Emma. This first name successful and modern could sometimes make us forget that it already existed in the Middle Ages, worn by many queens. Contrary to what one might think, it is not the diminutive of Emanuelle but a first name in its own right. Immortalized by Mme Bovary, it is worn by several famous actresses. Celebration on April 19.
Origin and etymology
Emma is a first name of uncertain origin, probably an alteration of Imma, diminutive of an ancient name with Germanic root built on the basis of ermin or irmin (immense, powerful), and which would also be in the origin of the first name Irma. By deformation, he also gave birth to surnames, like Emmet.
History and Saint Emma
Several queens bore this first name in the 10th century: Emma of France, wife of Raoul of Burgundy, Emma of Italy, wife of the Carolingian Lothaire, Emma of Normandy, wife of two kings of England. Saint Emma, widow of a Rhine count in the 11th century, devoted her fortune to the poor and to the construction of religious buildings, including two monasteries. It is celebrated by Catholics on April 19.
It was the English who favored the first name Emma from the Middle Ages. It was the first name worn by Lady Hamilton, the mistress of a famous English admiral: Nelson. Painted by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, her exceptional destiny has inspired many novels and films.
In France, this first name experienced a first peak of popularity in the 19th century, thanks to Emma Bovary, the heroine of Gustave Flaubert's novel, which caused a scandal when it was published. The fashion effect was such, at that time, that several Parisian actresses were called "Mlle Emma". It is therefore not surprising to find this first name today among film actresses: the English Emma Thompson and Emma Watson, the American Emma Stone, the French Emma de Caunes.
Popularity of the first name Emma
Since the end of the 20th century, the first name Emma has been classified among the five first names for girls. In France, it has been attributed several thousand times each year to little girls since the new millennium, in particular in the north, in the Paris basin and in the southern Mediterranean.
- Dictionary of French first names: History, regions and regions, Bible, mythologies, saints, botany, geography ... Perrin, 2006.
- The Small Larousse of first names, by Florence Le Bras. Larousse, 2019.