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Joss Whedon’s World of Names

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By Sarah Douglas of  Names4real.

What would our significant others name our children if we left it totally up to them?  Well, according to this blog on Nameberry, Joss (born Joseph Hill) Whedon is a big inspiration.

And no wonder.  When perusing his shows, the character names range from the classics to the bold.

Here’s a list of some of the most interesting character names and which show they were featured on.

ANGEL 

Angel:  A vampire with a soul; at least on most episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her spinoff show, Angel Angel’s real name (pre-vampirism) was Liam. His vampire without a soul name is Angelus.

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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  The ‘B’ Elizabeth nicknames were superseded by the ‘L’ ones– Liz, Lizzie, Liza and Lisa– but maybe now might be the time for a switch back.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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Babes in TV Land: Kiddie character names

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Guest blogger Abby Sandel, whose blog appellation mountain is a top nameberry fave, takes a look at the names TV characters have given their offspring–and which of them have had a lasting influence.

 From Peyton Place’s Allison to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Xander, plenty of television characters’ names catch on after expectant parents tune in. 

Some of those characters eventually have fictional children of their own.  Mad Men couple Pete and Trudy just welcomed daughter Tammy90210’s Jen has a brand new son called Jacques.  In honor of the two new arrivals, here’s a look back at some notable small screen births.

Everyone was watching I Love Lucy when Ricky and Lucy welcomed Enrique Jr. – LilRicky – in 1953.  The show was a sensation, but Richard was already a Top Ten mainstay, and even Ricky was in the Top 100 before the baby’s arrival.

The first influential television baby probably came from 1964’s Bewitched, a sitcom with a supernatural twist.  Bewitching wife Samantha’s name caught on, as did daughter Tabitha, who arrived in the show’s second season.

There’s more than one way to add a child.  The Brady Bunch’s six kids became seven when Cousin Oliver came to stay during the show’s final season.  While his name is the height of fashion today, it didn’t catch on until decades later.  The character did lend his name to Cousin Oliver Syndrome – the phenomenon of adding a younger child to revive a fading show. 

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TV Character Names: So what’s new?

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Every new TV season or so we like to check out the recently launched shows, as well as those still running, for any interesting names that have emerged since the last time we looked. Most scripters continue to come up with the obvious and the formulaic, giving their characters names like Jessica and Jeff and Rick and Robin, Amy and Andy.

But there are some who do think out of the box—though usually for not more than one character per show.  The list below steers clear of reality shows, so no Khloes or Kourtneys, and no cartoon characters or kiddie shows.

Girls

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Golden Girl Names

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When The Golden Girls hit the small screen in 1985, the names of its leading ladies—Rose, Dorothy and Blanche—were late middle aged, and Mama Sophia was old enough to have already been in and out of  the Shady Pines Nursing Home.  That was 25 years ago, a period of major change in the name world.  Sophia is now the seventh most popular baby name (and #1 in some places), Rose is America‘s favorite middle name, and Dorothy is one of the belles of the nameberry name boards.

Not only that: other Golden Girl names, names that were virtually written off just a couple of years ago, are back in play.  Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, for example, named one of their twin daughters Marion, Julia Roberts chose Hazel for hers and Molly Ringwald picked Adele.  And nameberryites are cool with similar period names like Clara and Cora, Vivian and Vera.

Here are some other alternative names that might have been used for the Golden Girls ladies—are any of them ready to join Rose and Sophia?

ALMA

BETTY

CEIL

DELLA

DORIS

EDITH

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