Gender: Feminine
Origin: French
Meaning: debated
Fre (CHAn-TAHL); Eng (SHAHN-tel)

The name comes from the surname of a popular French Catholic saint, Jeanne Françoise de Chantal (1572-1641), a French noblewoman and widow who became a nun upon her husband’s death, eventually founding the order of the Visitation of Holy Mary.

Originally, the name was used by devout French-Catholic parents, but due to its pleasant and feminine sound, its usage has spread elsewhere. It has been used in the Netherlands, the English-speaking world and in German-speaking countries. In Germany, the term chantalismus was coined, referring to German parents who like to give their daughters foreign and exotic sounding names.

Its popularity in other countries may have been due to the false assumption that the name is derived from the French verb chanter (to sing). In reality, the name may actually be related to a Provençal place name, cantal, (stony place). Even then, the origins of the surname are still a subject of debate.

In France, the name has spun off several double names, such as Marie-Chantal, Jeanne-Chantal and Anne-Chantal.

It is currently the 395th most popular female name in Germany (2011) and the 491st most popular in the Netherlands, (2010).

It is borne by Chantal, Princess of Hanover (b.1955), heiress to a Swiss chocolate fortune and Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece, Princess of Denmark (b.1968).