How popular is the baby name Antoine in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Antoine.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Antoine


Posts that Mention the Name Antoine

Names in the News: Alie, Italo, Khongolose

Some recent and not-so-recent baby names from the news…

Alie: A baby girl born in New York in December of 2018 was named Alie in honor of the Long Island Expressway (called the “L-I-E”), where she was born in a minivan on the side of the road. (Queens Daily Eagle)

Bale: A baby boy born in Wales in November of 2016 was named Bale in honor of Welsh soccer player Gareth Bale. Another boy born in Wales a month later was also named Bale for the same reason. (Wales Online; Wales Online)

Griezmann Mbappe: A baby boy born in France in November of 2018 was named Griezmann Mbappe in honor of French soccer players Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe. (Deadspin)

Italo: The first baby born in Rome in 2019 was named Italo, in honor of Italy. (His parents are Sri Lankan.) (Daily Mirror)

James Daniel: A baby boy born in Essex, England, in December of 2018 was named James Daniel after police officers James Ireland and Dan Bellingham, who’d helped the parents reach the hospital in time for the birth. (ITV)

Kongolose: A baby boy born in South Africa on January 8, 2018 (the 107th anniversary of the founding of the African National Congress political party) was named Siko Luka Khongolose — the second middle name being a “colloquial Zulu term for the African National Congress.” (TimesLIVE)

Liberty: A baby girl born in Texas in October of 2018 was named Liberty in honor of Texas Congressman Ron Paul. (The Gazette)

Mickey: A baby girl born in California in December of 2018 was named Zoele Mickey — middle name in honor of paramedic Mickey Huber, who’d helped her mother escape a wildfire and reach a medical center to give birth. (KRCR)

Mikkael: A baby boy born in Ohio in November of 2018 was named Henry Mikkael — middle name in honor of Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, who’d helped his mother overcome leukemia in 2012. (Fox)

Sierra: A baby girl born in Tennessee in November of 2018 was named Isabella Sierra-Marie — middle name in honor of Sierra Reprogal, the police officer who’d helped deliver her in a car on the side of the road. (Yahoo! News)

Skrot (rejected): A baby boy born in Sweden in September of 2018 was almost named Bjørn Skrot, but the Swedish government rejected the middle name (which means “scrap”) because it might “cause discomfort for the bearer.” (The Local)

Snow: The first baby born in Baltimore in 2019 was named Snow Violet Taylor. (WBAL)

Some Names from New Orleans

beignet, food, new orleans
Beignets at Café Beignet

My husband and I hung out in New Orleans for about 48 hours in mid-December. It rained almost the entire time, but we still managed to get out and spot a few interesting names!

First, an unexpected food name: Beignet (pron. ben-YAY), which literally means “bump” in French. In terms of food, it’s fried dough with sugar on top. In terms of names, though, it’s been bestowed as a middle at least three times, according to the records I’ve seen. These human Beignets were all girls born in the ’80s and ’90s in Texas and Oklahoma.

We briefly visited the New Orleans Jazz and Jean Lafitte National Historical Parks, where we learned about people like…

  • Fate Marable, African American jazz pianist/bandleader (“Fate” could be short for Lafayette)
  • Cloaner Smith, African American quilter
  • Mrs. Louisianaise Daigle, Cajun healer

We also learned about various locations, including Atchafalaya.

Speaking of locations…while wandering around the city, we spotted ghost signs for Antoine’s Restaurant (which I mentioned in the Caresse post) and Uneeda Biscuits (I discovered the name “Uneeda” on a trip to Kansas City):

uneeda, new orleans, baby name

Aboard the Steamboat Natchez we noticed that the two boilers are named Thelma and Louise.

And finally, how about the name “New Orleans” itself? In the records I found dozens, including New Orleans Taylor, a 13-year-old girl living with her family in Louisiana at the time of the 1930 U.S. Census:

new orleans taylor, 1930, census

[Want more travel names? See my posts on Alaska, the Czech Republic, the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Yellowstone.]

