A mystery/suspense novel called The Sign of the Ram by Margaret Ferguson. It was published in 1944 became a best-seller.
It was set in pre-World War II Cornwall and the central character was Leah St. Aubyn, a wheelchair-bound poet who was the (young) matriarch of the well-off St. Aubyn family. Leah became increasingly vengeful and manipulative over the course of the story, and one of her targets was her secretary Sherida Binyon, who Leah thought was having an affair with her husband Mallory.
In 1948, the novel was made into a movie — mainly as a vehicle for actress Susan Peters, who had been a rising star in Hollywood before becoming a paraplegic due to a hunting accident. Actress Phyllis Thaxter played the part of Sherida. The movie didn’t do well in theaters, but it pushed the usage of Sherida up to peak levels.
Also interesting: This usage of Sherida seemed to negatively affect the (female) usage of Sheridan, which slipped in both 1945 and 1948. Americans were probably using Sheridan as a girl name in the ’40s thanks to actress Ann Sheridan.
Do you like the name Sherida? Do you like it more or less than Sheridan?
Ilka Chase was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was born in New York in 1905. Ilka was also a character name in multiple films, including Ambassador Bill (1931) and The President’s Mystery (1936).
Ilona Massey was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Hungary in 1910. Ilona was also a character name in multiple films, including Ilona (1921) and The Stolen Bride (1927).
Ina Claire was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in Washington, D.C., in 1893. Ina was also a character played by actress Arlette Marchal in the film Forlorn River (1926).
Iolante was a character played by actress Maude Fealy in the short film King Rene’s Daughter (1913).
Iolanthe McSwatt was a character played by actress Flora Finch in the short film There’s Music in the Hair (1913).
Ione Holmes was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in the U.S. in 1890. Ione was also a character name in multiple films, including The Flirt and the Bandit (short, 1913) and The Last Days of Pompeii (1926).
Several Neil Gaiman characters (e.g., Coraline, Yvaine) have influenced baby names in the past, so here are several more that are influencing baby names right now.
These names come courtesy of the TV show Lucifer (2016-), which was loosely based on Gaiman’s comic book series The Sandman (1989-1996).
The premise of the show is that the main character, Lucifer (played by Tom Ellis), bored with Hell, has decided to move to Los Angeles and open a night club called “Lux.” (The Latin word lux, meaning “light,” comes directly from Lucifer’s name, meaning “light bearer.”)
In 2017, the baby name Lucifer saw its highest-ever usage so far — a fact that would no doubt alarm a large number of Americans.
Lucifer’s right-hand man is a lady: Mazikeen “Maze” Smith (played by Lesley-Ann Brandt). She’s a demon who followed Lucifer to Earth as his sworn protector. At the start of the series, she worked as a bartender at Lux.
The baby name Mazikeen debuted in the data in 2016, and Maze debuted for girls specifically the next year.
Lucifer’s eldest brother is Amenadiel (played by D. B. Woodside). He’s an archangel (still in God’s good graces) who has a contentious relationship with Lucifer, who he encourages to return to Hell.
The baby name Amenadiel debuted in the data in 2017.
15 boys & 9 girls [debut]
9 boys [debut]
7 girls [debut]
Though Mazikeen and Amenadiel both sound biblical, neither one is found in the Bible. Mazikeen is based on the Hebrew word mazzikim, meaning “harmful spirits.” Amenadiel’s explanation has eluded me so far, but, like many Hebrew names, it ends with -el, which refers to “God.”
What are your thoughts on these two new names? How about on the rising usage of Lucifer?
We looked at the top baby name rises last month, so this month let’s look at the opposite: the top drops. That is, the baby names that decreased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next in the Social Security Administration’s data.
Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year slides in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Clementine dropped 68% and usage of the boy name Neil dropped 76%.)
The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does become more accurate in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about a few of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it — leave a comment and let us know why you think any of these names saw dropped in usage when they did.
A handful of Filipino babies have been born — or almost born — on the Light Rail (LRT) in metropolitan Manila, and at least three of these babies have been given LRT-inspired names…
In May of 2005, Lea Aquino Ababa gave birth inside the Doroteo Jose LRT station. The baby girl was named Dorotea after the station.
In April of 2011, Mary Ann Opedra went into labor aboard an LRT train. She made to a hospital near Libertad Station in time to deliver. The baby girl was named Liberty Anne after the station.
In June of 2012, Angel Hotba gave birth aboard a moving LRT train somewhere between Libertad and Gil Puyat stations. The baby girl’s name, Lilibeth, was inspired by Libertad station. (Name suggestions from Twitter users included Larita, LoReTa, Laura Regina Teresa, Trayna, Katraina, and Railey.)