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Category: name history

fatherknows best

I don’t you know if you’ve noticed a growing trendlet—at least among celebrities—for what we might call generic-boy-nickname-names.  In other words, these aren’t specific short forms like Charlie or Archie, but ol- timey macho boy tags like Buddy and Buster.

In the recent past, we’ve seen Noel Gallagher’s Sonny, a choice shared by British singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor—as well as Adam Sandler’s daughter Sunny; Jamie Oliver’s Buddy Bear Maurice; Michele Hicks and Jonny Lee Miller’s Buster Timothy; the three Aces of Natalie Appleton, Tom Dumont, and Jennie Finch and Casey Daigle; the two Dukes of Diane Keaton and Justine Bateman; and the Junior of Peter Andre and Katie Price.

We can’t help wondering if this is yet another offshoot of the midcentury Mad Men phenomenon, bringing us back to the days of Father Knows Best’s Bud (birth name James Anderson, Jr.) and J. D. Salinger’s Buddy Glass (real name Webb Gallagher Glass), and Marlon Brando, who was known to friends and family as Bud.  In those days, though, Sonny or Buster were not usually put on the birth certificate, and over time those pet names began to be relegated to pets.

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Boys’ Names Ins and Outs

baby-boy

Yesterday we took a look at the girls’ names moving in and out of fashion and now we turn our attention to their brothers.

And here we find a somewhat different picture.

Overall, it confirms the fact that there is much greater consistency on the boys’ side of the fence, with a huge proportion of the names already established in the Top 100 list of 1880, and very few new ones entering in the succeeding years: only one or two per decade, with a large number of them having Irish roots.

Names that we might think of as fairly recent favorites were already on the list in the 1880s: Cameron, Carson, Carter, Chase, Cole and Cooper, Hunter and Haydn, for example. (Further evidence of the 100-year rule.)

So, again, here they are, arranged by decade, and then giving the particular years that they were among the Top 100.

1880s

  • Angel: 1888, 1891, 1899, 1907-1910, 1912-1914, 1916-2009
  • Blake: 1883, 1886, 1892-1894, 1897, 1903, 1906, 1911, 1920-21, 1933, 1942-1943, 1945-2009
  • Bryan: 1883, 1886, 1890, 1892, 1894-2009
  • Caleb: 1880-1907, 1909-1911, 1914-1915, 1917-1918, 1920, 1922, 1925, 1964, 1966, 1968-1009
  • Cameron: 1882-1885m 1888, 1895-1896, 1900, 1911-1912, 1916, 1920-1924, 1926, 1930-1931, 1934, 1936, 1939, 1941-2009
  • Carson: 1880-1882, 1884-1892, 1894-1896, 1898-2009
  • Carter: 1881, 1883-1977, 1980-2009
  • Chase: 1885, 1972-2009
  • Cole: 1886, 1912, 1951, 1954-1965, 1967-2009
  • Cooper: 1882, 1885-1887, 1889, 1982, 1984-2009
  • Diego: 1887, 1958, 1963-2009
  • Dominic: 1885, 1887, 1890-1892, 1894-2009
  • Ethan: 1882, 1884, 1886-1887, 1891, 1893, 1896, 1898, 1901, 1952, 1954, 1956-2009
  • Hayden: 1880, 1885, 1888-1892, 1895-1901, 1903-1930, 1922-1936, 1941-1944, 1947, 1986-2009
  • Hunter: 1880-1886, 1888-1902, 1904-1920, 1922-1924, 1926-1929, 1931-1932, 1934-1935, 1945-1950, 1954, 1956-2009
  • Isaiah: 1880-1968, 1971-2009
  • Jason: 1880-1898, 1900-2009
  • Jesus: 1880-1890, 1892-2009
  • Jordan: 1880-1889, 1891-1901, 1903-1910, 1912-1915, 1917, 1919-2009
  • Josiah: 1880-1896, 1898-1899, 1903-1904, 1906-1907, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1975-2009
  • Justin: 1880-1881, 1884-1886, 1888-1894, 1896-2009

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Popular Girls Names: Their ups and downs

inoutgirl

If I were a cookbook writer, I think my first title would be: “100 Ways to Dice and Slice the Social Security List.”  There is so much information to be found embedded in it and so many ways to look at it, that there seems to be no end of different and intriguing ways to parse the data.