What Kicked Off the Name “Caresse”?

dinner at antoines, book, 1940s, caresse, baby nameThe unusual baby name Caresse saw its highest usage in the late ’80s and early ’90s (no doubt thanks to commercials for Caress soap, which was launched by Lever in 1985). But it debuted in the U.S. data way back in the 1940s:

  • 1951: unlisted
  • 1950: 5 baby girls named Caresse
  • 1949: 7 baby girls named Caresse [debut]
  • 1948: unlisted
  • 1947: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The 1949 novel Dinner at Antoine’s by Frances Parkinson Keyes, which became one of the bestselling books in the United States that year. The story was also serialized in several newspapers.

It was murder mystery set in New Orleans; the “Antoine’s” of the title refers to the famous Antoine’s Restaurant. One of the characters, Caresse Lalande, was a radio star (her show was called Fashions of Yesteryear). She was also carrying on an affair with her sister’s husband, Léonce. When the sister (named Odile) ended up murdered, both Caresse and Léonce (and many other people in their circle) became suspects.

The name got even more exposure that year thanks to the Literary Guild Book Club, which ran ads that featured not just Dinner at Antoine’s, but Caresse specifically:

caresse in literary guild advertisement

The French word Caresse (and also the English word Cherish) can be traced back to the Latin word carus, meaning “dear, costly, beloved.”

What do you think of the baby names Caresse and Caress? Would you use them?

Sources: Publishers Weekly list of bestselling novels in the United States in the 1940s – Wikipedia, Caress – Online Etymology Dictionary
Image: from the October 1949 issue of Radio Mirror

217 Saintly Surnames – Bosco, Neri, Sheen, Talbot…

saintly-surnames

Looking for a surname-inspired baby name with a connection to Catholicism?

Here are more than 200 options, most of which come from Catholic Englishmen martyred during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Because the goal was to include as many realistic baby names as possible, I interpreted “surname” and “saint” liberally in some cases. Xavier is not technically a surname, for instance, and many of the folks below are not yet full-fledged saints.

The hyperlinked names will take you to popularity graphs.

