Friday, April 13, 2012
Belle, as we're all aware thanks to Beauty and the Beast, is French for "beautiful." It's an underused, simple-yet-elegant name that is easily pronounced in our culture and abroad. It can be a good alternative to Isabelle, which is seeing extreme popularity, and can be a nickname for any number of names starting or ending in -belle, such as Rosabelle, Claribel, Bluebell, Bellerose, Amabel, Belphoebe or Arabella. She can be a Southern Belle or "Belle of the Ball." She is close to Bella, yet miles away. The name ages well and gets rave reviews.
One real-life namesake was Confederate spy Belle Boyd, but there was also a World War II bomber plane called the Memphis Belle, and a character from Gone with the Wind. And here's a fun tidbit: Belle was Mr. Scrooge's fiance in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
Belle has not ranked in the past decade. In 2010 there were 154 baby girls named Belle and in 2013 187 and still not ranking. I see a lot of people passing this name up because of Isabella, thinking Belle is more popular than it is. Maybe they're getting it confused with Bella, which was #60 in 2011. Belle was most popular just before 1920 and least popular in the 80's. While there were just 8 girls given the name in 1991 as if it was about to disappear forever, it spiked up rapidly and by the 2000's was given to hundreds of girls.