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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Ignatius

Number of Babies Named Ignatius

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Ignatius

Baby Named Etruria for Ocean Liner

Ocean liner Etruria, Cunard

That recent post about Altruria reminded me of a similar-sounding name: Etruria.

In early January, 1907, the Cunard ocean liner RMS Etruria encountered rough seas while crossing the Atlantic. Two of the crewmembers were killed, several others were injured, and passengers were forced to wait out the storm below deck.

During that time, a baby girl was born in steerage to Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Goldstein. Her name? Etruria Rachel Goldstein.

And records reveal that the ship had at least one other namesake: Thomas Etruria Walter, born at sea aboard the Etruria in November of 1887.

The ship was in service from 1885 to 1908. It was named after the ancient civilization that lived in what is today central Italy. The earliest inhabitants of Etruria (that we know of) spoke Etruscan — the presumed origin of a handful of modern baby names including Anthony/Antonio, Camille/Camilla, Horatio, Ignatius, Lavinia, Minerva, and Sergey/Sergio.

Source: “Seaman Killed as Waves Swept Decks of Ocean Liner.” Daily True American [Trenton, NJ] 7 Jan. 1907: 1.

Popular Baby Names in England and Wales, 2015

According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the most popular baby names in England and Wales last year were (again) Amelia and Oliver.

Here are the top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Amelia, 5,158 baby girls
2. Olivia, 4,853
3. Emily, 3,893
4. Isla, 3,474
5. Ava, 3,414
6. Ella, 3,028
7. Jessica, 2,937
8. Isabella, 2,876
9. Mia, 2,842
10. Poppy, 2,816
1. Oliver, 6,941 baby boys
2. Jack, 5,371
3. Harry, 5,308
4. George, 4,869
5. Jacob, 4,850
6. Charlie, 4,831
7. Noah, 4,148
8. William, 4,083
9. Thomas, 4,075
10. Oscar, 4,066

In the girls’ top 10, Ella and Mia replace Lily (now 13th) and Sophie (now 11th).

In the boys’ top 10, Noah (the top name in the U.S. right now) replace James (11th).

In the girls’ top 100, Penelope, Mila, Clara, Arabella, Maddison and Aria replace Lydia (now 103rd), Faith (104th), Mollie (105th), Brooke (107th), Isabel (110th) and Amy (117th).

In the boys’ top 100, Jaxon, Roman, Reggie and Carter replace Owen (now 101st), Robert (105th), Joey (117th) and Finlay (123rd).

Here are some of last year’s rare baby names, each given to either 3, 4 or 5 babies:

Rare Girl Names Rare Boy Names
Aarzoo, Autumn-Lily, Boglarka, Comfort, Edna, Enxi, Euphemia, Flourish, Fozia, Gabia, Jupiter, Lady, Lleucu, Llio, Merveille, Nectaria, Pebbles, Peony, Prisca, Purity, Quorra, Reisel, Sloka, Tuba, Venice, Vimbainashe, Ylva Alffi, Bam, Bright, Crimea, Cuthbert, Efezino, Elimelech, Fyfe, Ghyll, Gryff, James-Dean, Jamesdean, Kushagra, Ignatius, Marmaduke, Math, Mio, Osagie, Otso, Pip, Przemyslaw, Sherlock, Swayley, Ringo, Testimony, Thierno, Zephyrus

(Crimea is intriguing, isn’t it? It was used as a baby name in the 1850s, during the Crimean War, but this is the first time I’ve seen it on a modern name list.)

And what about Welsh names?

Welsh Girl Names Welsh Boy Names
  • Seren (“star”) ranks 17th in Wales
  • Ffion (“foxglove”), 20th
  • Megan, 27th
    • & 76th overall
  • Mali, 45th
  • Alys, 66th
  • Carys (“love”), 72nd
  • Efa, 73rd
  • Cadi, 82nd
  • Lili, 85th
  • Lowri, 88th
  • Eira (“snow”), 92nd
  • Ela, 97th
  • Elin, 97th
  • Dylan ranks 13th in Wales
    • & 38th overall
  • Osian, 25th
  • Harri, 27th
  • Jac, 33rd
  • Rhys, 34th
  • Evan, 37th
  • Tomos, 47th
  • Cai, 51st
  • Ioan, 56th
  • Morgan, 67th
  • Elis, 66th
  • Hari, 82nd
  • Gethin (“swarthy”), 88th
  • Iestyn, 88th
  • Macsen, 92nd
  • Owain, 92nd
  • Ifan, 96th

Finally, if you’d like to go back another year, here are the England and Wales rankings for 2014.

Source: Baby names in England and Wales: 2015

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


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!

