You might call your daughter Cupcake, but odds are there is something far more formal on her birth certificate. But what if your first language isn’t English, and you just plain like the way Cupcake sounds for your daughter born in Borneo or Bahrain or Brussels?
Thanks to Emiley for suggesting an option that might prompt the same response from a French-speaking parent. Our Baby Name of the Day is Miette.
Plenty of foreign names catch on in other countries thanks to literature and films. Miette was introduced to the English-speaking world in a few different places:
- Nineteenth century French literary giant Emile Zola penned a series of twenty novels about the extended Rougon-Macquart family. Dozens of characters appear over the course of the series; Miette arrives in the very first one, La Fortune des Rougon. Silvère has fallen in love with fellow republican Miette on the eve of the coup d’etat that would establish the Second French Empire under Napoleon III. The couple’s cause was doomed, and the lovers fare no better;
- French poet Jean Aicard used the name for his 1880 poem Miette et Noré;
- Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty includes a fairy called Miettes, but the name is rarely used in other adaptations;
- I’ve found a few references to an 1888 operetta called Miette, but I can’t confirm if Miette was a character name;
- 1938’s French flick La femme du boulanger – The Baker’s Wife – included a minor character called Miette;
- A 1951 French film, Au pays du soleil, also used the name;
- Then there’s 1995’s City of Lost Children, a sci-fi adventure from Jeanne-Pierre Jeunet, best known in the US for Amélie. If Zola’s Miette was idealistic, this big screen version is an all-out heroine. A villain is kidnapping children to steal their dreams. The young Miette sets out on an adventure to rescue one of the kids.
While some -ette names, like Annette, still feel a little dated, others are at the forefront of fashion. Consider:
- Violet (#141 in 2009)
- Scarlett (#169)
- Juliet (#319)
- Bridget (#424)
That’s not counting Juliette, Scarlet, or considering her first syllable, borrowed from the chart-topping mini-name Mia. What’s not to love about Miette?
The trouble is that she’s not exactly a name. It’s a term of endearment. Miette is sometimes translated as “crumb,” but it is more like “sweet little bite.” Some contend that was once used as a given name, but I can’t confirm it, though the -ette ending has been in use for centuries. Miette appears in US Census records, though she’s never ranked in the US Top 1000. Nancy tells us 19 were born in the US in 2009.
Parents might also be inspired by Canada’s Miette River, found in Alberta’s Jasper National Park. But the river’s name probably comes from the Cree word myatuck – bighorn sheep, which make their home in the area.
I’m a Miette! I love my name, it’s never felt insubstantial or different, especially among Mias and other -ettes. (My best friend is Charlotte, and when we were little, we loved to be the ettes!) I have french speaking friends who have never found issue with it. My parents discovered it in city of the lost children and loved it!
Just FYI, Amélie and City of Lost Children are two completely different movies by Jeanne-Pierre Jeunet.
We named our baby Miette our own lil piece of heaven:) we love the name!
“Crumb” (Miette), don’t be offended. I’ve actually found the user “thetxbelle” on a couple of other name forums (thanks, Google!) doing nothing more than finding the posts of people who have named their daughter Miette to inform them of it’s origin. It appears to be her “thing”.
In fact, on one board, she was posting her opinion on posts that were many years old (so old that the moderator commented and told her to move on, that the original poster was “not interested” since the post was over 2 years old). This prompts me to believe she spends some time searching the name “Miette” so that she may inform people of their perceived ignorance.
Anyhow, my daughter, Miette Liselle, does wear her name very proudly, we’ve met people from many regions (including France) who claim to adore the name. Not that it matters, as we like the name and our daughter is happy with it.
Miette is my name. Somewhat offended.
I sincerely am not trying to offend anyone, I was offering more information on how the name is perceived and used in the country of its origin which I think is an important thing to consider. It’s true I think Miette is a bizarre choice to give as a proper name but I would never make fun of one or tell the parents they made a mistake, everyone has the right to name their child what they want. I don’t think it’s rude to post on it more than once even after parents have posted. if anything I think it goes to prove the name is controversial.
I assume that if a French person moved to the States and posted about a name that would be problematic here then people would tell them so they could make an informed decision. If the facts I offered make someone question their name choice then I hope they focus on the fact that Miette has been used in the Arts. Literature and as term of endearment by some.
