How popular is the baby name Michel 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 Michel.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Michel


Posts that Mention the Name Michel

20 baby names from flowers: Kalmia, Magnolia, Begonia, Zinnia

baby names from flowers

Spring is here! Let’s celebrate with some flower names.

But let’s do something a little different. Instead of the same old suggestions, like Lily and Rose, let’s check out some relatively modern flower names that ultimately come from Latinized surnames (via genus names).

Here’s a list of 20. Most of these are rarely used for humans, so if you’re looking for an unexpected nature name for a baby girl, this is a good place to start.

abelia flowers
Abelia

Abelia

Pronunciation: ah-BEEL-yah

Abelia flowers are white or pink, and usually scented. The genus Abelia is part of the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae).

Abelia was named for British surgeon and naturalist Clarke Abel (1780-1826). Clarke’s version of the surname Abel is likely based on the Hebrew name Abel, meaning “breath.” An identical German surname is based on a pet form of Albrecht, made up of elements meaning “noble” and “bright.”

The baby name Abelia is currently very rare.

allamanda flower
Allamanda

Allamanda

Pronunciation: ah-lah-MAHN-dah

Allamanda flowers are typically yellow, though some are pink. The genus Allamanda is part of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae).

Allamanda was named for Swiss botanist Frédéric-Louis Allamand (1736-1803). This French surname is based on the Middle French word meaning “German.”

The baby name Allamanda is currently very rare.

begonia flowers
Begonia

Begonia

Pronunciation: beh-G?N-yah

Begonia flowers come in a wide range of colors: white, pink, peach, salmon, red, orange, yellow, etc. With close to 1,500 species, Begonia is the 6th-largest genus of flowering plants.

Begonia was named for French office-holder and plant collector Michel Bégon (1638-1710).

The baby name Begonia is currently very rare.

camellia flower
Camellia

Camellia

Pronunciation: kah-MEEL-yah

Camellia flowers are white, pink, red, and sometimes yellow. The genus Camellia is part of the Theaceae family. Leaves of the species Camellia sinensis are used to produce tea.

Camellia was named for Czech Jesuit missionary and botanist Georg Joseph Kamel (1661-1706). The surname Kamel is derived from a word meaning “camel.” Camels are not endemic to Europe, but they were commonly used on house signs in central Europe during the later Middle Ages.

The baby name Camellia is currently ranked 2,597th.

cattleya flower
Cattleya

Cattleya

Pronunciation: KAT-lee-yah

Cattleya flowers come in a range of colors: purple, orange, white, yellow, etc. The genus Cattleya is part of the orchid family (Orchidaceae).

Cattleya was named for English merchant and horticulturist William Cattley (1788-1835). The first element of the English surname Cattley is based on either Catta, a personal name, or a word meaning “(wild) cat.” The second comes from the Old English word leah, meaning “woodland; clearing.”

The baby name Cattleya is currently ranked 1,684th. It was very rare until a character named Cataleya was featured in the 2011 movie Columbiana. The character’s name was based on the genus name.

clintonia flowers
Clintonia

Clintonia

Pronunciation: klin-T?N-ee-ah

Clintonia flowers are white, red, or green-yellow. The genus Clintonia is part of the lily family (Liliaceae).

Clintonia was named for U.S. politician and botanist De Witt Clinton (1769-1828). The English surname Clinton is based on one of two different place names. One place name was derived from Old English words meaning “enclosure, fence” + “settlement,” while the other means “Glyme (river)” + “settlement.”

The baby name Clintonia is currently very rare.

dahlia flower
Dahlia

Dahlia

Pronunciation: DAL-yah (first syllable can rhyme with “gal”, “doll,” or “dale”)

Dahlia flowers come in a wide range of colors. The genus Dahlia is part of the daisy family (Asteraceae).

Dahlia was named for Swedish botanist Anders Dahl (1751-1789). The Swedish surname Dahl is based on the Old Norse word dalr, meaning “dale, valley.”

The baby name Dahlia is currently within the top 1,000, ranked 719th.

forsythia flowers
Forsythia

Forsythia

Pronunciation: for-S?TH-ee-ah or for-S?TH-ee-ah (chiefly British English)

Forsythia flowers are bright yellow. The genus Forsythia is part of the olive family (Oleaceae).

Forsythia was named for Scottish botanist William Forsyth (1737-1804). The surname Forsyth is based on Fearsithe, a Gaelic personal name made up of the Gaelic words fear, meaning “man,” and sith, meaning “peace.”

The baby name Forsythia is currently very rare.

freesia flowers
Freesia

Freesia

Pronunciation: FREE-zhah, FREE-zhee-ah

Fragrant freesia flowers are white, yellow, pink, red, or blue-mauve. The genus Freesia is part of the iris family (Iridaceae).

