How popular is the baby name Michel in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Michel.
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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:
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:
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.”
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 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.”
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 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 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.”
Pronunciation: DAL-yuh (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.
Pronunciation: for-SITH-ee-uh or for-SIETH-ee-uh (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.”
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.”
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.”
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 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).
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.”
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 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:
Here’s a close-up:
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.)
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…
“Bee” / refers to the date Germinal 15 (Apr. 4)
“Apricot” / refers to the date Thermidor 13 (Jul. 31)
“Poplar” / refers to the date Pluviôse 9 (Jan. 28)
Philippe Thomas Ve de bon coeur pour la République
Philippe Thomas “Go with a good heart for the Republic”
according to one source, it’s “Greek for a woman giving birth only to warrior sons”
“Apple” / refers to the date Brumaire 1 (Oct. 22)
Racine de la Liberté
“Root of Freedom”
“Horseradish” / refers to the date Frimaire 12 (Dec. 2)
“Rhubarb” / refers to the date Floréal 11 (Apr. 30)
refers to politician Maximilien Robespierre
refers to ancient Roman general Scipio Africanus
“Rye” / refers to the date Messidor 1 (Jun. 19)
Simon Liberté ou la Mort
Simon “Freedom or Death”
refers to ancient Roman gladiator and military leader Spartacus
“Elderberry” / refers to the date Prairial 17 (Jun. 5)
based on thermon, Greek for “summer heat” / one of the summertime months of the republican calendar
“Tuberose” / refers to the date Fructidor 6 (Aug. 23)
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.”