Names from Central Burying Ground in Boston

Boston’s Central Burying Ground was established in 1756, so it’s newer than the other Boston cemeteries I’ve blogged about (King’s Chapel, Granary, and Copp’s Hill). Nevertheless, it still contains some pretty interesting names:

  • A: Aderline, Alford, Alona, Alpheus, Alsendorf, Annjulett, Antice, Anstice, Arodi, Artemis, Asadel
  • B: Barstow, Barzillia, Belcher, Benaset
  • C: Calista, Christeena, Clarena, Clarentine, Cumming
  • D: Dolley
  • E: Ede, Elbridge, Elhanah, Eliakim, Emely
  • F: Fletcher, Freelove
  • G: Giles, Gilman, Gustavus
  • H: Hannahretta, Hawkes, Hepzibah, Hermione, Hezekiah, Hitty
  • I: Ichabod, Ignatius, Iphigenia
  • J: Jaazaniah, Jennet
  • K: Keziah
  • L: Lendall, Llewlwyn, Loms, Lot, Lyman
  • M: Manasseh, Mansfred, Marayanna, Marston, Mayday, Mehitable, Micajah, Milla, Mindwell, Minerva
  • N: Nabby, Nahum
  • O: Orvilla
  • P: Pamelia, Percival, Phebee, Philander, Pliny
  • R: Rodolth, Rosalinda, Rosamund, Ruhamah
  • S: Sally, Salome, Seiba, Shubael, Shubel, Sibley, Silence, Silvanus, Sophronia, Sukey, Sylvanus
  • T: Tamer, Ternon, Theophilus, Tristam, Tryphena
  • V: Vivia
  • W: Waverly, Wentworth, Worham, Winthrop
  • Z: Zabiah, Zebiah, Zeal, Zephaniah, Zilpah

I bet Vivia would appeal to modern parents looking for an alternative to Olivia and/or Vivian.

Which of the above do you like best? How about least?

Source: Gravestone Inscriptions and Records of Tomb Burials in the Central Burying Ground (1917) by Ogden Codman

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.

Distinctive Baby Names, State by State

Which baby names are the most disproportionately popular in each U.S. state?

Name blog Republic of Names has your answer — a bunch of cool lists of the most distinctive baby names by state. Here are some highlights for about half of the states.

In Alabama:

  • Crimson – Crimson Tide is the University of Alabama football team.
  • Krimson

In Alaska:

  • Aurora
  • Denali – Denali (Mount McKinley) in Alaska is North America’s highest peak.
  • McKinley

In Arizona:

  • Ariza
  • Helios
  • Nizhoni – Nizhóní is a Navajo word meaning “it/he/she is pretty/beautiful.”
  • Sedona – Sedona is a city in Arizona.

In California:

  • Eztli – Eztli is a Nahuatl (Aztec) word meaning “blood.”
  • Sissi

In Colorado:

  • Matix
  • Story
  • Trindon – Trindon Holliday played pro football in Colorado.
  • Zeppelin

In Florida:

  • Kervens
  • Woodley

In Idaho:

  • Ammon
  • Brigham
  • Hyrum

In Indiana:

  • Jolisa

In Iowa:

  • Kinnick – Kinnick Stadium is where the Iowa Hawkeyes football team plays.

In Kansas:

  • Creighton
  • Ignatius

In Louisiana:

  • Beaux
  • Jacques
  • Marigny – Foubourg Marigny is a New Orleans neighborhood.
  • Montreal

In Maine:

  • Baxter – Baxter is a state park in Maine.
  • Libby

In Mississippi:

  • Swayze

In Missouri:

  • Chancellor
  • Messiah

In Montana:

  • Tuff

In Nevada:

  • Berenice
  • Halo
  • Love

In North Carolina:

  • Chatham

In North Dakota:

  • Briggs
  • McCoy

In Oklahoma:

  • Gentry
  • Jentri
  • Jentry
  • Kutter
  • Tuck
  • Tuff

In Oregon:

  • Alder
  • Autzen – Autzen Stadium is where the Oregon Ducks football team plays.
  • Avenir – Avenir is a French word meaning “future.” It’s also on the Washington state list below. In fact, nearly two-thirds of last year’s Avenirs were born on the west coast: 10 in Washington, 7 in California, 5 in Oregon. Anyone know why?
  • Cedar
  • Forest
  • Maple
  • Opal
  • Pepper
  • Sequoia
  • Sol

In Tennessee:

In Texas:

  • Brazos – Brazos is a Spanish word meaning “arms.” The Brazos River in Texas was originally called Rio de los Brazos de Dios, or “River of the Arms of God.”

