Names of the Week: Jules and Helen

Christophe Maé and son Jules, from

I started writing this whilst France vs. Ireland is on in the background. I can profess to be a huge follower of rugby, but exceptions can be made for Six Nations. That’s kind of why we’re writing about the name Jules this week, because he is really the darling of the French at the moment. Oh, and as for Helen – she’s Kira’s middle name.

Jules can also be spelled Jools and whilst the name appears more popular for lads in France at the least, examples of males and females bearing the name are there. In England, there are two well-known people named Jools – one male, one female.

Jools Holland is a muscian come presenter, and in his case Jools is short for Julian Miles. Then we have Jools Oliver who is chef Jamie Oliver’s wife and former model, for her Jools is short for Juliette. The latter name may seem overly familiar to you, and that’s because you’ll likely be all-too-familiar with the name of her children:

  • Poppy Honey Rosie
  • Daisy Boo Pamela
  • Petal Blossom Rainbow
  • Buddy Bear Maurice

There is another well-known Jules in England, immortalised in a song by two comedians called Three Lions. The line goes as such:

Three Lions on a shirt, Jules Rimet still gleaming. Thirty years of hurt, never stopped me dreaming

Football fans may be aware that the name of the original World Cup was called Jules Rimet, after FIFA president of the same name; it was during his leadership of FIFA that the World Cup began in 1930 and he remains one of the longest-serving FIFA presidents. After Brazil won the tournament for the third time in 1970, they were granted the reward of keeping the trophy indefinitely. Unfortunately, in 1983 the cup was stolen and hasn’t been seen since.

In terms of well-known French uses, the first one whom comes to mind is Jules Verne, author of Around the World In 80 Days, amongst other fine works. Then we have a rather more modern namesake: well-known and liked French singer Christophe Maé has a son named Jules born in 2008.

So, Jules can be short for Juliette or Julian – or indeed used as he stands as the French do; he is the French form of Julius, after all. Whilst Jules may be popular in France, that’s not exactly the case in England&Wales:

Rank Births
Jules #1082 25
Jools #2941 6
Julian #311 143
Julien #1724 13
Jolyon #4678 3

Sometimes the name’s meaning is given as downy-bearded, but the name Julius is likely to derive from Iovis, from which we also get Jupiter.

Overall, what you get with Jules is a vibrant, modern-sounding name that has been around for much longer than one may intially believe – Jules Verne was born in the early 19th century. Yes, he has a slight unisex edge to him – but it’s worth noting that Bailey, Riley and Ashley continue to perform best on the male side of the fence in England&Wales:

Male Female
Ashley #178 #516
Bailey #79 #505
Jules #1082 n/a
Riley #25 #830

Whilst Jules is very much in vogue in certain parts of the world – well, mostly France – the name Helen hasn’t had much chatter about her of late, although sister’s Helena and Ella are getting a look in.

Mentioning the French, my French teacher for most of my school career was called Helen, and the French pronounced her name as we would Ellen. The h is silent, as it is for Héloïse.

Helen can very much be a modern pick, Robert De Niro welcomed a daughter named Helen Grace as recently as December 2011. He’s just one example. Helen ranked at #623 in 2010 in England&Wales, which isn’t popular by any stretch of the imagination but very much could be baby bear’s bed if you want something familiar but not crowding out the local nursery group.

Helen is related to a whole bunch of other names, of which many outrank her:

  • Elena – #192
  • Ella – #18
  • Ellen – #216
  • Ellie – #29
  • Helena – #333
  • Lena – #192
  • Nell – #390
  • Nelly – #747

Now, the meaning. Her exact meaning is uncertain, but Helen has been associated with the Greek word helenê, which means torch. I take it this is where Kira got the impression that the name Helen has a light-related meaning.

To sum up, every name has potential to shine if one truly believes it can. Some say Helen is outdated, but if Stanley can make the Top 100 in the 21st century, the sky really is the limit. Helen has a more popular sister by the name Helena to contend with, and that could hold her back from any real resurgence for a few more years. But hey, both Lexi and Lexie are in the female Top 100, so it’s proof that sister-names can co-exist in the top flight of popularity.

Categories: Names of the Week | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Names of the Week: Jules and Helen

  1. Gosh I was even going to say, “She’s probably cheating and it’s Helen or Ellen or something!”, but I don’t know if I really thought that seriously or not.


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