  1. Abel, for Bl. Thomas Abel (d. 1540) of England.
  2. Abbot, for Bl. Henry Abbot (d. 1597) of England.
  3. Albert, for Bl. Federico Albert (d. 1876) of Italy.
  4. Almond, for St. John Almond (d. 1612) of England.
  5. Amias, for Bl. John Amias (d. 1589) of England.
  6. Ancina, for Bl. John Juvenal Ancina (d. 1604) of Italy.
  7. Andleby, for Bl. William Andleby (d. 1597) of England.
  8. Aquinas, for St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) of Italy.
  9. Arrowsmith, for St. Edmund Arrowsmith (d. 1628) of England.
  10. Ashley, for Bl. Ralph Ashley (d. 1606) of England.
  11. Ashton, for Ven. Roger Ashton (d. 1592) of England.
  12. Atkinson, for Bl. Thomas Atkinson (d. 1616) of England.
  13. Aufield, for Bl. Thomas Aufield (d. 1585) of England.
  14. Barlow, for St. Ambrose Barlow (d. 1641) of England.
  15. Baylon, for St. Paschal Baylon (d. 1592) of Spain.
  16. Becket, from St. Thomas Becket (d. 1170) of England.
  17. Beesley, for Bl. George Beesley (d. 1591) of England.
  18. Belson, for Bl. Thomas Belson (d. 1589) of England.
  19. Bertie, for Servant of God Andrew Bertie (d. 2008) of England/Malta.
  20. Bertrand, for St. Louis Bertrand (d. 1581) of Spain/South America.
  21. Bessette, for St. André Bessette (d. 1937) of Canada.
  22. Bonzel, for Bl. Maria Theresia Bonzel (d. 1905) of Germany.
  23. Bosco, for St. John Bosco (d. 1888) of Italy.
  24. Bosgrave, for Bl. Thomas Bosgrave (d. 1594) of England.
  25. Bowes, for Bl. Marmaduke Bowes (d. 1585) of England.
  26. Briant, for St. Alexander Briant (d. 1581) of England.
  27. Britton, for Bl. John Britton (d. 1598) of England.
  28. Buxton, for Bl. Christopher Buxton (d. 1588) of England.
  29. Cabrini, for St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (d. 1917) of Italy/U.S.
  30. Campion, for St. Edmund Campion (d. 1581) of England.
  31. Carey, for Bl. John Carey (d. 1594) of England.
  32. Carter, for Bl. William Carter (b. 1584) of England.
  33. Casey, for Ven. Solanus Casey (d. 1957) of the U.S. (His religious name “Solanus” comes from St. Francis Solanus, below.)
  34. Cassant, for Bl. Pierre-Joseph Cassant (d. 1903) of France.
  35. Catherick, for Bl. Edmund Catherick (d. 1642) of England.
  36. Chanel, for St. Peter Chanel (d. 1841) of France.
  37. Claver, for St. Peter Claver (d. 1654) of Spain.
  38. Claxton, for Bl. James Claxton (d. 1588) of England.
  39. Collins, for Bl. Dominic Collins (d. 1602) of Ireland.
  40. Cope, for St. Marianne Cope (d. 1918) of Germany/U.S.
  41. Corbie, for Ven. Ralph Corbie (d. 1644) of Ireland.
  42. Cornelius, for Bl. John Cornelius (d. 1594) of England.
  43. Dalby, for Bl. Robert Dalby (d. 1589) of England.
  44. Daniel, for St. Antoine Daniel (d. 1648) of France/Canada.
  45. David, for Bl. Vicente Vilar David (1937) of Spain or Bl. Toros Oghlou David (d. 1895) of Armenia
  46. Davy, for Bl. John Davy (d. 1537) of England or Bl. Charlotte Davy (d. 1794) of France.
  47. Dean, for Bl. William Dean (d. 1588) of England.
  48. Dorie, for Bl. Pierre Henri Dorie (d. 1866) of France.
  49. Douglas, for Bl. George Douglas (d. 1587) of Scotland.
  50. Drexel, for St. Katharine Drexel (d. 1955) of the U.S.
  51. Drury, for Bl. Robert Drury (d. 1607) of England.
  52. Duff, for Servant of God Frank Duff (d. 1980) of Ireland.
  53. Duke, for Bl. Edmund Duke (d. 1590) of England.
  54. Durando, for Bl. Marco Antonio Durando (d. 1880) of Italy.
  55. Dutton, for Servant of God Joseph Dutton (d. 1931) of the U.S.
  56. Ebner, for Bl. Margareta Ebner (d. 1351) of Germany.
  57. Emmerich, for Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich (d. 1824) of Germany.
  58. Errico, for St. Gaetano Errico (d. 1860) of Italy.
  59. Errington, for Bl. George Errington (d. 1596) of England.
  60. Evans, for St. Philip Evans (d. 1679) of Wales.
  61. Faber, for St. Peter Faber (d. 1546) of France.
  62. Falzon, for Bl. Nazju Falzon (d. 1865) of Malta.
  63. Farina, for St. Giovanni Antonio Farina (d. 1888) of Italy.
  64. Fasani, for St. Francis Anthony Fasani (d. 1742) of Italy.
  65. Felton, for Bl. John Felton (d. 1570) in England.
  66. Fenn, for Bl. James Fenn (d. 1584) in England.
  67. Fenwick, for Bl. John Fenwick (d. 1679) of England.
  68. Ferrari, for Bl. Andrea Carlo Ferrari (d. 1921) of Italy.
  69. Ferrer, for St. Vincent Ferrer (d. 1419) of Spain.
  70. Filby, for Bl. William Filby (d. 1582) of England.
  71. Frassati, for Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati (d. 1925) of Italy.
  72. Fulthrop, for Bl. Edward Fulthrop (d. 1597) of England.