In Utah:

  • Korver – Kyle Korver played pro basketball in Utah.
  • Lesieli
  • Navy
  • Parley
  • Viliami

In Vermont:

  • Arlo
  • Juniper

In Washington, D.C.:

  • Egypt
  • Harlem

In Washington (state):

  • Avenir – see Oregon
  • Rio
  • Valkyrie
  • Zephyr

In West Virginia:

  • Remington

In Wisconsin:

  • Charisma
  • Croix
  • Ruthann

In Wyoming:

  • Temperance

See the original post for the rest. You might also be interested in checking out the “most regional” baby names in the US.

Name Quotes for the Weekend #8

From Kim Gillespie of the Bay of Plenty Times:

Yes, some want unique names for their babies. Others are happy to choose traditional or family names with meaning. Either way, having labelled your kid for life, how about mums and dads concentrate on growing a human being who will stand out, make a difference and be loved for who they are, not for what they’re called.

From the American Name Society [pdf]:

“Malala” was chosen as the Personal Name of the Year. The first name of Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for refusing to abandon her campaign for girls’ education, is now known worldwide as a symbol for women’s rights.

The overall Name of the Year was Sandy.

From’s Meg Matenaer, who named her first son Augustine:

When our oldest son Augustine was born, there was lots of confusion on the part of people asking what his name was. Either they misheard (“Justin? What a nice name.” or “Augustus?”) or they mispronounced it, especially if they were from a different faith tradition. Many a nurse has called for Augusteen across a crowded waiting room.

And named her second son Ignatius:

In the days following his birth, I tried not to worry about how other people perceived his name. Everyone had been very polite and remarked on what a beautiful or interesting name it was. No one actually said what they might have been thinking, “Are you serious?” Filling out the birth certificate paperwork, I tried to banish thoughts of how our little guy might grow up to hate us.

From Nina Badzin, writing for TC Jewfolk:

I speak from the experience of not waiting to announce my kids’ names. Of course after the birth of our first three children, my husband and I let approximately twenty-two seconds pass before broadcasting our name choices. But with our fourth child due in a few weeks, we’ve decided to hold out until the proper ceremony (we don’t know if we’re having a boy or a girl) before telling anyone the name. Practically speaking, there’s something cool and uniquely private about forcing ourselves to rise above the fast-paced announce everything on Facebook three minutes after it happens culture.

From a Fortune article about finance guru Ramit Sethi:

Sethi says his name was originally supposed to be Amit, not Ramit. But when his parents realized that Amit Singh Sethi’s initials spelled out a profanity, they went back to the registrar and convinced him that he had erroneously dropped an “R.” “Like true immigrants, they didn’t request a name change, because that would be, like, $50,” he says.

From Elizabeth Walne of UK genealogy blog Your Local History:

Some first names can be very helpful in providing an approximate birth date for an individual if you are unsure. I once researched a family with sons Foch, Petain and Joffre – all Marshals of France during WWI, effectively ‘dating’ them to around 1914-18.

Another example with less specific dates is the girl’s name ‘Adelaide’ which became popular with Adelaide, wife of William IV (born 1792, crowned Queen Consort 1831 and died 1849) and then fell in popularity – but importantly for red herring purposes didn’t disappear completely – after the turn of the century.

From Melinda Ozongwu of This Is Africa (via A Mitchell):

These days it isn’t uncommon to meet young African parents who’ve succumbed to one naming trend or the other, naming their children after celebrities, for instance: the Blue Ivy’s and all the rest of it. It’s quite a new thing, as the form and parameters of African names have traditionally been fairly standard, unlike in the West where spellings of names change, new names get invented, names rise and fall in popularity from one year to the next and so on. Recently it seems that Africans are more likely to include popular English names as well as ‘trend’ names when naming their children. It must be quite frustrating for the older generation to see the younger generations opting out of using traditional names, especially so for those who were around during our countries’ liberation from colonialism, many of whom are proud traditionalists, and many of whom are already exhausted by the younger generation abridging and altering their culture in other ways.

From Bella Clarke of the blog Glitz and Pram:

Chose a middle name first. You might want a family name as a middle name, or have a name that you’ve always loved but don’t think it seems right as a forename. For some reason it’s a lot easier to decide on a middle name for your baby and I found that having this choice set in stone made it easier to eliminate some of my forename choices.

From Drew Magary of Deadspin:

I’m waiting for Utah parents to seize upon the W as the next replacement vowel. If you don’t think there’s a Jwcwlwnn in our future, you are dead wrong. Eventually, all American baby names will resemble some kind of old Welsh dialect.

Previously: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7