Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Ine Crowd

File:France, Rapilly, 18th Century Print showing Headdress Engraving, hand tinted, gouache Sheet- 11 5-8 x 9 3-8 in. Comp- 9 6-8 x 7 7-8 in. LACMA M.83.194.6.jpgFile:France, Rapilly, 18th Century Print showing Headdresses Engraving, hand-tinted gouache 11 5-8 in. X 9 3-8 in. (29.5 x 23.8 cm.) LACMA M.83.194.7.jpg

This post is a bit of an exercise in self indulgence. The Ine Crowd, as I like to call the group of names below, are some of my favourite names out there. It's the French elegance they evoke, I guess, that makes me all crayzay over them. I've focused on the A-J here but will likely take a look further down the alphabet in future posts.

Adeline - A diminutive of Adele, she comes from the German adal meaning 'noble'. In France, it reached its peak of popularity in the early 90s and has seen a steady decrease in use in the last decade. In 1991 it was in the Top 30 in France, given to over 3200 babies, but by 2010 only 115 babies received the name. In England&Wales, she has seen even less use, with only 17 baby girls given the name in 2012. Adeline, Countess of Cardigan and Lancastre, born in 1824, is an interesting and slightly scandalous figure who carried the pretty name. 

Aline - A medieval short form of Adeline, she's starting to become slightly more used in France than her cousin Adeline, for the first time since 1977. Although she too has seen a decline since the height of her popularity in the early 1980s, Aline has now started to see steady, albeit small, use. In 2010 she was given to 174 babies, and in England&Wales was given to only 4. A name that is ripe for the picking for someone looking for something that is currently not being used all that much but that is still recognisable.

File:Alexandrine Lenormand d'Etiolles with a bird.jpgAlexandrine - In the English speaking world Alexandra (from the Greek Alexandros meaning 'defending men') has always been far better known, even Alexandrina, the first name of Queen Victoria, has appeared more in the spotlight. Alexandrine is far more obscure, but her rarity makes her a far more interesting option. It was a name given to French and German nobility, including the name of the eldest child of Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden and Sophie of Sweden; and Alexandrine-Jeanne Le Normant d'Étiolles, the daughter of the Madame de Pompadour, Louis VX's chief mistress. Alexandrine has never been a very popular name in France, with it's top year being 1901, and even then it was given to less than 500 baby girls. There's been a definite dip and in 2010 only 16 babies were given the name.

Amandine - This French name reached lofty heights in France, being perhaps one of the most popular names on this list, but many of us wouldn't even have heard of her. In 2000 she sat in the #29 spot of the French Top 100, which is quite impressive, but Amandine's hay day was 1986 when she was higher up the list in 13th place overall. She's the French feminine form of Amanda, which in Latin means 'lovable, worthy of love'. So maybe her very nice meaning had something to do with why Amandine took off the way she did. But we Brits clearly have not being paying attention - in 2012 we only bestowed this lovely on 4 baby girls.

Apolline - Derived from the name of the Greek God Apollo, its meaning is possibly that of 'strength'. Apolline is on the up and has cracked the French Top 100, standing at #97. From the late 1910s to 1984 she wasn't given to more than 20 babies, but she then took off in the 90s and in 2012 was given to over 700 girlies. This French beauty has clearly gathered a mass of admires in France but the same cannot be said for England&Wales - only 3 girls were given this unusual but still very wearable moniker.

Célestine - Céleste has made many parents' short lists but many haven't found Célestine yet, which means she's a perfect choice for someone looking for something a bit more out-there. A French form of Caelestinus, derived from a late Latin name, Célestine means 'of the sky, heavenly'. She has seen modest use in France for the last 50 years or so, but has steadily increased her fan base. Like Alexandrine, Célestine was at the top of her game in the early 1900s and then nearly disappeared. Now, she is making a small, tiny come back and is being used in the hundreds rather than in the tens. Without her accent, Celestine can also be used as a masculine name. It was the name of five early popes.

File:Pierre-Paul Prud'hon - Study for a Portrait of Empress Joséphine - Google Art Project.jpgÉmeline - She's the French form of German Amalina, meaning 'work'. I'm not going to deny that I don't much prefer the symmetry of the Emmeline spelling, but remove the extra M and add an accent and tah da! you have a truly French name. She's on her way down, even her modest popularity waning, after having a good run for most of the 1990s and some time spent in the French Top 100 in the 2000s. In England&Wales, Emeline was used 6 times in 2012, whereas Emmeline was given to 74 babies. There has been some impressive carriers of the name, including American spy Emeline Piggott, born in 1836; Emeline Robert Jones, the first woman to practise dentistry in the US; and medieval heiress Emeline Dawnay. If Emeline doesn't quite work, how about Ameline? She's an even more hidden gem.

Georgine - This French 1920s name isn't one that is currently being used, which is fabulous for lovers of the 'George' names who like something that isn't heard of everyday. She's a bit more boyish than Georgia or elaborate Georgiana, but still ever so elegant. It's the name of some minor royals, like Georgine Henriette Marie, daughter of the Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont and wife to William II of Württemberg, and Countess Georgine Norberte Johanna Franziska Antonie Marie Raphaela von Wilczek (wow! that's one long name).

Hermine  - Like many of the names on this list, Hermine saw a bit of a gap in use from the 1930s to the late 90s, but has now started to regain some of her old use. She's the feminine form of clunky Herman meaning 'army man'. Although similar to Hermione in appearance, they don't share the same roots. Hermine Cadolle, born in 1845, is credited as the inventor of the modern bra. There was also Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz who married to Wilhelm II in 1922 - he was 63 years old and she was 34.   

Joséphine - Perhaps the most famous of all the Ine Crowd listed here, Joséphine's roots go back to the Hebrew name Yosef meaning 'he will add'. As the epitome of a French name, she's feminine and elaborate, dainty but extravagant, lady-like but made of stern stuff. But that's just my view. In the English speaking world there has been interest in her because of the nickname Josie, but Joséphine in her full form has a certain gravitas that's rather appealing. In 2012 she was just inside the French Top 200, and in England&Wales she was only given to 212 girls, which means that she's still acceptable for those who dislike popularity in a name. The most famous bearer of the name is Joséphine Bonaparte, Napoleon's first wife, and that wasn't even her real name! Born Marie Josèphe Rose, she had always been known by Rose until Napoleon came along and called her Joséphine (clearly a man of taste). Their marriage was rocky, with both of them having affairs, but Napoleon must have loved his Joséphine. His last word on his death bed was her name.

Sources: dataadict.fr, meilleursprenoms.com (which is ahmazing) and ons.gov.uk

Image: 2 Headdress engravings. A Portrait of Alexandrine Le Normant d'Étiolles, Playing with a Goldfinch by Francois Boucher. A Study for a Portrait of Empress Joséphine by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, 1805