British Baby Names: Holly Willoughby’s Belle of the Ball

Lou: This was the very first post on British Baby Names that I came to read back in April 2011, and I remember being impressed. Something I remain in awe of when it comes to Elea is how in her element she seems to be when it comes to numbers. It certainly gave me food for thought on how else to approach the important aspect of how to convey number-data in a vaguely engaging manner; plus selecting the best numbers to include.

A few days ago Holly Willoughby gave birth to a daughternamed Belle. Unlike her brother, Harry, Belle doesn’t have a top 5 name. In fact, her name ranks all the way down at #530. And yet, the name has a lot going for it. Lets have a look.

Firstly, although Bel started its beginnings as a nickname forIsabel in the thirteenth century it has become widely associated with the lovely french word belle meaning ‘beautiful’ – hence the change of spelling. Not a bad meaning for any little girl to have.

There is also its fairytale status. Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont abridged the classic French tale in her work La Belle et la Bête in the eighteenth century and this is largely the form of the story we now have today. Disney brought the story story into glorious life in 1991 giving Belle the veritable status of being a ‘Princess’ name. Beautiful + Princess = winning baby name me thinks!

So why is it not used very much? There are actually many similar sounding names that rank quite highly in England and Wales. Isabelle is #17, Isabel #51 and Isobel #60 (combined spellings added together, the name ranks #10 overall) and Isabella at #15. Similarly there is Annabel/le which (added together) ranks at #69, Bella at #165 and Arabella at #296. Perhaps, many of these enjoy Belle as a nickname, although Izzy’s rank at #506 seems to belie that.

Belle is the simplest, most-streamlined, of all these. Arguably Bella is too, but that is swiftly gaining a persistent Twilight association. Belle maintains the soft delicate feel without feeling fussy and would, I think, make a fresher nickname alternative to Izzy (Isabelle) or Annie (Annabel), or sit happily as a stand alone name.

For a look at how Edwardian parents used Belle take a look at its 1911 Census Name Combos.

 If you like Belle you may also like:
 Pearl, Orla, Rose, Sylvie, Adele, Aurelie, Iris, Fleur, Tess, Fern
Categories: Repost | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “British Baby Names: Holly Willoughby’s Belle of the Ball

  1. I’ve been meaning to check out British Baby Names and you motivated me to make a quick visit. I would have spent more time there but either the site or my computer acted up on me. My daughter loves Disney Princesses. I think Ariel is her favorite, but Belle is up there.


    • My sister loved Ariel too, but then she met her at one of the Disney parks. The girl playing her was a little *too* chirpy for her liking.


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