Like the name Tirrell, the curious name Gamble appears regularly these days in the boys’ data, but it first popped up as a girl name — just once — in 1961:
1961: 5 baby girls named Gamble [debut]
Where did it come from?
Another runaway heiress! This one was New York debutante/heiress Gamble Benedict, the granddaughter of Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935), co-owner of the Remington Typewriter Company.
During the last days of 1959, 18-year-old Gamble ran away from home to be with her 35-year-old Romanian-born boyfriend, Andrei Porumbeanu (who already had a wife, Helma, and daughter, Gigi).
Gamble and Andrei first fled to Paris, where they stayed for most of January. (Gamble turned 19 mid-month.) At the end of the month, Gamble was apprehended by Paris police and “flown home to her stern dowager grandmother.”
The pair ran off again in April, after Andrei had obtained a Mexican divorce. This time they went south. They married in North Carolina on the 6th, then took a plane to Florida for a honeymoon.
The story was in the news for months on end during the first half of the year. (Several years later, in 1964, Time magazine summed it up as an “endlessly publicized…runaway marriage.”)
So what became of the couple? They ended up having two sons (George and Gregory) and spent most of their time in Switzerland…before Gamble initiated divorce proceedings in mid-1963.
Though I never found an explanation for Gamble’s unique first name, my guess is that it’s a surname that can be found somewhere in her family tree.
What are your thoughts on the name “Gamble” for a baby (male or female)? Would you use it?
A while back, I stumbled upon a register of people associated with Oxford University in the late 1500s and early 1600s. The most interesting part? The author of the register included a chapter dedicated to first names and surnames, and that chapter featured a table of male forenames ranked by frequency of occurrence from 1560 to 1621.
The author claimed that, for several reasons, these rankings were “probably…more representative of English names than any list yet published” for that span of time. One reason was that the names represented men from “different grades of English society” — including peers, scholars, tradesmen, and servants.
Ready for the list?
John, 3,826 individuals
Ralph (sometimes confused with Raphael/Randall in the records), 182
Matthew (sometimes confused with Matthias), 116
Alexander, 98 (tie)
Arthur, 98 (tie)
Simon (sometimes confused with Simeon), 83
Joseph, 78 (tie)
Lewis, 78 (tie)
Roland (also Rowland), 65
Griffith (also Griffin), 60
Abraham, 54 (tie)
Leonard, 54 (tie)
Morris (sometimes confused with Maurice), 51
Bartholomew, 46 (3-way tie)
Oliver, 46 (3-way tie)
Timothy, 46 (3-way tie)
Martin, 44 (tie)
Rice (sometimes confused with Richard), 44 (tie)
Jeffrey (also Geoffrey; sometimes confused with Godfrey), 38
Toby (also Tobias), 34
Bernard, 28 (3-way tie)
Gregory (sometimes confused with George), 28 (3-way tie)
Isaac, 28 (3-way tie)
Jasper (also Gaspar), 26
Randall (also Randle, Randolph; sometimes confused with Ralph), 26 (tie)
Did the relative popularity of any of these names surprise you?
Entries lower down on the list included Lancelot (23), Jarvis (22) Theophilus (19), Marmaduke (18), Fulke (17), and Cadwalader (9).
The author also included every other Oxford-associated name from that general time period, so here’s a sampling of the rare names that popped up in the register just once:
“140” boy names: Dontavious, Markanthony, Fitzwilliam, Prometheus
5 via 149
The boy name Montavious adds up to 149, which reduces to five (1+4+9=14; 1+4=5).
What Does “5” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “5” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “5” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“5” (the pentad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“They called the pentad ‘lack of strife,’ not only because aether, the fifth element, which is set apart on its own, remains unchanging, while there is strife and change among the things under it, from the moon to the Earth, but also because the primary two different and dissimilar kinds of number, even and odd, are as it were reconciled and knitted together by the pentad”
“The pentad is the first number to encompass the specific identity of all number[s], since it encompasses 2, the first even number, and 3, the first odd number. Hence it is called ‘marriage,’ since it is formed of male and female.”
