Posts Tagged With: Frances




For the American readers, this name may initially seem a tad amusing, but for the British one, it’s borderline vulgar, but thousands of French girls to this day answer to the name Fanny.

As a young girl, and to this day my grandmother uses the phrase ‘ stop being such a Fanny Adams‘ when we (that is, her delightful grandchildren) are being particularly difficult, although the more common phrase you’ll hear people using is ‘Sweet Fanny Adams‘,  which means something completely different:  ‘nothing at all’.

I have a naturally curious mind, any yet it was only last year that it occurred to me to look up who exactly Fanny Adams was.

It’s not a pretty, bedtime-esque story, harking back to August 1867, when a girl named Fanny Adams was rather brutally murdered, causing a wave of horror in the small village of Alton, Hampshire not used to bearing witness to such crimes.

Fanny was with her younger sister Lizzie and friend Minnie at the time when they were approached by a man who offered three halfpence to Lizzie and Minnie to go spend, whilst he offered Fanny a halfpenny on the condition that she would accompany him down a road which lead to the nearby village of Shalden. The link to my Grandmother’s phrase is likely Fanny’s reaction to the offer of money: she took the halfpenny, but refused to accompany the man. However, he picked her up and carried her off anyways.

The second phrase comes courtesy of the rather dark sense of humour of British Sailors, who came to claim that the tinned mutton served to them onboard must surely be the remains of ‘Sweet Fanny Adams‘, a reference to her dismembered remains and this has since passed into common usage, with the meaning later changing to the one we know.

Which leads us ultimately to discussing the name Fanny itself, which as you may have guess from above did originally derive as a nickname from Frances.

Referencing back to the tale of Fanny Adams, one might dabble with the idea of the three girls being called Frances, Elizabeth and Wilhelmina, however, I’m hesitant to accept this given that both her tombstone and the record of her death both give her name as Fanny.

The name Frances comes from the Latin franciscus, which means frenchman. However, french name website gives the meaning of Fanny to be free. I have an inkling about where this interpretation could’ve derived from as you see, in 1999 the fine country of France decided to give up it’s old currency and take on the Euro.

It’s old currency was known as the French franc, and the origin of the name of the currency lies in the origin of the currency itself.

The first French franc came into play in 1360, and was used to pay the ransom of King John II of France which gained the king’s freedom. Since the coin showed the King atop a horse, the coin came to be named franc à cheval, which in French means free on horse. These days a Frenchman is more inclined to use the word libre to mean free.

Of course, that’s all just pure speculation.

Another reason that the the new currency came to be known as the franc comes from the Latin title of the King: Francorum Rex (King of the Francs).

Going back to Fanny, the name is of relative popularity in France as I’ve already mentioned above, and continues to be so despite the English connotations. It’s also worth noting that Fanny is popular as a stand alone name in France, rather than being popular as a nickname for Frances (which is nowhere near as popular).

The days if you’re looking for a nickname for little Frances, your best bet is probably popular Frankie, or even Frannie, as opposed to Fanny.

Categories: Name Profile | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Royal Name Speculation

Normally I try to avoid putting out similar posts to ones already circulating in the blogosphere, but since nameberry so nicely asked me for an opinion over on twitter, I figured I might as well chip in to the discussion.

My gut feeling is that George is the top choice for a boy, and indeed Georgina is a worthy of an outside chance for a girl.


It’s quite simply really: there are only really three living royals who have any likelihood of ascending to the throne: Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry. Of those three, only Prince Charles wears the name George, and only as his third middle name.

That said, the has been speculation before that Prince Charles may take George as his regnal name upon his ascension the the throne, i.e. he becomes George VII, not Charles III. The big reason for this lies along the lines of the previous two sovereigns to bear the name Charles both have questionable legacies (one was a playboy, the other was beheaded).

It’s certainly not an uncommon practice, as whilst our current monarch reigns by her first name, her predecessor and father reigned as George VI, but he was born Albert Frederick Arthur George. Good ol’ Queen Victoria reigned by her middle name, as her first name was Alexandrina.

Other choices for boys are a little less intuitive, given that many clear favourites such as James, Edward and Charles are currently ‘assigned’ so to speak to another prince-ly member of the family (for those wondering, whilst strictly speaking there exists a Prince James, his parents choose to style him as Viscount Severn).

