Five-Name Friday: Boy Name for Wilder’s Brother

five name friday, boy name

It’s spring! Time to start some spring cleaning. But a quick perusal of your cleaning closet reveals that you’re running low on a few key things, so you head to the store to restock.

In the cleaning goods aisle you strike up a conversation with a friendly pregnant lady. She jokes that she’ll be brainstorming for baby names while she vacuums. You ask her what sort of name she’s looking for and she says:

We’re looking for a boy name to go with big siblings Matilda and Wilder. Mild literary or nature associations are a plus, but not necessary.

“Do you have any suggestions?”

You’re a name-lover, and you could potentially give her dozens of suggestions on the spot. But you’ve got a lot of dusting and scrubbing to do, so you only have time to give her five helpful suggestions before making your purchase and heading home.

But here’s the fun part: Instead of blurting out the first five names you come up with (which is what you’d be forced to do in real life) you get to press a magical “pause” button, brainstorm for a bit, and then “unpause” the scenario to offer her the best five names you can think of.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you brainstorm:

  • Be independent. Decide on your five names before looking at anyone else’s five names.
  • Be sincere. Would you honestly suggest these particular baby names out loud to a stranger in public?
  • Five names only! All names beyond the first five in your comment will be either deleted or replaced with nonsense words.

Finally, here’s the request again:

We’re looking for a boy name to go with big siblings Matilda and Wilder. Mild literary or nature associations are a plus, but not necessary.

Which five baby names are you going to suggest?

[To send in your own 2-sentence baby name request, here are the directions, and here’s the contact form.]


Nomenclator: Ancient Roman Name Remember-er

In ancient times, well-to-do Romans didn’t have to worry about remembering people’s names. Why? Because they had special name-remembering slaves to do the job for them.

These slaves were called nomenclators, from the Latin words nōmen, meaning “name,” and calō, meaning, “call together, summon.”

Essentially, a nomenclator was a social secretary. He accompanied his master in public and reminded him of the names and details of important individuals, such as business acquaintances. Nomenclators were particularly useful to politicians soliciting a votes in elections to public office.

The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum owns a 1st century epitaph for a guy named Aristarchus who worked as a nomenclator. (The name Aristarchus is based on the Ancient Greek words aristos, meaning “best,” and archos, meaning “master.”)

Are you good at remembering names? Would you have made an efficient nomenclator?

Sources: nomenclator – Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, Nomenclator – Wiktionary, ‘Working IX to V’ in Ancient Rome and Greece

P.S. I learned about this interesting ancient job from episode 51 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast.

Doo Wop Baby Name: Deserie

the charts, deserie, band,
The Charts (Glenmore, Ross, Leroy, Stephen, & Joe)

The French name Desiree was first popularized in the U.S. by the 1954 movie Désirée, which told the story of Désirée Clary, the one-time fiancée of Napoleon Bonaparte who later became the queen of Sweden and Norway.

Several years later, during the doo-wop craze of the ’50s, five Harlem-based teens formed a vocal group called The Charts — intentionally naming themselves after the Billboard‘s hits list in the hope that they would one day see themselves on the charts.

Despite being booed off stage during an Apollo Theater amateur night, the quintet got signed to a label and ended up recording several songs before disbanding in 1958.

The only Charts song to actually reach the charts? “Deserie,” a “huge East Coast doo wop cult classic” that appeared on Billboard‘s Hot 100 four times during the second half of 1957, peaking at 88th.

Here’s a video featuring the song:

But the Charts actually charted twice, because the baby name Deserie debuted on the U.S. baby name charts the very same year:

  • 1960: 15 baby girls named Deserie
  • 1959: 8 baby girls named Deserie
  • 1958: 7 baby girls named Deserie
  • 1957: 13 baby girls named Deserie [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

Though the spelling and pronunciation aren’t quite the same, Deserie (deh-zə-REE) was no doubt inspired by then-trendy Desiree (deh-zi-RAY), which can be traced back to the Latin word for “desired,” desideratum.

Which name do you like better, Desiree or Deserie?

Source: Warner, Jay. American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006.

Why Is “Keniel” Trendy in Puerto Rico?

The name Keniel is curiously popular in Puerto Rico. In fact, Keniel has been one of the top 100 names for baby boys born in Puerto Rico since 2005.

Despite being roughly 100 times larger than PR in terms of population, the U.S. currently has less than half the number of Keniels:

Year # of Keniels born in U.S. # of Keniels born in PR
2015 24
(7 in FL)
66
(ranked 31st)
2014 23
(8 in FL)
74
(ranked 31st)
2013 25
(5 in FL, 5 in PA, 6 in NY)
95
(ranked 18th)
2012 18
(5 in FL)
103
(ranked 23rd)
2011 15
(5 in FL)
94
(ranked 28th)
2010 18
(7 in FL)
65
(ranked 60th)
2009 8 86
(ranked 51st)

The U.S. states with the most Keniels also have particularly large Puerto Rican populations, which isn’t surprising.

