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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Denis

Number of Babies Named Denis

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Denis

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.

Rules of French Pronunciation + French Names

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.

The letter combination “CH” is typically pronounced sh.

  • Charles, in French, is pronounced shahrl.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The consonant “H” is silent.

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

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

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

The consonant “J” is pronounced zh.

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

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.

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.

The vowel combination “OU” is pronounced oo.

  • Lilou is pronounced lee-loo.

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).

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.

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

  • Laëtitia is pronounced lay-tee-sya.

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.


Names Collected in the Czech Republic

Earlier this month, husband and I spent a couple of weeks in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

old town, prague
Old Town Square, Prague

Here are some of the names we spotted:

Wenceslas

Our hotel was located in Wenceslas Square, which was named in honor of Duke of Bohemia Wenceslas I (907-935).

His name is a Latinized form of the Slavic name Veceslav, which is made up of the Old Slavic words veche, meaning “more, greater,” and slava, meaning “glory, fame.” (The name Václav is a contracted form of Veceslav.)

Mikulas

We didn’t spend much time checking out Wenceslas Square (which was mainly for shopping) but did hang out a lot in Old Town Square (which was more historical). One of the big attractions there is the astronomical clock:

Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square, Prague
Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square, Prague

The oldest part of the clock was created by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň in 1410, making this the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world (and the oldest one still working).

The name Mikuláš is simply the Czech form of Nicholas, which can be traced back to the Greek words nike, meaning “victory,” and laos, meaning “people.”

Tyge & Tycho

Also in Old Town is a Gothic church called the Church of Mother of God before Týn. (The church is in the center of that top photo of Old Town Square.)

Danish nobleman and astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), who relocated to Bohemia toward the end of his life, is buried here. Tycho’s birth name was Tyge (pron. tee-geh), but he Latinized it to Tycho (pron. tee-ko) as a teenager.

According to the site Nordic Names, Tyge is a form of Tyki, which is the Danish form of Týki, which has several possible derivations. Tycho, on the other hand, is based on the Greek word tyche, which means “luck.”

Karel & Deniska

A short walk from Old Town Square is the Vltava river. From the early 1400s until the mid-1800s, the only way to cross the Vltava was the Karlův most (Charles Bridge; literally, “Karel’s bridge”) which was named in honor of 14th-century King Charles IV.

A gold-colored cross on the bridge parapet marks the spot where, in 1393, St. John of Nepomuk was thrown into the river and drowned. Behind the cross decorative railing on which people like to put love locks:

Love Locks on Charles Bridge, Prague
Charles Bridge, Prague

A couple of the locks:

Love locks on Charles Bridge, Prague
Love locks on Charles Bridge, Prague

I don’t know about the origins of Buka and Makc, but Deniska is a diminutive of Denisa, the feminine form of Denis, which comes from Dionysius, which is based on the name of the Greek god Dionysus, whose name is made up of elements referring to Zeus (dios) and the legendary Mount Nysa.

Dalibor

In that photo with the bridge with the railing, there’s a cluster of spires off in the distance. That’s the Prague Castle complex, which includes the Old Royal Palace, St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, Rosenberg Palace, and Daliborka Tower.

Daliborka Tower, a former prison, was named after early prisoner Dalibor of Kozojedy (d. 1498). According to a legend that arose after his death, Dalibor learned to play the fiddle during his imprisonment and “people came from far and wide and listened, enraptured, to his soul-stirring playing.”

But an informational sign inside Daliborka debunks this myth:

The reality of Dalibor’s musical talent was, however, quite different: “the fiddle” was a nickname for an instrument of torture, a sort of rack on which the convicted man was stretched till […] the victim began “to fiddle” (change his tune, confess).”

Torture devices inside Daliborka Tower, Prague
Torture devices inside Daliborka Tower, Prague

The name Dalibor is made up of the Old Slavic words daleko, meaning “far, distance,” and bor meaning “war, fight.” (Daliborka is also the feminine form of the name.)

Svatopluk

Getting back to the river…one of the other bridges over the Vltava is the art deco Svatopluk Čech Bridge, named after Czech writer Svatopluk Čech (1846-1908).

Svatopluk Bridge, Prague
Svatopluk Bridge, Prague

The name Svatopluk is made up of the Old Slavic words svetu, meaning “blessed, holy,” and pulku, meaning “people, folk.”

