We all know that names come in and out of fashion, but we’re particularly charmed by a group of appellations that are all-but-extinct circa 2008, and yet sound primed for a revival.
Thanks to Elisabeth for suggesting a promising member of this club: Eulalie.
Eulalie is the French version of the marginally less obscure Eulalia. Eulalia was a 4th century saint, martyred under Diocletian despite her tender years. Most reports place her age at no more than thirteen when she met her grisly fate. There were either two Eulalias with similar stories – one in Merida and one in Barcelona – or two Spanish cities eager to claim this virtuous girl. Barcelona has the edge; Eulalia is one of the city’s patron saints and her earthly remains are housed in the city’s cathedral.
Obscure saint she may be, but Eulalia and Eulalie were bestowed with some frequency into the 19th century and beyond. Eulalia ranked in the US Top 1000 most years between 1880 and 1938; Eulalie doesn’t fare as well, disappearing after 1899.
From the Greek eulalos, most agree that the name means eloquent. Some speculate that the Middle English Hillaria, feminine forerunner of Hillary, may be a merged form of Eulalia and the masculine Late Latin Hilarius.
Actress Marcia Gay Harden named one of her daughters Eulala, a variant that appears along with the other spellings sparingly into the early 20th century.
We can’t help feel that Eulalia and Eulala are a bit trickier on the tongue than Eulalie. Eulalie also has a strong literary link. In 1845, Edgar Allan Poe chose the name for the heroine of a poem, writing:
My soul was a stagnant tide ’till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my blushing bride.
Speaking of novels, the 19th installment in Brian Jacques’ Redwall series is titled Eulalia! – but get this – it’s the war cry uttered by badgers. Let’s sidestep that fascinating piece of trivia and simply say that we think it’s another reason to opt for the -ie ending.
Another creative Eulalie is the Harlem Renaissance’s Eulalie Spence. Originally from the British West Indies, Miss Spence won acclaim as a writer, actress and playwright.
The pronunciation of Eulalia in English is clear: yoo LAH lee ah. We assume – and favor – a similar yoo LAH lee pronunciation for her cousin. But we’ve also stumbled across sources suggesting she ought to properly be said uh LAH lee. What with more familiar names like Eugene and Eustace using the yoo, it seems unlikely that the uh sound would catch on, but there is room for interpretation – and confusion.
So let’s class Eulalie with two promising clusters of names for girls: Obscure Saints and French appellations. For more on these categories, visit:
- Obscure Saints’ Names, Girls Edition, here at ApMtn;
- You Can’t Call It It’s weekly updates on upcoming saints’ days;
- The definitive resource at www.catholic.org, their Saints’ directory;
- Les Mademoiselles, back at You Can’t Call It It;
- Ooh La La, French Names for Girls, again here at ApMtn.
Eulalie could be just the thing for parents seeking something underused but historic, literary and virtuous and quite cutting edge, too.
I like the Southern varient, Eula. It reminds me of Lee Remick who played Eula Varner from the 1958 movie: The Long Hot Summer. The movie also starred Paul Newman. One of my favorites actors and movie which introduced me to Eula, or at least see it in a different light.
My name is Eulie. I have been trying for a while to see where it comes from
I prefer an American pronunciation of this name. As far as I can tell (through my youtube video research) the French pronounce it uh-LAH-lie (with the Lolly sound) but most Americans pronounce it more like Kate (the previous poster).
The following 2 links show how I would pronounce it…
Kate Marlowe says
This is my daughter’s name! We pronounce it you-LUH-lee. We adore it to bits! Perfect for us!
It either sounds like “You – Lolly! get over here !” to me (Lolly is a character on a national soap here) or I think of Hawaiian swishing skirts.While it can be pretty in theory, the actual viability of the name & the feel of it isn’t really grabbing me. It feels rather awkward .Overall, I can theorize & understand the appeal, it;s just rather awkward for me.This would be a daring choice for me – not a name like Honour or Roscoe
to add to what others worte about eulalie not having a nickname, we call my daughter lalie, sometimes, or lay, my sister calls her eulie (U-lee), all of which i feel are very cute and sweet…like any good nickname should be
thank you for all the information! my daughter, born in spring of 2008, is named eulalie. from what i have found, it is greek, anf means well-spoken…such a lovely meaning, one of the main reasons why i chose it for my child. i have found so many bits of liturature either written about or by someone named eulalie. such a wonderful name, with such a wonderful history behind it!
Lisa, Eulalie is a fabulous name! Another baby name blogger – Elisabeth at You Can’t Call It “It” – just named her daughter Eulalie a few months ago. They’re using “Lolly” as a nn. Eulie is sweet, too. Eulalie Aveleen is a great combo – what are you thinking of with Ardis?
