How popular is the baby name Clair 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 Clair.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Clair


Posts that Mention the Name Clair

Old-Fashioned Double Names: Loladean, Ivylee, Effielou

old-fashioned double names

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.

So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.

I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.

I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).

Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).

The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).

*

-Ann(e)

Abbyanne, Agnesann, Aliceanne, Bessanne, Bettyann/Bettyanne, Cassanne, Claraanne, Coraanne, Dellaanne, Dollyanne, Dorisann, Dorothyann, Doveanne, Ethelanne, Faeanne, Floyanne, Franceanne, Gayanne, Georgeann/Georgeanne, Gracyanne, Gustyanne, Helenann, Hopeanne, Idaanne, Ivaanne, Jeanann, Jessanne, Joyanne, Judyanne, Katyanne, Lizanne, Lizzyanne, Loisann, Louann/Louanne, Louisaanne, Maeanne, Margaretann, Metaanne, Mollyanne, Nancyann, Nellyanne, Oliveanne, Opalann, Patsyanne, Pattyanne, Phyllisann, Pollyann, Prudyanne, Rayanne, Roseann/Roseanne, Rosyanne, Roxieanne, Royanne, Rueanne, Ruthann/Ruthanne, Shirleyann, Sallyann, Sueanne, Susyanne, Tobyanne, Tommyanne

-Bell(e)

Adabelle, Addiebelle, Altabelle, Anjabell, Annebelle, Anniebell/Anniebelle, Archiebell, Artybelle, Augustabelle, Beckybell, Berthabelle, Bessybell, Bettybell, Beulahbelle, Birdiebelle, Bonniebell, Cassbelle, Clairbelle, Clarabell/Clarabelle, Claybelle, Cleobelle, Conniebell, Corabell/Corabelle, Cordiebell, Corybelle, Danniebell, Dolliebelle, Donnabell/Donnabelle, Dottiebell, Eddybelle, Ednabell, Edrisbell, Effiebelle, Elizabelle, Ellenbelle, Elsiebelle, Essiebell, Esterbelle, Ethelbelle, Ettabelle, Evabelle, Fannybelle, Faybelle, Fernbell, Florabell/Florabelle, Florbell, Flossiebell, Floybell, Frankiebell, Fredybell, Gaybell, Geniebell, Georgiabell, Georgiebelle, Glennabelle, Goldenbell, Gradybelle, Hattybelle, Hazelbell, Hughbell, Idabell/Idabelle, Inezbelle, Indiabelle, Ingabelle, Iscahbell, Ivybelle, Janiebelle, Jaybelle, Jessbell, Jessiebelle, Jewelbell, Jodiebell, Joebell, Johnybell, Jonibell, Jorybelle, Josiebell, Joybell, Junebell, Kaybelle, Kittybelle, Kizzybell, Ladybell, Leahbelle, Leebelle, Lenabelle, Leonabell, Leotabell, Lettybelle, Lizzybelle, Loubelle, Lulabell/Lulabelle, Lulubelle, Lydabell, Lydiabelle, Madgebell, Maebell/Maebelle/Maybell/Maybelle, Maggybell, Mamiebell, Mandybell, Marabelle, Marthabell, Marybell/Marybelle/Maribell/Maribelle, Mattybell, Maudebell, Meadowbelle, Minniebell, Monabell, Myrtlebelle, Nanniebell, Nelliebelle, Nettybell, Nevabelle, Ninabelle, Nitabell, Norabelle, Novabell, Pinkiebell, Pollybelle, Odiebelle, Olabell, Olivebelle, Olliebelle, Orabell/Orabelle, Orphabelle, Queeniebelle, Raybelle, Rebabelle, Rheabelle, Rhodabelle, Ritabelle, Romabelle, Rosabell/Rosabelle, Rosebell/Rosebelle, Rosiebell, Rossbelle, Roybelle, Rudybell, Ruebelle, Sadiebelle, Sallybell, Suebell, Tenniebell, Tessabelle, Tessiebelle, Theabell, Theobelle, Troybell, Trudybell, Verabelle, Verdabell, Vernabelle, Vonniebelle, Wendybell, Wilbabell, Willabell/Willabelle, Willowbell, Willybell, Winniebelle

(…and don’t forget Cowbelle!)