“The pentad is highly expressive of justice, and justice comprehends all the other virtues […] it is a kind of justice, on the analogy of a weighing instrument.” (i.e., It is the central number in the row of numbers from 1 to 9.)
“Because it levels out inequality, they call it ‘Providence’ and ‘justice’ (division, as it were) […] Likewise, it is called ‘nuptial’ and ‘androgyny’ and ‘demigod’ – the latter not only because it is half of ten, which is divine, but also because in its special diagram it is assigned the central place. And it is called ‘twin’ because it divides in two the decad, which is otherwise indivisible […] and ‘heart-like’ because of the analogy of the heart being assigned the center in living creatures.”
“Nature separated each of the extremities of our bodily part (I mean, the extremities of our feet and hands) in a five-fold way, into fingers and toes.”
“5” according to Edgar Cayce:
“Five – a change imminent, ever, in the activities of whatever influence with which it may be associated” (reading 261-14).
“Five – as seen, a change” (reading 5751-1).
“Five always active – and double the two, and one – or three and two, which it is the sum of. Hence, as is questioned here, no factor is more active than would be that of a five…in any activity. Five being the active number” (reading 137-119).
Does “5” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 23, 50, 77, 131) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe you like how “23” reminds you of chromosomes and genetics, for example.
Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.
If you have any interesting insights about the number 5, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
At first glance, Guillaume always looks like gobbledygook to me. It’s the French form of William — that much I know — but it takes a few seconds for me to remember that it’s pronounced ghee-ohm, not not gwill-awm or gwee-awm.
And it’s not just Guillaume that trips me up. I find many other French names (Étienne, Edwige, Anaïs, etc.) equally tricky to pronounce.
So for those of us who struggle with French names, here are some simplified rules of French pronunciation, plus names to illustrate each rule.
This list is far from comprehensive, and my pronunciations are just approximations, but hopefully my fellow non-French speakers out there will find it helpful nonetheless.
French Pronunciation + French Names
AU: The vowel combination “AU” is pronounced like a long o.
Paul, in French, is pronounced pohl.
Margaux, a French form of Margaret, is pronounced mar-goh.
CH: The letter combination “CH” is typically pronounced sh.
Charles, in French, is pronounced shahrl.
D, P, S, T, X, Z: The six consonants “D,” “P,” “S,” “T,” “X” and “Z,” when at the end of a word, are typically silent.
Arnaud, the French form of Arnold, is pronounced ar-noh.
Denis, the French form of Dennis, is pronounced de-nee (remember the Blondie song?).
Lucas, in French, is pronounced loo-kah.
Louis, in French, is pronounced loo-ee (think Louis Vuitton).
…They’re not always silent, though. Here are some exceptions:
Alois, the French form of Aloysius, is pronounced ah-loh-ees.
Anaïs, a French form of Anna, is pronounced ah-nah-ees.
David, in French, is pronounced dah-veed.
Ë: The pronunciation of “Ë” (E with a trema) is like the e in the English word “bet.”
Gaël and Gaëlle are pronounced gah-el or gai-el.
Joël and Joëlle are pronounced zhoh-el.
Maël and Maëlle are pronounced mah-el or mai-el.
Noël and Noëlle are pronounced noh-el.
É: The pronunciation of “É” (E with an acute accent) is somewhere between the ee in “see” and the e in “bet.”
Noé, the French masculine form of Noah, is pronounced noh-ee.
Salomé, in French, is pronounced sah-loh-mee.
G: The consonant “G” is soft (zh) when followed by “E” or “I” but hard (gh) otherwise.
Georges, the French form of George, is pronounced zhorzh.
Guy, in French, is pronounced ghee.
H: The consonant “H” is silent.
Hélène, the French form of Helen, is pronounced eh-lehn.
I: The vowel “I,” and the forms Ï, and Î, are all pronounced ee.
