Editor’s note: This post was originally published on January 20, 2009. It was substantially revised and re-published on October 7, 2013.
Take one medieval saint, transport her to Paris and what do you get?
Thanks to Mariuccia and JNE for suggesting today’s Baby Name of the Day: Elodie.
In the age of Ella, plenty of parents are searching for creative ways to arrive at that nickname, or the equally appealing Ellie. Factor in the fashionable allure of French appellations for girls, and it comes as no surprise that Elodie is attracting quite a bit of attention.
She sounds like modern noun name Melody, but goes much farther back.
Sisters Alodia and Nunilo lived near Cordoba in the ninth century. It had been more than a century since the Muslims had come to power in Spain, and the girls’ mother remarried a Muslim man. The girls refused to convert.
It was a perilous time for Christians – the tolerance that had characterized the first century of Muslim rule was fading. Four dozen Christians would be executed for apostasy in the 850s.
Nunilo and Alodia were both martyred for their beliefs, are both considered saints. The carving pictured to the right is from a church in the small town where the sisters once lived.
Alodia is probably a Visigoth name – the Visigoths ruled the area for centuries. That means that Elodie is a cousin to Otto – both are derived from od – wealth.
It is also a place name. Part of Nubia was called Alodia while under Christian rule during the Middle Ages. It was established before the girl known as Alodia was born, and would last for several centuries after her death. We’re not sure how the state got its name, but it may share the same roots as the saint’s name.
As the saint’s story traveled from Spain to France, Alodia eventually became Élodie.
Variants like Elodia and Alodie appear occasionally in various European languages, and all forms appear in the US Census records, too. But they’re very rare. In the late 19th century, British citizen Elodie Lawton married a Serbian diplomat, learned his language and translated many classic Serbian works. Women religious sometimes took the name.
Alodia is nearly unknown today, but Elodie is at her most popular:
- She peaked in the 1980s in France, peaking in the 1980s, and ranks in the Top 50 in French-speaking Canada.
- French actress Elodie Bouchez appeared in the final season of television sensation Alias, playing a secret CIA assassin.
- Gail Carson Levine gave the name to the heroine of her 2011 novel, A Tale of Two Castles.
- My favorite? Short-lived cast member of The Hills, Elodie Otto, because of the link between her first and last names.
Elodie charted in the US a few times in the late nineteenth century, then disappeared. But she looks to be making a comeback. 149 girls received the name in 2012. That’s double the number in 2010. Judging by the positive attention Elodie generates, she’s likely to continue her rise.
She’s startlingly pretty, even delicate. There are so many great three-syllable, ends in ‘ee’ choices. Elodie is among the most ethereal of them all, a sister for Ariel or Lorelei.
Overall, she’d wear well on a modern girl. Elodie is tremendously historic, in step with current trends and still nicely uncommon.
Will name my future child Elodie Dior love this name
Why do you call your child with a french name if you haven’t french culture or origin ? It’s a little pretentious. I will never call my son ‘Brian’ or ‘Steven’ because I don’t have any english parent…
Haha! What a narrow minded statement. And very snobby… Elodie translates perfectly without the accent. Lighten up Frenchie, it’s 2014.
I think it is actually a different cultural perspective. My understanding is that the French language is closely guarded from foreign words. English – especially American English – is the exact opposite. We borrow and invent and imagine new words all of the time. So it probably does feel odd for French speakers to hear Americans borrowing names that we don’t pronounce quite right … and strange for Americans to think of names as being off-limits.
Yes you’re most probably right there. Still, it’s rude and narrow minded (borderline racist, some might say…) of the poster to say anything or judge. FYI I’m in the UK, am quarter French, half Canadian but born here In the UK. I just think there’s no room for for anyone being told they can’t or shouldn’t use a certain name because they don’t have the ‘correct’ heritage. If the name fits and sounds nice, it really shouldn’t matter.
Actually, French-speakers borrow foreign (usually English) words all the time, at least in informal speech. And in France, anglophone names like William, Kevin and Nolan are now quite popular.
Interesting article. We named our daughter, who is almost one, Elodie Ann. Elodie wasn’t even in our top three names, which were Elisabetta, Violet and Alice. Somehow through a process of elimination we ended up with the name. We lived in France and thought the name unusual. The more we got used to the name the more striking it became.
If you choose this name, you will get a strong reaction. People either love or hate it. There is little indifference. While my family hates the name, all our friends love it.
Also, I am getting a bit tired of people saying “is it like Melody without the m?” or pronouncing the name with the emphasis on the middle syllable; eLODie.
We named our now 2 year old daughter Elody. We spelt it with a Y rather than ie because we didn’t like to have the word die in her name.
