Last week, Becca commented with some interesting Jeopardy! contestant names (e.g., Hobie, Dorcas) and mentioned J! Archive, which lists tens of thousands of Jeopardy! contestants going back to 1984, when the show premiered.
I skimmed through all the contestants from 1984 to 2015 (as we don’t have baby name data for 2016 yet) and spotted hundreds of unusual names. And it looks like at least two of them got a boost thanks to the show:
One-time player Alancia Wynn, a family practice physician from Virginia, was on Jeopardy! in October of 1999.
The name Brannon saw an increase in usage in 1998:
1999: 118 baby boys named Brannon
1998: 158 baby boys named Brannon
1997: 113 baby boys named Brannon
One-time player Brannon Denning, a graduate student from Connecticut, was on Jeopardy! in September of 1998. (Looks like Brannon Denning is now a law professor at Samford University.)
Alaric & Ezgi …?
These two names may have gotten a slight boost as well, though it’s hard to tell.
Alaric, in 2005. One-time player Alaric Smith was on the show in October of 2005.
Ezgi, in 2015. One-time player Ezgi Ustundag was on the show in October of 2015.
Ezgi is a female name that means “melody” in Turkish.
Anjali (false positive)
“Kids Week” contestant Anjali Tripathi was on the show in September of 1999. The same year, the baby name Anjali more than doubled in usage:
2001: 222 baby girls named Anjali
2000: 230 baby girls named Anjali
1999: 202 baby girls named Anjali
1998: 93 baby girls named Anjali
1997: 80 baby girls named Anjali
But this was a suspiciously steep rise. And it was accompanied by the debut of an alternate spelling (Anjalie). And usage didn’t drop back to normal levels the next year, as one would expect. These facts pointed me to something more high-profile than a Jeopardy! contestant.
Turns out the very successful Hindi coming-of-age romantic comedy Kuch Kuch Hota Hai had been released in 1998. The movie featured not one but two main characters named Anjali.
Here are the rest of the names that caught my eye, sorted by year:
In 2015, Emma replaced Lea as the top girl name, William joined Thomas as the top boy name, Beatrice replaced Charlie in the girls’ top 10, and Noah replaced Olivier in the boy’s top 10. (Here are the 2014 rankings.)
[UPDATE, May 2017 – The Quebec rankings for 2015 have since been updated and it looks like William has pulled ahead of Thomas to become the sole #1 name.]
Of all 9,096 girl names on Quebec’s list in 2015, 74.5% of them were used a single time. Here are some of the unique girl names:
Allegresse – the French word allégresse means “joy, elation.”
Confiance – the French word confiance means “confidence, trust.”
Exaucee – the French verb exaucer means “to grant a wish.”
Garance – the French word garance refers to a shade of red created from the root of the madder plant.
I didn’t see this in time to post it on Thanksgiving, so I’ll post it on Christmas instead.
A month ago, Richard Chin of the Pioneer Press interviewed Minnesotans with holiday-inspired names. Most of the names were Christmas-related (Christmas Eve, Mary Christmas, Merry Eve) but the one that caught my eye was Happy Thanksgiving.
How did Dr. Happy Thanksgiving Reynolds, a Minneapolis woman born in 1970, come by her unusual name?
“I was the child of hippies,” Reynolds said. And not just the occasional bell-bottom, bead-wearing hippies, according to Reynolds. They were a hard-core, tofu-making, co-op founding couple who didn’t have a name picked out for their new baby because they believed in letting the universe help choose the name on the day of her birth.
“It was total universe magic time for them,” Reynolds said.
So when the day happened to be Thanksgiving, the universe seemed to be deciding that Reynolds’ first and middle names should be Happy Thanksgiving. The first snowfall of the season also occurred that day, Reynolds said.
“I narrowly missed the name Snow,” she said.
How does Happy Thanksgiving like her name?
Reynolds said her name has been an “unintentional gift.”
She isn’t shy about using her full name in her professional life. After medical school, “I said, ‘You know what, I’m Dr. Happy Thanksgiving Reynolds.’ That’s just who I am.”
She’s gotten job interviews because people want to meet someone named Happy Thanksgiving. “I’m someone you’re not going to forget based on the name,” she said.
I’ve found other people named Thanksgiving — one went by the cute nickname Givie — but Reynolds is the only Happy Thanksgiving I know of.