Friday, August 22, 2008

Common French Female First Names, Translations and Roots

Prior to the 20th century, most French girls were named similarly, especially the further back in time one goes.

Most of these names were feminized forms of male names, most of whom came from the Bible's New Testament, Catholic early saints or French royalty.

The few female names that are not founded on male names also come directly from the New Testament, Catholic saints or French royalty too.

The Catholic tradition was for each girl to have a unique name, combined with the name Marie as a second or middle name. But some priests wanted all girls to be named Marie, and often placed the name Marie as first name without the consent of the parents. So a Marie-x name may not be the name the girl or woman actually went by, but rather, her name may have simply been the second listed name, despite the documents showing otherwise.

At some point in time, girls were given a first, second and third name to go with their surname. In this instance, all girls' third name had to be Marie. The tradition continues in the Catholic Church to this day.

There are some instances of women's name being taken from the Old Testament, but their occurence was extremely rare.

The most common name is Marie, which is followed a distant second with Marie-Joseph or one of the latter's variations, such as Marie-Josephte or Marie-Josette.

The following lists all of the common first female names spelled correctly in French, with the common abbreviation, source of the name, the English translation where it's not obvious and its meaning and origin:

Adelaide (Ad.) (German) noble and serene
Adriane (Greek) rich; (Latin) dark (Saint Adrian (male))
Agathe (Ag.) Agatha (Greek) good, kind (Saint Agatha (long before 530))
Agnes (Greek) pure (Saint (d. c. 305))
Aimee (Latin) loved
Amable Amabel (Latin) lovable
Andrée Andrea (Greek) strong, courageous (Saint Andrew (male), from French Andre)
Angeline Angela (Greek) angel, messenger (Angel)
Angelique (Ang.) Angela (Greek) angel, messenger (Angel)
Anne (A.) Ann (Hebrew) gracious (from Hannah) (Saint, mother of Mary)
Antoinette (Ant.) Antonia (Greek) flourishing (Latin) praiseworthy (Saint Antony (male), from French Antoine)
Archange (Arch.) Archangel (Angel)
Aymee (Latin) loved (see Aimee)
Barbe Barb (Latin) stranger, foreigner (Saint Barbara (d. c 303))
Carole Carol (French) song of joy (English) strong and womanly (German) farmer
Caroline (Car.) Carolyn (French) little and womanly
Catherine (Cath.) Katherine (Greek) pure (Saints)
Cécile (Latin) blind (Saint Cecilia (3rd century))
Charlotte (Charl.) (French) little and womanly (form of Caroline; also from Charles)
Christine (Greek) Christian, anointed (Jesus Christ)
Claire (Latin) clear, bright (Saint Clare (1194-1253) & (d.1308))
Claude Claudia (Latin) lame (Saint Claude (male))
Claudette Claudia (Latin) lame (Saint Claude (male))
Clemence (Latin) merciful (Saint Clement (male))
Colombe (Latin) dove (Saint Columba (male))
Cunegonde (Cun.) (Saint Cunegund (c. 978-1033)) rarely found today
Deborah bee (Deborah, from Old Testament)
Delia (Greek, from Delos) visible; (German) short form of Adelaide
Delima short form of Rose de Lima, rarely found today
Denise or Denyse French: (follower of Dionysius) (Saint Dennis (male), from French Denis)
Desiree (French) desired, longed for
Dominique Dominica (Latin) belonging to the Lord (Saint Dominic (male))
Dorothee Dorothy (Greek) gift from God (Saint Dorothea (d. c. 304))
Edmee form of Aimee?
Emma-Marie Emily-Mary (Latin) flatterer (German) industrious
Emerance (Saint Emerentiana) rarely found today
Esther (Persian) star (Esther in Old Testament, synonym of Ishtar, Babylonian & Assyrian goddess of love, fertility and war)
Ethiennette (Et.)
Etiennette (Et.)
(Greek) crowned (from Saint Stephen, the French Saint Etienne (male)) rarely found today
Elisabeth (Elis.) Elizabeth (Hebrew) consecrated to God (Saint, cousin of Mary)
Elizabeth (Eliz.) see above
Eveline (Hebrew Eve) life (Eve from the Old Testament)
