Baby Name of the Day: Lucienne


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.

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16 Comments

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.

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.

I loved Lucienne but wanted my Guatemalan-born daughter to have a Spanish-sounding name. Hence, Luciana, shortened to Lucie. (Named after my grandmother Lucile, how’s that for complex?) 🙂 Love all the versions of this name–still have to tell people to use the “ie” ending, though.

There was a girl called Lucienne at my school, although she always went by Lulu. She didn’t like the attention she got from her full name which is unfortunate as I really like it.

Personally, I think my favourite Luc-name, although I like many of them, is Lucia but that is probably due to a really lovely 8 year old I know with the name.

I’ve always liked Lucie and but really dislike Lucille and Lucretia. I’ve seen Lucianne before, but that feels like a tired, mid-century smush. Lucienne just feels more current, possibly since it’s new to me, but more likely because of its similarity to Vivienne and Adrienne.

I was very excited to see this as the Name of the Day! This is my favorite form of all the Luc-names (although I do like Lucia and Luciana) but as a life long Francophile, I have a soft spot for all things Gallic. I do like Lucien for a boy, though, so I would have to choose one or the other!

Vanessa, if you make Kansas cool enough for a Lucienne, maybe it will be acceptable up here in Nebraska, too. I would use it if you like it.

Oh, I love Lucienne! And, Lucie – the French spelling – is a great nickname. I do love Lucy all on her own, but, to me, it feels a little young. The Lucie spelling, even though -ie is typically used for English nicknames (e.g., Maggie), looks a little more sophisticated to me, perhaps. But, Lucienne screams elegance!

Vanessa, I definitely think you could bring a whole new naming style to Kansas with a little Lucienne, for sure! Kansas will never be ready if somebody doesn’t take the plunge, right? I think you could balance the slightly exotic sound of Lucienne with a more classic – or traditional, rather – middle name, along the lines of Lucienne Charlotte, Lucienne Eva, Lucienne Iris, Lucienne Kate, Lucienne Mary, Lucienne Rose, or Lucienne Violet. Hm, maybe some of those are even a little hipster for Kansas, but I say go for it!

This is a really pretty name. I agree with Emmy Jo, the pronunciation would probably be pretty intuitive. I love the name Lucy, and Lucille is pretty but the association with both Lucille Ball and the Arrested Development characters is pretty strong for me. Lucienne is a really nice alternative formal name to get to the nn Lucy. And the enne suffix is just gorgeous!

Lucienne is pretty, and I would think the pronunciation would be pretty intuitive just about anywhere in the U.S. — but I am in California, so what do I know? Still, I think people are familiar enough with Julienne/Julianne and Vivienne and Lucy. My personal favorite Luci- name is actually just plain Lucy, though. Or Lucina, which is unrelated.

I don’t think I’d heard of this Lucy variation before – and I have been thinking about Lucy and longer versions. 🙂 I do like the sound, but we are friends with a 5 year old boy Lucien and so that would cross it out for me. Plus I don’t think I could pull off the French thing either.

Vanessa, I agree that you should go with Lucienne seeing as you love it! 🙂 You can just be more hip than everyone else!

Lucienne is sweet but I’d rather have a Lucian, myself. That said, I think it’s a stellar choice for someone who likes Lucy but wants something more formal.

Vanessa, Kansas just needs someone brave enough to use Lucienne with simple Lucy and the masses would follow! So go ahead, use Lucienne. How awesome would that be?!?

I have recently been interested in this very feminine name. Thanks for featuring Lucienne! As you said, I was looking for alternatives to the ultra-popular Lucy. This may be too foreign for my region, but i love it all the same. I wish Kansas were hip enough for a little Lucienne.