Where Did the Baby Name Geddy Come From?

geddy lee, rush,
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2004

Last weekend, the Toronto Zoo announced that its three capybara pups would be named Geddy, Alex, and Neil in honor of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart — the three members of the legendary Canadian rock band Rush.

Vocalist Geddy Lee was born Gary Lee in Toronto in 1953 to parents Morris and Manya Weinrib, Holocaust survivors from Poland. Here’s how the name “Gary” morphed into the name “Geddy”:

“Okay, it’s like the same story of Leave it to Beaver. The story goes: my mother is Polish and she has a very thick accent. When I was about twelve years old, I had a friend who, whenever he heard my mother pronounce my name, he thought she was calling me, ‘Geddy.’ He started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually, all of my friends started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually my mother started to call me ‘Geddy,’ for real. And eventually, I changed my name legally to ‘Geddy,’ so that’s the story and that’s my name, Geddy.”

So have any human pups ever been named for Geddy Lee? Yup–so many that we can see them in the data. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, when Rush was a fixture on the Billboard charts, Geddy started appearing on the U.S. baby name charts:

  • 1984: 9 baby boys named Geddy
  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: 14 baby boys named Geddy
  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 5 baby boys named Geddy [debut]
  • 1978: unlisted

Since then, at least 175 U.S. babies have been named Geddy.

And that’s how a Canadian prog rock band turned “Geddy” — a Polish mispronunciation of Gary — into an American baby name. :)

(Kinda reminds me of the mondegreen Kasara…)

If you were having a son, and you had to name him either Gary or Geddy, which would you choose? Why?

Sources: Toronto’s ‘capybaby’ triplets named after famous rock trio Rush, Geddy Lee: The Reluctant Rockstar (originally in Bass Frontiers Magazine)

P.S. Here’s that Leave it to Beaver story.


The Vivacious Name Viviette

Illustration from book Viviette (1910) by W. J. LockeThe rare name Viviette first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1919:

  • 1920: unlisted
  • 1919: 6 baby girls named Viviette [debut]
  • 1918: unlisted

After 1919, it fell off the charts for nearly a century before reappearing in 2014 (and hence being knocked off the one-hit wonder list).

The SSDI also reveals a slight uptick in usage in 1919:

  • 1921: 0 people named Viviette
  • 1920: 1 people named Viviette
  • 1919: 3 people named Viviette
  • 1918: 1 people named Viviette
  • 1917: 1 people named Viviette

So what was the cause? The silent film Viviette, released way back in 1918.

Coincidentally, the character Viviette was played by an actress with a very similar name: Vivian Martin. Both names can be traced back to the Latin word vivus, which means “alive, living.”

The movie was based on the book Viviette (1910) by William J. Locke. Here’s a synopsis:

Viviette is a girl of many lovers, but for the purpose of this story the number narrows down to two, the brothers, Austin and Dick Ware. Austin is the brilliant successful one of the two, Dick, hot tempered and passionate, is the failure. Viviette plays one off against the other and carries the flirtation to dangerous lengths. But in the end she makes her choice.

Which name do you like better, Viviette or Vivian?

Sources:

Wanna Talk Names? Give Me a Call!

I’ve created a couple of videos recently (on YouTube) and I’m looking forward to creating similar audio/video content in the future.

But here’s the thing: It’s no fun if it’s just me! I’d love to feature audio from you — your stories, opinions, questions, requests, and so on.

So I’ve set up this phone number (should go straight to voicemail) for collecting anything you’d like to tell me about names: 305-204-NAME (6263).

Just call in and leave me a message!

What should you say? Here are some ideas:

Tell a story about your name.

This is the type of audio I’m most excited about. Lots of people have great name stories, and would be willing to share them…but don’t feel compelled to write those stories down and send them to some random baby name blogger. But what if they could call a number, speak their stories over the phone, and have those stories magically turned into YouTube videos (with no other effort on their part)? That sounds way more fun, right?

A few prompts:

  • What’s the story behind your name?
  • Have you had any unique experiences because of your name?
  • Has your name opened/closed any doors for you?