Freesia was named for German botanist and doctor Friedrich Freese (1794-1878). The German surname Freese is based on an ethnic name for someone from Friesland.

The baby name Freesia is currently very rare.

gardenia flower
Gardenia

Gardenia

Pronunciation: gar-DEEN-yah

Gardenia flowers are white or pale yellow and strongly scented. The genus Gardenia is part of the coffee family (Rubiaceae).

Gardenia was named for Scottish-born American naturalist Alexander Garden (1730-1791). The English surname Garden is based on an occupational name for a gardener. It ultimately comes from the Old Norman French word gardin, meaning “garden.”

The baby name Gardenia is currently rare.

gazania flower
Gazania

Gazania

Pronunciation: gah-ZAY-nee-ah

Gazania flowers are shades of yellow and orange. The genus Gazania is part of the daisy family (Asteraceae), like Dahlia.

Gazania was named for Greek humanist Theodorus Gaza (1398-1475).

The baby name Gazania is currently very rare.

gloxinia flowers
Gloxinia

Gloxinia

Pronunciation: glok-S?N-ee-ah

Gloxinia flowers are white, pink, red, blue or purple. The genus Gloxinia is part of the Gesneriaceae family.

Gloxinia was named for German physician and botanical writer Benjamin Peter Gloxin (1765–1794).

The baby name Gloxinia is currently very rare.

kalmia flowers
Kalmia

Kalmia

Pronunciation: KAHL-mee-ah

Kalmia flowers are white, pink or purple. The genus Kalmia is part of the heather family (Ericaceae).

Kalmia was named for Swedish-Finnish botanist Pehr Kalm (1716-1779).

The baby name Kalmia is currently very rare. (Years ago, a commenter mentioned that he’d named his daughter Kalmia.)

kerria flowers
Kerria

Kerria

Pronunciation: K?R-ee-yah

Kerria flowers are bright yellow. The genus Kerria is part of the rose family (Rosaceae).

Kerria was named for Scottish gardener and plant hunter William Kerr (d. 1814). The Scottish surname Kerr is a topographic name referring to a patch of wet ground overgrown with brushwood. It ultimately comes from the Old Norse word kjarr, meaning “copsewood, brushwood, thicket.”

The baby name Kerria is currently very rare.

lobelia flowers
Lobelia

Lobelia

Pronunciation: l?-BEEL-yah; l?-BEEL-ee-ah

Lobelia flowers are purple, pink, white or blue. The genus Lobelia is part of the bellflower family (Campanulaceae).

Lobelia was named for Flemsih botanist Matthias de L’Obel (1538-1616).

The baby name Lobelia is currently very rare.

magnolia flower
Magnolia

Magnolia

Pronunciation: mag-N?L-yah, mag-N?L-ee-ah

Magnolia flowers are fragrant and come in white, pink, red, purple or yellow. Because they predate bees and butterflies, they’re typically pollinated by beetles.

The genus Magnolia was named for French botanist Pierre Magnol (1638-1715). The French surname Magnol may be based on either the Latin word magnus, meaning “great,” or on a French place name of uncertain derivation.

The baby name Magnolia is currently within the top 1,000, ranked 831st.

monarda flower
Monarda

Monarda

Pronunciation: moh-NAR-dah

Monarda flowers are various shades of red, pink, and purple, and highly scented. The genus Monarda is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae).

Monarda was named for Spanish physician and botanist Nicolás Monardes (1493-1588).

The baby name Monarda is currently very rare.

plumeria flowers
Plumeria

Plumeria

Pronunciation: ploo-MEER-ee-ah

Plumeria flowers (also known as frangipani) are very fragrant and come in several colors. The genus Plumeria is part of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), like Allamanda.

Plumeria was named for French botanist Charles Plumier (1646-1704). The French surname Plumier is based on an occupational name for either a feather dresser or a plumber. The former occupational name ultimately comes from the Latin word plumarius, meaning “embroidered with feathers,” while the latter comes from the Latin word plumbum, meaning “lead.”

The baby name Plumeria is currently very rare.

wisteria flowers
Wisteria

Wisteria

Pronunciation: wis-TEER-ee-ah

Wisteria flowers are are purple, violet, pink or white, and often scented. The genus Wisteria is part of the bean family (Fabaceae).

Wisteria was named for American physician and anatomist Caspar Wistar (1761–1818). Caspar’s surname is a modified form of the German surname Wüster.

The baby name Wisteria is currently very rare.

zinnia flower with butterfly
Zinnia

Zinnia

Pronunciation: Z?N-ee-ah, Z?N-ya

Zinnia flowers come in a wide range of colors (red, purple, orange, buff, yellow, etc.) and shapes. The genus Zinnia is part of the daisy family (Asteraceae), like Dahlia and Gazania.

