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.