Baby Name Predictions – Bryant, Breonna, Doja

Here are some names that might see a surge in usage in 2020, thanks to popular culture…

Kobe & Bryant

NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January. (His daughter Gianna died in the accident as well.)

Doja & Amala

Singer Doja Cat (real name: Amalaratna Zandile Dlamini), whose 2018 debut album was entitled Amala, has become increasingly popular.

Isaias

Hurricane Isaias — after weakening to a tropical storm — caused damaged along East Coast of the U.S. in late July and early August.

Ahmaud, Breonna, George, Rayshard

…or the name of any other unarmed black American who was shot and killed by a police officer this year (or late last year).

  • Ahmaud Arbery (February)
  • Breonna Taylor (March)
  • George Floyd (May)
  • Rayshard Brooks (June)

Based on what we’ve seen this year so far, what other names would you add to the list?

Tammis: Baby Name Inspired by Hanky Designer?

tammis keefe, crocodile handkerchief, 1950s, baby name
Handkerchief by Tammis Keefe

The interesting name Tammis was a one-hit wonder in the baby name data right in the middle of the 1950s:

  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: 6 baby girls named Tammis [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: unlisted

What was the inspiration?

A mid-century textile artist, fascinatingly.

Her name was Tammis Keefe, and she was best known for the whimsical, colorful artwork she created for handkerchiefs, scarves, dish towels, and similar items.

During the ’50s her products were sold in department stores, advertised in newspapers, and sometimes even spotlighted in museum exhibits.

Her inventive designs included things as varied as circus poodles, zodiac signs, cowboys, cigar store Indians, fortune teller cards, antique automobiles, airships, piggy banks, mermaids, crocodiles (above), kangaroos, and weather vanes. They also featured her signature:

tammis keefe

Tammis Keefe was born Margaret Thomas Keefe in 1913. According to one newspaper article, she said her name was Gaelic for Thomas. (I haven’t found any proof of this yet, though “Tammis” seems pretty close to the Scottish form of Thomas, “Tamhas.”) Sadly, she died in 1960 at the age of 46.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Tammis?

Sources:

  • Roe, Dorothy. “Good Design Booms In America Today.” Paris News [Paris, Texas] 27 Oct. 1957: 15.
  • TammisKeefe.com

(Another fashion-inspired baby name: L’Tanya.)

The Arrival of L’Tanya

L'Tanya Griffin, 1950s, fashion designer, baby name
L’Tanya Griffin w/ daughter L’Tanya.

In the late ’40s, long before the name Tanya (a diminutive of Tatiana) reached peak trendiness in the ’70s, some specific Tanya-based names started debuting:

YearLatanya usageLatonia usageLtanya usage
1955
1954
1953
1952
1951
1950
1949
1948
1947
1946
67 baby girls
31 baby girls
24 baby girls
12 baby girls
9 baby girls
13 baby girls
7 baby girls
6 baby girls
7 baby girls [debut]
.
10 baby girls
9 baby girls
8 baby girls
6 baby girls
8 baby girls
.
.
6 baby girls
5 baby girls [debut]
.
32 baby girls
22 baby girls
11 baby girls
5 baby girls
.
5 baby girls
9 baby girls [debut]
.
.
.

Latanya and Latonia first appeared in ’47. Ltanya followed in ’49. Latonya popped up in 1951, and other variants appeared later, including the intriguing LaTanga.

What influenced the usage of these names?

My guess is Hollywood-based African-American fashion designer L’Tanya Griffin.

She started to become famous during the second half of the ’40s. Her name began appearing newspapers around 1946, and it was often spelled “LaTanya” and “La Tanya.” (Her birth name was Julia Bernice Hilbert, incidentally.)

In mid-1949, a specific event made L’Tanya Griffin front-page news: Her estranged husband Earl tried to assault her with a beer can full of lye at racetrack in Atlantic City. She was uninjured, but her friend Marshall Miles (former manager of boxer Joe Louis) and several other people suffered first degree burns. Worst off was Earl himself, as the lye had splashed back into his face. It got into his eyes and blinded him (not permanently, turns out).