Laura bishop says
My daughter is Elodie Jayne Lily and is 10 months old. We chose the name as we wanted something unique yet pretty at the same time. We get lots of comments, mostly saying how unusual but lovely the name is. We do also get lots of people asking how to spell and pronounce it, we usually say, it’s like melody without the ‘m’!
Our daughter who turned four a few weeks back we named Elodie Amina: after initially looking at Freyja, we lost our love for the name Freyja/Freya due to the notice of the popularity rise at the time within the UK [our birth country]. We wanted something unique for our daughter to be representative of her European parentage as she grows up within the U.S, but also maintain a uniqueness to girl names in the U.K.
Like others have communicated, it’s often commented how beautiful a name it is, but also I have had to say ‘like Melody’ to help with pronunciation – must be a guy thing, as I know my wife does not offer that explanation.
Our baby girl is nearly 7 months old and so excited to find and read this page as we named her Elodie Margaret! The middle name after my lovely grandmother who passed away recently. Elodie was on our list but not really in the running, but as soon as we saw her we knew she was Elodie! I love the name, and the majority of people genuinely seem to love it too, although few have heard it before!
We named our new baby Elodie Elizabeth. She is 5 weeks old and she is so beautiful and I am glad we gave her such a beautiful unique name to suit her!
Congratulations, Angela! What a lovely name.
I too am an Elodie. I can trace my name through my family tree. I had an aunt Elodie. She was our aunt DeDe. My name traces back to my French ancestors that settled in Acadia (now known as Nova Scotia) back in the early 1600’s. I have always wondered about the origins of the name. I always thought it meant “little white flower”. That fits me as I am very petite. Much love to all the other Elodie’s out there.
Love this name plan on using it for my little girl’ well its either going to be Elodie or Acacia. I love the nickname Ellie and I’m hoping when people hear Ellie they will say is that short for Eleanor and I can’t wait to say nope It’s short for Elodie I adore this name 🙂 x
My precious little girl, Elodie Anne, turned four months yesterday. I find myself constantly having to repeat the name to people and instruct them on how to pronounce it, but that does not make me love it any less. I think it’s the perfect combination of feminine and uncommon but not strange. It suits her perfectly, and I am so happy we decided on it. We call her Ellie or Elle a lot, and I like the fact that she’ll have options as she gets older, matures and goes through different phases. I love my Ellie Belly!
My name is elodie Anne, also. I am 53 years old and was named for my French grandmother, who was born in the late 1800’s.
My beautiful little girl is called Elodie Scarlett 🙂
She turns 3 in December, and she suits the name perfectly. I can’t imagine her being called anything else.
We’re in the UK, and its barely heard of. The mispronunciations were a little annoying at first but 2 1/2 years on it doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore.
My little bright bubbly redhead is the light of my life 🙂
Great combination! And glad to hear Elodie wears well.
I really like the name Elodie although it’s very close to my own name Jodie I still think it works. I was looking for a name that could be my girls choice when I came across Elodie and since then I’ve been hoping to find some history on the name so thank you for the update. What’s strange is you quote the name Lorelei which is in fact the name of my friends daughter so perhaps this means I’ll be expecting a girl. So looks like Elodie Iris Briony will be arriving in the not to distant future…. As aposed to her male counter part Caleb Seth Isaac. I also noticed someone else here has an Elodie Iris not too far off my soon to be daughters Elodie Iris Briony how much more of a hint do I need!
I really like the name Elodie although it’s very close to my own name Jodie I still think it works. I was looking for a name that could be my girls choice when I came across Elodie and since then I’ve been hoping to find some history on the name so thank you for the update. What’s strange is you quote the name Lorelei which is in fact the name of my friends daughter so perhaps this means I’ll be expecting a girl. So looks like Elodie Iris Briony will be arriving in the not to distant future…. As aposed to her male counter part Caleb Seth Isaac.
My name is Elodia. I was raised by parents from Mexico but born in Hollywood California. Being named after my great-aunt Elodia was/is an honor. However, I have had a rough time with my name while growing up in school and even today. People these days will say how pretty it is, but do they mean it? After reading all the posts, I’m starting to think, yes, they do! Thanks for the article. I’m happy to see all the positive comments we Elodias have now!
I had to pop back to this old post and say that we did name our daughter, now 4 months, Elodie Grace, and we’re so happy with it. My husband and I have always liked the name since we heard it years ago as the name of a very cute French singer in an indie pop band we liked. I think it’s pretty and chic but a bit cool too. And I like how its really unheard of in the UK, but has similarities to some of the most popular names like Emily, Amelia and Ella. Anyway, thanks for this post which encouraged me to pick it.
wow, I’m very surprised to see that Elodie is known in America! (I’m French)
I know this topic is old, but I wanted to say, in France, this name is too much popular and that’s why I don’t really like my name (Yes, I’m an Elodie!), I love the meaning, the pronouciation, but it’s too popular and that’s why I don’t like it, when people call me Elodie.
