How popular is the baby name Dick in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Dick and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Dick.
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My dad came out to visit us in Colorado recently. He loves geology, so we made sure to take him to several different places with impressive rocks/terrain.
One place we visited was Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. In this park we spotted the above sign, which described how the park got its name back in the 1850s:
As they looked over this area of cathedral-like rock spires, one man, Malancthon Beach, commented that the spot would be a great place for a beer garden someday. His friend, a poetic young man named Rufous Cable, replied that it was a place “fit for the Gods.”
It’s a cool story, but, to me, that first name “Malancthon” is way more interesting than the origin of the park name. Where did it come from?
My best guess is that Malancthon is a tribute to 16th-century German theologian Philipp Melanchthon, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. His surname at birth was Schwartzerd (“black earth” in German), but as a young man he Latinized his name to the classical equivalent Melanchthon (“black earth” in Greek).
We also saw some names at Red Rocks, which is both a park and a famous amphitheater.
The amphitheater was constructed from 1936 to 1941 by men in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program that existed during the Great Depression. One display included a photo of 124 of the men in the local CCC. Here are their first names, sorted by frequency:
According to a newspaper article from 1911, many people assumed that Zane Grey was a woman because of his first name:
Zane Grey, who is spending the summer at Cottage Point, Lackawaxen, Pa., complains that his unusual first name is the cause of much misunderstanding and that he has received numerous letters addressed to “Miss” Zane Grey and requests for the lady’s photograph.
But “Zane” wasn’t his actual first name. It was his middle name, taken from his mother’s maiden name.
His full name at birth was Pearl Zane Grey. He was born in early 1872 in the Ohio town of Zanesville, which was named after his maternal ancestor Ebenezer Zane.
The name “Pearl” is usually considered feminine, but it seems to have been used for males in Zane’s family; he had a male cousin named Pearl. He disliked the name and dropped it when he began his writing career.
Various sources claim the name “Pearl” was chosen because, around the time of Zane’s birth, newspapers were describing Queen Victoria’s mourning attire as pearl gray. (He was born a few weeks after the tenth anniversary of Prince Albert’s death.) I did some research, though, and couldn’t find a single American newspaper from that era that mentioned pearl gray in association with the queen.
What are your thoughts on the name Zane? Do you view it as masculine or feminine?
P.S. The Zane Grey-inspired television show Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater (1956-1961) gave rise to five (!) other TV shows. These spin-offs were behind several baby name debuts, including Hoby.
Source: “Authors and their work.” Sun [New York] 14 Jul. 1911: 7.
Though The Chantels were technically the second African-American girl-group (after the Bobbettes) to achieve chart success, they missed being first by just a matter of weeks.
The quintet of Catholic choir girls — Arlene, Lois, Renee, Jackie, and Sonia — hit the scene in the latter half of 1957 with two singles: “He’s Gone,” released in August, and “Maybe,” released in December.
“Maybe” ended up becoming a hit in early 1958, reaching #2 on the R&B charts and #15 on the Hot 100. Here are the Chantels singing (well, lip-syncing) “Maybe” on The Dick Clark Show in March:
The word “Chantels” never ended up in the U.S. baby name data, but non-plural forms like Chantel and Chantell started appearing in 1957:
I’m not sure what caused that explosion of variants in 1963. The Chantels’ next-biggest hit, “Look In My Eyes” (1961), is too early to account for it. The answer might be the 1962 movie If a Man Answers, which featured a character named Chantal played by Sandra Dee.
So where did the Chantels get their name? From a Catholic parish in Bronx — but not their own, St. Anthony of Padua. Here’s the story:
The girls were performing at a dance at St. Francis [sic] de Chantal parish in Throgs Neck, got a terrific hand from the audience, and had a brainstorm for the name of their group.
They simply altered Chantal — a French place name meaning “stony” — to create Chantel.
Do you like the name Chantel? Do you like it more or less than Chantal?
The rare name Viviette first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1919:
1919: 6 baby girls named Viviette [debut]
After 1919, it fell off the charts for nearly a century before reappearing in 2014 (and hence being knocked off the one-hit wonder list).
The SSDI also reveals a slight uptick in usage in 1919:
1921: 0 people named Viviette
1920: 1 people named Viviette
1919: 3 people named Viviette
1918: 1 people named Viviette
1917: 1 people named Viviette
So what was the cause? The silent film Viviette, released way back in 1918.
Coincidentally, the character Viviette was played by an actress with a very similar name: Vivian Martin. Both names can be traced back to the Latin word vivus, which means “alive, living.”
The movie was based on the book Viviette (1910) by William J. Locke. Here’s a synopsis:
Viviette is a girl of many lovers, but for the purpose of this story the number narrows down to two, the brothers, Austin and Dick Ware. Austin is the brilliant successful one of the two, Dick, hot tempered and passionate, is the failure. Viviette plays one off against the other and carries the flirtation to dangerous lengths. But in the end she makes her choice.
Which name do you like better, Viviette or Vivian?
Margaret Jackson. (Ed.) Book Review Digest. Vol. 12. White Plains, NY: H. W. Wilson Company, 1917.