L’Tanya was at the height of her fashion-fame during the 1950s. She was even on the cover of Jet in mid-1954. The magazine sometimes ran pictures of her young daughter L’Tanya as well.

I’m not sure what became of L’Tanya Griffin after her fame waned in the ’60s, but I did discover that one of the babies named “LaTanya” in 1949 was none other than Samuel L. Jackson’s wife LaTanya Richardson.

Do you like the name L’Tanya?

Sources:

  • “Acid Toss by Hubby Backfires.” New York Age 20 Aug. 1949: 1.
  • “Fashions by L’Tanya” Ebony Aug. 1947: 24.
  • Kirkham, Pat and Shauna Stallworth. “”Three Strikes Against Me”: African American Women Designers.” Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000: Diversity and Difference, ed. by Pat Kirkham, The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, 2000, pp. 123-144.
  • LaTanya Martinique, Los Angeles, California, ca. 1945
  • “Lye Hurled at Pretty Designer.” Pittsburgh Courier 20 Aug. 1949: 1.

Image: © 1954 Jet

Popular Baby Names in New South Wales, 2019

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

According to the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages, the most popular baby names in New South Wales in 2019 were Charlotte and Oliver.

Here are NSW’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Charlotte, 504 baby girls
  2. Olivia, 483
  3. Amelia, 467
  4. Mia, 465
  5. Isla, 408
  6. Ava, 392
  7. Chloe, 353
  8. Grace, 323
  9. Sophia, 319
  10. Ella, 310

Boy Names

  1. Oliver, 641 baby boys
  2. Noah, 573
  3. William, 531
  4. Jack, 468
  5. Leo, 444
  6. Lucas, 418
  7. Henry, 376
  8. Thomas, 370
  9. James, 363
  10. Liam, 357

In the girls’ top 10, Sophia and Ella replace Harper and Emily.

In the boy’s top 10, James replaces Alexander.

In 2018, the top two names were the same.

Sources: NSW Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages – Popular Baby Names – 2019 (PDF), Popular Baby Names – NSW Government

The Baby Name Tamantha

tamantha, 1960s, television, baby name

Two years after the premiere of the sitcom Bewitched, which featured a character named Samantha, the Samantha-like name Tamantha appeared in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1968: 16 baby girls named Tamantha
  • 1967: 17 baby girls named Tamantha
  • 1966: 16 baby girls named Tamantha [debut]
  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: unlisted

Bewitched could be a secondary influence here, but I think the main influence was another TV sitcom: The Tammy Grimes Show. This long-forgotten series was cancelled after just four episodes (all of which aired in September of 1966) but the main character, played by Broadway actress Tammy Grimes, was a young heiress named Tamantha “Tammy” Ward.

Even more impressive, though, is the upsurge in usage of the similar name Tamatha the same year:

  • 1968: 381 baby girls named Tamatha [rank: 381st]
  • 1967: 313 baby girls named Tamatha [rank: 532nd]
  • 1966: 222 baby girls named Tamatha [rank: 646th]
  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: unlisted

For this one, I think it’s the other way around: Bewitched was the primary influence, and Tammy Grimes was secondary.

Newspaper articles about The Tammy Grimes Show did indeed misspell the character’s name “Tamatha” occasionally, but that’s not enough to catapult a name into the top 1,000. It’s far more likely that this was one of the variant names that emerged in the shadow of Tabatha, which saw a dramatic rise in usage in 1966 thanks to the newborn baby Tabatha on Bewitched.

Do you like the names Tamantha and Tamatha? Do you like them more or less than the traditional names Samantha and Tabitha?

Source: The Tammy Grimes Show – Television Obscurities

P.S. Ironically, Tammy Grimes had been offered the role of Samantha Stephens on Bewitched in 1963 but turned it down.

P.P.S. The name Tammy also happened to enter the top 10 in 1966, but I’m guessing this had more to do with pre-existing momentum than with a 4-episode TV show.