That’s why I want to go back in the pass, just when my mom and my dad have decided my name ,to say ” Pick Melodie Dad, pick Melodie!! ( My parents had different choices for my name, they wanted to call me Melodie or Emilie, but my dad didn’t like Melodie!).
But I have to say, when I read all your messages, it makes me proud to be an Elodie, because this name is charming, in greek it means ” Flower of the fields ” which is very cute! & because I’m very proud of Alodia, she refused to deny her faith, and it’s a quality that you will find in every Elodies.
The good part in America it’s there’s not a lot of Elodie, which means it wont became popular, it’ll be a rare, mysterious and frenchy firstname, and it’s actually like this, that I want my name to be.
This was my great aunts name- she lived in Durango, mexico and so if we have a daughter she will be Alodia Margaurite, after her mexican great great aunt and her palestinian grandmother (Margaret). I always figured it was an arabic name since Saint Elodia was alive during Muslim rule and was a child of a Muslim-Christian marriage (Her real father was muslim and let her be raised christian contrary to tradition. When he passed away and her mother remarried, the new husband was not so open minded and had her beheaded). Most spanish words that start with AL are derrived from arabic, and I don’t see why anyone would think that the name of a half arabic child would be Anglo-saxon as many websites claim. To me, it represents my husband’s mix of arabic blood and the thousand years his family has been Christian. Plus, it is a family name from my father’s side. And as previously pointed out, a dainty feminine name too. We always pronounced it “ah-LO-dee-ah”, but it may just be a regional thing.
Thank you for publishing this – I stumbled across it whilst trying to ascertain the origin of our beautiful daughter’s name. I felt compelled to comment in response to Phoenix as our little girl, born in May 2010, is an
My Canadian-French great grand mother was named Elodie and i always thought it was such a beautiful, and underused name with such history! When I found out I was having a girl, there was no other name that I even considered. Elodie Lilette is 14 months old and I love her name more and more every day! It is a beautiful name for a girl to grow into.
Thanks! We love it too. 🙂
Our daughter, due in December, will be named Elodie (middle name Iris). We actually decided on it because we loved the nickname Ellie but wanted something more modern and unique than Eleanor to be her full name.
I knew an Elodie growing up, she was French, her mother’s name was Joelle. But other than that one girl, I never knew any other Elodie’s… until we chose the name for our daughter. Now it seems to be popping up here and there. Maybe we’re just noticing it more.
I also am constantly saying, “it’s like Melody without the M” but I don’t mind. I get quite positive reactions from people, even if they’ve never heard it before.
It’s a name that really grows on you over time.
I love Elodie, and Elodie Iris is a gorgeous combination!
Heh, my name is Joelle and I’m thinking of calling my daughter, due this December, Elodie!
Elodie is 10 months old today and becoming evermore a little sweetheart. All who meet her seem to agree that she’s beautiful and sweet but i’m not to sure they think the same of her name, however!
In fairness it is a REALLY uncommon name here in Ireland and because of that most people new to her name (approx 95% !) believe it to be ‘a made up name’. SERIOUSLY, they have NEVER heard of someone called it before or of ‘Elodie’ even being mentioned somewhere, sometime about somebody previously!
But we still LOVE Elodie’s name despite the confused reactions. Usually we try and explain that it’s a really old French name still popular there and that Nadine, Danielle, Noemi, Stephanie, Amy and many more beautiful, feminine names are commonplace here now but are not even considered as typically ‘French’ girl’s names anymore!
We also call her Elie, so as she’s growing up she’s got the choice of using both or specifically only one of either name and lately i’ve noticed two out of four of us have made the switch from mostly calling her Elie to using Elodie more so. Us other two call her by both Elodie and her nickname equally. She also is starting to recognise her own ‘name’ herself now, more and more.
Believe it or not, 15 years ago we named our first daughter Caitlin and we had the EXACT same reaction as Elodie’s name gets now, as that was a rare name here in Ireland back then! But now you can buy stuff like keyrings and moneyboxes in many shops and stores with Caitlin monogrammed on them as standard! And we definately have NEVER regretted naming her Caitlin so nothing has or will change for our little Elodie!
My 2 year old daughter’s name is Elodie Katherine. We met an Elodie from Canada in 2000, and an Elodie from France in 2005. We then decided that was going to be our future daughter’s name (thank goodness we had a girl)! Our last name is french, so we thought it flowed well. Since then, we’ve met two Elodies, both ladies are in the 60’s. Last week I learned of a newborn (friend of a friend, etc) named Elodie. I wonder if there is a recent hype about the name because one of the girls on the TV show The Hills is named Elodie (she is in her early 20’s). I was told by one of the ladys we met (in her 60’s) that the name was popular in France prior to her being born. She told me my daughter was the first Elodie she had met.
