Delilah and Desiree–Bad Girls Gone Good

When Pam and I wrote our first name book, Beyond Jennifer & Jason (back when Jennifer & Jason were still baby names), we had a little section called NAMES THAT ARE TOO MUCH TO LIVE UP TO, listing examples that had such a potent image that whey would overpower an innocent babe–including such biblical temptresses and goddesses as Jezebel, Salome and Venus. Well, things have now changed to the point where those names and others equally powerful have slipped into  the mainstream.  Why?  Partly the current anything-goes atmosphere, partly some tipping point moments, such as:

DELILAHWHY THE BAD GIRL RAP? Biblical temptress who betrayed Samson.  DEFUSER? Lame old Tom Jones song; was considered as baby name by Rachel and Ross on Friends.

DESIREEWHY? Precocious French teenager engaged to and then jilted by Napoleon.    DEFUSER? Jumped onto the Social Security list in 200 at #181.  Not sure why.

JEZEBEL: WHY? Scheming, promiscuous New Testament hussy; name came to mean hussy.  DEFUSER? Feminists started to see her as a victim, became the name of a hot weblog.  Name still means hussy.

LOLA: WHY? Sexy 19th century Spanish dancer/courtesan Lola Montez, sexy Marlene Dietrich character in The Blue Angel, sexy Pajama Game song ‘Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets’. DEFUSER? Madonna nicknames baby Lourdes Lola, Kelly Ripa mentions daughter Lola every morning

LOLITA: WHY? Iconic Nabokov lollipop-licking nymphet; DEFUSER? Actress Lolita Davidovich says it’s a common name in Eastern Europe, director Brian de Palma bestows it on his baby.

SALOME: WHY? Deceitful dancing New Testament seductress, seen as even worse in Oscar Wilde play and Strauss opera; DEFUSER? Not sure, but it was defused enough for TV actress Alex Kingston to use it for her daughter.

SCARLETT: WHY? The Scarlet Letter, phrase “scarlet woman,” spoiled and selfish Scarlett O’Hara;  DEFUSER: Scarlett Johanssen

VENUS: WHY? Roman goddess of love, deadly Venus Flytrap plant; DEFUSER: Tennis ace Venus Williams

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8 Responses to “Delilah and Desiree–Bad Girls Gone Good”

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Emmy Jo Says:

November 13th, 2008 at 3:32 am

I think the Isabella/Isabelle craze may have a lot to do with the acceptability of Jezebel. The names are very similar in sound, so for a parent who is not exactly steeped in Old Testament history and is looking for something out-of-the-ordinary, I can see why it would appeal.

linda Says:

November 13th, 2008 at 11:17 am

Good point!

Rachel Says:

December 10th, 2008 at 6:15 pm

Here in the UK, I’m hearing about a lot of Lola’s – mainly because of Charlie and Lola, a hugely popular children’s series on CBeebies (BBC’s children’s channel).

Sofie Says:

September 4th, 2009 at 6:44 am

Sexy DAMN YANKEES song “Whatever Lola Wants.” The sexy Pajama Game song is “Hernando’s Hideaway” (or “Steam Heat”…I guess).

Salome Says:

November 8th, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Don’t forget, Salome’s also a Saint! That’s a good diffuser.

Freddy Says:

June 2nd, 2010 at 8:13 am

Salome means peace, which sounds good to me.

Furthermore, I’m told that there was also a Salome in the New Testament, mentioned in Marc 15:40 and 16:1. She found the empty grave of Jesus together with Mary of Magdalen.

Gnattie Says:

May 3rd, 2011 at 1:56 am

I love the names Lola, Delilah, Scarlett, and Lolita!

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