Would You Name Your Baby “Weena”?

weena, 1960, movie, time machine,
Weena from The Time Machine (1960)

The peculiar name Weena popped up in the data a few times in the 1960s and 1970s, starting in ’62:

  • 1966: unlisted
  • 1965: 5 baby girls named Weena
  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 6 baby girls named Weena [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted

Why?

My best guess is the movie The Time Machine, an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ classic sci-fi story The Time Machine (1895). The movie was released mid-1960, so this is a slightly late debut, but the baby name matches up perfectly with the name of the primary female character, Weena (played by Yvette Mimieux).

The protagonist is an English time traveler who jumps hundreds of thousands of years into the future and discovers that humans have split into two species: the childlike Eloi, who live above ground, and the barbaric Morlocks, who live below ground.

name weena, time machine

He befriends a female Eloi, and eventually learns that her name is “Weena.”

Here’s the quote from the book:

Then I tried talk, and found that her name was Weena, which, though I don’t know what it meant, somehow seemed appropriate enough.

And here’s the scene from the film:

TT: “Well, what’s your name?”
W: “Wee-nah.”
TT: “Weena?”
W: (nods)
TT: “How do you spell it?”
W: “…Spell?”
TT: “Spell. Write. Can’t you write?”
W: (blank stare)
TT: (writes WEENA in the dirt)

I don’t think Wells left a record of how he came up with the name Weena for his Eloi character, but he may have been inspired by the name Edwina, which was more common in Victorian England than it is in modern America. (It’s the feminine form of the Old English name Edwin, meaning “wealth” + “friend.”)

Speaking of Edwina…the baby name Edwina happened to see a usage spike in in 1962, and the short form Wina appeared in the data in 1961 and 1962 (only). But I don’t think Weena from Time Machine had much to do with it — I think these spellings point to the character Edwina Brown from the TV show National Velvet (1960-1962), which also boosted the name Velvet to peak usage in 1961.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Weena? How about Edwina?

Sources: The Time Machine – Wikipedia, The Time Machine (1960) – TCM.com

2 thoughts on “Would You Name Your Baby “Weena”?

  1. My older niece was actually in elementary school with a girl named Edwina. This is all the more surprising when you do the math and realize she must have been born shortly before Mo Willems published “Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct”.

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