Names of the Week: Claude and Pétronille


This week’s names come courtesy of a suggestion by a French friend of mine – Pétronille is one of her middle names, whilst her little sister has the middle name Claude. It doee remind me of a point I keep meaning to mention: most of the French people I know my age seem to have two middle names. Then again, French president Sarkozy also appears to have two middle names – as does Dominique Strauss-Kahn to name another relatively well known French politician.

French middle names have always been a source of an interesting selection of names for me, since they always surprise. I have French friends with middle names such as Laurabell, Ghyslaine and Florizel. On the other hand, three of my closest English-speaking friends share the middle name Louise, but that may just be down to pure chance.

However, we’re getting off topic.

Back to the names, and specifically this week’s male name of Claude. Well, he’s not strictly a male name; in France, the name Claude is both feminine and masculine – but Claud sans the e is solely masculine. Either way, both names comes from the Latin name Claudius, which derives from the Latin claudus and means lame, crippled.

The name Claude isn’t exactly raging with popularity these days – only 7 were born in England&Wales in 2010; Claudius and Claudio both having 3 births apiece. It seems odd that Claude still laments near the bottom of the popularity charts, given that his feminine form of Claudia is doing relatively well at the moment – at #240 in 2010. As well as Claudia, both Claudette and Claudine were given the girls in 2010, but only 3 of each.

I guess what we can take from this is that popularity for one name does not necessarily translate to popularity for the other gender counterpart. Other names one could lump in with Claude include Jamesina, Thomasina and Lucius; then again, plenty live well together such as Olivia/Oliver and Georgia/George.

To me, Claude exudes sensibility, rather as Ralph does – a name notably doing much better than Claude, ranking at #258 in 2010. I could also see  myself recommending Claude as an alternative to Charlie or Charles.

Putting Claude aside for now, we have Pétronille. She’s the French form of the name Petronilla, a name that derives from the Ancient Roman name Petronus; it possibly derives from the Latin petronis which means yokel, rustic, dolt, young ram.

The name Pétronille is also sometimes taken to be a female variant of Peter; indeed tradition dictates that St. Pétronille is the daughter of St. Peter, but there remains little evidence for this.

Eleanor of Aquitaine is well known in the naming world for being one of the first bearers of the darling name Eleanor. What may be lesser known is the name of her sister: Petronilla, later known as Alix. Petronilla married Count Raoul of Vermandois, a cousin of the reigning King Louis VII.
We also have Saint Petronilla to consider, who was known by a variety of other names, which you may take to more than Pétronille:
Pernelle; Peroline; Perrenotte; Perrette; Perrine; Perronelle; Petronella; Peyronne; Peyronnelle; Pierrette; Pérette; Périne; Pétronille
I also can see some similarities between Pétronille and Penelope, despite them not exactly being related. I guess you could shorten Pétronille to Penny as well, but my line of thought is more along the style of both names, in that they’re both long-ish and with plenty of nickname options to consider.
St. Petronilla is notable in French history because she is the patroness of the daupins of France – which were basically the French royals version of the Prince of Wales, i.e. the heir apparent to the throne. It’s also in her chapel that French kings were buried.
Rather ironically, as I was wrapping up the writing of this post I did discover a link between the two names. A French story by the name Pétronille et ses 120 filles was written by Claude Ponti. Oh, how fitting.
Categories: Names of the Week | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Names of the Week: Claude and Pétronille

  1. I love Claude on a girl — and Pétronille might just be my favorite Pet- girl name yet.


  2. Pétronille is very pretty. I love Petronilla and its many forms.

    Seeing a Florizel in use, if only as a middle name, made my day. I love the French!


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