How popular is the baby name Jeanette in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Jeanette.
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“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
First of all, yes, Aquanette is a name. At least 22 Aquanettes have been born in the U.S. so far:
1974: 6 baby girls named Aquanette
1972: 5 baby girls named Aquanette
1966: 6 baby girls named Aquanette
1958: 5 baby girls named Aquanette [debut]
Second of all, yes, Aqua Net Hair Spray has been around since the 1950s. I don’t know exactly which year it was introduced, but I’ve seen Aqua Net ads in newspapers from as early as 1956.
So…is there a connection between the name and the product? Did people see Aqua Net in their local drugstores and say to themselves, “Now that would make a great name for a baby!”
Probably not. And here’s why.
Back in the 1940s and early 1950s, there was a string of campy B-movies that starred an actress named Burnu Acquanetta, sometimes billed simply as Acquanetta. She played an ape-woman in Captive Wild Woman (1943) and Jungle Woman (1944), a leopard-woman in Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946), and a native girl in Lost Continent (1951).
The name Acquanetta debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in the 1944:
1953: 19 baby girls named Acquanetta
1952: 29 baby girls named Acquanetta
1951: 17 baby girls named Acquanetta
1950: 11 baby girls named Acquanetta
1949: 9 baby girls named Acquanetta
1948: 12 baby girls named Acquanetta
1947: 5 baby girls named Acquanetta
1946: 13 baby girls named Acquanetta
1945: 6 baby girls named Acquanetta
1944: 6 baby girls named Acquanetta [debut]
At the height of the name’s popularity in the early 1950s, the variants Aquanetta and Acquanette popped up. And later in the decade, Aquanette appeared. So I think it’s far more likely that the first Aquanettes were named with Acquanetta (and perhaps fashionable -ette names like Annette and Jeanette) in mind, and not after the hair spray.
But then that leaves us with another mystery: Where does “Acquanetta” come from?
A LIFE article from 1942 stated that both of Acquanetta’s parents were Native American and that her surname meant “laughing water.” Her 2004 obituary in The Independent says she claimed to be “part-Arapaho Indian and part-English aristocrat” and that her name means “burning fire, deep water.”
But a Jet article from the early ’50s tells us the truth: Burnu Acquanetta’s legal name was Mildred Davenport. Census records show that she was born in South Carolina and raised in Pennsylvania. (So was her brother, Horace, who became the first black judge of Montgomery County, PA.)
So the stage names “Burnu” and “Acquanetta” aren’t genuine Native American names at all, but fanciful creations based on the words burn and aqua. They must have sounded exotic enough to pass as Native American back in the 1940s, though.