European Baby Names

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Naming your baby is often a stressful task, particularly if it is your second or third child. Many parents choose to carry on family traditions by naming their baby after an older relative, but frequently find the name too old-fashioned for their taste. If your heritage lies overseas, look to one of the European countries for inspiration. Agata, for instance, is the anglicized version of Agatha, while Jacopo is the Italian form of Jacob or James.


Italian Baby Names

The predominant religion in Italy is Roman-Catholic, explaining why many Italian families choose to name their children after saints. Family and tradition is also an important part of the culture and many families choose to name their babies after the elders, usually the grandparents. Common Italian baby girl names include Bianca, Arianna, Loreta, Fiorella, Caterina, Elisabetta and Maria. Celebrities have spurred popularization of some Italian girls’ names, including Donatella, after fashion designer Donatella Versace and Giada, for celebrity chef Giada DeLaurentis. Common boys’ names include Antonio, often shortened to Tony, Giuseppe, Salvatore, Angelo and Carmine.

French Baby Names

Much like parents in the US often give their children and first and middle name, the French commonly use two or even three given names for their children. Where the two countries differ is that the French almost never use their middle initial, so that Michel Claude Depaul would never be referred to as Michel C. Depaul. The French often use compound names, taking a name of the opposite gender for the second name, as in Marie-George or Bernard-Marie. Names were traditionally chosen after saints or other family members, although many families now shun old-fashioned names in favor of trendier names. Stephanie Rapoport, author of “L’Officiel des Prenoms 2011,” predicted the top French baby names for 2011 as being Emma, Jade, Chloe, Sarah and Lea for girls; and Lucas, Mathis, Noah, Nathan and Matheo for boys.

British Baby Names

Babies in Great Britain were traditionally named after relatives, church figures or members of the monarchy. In 1904, the most popular girls’ names were Mary, Florence, Doris, Edith and Dorothy, while William, John, George, Thomas and Arthur topped the list for boys. Modern names are more reflective of the rich cultural diversity in the country, with Olivia, Ruby, Chloe, Emily and Sophie topping the list of girls’ names in 2010, while Mohammed, Oliver, Jack, Harry and Alfie were the top boys’ names.

Irish Baby Names

The Irish commonly draw on religion, history and myth when naming their children. Most traditional names have their roots in the Gaelic language, but parents have anglicized the names to make it easier for those unfamiliar with the language to pronounce. The traditional spelling of Brendan, for instance, is Breandan, while Kathleen’s proper spelling is Caitlin. According to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office, top girl baby names in 2009 included Sophie, Ava, Emma, Sarah, Grace and Emily, while top baby boy names were Jack, Sean, Daniel, Conor, James and Ryan.

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