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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Guy

Number of Babies Named Guy

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Guy

Contrarian Baby Names: Cliff, Janet, Steve, Wanda…

contrarian baby names, uncool baby names

“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.

If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.

But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.

If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.

Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.

Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.

Contrarian Baby Names: Girls

Alberta
Anita
Ann
Annetta
Annette
Bambi
Becky
Benita
Bertha
Bessie
Beth
Betty
Beverley
Beverly
Blanche
Bobbie
Bobby
Bonita
Candy
Caren
Carlene
Carol
Carole
Cary
Caryn
Cathleen
Cathy
Charla
Charlene
Charmaine
Cheri
Cherie
Cheryl
Chris
Christi
Cindy
Claudette
Coleen
Colleen
Connie
Dale
Danette
Danita
Darlene
Dawn
Dawna
Deanne
Debbie
Debora
Debra
Deirdre
Delores
Denice
Denise
Diane
Dianna
Dianne
Dollie
Dolores
Dona
Donna
Doreen
Dori
Doris
Dorthy
Eddie
Edwina
Ernestine
Ethel
Gail
Gayle
Gena
Geralyn
Germaine
Gilda
Glenda
Glenna
Harriett
Jackie
Janet
Janice
Janis
Jayne
Jean
Jeanette
Jeanie
Jeanine
Jeanne
Jeannette
Jeannie
Jeannine
Jeri
Jerri
Jerry
Jill
Jimmie
Jo
Joan
Joann
Joanne
Jodi
Jody
Joellen
Joni
Juanita
Judi
Judy
Juli
Kandi
Karin
Kathie
Kathy
Kay
Kaye
Kerrie
Kerry
Kim
Kimberley
Kitty
Kris
Kristi
Ladonna
Laureen
Lauretta
Laurie
Lavonne
Lee
Leesa
Lois
Lorene
Lori
Lorie
Lorinda
Lorna
Lorraine
Lorrie
Lou
Louann
Lu
Luann
Luanne
Lucretia
Lupe
Lyn
Lynda
Lynn
Lynne
Madonna
Marcia
Marcy
Margie
Mariann
Marianne
Marla
Marsha
Maryjo
Maureen
Meg
Melba
Melinda
Melva
Michele
Migdalia
Mitzi
Myrna
Nanette
Nelda
Nicki
Nita
Norma
Pamela
Patrice
Patsy
Patti
Patty
Pauline
Peggy
Pennie
Phyllis
Randy
Reba
Rene
Rhonda
Rita
Robbie
Robbin
Roberta
Robin
Rochelle
Ronda
Rosanne
Roseann
Roxane
Roxann
Sandy
Saundra
Sharon
Sheila
Shelia
Shelley
Shelly
Sheri
Sherri
Sherry
Sheryl
Shirley
Sondra
Sue
Susanne
Suzan
Suzanne
Tammie
Tammy
Tena
Teri
Terri
Terry
Thelma
Theresa
Therese
Tina
Tonia
Tonya
Tracey
Traci
Tracie
Tracy
Treva
Trina
Trudy
Velma
Verna
Vicki
Vickie
Vicky
Wanda
Wendy
Willie
Wilma
Yolanda
Yvonne

