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French names that start with 'R'

The letter ‘R’ is an assertive consonant. The French name Régis, for instance, begins with this letter and shares a common Latin origin with the French word for “king” —which is “roi”.

In addition to assertiveness, the letter ‘R’ can have a romantic feel. In fact, the French name Romain comes from the same Latin root as the word “romantic”.

French boy’s names that start with R

The Germanic origins of many French names that start with ‘R’

A higher percentage of French names starting with ‘R’ come from Germanic languages compared to French names beginning with some of the other letters. The reason is that several key Germanic vocabulary words start with the letter ‘R’.

By the way, the French language evolved from Latin. But France was once the Kingdom of the Franks, and the Frankish language was a Germanic language.

Germanic names are often dithematic (they often combine two elements). Each element usually represents a desirable trait or something the ancient culture held in high regard.

One of these highly valued themes is “counsel”; the word for “counsel” starts with the letter ‘R’ across many Germanic languages: “Rat” (in German), “raad” (in Dutch), “råd” (in Swedish), and “ráðh” (in Icelandic).

The French names Renaud, Raymond, and Raoul come from Germanic dithematic names where the first component is the Germanic term for “counsel” —that’s why these names start with the letter ‘R’.

“Fame” is another theme that serves as the first component of several Germanic names. That word is “Ruhm” (in German) and “roem” (in Dutch). In ancient Germanic languages, the corresponding word also had an ‘R’ sound near the beginning.

The French names Rodolphe, Roland, and Romuald originate from Germanic dithematic names where the first component was a Germanic term for “fame” or “glory”.

French girl names that start with R

French first names that begin with ‘R’ among historical figures and public personalities

A famous namesake can endow a name with a sense of inspiration and provide it with additional allure.

Historical figures with French names beginning with ‘R’ include two who are connected to the tennis world (Roland Garros and René Lacoste), two French presidents (Raymond Poincaré and René Coty), and of course René Descartes, the philosopher and mathematician best known for his statement “Cogito, ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”).

Name Occupation
René Descartes French philosopher and mathematician (1596 – 1650)
René Goscinny French writer and co-creator of the Astérix comic book series (1926 – 1977)
René Lacoste French tennis player and founder of the Lacoste clothing brand with its crocodile logo (1904 – 1996)
Roland Garros French aviator (1888 – 1918) The venue of the French Tennis Open is named after him.
Raymond Poincaré President of France from 1913 to 1920
René Coty President of France from 1954 to 1959
Romain Gary French novelist (1914 – 1980)
Raoul Dufy French fauvist painter (1877 – 1953)
Marie-Rosalie Bonheur (Rosa Bonheur) French painter (1822 – 1899)
Renaud Séchan French singer and songwriter
Régis Debray French philosopher
Rémi Gaillard French comedian
Romain Duris French actor