The word Sway popped up for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 2001:
2003: 14 baby girls and 5 baby boys named Sway
2002: 12 baby girls named Sway
2001: 8 baby girls named Sway [debut]
For a long time I assumed the main influence was MTV personality Sway Calloway. But, while I still think Sway had an influence on male usage, I’ve since discovered a much better explanation for the 2001 debut as a female name.
One of the main characters in the 2000 car heist film Gone in 60 Seconds was mechanic-slash-bartender Sara “Sway” Wayland (played by Angelina Jolie). She was the love interest of protagonist Randall “Memphis” Raines (played by Nicolas Cage), who was tasked with stealing 50 specific, expensive cars inside of 72 hours.
The film didn’t get great reviews, but I do remember appreciating the fact that each of the 50 cars was assigned a feminine code-name:
Gail Gail Kane was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1887. Her birth name was Abigail Kane. Gail Patrick was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1930s. She was born in Alabama in 1911. Her birth name was Margaret LaVelle Fitzpatrick. Gail was also a character name in multiple films, including Dangerous (1935) and Woman Doctor (1939).
Garda Garda Sloane was a character played by various actresses (Florence Rice, Rosalind Russell, Ann Sothern) in various late-1930s mystery movies (Fast Company, Fast and Loose, Fast and Furious) written by Harry Kurnitz.
Gerda Gerda Holmes was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in Illinois in 1892. Gerda was also a character name in multiple films, including Three Sinners (1928) and Babies for Sale (1940).
Germaine Germaine De Neel was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s. She was born in Canada in 1911. Germaine was also a character name in multiple films, including Evening Clothes (1927) and The Great Garrick (1937).
Gertrude Gertrude McCoy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Georgia in 1890. Gertrude Robinson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1900s to the 1920s. She was born in New York in 1890. Gertrude was also a character name in multiple films, such as Coming-Out Party (1934).
Ginna Ginna was a character played by actress Eve Arden in the film My Reputation (1946).
Usage of the baby name Ginna (which debuted in the data in 1947).
Ginny Ginny Simms was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Texas in 1913. Her birth name was Virginia Ellen Simms. Ginny was also a character played by actress Luana Patten in the film Song of the South (1946).
Glad Glad was a character played by various actresses (such as Mary Pickford and Jacqueline Logan) in various movies called The Dawn of a Tomorrow, all based on the novella of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Glenda Glenda Farrell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1970s. She was born in Oklahoma in 1901. Glenda was also a character name in multiple films, including TheWhite Parade (1934) and Down Argentine Way (1940).
Gypsy Gypsy Abbott was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in Georgia in 1897. Gypsy Rose Lee was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s to the 1960s. She was born in Washington in 1911. Her birth name was Rose Louise Hovick. Gypsy was also a character played by actress Evelyn Brent in the film Bowery Champs (1944).
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).