I don’t particularly believe that the Duke&Duchess of Cambridge will choose a first name already in use by another male styled a Prince, not least because of the potential confusion, so this automatically rules several names out of the running for first name status: Philip; Charles; Edward; Henry; James; Andrew; and Michael.

These names are all, however, still just as likely to be used for middle names. It’s worth noting that Michael is the name of the Duchess’ father, and thus despite Michael seeing rare use by the royals, this fact really rather increases the likelihood of Michael’s inclusion.

The glaringly obvious name left over to pick from is Arthur, and this is one of William’s middle names and indeed Prince Charles’ middle name, too. Of course, Prince William could kick off a new family naming trend and give his eldest son the middle name Arthur, too.

Another option is Frederick, also popularly used by royals in the last century or too. Then there’s also the possibility of Alexander, too.

When it comes to the choices for girls, Elizabeth is a clear middle name contender (and there is the chance of her use as a first name, too), being of course the name of our current monarch and the Duchess’ middle name. The variation of Eliza is unlikely for the simple reason that Prince William has a niece via his step-sister Laura Lopes with the name Eliza. Our current Queen was known as Lilibet when she was younger, so one could even speculate about the name Lily being used as a nod to her (although it makes more sense for them to simply use Elizabeth instead). The names Mary and Alexandra are also undeniably in the running, given that both are the Queen’s middle names.

The name Victoria would be a good call as a first name contender, given that currently Princess Eugenie is the only senior royal to bear the name as one of her middles.

Another name I have a gut feeling is in the running is Alice, the name of Prince Philip’s mother. I’m calling this because the name Andrew wasn’t an oft-used royal name in centuries gone by, but ‘lo and behold it was the name of Prince Philip’s father, and now also that of his second eldest son.

A name I’ve yet to see given mention is Margaret, who stands a good chance of being used in the middle name spot as a nod to the late Princess Margaret, younger sister of our current Queen. Her middle name, Rose, is another middle name possibility, albeit more likely for subsequent daughters.

Then we have both Diana and indeed Frances: the name of Prince William’s mother and her middle name. In the eyes of some, Diana is almost a certainty as a middle name should the child be female. It’s also worth noting that the Duchess’ father has Francis as a middle name, creating a greater possibility of the couple’s eventual use of either Frances or Francis.

Sophia is a currently popular name with historical use as a royal name, but she’s not seen much use of late, however, in order to be eligible for the line of succession, you must be a legitimate descendant of Electress Sophia of Hanover.

There’s an outside chance for both Harriet and Henrietta as potential nods to Prince William’s younger brother, Prince Harry. 

Final acknowledgements to other names with an outside chance of use goes to several names from the Duchess’ family, which include: Philippa, Charlotte and Carole/Caroline. Then there are a few more royal picks: Marie; Maud; Adelaide; Helena; Louisa.

What’s for certain is that this is an extensive list of names, and at the end of the day many of these names mentioned above are more likely to be in the running for subsequent children, rather than for a child that will one day most likely ascend to the throne.

Thus, I suggest the three most likely names to be used for each gender:

BOY: George, Charles and Michael

GIRL: Elizabeth, Diana and Alice

Categories: Royal Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

30th December

Mowgli, from The Jungle Book, from

Today’s my birthday, so to celebrate I’ve been through a list of all the famed people also born on the 30th December in search of some interesting names to provide inspiration on one of the best days of the year 🙂

Asa Griggs Candler

Ato Boldon

Bennett Miller

Chandler Burr

Concetta Tomei

Del Shannon (Charles Westover)

Dorothea Lieven

Douglas Alder ‘Doug

Eldrick Woods ‘Tiger

Émile Loubet

Janko Prunk

Jay Kay (Jason Cheetham)

Josée Verner

June Anderson

Kenyon Martin

Leon Jackson

LouisJeanFrançois Lagrenée

Meredith Vieira

Rachid Karami

Rosalind Hurley

Joseph Rudyard Kipling

Skeeter Davis (Mary Frances Penick)

Sylvester Jordan

Sylvie Moreau

I would happily use many of these names – especially Asa and Sylvie. This is also the first time I’ve come across a triple-barreled first name, aside from the ones which occasionally turn up over at Eponymia.