I’m particularly interested in name origin stories — I’ve been collecting/posting them in the name stories category for years — but I’d be happy to hear any story you want to tell me about your name and your experience of living with it.

Pronounce a name or two (or ten, or twenty).

This is the type of audio I’m next most excited about. Remember that Maryland mom who named her baby Ottilie with the British pronunciation in mind? She was so disappointed by the way Americans pronounced it that she ended up changing the name to Margot. This story makes me eager to gather recordings of names being spoken by all sorts of different people — particularly in various English accents — so that we can easily hear the differences.

Some ideas:

  • If you’re an English speaker, what’s your take on “Ottilie”? How about “Ione”?
  • If you’re from Ireland, how would you say “Aoife”? “Pádraig”?
  • If you’re Hawaiian, how do you say “Ikaika”? “Nāinoa“?
  • If you’re a native Spanish speaker, how would you say “Xiomara”? “Jacinto”?
  • If you’re a native French speaker, how would you say “Maëlle”? “Loïc”?
  • If you’re a native Italian speaker, how would you say “Letizia”? “Enos“?

I think it would be most efficient to work from a pronunciation “wish list” so that the trickiest names get priority. To nominate a name for the list, leave a comment below.

If you call in with pronunciations, please remember to mention your accent and/or location as well. (“I’ve got a Southern Irish accent.” “I was born and raised in Omaha.” “I grew up in Jamaica.”) Same for people pronouncing non-English names. (If you speak Spanish, did you grow up in Buenos Aires? Barcelona? Bogotá?) With this context, the recordings are more useful.

Submit a baby name request.

The videos I’ve made so far are based on written Five-Name Friday requests, but it would be just as easy for me to splice in a spoken request. Be sure the request is still just two sentences long, though. (Check out the Need a Name? page for more information.)

Talk about anything else related to names.

Opinions, questions, observations, rants…anything! I’m happy to listen, and I appreciate anything you’re willing to give me.

And on that note, a few general comments about the recordings:

  • Call as many times as you want, but each voicemail can only be up to three minutes long.
  • Speak clearly, particularly if you’re demonstrating how to pronounce a name.
  • Identify yourself…or not. It’s up to you. But if you’re telling a story about your name, we do need to know what your name is. :) Likewise, for pronunciation recordings we need information about your accent/language.
  • I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to use every single recording in a future video/audio, unfortunately.
  • By calling and leaving a message, you grant me (Nancy) perpetual license to use your message, in whole or in part, in any future piece(s) of media. (Here’s the policy page, btw.)

The number again is 305-204-6263. Those last four digits spell the word “name” on the telephone keypad, which is pretty cool. They also spell “oboe,” incidentally. :)

Hope to hear from you soon!

The Rare Name Verree

verree teasdale, 1934
“Since deserting Broadway for Hollywood two years ago, Verree Teasdale has made rapid strides to movie fame. Her most difficult problem has been trying to get her name spelled correctly.”
The very rare name Verree debuted on the charts in 1934:

  • 1936: unlisted
  • 1935: 6 baby girls named Verree
  • 1934: 5 baby girls named Verree
  • 1933: unlisted

The similar name Veree also popped up in 1934 (and never came back, making it a one-hit wonder).

What was the influence? American actress Verree Teasdale, who appeared on stage and in films during the second quarter of the 20th century, particularly the 1930s.

I can’t pinpoint where her name came from, but apparently people misspelled it a lot (as per the photo caption).

What do you think of the name Verree?

Image: Verree Teasdale, Photoplay, July 1934

Five-Name Friday: Girl Name for Kysen’s Sister

five name friday, girl name, kysen, santiago

Welcome to Five Name Friday! Here’s today’s baby name request:

We both love long pretty names but don’t want a “bell” name like Isabella or Annabella. Her surname is Spanish and starts with M and her brothers are Kysen and Santiago.

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

Here are the rules:

  • Be independent. Decide on your five names before looking at anybody else’s five names.
  • Be sincere. Would you honestly suggest your five names to somebody in real life?
  • Five names only please! All names beyond the first five in your comment will be deleted.

Which five baby names are you going to suggest?

[You can also comment on previous Five-Name Friday posts, or send me your own 2-sentence baby name request using the contact form.]