La Bohème (1926 film)
Poster from La Bohème (1926 film); Image via Wikipedia

Once again, Girls Gone Child has expanded her family – and our list of given names.

Our special Saturday Baby Name of the Day is Boheme.

Rebecca Woolf is the blogger behind Girls Gone Child, a project launched when she found herself unexpectedly expecting her firstborn, son Archer Sage. She’s also the author of Rockabye: From Wild to Child.

Daughter Fable Luella followed in 2008 – a spin on Story, and a rhyme with the long-established Mabel.

Earlier this year, she announced that she was expecting again – and this time, twin girls!  Speculation raged for weeks, intensifying after she revealed their initials – R and B – and their top two boys’ names – Revere Blaze and Vox Shepherd.

The girls arrived earlier this week: Reverie Lux and Boheme Shalom.  Three of the four names have some precedent, but Boheme?  That one knocks my socks off!

Bohème is the French word for a bohemian – there once was a Kingdom of Bohemia, but it has long since been used to describe a certain style – artistic, unconventional, free-spirited.

In French, the term bohemién was initially interchangeable with gypsy, but by the nineteenth century it applied to the artists in Paris’ Latin Quarter.  Henry Murger penned Scènes de la vie de bohème beginning in 1845.  Based on his own life as a struggling writer, the story inspired the most famous use of the term: Puccini’s masterwork, the opera, La bohème.

The tale ends tragically, with the death of the lovely Mimi.  But she’s immortal in the enduring tale, one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide, adapted for movies and more.

Meanwhile, the term bohemian has entered general use to apply to a host of styles over the generations – beatniks and hippies were both called bohemian; so was punk pioneer Debbie Harry.

In this case, Boheme brings to mind Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face – avant garde, but in a very accessible, attractive way.

Boheme just barely works as a baby name, but here’s why I think it wears as well as many unusual choices:

  • With names like Genevieve and Vivienne on the rise, Boheme will be one of many mademoiselles;
  • Short form Bo is boyish, but also has precedent, like the medieval Isabeau, as well as 80s pin-up Bo Derek;
  • She sounds something like poem, making her pronunciation easier to explain;
  • Even if you’ve never heard an aria, you’re probably dimly aware of the opera – if only because Broadway hit Rent owes its plot to Puccini – and have a sense that the Boheme in question is a girl.

Overall, Boheme is startling.  The only other use I could think of was Patrick Swayze’s cross-dressing character in 1995’s To Wong FooVida Boheme.  But much searching turned up two things – a very small number of Bohemes in the US Census records – maybe half a dozen.  And here’s an equally ahead-of-the-curve mama who had Boheme on her short list of possible middle names.

She’s an unusual choice, but one that feels just right for the GGC family – and who knows?  Maybe more baby girls, too.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. To Boheme, I say “YAY!” But it feels more like a boys name for some reason. I find it interesting that her only son’s name (though great) pushes the envelope the least. People tend to be more conservative namers with their boys, apparently.

    1. Maybe – but it was also her first child. Plus, in her memoir she makes it clear that she wasn’t hanging out with other moms, thinking about parent-type stuff when she found out she was expecting. In one of her blog posts she mentioned that their two boy names were Vox Shepherd and Revere Blaze. So I think that her style has evolved over time, especially as she’s now so very much in the thick of parenting young children. In a much more subtle way, I’ve seen that happen with lots of parents. They think Ava or Isabella is “different” because no one their age is named Ava or Isabella. But then their second kid is Axel or Lidia or Sylvie. Not wildly weird, but definitely a few pegs down the use charts.

      1. I’m thinking her style just…change, evolved, whatever. Archer was going to be Colette. So if he’d been a girl, that name would have been the most common/usual name in the bunch.

  2. I love GGC, I love Fable and Archer, I really like Reverie for them….but I just don’t dig Boheme. I don’t like the look, I don’t like the sound. It seems so much less pretty than her sisters’ names. But that’s just me, and I’m sure I will warm up to it after reading about the twins for awhile.

  3. I think Bec and Hal’s Archer is the most “Archer-y” boy I’ve ever seen. I can’t even explain it, but the name fits so, so well! I’ve long loved Archer – for The Age of Innocence, one of my absolute favorites – and I think Arch and Archie are great. Fable Luella is so pretty and modern and playful. It’s really just fun to look at, right? Their little Fable looks like a perky Fable, too – just the right combo of sass and sweet. I think Story is fun but slightly overdone, and Lyric isn’t really for me, but Fable? Just…nice. Then we get to the girls’ names – the little girls, that is. I’ll admit to thinking that Bec and Hal might go with two more names featuring exclusively A and E as vowels. I even found some random ones I thought might work, but they weren’t so good as a pairing – Radley, Rhea, I can’t even remember the B options I pondered. I’ll admit to being surprised by their choices, too. But, in a “Wow, that’s cool!” sort of way. Reverie Lux has impeccable flow and really a powerful meaning and image. Revere was going to be a super neat name for a boy, but Reverie on a girl? Much more fitting, I think. Which brings me to the topic of this here post – Boheme. Yea, I was saying it wrong for a bit, with my “eem” accent, but pronounced correctly, it’s a really cool, dare I say chic, word. Boheme Shalom admittedly doesn’t flow as prettily as her twin sister’s name, but that’s okay – it’s really the thought that counts, right? It’s elegant and interesting and a fun story if anything. What I find very interesting are how elegant and girly the names in full are, but then we’ve got two fairly androgynous (and very high energy!) nicknames like Rev and Bo! How fun is that? I think it’s so interesting that Archer and Fable – though I don’t think they are shortened – could be very vintage Archie and Fae, whereas Reverie and Boheme are these ready-for-the-future spunky nicknames.

    Wow, sorry for this overflow of word-vomit. I just think Rebecca and Hal have such interesting and pleasant tastes in names, albeit not totally my style (though I could so go for some Archer Sage!), and all I can say is bravo! Voila! I’m done.

  4. It’s not for me, but after reading your starbaby post about them I have DEVOURED Rebacca’s blog! And though the names don’t fit with my taste, after a day of reading about Archer and Fable the new girls fit perfectly.

    1. I get the sense that the kids won’t grow up with a lot of kids named, say, Emma and Jake. That’s really the way I felt about the (comparatively tame) Clio when we decided to use the name. I’d been hearing the names of Aly’s classmates and our neighbors, and it was very clear that Clio would fit right in.

      GGC is one of the few blogs that has the power to make me spend money – it might just be me, but there are always interesting Etsy shops and ideas in her posts. This makes me wonder if she’s as influential when it comes to names …

  5. Boheme is interesting to say the least. I’m kind of a RENT-head, so I have trouble seeing Boheme as a real name. I can’t hear/say it without thinking “la vie boheme” in song.

    I don’t read GGC, but that’s only for lack of time rather than interest. I do love the amount of care and thought that Rebecca and Hal have put into their children’s names. Archer, Fable, Boheme, and Reverie are an amazing sibset. Congrats to the family 🙂

  6. The names just aren’t my taste at all. Quite honestly, they sound like stripper names to me — Reverie fits well with the Tiffany/Destiny/Heaven set, and Boheme sounds like somebody saw Moulin Rouge when she was trying to come up with a stage name. I do like Lux and Shalom, at least, though the flow for both is iffy.

    Eh. Not my kids, not my choices.