We do get a lot of people that ask us a million times “what did you say” and I keep repeating it, sometimes having to spell it for them. My husband immediately tells them it rhymes with Melody, but I’ve never said that and don’t ever plan to. Well I love my daughter’s beautiful and unique name (at least so far in the US) and I hope that it doesn’t get popular.
We’ve named our 4 week old beautiful baby girl Elodie Rose and we call her Elie for short. We love the name, it’s melodic, pretty, feminine and unusual too.
We are finding a lot of people don’t know what we’re saying when asked her name. We’re having to repeat it and say it rhymes with melody and that it is an old old name. They usually say that they like it but i don’t know if they’re just sayin’ they like it when really they are thinking ‘ Oh My God’!!!
We think the name Elodie flows really well, especially with Rose (which is one of my middle names) and with our surname. So all in all we feel that we lucked out with this very pretty name which in my opinion is only going to become more and more popular with some time and recognition. Hopefully Elodie agrees even after years of confused faces and when she’s had to repeat her name yet again!
Congratulations, Phoenix! What a lovely, lovely name.
I was just browsing the web, finding out what my name means when i came across this. My name is Elodie and my middle name is Rosiena. Such a coincidence! Anywyas, you will have to repeat the rhyme – i say it so often, ‘elodie, like melodie, without the m. but it works!
I am putting Elodie on my list. I like the French pronunciation better but I can go for the English one. I’d just call her that, no nn. Don’t really like Ellie, Ella’s nice but there are so many of them around now.
Emmy Jo says
Elodie is lovely. She was on my list for a while, before being replaced by Eloise (which got replaced by Eliza which got replaced by Eleanor). I don’t mind “Ellie” as a nickname, though it might not be my first choice, and it seems I always have at least one “El-” name floating around in my top 10.
I think what first drew me to the name is that she sounds SO straightforward and workable and yet she is SO rarely heard. Perhaps I was also drawn to it since it feels like a combination of mine and my sister’s names. I’m Emily and she’s Melody. It’s certainly better than Memily! 🙂
Thank you for giving the background on this light and pretty name. Elodie is an unusual name that I’ve liked for awhile, and all that I seem to know about it is that it rhymes with Melody!
It feels authentically French (and it should; it is) unlike some Gallic standards like Danielle and Nicole, which are very nice, but sound rather English/American to me now.
As far as nns go, I’m a fan of Ello (though it sort of sounds like you’re saying ” ‘ello!” with an exaggerated Cockney accent) instead of sort-of-boring Ellie.
Final word: an airy choice that I would love to see on someone (I’ve never met an Elodie). Elodie’s got my vote!
I like Elodie; it’s pretty and feminine without being frilly. I’d add her to my list if I had a drop of French blood running through my veins, but I, unforunately, do not. If I were to name my child Elodie, I’d feel like some Polish person who’s second cousin’s half sister’s ex-husband is 1/3 Irish and feels as if that gives her the right to name her child Aidan. If it were more established as an English name, it would be on my list, but as it is, it feels too French to me. I’d love it on someone else’s kid, though!
Alodia is what really intrigues me. I know of the saint, but never gave her name a second thought before. It’s definitely going on my list now!
She sounds so quintessentially French – pretty, stylish and elegant. I met an Elodie once whilst on holiday in France years ago, she encapsulated everything that we have just described an Elodie to be. I can still remember my shock/horror when I learnt that her sister was called Gregory(!) Even at my young age and with my limited knowledge of French names I found this a most bizarre choice/combination!
Elodie and Gregory – what a wild pairing! I wonder if they were family names?!
Elodie is pretty. I’m still tired of the Ellies for the most part but this one I don’t mind as much as most. Only Elinor ranks higher. Elodie’s *very* pretty, sweet, charming and ladylike. Not for me but I would be pleased as punch to meet someone elses. Elodie’s got the makings of a real winner these days!
Christina Fonseca says
I knew an Elodia back in the 60s when her family moved briefly from Texas to California. The next time I heard/saw the name was last year when I discovered baby naming boards. Thanks for the write-up!
Interesting that you’ve met an Elodia!
Elodie is so pretty! It makes me happy, I can hardly say it without singing it. So lyrical and lovely. I like Melody too, but this is so much more distinctive. Alodia is also gorgeous, totally different feel for me, but equally nice. Mmm, I hadn’t really considered Elodie before, but she’s going on my list!
Thanks for the history – that is very interesting, indeed. I love the sound of this name. (And for the record, I’ve probably been mangling it somewhat, since I pronounce it eh loh DEE – half way between the two pronunciations you mention.) While I like all the pronunciations, I like the emphasis on the ending, like the French Canadian way you mention, a little more. I know the “El-” names are kind of over-done in general, but I can’t help but like Elodie… not as much as Eleanor, but I very much like it. For now, I’m keeping her around to see if she sticks.