Felicite (Fel.) (Latin) fortunate, happy
Fleurence (French) flower
Florence (Latin) flowering, blooming, prosperous
Françoise (Frse.) Frances (Latin) free, from France (Saint Francis (male))
Gabrielle (Gab.) (Hebrew) devoted to God (Angel Gabriel (male))
Geneviève (Gen.) (French) white wave, white phantom (German, Welsh) Guinevere (Saint Genofeva or Genevieve (d. c . 500))
Germaine (French) from Germany (Saint Germanus (male), French Germain)
Gilberte (German) brilliant, pledge, trustworthy (Saint Gilbert (male))
Gilette (Saint Giles)
Gratienne ()
Guillemette (English William) determined guardian (Saint Guillaume (male) means William)
Guillemine (English William) determined guardian (Saint Guillaume (male) means William)
Hélène (Hel.) Helen, Ellen (Greek) light (Saint Helena (c. 250-330) & Helen (d. c.1160))
Honora or Honoré Honoured (Saint Honorius (male))
Huguette (German) bright mind (Saint Hugh (male), French Hugues) rarely found today
Isabelle (Isa.) Isabel (Spanish) consecrated to God (Saint Elizabeth, cousin of Mary)
Jacqueline (Jacq. or Jq.) supplanter, substitute (from St James of New Testament, from Jacob of Old Testament)
Jacquette (Jacq. or Jq.) same as above
(Marie-)Jacques (M.Jq.)
Jeanne (Jne.)
Jean, Jane (French) God is gracious (Saint John, evangelist, female form of Jean)
(Marie-)Joseph (M.J. or M.Jos.) (Saint Marie and Joseph, parents of Jesus )
Josephte or Josette (J. or Jos.) (French) God will add, God will increase (Saint Joseph, stepfather of Jesus)
Liesse a familiar form of Elizabeth rarely found today
Lise Lisa a familiar form of Elizabeth
Lisette Lisa a familiar form of Elizabeth
Louise (Lse.) (German) famous warrior (Saint and French king Louis)
Madeleine (Mad.) Madeline (Greek) high tower, from Hebrew Magdala (Saint Mary-Magdeleine)
Magdeleine (Mag. or Magd.) same as above; rarely found in this form today
Marceline (Marc.) (Saint Mark, evangelist .... from French Marc)
Marguerite (Marg.) Margaret (Greek) pearl (Saint)
Marie (M.) Mary (Hebrew) bitter, sea of bitterness (Mother of Jesus and other Biblical Saintly women, from Hebrew Hiriam)
Marthe Martha (Aramaic) lady, sorrowful (Saint, sister of Lazarus and Mary)
Mathurine (Math.) (Hebrew) gift of God (Saint Mathew, from French Mathieu) rarely found today
Martine Martina (Latin) martial, warlike (Saint Martin (male))
Michelle (Hebrew) who is like God? (Archangel Michael (male), from French Michel)
Nicole (Greek) victorious people (Saint Nicholas (male))
Odile (Greek) melody, song; ode (Hebrew) I will praise God (English) forested hill (Saint (660-720)) rarely found today
Pauline (Latin) small (Saint Paul, from French Paul)
Pérette (Saint Peter, from French Pierre)
Perine (French) pear-tree; (Latin, Greek) small rock (Saint Peter, from French Pierre)
Périnne (French) pear-tree; (Latin, Greek) small rock (Saint Peter, from French Pierre)
Pierrette (Saint Peter, from French Pierre)
Philomene (Phil.) Philomena (Greek) loved song, loved one (Saint Philomena (early Roman martyr- called Lumina on tomb) rarely found today
Radégonde (Rad.) (Saint Radegund (518-87)) rarely found today
Reine (Saint Rayne)
Renée (French) born again
Rose (R.) (Latin) rose (Saint Rose de Lima)
Rose-de-lima (R.d.L.) Rose of Lima (other name for Mary, mother of Jesus; also Saint Rose de Lima (1586-1617)) rarely found today in French names
Rose-Delima same as above
Sara Sarah (Hebrew) princess (Sarah of the Old Testament)
Scholastique (Schol.)
Simone (Hebrew) she heard (Saint Simon (male) in the New Testament)
Sophie Sophia
Susanne (Sus.) Susan (Hebrew) lily (Saint Susanna (3rd century))
Suzanne (Suz.) Susan (Hebrew) lily (Saint Susanna (3rd century))
Thérèse (Ther.) Theresa (Greek) reaper (Saint Theresa (1515-82) & (1873-97))
Thoinette (from Antoinette)
Toinette (from Antoinette)
Toussine (Tous.)
Ursule (Urs.) Ursula (Greek) little bear (Saint Ursula (4th century)?)
Véronique (Ver.) Veronica (Latin) true image (Saint in New Testament)
Vincente (Latin) victor, conqueror (Saint Vincent (male)) rarely found today