  73. Finch, for Bl. John Finch (d. 1584) of England.
  74. Fisher, for Bl. John Fisher (d. 1535) of England.
  75. Foley, for Servant of God Theodore Foley (d. 1974) of the U.S.
  76. Fontaine, for Bl. Marie-Madeleine Fontaine (d. 1794) of France.
  77. Forest, for Bl. John Forest (d. 1538) of England.
  78. Garnet, for St. Thomas Garnet (d. 1608) of England.
  79. Gavan, for Bl. John Gavan (d. 1679) of England.
  80. Gennings, for St. Edmund Gennings (d. 1591) of England.
  81. Gerard, for Bl. Jeanne Gerard (d. 1794) of France or Bl. Joseph Gérard, (d. 1914) of France/South Africa.
  82. Gerosa, for St. Vincentia Gerosa (d. 1847) of Italy.
  83. Gervase, for Bl. George Gervase (d. 1608) of England.
  84. Gibson, for Bl. William Gibson (d. 1596) of England.
  85. Goretti, for St. Maria Goretti (d. 1902) of Italy.
  86. Grove, for Bl. John Grove (d. 1679) of England.
  87. Gwyn, for St. Richard Gwyn (d. 1584) of Wales.
  88. Harrington, for Bl. William Harrington (d. 1594) of England.
  89. Heath, for Bl. Henry Heath (d. 1643) of England.
  90. Hewitt, for Bl. John Hewitt (d. 1588) of England.
  91. Higgins, for Bl. Peter Higgins (d. 1642) of Irish.
  92. Houghton, for St. John Houghton (d. 1535) of England.
  93. Howard, for St. Philip Howard (d. 1595) of England or for his grandson, Bl. William Howard (d. 1680) of England.
  94. Humphrey, for St. Lawrence Humphrey (d. 1590) of England.
  95. Hunt, for Bl. Thurston Hunt (d. 1601) of England.
  96. Ingleby, for Bl. Francis Ingleby (d. 1586) of England.
  97. Ingram, for Ven. John Ingram (d. 1594) of England.
  98. Janssen, for St. Arnold Janssen (d. 1909) of Germany.
  99. Kemble, for St. John Kemble (d. 1679) of England.
  100. Kern, for Bl. Jakob Kern (d. 1924) of Austria.
  101. Kirby, for St. Luke Kirby (d. 1582) of England.
  102. Kolbe, for St. Maximilian Kolbe (d. 1941) of Poland.
  103. Konrad, for Bl. Nicholas Konrad (d. 1941) of Ukraine.
  104. Lakota, for Bl. Gregor Lakota (d. 1950) of Ukraine.
  105. Langley, for Bl. Richard Langley (d. 1586) of England.
  106. Lanteri, for Ven. Bruno Lanteri (d. 1830) of Italy.
  107. Larke, for Bl. John Larke (d. 1544) of England.
  108. Laval, for Bl. Jacques-Désiré Laval (d. 1864) of France/Mauritius.
  109. Lawrence, for St. Robert Lawrence (d. 1535) of England.
  110. Leigh, for Bl. Richard Leigh (d. 1588) of England.
  111. Lewis, for St. David Lewis (d. 1679) of Wales
  112. Liguori, for St. Alphonsus Liguori (d. 1787) of Italy.
  113. Lilli, for Bl. Salvatore Lilli (d. 1895) of Italy.
  114. Lloyd, for St. John Lloyd (d. 1679) of Wales.
  115. Lockwood, for Bl. John Lockwood (d. 1642) of England.
  116. Lucas, for Bl. Charlotte Lucas (d. 1794) of France.
  117. MacKillop, for St. Mary MacKillop (d. 1909) of Australia.
  118. Majali, for Bl. Giuliano Majali (d. 1470) of Sicily.
  119. Majella, for St. Gerard Majella (d. 1755) of Italy.
  120. Manna, for Bl. Paolo Manna (d. 1952) of Italy.
  121. Marchand, for St. Joseph Marchand (d. 1835) of France.
  122. Marella, for Ven. Olinto Marella (d. 1969) of Italy.
  123. Mareri, for Bl. Philippa Mareri (d. 1236) of Italy.
  124. Margil, for Ven. Antonio Margil (d. 1726) of Spain/Central America.
  125. Mari, for Servant of God Ida Mari (d. 1981) of Italy.
  126. Martin, for St. Louis Martin (d. 1894) of France or Bl. Richard Martin (d. 1588) of England.
  127. Marsden, from Bl. William Marsden (d. 1586) of England.
  128. Marto, for Bl. Francisco Marto (d. 1919) of Portugal.
  129. Mason, for Bl. John Mason (d. 1591) of England.
  130. Massey, for Bl. René-Julien Massey (d. 1792) of France.
  131. Maxfield, for Bl. Thomas Maxfield (d. 1616) of England.
  132. Munden, for Bl. John Munden (d. 1584) of England.
  133. Mayer, for Bl. Rupert Mayer (d. 1945) of Germany.
  134. McAuley, for Ven. Catherine McAuley (d. 1841) of Ireland.
  135. Meehan, for Bl. Charles Meehan (d. 1679) of Ireland.
  136. Merlo, for Ven. Thecla Merlo (d. 1964) of Italy.
  137. Medina, for Bl. Manuel Medina y Olmos (d. 1936) of Spain.
  138. Mela, for Ven. Itala Mela (d. 1957) of Italy.
  139. Merton, for Fr. Thomas Merton (d. 1968) of the U.S.
  140. Mesina, for Bl. Antonia Mesina (d. 1935) of Italy.
  141. Miki, for St. Paul Miki (d. 1597) of Japan.
  142. Molina, for Bl. Mercedes de Jesús Molina y Ayala (d. 1883) of Ecuador.
  143. Molla, for St. Gianna Beretta Molla (d. 1962) of Italy.
  144. Mora, for Bl. Elisabeth Canori Mora (d. 1825) of Italy.
  145. Morse, for St. Henry Morse (d. 1645) of England.
  146. Nelson, for Bl. John Nelson (d. 1578) of England.
  147. Neri, for St. Philip Neri (d. 1595) of Italy.
