The ApMtn team took a field trip to Montreal a few weeks back, and expected to return with lists of franglais-flavored baby names. As it turned out, most names were simply French. Or English. But we did find ourselves appreciating the assistance of our oh-so charmant concierge. And so we’ve decided to use his appellation here.

With the Jolie-Pitts opting for French flavored choices for their two newest, it seems only appropriate that today’s Name of the Day is Etienne.

Etienne is the French form of Stephen, a name worn by kings and popes. Saint Stephen was the very first martyr, and his feast day is December 26 – familiar to anyone who’s ever carrolled Good King Wenceslas at the holidays.

Pronounced ey TYEN or ay TYEN, it’s not the easiest sound for an English speaker to master. There’s a tendency to give it three syllables – ey TEE ehn – which isn’t quite right. In France, the name hovers just outside the Top 100, ranking #122 in 2006. Among the Quebecois, where we found our Etienne, it’s quite popular, coming in at #27.

It’s big on the map. At least six dozen Saint Etiennes can be found throughout France, from tiny villages to the capital of the Loire.

While he sounds a bit exotic, Etienne has been in nearly constant use throughout history – just not in the US, where he’s never cracked the Top 1000 given names. Steven, a Top 25 choice for many years, today stands at #97, with variant spelling Stephen coming in at #172. The German, Scandinavian and Eastern Europe Stefan hovers just inside the rankings at #941. The Latino versions of the name seem more accessible and current – Esteban ranked #356 and Estevan #900 in 2007.

While we think there’s much to love about Etienne, and it’s easy to see that French-inspired monikers may well become fashionable once more, many of these names feel a smidge pretentious – especially on a son. For those of us addicted to Bravo, we all know the response that Alex McCord on Real Housewives of New York City got to her sons’ names – Johan and François.

So it doesn’t seem likely that you’ll stumble across a small Etienne at Playhouse Disney LIVE! On Tour or watching the monkeys at the local zoo, we’re curious to see if French names do experience a revival – and if so, if classics like Etienne are part of the trend.

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. I don’t know about people with Etienne for a first name but its been my family’s last name forever!

  2. Glad to see this thread on the name Etienne! We are considering this name for our son and like others love the name but are unsure about the issues around pronunciation (BTW you can go to to hear the pronunciation). Two different people immediately thought it sounded like “ATM,” although we imagine that ATMs will soon be obsolete. We are also considering Lionel (three syllable pronunciation w/Leo for short) and Avery. Our girls are Delphine and Beatrix, so we need a boy name that’s somewhat unusual and preferably french for family heritage.

  3. My name in fact is Etienne, and for your imformation, I am a girl!! so please do not mock me and say “thats a boys name!! hahaha” because it aint very nice. and yh i’m not very fond of my name but i learn to deal with it! now I am feelining quite sad that it may only be a boys name, and I think people will male fun of me, of even think something horrible of me as I grow older…. so let me tell you now, I am changing this name to be a girls name as well!! so deal!!!! 🙁

    1. Well … a girl can be named Fred. It doesn’t change her gender, but it doesn’t change the majority opinion regarding Fred, either. I’m sorry you’ve struggled with your name.

    2. I think Etienne is a beautiful name for a girl. Unique, feminine and just lovely. If I have another girl I would like very much to name her Etienne. It feels so good to say. I have a Leia (lay-uh) and a Django (d is silent). I love my kids names for they are the only kids in their school with those names. I hope you grow to love your name. I do!!

      1. Django! Thats SUCH a cool name! Why have i never thought of that? Its really nice 🙂

    1. Sara, that’s a good question. As far as I know, Stephanie is the female version of Stephen in French. Estienne was a medieval French version of Etienne – but I won’t guess how it was pronounced.

      1. Estienne is pronounced the same as Ètienne. When the French simplified their language they replaced the Es for È.

  4. We have a darling little Etienne and I was very nervous about using it also! But we were daring and am now so glad we did. We’re Australian so it’s quite rare here….although it’s been well received! In the event he doesn’t like it growing up, his middle name is he could go with that!

    We call our little man Eti also. I was wondering how a french person would shorten the name though?

    1. I’ve heard of it being shortened to Etty (or Eti, as you said). Mine has always been shortened to Ett, but i guess thats just because of my alternate spelling 🙂