Today’s choice is a rarity, a name all but gone – but Jennifer overheard her in a park a few weeks ago.
Our Baby Name of the Day is Amance.
Many of you can probably piece your way through Meilleurs Prenoms’ description of Amance:
ce prénom très rare est porté par près de 130 personnes en France. il ne devrait pas être attribué à plus de 50 bébés en 2010.
In other words, Amance is, indeed, a valid French appellation. But she is about as rare as it gets. Should you meet an Amance in Amiens, there’s also a chance that he’ll be a monsieur.
Amance is just one of a handful of almost-lost names, once in use in Medieval France and Europe, derived from the Latin amicus – friend. Name nerds might know that our words amiable and amicable have the same meaning, but are slightly different because they were imported at different times.
Depending on the moment, you can discover a trove of friendly names, like Amable, Amatus, Amice, Amandus and Ames. (Though Amos is Hebrew).
A few related names have endured, like Amy and Esme, or evolved from earlier forms, like Amanda.
There are plenty of places called Amance. I counted three in France, as well as the Arboretum d’Amance in Lorraine, and an Amancey. What I can’t tell for certain is whether Amance caught on independently, or if Amance is related to the seventh century Saint Amand. There are a handful of places where the two names are listed as variants, and Saint Amand appears all over the map, too.
If that’s true, and you’re willing to s-t-r-e-t-c-h things, then Amance almost stands as a feminine form of Amand.
Saint Amand earned his halo for giving up the privileges of nobility for the life monastic. After some years of solitude, he set out as a missionary, converting Flanders to Christianity and building monasteries for the new faithful. He was less successful in other posts, but his travels took him far and wide. He was well into seventies when he preached in Basque country. He’s the patron saint of scouts, and also of brewers, bartenders, and vintners.
There’s also a thirteenth-century Saint Amata, and plenty of other saints with related names.
Amance features in the history of the dukes of Lorraine, too. The counts of Bar held Amance. In the twelfth century, Agnes of Bar married Frederick II, the duke of Lorraine, and the lands passed to that oh-so powerful family.
All of this makes Amance a rarity, but thanks to all of the related names there’s something familiar in her, too. She could serve as a reboot for dated favorites like Amanda and Amy. Her -ce ending fits with stylish antiques like Alice and Frances. And the French revival remains on a low simmer, with names like Vivienne and Simone finding favor.
There’s a real chance that pronunciation will take some effort. ah MANCE isn’t difficult, but depending on regional accents in your neck of the woods, it might take some repeating.
But if a rarity with a good meaning and intersting history is your aim, Amance is one to consider.