  148. Newman, for Bl. John Henry Newman (d. 1890) of England.
  149. Nichols, for Bl. George Nichols (d. 1589) fo England.
  150. Nolasco, for St. Peter Nolasco (d. 1256) of France.
  151. Ogilvie, for St. John Ogilvie (d. 1615) of Scotland.
  152. Owen, for St. Nicholas Owen (d. 1606) of England.
  153. Page, for Bl. Anthony Page (d. 1593) of England or Bl. Francis Page (d. 1602) of England.
  154. Percy, for Bl. Thomas Percy (d. 1572) of England.
  155. Potter, for Ven. Mary Potter (d. 1913) of England.
  156. Powell, for Bl. Edward Powell (d. 1540) of Wales.
  157. Quinn, for Ven. Edel Quinn (d. 1944) of Ireland.
  158. Rawlins, for Bl. Alexander Rawlins (d. 1595) of England.
  159. Regis, for St. John Francis Regis (d. 1640) of France.
  160. Reynolds, for St. Richard Reynolds (d. 1535) of England or Bl. Thomas Reynolds (d. 1560) of England.
  161. Richardson, for Bl. Lawrence Richardson (d. 1582) of England or Bl. William Richardson (d. 1603) of England.
  162. Rigby, for St. John Rigby (d. 1600) of England
  163. Rivi, for Bl. Rolando Rivi (d. 1945) of Italy.
  164. Robinson, for St. Christopher Robinson (d. 1598) of England.
  165. Rochester, for Bl. John Rochester (d. 1537) of England.
  166. Roe, for St. Alban Roe (d. 1642) of England.
  167. Romano, for Bl. Vincent Romano (d. 1831) of Italy.
  168. Rossello, for St. Maria Giuseppa Rossello (d. 1880) of Italy.
  169. Sala, for Bl. Maria Anna Sala (d. 1891) of Italy.
  170. Savio, for St. Dominic Savio (d. 1857) of Italy.
  171. Scott, for Bl. Montford Scott (d. 1591) of England or Bl. Maurus Scott (d. 1612) of England.
  172. Serra, for St. Junipero Serra (d. 1784) of Spain/New Spain.
  173. Seton, for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (d. 1821) of the U.S.
  174. Sheen, for Ven. Fulton J. Sheen (d. 1979) of the U.S.
  175. Shelley, for Bl. Edward Shelley (d. 1588) of England.
  176. Sherwin, for St. Ralph Sherwin (d. 1581) of England.
  177. Sherwood, for Bl. Thomas Sherwood (d. 1578) of England.
  178. Sinclair, for Ven. Margaret Anne Sinclair (d. 1925) of Scotland.
  179. Slade, for Bl. John Slade (d. 1583) of England.
  180. Solanus, for St. Francis Solanus (d. 1610) of Spain.
  181. Southwell, for St. Robert Southwell (d. 1595) of England.
  182. Southworth, for St. John Southworth (d. 1654) of England.
  183. Steno, for Bl. Nicolas Steno (d. 1686) of Denmark.
  184. Spenser, for Bl. William Spenser (d. 1589) of England.
  185. Spencer, for Ven. Ignatius Spencer (d. 1864) of England.
  186. Stefani, for Bl. Irene Stefani (d. 1930) of Italy.
  187. Stein, for St. Edith Stein (d. 1942) of Germany.
  188. Stone, for St. John Stone (d. 1539) in England.
  189. Sullivan, for Ven. John Sullivan (d. 1933) in Ireland.
  190. Sutton, for Bl. Robert Sutton (d. 1587) of England.
  191. Talbot, for Ven. Matt Talbot (d. 1925) of Ireland or Bl. John Talbot (d. 1600) of England.
  192. Tansi, for Bl. Cyprian Michael Tansi (d. 1964) of Nigeria.
  193. Taylor, for Bl. Hugh Taylor (d. 1585) of England, Francis Taylor (d. 1621) of Ireland, or Ven. Frances Margaret Taylor (d. 1900) of England.
  194. Tezza, for Bl. Luigi Tezza (d. 1923) of Italy.
  195. Thirkeld, for Bl. Richard Thirkeld (d. 1583) in England.
  196. Thompson, for Bl. James Thompson (d. 1582) of England.
  197. Thorne, for Bl. John Thorne (d. 1539) of England.
  198. Thorpe, for Bl. Robert Thorpe (d. 1591) of England.
  199. Tirry, for Bl. William Tirry (d. 1654) of Ireland.
  200. Tomasi, for St. Giuseppe Maria Tomasi (d. 1713) of Italy.
  201. Tunstall, for Bl. Thomas Tunstall (d. 1616) of England.
  202. Turner, for Bl. Anthony Turner (d. 1679) of England.
  203. Vega, for Servant of God Pablo Muñoz Vega (d. 1994) of Ecuador.
  204. Venard, for St. Jean-Théophane Vénard (d. 1861) of France.
  205. Vera, for Ven. Jacinto Vera y Durán (d. 1881) of Uruguay.
  206. Verna, for Bl. Antonia Maria Verna (d. 1838) of Italy.
  207. Vianney, for St. Jean Vianney (d. 1859) of France.
  208. Ward, for St. Margaret Ward (d. 1588) of England.
  209. Webster, for St. Augustine Webster (d. 1535) of England.
  210. Wells, for St. Swithun Wells (d. 1591) of England.
  211. Wharton, for Bl. Christopher Wharton (d. 1600) of England.
  212. Whitaker, for Bl. Thomas Whitaker (d. 1646) of England.
  213. Wilson, for Ven. Mary Jane Wilson (d. 1916) of British India.
  214. Wright, for Bl. Peter Wright (d. 1651) of England.
  215. Xavier, for St. Francis Xavier (d. 1552) of Spain.
  216. Zaccaria, for St. Antonio Maria Zaccaria (d. 1539) of Italy.
  217. Zola, for Bl. Giovanni Batista Zola (d. 1626) of Italy.

