While I was updating my unisex name page this year, I noticed a several variants of Jordan: Jordann, Jordin, Jourdan, Jourdin and Jourdyn.
Jordan itself wasn’t on the list because, in 2013, 85% of the babies named Jordan were boys and just 15% were girls. (It would have made the list from 1989 through 2007, though, as it was being given to baby girls at least 25% of the time during that period.)
The name is more male-leaning than many people assume, it seems, going by this quote from the 2006 edition of A Dictionary of First Names: “[Jordan] is more popular as a boy’s name in Britain and as a girl’s name in the United States.” Not quite — though they might have felt it was heading in that direction in 2006. Jordan’s best showing as a girl name in the U.S. was in 2002, when the split was 64% boys, 36% girls.
Interestingly, the baby name Jordan — which was popularized in the 1980s by basketball great Michael Jordan — began as dual-gender. During the Middle Ages, crusaders returning from the Middle East brought back water from the Jordan river. European babies baptized with this water were sometimes named Jordan, regardless of gender. (The river name comes from Hebrew and means “flow down” or “descend.”)
What are your thoughts on the baby name Jordan? Do you think it works better as a boy name or as a girl name?
Source: Hanks, Patrick, Kate Hardcastle and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of First Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
The 1976 movie Sparkle is set the late ’50s/early ’60s and follows three sisters — Sparkle (played by Irene Cara), Sister and Delores — as they form a girl group and try to find fame. It’s loosely based on the story of the Supremes, though set in Harlem instead of Detroit.
Did Sparkle have an influence on U.S. baby names? Yes — the baby name Sparkle, bestowed infrequently before the release of the movie, was given to dozens (and, later, hundreds) of baby girls starting in the mid-1970s:
1980: 110 baby girls named Sparkle
1979: 125 baby girls named Sparkle
1978: 71 baby girls named Sparkle
1977: 89 baby girls named Sparkle
1976: 44 baby girls named Sparkle
1975: not listed
And actress Dwan Smith, who portrayed Delores in the film, boosted the visibility (and usage) of the baby name Dwan:
1978: 39 baby girls named Dwan
1977: 61 baby girls named Dwan
1976: 47 baby girls named Dwan
1975: 12 baby girls named Dwan
Lately, Sparkle’s numbers have been much less impressive…but that could soon change, as a remake of Sparkle starring Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks is set to be released on August 17.
Tika is another Sparkle name we should watch for. Delores is played by Tika Sumpter in the remake, so it’s possible that Tika could get a boost in 2012 the way Dwan did in 1976.
Do you think the new movie could spark a Sparkle comeback? Could Tika take off?
P.S. Tika Sumpter’s birth name was Euphemia. Ironically, the sisters’ mother in the movie was named Effie — a nickname for Euphemia. (And Effie was played by actress Mary Alice, whose mother had the very interesting name Ozelar.)