Avigdor

You guys know I love graveyards, but sadly I didn’t get a chance to see Prague’s famous Old Jewish Cemetery. (We walked by it a few times, but always on our way somewhere else.)

I do remember reading, though, that the oldest stone there belongs to a rabbi named Avigdor Kara (d. 1439). The name Avigdor may be based on the phrase Avi Gedor (I Chron. 4.18), which means “father of Gedor,” with the name Gedor meaning “wall” or “fence.”

Now let’s wrap things up with this gratuitous shot of St. Vitus Cathedral:

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague
St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague

Have you ever been to the Czech Republic? Do you remember seeing/hearing any interesting names while there?

Sources:

  • Behind the Name
  • Cohn, Rella Israly. Yiddish Given Names: A Lexicon. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2008.
  • Thoren, Victor E., John Robert Christianson. The Lord of Uraniborg: A Biography of Tycho Brahe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

What Would You Name the Two Frenchmen?

The image below, of the Boulevard du Temple in Paris, was captured in early 1838 by Louis Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype.

It may be the earliest surviving photograph of a person. Two people, actually. Both are in the lower left:

Daguerreotype: Boulevard du Temple

Here’s a close-up:

Boulevard du Temple, detail

The standing man is getting his shoe shined, and the other man (partially obscured) is doing the shoe-shining.

Of all the people on the sidewalk that day, these were the only two to stay still long enough (about 10 minutes) to be captured in the image.

Now for the fun part!

What would you name these two Frenchmen?

Let’s pretend you’re writing a book set in Paris in the 1830s, and these are two of your characters. What names would you give them?

Here’s a long list of traditional French male names, to get you started:

Abel
Absolon
Achille
Adam
Adolphe
Adrien
Aimé
Alain
Alban
Albert
Alexandre
Alfred
Alphonse
Amaury
Amroise
Amédée
Anatole
André
Anselme
Antoine
Antonin
Apollinaire
Ariel
Aristide
Armand
Arnaud
Arsène
Arthur
Aubert
Aubin
Auguste
Augustin
Aurèle
Aurélien
Baptiste
Barnabé
Barthélémy
Basile
Bastien
Benjamin
Benoit
Bernard
Bertrand
Blaise
Boniface
Bruno
Calixte
Camille
Céleste
Célestin
Césaire
César
Charles
Christian
Christophe
Clair
Claude
Clément
Clovis
Constant
Constantin
Corentin
Corin
Corneille
Cosme
Cyril
Damien
Daniel
David
Denis
Déodat
Désiré
Didier
Dieudonné
Dimitri
Diodore
Dominique
Donat
Donatien
Edgar
Edgard
Edmé
Edmond
Édouard
Élie
Eloi
Émeric
Émile
Émilien
Emmanuel
Enzo
Éric
Ermenegilde
Ernest
Ethan
Étienne
Eugène
Eustache
Évariste
Évrard
Fabien
Fabrice
Félicien
Félix
Ferdinand
Fernand
Fiacre
Firmin
Florence
Florent
Florentin
Florian
Francis
François
Frédéric
Gabriel
Gaël
Gaëtan
Gaspard
Gaston
Gaubert
Geoffroy
Georges
Gérard
Géraud
Germain
Gervais
Ghislain
Gilbert
Gilles
Gratien
Grégoire
Guatier
Guillaume
Gustave
Guy
Hector
Henri
Herbert
Hercule
Hervé
Hilaire
Hippolyte
Honoré
Horace
Hubert
Hugues
Humbert
Hyacinthe
Ignace
Irénée
Isidore
Jacques
Jason
Jean
Jérémie
Jérôme
Joachim
Jocelyn
Joël
Jonathan
Joseph
Josse
Josué
Jourdain
Jules
Julien
Juste
Justin
Laurent
Laurentin
Lazare
Léandre
Léo
Léon
Léonard
Léonce
Léonide
Léopold
Lionel
Loïc
Lothaire
Louis
Loup
Luc
Lucas
Lucien
Lucrèce
Ludovic
Maël
Marc
Marcel
Marcellin
Marin
Marius
Martin
Mathieu
Mathis
Matthias
Maurice
Maxence
Maxime
Maximilien
Michaël
Michel
Modeste
Narcisse
Nathan
Nathanaël
Nazaire
Nicéphore
Nicodème
Nicolas
Noé
Noël
Norbert
Odilon
Olivier
Onésime
Pascal
Patrice
Paul
Philippe
Pierre
Placide
Pons
Prosper
Quentin
Rainier
Raoul
Raphaël
Raymond
Régis
Rémy
René
Reynaud
Richard
Robert
Roch
Rodolphe
Rodrigue
Roger
Roland
Romain
Rosaire
Ruben
Salomon
Samuel
Sébastien
Séraphin
Serge
Sévère
Séverin
Simon
Sylvain
Sylvestre
Télesphore
Théodore
Théophile
Thibault
Thierry
Thomas
Timothée
Toussaint
Urbain
Valentin
Valère
Valéry
Vespasien
Victor
Vincent
Vivien
Xavier
Yves
Zacharie

For some real-life inspiration, here are lists of famous 19th century and 20th century French people, courtesy of Wikipedia. Notice that many of the Frenchman have double-barreled, triple-barreled, even quadruple-barreled given names. (Daguerre himself was named Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre.)

Source: The First Photograph of a Human

Popular Baby Names in Ukraine

Ukraine’s Minister of Justice recently announced the most popular baby names in Ukraine for the first half of 2010 were Anastasia and Maksym.

I can’t give you proper rankings (because they weren’t included in the press release, oddly) but here are the other baby names that were mentioned:

Boy Names Girl Names
Andriy
Arseniy
Artem
Artur
Bohdan
Daniil (Danylo)
David
Denis
Dmytro
Gleb
Ilya
Ivan
Kyrylo
Marc
Maksym
Mykhaylo
Mykola
Mykyta
Nazar
Oleksandr
Pavlo
Serhiy
Timur
Tymofiy
Vadym
Victor
Vitaliy
Yegor
Yevgeniy
Yuriy
Alina
Anastasia
Angelina
Anna (Hanna)
Arina
Cristina (Hrystyna)
Darya (Daryna)
Diana
Elizabeth
Eva
Iryna
Karina
Kateryna
Maria
Oleksandra
Olga
Polina
Sofia
Tatiana
Valeria
Veronica
Victoria
Yana
Yulia

Sources: The most popular names in Ukraine were Anastasia and Maxim, Most popular baby names in Ukraine

Names from France – Fiacre, Maxime, Roch, Séverin

France is full of saints. In churches, museums, secular buildings, public squares…saints can be seen nearly everywhere.

We visited about a dozen French churches, including:

  • Saint-Michel-Archange (in Menton) – declared a basilica by JPII in 1999,
  • Saint-Séverin (in Paris) – within spitting distance of Notre Dame, and
  • La Madeleine (in Paris) – quite Roman-looking, as you can see:

L'Église de la Madeleine

Inside these churches I often saw representations of popular French saints like Denis, Thérèse and Vincent. Some of the lesser-known saints I spotted were Blandine, Eleuterus, Pothin and Rustique (in Latin: Rusticus).

At the Notre-Dame d’Esperance in Cannes, I found the following statue of Saint Fiacre, a 7th-century Irish saint who later relocated to (and became more popular in) France.

St Fiacre statue

Overall, I’d say St. George and St. Roch were the saints I noticed most often. This might be because they’re especially popular among the French…or it might be because they’re just easy to identify. :)

For instance, here’s the wounded St. Roch and his trusty, bread-bearing dog:

St Roch statue

This version comes from the aforementioned Basilique Saint-Michel-Archange.

And here’s the mounted St. George, always fighting that pesky dragon:

St George statue

If I remember correctly, I discovered it on the outer wall of a random building in Grasse.

In the Louvre, I recall seeing depictions of St. Cecilia, St. Sebastian, St. Francis, St. Jerome, and, most notably, St. Bruno. (Bruno is one of my favorite saints, so I was happy to stumble upon a series of paintings by Eustache Le Sueur depicting scenes from his life.)

Finally, I can’t forget to mention place names.

Two of the streets I remember walking/driving in Paris are Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and Boulevard St-Germain.

Towns on the Côte d’Azur include St-Aygulf, Ste-Maxime, St-Raphaël, and, of course, St-Tropez:

Saint Tropez sign

During the trip we also drove past St. Gallen in Switzerland, and briefly visited Sanremo in Italy. (Sanremo is a contraction of San Romolo, the Italian form of St. Romulus.)

Names from France series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5