I hope your daughter and the other Miettes wear their name proudly.
Please excuse any misspellings or autocorrections I’m typing on my phone.
@MissMiaMarie – I take your point, but I do think that thetxbelle’s is equally valid. Miette is catching on in the US, and I fully expect she’ll generally be received as stylish and just a little bit different by most.
I do moderate comments here, but posters are welcome to argue passionately for a name – or implore others to avoid the name. I guarantee you there are people out there who actively dislike both of my children’s names.
As for why people look at one particular post month after month, I can honestly say that many posts here have comments that range over months and even years. (Quick tip for all: if you click “notify me of comments via email” you’ll get a notice every time new information is added to a post.”)
In any case, Miette is quickly joining Cohen and Lorelei as one of the most controversial posts out there … I suspect this is far from the last comment.
We named our daughter Miette (her middle name is Liselle), as my husband loved the way it seemed like a diminutive version of my name (Mia). We were aware that it is often a term of endearment in the language it originated from.
However, why someone would come on here repeatedly, over the course of many months, and object to a name (especially when other posted have said they already have a child baring the name) is beyond me. I cannot help but think that you must BE one of these bullies you speak of, that would pick on someone over the name their parents chose for them.
Our daughters name Is Miette Lucille. I love the name and she does too. And at any point she can go by Mia, Lucille, Lucy, Lu, Lulu. What ever she wants.
I’ve never seen the word “substantial” abused and misspelled so often.
This just came up on nameberry again and I felt prompted to say this name has been listed as one of the “hardest to wear” in France, read any French baby name site and the comments are HARSH. Your giving your child another name for garbage, left overs, etc, there’s a reason why less than 15 people carry the name in France even though it’s a legit name with a nice literary reference.
I would think twice before considering Miette, Cosette, Gavroche, Clitorine, etc…they get made fun of more than people realize.
i have a 3.5 year old named miette eloise. she has always been small (and sweet) so the name fits her perfectly. i think people thought it was a strange choice at first, but since she developed a bit of personality, everyone says they cant imagine her being called anything else. i think its a very “sweet” name.
I agree Corrie. I love the name.
My baby whom we fought and pleaded with God for came to us…our own lil sweet crumb…. Or piece of heaven! I love the name…just a lil bit different 🙂
We have a 4 month old baby girl we named Cora Miette and I just love her name! She was an unexpected surprise to us after our other kids were nearly grown and she really is our little sweetheart (Which is what her name means!) I was not sure on the name until she was born – when I saw her it fit perfectly. It’s really fun having a term of endearment built into her name. When I’m kissing those fat little pink cheeks and she’s giggling so loud, I love calling her my Miette.
I read on some other site a while ago that Miette is used as a nickname for Marguerite in France… not sure how accurate that is, but I thought that might be nice since I’ve thought about naming a future daughter Marguerite. I think it’s pretty as a nickname.
I read the same thing, and this is a big reason why I like the name so much. My wife and I are actually considering this name very seriously. She has a relative that she loves dearly named “Marjorie,” and this is a diminutive form of that name as well. Originally, we really loved the name Mae, but it just doesn’t sound good with our last name.
I asked a French friend of mine if he’d find the name Miette as something not appropriate for a child. He said he thought it was a beautiful name, though he’d never met a Miette.
@Nate: Miette is a cutesy nickname in general but not specifically for Marguerite, Marjorie, etc…It is not a name the French take seriously, because it is used for too many things: “ramasse miette” means garbage collector, “miette du crabe” means bits of crab (for a recipe) and what a friend of mine described as miettes ultimately turned out to be lice in a students hair…It was listed by notrefamille.com as one of the names that is most difficult to wear and is discouraged which is probably why your friend has never met one.
The name itself is not offensive (people on french naming message boards seem to disagree) but there are many French people like my husband, friends and family who would question why you chose it but to each their own. Plus there’s a chance your child may never go there and be subjected to teasing.
Im not trying to be harsh but in this day and age of travel we have to think about what a child’s name means in other cultures, especially the one it originates from. I would be disheartened to find out my babies name had negative connotations somewhere else.
I much prefer the Italian, Mietta, it has far less baggage, though I can see the appeal.
