The Debut of Desnee

Desnee and Billy

The rare name Desnee was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in the early 1950s:

  • 1953: unlisted
  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: 7 baby girls named Desnee [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted
  • 1949: unlisted

What was the influence?

A 15-month-old London girl named Desnee Sampson, who was featured in a pair of photos that ran in various U.S. newspapers in late 1950 and early 1951.

In the first photo, she was sitting on the floor, watching her cat Billy drink milk from a saucer. In the second, she was bent over the saucer herself and trying to lap up milk in the same way (with Billy looking on).

I don’t know the origin of the name. In fact, my initial guess was that “Desnee” was a typo for Desiree. (I could imagine the middle letters being transposed and then mistaken for an “n.”)

As it turns out, Desnee Sampson’s birth (1949) and marriage (1970) records both confirm that her real name was indeed “Desnee.” Besides, the name Desiree didn’t become trendy until a few years later, thanks to the 1954 Marlon Brando movie Désirée (which I mentioned in the Deserie post).

What do you think of the name Desnee? Would you pronounce the second syllable like that of Desiree (ay-sound) or Deedee (ee-sound)?

The Launch of Normani

Normani
Normani in the video for “Motivation” (2019)

Former Fifth Harmony member Normani has seen a lot of solo success lately. In 2017, she placed third on Dancing with the Stars. In 2018 and 2019, she popped up on tracks with singers like Khalid, Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj. And, just a few months ago, she released her first solo single, “Motivation” [vid].

All this extra attention has put the name Normani on the onomastic map, so to speak, as it debuted in the SSA data 2017:

  • 2018: 17 baby girls named Normani
  • 2017: 8 baby girls named Normani [debut]
  • 2016: unlisted

Normani’s full name is Normani Kordei Hamilton. She was named “Normani” in honor of her maternal uncle, Norman, who died of lung cancer before she was born.

It was my mom’s brother and she promised, cause I’m my mom’s firstborn and her only child, she promised that her first child would be named after him, and his name is Norman, so she named me Normani. She was also really into fashion. She was watching an Armani fashion show and put the name together.

How high do you think the name Normani will climb in the 2019 data?

Sources: SSA, Normani – Wikipedia, Normani Is Finally Stepping Out On Her Own, Normani Kordei partners with American Cancer Society

Popular Baby Names in South Africa, 2018

According to Statistics South Africa, the most popular baby name in the country last year — for both baby boys and baby girls — was (again) Enzokuhle.

Here are South Africa’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2018:

Girl Names

  1. Enzokuhle, 3,751 baby girls
  2. Melokuhle, 3,076
  3. Amahle, 2,856
  4. Okuhle, 2,389
  5. Lethabo, 2,364
  6. Omphile, 2,205
  7. Lesedi, 2,092
  8. Rethabile, 2,050
  9. Amogelang, 1,849
  10. Onthatile, 1,810

Boy Names

  1. Enzokuhle, 4,124 baby boys
  2. Lethabo, 3,137
  3. Melokuhle, 2,823
  4. Lubanzi, 2,801
  5. Junior, 2,181
  6. Siyabonga, 2,039
  7. Bokamoso, 1,988
  8. Omphile, 1,905
  9. Amogelang, 1,847
  10. Thato, 1,808

In the girls’ top 10, Okuhle and Onthatile replace Luthando and Thandolwethu.

In the boys’ top 10, Omphile and Thato replace Bandile and Mpho.

And, looking at middle names, the top three choices per gender are exactly the same as the year before:

  • Girls: Precious, Princess, Angel
  • Boys: Junior, Blessing, Gift

Source: P0305 – Recorded live births, 2018 – Stats SA, Most popular baby names in South Africa in 2018, Revealed: The most popular baby names in SA

Name Quotes 78: Brene, Neal, SanDeE*

The name SanDeE* from LA Story (1991).
SanDeE* from LA Story

From the 1991 movie LA Story, a conversation between Harris (played by Steve Martin) and SanDeE* (played by Sarah Jessica Parker):

H: What was your name again?