-Bess

Adabess, Anitabess, Annabess, Anniebess, Clarabess, Cristabess, Donnabess, Drewbess, Ellebess, Euniebess, Florabess, Hallibess, Henribess, Hildabess, Idabess, Ilabess, Inabess, Jeanebess, Lanibess, Larabess, Laydebess, Leebess, Lelabess, Lonabess, Lulabess, Lurabess, Maebess, Malabess, Mamebess, Maribess, Marionbess, Marthabess, Maybess, Minabess, Nonabess, Norabess, Orabess, Rosebess, Sarabess, Theobess, Willabess, Zellebess

-Dean

Adadean, Albadean, Almadean, Alphadean, Altadean, Altheadean, Arizadean, Belvadean, Bertadean, Berthadean, Claradean, Claredean, Claydean, Cleatadean, Delladean, Deltadean, Dessadean, Doradean, Ellendean, Elvadean, Ermadean, Ettadean, Evadean, Evedean, Faydean, Floydean, Glendadean, Glendean, Glennadean, Gloriadean, Idadean, Irmadean, Ivadean, Jessadean, Jeweldean, Joydean, Leedean, Leliadean, Loladean, Loradean, Loudean, Luradean, Maedean/Maydean, Maradean, Marthadean, Marvadean, Melbadean, Melvadean, Nedradean, Nelladean, Nettydean, Noladean, Normadean, Olgadean, Oradean, Orbadean, Ouidadean, Rebadean, Rheadean, Rosadean, Rubydean, Ruedean, Suedean, Thelmadean, Velmadean, Vernadean, Veradean, Vivadean, Wandadean, Willadean, Williedean, Willowdean, Wilmadean, Zelmadean

-Dell(e)

Abbiedell, Adadell, Alicedell, Annadell, Anniedell, Archiedell, Barbiedell, Bertdell, Berthadell, Bonniedell, Chloedell, Christadell, Claradelle, Corydell, Deedell, Earthadell, Edithdell, Effiedell, Elizadell, Ermadell, Essiedell, Esterdell, Euradell, Evadell, Evedell, Faydelle, Ferndell, Flodell, Floydell, Frankiedell, Fredadell, Gaydell, Glorydell, Hannahdell, Hattiedell, Hazeldell, Hessiedell, Hopedell, Hughdell, Idadell, Irmadell, Ivadell/Ivadelle, Ivydell, Jessiedell, Jimidell, Joedell, Joydell, Junedell, Katedell, Katydell, Leahdelle, Ledadell, Leedell, Leniedell, Lizdell, Lizziedelle, Loudell, Luludell, Maedell/Maedelle/Maydell/Maydelle, Mamiedelle, Mardgedell, Margiedell, Marthadell, Marydell/Maridell, Minniedell, Moedell, Noradell, Ociedell, Odadell, Oladell, Olgadell, Olivedell, Olliedell, Opaldell, Oradell, Ouidadell, Patriciadell, Raydell, Rosadell, Rubiedell, Ruedell, Ruthdell, Ruthiedell, Suedell, Vaughndell, Vidadell, Walterdelle, Wandadelle, Winniedell, Zoedell

-Donna

Alphadonna, Altadonna, Auradonna, Belledonna, Bonadonna, Claydonna, Cleodonna, Faedonna, Frandonna, Freydonna, Gaydonna, Glendonna, Irisdonna, Joedonna, Leadonna, Leedonna, Loudonna, Maedonna, Maridonna, Mariedonna, Marydonna, Maydonna, Myradonna, Raydonna, Roydonna, Rubydonna, Thoradonna

-Gay(e)

Alliegay, Almagay, Annagay, Anniegay, Ardiegay, Billiegay, Claragay, Ermagay, Floragay, Halliegay, Hildagay, Leilagay, Lunagay, Lydagay, Marygay, Milliegay, Nelliegay, Nevagay, Nidagay, Olagay, Olligay, Ornagay, Ozellagay, Roxygay, Stellagay, Velmagay, Verlagay, Wandagay, Williegay

