Where did “Nasiriyah” come from, and what happened in 2003 to draw people’s attention to it?
It came from the city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. The city was founded and named after a local sheikh name Nasir in the 1870s. (The Arabic name Nasir means “helper.”)
The event that introduced Nasiriyah to the American public was the Iraq War (which overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein and, thereby, had an influence on Iraqi baby names). The Battle of Nasiriyah, one of the first major battles of the war, was fought between U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces and lasted from March 23 to April 2.
(One of the female soldiers involved in the battle, Jessica Lynch, had a baby girl in 2007 and gave her the middle name Ann in honor of Lori Ann Piestewa, the first woman in the U.S. military killed in the Iraq War.)
What do you think of Nasiriyah as a baby name? Do you like it more or less than the similar names Nayirah and Nasiya?
Gloria: A baby girl born in St. Louis on June 12 — minutes before the start of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, which was won by St. Louis — was named Vivian LeAnne Gloria Moore, second middle name in honor of the Blues’ season anthem, “Gloria.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Google: A baby boy born in Indonesia in November of 2018 was given the single name Google because his father hoped he would be “useful” to people, as Google is. The father chose not to add a surname so that “the essence” of the name would not be diluted. (Mirror)
Hayes and Jersey: Twins born in Winnipeg to NHL player Dale Weise in April of 2019 were named Hayes (boy) and Jersey (girl). Hayes was named for country singer Hunter Hayes and Jersey was named for the state of New Jersey. (NHL.com)
Lea: A baby girl born in Pittsburgh on May 3 was named Noa Lea, middle name in honor of Lori Gilbert-Kaye (Hebrew name: Leah bat Reuven), who was murdered in a synagogue shooting in California in April. (Chabad)
Narendra Modi: A baby boy born in India on May 23 — the day Narendra Modi’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was victorious in India’s general election — was named Narendra Modi. (Khaleej Times)
Pink: A baby girl born at a Pink concert in Liverpool on June 25 was named Dolly Pink. (EW)
Xale: A baby girl born in Belgium on April 19 was named Xale. She has eight older siblings: Alex (age 11), Axel (10), Xela (8), Lexa (7), Xael (6), Xeal (5), Exla (3) and Leax (2). (Tagtik)
Just remember that the SSA data doesn’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t reflect reality all that well.
Same format as usual: Girl names on the left, boy names on the right. Numbers represent single-year decreases in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, usage of the girl name Mary dropped by 146 babies and usage of the boy name William dropped by 1,008 babies.
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and will write about others in the future. In the meanwhile, feel free to beat me to it! Comment below with the backstory on the fall of Shirley in the late ’30s, Linda in the early ’50s, etc.
“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.
In 2008, psychologists Jesse Chandler, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen published a study showing that people who shared an initial with a hurricane name were over-represented among hurricane relief donors. So, for instance, people with R-names donated significantly more than other people to Hurricane Rita relief efforts. (This is an offshoot of the name-letter effect.)
A few years later, marketing professor Adam Alter came up with an interesting idea: Why not use this knowledge to try to maximize donations to hurricane relief efforts? He explained:
In the United States, for example, more than 10% of all males have names that begin with the letter J-names like James and John (the two most common male names), Joseph and Jose, Jason, and Jeffrey. Instead of beginning just one hurricane name with the letter J each year (in 2013, that name will be Jerry), the World Meteorological Organization could introduce several J names each year. Similarly, more American female names begin with M than any other letter–most of them Marys, Marias, Margarets, Michelles, and Melissas–so the Organization could introduce several more M names to each list.
I think his idea is a good one overall. It wouldn’t cost much to implement, but could potentially benefit many hurricane victims.
I would go about choosing the names differently, though.
Repeating initials multiple times within a single hurricane season would be unwise, for instance. It would cause confusion, which would undermine the reason we started naming hurricanes in the first place (“for people easily to understand and remember” them, according to the WMO).
But optimizing the name lists using data on real-life usage? That would be smart.
The baby boomers were born from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, so here are the top initials for babies born in 1956 (60 years ago):
Here are two possible lists of hurricane names using the above letters. I stuck with the WMO’s conventions: 21 names total, alternating genders, and no retired names.
And here’s another point: we wouldn’t want to assign these names in order. While the official hurricane season lasts a full six months — June to November — most hurricane activity happens in August, September and October:
To really optimize, we’d want to reserve the top initials/names for the stronger mid-season hurricanes, which tend to do the most damage. So we could start the season using mid-list names, then jump to the top of the list when August comes around and go in order from that point forward (skipping over any mid-list names that had already been used).
What are your thoughts on assigning hurricane names with disaster relief in mind? Do you think it could work? What strategy/formula would you use to select relief-optimized hurricane names?