Baby Name of the Day: Cerise


The Bing cherry owes its development to the Ch...

Bing cherries; image via Wikipedia

She’s a français fruit, a rarity in the US with a pretty, pleasing sound.

Thanks to Emmy for suggesting Cerise as our Baby Name of the Day.

Cerise is simply the French word for cherry. She became cherise in Norman England, and eventually, cherry. All of the words owe their origins to modern-day Giresun, in Turkey. Back in the day it was the first place cherries were cultivated for export – and the area was known as Cerasus. Ultimately, you could call Cerise a place name – but that’s something of a stretch.

Cherry has far more history as a given name that you might expect. She charts in the US Top 1000 back in 1880, and appeared every single year from 1928 through 1974. Some of that must have Cherry Ames, Student Nurse. The heroine of more than two dozen mysteries with a medical twist, Cherry was a capable figure. Her given name, the books told us, was Charity.

There’s also Neil Diamond’s “Cherry, Cherry,” his first big hit back in 1966. And -erry names had a way to move us back in the 1960s, 50s, and 40s. There was Jerry, Kerry, Terry for both genders, Sherry, Sherri, and Terri. Cherry fit right in.

All of those names sound dated today, but Cerise is exempt. Meaning aside, she doesn’t share their sounds. Instead, her French flair fits in just fine with Vivienne and Genevieve.

Cerise can keep company with Clementine, but she also fits right in with Scarlett, Violet, and Blue – colorful names for girls. Cerise refers to a vivid pinkish-red, close to Fuschia. It’s not as red as cherry red. Putting Cerise in the company of color names makes her feel even more current.

That’s a good thing, because naming a daughter Cherry is almost on the same level as naming her Chastity now that we’ve transitioned from Neil Diamond to that 80s hair band song about cherry pie. It makes her seem just a little risque, never mind the cherry blossoms.

There aren’t many women named Cerise, but here’s one: the fascinating Cerise Lim Jacobs, winner of a Pulitzer for Madame White Snake, an opera based on a traditional Chinese folk story. Better still, she’s not a musical composer by training. She’s a retired attorney who composed the opera as a birthday gift for her husband. Amazing! The question is, of course, if Cerise is her birth name. Her biography indicates that she was born in Singapore to a Chinese family.

There’s also:

  • A minor Marvel superheroine.
  • “Les Temps de cerise,” an 1866 French song, about a time of unrest in Paris.
  • A well-born nineteenth century Irish woman, who migrated to British Colombia with her husband.

That last one caught my eye. Cerise was definitely in sparing use in the nineteenth century, perhaps because it also occasionally appears as a surname.

Better known Cerises are elusive. There’s Liz Lemon’s assistant on 30 Rock – but she’s the lovely Cerie.

How would Cerise wear? She’s feminine, French, stylish, colorful. Her -ees ending is out of favor with Patrice and Clarice, but now that girls answer to Reese, that might not matter. And her first syllable conjures up everything from Sarah to Seraphina. Her edible origins are reasonably obscure. If you’re a daring namer set on something that is different, Cerise might be the one.

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8 Comments

I like the -ice names, Patrice and Nerys are favorites, and could see using Cerise or Cherise (never Cheri, though!) I also like Charis and Carys. I’m surprised with Beatrice being a favorite that some of these others haven’t taken off. My hesitancy with using Cerise would be that it’s similar to Cersei, the not-so-nice Queen in Game of Thrones.

I’ve only ever run in to kind of unfortunate Cherry names. The commissioner of labor in North Carolina (her name is in all the elevators) is Cherie Berry (yikes!) My high school English teacher was Ginger Cherry.

My neighbor and her daughter share the middle name Cherie (SHUH ree) which I always thought was unusual and rather pretty.

Cerise is a bit too similar to Clarice and Silence of the Lambs for me.

I also cant get Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor & The Klumps out of my head, I kept thinking one the character’s name was Cerise but I was mistaken, it was Denise.

Interestingly, I thought Cerise was a much more common name. I can’t think of anyone I know the name, but it feels so in line with Cherilyn, Sherri, Sharon, Cherish and Cheryl. I have an evil Aunt Sharon and hubby’s ex-wife is named Cheryl (Cheri), so I have a really unpleasant association with that whole name group.

I’m pronouncing it like Share-EES to rhyme with Clarice from Silence of the Lambs. Assuming I’m saying it right, I would put this in my “names I would love to see on another baby but wouldn’t use myself” pile.

Cerise seems like it might wear better on a baby today than Cherie, which I see as a 50-70’s era name. Maybe Cerise could be a modern spin on Cherie.

I’m not a fan of obvious fruit-themed names, and therefore Cherry ranks up there with Strawberry and Apple and I just can’t take those names seriously. The Cherry Pie song, and the suggestive nature, is just another nail in Cherry’s coffin to me.

I have a cousin, born in the ’50s, named Cherie. She was always like a “fun aunt” to me, and carried her name well. I really like Cherie and Cerise is awfully pretty too. Might be a way to use the sound without actually using Cherie.
Cherry makes me think of the actress, Cherry Jones. She played the female president in the tv series, 24. Can’t remember which season.

I had an American friend as a child named Cherisa (share-EE-ssah). My mum told me that it meant “cherry” and I remember wondering if she was named for the fruit or the colour.

My childhood friend aside, Cerise always makes me think of the actress and dancer Cyd Charisse, born Tula Ellise Finklea. Her husband’s surname was originally the Greek Charissi.