British actor, Sir Laurence O.

PascalHeart

  • Origin:

    French; English
  • Meaning:

    "of the Passover; Easter"
  • Description:

    The French-accented Pascal was historically used for sons born at Easter, and can make an interesting choice for a boy with Gallic roots arriving around that holiday.

LaurentHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Lawrence
  • Meaning:

    "of Laurentium"
  • Description:

    A French accent makes almost everything sound better, especially when attached to a Twilight vampire. Laurent also has a high-style feel via designer Yves St-Laurent. Laurent de Brunhoff is the French author-illustrator who continued his father Jean's series of Babar books.
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ValentinHeart

  • Origin:

    French, German, Russian, Czech, Scandinavian variation of Valentine
  • Meaning:

    "strength, health"
  • Description:

    Romantic name used throughout Europe, though sure to lead to pronunciation problems here. Though it's never been too widely used in the US, it's quite popular in Switzerland, France, Austria, and Romania.

AnatoleHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "from the east, rising sun"
  • Description:

    Anatole is one of the unique boys' names with an exotic-ish feel but an uncertain provenance, with a meaning related to sunrise and thus to fire. While it's Greek in origin, it is associated more closely with France. Anatole Kuragin is a dashing, roguish prince in Tolstoy's War and Peace.

ÉtienneHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Stephen, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "garland, crown"
  • Description:

    Appealingly gentle and romantic French classic--with a lot more charm than Steve.

CorentinHeart

  • Origin:

    French, Breton
  • Meaning:

    "tempest, hurricane"
  • Description:

    Corentin is an intriguing saint's name fashionable in France but virtually unknown here-- which you may consider a big plus. St. Corentin possessed a magical fish that regenerated itself each night, feeding himself and his lucky visitors in perpetuity.

LucHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Luke
  • Meaning:

    "man from Lucania"
  • Description:

    Luc is the sexier Gallic cousin of Luke, and if you want to know the difference between their pronunciations, just watch Kevin Kline's hilarious description in the film French Kiss. Peter Gabriel and Sean Patrick Thomas picked this version for their sons--which would also make a cool middle name.
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BastienHeart

  • Origin:

    French and Spanish, diminutive of Sebastien
  • Meaning:

    "person from ancient city of Sebastia"
  • Description:

    In this form, or as Sebastian or as Bas, Bastien is a fashionable Euro name with a possible future in America.

ThoreauHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "strength of a bull"
  • Description:

    A dashing French surname name most famously borne by Henry David Thoreau, an American naturalist, writer and philosopher who influenced such notable figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. The most common modern American pronunciation is "thor-OH", with emphasis on the final syllable, although Thoreau himself pronounced it "THOR-oh".

ThierryHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Theodoric
  • Meaning:

    "ruler of the people"
  • Description:

    Thierry, which is very popular in France, would make an interesting import; it's somewhat familiar through designer Thierry Mugler and international soccer star Thierry Henry. It almost sounds like Terry, but not quite.

CroixHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "cross"
  • Description:

    Pronounced "crwa", this unusual name was chosen by Cedric the Entertainer for his son.

RainierHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "wise army"
  • Description:

    European royal name, and to Americans a place-name evoking the majestic mountain in Washington state.
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AmauryHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of Amalric
  • Meaning:

    "work power"
  • Description:

    Friendlier french form of ancient Germanic royal name Amalric or Emmerich.

ThibaultHeart

  • Origin:

    French from German
  • Meaning:

    "courageous people"
  • Description:

    Pronounced TEE-bow, this version, which is also a very common surname in France, has a lot more charm than the name it derives from — Theobald. A variant spelling is Thibaut.

MaloHeart

  • Origin:

    Breton
  • Meaning:

    "shining hostage"
  • Description:

    Malo, the name of an important sixth century Breton saint who founded St. Malo, the charming port town in Brittany -- is considered quite au courant in France right now, ranking firmly in the Top 100.

NaelHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Nathanael, French
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Nael originated as a short form of names ending in -nael, such as Nathanael and Gwenael — a Breton name that was a minor hit in 1970s France. It has come to be more popular as an independent name, and currently ranks within France’s Top 50.

DidierHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "desired, beloved"
  • Description:

    Didier is kind of a Desiree for boy--a lively, confident name that's widely used in France and has definite possibilities here. It's the name of an early French saint.
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MaelHeart

  • Origin:

    French or Breton
  • Meaning:

    "chief or prince"
  • Description:

    The name of a fifth century Breton saint, Mael is a popular boys' name in contemporary France. Usually spelled with a diaeresis or umlaut -- two dots -- over the e, the pronunciation is almost like the English word mile, if drawn out slightly to two syllables. But this is not evident to English speakers from the spelling and is undoubtedly one reason why this name's popularity has not crossed the borders of its native country.

DelanoHeart

  • Origin:

    French surname
  • Meaning:

    "from the forest of nut trees"
  • Description:

    Popular President Franklin Delano Roosevelt inspired a brief fashion for this as a first name in the 1940s; almost never heard today.

MathisHeart

  • Origin:

    French and German form of Matthias or Matthew
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Very popular in France, this name -- pronounced mat-tees, like the surname of the painter Matisse -- might make an appealing new way to say Matthew here.

SylvainHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of Sylvanus
  • Meaning:

    "wood, forest"
  • Description:

    Doesn't everything sound better with a French accent? Sylvain, the French variation of the Roman wood god's name, sounds somehow sexier and more sophisticated than Sylvan.

LaramieHeart

  • Origin:

    Wyoming place-name, French
  • Meaning:

    "canopy of leafy boughs"
  • Description:

    Swaggering western place-name with a lot of cowboy bravado and panache.
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FlorentHeart

  • Origin:

    French from Latin
  • Meaning:

    "flowering"
  • Description:

    Historically, the English name Florence was used for both sexes. Now that it's female-only, we have to look to other European languages for a male equivalent. Florent is a steady classic in France, booming there in the 1980s. Maybe it's time to import it, and show that boys can be floral too.

YannickHeart

  • Origin:

    Extension of Jann or Yann
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Known through flamboyant French tennis star/singer Yannick Noah, a name not likely to appeal to many American ears.

ClovisHeart

  • Origin:

    Teutonic, French, early form of Ludwig or Louis
  • Description:

    An aromatic, unconventional name.

AurélienHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of Latin Aurelius
  • Meaning:

    "golden"
  • Description:

    Truly original yet not strange name ripe for the plucking by the adventurous baby namer. Aurelius works too.

YanisHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    One of the relatives on the widely-branching family of John names, Yanis is in the French Top 50.
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MarceauHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Marcel
  • Meaning:

    "little warrior"
  • Description:

    Fans of mime Marcel Marceau may want to consider one or the other of his names -- though not both.

AlainHeart

  • Origin:

    French, variation of Alan
  • Description:

    Alain gives the midcentury Alan a bit of gallic dash.

BaptisteHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "baptist"
  • Description:

    Traditionally used by the ultrareligious, the French boys' name Baptiste comes from the Greek word meaning "to dip". Baptiste is one of the Top 100 Boy Names in France.

MaxenceHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of Latin Maximus
  • Meaning:

    "greatest"
  • Description:

    A cute and fresh way to get to Max, this was the name of a sixth century saint.

DiggoryHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "Lost one"
  • Description:

    This buoyant name has the same bouncy rhythm as Rafferty and Barnaby, but is virtually unused. It has plenty of literary cred, too: characters in The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native have all borne the name.
    The name is used in Cornwall, but originates from a Breton medieval poem about Sir Degare. Degare most likely comes from the French word egare - astray. .
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EmilienHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of Emil
  • Meaning:

    "friendly"
  • Description:

    Might make a worthy masculine spin on either of the uber popular Emma or Emily.

GaetanHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of the Italian Gaetano
  • Meaning:

    "of Gaeta"
  • Description:

    It's unusual, but that may be its best feature.

AubinHeart

  • Origin:

    French form of Alban
  • Meaning:

    "white, blond"
  • Description:

    More appealing than the English version, Aubin might be seen as a fresher and more decidedly masculine twist on Aubrey. This handsome discovery is now ranked at Number 311 in its native France.

DevereHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "of the fishing place"
  • Description:

    An original choice for a fisherman's child.
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GaspardHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Jasper
  • Meaning:

    "bringer of treasure"
  • Description:

    Jasper is an internationally-popular name that takes many forms, among them Casper, Gaspar, and the French version Gaspard. Virtually unknown in the US, Gaspard is one of the Top 100 Boy Names in France.

KavanHeart

  • Origin:

    Breton
  • Meaning:

    "battle"
  • Description:

    Rarely heard, and all too likely to be confused with Kevin.

GuillaumeHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of William
  • Description:

    An everyday name in France, a charismatic possibility here.
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