I always wanted to use Avalon in the middle spot – my husband’s name is Arthur, so it seemed like a subtle way of honoring dad. Maybe someday …
Thank you, Eulalie’s dad! That’s a fascinating bit of info, and certainly trumps Poe by a good bit.
When I Google’d the poem, I learned that Saint Eulalia’s bones were discovered in Barcelona in 878. Not sure where they’d been for more than five hundred years, but apparently that’s what sparked the writing. I think a lot about events that trigger the popularity of a name – television shows, movies, songs, etc. as well as history and literature – but maybe I’m missing a whole category of precipitating events – the discovery of saints’ relics, the canonization of new saints … hmmm … I think it’s time to go back to the library and dig for something relevant.
What a great choice of name for your daughter!
Eulalie's dad says
Eulalie is also a reference to the first known poem in French literature : the Saint-Eulalie sequence, in the 9th century.
Eulalie White- Martinez says
Gee did not know their was a day for Eulalie. I love this as The Nun’ in the 50’s
continued to give my name the Spanish spelling the French spelling is on the paper
More Fabulous Eulalies:
Eulalie Osgood Grover, children’s book author and creator of “The Sunbonnet Babies.” Editor of the 1915 edition of _Mother Goose_.
Eulalie Banks, children’s book illustrator born in 1895 who continued to work well into her 90s (and married to an Arthur).
Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn in “The Music Man” (played by Hermione Gingold).
Katharine, happy to oblige! We have a few coming up on the NotD calendar that are lovely antiques. 🙂
And Lola, I think you’re quite right about the Lally/Lolly nickname option.
Like many of you, this one gives me pause because ambiguous pronunciations craze me. But as it happens, I rather like all the variant sounds you can get from Eulalie, so I still I’d consider considering this one. I’m actually going to suggest it to my sister – her husband’s last name is very common and while they’ve settled on choices for boys, they’re at sea about girls’ names.
Ohh I have never before considered Eulalie, thankyou for bringing it to my attention. I like the idea of pronoucing it you-lay-lee, that said I don’t like names that have (even minor) pronouciation quibbles, I could see it taking off though and the sound is not disimilar to Layla… Applellation Mountain: more all-but-extinct names please!
I’m even more enchanted with the name after reading your comments. Thank you for this. To me it’s light and buoyant, with a bit of romance.
In English, I do pronounce it “you-LAY-lee”, but my other half has a problem with the “lay” part. Maybe I’ll float the other pronunciation, which is closer to the French anyway. She remains firmly on the list.
I always said it yoo-LAY-lee, and I think I like it a bit better that way. I would have never thought it had such history! I like it. I said Eulala as yoo-LAH-lah, which sounded very unappealing to me, like some sort of Teletubby. I also said Eulalia as you-LAY-lee-ah. I like the sound of it, even if it is a bit confusing looking. It’s better than a lot of those bizarre made up ones, though. There was a Kaylienne over at Y!A today. Ouch!
Emmy Jo says
This one is interesting. I’ve certainly heard it, but I’ve never considered it before. You make it seem very appealing.
I love it’s lilting musical sound, but I think it’s one syllable away from being TOO musical. When I pronounce it as yoo-LAY-lee, it makes me think of a ukulele. When I pronounce it as yoo-LAH-lee, it makes me think of the Disney Robin Hood song, “Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly what a day!”
I love Eulalie! It’s such a pretty choice for a girl; it’s girly and feminine, but not too childish even though it ends in an -ee sound.
It’s one of those happy names, but I think I’d choose Rosalie over Eulalie, mainly because, like DirtyHippy mentioned, Eulalie doesn’t really come with any nicknames.
BTW, I’ve always pronouced Eulalie you-LAY-lee.
I adore Eulalie and pronounce her you-LAH-lee. Lally/Lolly would make a cute nickname, at least when she’s small. My family & friends still call me by my childhood nickname but everyone else calls me by my given name, never a nickname. I think it would cross over beautifully. I would kill to use her but she rhymes with my surname *drat*.
She’s got a lovelier history than I knew, I only knew about the Poe poem. And her meaning is stellar. With a light, lilting pronunciation and a grand history I honestly find Eulalie (and Eulalia) quite appealing and would rather meet a host of them than one more Madison.
I have no idea if I’m getting the pronunciation right with this one. I’d say yoo-LAY-lee, but not exactly LAY. Definitely with a long A sound.
It certainly sounds joyful, but between spelling and pronunciation, I think this one is kind of a hot mess. I also don’t like that there’s no ready nickname. I think that if you’re going to use a big, hulking, antiquey sort of name, there should be a younger, more modern nickname readily accessibly in case your daughter turns out to be a lighter sort of gal.
Unh-uh. This one is – for me, anyway – grouped with Eunice and Eugene. I welcome its return to obscurity.
There are so many French names out there – if I had my pick it wouldn’t be Eulalie.