How popular is the baby name Frances in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Frances and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Frances.
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The unusual baby name Caresse saw its highest usage in the late ’80s and early ’90s (no doubt thanks to commercials for Caress soap, which was launched by Lever in 1985). But it debuted in the U.S. data way back in the 1940s:
1950: 5 baby girls named Caresse
1949: 7 baby girls named Caresse [debut]
Where did it come from?
The 1949 novel Dinner at Antoine’s by Frances Parkinson Keyes, which became one of the bestselling books in the United States that year. The story was also serialized in several newspapers.
It was murder mystery set in New Orleans; the “Antoine’s” of the title refers to the famous Antoine’s Restaurant. One of the characters, Caresse Lalande, was a radio star (her show was called Fashions of Yesteryear). She was also carrying on an affair with her sister’s husband, Léonce. When the sister (named Odile) ended up murdered, both Caresse and Léonce (and many other people in their circle) became suspects.
The name got even more exposure that year thanks to the Literary Guild Book Club, which ran ads that featured not just Dinner at Antoine’s, but Caresse specifically:
The French word Caresse (and also the English word Cherish) can be traced back to the Latin word carus, meaning “dear, costly, beloved.”
What do you think of the baby names Caresse and Caress? Would you use them?
Bessie “Teazie” Williams was a character played by actress Mae Marsh in the film The White Rose (1923).
Tecolote was a character played by actress Dorothy Dalton in the film The Captive God (1916).
Tecza was a character played by actress Geraldine Farrar in the film The Woman God Forgot (1917).
Teddy Teddy Sampson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in New York in 1895. Teddy was also a character name in multiple films, including Vultures of Society (1916) and Having Wonderful Time (1938).
Texas Texas Guinan was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in Texas in 1884. Texas was also a character played by actress Dot Farley in the film Lady Be Good (1928).
Thelda Kenvin was an actress who appeared in one film in 1926. She was born (with the first name Ethelda) in Pennsylvania in 1899. Thelda was also a character played by actress Greta Granstedt in the film There Goes My Heart (1938).
Thelma Todd was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1930s. She was born in Massachusetts in 1906. Thelma Salter was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in California in 1908. Thelma was also a character name in multiple films, including A Modern Thelma (1916) and A Broadway Butterfly (1925).
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?
Time for more unusual female names from old films!
Here’s something I didn’t know until recently: many (most?) of the “Indian maiden” characters in early movies had names starting with W. As a result, about half of the names below refer to Native American characters specifically. I’m not sure how many of these Native American names are legit, though. If you can verify any of them, please leave a comment.
Wah-na-gi was a character played by actress Anita King in the film The Squaw Man’s Son (1917).
Wahnah was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the short film Kidnapped by Indians (1914).
Princess Wah-tah was a character played by actress Yvonne De Carlo in the film The Deerslayer (1943).
Wah-ta-wah was a character played by actress Aline Goodwin in the film serial Leatherstocking (1924).
Wahtonka was a character played by actress Claire Du Brey in the film Dakota (1945).
Wahtunka was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the short film Brought to Justice (1914).
Walmura was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the short film The Fate of a Squaw (1914).
Walpurga was a character played by actress Mrs. A. C. Marston in the short film On the Heights (1914).
Wamba was a character name in multiple films, including Wamba, a Child of the Jungle (short, 1913) and Justice of the Far North (1925).
Wambi was a character played by actress Lule Warrenton in the short film The Queen of Jungle Land (1915).
Wana was a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film The Indian Maid’s Sacrifice (1911).
Wanama was a character played by actress Armida in the film Jungle Goddess (1948).
Wanana was a character played by actress Marie Walcamp in the short film A Daughter of the Redskins (1914).
Wanda Hawley was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1895. Wanda McKay was an actress who appeared in films mainly in the 1940s. She was born in Oregon in 1915. Wanda was also a character name in multiple films, including The One-Way Trail (1920) and Men Are Such Fools (1938).
Wowkle was a character played by actress Anita King in the film The Girl of the Golden West (1915), by Neola May in The Girl of the Golden West (1930), and by Ynez Seabury in The Girl of the Golden West (1938). The film was based on the play The Girl of the Golden West (1905) by David Belasco, who found the name Wowkle in the writings of ethnographer Stephen Powers, who claimed the name meant “fox” among the Nisenan of California.
Wyllis Hyde was a character played by actress Pauline Starke in the film The Argument (1918).
Wynne Gibson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in New York in 1898. Wynne was also a character played by actress Anita Louise in the film Lady Tubbs (1935).
A baby name becomes trendy for one generation. For the next two generations, while those initial babies are parent-aged and grandparent-aged, you can expect the name to go out of style. But during the third generation, once the cohort reaches great-grandparent age, the name is free to come back into fashion.
Evelyn is a name with a usage pattern that fits this description well.
I’ve seen it described elsewhere as the 100-Year Rule, but I prefer to call it the Great-Grandparent Rule, as it makes more sense to me to frame it in terms of generations.
Essentially, the pattern has to do with a name’s main generational association shifting from “a name that belongs to real-life old people” to “a name that sounds pleasantly old-fashioned.”
I used to think the pattern was one we’d only recently discovered — something we needed the data to see — but it turns out that at least one observant person noticed this trend and wrote about it in The San Francisco Call more than 100 years ago (boldface mine):
Time was — and that not very long ago — when old fashioned names, as old fashioned furniture, crockery and hand embroideries, were declared out of date. The progress of the ages that replaced the slower work of hand by the speed of machines cast a blight on everything that betokened age.
Spinning wheels were stowed away in attics, grandmothers’ gowns were tucked into cedar chests, old porcelain of plain design was replaced by more gaudy utensils and machine made and embroidered dresses and lingerie lined the closets where formerly only handwork was hung.
So with given names. Mary, Elizabeth, Jane, Sarah, Hannah and Anne, one and all, were declared old fashioned and were relegated to past ages to be succeeded by Gladys, Helen, Delphine, Gwendolyn, Geraldine and Lillian and a host of other more showy appellations.
Two generations of these, and woman exercised her time honored privilege and changed her mind.
She woke suddenly to the value of history, hustled from their hiding places the ancient robes and furnishings that were her insignia of culture, discarded the work of the modern machine for the finer output of her own fair hands, and, as a finishing touch, christened her children after their great-grandparents.
Old fashioned names revived with fervor and those once despised are now termed quaint and pretty and “quite the style, my dear.”
Pretty cool that this every-third-generation pattern was already an observable phenomenon three generations ago.
The article went on to list society babies with names like Barbara, Betsy, Bridget, Dorcas (“decidedly Puritan”), Dorothea, Frances, Henrietta, Jane, Josephine, Lucy, Margaret, Mary, Olivia, and Sarah (“much in vogue a century ago”).
Have you see the 100-Year Rule/Great-Grandparent Rule at play in your own family tree? If so, what was the name and what were the birth years?
Source: “Society” [Editorial]. San Francisco Call 17 Aug. 1913: 19.
Image: Frances Marie via Morguefile