Zinnia was named for German anatomist and botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759). The German/Jewish surname Zinn is based on an occupational name for a pewter worker or tinsmith. It ultimately comes from the Germanic word zin, meaning “tin, pewter.”

The baby name Zinnia is currently ranked 2,136th.

*

What other surname-derived flower names would you add to this list?

*

Source: Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Images: All but one of the flower images in this post are in the public domain. They come from MorgueFile, Pixabay, National Park Service websites, and Wikimedia Commons. The gloxinia image was adapted from Gloxinia by abelard1005 under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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

Revolutionary baby names in France: Pomme, Jonquille, Mort aux Aristocrates

Painting of the storming of the Bastille in 1789.
The storming of the Bastille, 1789

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that, up until the 1960s, the citizens of France were forced to obey a restrictive baby name law that was enacted in 1803.

Why did that law exist?

In order to curb the very non-traditional baby naming practices that had evolved during the years of the French Revolution.

It all started in September of 1792, one day before the French National Convention abolished the monarchy. On that day, a decree was issued. The decree allowed the citizens of France to change their forenames quite easily — all they had to do was “make a simple formal declaration before the registrar of their local municipality.”

Many people took advantage of this decree and chose new names with a revolutionary flavor (i.e., names that referred to nature, to the new republican calendar*, to republican virtues, to republican heroes, or to antiquity).

And, of course, they started giving their children revolutionary names as well.

Examples of these names include…

NameTranslation/Significance
Abeille“Bee” / refers to the date Germinal 15 (Apr. 4)
Abricot“Apricot” / refers to the date Thermidor 13 (Jul. 31)
Agricola-Vialarefers to Joseph Agricol Viala, child-martyr of the French Revolution
Ail“Garlic” / refers to the date Messidor 27 (Jul. 15)
Amour Sacré de la Patrie l’an Trois“Sacred Love of the Fatherland Year III”
Armoise“Mugwort” / refers to the date Thermidor 7 (Jul. 25)
Aubergine“Eggplant” / refers to the date Vendémiaire 26 (Oct. 17)
Bararefers to drummer boy Joseph Bara, child-martyr of the French Revolution
Belle de Nuit“Four o’clock flower”/ refers to the date Vendémiaire 16 (Oct. 7)
Betterave“Beet root” / refers to the date Brumaire 4 (Oct. 25)
Bitume“Bitumen” / refers to the date Nivôse 3 (Dec. 23)
Brutusrefers to ancient Roman politician Brutus
Carmagnolerefers to the song “La Carmagnole
Carotte“Carrot” / refers to the date Vendémiaire 7 (Sept. 28)
Calasrefers to executed merchant Jean Calas
Catherine Laurier ThimCatherine “Laurier-thym,” or “Laurustinus” / refers to the date Pluviôse 6 (Jan. 25)
Citoyen Français“French Citizen”
Cresson“Watercress” / refers to the date Brumaire 17 (Nov. 7)
Décadi“Tenth day” (of the ten-day week) / refers to the day of rest that replaced Sunday
Dix-Août“10 August” / refers to the insurrection of August 10 (1792) that overthrew the French monarchy
Dixhuit Fructidor“18 Fructidor” / refers to the Coup of 18 Fructidor in Year V (Sept. 4, 1797)
Droit de l’Homme Tricolor“Right of Man Tricolor”
Égalité“Equality”
Étain“Tin” / refers to the date Nivôse 26 (Jan. 25)
Faisceau Pique TerreurFasces,” “Pike,” “Terror” / refers, at least partially, to the Reign of Terror
Fédéré“Federated”
Fleur d’Orange Républicaine“Republican Orange-Flower”
Floréalbased on fleur, “flower” / one of the springtime months of the republican calendar
Fraise“Strawberry” / refers to the date Prairial 11 (May 30)
Franchise (frahng-sheez)“Frankness” / the root word, franc, is semantically associated with both “freedom” and “Frenchness”
Fructidorbased on fructis, Latin for “fruit” / one of the summertime months of the republican calendar
Fumier“Manure” / refers to the date Nivôse 8 (Dec. 28)
Guillaume Tellrefers to folk hero William Tell
Helvétius Mablyrefers to French philosophers Gabriel Bonnot de Mably and Claude Adrien Helvétius
Houlette“Shepherd’s crook” / refers to the date Floréal 30 (May 19)
Humain“Human”
Isabelle Civilis Victoire Jemmapes DumouriezIsabelle, “Civil,” “Victory,” Jemmapes [sic] refers to the Battle of Jemappes, and Dumouriez refers to general Charles François Dumouriez
Jonquille“Daffodil” / refers to the date Germinal 8 (Mar. 28)
Lagrenade“The Grenade”
La Loi“The Law”
La Montagne“The Mountain” / refers to a political group
Laurent Sans-culottesLaurent “Without Breeches” / refers to the common people
Le Peletierrefers to politician Louis-Michel le Peletier
Liberté“Freedom”
Lucius Pleb-EgalLucius “Plebeian-Equality”
Maratrefers to journalist and revolutionary martyr Jean-Paul Marat
Maratinerefers to journalist and revolutionary martyr Jean-Paul Marat
Marat, ami du peuple“Marat, friend of the people”
Marat, défenseur de la Patrie“Marat, defender of the Fatherland”
Minerverefers to Roman goddess Minerva
Mort aux Aristocrates“Death to the Aristocrats”
Mucius Scaevolarefers to ancient Roman youth Scaevola
Peuplier“Poplar” / refers to the date Pluviôse 9 (Jan. 28)
Philippe Thomas Ve de bon coeur pour la RépubliquePhilippe Thomas “Go with a good heart for the Republic”
Phytogynéantropeaccording to one source, it’s “Greek for a woman giving birth only to warrior sons”
Pomme“Apple” / refers to the date Brumaire 1 (Oct. 22)
Porte-arme“Weapon-holder”
Racine de la Liberté“Root of Freedom”
Raifort“Horseradish” / refers to the date Frimaire 12 (Dec. 2)
Raison“Reason”
Régénérée Vigueur“Regenerated Strength”
Rhubarbe“Rhubarb” / refers to the date Floréal 11 (Apr. 30)
Robespierrerefers to politician Maximilien Robespierre
Sans Crainte“Without Fear”
Scipion l’Africainrefers to ancient Roman general Scipio Africanus
Seigle“Rye” / refers to the date Messidor 1 (Jun. 19)
Simon Liberté ou la MortSimon “Freedom or Death”
Spartacusrefers to ancient Roman gladiator and military leader Spartacus
Sureau“Elderberry” / refers to the date Prairial 17 (Jun. 5)
Thermidorbased on thermon, Greek for “summer heat” / one of the summertime months of the republican calendar
Travail“Work”
Tubéreuse“Tuberose” / refers to the date Fructidor 6 (Aug. 23)
Unitée Impérissable“Imperishable Unity”
Vengeur Constant“Constant Avenger”
Victoire Fédérative“Federal Victory”

