KW Beebee: This also means the annual ranking of the most popular first names. In the list of the 100 best first names in West Flanders in 2021, Leon ranked first for boys for the fifth year in a row. With girls’ names, we get a huge surprise with Camille not only in first place but also first times in the top ten! Emily drops to 10th in one go.
With the boy names Leon (also with the spelling Leon) it’s not really a surprise. Just as in 2020, Joule (or Joule) will follow. In fact, the first three names were common here about 100 years ago. So “old names”.
This is how it goes with first names: they are still popular for several decades and then are felt as “old fashioned” later. Until they suddenly become “hot” again … Today in the top ten also Victor and Emile, a little further than Achiel, Remi, Maurice, Cyriel, Henri, Oscar, Georges, Jérôme, Marcel, Odiel, August …
The riser in fourth place is Noah and it is remarkable that this is the name of the first boy in Flanders for the second year in a row; Noah is actually an English spelling of the biblical name Noah. With the spelling Noa there were 7 boys from West Flemish. Like soccer player Noa Lang, but 5 girls will now go through Noah’s life. In 2020, the name Noa was usually a girl’s name, by the way.
Something similar happened years ago with the first name Ron. Willem Vermandere sang about his deceased grandson Ronicki (1996) but many thought it was a girl and Ron became a popular girl name. Until suddenly Ron Lang came from the North to play football; Then suddenly Ron became a boy’s name. Or how Rune Lange and Noa Lang affect “first name fashion” with us.
The boy’s striking name is Lio. In the eighties this was the (hidden) name of a famous Portuguese-Belgian singer and then some girls were called this name. But it is not clear how Lio suddenly appeared as a boy’s name.
In the list of girls’ names, Amelie was the first given name in 2020 with a pretty big lead over Olivia. So it looked like things could get exciting between these two in 2021, but it’s finally a “third dog” (Don’t you dare say “bitch”…Who’s running away with it: In other words, Camille is still 12th in 2020. Could this sudden increase have anything to do with the success of young singer and actress Camille Donut of Wevelgem? Now Camiel (Kamiel) is now an old name too, but Camille is not. It is entirely French and was used mainly in higher circles.
The fact that Camille became the first girl’s name is also a bit of a coincidence, as Olivia comes in at a close second with just two. Olivia is also the top name for girls in Flanders, while Camille comes in at only 9th.
We see a little trend of old fashioned names for boys names for girls names. Mary (third) was indestructible and we also have Juliet, Anna and Alice. Girls’ names should sound especially feminine and melodious, and the letters “i” and “a” are useful for this: Camille, Olivia, Marie, Alice, Mila, Amelie and go on.
For famous people?
It is sometimes believed that many young parents are inspired by celebrities, athletes, other stars, TV or movie names, etc. This happens occasionally, but usually to a limited extent.
We’ve already talked about Noa (Lang) and Camille (Dhont), but other than that we can associate some of the girls’ names with a famous name bearer. Take Princess Delphine, for example: Barely 6 husbands across Flanders were enchanted by this name…and our sympathetic Olympic champion Nina Druel? A good number of Ninas were born: 95 in Flanders in 2021, but this is less than in 2020 (113). It is simply a girl’s name that was already well known;
Victor (or Victor) is very popular among boy names, whether or not under the influence of “Victor van de Verholstes”? Significantly, Vic (or Vik) is also in the top ten. The old name George also works well and this may have something to do with the fact that Jeroen Mewes and Wout van Aert named their son that.
If the first name of a well-known character really affects the first name, it will often be a name that was not well known (anymore). For example, a name like Conner (Russo) would have a chance. Last year 6 boys in Flanders gave this first name, three of them in our province… Connor is actually an unusual spelling of the Irish name Connor and four kids got this first name (2 in West Flanders).
Boys names can sometimes inspire football players. In recent years, quite a few children have received the first name Eden (Hazard) or Lionel (Messi). Eden received 76 times in Flanders last year (83 times in 2020) and Lionel received 31 times (12 times in 2020). And Charles Diketler? The rising football star is still young, and the name has been given a lot in recent years: 26 times in 2020 in line with previous years, and 35 times in 2021, with no appreciable increase; Not even at the Flemish level (76 vs. 71). So there is no real effect of the CDK.
And with cyclists? No effect Remco (Evenepoel): Barely 4 children in the last year in Flanders. Then Van Aert: 23 times in West Flanders or good for 43rd, but no real breakout. Wout is simply a boy’s name that also got quite a bit of fame before Van Aerts.
Do the names of Mark, Stephen or Erica remind us of virologists, they are certainly not the inspiration for the first name … and perhaps Corona itself is still the name of a saint and a brand of beer, of course not a single child with that “tainted” name …
(Note: Figures are based on Kind & Gezin data)