Babies Named After the Song “Dardanella”

Dardanella
Dardanella

In 1919 — years before radio broadcasting became a means of popularizing music — the song “Dardanella” was published as sheet music with lyrics. The song tells the tale of a “lonesome maid Armenian” named Dardanella. Here’s the chorus:

Oh sweet Dardanella, I love your harem eyes,
I’m a lucky fellow, to capture such a prize,
Oh Allah knows, my love for you,
And he tells you to be true,

Dardanella, oh hear my sigh, my Oriental,
Oh sweet Dardanella, prepare the wedding wine,
There’ll be one girl in my harem when you’re mine.
We’ll build a tent, just like the children of the Orient.

Oh, sweet Dardanella, my star of love divine.

“Dardanella” became so trendy that it inspired dozens of expectant parents to name their baby girls Dardanella in the early 1920s:

  • 1925: unlisted
  • 1924: 6 baby girls named Dardanella
  • 1923: unlisted
  • 1922: 6 baby girls named Dardanella
  • 1921: 15 baby girls named Dardanella
  • 1920: 23 baby girls named Dardanella [debut]
  • 1919: unlisted

In fact, Dardanella was the top debut name for baby girls in 1920. The spelling variant Dardenella also appeared for the first and only time on the list that year.

The name in the song is derived from the word Dardanelles, which is one of the Turkish Straits that separates European Turkey from Asian Turkey. The word Dardanelles can be traced back to the mythological figure Dardanus, son of Zeus and Electra.

If you’d like to hear “Dardanella,” check out this 1920 recording by Gladys Rice and Vernon Dalhart [vid].

What do you think of the name Dardanella? Usable nowadays?

P.S. One of the songwriters was Fred Fisher, who’d scored a big hit a decade earlier with “Come Josephine In My Flying Machine.”


3 thoughts on “Babies Named After the Song “Dardanella”

  1. As you can see, my name is Dardanella.
    I never knew the meaning…and, after much research, I still don’t know. Also, I never liked my name in my youth. However, I did grow to appreciate it before my Mother died.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Dardanella!

    The ultimate meaning for this one is elusive. We can go back as far as Dardanus, but that’s a dead-end as no one knows for certain where Dardanus comes from. (One educated guess is the Ancient Greek word dardapto, meaning “devour.”)

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