Though it’s impossible to estimate just how many revolution-era babies got revolutionary names, the number seems to be well into the thousands, judging by statements like these:

  • “[I]n the winter and spring of 1794 at least 60 per cent of children received revolutionary names in Marseilles, Montpellier, Nevers, and Rouen.”
  • “[I]n Poitiers…only 62 of 593 babies born in the year II [1793-94] were named after saints in the ancien régime manner. Instead, they were given names reflecting the contrasting sources of political inspiration.”

About a decade later, however, all this creative naming came to an end.

Under Napoleon Bonaparte, the French government enacted a law that restricted French given names to “names used in various calendars” (that is, the names of Catholic saints) and “names of persons known from ancient history.” In essence, the law was meant to “put an end to citizens bearing absurd names that signified inanimate objects, forms of vegetation, membership of the animal kingdom and abstract concepts.”

….And this was the law that gave the Manrot-le Goarnic family so much difficulty when they tried to give their children Breton names a century and a half later.

*The French republican calendar, in use from 1793 to 1806, was a secular take on the Catholic Church’s calendar of saints. The months “were named after natural elements, while each day was named for a seed, tree, flower, fruit, animal, or tool.”

Sources:

Unisex baby names: Even splits of 2009

Hundreds of unisex names were given to both baby boys and baby girls last year. But only 65 were split evenly between the two genders, according to SSA data.

NameBoysGirlsTotal
Michel5555110
Michal484896
Storm434386
Haydyn323264
Avry272754
Adi262652
Indiana262652
Kemani262652
Clarke222244
Riyan202040
Samar171734
Amori161632
Bradie131326
Carlisle121224
Oluwadamilola121224
Angell111122
Eaden111122
Maika111122
Nur111122
Chesley101020
Dacoda101020
Mattia101020

Fewer than 20 babies total: Agam, Aidynn, Amadi, Armahni, Arrington, Ecko, Elim, Elyah, Grae, Jarae, Jasyiah, Jiayi, Keighan, Kumari, Lakshya, Lanny, Lean, Mako, Marcelle, Money*, Nyel, Oluwanifemi, Oluwatomisin, Omega, Phynix, Psalm, Qamar, Rayen, Reyhan, Ryian, Santanna, Shadow, Shyler, Siah, Sinclair, Skiler, Starling, Stellar, Thanh, Ugonna, Windsor, Yali, Yareth

*I’m pleased that Money made the list. There may be a gender-based income gap in the U.S., but at least men and women are named Money in equal measure. That has to count for something, right?