So last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I thought of the coolest not-so-real -ette name: Pirouette! I think it makes a dainty but striking middle name – far too bold for a first, in my opinion – for a girl. A name like Sara Pirouette or Lucy Pirouette would be lovely for the daughter of a ballerina, I think…
(Natalie Portman? Yea, that’s a thought for your baby’s name, okay?)
C in DC says
I really like -ette names, and think this is kind of cool. I think we’re going to see more -ette names popping up as the -ia names begin to tire.
I am a huge baker and love this name! I would probably put it in the middle spot.. My husband calls me cupcake or Love (actually I cant remember the last time he has called me by my first name), and I think Miette in the middle would be like naming her after me, but in a less traditional way.. overall I really like it, but Im not sure it would be a first name choice for me.. now I have something to add to my middle names list!
Hm. Reminds me of Minuet or Minuette – a past poster on Nameberry – but without all the pomp and circumstance. Miette looks cool, yes, but I prefer the substance of Mirette or Marietta or the elegance of Mireille, myself…
Speaking of -ette names, I’ve recently realized what a gem Juliet really is!
Charlotte Vera says
This is a “No way!” for me since the Miette Hotsprings are a favourite family vacationing spot. Not being a fan of bestowing place names on my offspring, Miette is most definitely out of the question.
Like Charlotte North Carolina?? Is that how u spell it? 🙂
It’s definitely used more in the U.S. than in France: http://meilleursprenoms.com/stats/histogram.php3?recherche=Miette&submit=Recherche
Lady Gwyn says
I like French names as a rule, but this one just doesn’t do it for me. I would rather use Mariane or Mireille.
For some bizarre reason it makes me think of feminine hygiene products.
I suggested this name and it’s because I simply cannot get it off my names list, even though it really isn’t a name so-to-speak. It’s interesting to see the responses! Still, even though most everyone finds it as insubstantial as fairy wings, I still love it to death!
Emmy Jo says
Mmmm… I live near San Francisco and am definitely going to check out that cupcake shop. Should I tell them I read about them on a baby name blog? 🙂
I don’t know about Miette name-wise. Mia feels very insubstantial to me as it is, and even though Miette is longer, it seems to have even LESS substance. I guess it’s pretty, but there are many other French diminutives that don’t mean “little crumb” — and I’d probably tend to steer parents toward those.
Oooh, field trip! Please report back on your favorite flavor. 🙂
So cool! I just added this to my list a couple weeks ago. 🙂
I love the sound of Miette. It reminds me of a name I stumbled upon on the title of a children’s book. It’s called Mirette on a High Wire. I think Mirette is such a pretty name but wonder would people have similar feelings about it being too much a term of endearment.
Awkward Turtle says
I think Mirette sounds more substansial and is very lovely.
And I’m a sucker for Mariette, which goes even farther …
I, too loved “Mirette on the High Wire” when I was younger. I’d choose Mirette any day; Miette, not so much.
As the mama of a 6.5 year old Barbie – crazy girl, I want to point out that Miette is the name of the cat in “Barbie & the 3 Musketeers”.
I call Josie “cuppycake” most mornings (‘wakey, wakey, cuppycakey’ is the call), but Miette is far to insubstantial to be any more than a nickname for me. Although, she’d insist it’s for the cat!
Brietta, Miette … the creative team behind the Barbie DVDs has some flair for choosing interesting names!
I’ve always loved the name Miette for a petite cat, since it means “small and sweet” or “sweet little bite” as Abby has here. I just think it would be so cute on a little kitty. I would also call her Mimi.
I think it could work on a human, too, but I’d be more inclined to use it on a pet, since it is more of a term of endearment. Still, if I met a little girl or even a woman named Miette, I would think she was beautifully named.
Agree with previous posters–I like Miette’s nickname potential and love it as a bakery name! If I saw this as a given name, I would assume the parents had not looked into the meaning. It reminds me of miel and cherie, pretty words that shouldn’t be names, former Prime Minister’s wife not withstanding.
Yep, this definitely qualifies as an insubstantial name for me. The pâtisserie by that name is indeed awesome, however. 😛 And it’s interesting to learn about its uses in literature and film.
I suppose it could be a cute nickname for Miriam or Emilia or similar names, and I can see its appeal sound-wise. But for me, a miette is something you wipe off the kitchen table, not something you name your child!
Miette is cute, but I’m with Claire. That bakery is making me want a cupcake. 🙂
I’m torn on the name but I’m sold on the bakery! 🙂