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.
I’m not actually going until June, though I’m sure if this year is anything to go by the first half of 2011 will pass quickly!
I am dreadfully excited for names, yes. I’ll be listenign out and also visiting a lot of older cemeteries! 🙂
Hey, I’ll be visiting Amance in France soon!
Wow, Jennifer (who is American or British) heard it in her neighbourhood – that’s interesting.
Now that’s cool, V! You’ll have to listen for names. 🙂
Charlotte Vera says
What a charming name! No, I’ve never heard of it before, but as soon as I saw it listed it intrigued me. I was quite surprised when you used a feminine pronoun to describe the name, since I’d been assuming all along that it was male. I can see why someone would choose this name for their daughter, but it still seems more masculine that feminine to me.
I agree, Charlotte – but it seems to have been given to girls more than boys in France. And Jennifer said she heard it on a girl, so … to me, she’s a she. At least for the post.
At first glance I assumed Amance was a combination of Amour and Romance. In that case it would of been too over the top for me. Now that I know it’s related to Amabel, a guilty pleasure of mine, I see at Amance in a different light.
My biggest problem with Amance is the sound. It’s probably lovely in French, but in my accent -ance = antz… I don’t know how to write it out, but it’s rather nasally and a bit harsh to my ear. It’s a pretty name, it’s not right for me.
Sarah A says
Julie, I agree with the pronunciation/sound issue. People would probably think it rhymes with the ‘ance’ sound in Nancy. There are so many names I love that I will probably never use because the pronunciation would rarely be right. I also think it’s one thing for a person to have to always spell their name, but pronounce it too it kind of burdensome.
Side note: This post linked me to Amos which I hadn’t thought to look up. Does anyone know if there is a page that lists all the names that have ever been NOTD?
Sarah, there’s not – yet. There was a list, but it didn’t link to the posts – it was just a list. I’m working on it, but so far I have to do it manually, so it will be a little while longer.
Sarah A says
Thanks Abby! I look forward to it 🙂
Emmy Jo says
Hi! I also wanted to ask if you could (eventually) find some way of listing your interesting non-NOTD posts. I know you have some under “articles” — but I think it would be good to also have an easy way to access “25 Sensible Names for Girls” and “Simple, Sweet, and Stuck in the Middle” and such.
Absolutely – that’s actually easier to do! Thanks for the suggestion.
That’s very truly, Julie. It would be butchered by at least some of my family members, and that gives me pause.
I do love Amabel, but she’d probably hate saying, “No, it is Amabel. Like Amy and Amanda, not Anna. No, one m. A-M-A-B …” Too bad!
Emmy Jo says
How interesting! It’s always strange to come across a legitimate personal name with a long history of use that I’ve NEVER heard before. I don’t think I’m familiar with any of its variants, either. (Well, except Amanda, and I’m thinking Amabel might be related, too.)
Amance is pretty. Not one I’d use personally, but pretty.