For Wendy Osefo, being named after a popular fast food restaurant chain is a constant reminder of her family’s hard work and success.
“My parents came to this country with nothing. My dad worked at a fast food restaurant and one day he found out that he was being promoted to manager,” Wendy recalled on The Real Housewives of Potomac‘s November 8 episode. “He was so happy that to thank this country for giving him the opportunity to be a manager, he named his second daughter after that restaurant: Wendy.”
She added, “I am literally the embodiment of the American dream.”
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask returns Saturday to his home state of Texas, where he will play on the field he was named after.
His parents both went to Texas A&M, so he grew up an Aggies fan.
His father, Micheal Trask, and mother, Melissa Charba, both attended the school in the late 1980’s. When they welcomed their second son on March 6, 1998, his first name came from A&M’s football stadium.
“My mom and dad were Aggies, so they named me after Kyle Field,” Trask revealed Monday. “My whole family is full of Aggies.”
The story of his own life began on the Subic Bay Naval Station in the Philippines, where he was born Louis Diamond Upchurch in 1962. His interesting name has an interesting back story: His father, Gerald, named him after U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Leland “Lou” Diamond (known as “Mr. Leatherneck,” he is considered one of the finest Marines of all time); after his dad died, Phillips took his stepfather, George’s last name.
The inevitable question that the Tilton School’s 6-foot-5-inch, 190-pound shooting guard has heard countless times before: Are you named after that Terence Mann?
“Most people think it’s from the movie ‘Field of Dreams,'” which featured a character portrayed by actor James Earl Jones, explained the junior, who, when not attending the boarding school in New Hampshire, lives in Lowell with his mother, Daynia La-Force, and 15-year-old brother, Martin. “But my grandma’s name is Terancia, and they named me after her.”
It’s a name that makes you wonder. Run into Gurf Morlix in album credits for Peter Case or in a concert review of Warren Zevon, and you imagine one of two things. Either he’s a refugee from some republic trying to secede from the Soviet Union, or else he’s hopelessly addicted to science fiction novels.
In truth, he’s an emigrant from one of Buffalo’s ostensibly normal suburbs — Hamburg — and, if anything, he looks a bit English as he talks over a plate of pasta fazool in his favorite hometown restaurant.
“A friend of mine changed it for me,” he responds in answer to the name question. “It was kind of a stupid thing. I dreamed this name when I was 13 years old and I told my friend about it and he said, ‘Well, I’ll never call you anything else.’ And then everybody did.”
“What are the names of those mountains?” I ask Michael, bear biologist and de facto trailblazer, as I gesture at a sweeping wall of wild windswept cliffs.
“I don’t think they have names,” Michael answers, smiling when he sees my astonishment. “A lot of mountains in Katmai are unnamed.”
I was thunderstruck by the concept. These peaks are as magnificent as any in the lower 48, each with its own striking contours, but they had no known name attached to them. Throughout the park are mountains that may never have one. My first reaction was one of awe: here is a place so wild that massive features are untouched by the human predilection for labels. My second reaction carried a hint of melancholy: these remarkable forms felt strangely underappreciated, no title to lend them texture and personality.
As I sit on a ridgeline drenched with tiny pink alpine azaleas and a host of other curious forms of tundra life, I consider that it is perhaps better for some mountains to remain ever-nameless, at least officially. Names carry a tremendous amount of power. Cultures across the world affix the act of naming with spiritual weight. Consider Mount Solstice: one could just as easily name this mass Butterfly Hill, Stormclaw, or Timothy, and each would lend different shadings to how we interpret the location, each would shape how we consider it. Can a name really capture the essence of such a place? Do we pay more attention when we cannot neatly affix a place by a pin and conveniently categorize it?
The uncommon name Esai debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1987:
1990: 22 baby boys named Esai
1989: 34 baby boys named Esai
1988: 33 baby boys named Esai
1987: 14 baby boys named Esai [debut]
Where did it come from?
Actor Esai (pronounced ee-sie) Morales, who was one of the stars of the 1987 movie La Bamba.
The movie was a biopic of rock and roll pioneer Richard Valenzuela, popularly known as Ritchie Valens (played by Lou Diamond Phillips). Esai played Ritchie’s brash older brother, Bob Morales. (The characters had different fathers, which accounts for the different surnames.)
Esai Morales, born in New York and of Puerto Rican descent, inherited his first name from his own father. The name is thought to be based on Esaias, which is a form of the Biblical name Isaiah (meaning “Yahweh is salvation” in Hebrew).
Interestingly, the character’s surname being “Morales” like his own was a factor in Esai’s decision to take the part. At the time, he was trying to choose between the role in La Bamba and a role in the Steven Spielberg movie Batteries Not Included, which he assumed would be an “instant hit.”
And I just thought to myself, there’s the commercial-looking success thing, but then there’s this thing that tugs at my heart. It made me cry. I read the story and, like, I had tears streaming down my face. […] And I saw a character with my name on it. Literally, it had my name on it. You don’t see great roles oftentime with Latino names, much less your own. You know, so I was like, you know, I’m gonna roll the dice with this one. And I think I made the right decision.
I publish a set of name rankings every week, but I don’t post many U.S. state-released rankings anymore. Why? Because the SSA’s yearly dataset always includes a state-by-state breakdown, and the SSA’s data tends to be basically equivalent to what each state releases.
Except for…Iowa! I totally forgot last year to check up on Iowa, the only state I know of to release full sets of baby name data. (Bravo, Iowa!) The last Iowa rankings I posted were for 2016, so, in this post, to catch up, I’ll be covering two years at once.
First up, 2017.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the most popular baby names in the state in 2017 were Emma and Oliver.
Here are Iowa’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2017:
Girl Names, 2017
Emma, 175 baby girls
Amelia & Nora, tied, 127 each
Boy Names, 2017
Oliver, 219 baby boys
Owen & Wyatt, tied, 151 each
In the girls’ top 10, Scarlett and Elizabeth replaced Addison and Grace. (The SSA’s data for 2017 was similar, but had Harper in first place.)
In the boys’ top 10, James and Logan replaced Jackson.
And here are some of the names bestowed just once in Iowa in 2017:
“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.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).