I’m a baby name blogger, but sometimes I feel more like a baby name detective. Because so much of my blogging time is spent doing detective work: trying to figure out where a particular baby name comes from, or why a name saw a sudden jump (or drop) in usage during a particular year.
If a name itself doesn’t make the answer obvious (e.g., Lindbergh) and a simple Google search hasn’t helped, my first bit of detective work involves scanning the baby name charts. I’ve learned that many search-resistant baby names (like Deatra) are merely alternative spellings of more common names (Deirdre).
If that doesn’t do it, I go back to Google for some advanced-level ninja searching, to help me zero in on specific types of historical or pop culture events. This is how I traced Irmalee back to a character in a short story in a very old issue of the once-popular McCall’s Magazine.
But if I haven’t gotten anywhere after a few rounds of ninja searching, I officially give up and turn the mystery baby name over to you guys. Together we’ve cracked a couple of cases (yay!) but, unfortunately, most of the mystery baby names I’ve blogged about are still big fat mysteries.
Here’s what I can tell you about some of the above: Jometh and Elionaid were inspired by the TV show Objectivo Fama; Andamo was inspired by the TV show Mr. Lucky; Maurkice was inspired by football player Maurkice Pouncey; Kimario was inspired by a mention in Ebony magazine; Willkie was inspired by politician Wendell Willkie; Amareion was inspired by singer Omarion; Ebay was inspired by the TV show Good Times; Brettly was inspired by the TV show American Restoration; Vadir was inspired by actor Vadhir Derbez; Travolta was inspired by actor John Travolta; Macarther was inspired by Douglas MacArthur; Schley was inspired by Winfield Scott Schley.
Can you come up with explanations for any of the others?
The Social Security Administration’s annual baby name list only includes names given to 5 or more U.S. baby girls (or baby boys) per year.
Most rare names never make the list, but a select group have appeared a single time. I like to call these the one-hit wonder baby names.
One-hit wonders tend to pop up with a relatively low number of babies — 5 or 6 — but a handful are given to dozens of babies…only to disappear again the next year! Intriguing, no?
Below are the highest-charting one-hit wonder names for every year on record before 2013. (We won’t know which 2013 names are one-hit wonders until later lists come out.) The format is: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.”
Here’s something curious. In 1977, 12 baby boys in the U.S. were named Ebay. The name Ebay doesn’t appear on the SSA’s list any other year. Not even in the late 90s, when auction site eBay was taking off.
Why were there suddenly a dozen baby Ebays in 1977? I have no idea. A few names I know of (e.g. Adebayo) include the e-b-a-y sequence of letters, but Ebay doesn’t seem like a logical nickname for any of them, so that’s probably not the source. And the online sleuthing I usually do isn’t working in this case, as all searches for Ebay just lead me to eBay.
UPDATE: Commenter Robin figured it out. Ebay is a variant spelling of Ibe — also a one-hit wonder in 1977. Both were popularized by a character named Ibe Wubila who appeared on two episodes of Good Times (“Thelma’s African Romance”, parts 1 and 2) that year. Thanks, Robin!