Name Generator > Character Names > French Names
French Name Generator
Struggling with a story? Do you want to create a French protagonist, but not choose entirely the wrong name? Our French name generator is here to help!
About French Names
The French can have up to two first 'given' names – one of them will be used in everyday life, while the other will usually only be used on official documents like passports or marriage certificates. In modern times, the first given name is usually the one used in everyday life, although in the past using the second given name was more common. A second given name is not the same as an English middle name, and while sometimes additional given names can be used (often to honour the offspring's grandparents), this tradition is rarely followed in recent years.
While most traditional French given names are gender-specific, some can be given to both males and females, such as Dominique, Camille, and Claude. Compound names like Jean-Luc or Anne-Sophie can occur quite often – these are considered as one given name rather than two combined ones, and can sometimes combine differently gendered names (the first component in the compound is the defining one, such as in 'Marie-George'). A number of traditional French names originate from Roman Catholic saints, such as Jean (John), Marie (Mary), Jeanne (Jane), Pierre (Peter), or Jean-Baptiste (John the Baptist). There have been a number of laws across the years that have constricted the ways in which French parents can name their children, starting at the end of the 18th Century (following the French Revolution), and while many of these have been altered or revoked across the years, it was only in 1993 that French parents were finally allowed to name their children whatever they liked (although birth registrars still hold the right to query or even refuse names in certain circumstances, usually if they feel the chosen names could open up the child to ridicule). Up until 2005, it was French law that a child had to take the surname of their father, unless the father was unknown (in which case they'd take the surname of their mother.) Since then, the law has been amended so it's possible for children to have either their mother or father's surname, or a hyphenated combination of both.
It's regarded as impolite in France to call someone by their given name unless they're a family member or a close friend, while it's also rude to refer to someone by their surname unless you are both in a working environment – even if you precede it with 'Monsieur' (this should only be used to refer to other people – addressing a specific person, the best option is to avoid surnames and simply use 'Monsieur').