We see the same pattern with the double-n version Kenniel:

Year # of Kenniels born in U.S. # of Kenniels born in PR
2015 17
(6 in FL)
not in top 100
2014 13 39
(ranked 83rd)
2013 8 38
(ranked 87th)
2012 6 38
(ranked 96th)
2011 7 39
(ranked 96th)
2010 fewer than 5 not in top 100

And I expect a similar pattern to emerge for Kendriel, which was new to both the U.S. and the PR lists in 2015:

Year # of Kendriels born in U.S. # of Kendriels born in PR
2015 8 41
(ranked 68th)
2014 fewer than 5 not in top 100

I’m not sure what kicked off the trendiness of Keniel in Puerto Rico, if anything. The popularity of Keniel might simply be part of the general trendiness of nontraditional –iel names (like Abdiel, Jadiel, Yeriel, Joniel and Yandiel) in PR lately. Names with –iel endings made up a whopping 17% of PR’s top 100 in both 2010 and 2011.

Do you know what might have kicked off a Keniel trend in Puerto Rico?

Do you like the name Keniel? (Or Kendriel?)

Source: SSA (U.S., Puerto Rico)

Popular Baby Names in Oregon, 2015

According to the Oregon Public Health Division, the most popular baby names in the state in 2015 were Emma and Liam.

Here are Oregon’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names
1. Emma, 233 baby girls
2. Olivia, 219
3. Sophia, 181
4. Abigail, 170
5. Charlotte, 165
6. Evelyn, 158
7. Ava, 146 (tie)
7. Mia, 146 (tie)
9. Amelia, 143
10. Isabella, 135

Boy Names
1. Liam, 225 baby boys
2. Henry, 209
3. Oliver, 190
4. James, 182
5. Noah, 180
6. Wyatt, 175
7. Mason, 174
8. Elijah, 168
9. William, 160
10. Alexander, 158

The #1 names were the same in 2014.

In the girls’ top 10, Charlotte and Mia replaced Emily and Elizabeth.

In the boys’ top 10, James and Elijah replaced Benjamin and Logan.

Source: Vital Statistics Annual Report – Oregon Public Health

Five-Name Friday: Girl Name like Sarah

five name friday, girl name

You’re back at the furniture warehouse, this time looking for an armchair to go with the couch you got a few months ago. While there, you strike up a conversation with yet another friendly pregnant lady (what are the chances?!). You ask her if she’s chosen a name yet, and this is what she says:

I want to name my daughter after my mom Sarah, but I also want my daughter (and my mom!) to have their own unique names, not exact duplicate names. What are some nice names like Sarah?

“Do you have any suggestions?”

You’re a name-lover, and you could potentially give her dozens of suggestions on the spot. But there are hundreds of armchairs to choose from, and the store won’t stay open forever, so you only have time to give her five baby name suggestions before you get back to your shopping.

But here’s the fun part: Instead of blurting out the first five names you come up with (which is what you’d be forced to do in real life) you get to press a magical “pause” button, brainstorm for a bit, and then “unpause” the scenario to offer her the best five names you can think of.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you brainstorm:

  • Be independent. Decide on your five names before looking at anyone else’s five names.
  • Be sincere. Would you honestly suggest these particular baby names out loud to a stranger in public?
  • Five names only! All names beyond the first five in your comment will be either deleted or replaced with nonsense words.

Finally, here’s the request again:

I want to name my daughter after my mom Sarah, but I also want my daughter (and my mom!) to have their own unique names, not exact duplicate names. What are some nice names like Sarah?

Which five baby names are you going to suggest?

[To send in your own 2-sentence baby name request, here are the directions, and here’s the contact form.]

The Baby Names Shevawn and Siobhan

siobhan mckenna, 1956, life, magazine
Siobhán McKenna on the cover of LIFE
Tara, Maeve, and many of the other
Irish names used in the U.S. today weren’t popularized by Irish immigrants. Instead, they gained traction after being introduced to the public via movies, television, and other types of pop culture.

Siobhan is no different. But it’s also a special case, because Americans heard about the name before they saw it written down. The result? The Irish spelling made a splash on the U.S. baby name charts…but only after a phonetic respelling made a similar splash. In fact, the misspelled version and the correctly spelled version were consecutive top girl name debuts in the mid-1950s.

So who’s the person behind the launch of Siobhan? Irish actress Siobhán McKenna (1923-1986).

In 1955, McKenna was nominated for a Tony for her role as Miss Madrigal in the play The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold (who had written National Velvet two decades earlier). The same year, the name Shevawn debuted in the U.S. data:

  • 1960: 5 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 9 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1957: 8 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1956: 24 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1955: 36 baby girls named Shevawn [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted

The spellings Shevon, Shevonne, Chavonne, and Chevonne also debuted in ’55.

The next year, Siobhán McKenna impressed audiences with her portrayal of Joan of Arc in the George Bernard Shaw play Saint Joan. Her popularity in this role earned her the cover of LIFE magazine in September. Next to her image was her name, Siobhan, spelled correctly (but missing the fada). Right on cue, the name Siobhan debuted in the data:

  • 1960: 90 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1959: 85 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1958: 54 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1957: 67 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1956: 58 baby girls named Siobhan [debut]
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted

Once U.S. parents learned how to spell “Siobhan,” the alternative spellings became less common, though they remained in use.

Siobhan was boosted into the top 1,000 in 1979 and remained popular during the 1980s thanks to the soap opera Ryan’s Hope, which introduced a character named Siobhan in 1978.

It’s rather fitting that Siobhán McKenna was best known for playing Saint Joan, as both “Siobhán” and “Joan” were derived from the name Jeanne, which is French feminine form of John (meaning “Yahweh is gracious”).

How do you feel about the name Siobhan? If you were going to use it, how would you spell it?

Sources: Siobhán McKenna – Wikipedia, SSA