The French & Their Beautiful Baby Names The romantic allure and rolling of the r's across your tongue are defining characteristics of names originating from France. To understand and truly appreciate French names, one must first become familiar with the France's cultural and linguistic transformation which significantly influenced their etymology. Romantic languages such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, are derived from Vulgar Latin. Classic Latin, a dead language which is no longer spoken, was the dominant language at the height of the Roman Empire from 100 BC to 200 AD. Today, Latin origins are fundamental to understanding English medical terminology, as well as a continued presence in the naming customs traditional to the French. Old French Derived from Latin and the precursory language to modern French, Old French, a Germanic language, was spoken in No. France from the 9th-13th centuries. In 51 BC, Julius Caesar conquered the French militarily and linguistically, making Latin the language of France. The Franks ruling the northern areas during the 4th century spoke Frankish, Germanic language, but Vulgar Latin prevailed as the dominant language of the French. France's Latin continuance in the language at this point in history divided in half producing the Old French, the langue d'oil (of the north), and Provencal, the langue d'oc (of the south). Naming Custom In French, the term nom means name. Le nom (A name) consists of at least 1 given name (more than 2 are not atypical) and the family name which follows. The French have traditionally utilized the names of saints for naming their children, and continue to do so today. The designation for saints, in Christianity, is reserved for holy persons. Created after Christ's death, the Latin sanctus (holy, sacred) was applied to Apostles, martyrs, confessors, and Evangelists. The bestowing right of the title, saint, has been solely by the papacy since the 12th century. It can only be bestowed 5 years posthumoruously following the successive bestowing of the titles venerable, beatified, blessed and finally saint. At least 2 verifiable miracles during the canonization of a saint must be attributed to the process for official declaration. The church, especially in Catholic countries, encourages naming children after saints. Some of the most popular saintly given names today include Matthew, Luke, Paul, John, Mark, Mary, Stephen and Peter, which are from the New Testament. However, the names of later saints from legends and history such as Barbara, Anthony, Patrick, George, and Katherine have common usage, as well. After the Protestant Reformation which diminished the Catholic church's supremacy regarding baby names, the French expanded their biblical name use to characters and Hebrew origins. Modern French babies are still commonly named in this manner with French flair like Zoé, Eva, Tom, and Maëlle. French parents aren't free to name their children anything they wish. France is one of three countries having laws which govern the naming of children. The other 2 countries are Germany and Poland. Two proposed reasons behind this name restriction could be the preservation of traditional names and the prevention of offensive, embarrassing, or inappropriate names. The top ranked girl names in France include Emma, Chloé, Manon, Inès, Lola, Jade, and Camille. The second most popular French name for females, Léa, a form of Hebrew Leah (weary) which came into use in France following the Great Reformation. The name, Leah, is also popular in the U.S. (#25) & Ireland (#15). Inès is the French form for the Spanish Agnes, another martyred saint. French boy names topping the most usage list are Nathan, Lucas (form of Luke), Enzo (unknown origin), Léo, Louis, Hugo, Gabriel, Ethan, Mathis, and Jules (form of Julius).