The very first issue of New Yorker magazine came out in early 1925. On the cover was a drawing of a top-hatted dandy pering at a butterfly through a monocle. He was created by the magazine’s original art editor, Rea Irvin, and soon became somewhat of a mascot for the magazine.
He also got a name: Eustace Tilley. It was coined by humorist Corey Ford, who said in his memoir:
“Tilley” was the name of a maiden aunt, and I chose “Eustace” because it sounded euphonious.
Other sources suggest that Ford might have been influenced by English male impersonator Vesta Tilley.
Did you know that, for many years, Eustace Tilley was listed in the Manhattan phone book? Harold Ross, co-founder of the magazine, “was delighted when the city authorities eventually sent this imaginary figure a personal-property tax bill.”
The name Eustace has been used as the English form of either of two ancient Greek names: Eustachius or Eustathius. Eustachius means “fruitful” (eu, “good” + stachus, “ear of corn”) and Eustathius means “well-built” (eu, “good” + histemi, “to stand, to set up”).
What are your thoughts on the name Eustace?
Fadiman, Clifton. The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1985.
Ford, Corey. The Time of Laughter. New York: Little, Brown, 1967.
Tess didn’t start out as Tess. Hardy often changed names when he was writing, and he tried out Love, Cis and Sue, using Woodrow as a surname, narrowing the name down to Rose-Mary Troublefield or Tess Woodrow before finally settling on Tess Durbeyfield.
But I’m now far too practical for whimsical names. I want to spare my kids the time wasted spelling their name slowly over the phone and correcting its pronunciation millions of times. So out the window went some of the iconoclastic names I loved, but which seemed difficult, along with two names I adored but couldn’t figure out how to spell in a way that would make their pronunciation obvious: CARE-iss and k’r-IN.
While some believed a central institution or figure had to be behind a skyrocketing trend — say, Kim Kardashian or Vogue magazine — researchers have discovered through a new Web-based experiment that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, the study suggests that populations can come to a consensus about what’s cool and what’s not in a rapid, yet utterly spontaneous way.
The process to change your name is surprisingly lengthy, pricey and arguably outdated. People fill out forms, pay a $168 filing fee (there is also a fee to obtain a new birth certificate once the name is legally granted), get assigned to a judge, schedule a hearing date with the court and take out a statement in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel or the Daily Reporter three weeks in a row declaring intent of name change.
News websites are not approved for legal name change declaration, but this does not mean they couldn’t be someday, according to Milwaukee County Clerk of Circuit Court John Barrett.
“The process is very old and it hasn’t been changed in a long time, but that’s not to say it couldn’t be,” says Barrett. “The Wisconsin legislature decides that. Someone would have to have an interest in that change and take the time to make the argument that we’re in a changing world and publications shouldn’t be limited to print.”
If you work in startups, there’s a good chance you know Oscar. And Alfred. Benny, too. And don’t forget Lulu and Clara. These aren’t the prominent Silicon Valley people that techies know by first name (although those exist—think Marissa, Satya, Larry and Sergey, Zuck). Rather, Oscar, Alfred, Benny, Lulu and Clara are companies. The latest trend in startup names is regular old human names.
For students, especially the children of immigrants or those who are English-language learners, a teacher who knows their name and can pronounce it correctly signals respect and marks a critical step in helping them adjust to school.
But for many ELLs, a mispronounced name is often the first of many slights they experience in classrooms; they’re already unlikely to see educators who are like them, teachers who speak their language, or a curriculum that reflects their culture.
“If they’re encountering teachers who are not taking the time to learn their name or don’t validate who they are, it starts to create this wall,” said Rita (‘ree-the’) Kohli, an assistant professor in the graduate school of education at the University of California, Riverside.
Born on July 11, 1767 in Braintree, Massachusetts, he was the son of two fervent revolutionary patriots, John and Abigail Adams, whose ancestors had lived in New England for five generations. Abigail gave birth to her son two days before her prominent grandfather, Colonel John Quincy, died so the boy was named John Quincy Adams in his honor.
(Quincy, Massachusetts, was also named after Colonel John Quincy.)
A couple of weeks ago, reader Becca sent me a link to a Washington Post graphic showing the 10 most common names of registered voters within each of Washington D.C.’s four main political parties — Statehood Green, Democratic, Republican and Libertarian.
Here’s the info from the graphic:
The graphic didn’t mention the disparity between the sizes of these groups, though, so let’s throw that in too. The lists were based on data from mid-June, 2015, so here are the D.C. voter registration statistics from June 30th:
Statehood Green: 3,820 registered voters (0.82% of all registered voters in D.C.)
Democrats: 350,684 (75.58%)
Republicans: 28,560 (6.16%)
Libertarians: 779 (0.17%)
The Democrats outnumber the Libertarians by more than 450 to 1, in other words.
Here are the lists individually. After each name is the gender it’s most closely associated with and the year of peak usage as a baby name (in terms of percentage of births) since 1900.
The top Libertarian names are 70% male and 30% female, and most saw peak usage during the last few decades of the 20th century, especially the ’90s.
It was interesting to see just how feminine and old-fashioned the top Democrat names are. But the thing that most surprised was that the Green party’s list included zero female names. I would have guessed that, if any list here was going to be 100% male, it’d be the Libertarian party — definitely not the Green party.
Most of the babies named Raekwon were born in the eastern U.S., which isn’t surprising given that the Wu-Tang Clan is an East Coast hip hop group. According to SSA data, the states with the most Raekwons are North Carolina (266), Virginia (180), South Carolina (159), New York (148), Georgia (131), Florida (116) and Maryland (104). In contrast, the two most populous states in the union, California and Texas, have only a handful of Raekwons each.
So how did Wu-Tang’s Raekwon (born Corey Woods) come by his stage name? Here’s his answer, from an interview with Blues & Soul Magazine:
Q: I’ve got a few questions here from your fans. Firstly, your real name’s Corey. How did you get the name Raekwon The Chef? Due to your skills in the kitchen or the way you handle beef on the streets?
A: We were definitely out there in the streets but I didn’t get my name because of that. I got the name Raekwon The Chef because at one point I was in the Nation of Islam and I was given a name but only the Raekwon part was suitable for the music so that’s where I got that. In those old karate flicks there was an old dude called The Chef who was nasty and mean. RZA said, “You remind me of this kinda cat, this is what we gon’ call you.” That’s how we came with Raekwon The Chef.
In 2013, only 8 baby boys in the U.S. were named Raekwon. Will the Raekwon/Ghostface baby name hoax of a couple of months ago give the name a boost in 2014, do you think?
Last week’s post on namelessness reminded me of another nameless baby I know of.
He was born on October 28, 1946, in San Pedro, California.
His parents, Joseph and Lucille Corey of nearby Wilmington, decided not to give him a name. “When our boy is old enough to know what he wants, he can choose his own name” is reportedly what they told the San Pedro General Hospital records clerk.
So the California Birth Index lists him simply as “Corey.”
Did he end up adding a first name when he got older? I wish I knew — I haven’t been able to find any later records or newspaper articles about Corey or his parents.
If you’re familiar with the family and know what happened next, please leave a comment!
Source: “Boy to Choose His Own Name.” Ludington Daily News 2 Nov. 1946: 1.