The unique name Kanavis has popped up in the U.S. baby name data a total of twice:
1991: 9 baby boys named Kanavis [peak]
1989: 5 baby boys named Kanavis [debut]
Where did it come from?
Linebacker Kanavis McGhee — both times.
Kanavis (pronounced ka-NAY-vis) played college football for the University of Colorado from 1987 to 1990. His senior year, “he helped lead Colorado to the consensus national championship,” and was also “a candidate for the Butkus and Lombardi awards.”
In the 1991 NFL draft, he was picked in the second round (55th overall) by the New York Giants. He played in New York for three seasons, in Cincinnati for a fourth season, and in Houston (his hometown) for a fifth and final season.
The name Tighe (pronounced tie, like the second syllable of necktie) has been in the U.S. baby name data most years since 1970, but it first appeared in 1949 specifically:
1949: 9 baby boys named Tighe [debut]
Why that year?
Likely because of Tighe E. Woods, who served as Housing Expediter under President Truman from late 1947 to 1952.
During the summer of 1949, his name was mentioned in the news more frequently than usual in association with the Senate subcommittee investigation into the so-called “five-percenters”: Washington lobbyists, “usually former Government officials or ex-Congressmen,” who helped businessmen obtain Federal contracts and then took five percent of the profits. Woods testified before the subcommittee in August.
His first name was his mother’s maiden name. It’s an Anglicized form of the Irish surname Ó Taidhg, meaning “descendant of Tadhg.” The Irish name Tadhg (pronounced tyg, like the first syllable of tiger) means “poet” or “philosopher.”
What are your thoughts on the name Tighe? Do you like it more or less than Tadhg?
Hanks, Patrick, Kate Hardcastle and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of First Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
“Government: The Five-Percenters.” Time 4 Jul. 1949.
The Notre Dame Alumnus, vol. 26, no. 1, Feb. 1948, p. 33.
According to the Civil Registry of Moscow, the most popular baby names in the city last year were (again) Sofia and Alexander.
Here are Moscow’s top 6 girl names and top 6 boy names of 2020:
Sofia (Sofya), over 2,800 baby girls
Maria, 2,200 baby girls
Alexander, over 2,500 baby boys
Mikhail, 2,427 baby boys
Less commonly bestowed names include Vesna, Dionysus, Iskra (“spark”), Lucifer, Venus-Veronica, Sever, Severina, and Yermak-Alexander. (Yermak could be a reference to the Russian folk hero Yermak Timofeyevich.)
The name Yma debuted in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1950s:
1957: 7 baby girls named Yma [peak]
1954: 5 baby girls named Yma [debut]
It may look like parents were simply experimenting with the spelling of Amy, but Yma actually had a specific source: exotica singer Yma Sumac (pronounced EE-mah SOO-mak). Known as the “Peruvian songbird,” she had a four-and-a-half-octave range and a very distinctive sound.
Originally from northern highlands of Peru, Yma Sumac moved to the U.S. in the mid-1940s and released her first album in 1950. Here’s a review of her August 1950 performance at the Hollywood Bowl:
For the first few bars of a Peruvian folk chant called High Andes, the full-figured Peruvian girl onstage rumbled roundly at the bottom of the contralto range. Then, to their astonishment, she soared effortlessly up a full four octaves, began trilling like a canary at the top of coloratura. At the end of her first song, the audience was still too surprised to raise more than warm applause. The second, Tumpa (Earthquake), brought cheers; after the third, a pyrotechnical Inca Hymn to the Sun, the applause and cheers swelled to a roar for encores.
Here’s Yma lip-syncing to “Tumpa”:
She was born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chávarri del Castillo in the early 1920s. For her very first radio performance — in Peru, in 1942 — she used the stage name “Imma Sumack.” By the time she reached the U.S., she had settled upon the spelling “Yma Sumac.”
According to some sources, this name was part of her mother’s full name. Perhaps more importantly, it was the name of a character in the Quechua-language Peruvian drama Ollantay, thought to be of Inca origin. Often spelled Ima Sumac, the character’s name means “how beautiful” in Quechua.
Do you like the name Yma? (Do you like it more or less than Amy?)
Limansky, Nicholas E. Yma Sumac: The Art Behind the Legend. New York: YBK Publishers, 2008.