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.