Contrarian Baby Names: Boys

Adolph
Al
Alford
Alphonso
Arne
Arnie
Arnold
Artie
Barry
Barton
Bennie
Bernard
Bernie
Bert
Bill
Billie
Bob
Bobbie
Brad
Bradford
Brent
Bret
Britt
Bud
Buddy
Burl
Burt
Butch
Carey
Carleton
Carlton
Carmen
Carroll
Cary
Cecil
Chester
Chuck
Clarence
Claude
Cletus
Cleveland
Cliff
Clifford
Clifton
Columbus
Curt
Curtiss
Dale
Dan
Dana
Dannie
Darrel
Darryl
Daryl
Dave
Davie
Del
Delbert
Dell
Delmer
Denny
Derwin
Dewey
Dirk
Don
Donnie
Donny
Doug
Douglass
Doyle
Duane
Dudley
Duwayne
Dwain
Dwaine
Dwane
Dwight
Earl
Earnest
Ed
Edsel
Elbert
Ernie
Farrell
Floyd
Fred
Freddie
Fredric
Gale
Garland
Garry
Garth
Gene
Geoffrey
Gerard
Gerry
Gilbert
Glen
Glenn
Greg
Gregg
Greggory
Grover
Guy
Hal
Haywood
Herbert
Herman
Homer
Horace
Howell
Hubert
Irwin
Jackie
Jame
Jeff
Jefferey
Jeffry
Jerald
Jerold
Jess
Jim
Jimmie
Jodie
Jody
Johnie
Johnnie
Karl
Kelly
Ken
Kenney
Kennith
Kent
Kermit
Kerry
Kim
Kirk
Kraig
Kurt
Laurence
Lawrance
Len
Lenard
Lennie
Les
Leslie
Lester
Lindell
Lindsay
Lindsey
Linwood
Lloyd
Lonnie
Lonny
Loren
Lorin
Lowell
Loyd
Lynn
Marion
Marty
Matt
Maxie
Mel
Merle
Merrill
Mickel
Mickey
Millard
Milton
Mitch
Mitchel
Monty
Neal
Ned
Nicky
Norbert
Norman
Norris
Orville
Perry
Pete
Phil
Ralph
Randal
Randel
Randell
Randolph
Rayford
Rick
Rickey
Rickie
Rob
Robby
Robin
Rock
Rodger
Rogers
Rojelio
Rolf
Ron
Roosevelt
Rudolfo
Rudolph
Rufus
Russ
Rusty
Sal
Sammie
Sandy
Sanford
Scot
Sherman
Sherwood
Skip
Stan
Stanford
Steve
Stevie
Stewart
Stuart
Sylvester
Tad
Ted
Terence
Thurman
Tim
Timmothy
Timmy
Tod
Todd
Tom
Tommie
Toney
Tracey
Tracy
Val
Vernell
Vernon
Waymon
Wendell
Wilbert
Wilbur
Wilford
Wilfred
Willard
Willis
Winfred
Woody

Interestingly, thirteen of the names above — Bobbie, Cary, Dale, Jackie, Jimmie, Jody, Kerry, Kim, Lynn, Robin, Sandy, Tracey, Tracy — managed to make both lists.

Now some questions for you…

Do you like any of these names? Would you be willing to use any of them on a modern-day baby? Why or why not?

Name Spotting: Malancthon

sign, colorado, names
Sign inside Garden of the Gods

My dad came out to visit us in Colorado recently. He loves geology, so we made sure to take him to several different places with impressive rocks/terrain.

One place we visited was Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. In this park we spotted the above sign, which described how the park got its name back in the 1850s:

As they looked over this area of cathedral-like rock spires, one man, Malancthon Beach, commented that the spot would be a great place for a beer garden someday. His friend, a poetic young man named Rufous Cable, replied that it was a place “fit for the Gods.”

It’s a cool story, but, to me, that first name “Malancthon” is way more interesting than the origin of the park name. Where did it come from?

My best guess is that Malancthon is a tribute to 16th-century German theologian Philipp Melanchthon, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. His surname at birth was Schwartzerd (“black earth” in German), but as a young man he Latinized his name to the classical equivalent Melanchthon (“black earth” in Greek).

Civilian Conservation Corps, new deal
CCC Company 1848

We also saw some names at Red Rocks, which is both a park and a famous amphitheater.

The amphitheater was constructed from 1936 to 1941 by men in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program that existed during the Great Depression. One display included a photo of 124 of the men in the local CCC. Here are their first names, sorted by frequency:

  • 5: Joe, Raymond
  • 4: Charles
  • 3: Arthur, Clarence, Edward
  • 2: Bill, Byron, Carl, David, Earnest, Edwin, Everett, Jack, James, Leo, Maurice, William
  • 1: Aaron, Albert, Aldine, Alfonso, Allen, Alva, Amos, Ancelmo, Arleigh, Aubrey, Audrey, Barnett, Blaine, Calvin, Celestino, Charley, Claud, Claude, Clayton, Cleston, Dale, Damas, Dan, Darold, Dick, Don, Donald, Ed, Elden, Elias, Elipio, Emerson, Emilio, Eric, Ernest, Eston, Fares, Frank, Fred, Glenn, Grant, Gust, Guy, Horace, Hubert, Irvin, Jake, Jasper, Jesse, Jim, John, Jose, Kenneth, Lawrence, Leland, Leonard, Lester, Louis, Lyman, Manual, Marvin, Max, Merce, Noah, Norman, Orval, Pasqual, Paul, Pete, Richard, Rowland, Rudolfo, Russel, Russell, Sandeford, Trenton, Willard

…What interesting names have you spotted while out and about recently?

Name Quotes #62: Alice, Donna, Shachar

Ready for another batch of name-related quotes gathered from all over the place?