-Jean

Abbiejean, Albajean, Alicejean, Almajean, Alphajean, Annajean, Beaulahjean, Beckyjean, Belvajean, Berniejean, Berthajean, Bessiejean, Bettyjean, Bobbiejean, Bonniejean, Caroljean, Clydajean, Corajean, Darajean, Daviejean, Donnajean, Eddyjean, Edithjean, Effiejean, Elsajean, Ermajean, Ettajean, Eulahjean, Evajean, Evejean, Fayejean, Florajean, Floyjean, Glennajean, Harlyjean, Hildajean, Idajean, Ivajean, Josiejean, Katejean, Kayjean, Leahjean, Leejean, Lilajean, Loisjean, Lottiejean, Loujean, Lurajean, Maejean, Marahjean, Margyjean, Marthajean, Martiejean, Maryjean/Marijean, Maudejean, Melbajean, Mickeyjean, Missiejean, Mirajean, Molliejean, Myrajean, Neldajean, Nelliejean, Normajean, Novajean, Nylajean, Olgajean, Olivejean, Olliejean, Orajean, Raejean, Rebajean, Rheajean, Ritajean, Romajean, Rosejean, Rubyjean, Ruthjean, Shirleyjean, Suejean, Thedajean, Thelmajean, Unajean, Vedajean, Velmajean, Verajean, Vernajean, Vestajean, Wandajean, Willajean, Willowjean, Wilmajean, Winniejean

-Lee

Almalee, Andylee, Annalee, Annielee, Artylee, Asalee, Avalee, Bertalee, Berthalee, Besslee, Berthalee, Bettylee, Claylee, Coralee, Cordylee, Danylee, Davylee, Dellalee, Dollylee, Doralee, Dorislee, Effylee, Elmalee, Ermalee, Ethellee, Eulalee, Evalee, Fannylee, Fayelee, Floralee, Flossielee, Floylee, Georgialee, Glendalee, Glorialee, Gustalee, Harvylee, Hopelee, Idalee, Ingalee, Irmalee, Ivalee, Ivylee, Jesslee, Joylee, Junelee, Kathylee, Katylee, Maelee, Maralee, Margylee, Marthalee, Marylee, Mattielee, Melbalee, Mildredlee, Minalee, Minnielee, Miriamlee, Myrtlelee, Nancylee, Nolalee, Noralee, Normalee, Omalee, Onalee, Oralee, Orphalee, Ovalee, Patsylee, Pattylee, Percylee, Pollylee, Pruelee, Raelee, Rebalee, Rosalee, Roselee, Roseylee, Rosielee/Rosilee, Roxylee, Roylee, Rubylee, Ruelee, Ruthlee, Sallylee, Thelmalee, Trilbylee, Velmalee, Veralee, Verbalee, Vernalee, Vernelee, Virgielee, Virginialee, Wandalee, Willowlee, Winnylee, Zelmalee

-Lou

Addylou, Albalou, Andylou, Annalou, Annielou, Archielou, Bertalou, Berthalou, Bessielou, Bettelou, Bettylou, Billylou, Birdielou, Bonnielou, Daralou, Dellalou, Dixielou, Doralou, Dulcialou, Eddielou, Ednalou, Effielou, Eliselou, Emmylou, Essielou, Ettalou, Evalou, Evielou, Fannielou, Floralou, Frankielou, Genelou, Gerdylou, Gracielou, Gretalou, Gussielou, Hannalou, Hattielou, Idalou, Iralou, Irmalou, Ivalou, Ivylou, Janelou, Jennalou, Jesselou, Jimmielou, Joelou, Johnnielou, Joylou, Katelou, Lannylou, Leelou, Lindylou, Lizzielou, Lolalou, Maelou, Mamielou, Maralou, Margylou, Marjorielou, Marthalou, Marylou/Marilou, Mattielou, Maxielou, Minnielou, Myralou, Myrtlelou, Nannielou, Nellielou, Nettielou, Nitalou, Noralou, Oralou, Patsylou, Pattilou, Paulalou, Phoebelou, Rebalou, Rhealou, Ritalou, Robertalou, Rosalou, Roselou, Sallylou, Shirleylou, Suelou, Thoralou, Tomielou, Vernalou, Victorinelou, Wanzalou, Willalou, Willilou, Willowlou, Winnielou, Zettalou