S: SanDeE*

H: I’m sorry, Sandy, Sandy… It’s a nice name. Everybody has such weird names now, it’s like Tiffany with a P-H-I, and instead of Nancy it’s Nancine. [He begins to write her name down.]

S: Big S, small A, small N, big D, small E, big E.

H: What?

S: Big S, small A, small N, big D, small E, big E. [She grabs his hand and writes directly on it.] Big S, small A, small N, big D, small E, big E. Then there’s a little star at the end.

Anna Wintour recently talking about her new puppy, named Finch [vid]:

She’s called Finch because we call all of our dogs after characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. So we have had a Scout, a Radley, and a Harper. And let me tell you, they are not happy about Finch’s arrival.

From a 1995 interview with R.E.M. vocalist Michael Stipe, whose paternal grandfather was a Methodist minister:

Well, Methodism was started by John Wesley, who was, in his way, a really radical guy who believed in a lot of individual responsibility. It’s not the kind of religion that’s right around your throat. Actually, I was named after him, John Michael Stipe.

From an article about Lara Prescott, author of the new book The Secrets We Kept, a fictional account of the dangers of publishing Doctor Zhivago in the 1950s:

You could say she was born to write this historical novel: Prescott’s mother named her after the doomed heroine from her favorite movie, the 1965 adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s epic.

A non-edited tweet from Cardi B, whose sister’s name is Hennessy:

Fun fact :Always wanted a daughter and I always used to say imma name her HennyLynn. It’s a cute mix of my sisters name but then I started calling my sister HennyLynn then it became one of the nicknames I gave my sister so it woulda been weird naming my daughter that .

From an article about a Georgia man whose name, Neal, came from a POW bracelet:

His father, the late John Carpenter, was an aircraft mechanic in the Navy and was deployed overseas at the time. He arrived home in time for his son’s birth. When it became necessary to scramble and find a boy’s name, John Carpenter looked down at the POW/MIA bracelet he was wearing.

The engraved name was Neal Clinton Ward Jr. He had been listed as Missing in Action since June 13, 1969. An airman, his plane had been shot down over Laos in the jungles of Southeast Asia, nine days before his 24th birthday.

The Carpenters named their son Neal Ward Carpenter.

(Neal’s mom had been convinced the baby would be a girl. Neal said: “I was going to be April Michelle, and that’s all there was to it.”)

Research professor and author Brené Brown on her unique name:

Growing up, every time we drove from San Antonio to Houston, going to Stuckey’s — all these places where you buy monogrammed shirts and glasses — I was so put out because there was never a “Brené.” So I think I made up in my head that it was French. And then I hitchhiked across Europe after high school and I got to France and I was like, “Je suis Brené!” And they were like, “What kind of name is that?” They’d never heard of it. My parents just made it up. I had a whole narrative in high school — “When I bust out of this suburban Spring, Texas, high school I’m going to go back to France where my people are!” But, no, it’s not French — it’s south side San Antonio.

Marketing expert Seth Godin’s take on the best middle name ever:

It’s not Warren or Susan or Otis or Samuel or Tricia.

It’s “The.”

As in Attila The Hun or Alexander The Great or Zorba The Greek.

When your middle name is ‘The’, it means you’re it. The only one. The one that defines the category. I think that focus is a choice, and that the result of appropriate focus is you earn the middle name.

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Five-Name Friday: Boy Name for 4th Baby

It’s Five-Name Friday! Here’s today’s baby name request:

We are expecting an unexpected 4th baby (it’s a boy!) and are open to all name suggestions. Our first three are named Owen, Leo, and Norah.

Can you come up with five solid baby name suggestions for this person?

Here are the rules:

  • Be independent. Choose your five names before looking at anyone else’s comment.
  • Be sincere. Stick to legit recommendations you would offer a real-life friend.
  • Five names total in your comment. If you go over, I will delete the extras.

Which five baby names are you going to suggest?

[You can also send me your own 2-sentence baby name request using the contact form.]