Let’s start with Liberian midwife Alice Sumo:

…[S]he was both surprised and delighted when quickly babies were named after her.

“I said ‘oh wow’ because with some of them I didn’t even know that they had named the baby after me! When you go to the market everybody is called Alice of Alex or Ellis. The last time I counted it was 862 Alices but now it has increased to 1,000 plus!

“To me the name Alice is an action name. Alice people are active people, they are caring people, they are loving people. A, the first letter in the alphabet. A for action.”

From Jack Burton’s article about songwriters Harry and Albert Von Tilzer in the April 9, 1949, issue of Billboard magazine:

After a season of tanbark and tinsel, Harry caught on with a traveling repertoire company, playing juvenile roles, singing songs of his own composing, and abandoning the family name of Gumm for a more glamorous and professional moniker. He took his mother’s maiden name of Tilzer and added “Von” for a touch of class. This switch in nomenclature proved to be the keystone of a songwriting dynasty which was destined to make history in Tin Pan Alley with the turn of the century.

The family’s surname was originally Gumbinsky. The phrase “tanbark and tinsel” refers to the circus; Harry was part of a traveling circus for a time as a teenager.

From an article about names in Israel by Abigail Klein Leichman:

I figured [Forest Rain’s] parents must have been hippies or Native Americans. In mainstream American culture, it is unusual to name children after elements of nature. How many people do you know named Rainbow, Lightning, Juniper Bush, Boulder, Valley, Oak, Prairie, Wellspring, or Wave?

In Israel, such names are extremely commonplace. If Forest Rain translated her name to Ya’ara Tal, no Israeli would think it exotic in the least. The words mentioned above translate to the everyday Hebrew names Keshet, Barak, Rotem, Sela, Guy, Alon, Bar, Ma’ayan, and Gal.

Another difference is that many modern Israeli names are unisex. You often cannot tell by name alone if someone is male or female. Tal, Gal, Sharon, Noam (pleasant), Shachar (Dawn), Inbar (amber), Inbal (bell), Neta (sapling), Ori (my light), Hadar (splendor), Amit (friend), and myriad other common names are used for either gender.

From an essay in which birder Nicholas Lund contemplates naming his baby after a bird (found via Emily of Nothing Like a Name):

Eventually Liz asked me to think about why I was pushing for this, and whether a birdy name was in the best interests of our kid. Did he need to carry on my own birding legacy? She was right. My son may very well grow up to love birds—I really hope he does—but he also might not. It should be his choice and not mine. If my dad had named me after some of his hobbies, you’d be calling me Carl Yastrzemski Lund or Rapala Lure Lund, and then I’d have to live with that.

From Nelson Mandela’s 1994 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom:

Apart from life, a strong constitution, and an abiding connection to the Thembu royal house, the only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla. In Xhosa, Rolihlahla literally means “pulling the branch of a tree”, but its colloquial meaning more accurately would be “troublemaker.” I do not believe that names are destiny or that my father somehow divined my future, but in later years, friends and relatives would ascribe to my birth name the many storms I have both caused and weathered.

From an Irish newspaper article about the CSO disregarding fadas in Irish baby names:

The CSO recently unveiled its Baby Names of Ireland visualisation tool recently published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) tool allowing users to check the popularity of names officially registered in Ireland. However, it does not allow for names with the síneadh fada or other diacritical marks that denote pronunciation or meaning.

[…]

“Our language, while having a special status afforded it in the Constitution has been progressively marginalised to the fringes of bureaucracy.

“It behoves the Central Statistics Office above all other institutions to be correct in all matters it reports. This is where historians will first go to research,” [author Rossa Ó Snodaigh] said.

From an essay by Donna Vickroy about the difficulty of being named Donna in 2018:

[L]ately people ask “Vonna”? or “Dana?” or “What?” Maybe the whole language movement has taken a toll.

Still, with its solid D beginning, short O solidified by double Ns and that ubiquitous feminine A at the end, Donna is — and should continue to be — easy to understand, pronounce, spell.

And yet, the struggle is real. Donna appears to be aging out.

From an Atlas Obscura article about a disgruntled former 7-Eleven owner:

The owner, Abu Musa, named his new convenience store “6-Twelve,” a one-up of the 7-Eleven name, which references the chain’s original operating hours of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Musa’s store operates from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.

For lots more name quotes, click that link.

