“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
Today’s mystery name is Chyleen, a uniquely spelled one-hit wonder from 1945:
1945: 9 baby girls named Chyleen [debut]
The names Charlene and Cheryl were on the rise in the ’40s, so the look/sound of Chyleen certainly fits with the trends of the time. But I can’t figure out what put the specific spelling “Chyleen” on the map.
Looking through records, I found a couple of people with other spellings, but “Chyleen” was the dominant favorite. This makes me think the influence was something written (e.g., news story, movie credits, book).
Any ideas about what influenced Chyleen?
P.S. The Chyleen-like name Chyla saw a spike in usage in 1983, with a third of that usage coming from in Illinois. The influence was likely Chicago Bears quarterback Vince Evans, who married a woman named Chyla Dibble in mid-1982. (The couple was featured in a July 1982 issue of Jet magazine.)
Q: I’ve got to say, “Blake Lively” sounds almost too cool to not be a stage name…
A: People are always like, “Blake Lively! Okay, what’s your real name?” It’s kind of embarrassing to tell people, because it sounds like a really cheesy stage name.
Q: Is there a story behind the first part?
A: Actually, my grandma’s brother’s name was Blake, and my sister wrote it down when she was reading a family tree. And they said, “If it’s a boy, we’ll name him Blake, and if it’s a girl, we’ll name her Blakely.” And everybody thought I was going to be a boy, and then I came out and I was a girl. And they had already been calling me Blake for months because they were positive I was going to be a boy. And they had been calling me Blake for so long, they just [kept it].
[The surname “Lively” came from Blake’s mother’s first husband. Blake’s mother kept it after the divorce, and Blake’s father — her mother’s second husband — liked it enough to take as his own when they married.]
“What dad wants to name his son after a son who kills his dad?” said baby-name expert Laura Wattenberg, who analyzed the latest data on Babynamewizard.com. “It doesn’t seem like the most auspicious choice.”
The One Direction singer-turned-solo artist explained the origin of son Bear Payne’s name during a Total Access radio interview, which he said was decided upon by mom Cheryl Cole.
“It was an internal battle,” Liam reflected. “I wanted a more traditional name and she wanted a name that was more unusual. “The reason she chose Bear was because Bear is a name that when you leave a room, you won’t forget.”
“And I like that,” the U.K. native decided eventually.
If the purpose of a name is to signify an object, a very common first name seems like a pretty ineffective signifier. When people on the street say my name, I often don’t bother to turn around, knowing that there are probably other Sarah’s in close proximity. And so I think of “Sarah” less as a name that’s specific to me and more as a general descriptor—another word for “woman” or “girl,” or something else that applies both to me and to a lot of other people, too.
Two University of Colorado economists found compelling evidence that the first letter of your last name does matter quite a bit—especially when you’re young.
Professor Jeffrey Zax and graduate student Alexander Cauley analyzed data on the lives of more than 3,000 men who graduated from Wisconsin high schools 2 in 1957. They found that those with surnames further back in the alphabet did worse in high school, in college, and in the job market early in their careers. […] While correlation isn’t necessarily causation, the researchers firmly believe there’s a connection.
The baby name Cherrelle became trendy in the ’80s thanks to R&B vocalist Cherrelle, born Cheryl Anne Norton.
She had a string of successful songs during the mid-to-late ’80s following the release of her debut album in 1984. This explains why the name re-appeared on the SSA’s list in 1984 (after popping up once in ’70s) and usage spiked in 1986 and 1989:
1990: 70 baby girls named Cherrelle
1989: 138 baby girls named Cherrelle
1988: 91 baby girls named Cherrelle
1987: 81 baby girls named Cherrelle
1986: 188 baby girls named Cherrelle
1985: 45 baby girls named Cherrelle
1984: 37 baby girls named Cherrelle
Nothing too earth-shattering about this one, really, but Cherrill and Cheryl have their own posts, so I thought Cherrelle ought to get a post as well.
Charmaine reminds me of Cheryl — both are relatively recent inventions with hazy origins, both saw increased usage thanks to popular culture, and both sound a bit dated these days.
Charmaine never became as popular as Cheryl did, but, interestingly, the two main pop culture boosts that it got — in 1928 and in 1952 — were caused by the very same thing.
What Price Glory? (1926) was a silent, black-and-white movie set in France during World War I. It followed two U.S. Marine sergeants as they fought for the affections of Charmaine, an innkeeper’s daughter.
The movie’s theme song, “Charmaine,” was used as a leitmotif throughout the film. It went on to become a huge hit in the late 1920s. The best-selling recording, by Guy Lombardo and his orchestra, spent seven weeks at #1 on the U.S. Billboard charts in 1927.
In response to the popular song, hundreds of American baby girls were named Charmaine:
1930: 124 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 622nd]
1929: 114 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 653rd]
1928: 264 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 419th]
1927: 74 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 856th]
1926: 8 baby girls named Charmaine
A generation later, the film was remade — this time with sound and color.
The song “Charmaine” was used again for this 1952 version of the film, and again it became a hit. Multiple versions landed on the U.S. Billboard charts, including an instrumental version by the Mantovani Orchestra that peaked at #10 in 1951 and a version by the Billy May Orchestra that reached #17 in 1952.
This time around, usage of the baby name Charmaine more than tripled:
1954: 351 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 475th]
1953: 428 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 417th]
1952: 620 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 331st]
1951: 192 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 621st]
Usage has been decreasing ever since, though. In 2014, just 18 baby girls were named Charmaine.
So where does the name Charmaine come from?
Sources suggest that it’s based on either the English word “charm” or the name Charmian. Charmian is a variant of Charmion, based on the ancient Greek word kharma, meaning “delight.” (One of Cleopatra’s servants was named Charmion.) The second syllable may have been influenced by the name Lorraine, which was fashionable in the early 1900s.