-Mae

Addiemae, Alicemae, Algymae, Alicemae, Alphamae, Altamae, Altheamae, Anitamae, Annamae, Anniemae, Artymae, Audymae, Bellemae, Berthamae, Bertiemae, Bessmae, Bessymae, Bettymae, Biddymae, Billiemae, Birdyemae, Carlamae, Chloemae, Clairemae, Claramae, Claymae, Clydamae, Coramae, Cordymae, Corrimae, Davymae, Dellamae, Dinamae, Dolliemae, Donnamae, Doramae, Dorothymae, Eddiemae, Ednamae, Effiemae, Elizamae, Elodymae, Elsiemae, Ermamae, Essiemae, Esthermae, Ethelmae, Ettamae, Eulamae, Evamae, Evemae, Fanniemae, Faymae, Floramae, Flossiemae, Floymae, Fredimae, Friedamae, Genemae, Georgiamae, Gertiemae, Glorymae, Goldymae, Gussymae, Hattiemae, Heddymae, Helenmae, Henrymae, Hollimae, Idamae, Irmamae, Ivymae, Jennymae, Jerrymae, Jessamae, Jessmae, Jessiemae, Joemae, Johnniemae, Jonimae, Joymae, Junemae, Katheemae, Ladymae, Leemae, Lenamae, Leotamae, Lilamae, Lizamae, Lizziemae, Loismae, Lolamae, Lorettamae, Lottiemae, Lulamae, Lulumae, Luramae, Lydiamae, Mandymae, Margymae, Marymae, Mattimae, Melbamae, Mollymae, Myrtlemae, Neldamae, Nelliemae, Nettiemae, Nolamae, Normamae, Olamae, Olgamae, Olivemae, Olliemae, Oramae, Panzymae, Peggymae, Phebemae, Raymae, Rebamae, Rheamae, Rhodamae, Ritamae, Rosamae, Rosemae, Roymae, Rubimae, Ruemae, Ruthiemae, Ruthmae, Shirleymae, Suemae, Sulamae, Susiemae, Sylviamae, Templemae, Theamae, Tommimae, Trilbymae, Trudymae, Veramae, Vermamae, Vernamae, Vestamae, Vidamae, Violamae, Virginiamae, Wandamae, Wilbamae, Willamae, Williemae, Winniemae, Willowmae, Zaidamae, Zellamae

-Nell(e)

Adanell, Albanell, Angienell, Annanelle, Annienell, Archienell, Asanell, Avanell/Avanelle, Bessienell, Berthanell, Bethnell, Birdnell, Claranell, Clarenelle, Claudianell, Cloranell, Deenell, Dessanell, Dovienell, Druenell, Ermanell, Ernienell, Esternell, Eudanell, Evanell/Evanelle, Evenell, Faynell, Floranell, Florencenell, Flonell, Fredanell, Gaynell/Gaynelle, Genenell, Glorianell, Gracenell, Gusternell, Hassienell, Idanell, Ineznell, Ivanell/Ivanelle, Jaenell, Janenell, Jessienell, Jimmienell, Joenell, Johnnienell, Juvianell, Kathienell, Leahnell, Leenell, Lennienell, Liznell, Lounell, Maenell, Maranell, Margienell, Marinelle, Marjorienell, Marthanell, Marynell, Mattienell, Maxinlle, Mayenell, Melbanell, Monanell, Myranell, Nettienell, Noranell, Oranell, Ouidanell, Ovianell, Patsyenell, Raenell, Raynelle, Rebanell, Ritanell, Robbienell, Rosanell, Rosenelle, Rosienell, Rossnell, Roznell, Ruenelle, Ruthnell, Sammienell, Suenell, Thedanell, Tommienell, Tressienell, Verbanell, Verdanell, Verdianell, Vergienell, Wandanell, Wanzanell, Willienell, Willownell, Winnienell, Zoenell

