‘Foreign’ baby name still number one in France

For the third year in a row, a distinctly English-sounding name has topped the list of the 10 most popular baby names in France, knocking out traditional names such as Lina and Louise.

'Foreign' baby name still number one in France
Photo: AFP

Emma was the most popular name for girl babies in 2019, as it was in 2018 and 2017

Over the course of last year, 3,944 Emmas were born in France, according to French national research institute Insee, which ranks the 10 most popular baby names in France every year.

The English sounding girl's name, which actually has Germanic origins, beat traditional French names such as Jade and Louise, which came second and third with 3,820 and 3,752 babies respectively.

For the full lists, scroll down.


Gabriel most popular boy's name

Of all the boy babies born in 2019, most were named Gabriel (4,987 in total).

Gabriel won for the second time in a row, albeit with smaller margin than the previous year (5,419 babies were called Gabriel in 2018).

After Gabriel followed Léo (4,653 babies), Raphaël (4,454 babies) and Arthur (4,005 babies).

These names are, like most of the names that made the top 10 boy's list, quite traditional French boy's names.

Most of the top 10 boy's names in 2019 featured on the lists in 2018 and 2017, showing that the classic names are still popular for boys.

READ ALSO: The 6 boys' names that mean something very different in French 

You can see what name was the most popular locally in the maps below:


The French daily Le Parisien has made an online tool to search for the most popular name in your area. Click on this link, scroll all the way down, choose your département and a full list pops up.

Is your name Arya? The fierce young female Game of Thrones character seems to have inspired many parents to name their babies after her (more below). Photo. AFP

Soon to be dethroned?

Neither Emma nor Gabriel are traditional French names with longstanding and recurrent popularity comparable to old French names such as Marie or Louis.

Emma became popular in the 90s and has remained so ever since, but has been gradually losing ground since 2005. 

The decline continued last year when Emma's popularity dropped 10 percent compared to 2018.

Gabriel, which saw a massive upsurge in popularity in the 2000s, has seen its popularity drop since sometime around 2015.

Photo: Insee


The girl names that saw the biggest popularity boost last year were Joy and Arya. While neither made the top 10-list, they did increase by 46 and 38 percent respectively since 2018.

Joy is another English name, while Arya is probably best-known from the world famous series Game of Thrones. 

It's not the first time a celebrity name gains sudden popularity in France.

Back in 2018, 1,169 sets of parents picked the name Aya after the singer behind chart-topping hits such as Djadja and Pookie.

READ ALSO: How France's 'most embarrassing' baby name doesn't actually exist

On the boy side, 1,211 babies born that year were named Kylian, a newcomer name likely made popular by the 2018 French World Cup hero Kylian Mbappé.

But in terms of celebrity naming we're still a long way from 1991 when French parents turned their backs on traditional Gallic names and went absolutely mad for the name Kévin.

That year, some 14,087 bébé Kévins came into the world in France, with the accepted explanation pointing to two Hollywood films. 

Top 10 girl names in 2020:

1. Emma

2. Jade

3. Louise

4. Alice

5. Lina

6. Chloé

7. Rose

8. Léa

9. Mila

10. Ambre

Top 10 boy names in 2020:

1. Gabriel

2. Léo

3. Raphaël

4. Arthur

5. Louis

6. Lucas

7. Adam

8. Jules

9. Hugo

10. Maël





Member comments

  1. “English sounding name”? *Sigh* Not like the most famous French literary heroine was named Emma or anything…

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Italian word of the day: ‘Inchiodare’

You'll nail this word in no time.

Italian word of the day: 'Inchiodare'

What do a carpenter, a detective, and a bank robber screeching to a halt in their getaway car all have in common?

In English, not much – but in Italian, they could all be said to inchiodare (eenk-ee-ohd-AHR-eh) in the course of their professional activities.

In its simplest form, inchiodare simply means ‘to nail’ (chiodo, ‘kee-OH-do’, is a nail) – a picture to a wall, or a leg to a table.

Ha trovato questo cartello inchiodato alla sua porta.
She found this notice nailed to her door.

Inchioderò la mensola al muro più tardi.
I’ll nail the shelf to the wall later.

But like ‘to nail’, inchiodare has more than one definition.

You can use it to describe someone or something being ‘pinned’ in place, without actually having been literally nailed there.

Mi ha inchiodato al muro.
He pinned me to the wall.

La mia gamba è inchiodata al terreno.
My leg is pinned to the ground.

You can be metaphorically inchiodato to a place in the sense of being stuck there, tied down, or trapped.

Dovrei essere in vacanza e invece sono inchiodata alla mia scrivenia.
I should be on holiday and instead I’m stuck at my desk.

Don'T Forger You'Re Here Forever GIF - The Simpsons Mr Burns Youre Here GIFs

Siamo inchiodati a questa scuola per altri tre anni.
We’re stuck at this school for another three years.

Sono stati inchiodati dal fuoco di armi.
They were trapped by gunfire.

Just like in English, you can inchiodare (‘nail’) someone in the sense of proving their guilt.

Chiunque sia stato, ha lasciato tracce di DNA che lo inchioderanno.
Whoever it was, they left traces of DNA that will take them down.

Ti inchioderò per questo omicidio.
I’m going to nail you for this murder.

Thomas Sadoski Tommy GIF by CBS

Senza la pistola non lo inchioderemo, perché non abbiamo altre prove.
Without the gun we’re not going to get him, because we have no other proof.

For reasons that are less clear, the word can also mean to slam on the brakes in a car.

Ha inchiodato e ha afferrato la pistola quando ha visto la volante bloccando la strada.
He slammed on the brakes and grabbed the gun when he saw the police car blocking the road.

Hanno inchiodato la macchina a pochi passi da noi.
They screeched to a halt in the car just a few feet away from us.

Those last two definitions mean that you’re very likely to encounter the word when watching mystery shows or listening to true crime podcasts. Look out for it the next time you watch a detective drama.

In the meantime, have a think about what (or who) you can inchiodare this week.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.