Categories: Boy Names, Girl Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Slightly More French

Julien Quentin, from Au Revoir Mes Enfants, from

Last week we talked about French names which could work just as well in the English-speaking world. Now it’s time for a look at the flip side of the coin at which popular French names are less likely to work well, whether it be due to cultural settings or pronunciation problems. This list is subject to opinion, however, as what I’m not saying is that you should avoid all names mentioned here. What I am saying is that these names have the potential to cause fret if used outside a French-speaking region. In the last post I highlighted the name Thibault, with the less than obvious pronunciation of tee-bo – but there are plenty of other French names which could trip you up when it comes to trying to say them correctly:

That’s one of the biggest issue when it comes to using names from other cultures: the pronunciation problems. Mireille certainly looks pretty, and sounds pretty when said the way the French do: mee-ray. It’s also worth warning that the French pronounce Camille differently to the English – the ls are silent, plus the name is also considered very much unisex over there. Same goes for Sacha, and Jocelyn is strictly male. As for Quentin, he’s said something like CAWN-ten. The other classic example is Guillaume – the French form of William – which they pronounce as gee-om.

The sole female name I find myself strongly advising against you want to use a legitimately French name, but live in the States, or worse yet England? Fanny. It’s actually quite reasonably well-used in France to this day, and certainly used to enjoy a reasonable amount of popularity back in ye olde days, but given what it’s become slang for in the English-speaking world – especially England – it’s a name that will likely never take off as fellow Frances-derivative named Frankie is. If you want to use Frances, but don’t want you’re daughter to become Frankie, might I suggest Annie or Effie as alternatives.

I also mentioned in the last post how the French use Bastien as a short form of Sebastian – but like Fanny could lead to associations to less-than-wonderful words. It’s a slight shame really, and Bastien could work if you wanted it to. Bastien has popular use in his own right in France. Two other male names which takes on a whole new meaning in France are Come and Loan.

Capucine is a female name in France, and it distinctly similar to our word capuccino. Is it slightly too French? I hesistated when it came to including this name in this post, but feel it’s worth highlighting the name either way.

Whilst not strictly a French name, they do love the name Thais – said tah-eese – which strictly speaking comes from Ancient Greek. It’s popular following it’s use by French composer Jules Massenet. French film Les Enfants du Paradis has been attributed to the popularity of the female name Garance.

In France, Etienne is clearly masculine as he’s their form of Stephen, but I’ve had plenty friends mistake him as a female name. You can understand why, given that many French female names end -enne, think: Adrienne;Vivienne et al. Elouan also falls slightly foul of this, as does Rayane. In France, Valentin is more popular for lads than Valentine is for females, although both are relatively well-used in their own rights. My sister’s favourite name in this category which we shall end with is Sofiane, which is a popular name for males, not females.

Categories: French Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Babies in the early ’90s

Let’s number-crunch. Courtesy of my sister, I got my hands on the class lists for her year (grade) at school. The names totalled around 150, and when we factor in the sixth form class list, who are two years older, we have a reasonably sized data covering popular baby names for catholics (catholic school) in England in the early 1990s:

British Babies Born Circa 1990-1994


Aidan +Aiden

Alexander x3 +Alistair +Alisdair

Andrew x2

Ashley x2

Benjamin x2 +Ben

Bryn +Finn

Christopher x2

Connor +Conor

David x4

Hugo +Hugh +Huw

Jack x5

Jacob +Jakub

James x7

John +Jonathan

Joseph x7 +Joe

Joshua x2

Frederick + Freddie

Matthew x2 +Matteaus

Michael x4

Ryan x2

Theodore +Theo

Thomas x7

William x2 +Liam x2

BOYS – NUMERICALLY (3 or more)