-Rose

Adarose, Albarose, Alicerose, Althearose, Anitarose, Annarose, Ardithrose, Arvarose, Bellerose, Bertharose, Betseyrose, Bettyrose, Billyrose, Cathrose, Clararose, Corarose, Deerose, Delrose, Dollyrose, Dorarose, Dorisrose, Elsarose, Elsierose, Emmyrose, Ermarose, Ethelrose, Ettarose, Eulalirose, Evarose, Everose, Fannyrose, Fayrose, Florarose, Francisrose, Fridarose, Generose, Gladysrose, Glenrose, Glennarose, Goldarose, Hattierose, Hildarose, Huldarose, Idarose, Inezrose, Irmarose, Ivarose, Juneorse, Leerose, Leorose, Louiserose, Lydarose, Maerose/Mayrose, Mardirose, Margirose, Martharose, Maryrose, Melbarose, Melvarose, Minarose, Minnierose, Moerose, Myrnarose, Nellyrose, Nelrose, Neldarose, Nellierose, Nettarose, Nitarose, Oliverose, Ollierose, Patsyrose, Peggyrose, Phillirose, Phoeberose, Rhearose, Ritarose, Robbierose, Rubyrose, Ruthrose, Shirleyrose, Suerose, Thearose, Thelmarose, Tommyrose, Unarose, Velmarose, Verarose, Vernarose, Virdiarose, Wildarose, Willirose, Wylmarose, Zelmarose, Zetarose

-Ruth

Abbyruth, Adaruth, Adeleruth, Aggieruth, Agnesruth, Aliceruth, Almaruth, Alpharuth, Altaruth, Andieruth, Annieruth, Asterruth, Belleruth, Bertaruth, Bessieruth, Bettieruth, Bettyruth, Billieruth, Bonnieruth, Clararuth, Clareruth, Dellaruth, Dollyruth, Donnaruth, Doraruth, Dorisruth, Dorothyruth, Eddieruth, Ednaruth, Effieruth, Eliseruth, Ellenruth, Elvaruth, Estelleruth, Ettaruth, Evaruth, Fayruth, Floraruth, Francesruth, Fridaruth, Georgiaruth, Gladysruth, Gretaruth, Hazelruth, Helenruth, Hildaruth, Idaruth, Irmaruth, Ivaruth, Janeruth, Jeanruth, Jennieruth, Jennyruth, Jesseruth, Jimmiruth, Joeruth, Johnieruth, Joyruth, Judyruth, Juneruth, Katyruth, Kayruth, Ledaruth, Leeruth, Leonaruth, Lilaruth, Loisruth, Louruth, Lucyruth, Mabelruth, Maeruth, Mamieruth, Mararuth, Margieruth, Maryruth, Maxiruth, Mazieruth, Millieruth, Minnieruth, Mollyruth, Monaruth, Myraruth, Nannieruth, Naomiruth, Nellruth, Ninaruth, Nomaruth, Noraruth, Nydaruth, Olgaruth, Omegaruth, Oraruth, Ornaruth, Patsyruth, Pattieruth, Pollyruth, Raeruth, Ritaruth, Roseruth, Rubyruth, Sadieruth, Sueruth, Velmaruth, Veraruth, Verdaruth, Vernaruth, Virginiaruth, Vivianruth, Wandaruth, Wildaruth, Willaruth, Willieruth, Woodieruth

(…and here’s a double name followed by a triple name: Sueruth Ettajoanne Lavell, born in 1927 in California.)

-Sue

Abbysue, Annasue, Annysue, Arnisue, Benniesue, Bertasue, Bessiesue, Bethsue, Bettinasue, Bettisue, Bettysue, Billysue, Birdiesue, Bonniesue, Cathrynsue, Clairsue, Clarasue, Claysue, Clemiesue, Corasue, Danasue, Dellasue, Delsue, Donniesue, Eddysue, Edensue, Eddiesue, Ednasue, Effiesue, Ellysue, Ethelsue, Evasue, Fannysue, Faysue, Fransue, Fredasue, Genesue, Glendasue, Hannasue, Helensue, Hestersue, Homersue, Idasue, Indasue, Irasue, Ivasue, Jennasue, Jensue, Jillisue, Johnsue, Jonisue, Joysue, Karlasue, Katiesue, Kittysue, Linnisue, Lornasue, Lousue, Lydiasue, Marthasue, Marysue, Maysue, Mattisue, Merlesue, Mildredsue, Millisue, Molliesue, Monasue, Myrasue, Nancysue, Nansue, Nellisue, Nevasue, Ninasue, Normsue, Olliesue, Orasue, Orvasue, Patsysue, Pattiesue, Petrasue, Phillipsue, Ramonasue, Rheasue, Rhodasue, Robsue, Rubysue, Valdasue, Verasue, Vernasue, Vinasue, Virginiasue, Vyrlasue, Wandasue, Wendysue, Wildasue, Willasue, Williesue, Winisue, Zadasue

