More old-timey name snark! This short article was published in a now-defunct Indiana newspaper in 1880.
The programmes of the school commencements—and our own High School is no exception to the rule—are made silly by “Nannies,” “Libbies,” “Kitties,” “Mamies,” and other pet names. No woman who drops the sensible “y” and spells her name with an “ie” termination will ever get beyond mediocre in any sphere. A pet name is for the household only. How everybody would smile if the male graduates insisted upon the same silly style, and were put down on the programmes as “Johnnies,” “Sammies,” “Jimmies,” etc. The literary nom de plume of a female author indicates to some extent the force of her mind; and we know just as well what to expect from the Lillie Linwoods and Mattie Myrtles as we do from the George Eliots. The former clearly foreshadows gush and twaddle, the latter suggests an idea of strength and common sense. You can scarcely pen a more suggestive satire against the helpfulness and independence of woman than to wrap her up in such terms of daily coddling and childish endearment as the pet names of Jennie, Nannie, Hattie, Minnie, Margie, Nettie, Nellie, Allie, Addie, Lizzie, and a host of others. How it lessens the dignity of any woman to be called by a baby name. For instance, persistently to call the two great chieftains of woman’s advanced status, Lizzie Cady Stanton and Susie B. Anthony, would crush, at one stroke, the revolution they have so much at heart. Under such sweet persiflage it would sink into languid imbecility, and furnish fresh food for laughter.
If I spelled my name “Nancie,” I would definitely use that “mediocre in any sphere” sentence as my Twitter bio.
The Five Moons were five professional ballerinas — all born in the 1920s, all with Native American ancestry, and all with roots in the state of Oklahoma — who achieved international success in the mid-20th century. Their names were:
Moscelyne [moss-eh-leen] Larkin
(Maria and Marjorie were sisters.)
“Oklahoma’s five American Indian ballerinas would all premiere with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo: Hightower debuted in 1938, Maria Tallchief in 1942, Chouteau in 1943, Marjorie Tallchief in 1946 and Larkin in 1948.”
A baby girl born in Baltimore on September 5, 1995 — just after Baltimore Orioles baseball player Calvin “Cal” Ripken tied the 2,130 consecutive-game record set by Lou Gehrig in 1939 — was named Cali, in honor of Cal.
(Cali’s mother, Kimberly Drouillard, mentioned that the name was her husband idea, and that the baby was originally going to be named Alexia.)
And Cali wasn’t the only baby named with Cal Ripken in mind around that time. Usage of the name Cal spiked in the mid-1990s…
1999: 69 baby boys named Cal
1998: 72 baby boys named Cal
1997: 93 baby boys named Cal
1996: 112 baby boys named Cal
1995: 84 baby boys named Cal
1994: 47 baby boys named Cal
1993: 52 baby boys named Cal
…and the name Ripken first appeared in the data in 1997.
Lou Gehrig was the talented first baseman who played his entire career (1923-1939) for the New York Yankees. He was a seven-time All-Star and set several major league records during his career, including most grand slams and most consecutive games played.
He retired days after being diagnosed with ALS (now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in the U.S.). He died in mid-1941.
So the the baby name Gehrig surpassing that 5-baby threshold and debuting in the U.S. baby name data in the year 1944 — years after Gehrig was gone — didn’t make much sense to me at first.
1944: 5 baby boys named Gehrig
It made more sense after I learned about the movie The Pride of the Yankees, a fictionalized account of Lou Gehrig’s life. It was first released in New York for one night only in the summer 1942, but didn’t see nationwide release until the spring of 1943. The film “was awash in honest sentiment and became a sizable box-office hit.” It was also nominated for 11 Academy Awards, though it won only one.
Where does the surname Gehrig come from? It’s German — a variant of Gehring, which is based on the Germanic element gar or ger, meaning “spear.”
What are your thoughts on using Gehrig as a baby name?