Loïc, a French form of Louis, is pronounced loh-eek.
J: The consonant “J” is pronounced zh.
Jacques, the French form of Jacob, is pronounced zhahk.
LL: The letter combination “LL” is typically pronounced like an l.
Achille, the French form of Achilles, is pronounced ah-sheel.
Lucille, the French form of Lucilla, is pronounced loo-seel.
…But in some cases “LL” is pronounced like a y.
Guillaume, the French form of William, is pronounced ghee-yohm or ghee-ohm.
OI: The vowel combination “OI” is pronounced wah.
Antoine, the French form of Antony, is pronounced an-twahn.
Grégoire, the French form of Gregory, is pronounced gre-gwahr.
OU: The vowel combination “OU” is pronounced oo.
Lilou is pronounced lee-loo.
R: The consonant “R,” when at the end of a word, is typically pronounced.
Clair, the French masculine form of Claire, is pronounced kler.
Edgar, in French, is pronounced ed-gahr.
…When the “R” is preceded by an “E,” though, it is not pronounced.
Gauthier, the French form of Walter, is pronounced goh-tee-yay or goh-tyay (remember Gotye?).
Olivier, the French form of Oliver, is pronounced oh-lee-vee-yay or oh-lee-vyay (think Laurence Olivier).
TH: The letter combination “TH” is typically pronounced like a t (which makes sense, since “H” is silent).
Thibault, the French form of Theobald, is pronounced tee-boh.
TI: The letter combination “TI” is sometimes pronounced like an s or sy.
Laëtitia is pronounced lay-tee-sya.
W: The consonant “W” is pronounced like a v.
Edwige, the French form of Hedwig, is pronounced ed-veezh.
And finally, just a few more French names that I tend to have trouble with.
Anatole is pronounced ah-nah-tohl.
Étienne, the French form of Stephen, is pronounced eh-tyen.
Geoffroy, the French form of Geoffrey, is pronounced zho-fwah.
Ghislain and Ghislaine are pronounced either ghee-len or zheez-len.
Ignace, the French form of Ignatius, is pronounced ee-nyas.
Those aren’t too hard, right?
That’s what I tell myself…and then I come across Guillaume in the wild and my mind goes blank all over again. :)
If you know French and would like to add to the above (either another rule of pronunciation or a more precise pronunciation for a particular name) please leave a comment.
If you’re not a French speaker, here’s my question: Which French name gives you the most trouble?
Atticus Finch is racist? There’s a twist no one saw coming.
Especially all the parents who were inspired by Finch — up to now, one of the most beloved characters in 20th-century American fiction — to call their sons Atticus, a name that has become quite trendy:
2014: 846 baby boys named Atticus [ranked 370th]
2013: 733 baby boys named Atticus [ranked 404th]
2012: 709 baby boys named Atticus [ranked 409th]
2011: 577 baby boys named Atticus [ranked 461st]
2010: 450 baby boys named Atticus [ranked 561st]
Bounding up the U.S. charts over the last decade, Atticus entered the top 1,000 in 2004 and the top 500 in 2011.
Then, last week, Go Set a Watchman was released. In Harper Lee’s Mockingbird sequel, Atticus makes racist comments, reads racist pamphlets, even attends a KKK meeting.
Atticus Finch — and Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winning portrayal of him — is the quintessential white savior. But the trouble with white saviors is that the story is not about those whom they’re saving. It’s about themselves.
But for the hundreds of young people who’ve been named Atticus in the last few years (and for their parents) this was an unexpected and unwelcome turn of events.
(It’s a good reminder, though, that any baby name strongly associated with just one thing — a person, a character, an entity, etc. — is a risk.)
The year is half over, but sales of Watchman are through the roof, so…what do you think will happen to usage of the baby name Atticus in 2015? Will the rise continue, but at a slower rate? Will usage level off? Will usage turn around and begin to decrease? (Could Atticus become this decade’s Hillary?)