Make Your Own!

I spotted plenty of other combinations that just didn’t happen to be written as single names in the records, so here’s a handy dandy little table to cover some of the other existing combinations…

First Name Second Name
Abbie/Abby, Ada, Addie/Addy, Aggie, Agnes, Alba, Alice, Alma, Alpha, Alta, Andie/Andy, Anna/Annie, Belle, Berta/Bertha, Bessie/Bessy, Betsy, Bettie/Betty, Billie/Billy, Birdie, Bonnie, Clair/Clare, Clara, Clio/Cleo, Cora, Dee, Della, Dolly/Dollie, Dora, Doris, Dorothy, Eddie/Eddy, Edna, Effie, Eliza, Ellen, Elsie, Elva, Estelle, Ethel, Etta, Eula, Eva, Eve, Fae/Fay(e), Fanny/Fannie, Floy, Flora, Frances, Frida/Freda, Freddie, Gene, Georgia, Gladys, Glenda, Glenna, Glory, Golda, Goldie, Greta, Hattie/Hatty, Hazel, Helen, Hilda, Ida, Inez, Irma/Erma, Iva, Jane, Jean, Jennie/Jenny, Jesse/Jessie, Jimmie/Jimmy, Joe, Johnnie, Joy, Judy, June, Kate, Katie/Katy, Kay(e), Kitty/Kittie, Leda, Lee, Lena, Leona, Lila, Liz/Lizzie, Lois, Lola, Lou, Lula, Lydia, Mabel, Mae/May(e), Maisie/Mazie, Mamie, Mara, Margie, Martha, Mattie, Maxie, Melba, Millie, Minnie, Molly/Mollie, Mona, Myra, Myrna, Nannie, Nell(e), Nellie/Nelly, Nettie, Nita, Nola, Nora, Norma, Nyda, Ola, Olga, Olive, Ollie, Omega, Ora, Patsy/Patsie, Patty/Pattie, Polly, Rae/Ray(e), Reba, Rhea, Rhoda, Rita, Rosa, Rose, Rosie, Roxie, Ruth, Sadie, Sally, Shirley, Sue, Theda, Thelma, Tommie/Tommy, Velma, Vera, Verda, Verna, Wanda, Wanza, Wendy, Wilda, Willa, Willie/Willy, Willow, Wilma, Winnie, Zada, Zelma Ann(e)
Bell(e)
Bess
Dean
Dell(e)
Donna
Gay(e)
Jean
Lee
Lou
Mae
Nell(e)
Rose
Ruth
Sue

Which old-fashioned double name do you like best? Would you consider using any of the pairings above for a modern-day baby?

P.S. I’ll follow this up in a few weeks with some old-fashioned double names for boys

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.

The Celebrity Baby Name Condola

Phylicia Rashad as Clair Huxtable

Here’s another baby name with a Cosby Show association…

Phylicia Rashad, who played everyone’s favorite TV mom Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, married NFL sportscaster (and former player) Ahmad Rashad in December of 1985.

Ahmad had proposed to Phylicia on-air the month before.

About a year later, on December 11, 1986, they welcomed a daughter named Condola Phylea Rashad.

And in 1987, we see the baby name Condola appear for the first and only time on the baby name charts:

  • 1988: unlisted
  • 1987: 12 baby girls named Condola [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted

Condola was named after Ahmad’s mother, Condola Moore. (Ahmad Rashad was born Robert Moore; he changed his name when he converted to Islam in the early ’70s.)

Today, Condola Rashad is an actress — just like her mother.

