How popular is the baby name Burnu in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Burnu and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Burnu.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Burnu

Number of Babies Named Burnu

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Burnu

Mystery Monday: Quinetta & Quinette

Here are two curiously similar Quin- names that popped up in the data around the same time. So far, I haven’t been able to figure out where either one came from.

The first is Quinetta, which appeared in 1955:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: 12 baby girls named Quinetta [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted

It dropped back below the 5-baby threshold the next year and didn’t reappear in the data until 1963.

The second is Quinette, which debuted in 1957:

  • 1958: 5 baby girls named Quinette
  • 1957: 8 baby girls named Quinette [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted

Girl names with -ette and -etta endings (like Annette and Loretta) were popular mid-century, but girl names starting with Quin- (like Quintina and Quintella) were rare, making the sudden appearance of a pair of Quin- names pretty noteworthy.

I doubt that Burnu Acquanetta was an influence here, but I also can’t rule her out.

Do you guys have any ideas?


Kentucky Town Named for Little Girl

I’ve talked about places named for adults (Sedona, Nira) and a place named for a baby (Wainwright), but never a place named for a child.

The community of Burna in Livingston County, Kentucky, was named for 11-year-old local Burna Phillips (1895-1983):

The community is said to have been founded around 1890 by John Steele and may first have been called Tail Holt. According to tradition, residents seeking a more respectable name for their new post office arranged a contest in which the names of local girls were nominated and the winning entries submitted to the postal authorities. Chosen was that of Burna Phillips, the daughter of Grant Phillips. In a variant of this account, a number of names were placed in a hat and Miss Phillips’s was drawn.

The post office of Burna was officially established on December 13, 1906.

(When I first read this story, I was reminded of Burnu Acquanetta.)

Source: Rennick, Robert M. Kentucky Place Names. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1984.

Aquanette – Hair Spray Baby Name?

First of all, yes, Aquanette is a name. At least 22 Aquanettes have been born in the U.S. so far:

  • 1974: 6 baby girls named Aquanette
  • […]
  • 1972: 5 baby girls named Aquanette
  • […]
  • 1966: 6 baby girls named Aquanette
  • […]
  • 1958: 5 baby girls named Aquanette [debut]

Second of all, yes, Aqua Net Hair Spray has been around since the 1950s. I don’t know exactly which year it was introduced, but I’ve seen Aqua Net ads in newspapers from as early as 1956.

So…is there a connection between the name and the product? Did people see Aqua Net in their local drugstores and say to themselves, “Now that would make a great name for a baby!”

Probably not. And here’s why.

Back in the 1940s and early 1950s, there was a string of campy B-movies that starred an actress named Burnu Acquanetta, sometimes billed simply as Acquanetta. She played an ape-woman in Captive Wild Woman (1943) and Jungle Woman (1944), a leopard-woman in Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946), and a native girl in Lost Continent (1951).

The name Acquanetta debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in the 1944:

  • 1953: 19 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1952: 29 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1951: 17 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1950: 11 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1949: 9 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1948: 12 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1947: 5 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1946: 13 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1945: 6 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1944: 6 baby girls named Acquanetta [debut]
  • 1943: unlisted

burnu acquanettaAt the height of the name’s popularity in the early 1950s, the variants Aquanetta and Acquanette popped up. And later in the decade, Aquanette appeared. So I think it’s far more likely that the first Aquanettes were named with Acquanetta (and perhaps fashionable -ette names like Annette and Jeanette) in mind, and not after the hair spray.

But then that leaves us with another mystery: Where does “Acquanetta” come from?

A LIFE article from 1942 stated that both of Acquanetta’s parents were Native American and that her surname meant “laughing water.” Her 2004 obituary in The Independent says she claimed to be “part-Arapaho Indian and part-English aristocrat” and that her name means “burning fire, deep water.”

But a Jet article from the early ’50s tells us the truth: Burnu Acquanetta’s legal name was Mildred Davenport. Census records show that she was born in South Carolina and raised in Pennsylvania. (So was her brother, Horace, who became the first black judge of Montgomery County, PA.)

So the stage names “Burnu” and “Acquanetta” aren’t genuine Native American names at all, but fanciful creations based on the words burn and aqua. They must have sounded exotic enough to pass as Native American back in the 1940s, though.

Sources:

  • Acquanetta.” Independent 19 Aug. 2004.
  • “Hollywood Jungle Girl.” Jet 14 Feb. 1952: 59-62.
  • “Venezuelan Volcano.” Life 24 Aug. 1942: 57.

Image: © 1952 Jet