‘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: ‘Spaghettata’

If you like your spaghetti, you'll love the 'spaghettata'.

Italian word of the day: 'Spaghettata'

You may have twirled and chomped your way through enough spaghetti to be ranked up there with the best of them – but if you’ve never lived in Italy, you’ve probably never experienced the spaghettata (‘spag-ett-TAH-tah’).

Garfield Spaghetti GIF - Garfield Spaghetti Pasta GIFs

Is it a party? Is it a meal? The best way we can describe it is as a fun, relaxed spaghetti feast eaten at home with friends.

Informal and often impromptu, a spaghettata typically lasts for several hours involves copious amounts of wine..

Ci ha invitati a casa sua per una spaghettata.
She’s invited us to her place for a spaghettata.

Whereas a traditional Italian meal would have pasta as a first course (primo), followed by a meat or fish secondo, the spaghettata is a meal unto itself.

Pasta is all that’s on the menu, and if you’re coming back for seconds or thirds, pasta is what you’ll get.

party spaghetti GIF by Isola dei Famosi

Because of its humble, cobbled-together nature, a typical spaghettata can be made with the kind of basic ingredients you might find in any Italian kitchen, such as garlic, olive oil and chilli flakes.

If you have Italian friends who are keen to show off their culinary skills, it can be a little more involved and they might want to show off a local or family recipe. In these cases, it can become more like a dinner party – but with multiple helpings of pasta, instead of multiple courses.

You can also expect to see regional or city-based variations on the spaghetti dishes involved. In Bari, for example, you might be invited to someone’s house so they can show off their recipe for spaghetti allassassina: lightly scorched, toasted spaghetti with tomato sauce.

One of the best things about the spaghettata, though, is the lack of rules; the meal’s improvisational origins mean really anything goes, provided you can source it at the last minute or dig it out of your pantry to feed a hungry crowd.

A meal also doesn’t need to be put on at any particular time of day to be a spaghettata: it might be a lunchtime affair, or it might happen on those long, lazy summer evenings and nights – in which case it becomes a spaghettata di mezzanotte (‘midnight spaghettata‘).

Facciamo una bella spaghettata di mezzanotte!
Let’s have a nice late night spaghettata!

While you’d normally have your spaghettata in the company of others, it can occasionally be used to describe a dish you whip up for yourself at the last minute – particularly if you come home after a night out and suddenly realise you’re a bit peckish.

Oddly enough, spaghettata di gelato (‘ice cream spaghettata’) is what Italians call the German dish spaghettieis.

That isn’t a meal consisting entirely of gelato (if only…), but a dessert deliberately designed to look like a plate of pasta, with vanilla ice cream ‘spaghetti’ and red or green ‘sauces’ made of things like berries or pistachio.

Celebration Will GIF

You might think that given how alert Italians often are to the desecration of their culinary traditions, this would have sparked some discontent – but the dish appears to be quite popular in Italy, with numerous Italian websites offering recipes for the dessert (often simply known as spaghetti di gelato).

Maybe it’s that no one can resist a little novelty ice cream – or maybe the laid back associations of the spaghettata simply encourage everyone to be a bit more scialla.

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