Cosby Show Baby Names – Vanessa, Keshia, Phylicia…

cosby show

Remember The Cosby Show?

The ground-breaking ’80s sitcom focused on the Huxtables, a well-off African-American family living in New York City. It starred Bill Cosby as Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable.

The show ran from mid-1984 to mid-1992 and was the top-rated program in the nation for 5 consecutive seasons.

And it influenced a whole bunch of baby names, such as…

Vanessa & Tempestt

Vanessa, the second-youngest Huxtable child, was played by Tempestt Bledsoe. The baby name Vanessa saw its highest-ever levels of usage during the years the show was on:

  • 1989: 6,955 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 50th)
  • 1988: 7,515 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 41st)
  • 1987: 7,345 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 43rd)
  • 1986: 7,367 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 43rd)
  • 1985: 7,562 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 42nd)
  • 1984: 7,153 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 45th)
  • 1983: 6,383 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 49th)

And the baby name Tempestt debuted on the charts the year after the show premiered:

  • 1990: 70 baby girls named Tempestt
  • 1989: 98 baby girls named Tempestt
  • 1988: 72 baby girls named Tempestt
  • 1987: 87 baby girls named Tempestt
  • 1986: 78 baby girls named Tempestt
  • 1985: 36 baby girls named Tempestt [debut]
  • 1984: unlisted
  • 1983: unlisted

The name Tempest also got a boost during the last half of the ’80s.

Rudy & Keshia

Rudith “Rudy” Huxtable, the baby of the family, was played by Keshia Knight Pulliam. The baby name Keshia entered the top 1,000 for the very first time the year after the show premiered:

  • 1990: 385 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 594th)
  • 1989: 496 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 479th)
  • 1988: 398 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 547th)
  • 1987: 483 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 457th)
  • 1986: 511 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 426th)
  • 1985: 321 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 596th)
  • 1984: 96 baby girls named Keshia
  • 1983: 64 baby girls named Keshia

The name Rudy also rose in usage, and the variant spelling Rudi debuted on the charts in 1985.

Phylicia

Huxtable mother Clair was played by actress Phylicia Rashad. The baby name Phylicia entered the top 1,000 for the first time two years after the show premiered:

  • 1990: 257 baby girls named Phylicia (ranked 787th)
  • 1989: 265 baby girls named Phylicia (ranked 744th)
  • 1988: 286 baby girls named Phylicia (ranked 679th)
  • 1987: 290 baby girls named Phylicia (ranked 649th)
  • 1986: 213 baby girls named Phylicia (ranked 789th)
  • 1985: 122 baby girls named Phylicia
  • 1984: 13 baby girls named Phylicia
  • 1983: 7 baby girls named Phylicia

Theo & Malcolm-Jamal

Theo, the middle Huxtable child (and the only male in the family besides Cliff) was played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner. The baby name Theo almost tripled in usage the year after the show premiered:

  • 1990: 66 baby boys named Theo
  • 1989: 75 baby boys named Theo
  • 1988: 77 baby boys named Theo
  • 1987: 75 baby boys named Theo
  • 1986: 85 baby boys named Theo
  • 1985: 76 baby boys named Theo
  • 1984: 23 baby boys named Theo
  • 1983: 26 baby boys named Theo

Usage of the baby name Malcolm also began to rise in the mid-’80s, and the baby name Malcolm-Jamal (rendered Malcolmjamal by the SSA, which leaves off hyphens) debuted on the baby name charts two years after the show premiered:

  • 1990: unlisted
  • 1989: unlisted
  • 1988: 5 baby boys named Malcolm-Jamal
  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: 5 baby boys named Malcolm-Jamal [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: unlisted
  • 1983: unlisted

(Where did actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner get his name, btw? He was named after civil rights activist Malcolm X and jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal.)

So now here’s the question: Does The Cosby Show beat Family Ties in terms of impact on the baby name charts? Cosby clearly affected a greater number of names, but is that enough to offset the massive rises of both Mallory and Alex?

P.S. Did you know that Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa and Rudy Huxtable were loosely based on Cosby’s real-life kids Erika, Erinn, Ennis, Ensa, Evin?