Which of the above do you like best?

And, what other saint-inspired surnames would make good baby names? I’m sure I missed a few. Let me know in the comments!

How to Pronounce French Names – Anaïs, Étienne, Guillaume, Hélène

how to pronounce French names like anais, etienne, helene, guillaume

At first glance, Guillaume always looks like gobbledygook to me. It’s the French form of William — that much I know — but it takes a few seconds for me to remember that it’s pronounced ghee-ohm, not not gwill-awm or gwee-awm.

And it’s not just Guillaume that trips me up. I find many other French names (Étienne, Edwige, Anaïs, etc.) equally tricky to pronounce.

So for those of us who struggle with French names, here are some simplified rules of French pronunciation, plus names to illustrate each rule.

This list is far from comprehensive, and my pronunciations are just approximations, but hopefully my fellow non-French speakers out there will find it helpful nonetheless.

French Pronunciation + French Names

AU: The vowel combination “AU” is pronounced like a long o.

  • Paul, in French, is pronounced pohl.
  • Margaux, a French form of Margaret, is pronounced mar-goh.

CH: The letter combination “CH” is typically pronounced sh.

  • Charles, in French, is pronounced shahrl.

D, P, S, T, X, Z: The six consonants “D,” “P,” “S,” “T,” “X” and “Z,” when at the end of a word, are typically silent.

  • Arnaud, the French form of Arnold, is pronounced ar-noh.
  • Denis, the French form of Dennis, is pronounced de-nee (remember the Blondie song?).
  • Lucas, in French, is pronounced loo-kah.
  • Louis, in French, is pronounced loo-ee (think Louis Vuitton).