Initials that Spell Names

initials that spell names, gus, zoe, eli, seb

In June of 1982, the Toledo Blade ran a short article about two local brothers who “enjoy the distinction of having initials which spell their names.” One was Thomas Owen Matzinger (T.O.M.), the other was James Irvin Matzinger (J.I.M.). Their dad Mike said it was “just as well” that he didn’t have any more kids, because he couldn’t think of any other sets of names to fit the pattern.

My guess is that Mike was joking, because there are several other sets of initials that could work with an M-surname like Matzinger, one of which, T.I.M., is just a letter away from T.O.M.

In fact, there are at least a couple of combinations that would work with every type of surname.

So today, in honor of the Matzingers of Toledo, I’ve come up with a long list of name-spelling initials. They’re sorted by third initial (that is, the first letter of the last name) so you can scroll straight to the set that matches up with your own surname.

Enjoy!

Initials that Spell Names & Nicknames

Surname starts with: Potential full initials (& example combo):
A A.D.A. (Adelaide Diane A.)
A.N.A. (Anastasia Nadine A.)
A.S.A. (Asa Scott A.)
A.V.A. (Ava Virginia A.)
B.E.A. (Beatrix Elaine A.)
E.V.A. (Eva Veronica A.)
G.I.A. (Gia Idonea A.)
I.D.A. (Idabelle Daria A.)
I.N.A. (Ina Nigella A.)
I.R.A. (Ira Ralph A.)
I.S.A. (Isabel Simone A.)
K.I.A. (Kia Ianthe A.)
L.E.A. (Leah Elizabeth A.)
M.I.A. (Mia Imelda A.)
N.I.A. (Nia Ilona A.)
O.D.A. (Odalys Delfina A.)
O.R.A. (Ora Ruth A.)
U.M.A. (Uma Magnolia A.)
U.N.A. (Una Normina A.)
B D.E.B. (Deborah Ethel B.)
J.E.B. (Jeb Evan B.)
L.I.B. (Libbie Ione B.)
R.O.B. (Robert Orville B.)
S.E.B. (Sebastian Everly B.)
S.Y.B. (Sybil Yvette B.)
T.A.B. (Tabitha Araminta B.)
Z.E.B. (Zebulon Ezekiel B.)
C B.E.C. (Becky Eowyn C.)
M.A.C. (Mackenzie Anne C.)
N.I.C. (Nicole Isabelle C.)
V.I.C. (Victor Ivan C.)
Z.A.C. (Zackary Arlo C.)
D J.E.D. (Jedidiah Easton D.)
R.O.D. (Rodney Orrin D.)
T.E.D. (Theodora Eugenia D.)
Z.E.D. (Zedekiah Ezra D.)
E A.B.E. (Abraham Benjamin E.)
A.C.E. (Ace Corbin E.)
E.V.E. (Eve Violet E.)
F.A.E. (Fae Adina E.)
I.K.E. (Isaac Keith E.)
J.O.E. (Joseph Owen E.)
L.E.E. (Lee Ethan E.)
M.A.E. (Maebelle Alice E.)
M.O.E. (Morris Oscar E.)
R.A.E. (Raelene Alicia E.)
S.U.E. (Susan Ursula E.)
Z.O.E. (Zoe Ocean E.)
F A.L.F. (Alfred Leonard F.)
D.U.F. (Duffy Ultan F.)
J.E.F. (Jeffrey Elliott F.)
G M.E.G. (Megan Emiliana G.)
P.E.G. (Peggy Elise G.)
R.E.G. (Reggie Elmo G.)
R.O.G. (Roger Olav G.)
H A.S.H. (Ashton Samuel H.)
I A.B.I. (Abigail Bailey I.)
A.L.I. (Alison Layla I.)
A.M.I. (Ami May I.)
A.R.I. (Ariana Rafaela I.)
A.V.I. (Avi Vincent I.)
E.D.I. (Edith Daisy I.)
E.L.I. (Elijah Logan I.)
E.V.I. (Evie Venetia I.)
J.O.I. (Joi Olivia I.)
K.A.I. (Kai Alexander I.)
