What does my artist name „Sillageuse“ mean (to me)?

When I created my deviantArt account and my usual nickname (sutefu, which is Stéph in Japanese roumaji) was already taken, I decided it was time for an artist name. I said to my husband „I want it to start with an S and to sound beautiful!“, he suggested „Sillage“, a title from a belgian comic he read. Since I am half French, I liked the sound of that. It also has a wonderful meaning that fits my idea of art so perfectly: the word started out as meaning the foamy water behind a boat, but is also used to describe a trail that’s left behind.

Photo of waves behind a boat (sillage) by Petr Kratochvil
Sillage – Photo by Petr Kratochvil (public domain)

In German, the French word (not translated) is used when talking about perfume: You can scale its sillage when describing how strongly a perfume still smells when the person wearing it has already left the room. A perfume too strong with too much sillage is frowned upon, but no sillage at all makes it too weak. „What a beautiful image“, I thought, „that perfectly fits what I want my art to be like“. (And I have loved looking at the foamy waves behind the boat even before I thought about that nickname!) What a perfect word for my artist name!

Photo taken by monicore
Photo by monicore, 2016 (public domain)

…Well, the nickname was already taken on deviantArt. By an account that seemed to have been inactive for a few years. Imagine my disappointment!

So we turned „Sillage“ into a feminin adjective (I think the word „sillageuse“ doesn’t exist in French). I love my artist name, even though a lot of Germans think it has something to do with silage…

And here’s a guide to the pronunciation that you can always find on my About page:

Pronunciation of ‚Sillageuse‘

The correct pronunciation is French, with three syllables and stress on the last syllable: [si.ja.’ʒøz].


For English speakers:
Silla: ’see ya‘
g: like s in ‚measure‘
eu: roughly like ea in ‚earth‘
se: like z in ‚zoo‘


For Germans:
S: wie ß in ‚Straße‘
i: wie ie in ‚die‘
lla: wie ‚Ja‘ (Gegenteil von Nein)
g: wie das zweite g in ‚Garage‘
euse: wie ös in ‚böse‘ (langes ö, weiches s, und das e wird nicht ausgesprochen)


In Katakana, it’s roughly スィーヤージューズ

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