…They’re not always silent, though. Here are some exceptions:

  • Alois, the French form of Aloysius, is pronounced ah-loh-ees.
  • Anaïs, a French form of Anna, is pronounced ah-nah-ees.
  • David, in French, is pronounced dah-veed.

Ë: The pronunciation of “Ë” (E with a trema) is like the e in the English word “bet.”

  • Gaël and Gaëlle are pronounced gah-el or gai-el.
  • Joël and Joëlle are pronounced zhoh-el.
  • Maël and Maëlle are pronounced mah-el or mai-el.
  • Noël and Noëlle are pronounced noh-el.

É: The pronunciation of “É” (E with an acute accent) is somewhere between the ee in “see” and the e in “bet.”

  • Noé, the French masculine form of Noah, is pronounced noh-ee.
  • Salomé, in French, is pronounced sah-loh-mee.

G: The consonant “G” is soft (zh) when followed by “E” or “I” but hard (gh) otherwise.

  • Georges, the French form of George, is pronounced zhorzh.
  • Guy, in French, is pronounced ghee.

H: The consonant “H” is silent.

  • Hélène, the French form of Helen, is pronounced eh-lehn.

I: The vowel “I,” and the forms Ï, and Î, are all pronounced ee.

  • Loïc, a French form of Louis, is pronounced loh-eek.

J: The consonant “J” is pronounced zh.

  • Jacques, the French form of Jacob, is pronounced zhahk.

LL: The letter combination “LL” is typically pronounced like an l.

  • Achille, the French form of Achilles, is pronounced ah-sheel.
  • Lucille, the French form of Lucilla, is pronounced loo-seel.

…But in some cases “LL” is pronounced like a y.

  • Guillaume, the French form of William, is pronounced ghee-yohm or ghee-ohm.

OI: The vowel combination “OI” is pronounced wah.

  • Antoine, the French form of Antony, is pronounced an-twahn.
  • Grégoire, the French form of Gregory, is pronounced gre-gwahr.

OU: The vowel combination “OU” is pronounced oo.

  • Lilou is pronounced lee-loo.

R: The consonant “R,” when at the end of a word, is typically pronounced.

  • Clair, the French masculine form of Claire, is pronounced kler.
  • Edgar, in French, is pronounced ed-gahr.

…When the “R” is preceded by an “E,” though, it is not pronounced.

  • Gauthier, the French form of Walter, is pronounced goh-tee-yay or goh-tyay (remember Gotye?).
  • Olivier, the French form of Oliver, is pronounced oh-lee-vee-yay or oh-lee-vyay (think Laurence Olivier).

TH: The letter combination “TH” is typically pronounced like a t (which makes sense, since “H” is silent).

  • Thibault, the French form of Theobald, is pronounced tee-boh.

TI: The letter combination “TI” is sometimes pronounced like an s or sy.

  • Laëtitia is pronounced lay-tee-sya.

W: The consonant “W” is pronounced like a v.

  • Edwige, the French form of Hedwig, is pronounced ed-veezh.

And finally, just a few more French names that I tend to have trouble with.

  • Anatole is pronounced ah-nah-tohl.
  • Étienne, the French form of Stephen, is pronounced eh-tyen.
  • Geoffroy, the French form of Geoffrey, is pronounced zho-fwah.
  • Ghislain and Ghislaine are pronounced either ghee-len or zheez-len.
  • Ignace, the French form of Ignatius, is pronounced ee-nyas.

*

Those aren’t too hard, right?

That’s what I tell myself…and then I come across Guillaume in the wild and my mind goes blank all over again. :)

If you know French and would like to add to the above (either another rule of pronunciation or a more precise pronunciation for a particular name) please leave a comment.

If you’re not a French speaker, here’s my question: Which French name gives you the most trouble?

Sources: Beginning French Pronunciation, French e, è, é, ê, ë – what’s the difference?, Google Translate

P.S. Interested in seeing how popular the French names above are in the U.S.? Here are some popularity graphs: Alois, Achille, Anaïs, Anatole, Antoine, Arnaud, Clair, Denis, Edwige, Étienne, Gaël, Gaëlle, Georges, Grégoire, Guillaume, Guy, Hélène, Ignace, Jacques, Laëtitia, Lilou, Loïc, Lucille, Maël, Maëlle, Margaux, Noé, Olivier, Salomé, Thibault.