What popularized the baby name Celine in the 1990s?

Céline Dion's first English-language album, "Unison" (1990)
Céline Dion album

According to the U.S. baby name data, the name Celine saw a steep rise in the usage during the 1990s:

  • 1999: 394 baby girls named Celine [rank: 617th]
  • 1998: 565 baby girls named Celine [rank: 456th]
  • 1997: 443 baby girls named Celine [rank: 537th]
  • 1996: 271 baby girls named Celine [rank: 774th]
  • 1995: 231 baby girls named Celine [rank: 846th]
  • 1994: 247 baby girls named Celine [rank: 815th]
  • 1993: 157 baby girls named Celine
  • 1992: 121 baby girls named Celine
  • 1991: 77 baby girls named Celine
  • 1990: 52 baby girls named Celine
  • 1989: 43 baby girls named Celine

The name entered the top 1,000 in 1994, and even reached the top 500 (briefly) in 1998. That 1998 spike remained the name’s highest overall usage until the late 2010s.

Here’s a visual:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Celine in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Celine

What was behind the rise?

Quebec-born singer Céline Dion, who became one of the dominant pop divas of the mid-to-late 1990s (along with Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey).

She’d been putting out French-language music in Canada for a decade before finally releasing her first English-language album, Unison, in 1990. The album featured the song “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” which reached #4 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart in March of 1991.

This first English-language hit was followed by many more, including…

  • “Beauty and the Beast” (1991), a duet with Peabo Bryson
    • theme song from the 1991 Disney movie Beauty and the Beast
  • “If You Asked Me To” (1992)
  • “The Power of Love” (1993)
  • “Because You Loved Me” (1996)
    • theme song from the 1996 movie Up Close & Personal
  • “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” (1996)
  • “All by Myself” (1996)
  • “My Heart Will Go On” (1997)
    • theme song from the 1997 movie Titanic

“My Heart Will Go On” was Céline Dion’s biggest hit, and today it’s considered her signature song. Here’s a live performance:

The 5-time Grammy winner was born in March of 1968 in the town of Charlemagne, a suburb of Montreal. Her parents, Adhémar and Thérèse Dion, had a total of fourteen children:

  1. Denise
  2. Clément
  3. Claudette
  4. Liette
  5. Michel
  6. Louise
  7. Jacques
  8. Daniel
  9. Ghislaine
  10. Linda
  11. Manon
  12. Paul (twin)
  13. Pauline (twin)
  14. Céline

Céline, the baby of the family, was more than two decades younger than her oldest sibling, Denise.

How did she come to be named Céline?

Her mother had chosen the name after hearing the song “Céline,” written by the French writer and singer-songwriter Hugues Aufray, who had had great success in Quebec and France during the time Céline’s mother was pregnant with her. “Céline” told the story of a good-hearted, well-behaved girl, the oldest of a large family, whose mother died giving birth to the youngest. The Céline of the song sacrificed her youth to care for her brothers and sisters, and the years had passed without her ever knowing the joys of love.

Hugues Aufray’s song “Céline” [vid] was released in 1966.

Quebec’s baby name data, which only goes back to 1980, doesn’t reveal whether or not the song made the name Céline trendy in Quebec in the late 1960s. But it does show the name declining in usage during the 1980s — despite the fact that a teenage Céline Dion was racking up French-language hits in Quebec throughout the decade.

The French name Céline can be traced back (via the Roman family names Caelinus and Caelius) to the Latin word caelum, which means “heaven.”

What are your thoughts on the name Céline?


One thought on “What popularized the baby name Celine in the 1990s?

  1. It is a pretty enough name, but since it’s associated with her, I would never use it. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I liked her schlocky music. (Although I am sorry about her health struggles — they sound horrifying, and nobody should go through that.)

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