There are scores of common French names which you can find listed in baby naming books, in magazines, and in encyclopedias. However the most extensive lists of French names can be found on the Internet. You can search for French first names or prénoms français, female first names or prénoms français féminins, male first names or prénoms français masculin, and unisex names (prénoms français unisexe). When it comes to family names, some of the most common French names today include Dubois, Martin, Moreau, Bernard, Robert, Richard, and Leroy.
When you look for common French names, it's also a good idea to look up what they mean, where they originated, and how to pronounce them in order to determine if they suit the personality of the baby or child you are naming. Of course, you can also make up your own name in French. Some popular trends in baby naming today include selecting names related to nature, to heroes and heroines or other great leaders, to the four seasons, to Hollywood celebrities, to music, to favorite authors and poets, and more.
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However this freedom to choose a name of your liking didn't always exist in France. In fact, if you're not familiar with the history of French names, you might find these next facts surprising. Until the end of the 18th century, parents were obligated to name their children after Roman Catholic saints, such as Michel, Pierre, Jacques, or Jean for boys, and Marie, Jeanne, Francoise, and Elisabeth for girls. It wasn't until 1966 that a small number of mythological and regional names were allowed, and until 1993 when French parents were finally allowed to name their children as they wished. However until today, all French baby names must be officially registered, and the registrar has the right to reject any name thought to be detrimental to the child's best interests.
Hyphenated names are among some the most common French names. These names can be composed of names from either the same or different genders, and a male hyphenated name can be converted into a female name by simply switching the word order. For example, common hyphenated names of the same gender include Henri-Paul for a boy and Marie-Claire for a girl. Alternatively, Jean-Marie, a male French name, can be converted to Marie-Jean for a female.
It's also common to convert French masculine names into French feminine names by adding the suffixes "e,", "ette,", or "ine." For example:
For Unisex names (names which are can be used for both genders), consider this final list of common French names: