Category: neglected names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Let’s say your name is Jen or Mike and you grew up not so happily sharing your name with all the countless other Jennifers and Michaels in your world. So why would it be surprising for you to want to save your child from sharing a similar fate– maybe going so far as to avoid any name that appears in the Top 1000, even if it’s at Number 990.
Well, then this is the blog for you. I’ve found a surprising number of great names that were given to only ten (10!) babies across the whole of United States in 2016, so the chances of yours having to share one of these is infinitesimal.
Is this another case where the Yanks will follow the Brits in baby-naming trends and revive such previously verboten Grandpa names as Harvey, Arthur, Leon, Walter and Stanley— all once considered distinguished in their day? Or similar in style name like Gilbert, Murray, Ralph, Howard or Ernest?
Which, if any, of the names of this genre would you consider?
Would you choose it only to honor a relative with that name? And/or only as a middle name?
If you did use one, would you consider it cutting-edge or pleasingly retro or perenially stylish?
The shadowy world of film noir, those stark black-and-white, often low-budget films with single-word titles—Possessed, Pursued, Trapped, Tension, Decoy, Detour, Breakdown, Blackmail—produced in Hollywood from roughly the early 1940s to the late 1950s, were populated with smoldering femmes fatale, hard-boiled detectives, corrupt cops, cynicism, intrigue and suspense
A lot of the female characters had a distinctive style of forgotten two-syllable names like Veda, Velma, Verna, Meta, Mida and Nita, while the tough guys who weren’t named Nick or Tony or Barney were occasionally given some wildly eccentric monikers.
Here, from both classics of the genre like The Maltese Falcon to barely remembered B-movies, some of the more interesting examples:
- Althea – The Unsuspected
- Angel – Guilty Bystander
- Barby – The Fallen Sparrow, Sleep, My Love
- Brandy – Two of a Kind
- Brigid – The Maltese Falcon
- Candy – Pickup on South Street, Breakdown
- Carmen—The Big Sleep
- Cecily – The Two Mrs Carrolls
- Celia – The Secret Behind the Door
- Cora –The Postman Always Rings Twice, Brute Force
- Dell – Shadow on the Wall
- Della — The Burglar
- Eden – Murder is My Beat
- Edwina/Eddie – Fingers at the Window
- Effie – The Maltese Falcon
- Evangeline – T-Men
- Fay – The Killing
- Frennessey – World for Ransom
- Fritzie – The Big Bluff
Now that the Social Security Administration has released its annual baby names listings beyond the top 1,000 (including all names that had at least five occurrences in any given year), names researchers can better track the influence of popular culture on our names.
For example, a girl’s name appearing in 2009 for the first time on the SSA lists is “Greidys” – with an astonishing count of 186 baby girls having been given that name in 2009. Its variants “Greydis” and “Greidy” also appear for the first time on the 2009 list, again in the astonishing numbers of 100 and 25 occurrences respectively.
Another girl’s name appearing in 2009 for the first time on the SSA lists is “Chastelyn” with 150 occurrences. Its variants “Shastelyn” and “Chastelin” also appear for the first time in 2009, with 34 and 33 occurrences respectively.
While we may expect new names to appear on the SSA lists each year, these new names generally don’t have more than a dozen occurrences, if even that. Why are the names “Greidys” and “Chastelyn” (with their variants) suddenly so prominent in their first appearance on the SSA list?
Our Latin friends can answer that question easily enough. These names shot to popularity with those who watch the Spanish television network Univision’s reality TV show called Nuestra Belleza Latina * (which translates into “Our Latin Beauty”). The winning contestant in the show’s third season (2009) was a Latin beauty from Cuba, named Greidys Gil. Another popular contestant was Chastelyn Rodriguez from Puerto Rico. And thus were two new names embraced by American moms (or dads!) in search of baby names.
Of course they’re still around, with a few like William and Daniel still in the Top Ten, but most of the standard classics are far from being the power names they once were–Peter, Paul and George, for example, have hit all-time lows.
And yes, Edward has that Twilight touch, and Jack is back with a vengeance, and we are suddenly hearing people say they think Mary is due for a comeback. But will Robert or Richard ever be cool again?
Thus and therefore, the question of the week:
Which classic name do you think is most due for a comeback? Would you use it for your child? And if so, is it because it has ties to your family history?