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, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Denis.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Denis


Posts that Mention the Name Denis

Popular baby names in Albania, 2019

albania

I’ve never posted rankings for Albania before, so even though these are out-of-date — even more so than the Iowa rankings from earlier this week — I figured it would be better to have one set as opposed to nothing at all. :)

According to Albania’s Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), the most popular baby names in the country in 2019 were Amelia and Noel.

Here are Albania’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Amelia, 499 baby girls
  2. Ajla, 327
  3. Aria, 182 (tie)
  4. Amelja, 182 (tie)
  5. Leandra, 145
  6. Ambra, 144
  7. Klea, 121
  8. Melisa, 114 (tie)
  9. Amaris, 114 (tie)
  10. Reina, 104

Boy Names

  1. Noel, 402 baby boys
  2. Aron, 190
  3. Joel, 188
  4. Roan, 178
  5. Amar, 170
  6. Mateo, 146
  7. Alteo, 121
  8. Luis, 115 (tie)
  9. Roel, 115 (tie)
  10. Dion, 113

The following names didn’t make Albania’s top 10, but did rank #1 in at least one Albanian municipality:

Other top girl namesOther top boy names
Adela, Adriana, Ajsela, Alesia, Alesja, Alisja, Ariela, Arilena, Jasmina, Kostandina, Marilena, NataliaAjan, Albi, Albjon, Aleandro, Alesio, Alfjo, Alison, Amelio, Anesti, Angjelo, David, Denis, Enea, Ergi, Hristos, Mihal, Nezir, Rafael, Samuel, Xhoel

An article about Albanian baby names published several years ago mentioned that, in 2014, none of the top ten names of either gender were of Albanian origin. University of Tirana sociology professor Edmond Dragoti argued that the trendiness of foreign names could be traced back to the fall of communism in Albania because, during the communist era, such names had been banned. He explained:

All the frustration about [parents] not being able to name their children as they wished exploded after the 1990s, when Albania opened up. The unlimited and uncontrolled new freedom quickly surpassed the need for a national identity.

Sources: Emrat më të përdorur për bebet shqiptare në 2019-n! Para se të vendosësh shiko listën, Top 10 names used in the last year – INSTAT, Emrat e rinj – INSTAT, Craze For Foreign Names Alarms Albanian Patriots

Name quotes #98: Judith, Xochitl, Rajaonina

From an article about famous people reclaiming their names in The Guardian:

Earlier this year, the BBC presenter formerly known as Ben Bland changed his surname to Boulos to celebrate his maternal Sudanese-Egyptian heritage.

[…]

The Bland name had masked important aspects of his identity that he had downplayed as a child, not wanting to be seen as in any way “different”, including his Coptic faith, Boulos said. “Every name tells a story – and I want mine to give a more complete picture of who I am.”

Boulos’s grandparents, who came to Britain in the 1920s, had chosen the surname Bland because they feared using the Jewish-Germanic family name “Blumenthal”. “They decided on the blandest name possible — literally — to ensure their survival,” he wrote.

(Two more quotes on name-reclaiming were in last month’s quote post.)

Actress Camila Mendes [vid] talking about her name on The Late Late Show With James Corden in 2017:

So my name is Camila Mendes, and there’s a singer called Camila Cabello, and a singer called Shawn Mendes. And people seem to think my Twitter is a fan account for that relationship.

From the book I Speak of the City: Mexico City at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (2015) by Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo:

Babies were baptized with new and strange names, particularly in the 1920s, names taken from the titles of various socialist experiments (for instance, in Tabasco with Garrido Canaval, who established socialist baptisms), and as a result of the emergence of the radio and the indigenist turn of the city’s language. Masiosare became a boy’s name (derived from a stanza of the national anthem: “Mas si osare un extraño enemigo…”), but also Alcazelser (after the popularity of Alka-Seltzer), Xochitl, Tenoch, Cuauhtémoc, Tonatihu (the biblically named Lázaro Cárdenas named his son Cuauhtémoc).

From a Good Morning America article about ’90s sitcom Saved by the Bell:

The names of characters came from people [executive producer Peter] Engel knew growing up.

“I knew a guy named Screech Washington. He was a producer. I said I’m not going to hire him, but I’m going to steal your name,” he said. “Slater was a kid who was in my son’s kindergarten class, Zack was named after my dear, dear friend, John DeLorean. […] His son’s name was Zack. Lisa Turtle was a girl I knew and Mr. Belding, Richard Belding, had been my cranky editor when I worked at Universal.”

From the book Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood (2004) by Robert S. Birchard:

DeMille interviewed Gloria Stuart for the part of the high school girl [in This Day and Age], Gay Merrick, and said she was “extremely enthusiastic,” and he also considered Paramount contract player Grace Bradley, but ultimately he selected a former model who called herself Mari Colman. In April 1933 Colman won a Paramount screen test in a New York beauty competition, and DeMille was apparently delighted by the innocent image she projected.

In a comic sequence in David O. Selznick’s 1937 production of A Star Is Born, the studio’s latest discovery, Esther Blodgett, is given a new name more in keeping with her status as a movie starlet. As This Day and Age was getting ready to roll, Mari Colman was subjected to the same treatment as DeMille and Paramount tested long lists of potential screen names. Among the suggestions were Betty Barnes, Doris Bruce, Alice Harper, Grace Gardner, Chloris Deane, and Marie Blaire. Colman herself suggested Pamela Drake or Erin Drake. On May 15, Jack Cooper wrote DeMille that he had tried several names on seventeen people. Eleven voted for the name Doris Manning; the other six held out for Doris Drake. Somehow, the name ultimately bestowed upon her was Judith Allen. DeMille and Paramount had high hopes for Allen, and she was even seen around town in the company of Gary Cooper, one of the studio’s biggest stars.

From an academic paper by Denis Regnier called “Naming and name changing in postcolonial Madagascar” (2016):

Nowadays, most names borne by individuals in Madagascar are a particular mix of foreign names (mainly Christian, French, or British but sometimes Muslim) and Malagasy names. This is because the spread of the Christian faith in the nineteenth century resulted in people increasingly giving names from the Bible to their children. These biblical names were often modified to follow the phonological and morphological rules of the Malagasy language (e.g., John becomes Jaonina or Jaona), and often the honorific particle Ra-, the word andriana (lord), or both were added to them (e.g., Rajaonina and Randrianarijaona). While at the beginning of Christian evangelization most people still had, in traditional Malagasy fashion, only one name, progressively the most common structure of names became “binomial,” as Gueunier calls it (Gueunier 2012, 197). In this case, a Christian name (or other foreign name) is often juxtaposed to a Malagasy name, although sometimes both names are of Malagasy origin or, more rarely, both names are foreign.

And let’s end with a related quote about Madagascar’s very long names:

Names were reduced in length when French colonization began in 1896 — the shortest names today include Rakotoarisoa, Rakotonirina, Andrianjafy or Andrianirina, and tend to have around 12 characters minimum.

How to pronounce French names: Anaïs, Étienne, Guillaume, Hélène

How to pronounce French names

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.

Image background by RD LH from Pixabay

Names collected in the Czech Republic

Earlier this month, my 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