Cora seems destined for a comeback. And vampire series Twilight is propelling Rosalie to popularity. Smoosh ’em together and what do you get?

Thanks to Nessa for suggesting the lovely Coralie for Name of the Day.

Coralie is big news in France, where she ranks in the Top 100, along with Amelie and Elodie. In French-speaking Canada, Coralie has broken into the Top Ten.

But in the US, she’s practically unknown. In 1880 and 1929, Coralie peeked into the Top 1000. Today, however, she has a number of advantages:

  • If French names for girls gain, Coralie would fit right in – easily pronounced in English, but undeniably imported;
  • Coraline is hitting the big screen next month, suggesting that Cora and her variants might just take off;
  • She’s ultimately a nature name, a category that continues to appeal.

Coralie is derived from the Latin coralium, from the Greek korallion – what we call coral, as in the tiny organisms that band together and form reefs. Originally, coralium only referred to the reddish variety of coral; that’s why you’ll probably find a sort of pinky-orange hue classed as coral in your spring J. Crew catalog.

The name’s first use eludes me, but there have been a number of Coralies in the spotlight in recent years:

  • Coralie Clement is a young French singer. She contributed to the soundtrack for 2003 movie Something’s Gotta Give.
  • Coralie Balmy swam for France at the Beijing Olympics last summer.
  • Coralie Simmons won a silver medal for the US in water polo at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

There’s also Coralia. It’s a place name in the comic strip Flash Gordon. The inhabitants breathe water and live under the sea, so it’s no surprise the writers chose the name.

Coralia was also used for a ballet adaptation of the nineteenth century novel Undine – and this could be the source of the name’s popularity. Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué wrote the story in 1811, a tale reminiscent of the little mermaid. (Though she has to resume her fishtail and avoid her beloved every Saturday.) It was a runaway hit. The March sisters read it in Little Women.

Undine or Ondine is a water sprite from German mythology, so it’s a logical name for the heroine. But when Paul Taglioni adapted the story for a ballet in 1847, he opted to use the name Coralia.

Coralia is not unknown, but appears to be even less common than Coralie.

Overall, Coralie could be a great choice for parents hoping for something truly uncommon, but still easy to wear. The only danger is that if Cora, Coraline and company do become the next big thing, Coralie would sound less rare – but no less lovely.

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. Have always enjoyed having a less common name. Even though many spell my name incorrectly or do not hear correctly and pronounce my name as Kylie, Kirrilee or lee.

    I absolutely love the beach and therefore my name suits me well, actually some friends and relatives have called me ‘coral by the sea’.

    Have alway felt special with this name.. when younger I thought I might secretely be a mermaid with such a special name.


  2. I really like Coralie. To me she has an almost delicate kindness and demureness about her, whilst atill holding a quiet kind of subtle strength.
    I like similar names with the -ee sound ending like Bryony, Rosalie, Cleophee and Ophelie.

  3. I love Coralie a lot! She’s very cute. I also love Rosalie, Elodie, and Amelie. Cordelia is similar sounding and one of my favorite names ever!

  4. Ooh – I do like Coralie. I probably wouldn’t use her myself, but she is just undeniably pretty, as Lola expressed! There’s actually a little girl in my DD kindergarten goup this year named Coralie – and she’s exactly what I’d expect of the name; very little, with sandy curls and sparkly blue eyes – she’s a very cute kid, but she just looks so breakable, like a doll!
    I think that’s why I wouldn’t use her – she just seems a touch too fragile for me 🙂

  5. I like Coralie! She’s pretty and frilly, but not too frilly — like a light summer frock with just a bit of lace trim.

    I’d love to see her (and Rosalie and Elodie) catch on as Emily-alternatives.

  6. I want very much to like Coralie, I really do, but I find myself holding back for a few reasons:

    1. Like Tavish, I find it descriptive sounding: “Wow, that bay sure is coral-y”… Does that make sense?

    2. I like Cora alone much better. I’m usually drawn to the simpler names. Coralie seems almost too frilly when I think of tried and true Cora.

    3. I’m afraid of what the masses could do to Coralie, as already seen in previous comments. Names so easily mangled to be “prittee” scare me a bit…

    All in all, not a bad name, just not my cup of tea I guess.

  7. Shhh Cat! Don’t feed them ideas! 😀

    I like Coralie but prefer simple Cora. Coralie is pretty and feels as delicate as a china doll. Which is all well and good but not for my kids. If Josie’s any indicator, she’ll be athletic, horsey and bouncy. She did a backflip to get out of bed this morning. Whew, is this what my mother had to live with? 😉

    Coralie is pretty, undeniably. I had no idea she had as solid a background as she does though. Brings her up a few notches in my estimation. Very nice and girly. I do fear the trendies will get ahold of Coralie and mangle her. I’ve already seen Coralee and Koralee. So… take that as you will.
    I do like her, she’s warm & happy feeling and that makes her a winner for me. Very lovely, Coralie!

  8. Coralie is very nice, not for me, but gorgeous on someone else’s kid. I think it has the potential to sound nicknamey with the wrong middle, though. All in all, though, I really like it, and wouldn’t mind seeing little ones christened Coralie! (How long will it get them to think up Koraleigh? *vomit*)

  9. Sometime during the past year I became infatuated with Coralie. Why I do not know. Where or when did I see her or hear her- I do not know either. My husband tells me of the great breakfasts he would enjoy whenever he visited his great-aunt Cora so I suspect his positive feelings toward one name colored my feelings toward the other.

    She’s definitely feminine and I love the sounds she shares with Rosalie, which is my favorite Rose-inspired name.

    Great post.

  10. I like Coralie- except that it may get confused with Coraline, which in turn may get confused with Caroline. But I digress.
    It sounds very mermaid-esque- the coral beginning and the “ie” ending come together to make this image, I think.
    That’s so cool that it is so popular! I rarely hear it.
    Overall: I like Coralie; she’s an unexpected nature-y choice.