She might be Welsh. She might be French. She’s a little bit of a nature name, and even brings to mind the famous Harry Potter.
Thanks to Nessa for suggesting the lovely Lunette as Name of the Day.
I’ve written about Luna previously, a Harry Potter name racing up the popularity charts in the US. Lunette shares much of Luna’s appeal, but she’s no mere variant.
Lunette looks French, but there’s an argument for her as Welsh mythological moniker. Eluned or Luned is one of the Lady of the Lake’s handmaidens in the Mabinogion, a collection of medieval Welsh tales. She also appears in Arthurian legend; Chrétien de Troyes describes her as charming and clever. Indeed, she has a few adventures of her own and, in some accounts, ends up becoming the Lady’s most trusted friend.
The common Anglicization of Eluned is either Lunet or Lunete. The -ette ending feels undeniably français. Or maybe franglais, because while Luna charts in the French Top 100, Lunette is nowhere to be found.
That’s probably because any French dictionary will tell you that lunette translates to eyeglasses, as in Luna porte des lunettes. You wouldn’t call your boy Spectacles McGee, would you?
If you recall Ben Franklin’s eyeglasses, you’ll see the connection. In Paris, the moon is still la lune. Since the 1500s, lunette meant little moon – or objects that resembled a crescent moon. Horse shoes were once called lunettes; the half-moon shape in the arch over a doorway is still known as a lunette. Even though eyeglasses are no longer limited to the crescent shape, the name stuck.
In the US, Lunette won’t suffer from the same association. While she’s never ranked in the Top 1000, I’ve found her in use. (In fact, I’m following a new blog called Wee Cookery, written by Lunette Fleming.)
Odds are that you know someone with a name that ends in -ette. They gained in popularity from the late nineteenth century until the 1950s, when Mouseketeer Annette Funicello propelled her first name into the US Top 100.
A long list of -ette names have risen and fallen, including:
- Feminizations of male monikers – Paulette, Claudette, Bernadette, Danette, Josette;
- Feminizations of French masculine names – Jeanette, Yvette, Antoinette;
- Diminutives like Nanette, Colette and Suzette.
By the 1970s, the -ette girls were fading. But they’re back today, with Violet and Scarlet leading the pack. So Lunette, with her similarity to Luna and French flair, might just emerge as a fashionable option.
Just hope she decides to study abroad in Berlin instead of Marseille.