Joseph et al = 8

James = 7

Thomas = 7

Daniel = 6

Alexander et al = 5

Jack = 5

Michael = 4

William et al = 4

Benjamin et al = 3

Hugo et al = 3

Matthew et al = 3


Alexandra x2 +Alexa

Alice x2 +Alicia

Amy x2

Ana + Anne +Joanne +Leanne +Rhian +Roxanne

Beatrice +Beatrix x2

Cara +Clare +Clara

Caroline +Karolina

Chloe x3

Eleanor x3 +Ellen x2 +Helen x2 +Helena

Elizabeth +Eliza

Emma x2 +Emily

Esther +Esme

Eugenie x2

Frances x2

Hannah x2

Hayley x2

Jennifer x3

Jessica x3

Kathryn +Catherine +Katie x2

Laura x5 +Lauren

Lucy x4

Lily x2 +Lila +Lillian +Lilia

Maria x2 +Marie

Molly +Mollie

Natasha +Sasha x2

Olivia x3

Sarah +Sara

Sophie x3

Vanessa x2


Eleanor et al = 8

Ana et al = 6

Lily et al =5

Kathryn et al = 4

Lucy = 4

Alexandra et al = 3

Beatrice et al = 3

Cara et al = 3

Chloe = 3

Emma et al = 3

Jennifer = 3

Jessica = 3

Natasha et al = 3

Olivia = 3

Philippa = 3

Sophie = 3


Daniel x6 +Danielle

George x2 +Georgina

Harry +Hattie +Harriet

Phillip +Philippa x3

Valentino +Valentina


Sean x2 +Shaun +Sian

Sinead +Seamus +Roisin +Bronagh +Lorcan +Ciara x2 +Niall

Patrick x2


The prevalence of Irish names is not taken as uncommon in a catholic school.

Jack was outnumbered by several names: Joseph, James and Thomas. He began his stay at the top of the UK Top 100 list at the end of the decade. Two of the Jacks had the same surname.

Both of the Ashley’s, born when America embraced the name as a female one, were male.

The Eugenie’s were born just after Princess Eugenie, and the Beatrice/trixes born after Princess Eugenie’s sister: Princess Beatrice.

Non of the Lucy’s were a Lucille, Lucienne etc. They were all just Lucy.

The Emma’s outnumbered the Emily.

From personal knowledge:

-None of the Philippa’s in the list shortens their name to Pippa.

-All of the Eleanor’s were nicknamed Ellie.

* In the interests of not boring you all to death with an endless list of data, any name on the class lists which appeared once, without a similar name has been omitted from the data. This accounts for around 30 names out of the roughly estimated 240 names.

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Decade Snapshot 1930s/A-Z

Fry's Dainties, from

Following on from our 1920s name list, here are the top names for each letter in the US Top 1000 of 1930.

A – Arthur and Alice

B – Billy and Betty

C – Charles and Catherine

D – Donald and Dorothy

E – Edward and Elizabeth

F – Frank and Frances

G – George and Gloria

H – Harold and Helen

I – Ira and Irene

J – James and Joan

K – Kenneth and Kathleen

L – Louis and Lois

M – Marvin and Mary

N – Norman and Nancy

O – Oscar and Opal

P – Paul and Patricia

Q – Quentin and Queen

R – Robert and Ruth

S – Stanley and Shirley

T – Thomas and Thelma

U – Ulysses. No female.

V – Vernon and Virginia

W – William and Wanda

X – none.

Y – Yvonne. No male.

Z – Zane and Zelma


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Decade Snapshot 1920s/A-Z

Occasionally, I find a need to peruse some data. Here is the product of just that. I looked at the Top 1000 for the USA from 1920 and created this list. Out of the Top 1000 names on the 1920 name list, this is a list of the name that appears first with each beginning letter.

A – Arthur and Anna

B – Bernard and Betty

C – Charles and Catherine

D – Donald and Dorothy

E – Edward and Elizabeth

F – Frank and Frances

G – George and Gladys

H – Harold and Helen

I – Irving and Irene

J – John and Josephine

K – Kenneth and Katherine

L – Louis and Lillian

M – Michael and Mary

N – Norman and Norma

O – Oscar and Opal

P – Paul and Pauline

Q – Quentin and Queen

R – Robert and Ruth

S – Stanley and Sarah

T – Thomas and Thelma

U – Ulysses and Una

V – Vernon and Virginia

W – William and Willie

X – N/A

Y – Yoshio and Yvonne

Z – Zach and Zelma

Categories: 1920s Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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