Photo of Lucienne Bréval in the role of Salammbô.
Lucienne Bréval; Image via Wikipedia

Take the terribly current Lucy, add in some French flair and you’ll have today’s pick.

Thanks to Darja for suggesting her daughter’s middle name as our Baby Name of the Day: Lucienne.

Lucy stands on her own, a Top 100 choice from 1880 through 1924, and after some years out of fashion, is again poised at #101 in 2009.  Formal options include:

  • Lucia, #309 in 2009;
  • Lucille, #570;
  • Luciana, #683.

And that’s not counting Louise, Louisa, Lucilla, Lucinda, or Lucretia.  With ever more Lu- names like Luna, Lula, and Luella catching on, little wonder some parents are seeking something just a little different.

Lucienne, like her brother Lucien, is French, and there are two possible pronunciations.  Purists will say loo see EN.  Americans might opt for loo SHEN.  Perhaps that’s why Lucianne has also been spotted, but that might result in something closer to Lucy Anne.

While many of the Lucy names have had their moment in the English-speaking world, Lucienne has never appeared in the US Top 1000.  If you know a Lucienne, chances are good she’s French – and a senior citizen.  Lucienne appears to be a Gallic Gertrude.

That’s why she’s an appropriate choice for the mademoiselle in World War I-era flick Flyboys, starring James Franco, from 2006.  The other characters wore equally stylish appellations: Briggs, Reed, Blaine.  The film flopped; otherwise, Lucienne might have already entered the Top 1000.

Other Luciennes who might ring a bell include:

  • Chanteuse Lucienne Boyer, best known for her song, “Parlez-moi d’amour” from the 1930s, and 1950s star Lucienne Delyle;
  • Opera’s Lucienne Bréval, born Bertha Schilling in Switzerland in 1869;
  • Actress Lucienne Bogaert;
  • Prolific artist Lucienne Bloch, and pioneering sculptor Lucienne Heuvelmans.

Add in athletes and politicians, and there is a distinguished Lucienne in nearly any field.  There’s also the intriguing twelfth-century Lucienne de Rochefort, the first wife of French King Louis VI.  Their marriage was annulled after just three short years.

Another royal association was part of the Bonaparte family, the nineteenth century Eugénie Laetitia Barbe Caroline Lucienne Marie Jeanne Bonaparte, a great-grandniece of Napoleon I.  But that’s beyond obscure.

Ficitonal Luciennes are relatively few.  One appears in the Belle Époque play A Flea in Her Ear; another was Louise Brooks’ role in 1930’s Prix de Beauté.  It was her first talking role – she even sang! – as a secretary-turned doomed beauty pageant queen.

All of it adds up to a name that could be the perfect choice for parents seeking something more formal than Lucy to put on the birth certificate, or those looking for an alternative to the Jolie-Pitt’s Vivienne.  She’s also a great choice for the middle spot, a graceful alternative to the obvious Elizabeth.  And if nickname Lucy isn’t for you, there’s cute-as-can-be Lulu, 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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. Your article references many of my experiences with this name, from first seeing it in the movie Flyboys as a teen, to meeting and elderly French woman named Lucienne. I once wore a bridesmaid dress in a style that was named “Lucienne.” All this happened before I discovered the meaning of the name, which is Light. That is when I truly fell in love with it. We named our first baby, our daughter Lucienne Imara. Her middle name is Swahili, a nod to my family’s ties to Kenya. I was searching for a middle name that meant “Steadfast”. Imara means “Steadfast/Strong”. Her name eludes to a lighthouse – a Strong, Steadfast Light. We call her Lulu and Lucie, but mostly Lucienne. Most people here in Pennsylvania have trouble pronouncing it at first, or they hear Lucy-Anne. No one has a clue how to spell it. But I would still choose it again. Our second child, our son is named Luca Arthur.

  2. My name is Lucienne, and I can never get people to pronounce it right here ( I live in California). Most people end up calling me what sounds like Lucy Anne or Lucien instead. I stopped going by Lucy at a young age due to my friend being named Lucy.

  3. I’ve spent nearly all of my life going by Lucy. My father was French. But growing up in the mid-west, Lucienne has been more of a mouthful than most people want to say. However, I am proud of my name and wish I were called by it more.