Monday, November 21, 2016

Top Baby Names in Belgium

Hallo, lezers!

After a rather long and unintended hiatus, I'm back to posting articles on global names. Today, we'll be looking at the top baby names in Belgium (specifically Flanders). This is the Dutch region of the country, home to Brussels and Antwerp. They're also known for their chocolate!

I'll be looking at seven names from each gender that are popular in Belgium (in the top 50) but uncommon in the United States. I'm taking my data from Baby Name Wizard's lists - for Belgian boys and Belgian girls. This data is from 2014. 

Laten we gaan!

Female Names

Meaning "light" in Arabic, Noor has begun to find favor among American parents - it reached the top 1000 for the first time last year. It's been most common in Muslim families, but its similarity to Nora and Eleanor make it even more desirable for all types. 

While it's long been a popular choice among French speakers, Americans haven't followed suit - the most Manon's born in the US at one time were twenty-six girls each year during 1999 and 2000. Still, this diminutive of Marie is soft and friendly, a pretty alternative to Madison or Madeline

Though Charlie has taken off for girls in the states, Lotte hasn't - the foreign pronunciations of LAH-tah, LAH-teh, or LAH-tee can be difficult for native English speakers. Parents worried about Charlotte's popularity may take the plunge, while Lottie is another adorable option. 

This name can be found in languages all over the globe, from Japanese to Arabic to Hebrew to Dutch. It takes the current vowel trend to a new level, but its subdued sound makes it more sophisticated than faddish. Aya currently ranks at #36 in Belgium and #886 in the US. 

Originally a nickname for Jozefien, this short form has now surpassed the longer classic. Though it may raise some eyebrows, it could work well as a feminine alternative to Finn. In the US, Josephine and Josie are the more common variations. 

Another French choice, Anaïs has ranked on the top 1000 a few times over the past few decades. It comes from the name Anne, meaning "grace," and there are a few notable namesakes with the moniker - author Anaïs Nin and musician Anaïs Mitchell among them. 

Ranking in eight different European countries, this variation of Agnes is especially popular due to its association with a Spanish love story. Pronounced "AYE-ness" or "EE-ness," it's short, elegant, and traditional without being overused. 

Male Names

Alternatives to Biblical favorite Matthew are on the rise everywhere - from Mateo to Mathias to Matt. This French version is pronounced like the artist Matisse, though many Americans may sooner connect the name to mid-century singer Johnny Mathis.

Looking for an unusual longer name with the nickname Max? Maxime is one uncommon choice, though it may be confused with the feminine Maxine. Still, it's been slowly increasing in popularity: thirty-eight baby Maxime's were born last year.

Though it's never been recorded in the United States, it's already at #25 in Belgium. Seppe is originally a short form of Giuseppe or Joseph, and is pronounced "SEP-pah." I'm interested to see how it will take off in the US - there's a great discussion about it on this Nameberry forum!

While Stanley has been on the decline for a few decades, bright and friendly Stan may still find an audience. With short boys' names like Sam and Jack on trend, Stan could definitely fit in on the playground while maintaining its retro air.

Pronounced "Vowt" or "Wowt," this Dutch nicknamed for Wouter (Walter) may have a hard time in the United States. On the other hand, it's close enough to Wyatt to merit a mention! Walter itself has been on the rise in the US as well - thanks, Breaking Bad?

Are you a fan of Mateo, but looking for something less common? Timeo may be right up your alley! It comes from a Greek name meaning "honor," and could honor a familial Timothy. It's also related to the Disney favorite Timon and can be found in Shakespeare.

Another Greek choice, Yanis is actually a relative of John, meaning "gift of God." It's got a unique sound and form, setting it apart from most trends. Yanis was given to twenty-nine boys in the United States last year - and six girls.

Tell me your favorites in the comments!

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