O.L.I. (Oliver Lennox I.)
J R.A.J. (Rajesh Ajay J.)
K M.A.K. (Makayla Ashley K.)
O.A.K. (Oakley Atlas K.)
L C.A.L. (Callum Audley L.)
D.E.L. (Delaney Estelle L.)
G.I.L. (Gilbert Ishmael L.)
H.A.L. (Harry Archibald L.)
L.I.L. (Lillian Iva L.)
M.A.L. (Malcolm Angus L.)
M.E.L. (Melanie Eloisa L.)
M.O.L. (Molly Odette L.)
S.A.L. (Sally Angelica L.)
S.O.L. (Solomon Osborn L.)
V.A.L. (Valerie Annette L.)
W.I.L. (Willy Ingo L.)
Z.E.L. (Zelda Erin L.)
M C.A.M. (Cameron Aidan M.)
D.O.M. (Dominic Orson M.)
J.E.M. (Jemima Eleanor M.)
J.I.M. (James Irvin M.)
K.I.M. (Kimberly Imogene M.)
L.E.M. (Lemuel Emerson M.)
P.A.M. (Pamela Alys M.)
R.A.M. (Ramsey Archer M.)
S.A.M. (Samuel Aaron M.)
S.I.M. (Simon Isidore M.)
T.A.M. (Tammy Anita M.)
T.I.M. (Timothy Isaac M.)
T.O.M. (Thomas Owen M.)
N A.N.N. (Annie Nuala N.)
B.E.N. (Benjamin Ellis N.)
C.Y.N. (Cynthia Yelena N.)
D.A.N. (Daniel Avery N.)
D.O.N. (Donovan Oliver N.)
F.I.N. (Finley Ivor N.)
J.A.N. (Janice Andrina N.)
J.O.N. (Jonathan Octavian N.)
K.E.N. (Kenneth Eric N.)
L.E.N. (Leonard Earl N.)
L.Y.N. (Lynnette Yasmin N.)
N.A.N. (Nancy Azalea N.)
R.E.N. (Renato Elian N.)
R.O.N. (Ronald Ormond N.)
V.A.N. (Vanessa Athena N.)
W.I.N. (Winifred Inez N.)
Z.E.N. (Zenobia Evelyn N.)
O F.L.O. (Florence Lily O.)
L.E.O. (Leo Elton O.)
P C.A.P. (Caprice Amity P.)
K.I.P. (Kip Indigo P.)
Q J.A.Q. (Jaquan Anthony Q.)
R.A.Q. (Raquel Alaiah Q.)
R G.A.R. (Gareth Alfie R.)
S C.A.S. (Caspian Atticus S.)
G.U.S. (Gustavo Ulises S.)
J.E.S. (Jessica Esther S.)
L.E.S. (Lester Edward S.)
R.U.S. (Russell Upton S.)
W.E.S. (Wesley Elwood S.)
T A.R.T. (Arthur Roland T.)
C.A.T. (Catherine Aveline T.)
D.O.T. (Dorothy Olive T.)
M.A.T. (Matthew Alastair T.)
N.A.T. (Nathan Arnold T.)
P.A.T. (Patricia Ainsley T.)
U L.O.U. (Louisa Ophelia U.)
P.R.U. (Prudence Rhoda U.)
S.T.U. (Stuart Tucker U.)
T.R.U. (Trudie Rose U.)
V B.E.V. (Beverly Evangeline V.)
L.I.V. (Livia Indiana V.)
N.E.V. (Neville Eldon V.)
V.I.V. (Vivian Ingrid V.)
W L.A.W. (Lawson Amos W.)
L.E.W. (Lewis Edgar W.)
X B.A.X. (Baxter Andrew X.)
D.A.X. (Dax Alec X.)
D.E.X. (Dexter Edison X.)
J.A.X. (Jaxon Antony X.)
L.E.X. (Lexie Eliza X.)
M.A.X. (Maximus Alvin X.)
P.A.X. (Pax Amelia X.)
R.E.X. (Rex Elias X.)
R.O.X. (Roxanna Opal X.)
T.E.X. (Tex Emmanuel X.)
Y A.M.Y. (Amy Michelle Y.)
G.U.Y. (Guy Urban Y.)
I.V.Y. (Ivy Verity Y.)
J.A.Y. (Jay Adam Y.)
J.O.Y. (Joyce Ondina Y.)
K.A.Y. (Katherine Addison Y.)
M.A.Y. (May Augusta Y.)
R.A.Y. (Raymond Adrian Y.)
R.O.Y. (Royce Oberon Y.)
S.K.Y. (Skylar Kerry Y.)
Z H.E.Z. (Hezekiah Ellery Z.)
J.E.Z. (Jezebel Eulalia Z.)
L.I.Z. (Lizzie Iris Z.)
K.I.Z. (Kizzy Isla Z.)
R.O.Z. (Rosalind Olga Z.)

Can you come up with other good ones? If so, please leave a comment!

Source: “So Named.” Toledo Blade 29 Jun. 1982: P-1.

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.