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Category: names from songs

Freckle-Faced Names: Polly, Peggy & Penny

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There’s a certain species of girls’ names that we’ve referred to in our books as freckle-faced, pigtailed and button-nosed: they’re the kind of character names inhabited by Shirley Temple as a curly-haired moppet, and Judy Garland as a wide-eyed, innocent teen, as well as starring in dozens of old popular songs. Basically nickname names that have long stood on their own, none can be found any longer in the current Top 1000 — though one of them ranked as high as Number 31 in the 1930’s.

They’ve been gone a long time, but they still project a lot of spunk, and so, with the revival of nickname names in general we’re wondering if any of these could get their youthful mojo back. 

We’re talking about:

Betsy

Gone since 1995; Highest rating: Number 228 in 1959

Associations: Betsy Ross, Betsy Wetsy doll, Sweet Betsy from Pike, Betsey Johnson

Betsy originated as a combination of other classic pet forms of ElizabethBetty, Beth and Bessie, and makes appearances in two Dickens novels—Pickwick Papers and David Copperfield.  The ‘B’ Elizabeth nicknames were superseded by the ‘L’ ones– Liz, Lizzie, Liza and Lisa– but maybe now might be the time for a switch back.

Patsy

Gone since 1975; Highest rating:  52 in 1936 and 1941

Associations: Patsy (born Virginia) Cline, Patsy (born Patricia) Kensit, numerous Italian and Irish restaurants and bars

Patsy was replaced as a Patricia nickname first by Pat, then Patty, then Tricia/Tricia, then Trish. Probably the least likely candidate for a comeback.

Peggy

Gone since 1989; Highest rating:  31 in 1937

Associations: Peggy Lee, Peggy Sue Got Married, Peggy (born Margaret) Olson on Mad Men

Peggy, a pet form of Margaret, is the one that’s climbed the highest of all these names. Perky and pure, Peggy was the perfect date for the prom—in 1953.  In later decades it’s been traded in for Maggie.    

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Hot Baby Names: Max in the Spotlight

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Max, the name of both the child hero and the young actor who plays him in Where The Wild Things Are, is one of the hottest boys’ names these days.

Max can stand on its own or may be a short form of the ancient Roman name Maximus, which means “greatest,” or of Maximilian or Maxwell.  It’s one of the down-to-earth cigar-chomping grandpa names last popular a hundred years ago and enjoying a huge revival now.  Like brothers Sam and Jake, Max is unpretentious and friendly but also sounds cool.

Celebrities led the way in launching the revival of the name, starting in the late 70s and early 80s.  Stars who are the parents of now-grown kids named Max include Dustin Hoffman, Henry Winkler, Steven Spielberg, and Nora Ephron & Carl Bernstein.

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beatlesbabies

What could be sweeter than for your baby to have its (I know–you can’t call it ‘it’) own theme song, a readymade melody featuring  his or her name,  for you to sing along and dance to together?  Some of the most appealing of these can be found in the Oldies section, from the era of first-generation, classic and folk rock.

A logical place to check out first is the Beatles Songbook, which actually has had something of an influence on baby naming.  It was no coincidence that when “Michelle, ma belle” won the Grammy Song of the Year award in 1966, Michelle was simultaneously shooting up the name popularity list.  And now Jude–which took awhile ( linking to the good looks and sunny personality of Jude Law didn’t hurt)–is moving up the charts.

Here, names taken from Beatles titles:

ANNA

BILL

ELEANOR

JUDE

JULIA

LIZZIE

LUCY

MADONNA

MAGGIE

MARTHA

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