Name Spotlight: Enzo

Enzo

It’s a name that was once, very recently, the most popular boy name in France but has now, whilst maintaining its overall position in the top 10, falling down in popularity there yet, at the same time, gaining traction in Western Europe and the United States.

As always, let’s start this off with what Enzo means, or rather, what Enzo may be derived from since the actual meaning is uncertain:

“In some cases it seems to be an old Italian form of Heinz, though in other cases it could be a variant of the Germanic name Anzo. In modern times it is also used as a short form of names ending in enzo, such as Vincenzo or Lorenzo.”

From Behind the Name

The name is Italian in origin but it’s not in the top 50 in that country and the table below shows that it’s not commonly used at the moment:

Year

Number

%age

1999

72

0.027%

2000

83

0.030%

2001

69

0.025%

2002

79

0.029%

2003

57

0.021%

2004

68

0.024%

2005

63

0.022%

2006

65

0.023%

2007

61

0.021%

2008

80

0.027%

2009

70

0.024%

2010

53

0.019%

2011

53

0.019%

2012

58

0.022%

2013

58

0.023%

2014

54

0.021%

Overall, it ranks 114th in the most common names list, according to NOMIX, so it seems to me as if Enzo’s a bit of a dated name there.

So how did it get so popular in France? Let’s go back to 1988 and the release of The Big Blue (or Le Grand Bleu in French), directed by Luc Besson, which is a fictionalised and dramatised story of friendship and sporting rivalry between Jacques Mayol and Enzo Molinari (renamed from Enzo Maiorca). It was proven to be a big hit in France (the most financially successful French film of the 80s) and looking at the chart below:

EnzoFrance

It had an impact on Enzo’s popularity as a name. In 1987, it was only given to 19 baby boys and before 1988, the peak year was 1960 with 30 boys named Enzo, meaning that one or both of their parents are either originally from Italy or have Italian heritage. Since the film’s release, the birth count jumped to 50 and kept growing to the peak count of 8,846 in 2005, in which Enzo, by then, was the most popular boy name in France from 2004 to 2007.

As mentioned, it is falling down in popularity in France (whilst staying in the top 10), however, it is becoming more and more popular across Western Europe and the United States. Below are two charts for England & Wales and the United States.

EnzoEWEnzoUS

Like France before 1988, most of the Enzo have one or both parents who either originated from Italy or have Italian heritage. Though the United States did see a slight rise in 1989 following the release of The Big Blue, the birth count in England & Wales didn’t see much change.
With the rising popularity in France in 2000s and 2010s, that is when the name begins to show up in the name charts across the aforementioned places. With Enzo ranking 332nd in England & Wales and 369th in the United States, here are the rankings and birth counts for other places in 2014:

  • Belgium (#74 – 147 boys)
    • Wallonia (#27 – 119 boys)
  • Netherlands (#356 – 44 boys)
  • Portugal (#40 – 248 boys)
  • Spain (#36 – 1,299 boys)
    • Catalonia (#33 – 228 boys)
    • Galicia (#21 – 114 boys)
  • Switzerland (#64 – 114 boys still alive as of this publication*)
    • French-speaking region (#9 – 91 boys born)

If you have any thoughts about anything with regards to this post, please comment below.

Sources:
Italy – ISTAT (in English) and NOMIX (in Italian)
France – INSEE via several websites (Meilleurs Prenoms, Journal Des Femmes, Magic Maman, Behind the Name)
E&W – Ancestry (England & Wales FreeBMD Birth Index (1837-1915) and E&W Birth Index (1916-2005)) and Office for National Statistics (data from 1996 onwards)
United States – Social Security Administration
Other rankings from across Europe – Belgium from Statistics Belgium (in Dutch), The Netherlands from Sociale Verzekeringsbank, Portugal from Nomes e mais nomes, Spain from INE (Catalonia from Institut d’Estadística de Catalunya and Galicia from Instituto Galego de Estatistica) and Switzerland from Swiss Federal Statistical Office (online tool* and publication – in French)

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