Pam will be writing later about the startling number of names that have been in the Top 1000 consistently—which is to say every single year– since score-keeping began in1880.  Today I’ll take a look at the patterns followed by the names that have moved in and out of fashion.

First, the girls, grouped by the decades they first came into favor, followed by the specific years when they were included in the Top 100. (This does not include names that have been up there every single year.)

You may be surprised at when some of the names initially appeared—sometimes earlier, sometimes later than you might have guessed.  Zoe and Chloe, for example, were both strong in the 19th century, as were Savannah and SamanthaAlexis was already up there in the 1940s, but Alexa didn’t break through till the 70s; Kayla was there as early as the fifties, while—and this may not be such a surprise– Kaitlyn, Katelyn, Kaylee and Makayla all broke through as a group in the eighties, along with Hailey and Bailey.

1880s-90s (and possibly earlier)

  • Abigail: 1880-1897, 1901-1903, 1906, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1949-2009
  • Andrea: 1880-1881, 1884-1887, 1889, 1901-1904, 1907-2009
  • Ava: 1880-1972, 1974-1975, 1984, 1986-2009
  • Bella: 1880-1931, 2000-2009
  • Chloe: 1880-1943, 1982-2009
  • Ella: 1880-1983, 1988, 1990-2009
  • Faith: 1880-1882, 1884-1886, 1888-2009
  • Isabella: 1880-1948, 1990-2009
  • Isabelle: 1880-1954, 1957, 1991-2009
  • Jessica: 1880-1893, 1895, 1898-1900, 1903-1912, 1914-1918, 1935, 1937, 1939-2009
  • Lily: 1880-1964, 1966, 1970, 1972, 1976, 1979-2009
  • Madelyn: 1893, 1895-1965, 1986-2009
  • Mariah: 1880-1908, 1910-1911, 1913, 1973, 1975-2009
  • Melanie: 1886, 1938-2009
  • Samantha: 1880-1902, 1907, 1964-2009
  • Savannah: 1880-1922, 1924-1925, 1928, 1983-2009
  • Sofia: 1881, 1881, 1886, 1888-1889, 1891-1892, 1895, 1898, 1900-1901, 1906-1914, 1916-1917, 1920-1925, 1927-1931, 1935, 1969, 1971-2009
  • Sophie: 1880-1955, 1984-2009
  • Sydney: 1886, 1905, 1932-1957, 1959-1961, 1963-1967, 1981-2009
  • Valeria: 1881-1944, 1946-1976, 1983, 1985-2009
  • Zoe: 1880-1912, 1914-1926, 1928-1929, 1931-1941, 1951-1955, 1957-1961, 1966, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1983-2009

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cornwall

The distinguished British name expert Julia Cresswell is the author of several books on the subject, the most recent of which is Name Your Baby.

The British Prime Minister recently chose the Cornish name Endellion as the middle name for his new daughter.  The baby was premature, and born while the family was on holiday in Cornwall, and Endellion was chosen because the family regularly holidayed at the little village of St Endellion, so strictly speaking the name belongs with the growing trend to use place names (such as Dakota, Savannah) as first names.  However, it is also a traditional Cornish name.

But first a bit of background.  Cornwall is a popular holiday place because of its unspoilt beauty. Its unspoilt beauty comes from the fact that its position at the extreme south west of England makes it isolated.  This isolation protected it in the past, and led to the preservation of a uniquely Cornish culture.

1500 years ago, when the rest of England was being taken over by the Anglo-Saxons, Cornwall remained independent and retained its own language, descended from the language of the ancient British and closely related to Welsh,  into the 18th century.  This language is the source of many of the specially Cornish names, while the distinctive West-Country way of pronouncing English has been another source. 

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Antiquarian Names: Colonial craftsmen names

antiques2

For a number of years, when I wasn’t writing about names, I was writing about antiques and collectibles for a syndicated newspaper column.  But of course when I was thinking about antiques, I was still also thinking about names.

Looking at the field of antique furniture, for example, I found that when it came to early British cabinetmakers, the names were relatively unexciting.  George Hepplewhite. Robert Adams. Thomas Chippendale. Thomas Sheraton.  Nothing too juicy there.

But with the Early American cabinetmakers and clockmakers it was quite a different story.  Lots of antiquated Biblical names, more than one Chauncey, Ebenezer and Lemuel, a few virtue names rarely heard in modern times (Prudent, Noble), a couple of Latinate names and a Greek god—in other words a variegated picture of American Colonial and Federal era nomenclature:

Some prime examples:

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