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Popularity of the Baby Name Neil

Number of Babies Named Neil

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Neil

Name Quotes #54: Roella, Rumi, Tsh

splash, movie, quote, quotation, madison, 1980s

From the 1984 movie Splash, the character Allen (Tom Hanks) talking with his then-nameless lady friend (Daryl Hannah) as they walk around NYC:

Woman: “What are English names?”

Allen: “Well, there’s millions of them, I guess. Jennifer, Joanie, Hilary. (Careful, hey, those are hot!) See names, names… Linda, Kim– (Where are we? Madison.) Uh, Elizabeth, Samantha–”

Woman: “Madison…I like Madison!”

Allen: “Madison’s not a name… Well, all right, ok, Madison it is. Good thing we weren’t at 149th Street.”

Jay-Z on the names of his twins, Rumi and Sir, from a recent Rap Radar interview (via People):

“Rumi is our favorite poet, so it was for our daughter,” he shared. “Sir was like, man, come out the gate. He carries himself like that. He just came out, like, Sir.”

From a 2016 interview with Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander in the Tampa Bay Times:

In the early ’90s, he and wife, Pam, who grew up in Pinellas County, settled down in the Sunshine State, drawn by family ties and the promise of a nice, safe community in which to raise their son, Robin Taylor, now 23, and daughter, Robin-Sailor, 15. (Zander’s go-to line about his kids’ quirky names: “My wife just calls us Robin, and we all come running.”)

From a 2009 review of the book Looking In, about photographer Robert Frank:

On November 7 1955, part-way through a two-year, Guggenheim-funded voyage around America, the photographer Robert Frank was arrested by Arkansas state police who suspected he was a communist. Their reasons: he was a shabbily dressed foreigner, he was Jewish, he had letters of reference from people with Russian-sounding names, he had photographed the Ford plant, possessed foreign whisky and his children had foreign names (Pablo and Andrea).

From an article called This Is The Biggest Influence On Baby Names:

[Neil] Burdess says most parents’ baby-name decisions are shaped by affluent, highly educated families who live near them, rather than prominent figures in pop culture.

[…]

He cites research conducted in California in the 1960s, which found that names adopted by high-income, highly educated parents are soon embraced by those lower down the socioeconomic ladder.

From a 2015 obituary of movie star Rex Reason:

Contrary to what one might think, Rex Reason was his birth name, not one dreamed up by a Hollywood executive. Universal Pictures, in fact, had billed him as “Bart Roberts” in a couple of films before he insisted on being credited with his real name.

From a 1998 obituary of surfer Rell Sunn:

There seemed to be a bit of destiny attached. Her middle name, Ka-polioka’ehukai, means Heart of the Sea.

“Most Hawaiian grandparents name you before you’re born,” she says. “They have a dream or something that tells them what the name will be.” Hawaiians also have a knack for giving people rhythmic, dead-on nicknames, and for young Rell they had a beauty: Rella Propella.

“My godmother called me that because I was always moving so fast,” says Rell. “To this day, people think my real name is Rella. Actually I was born Roella, a combination of my parents’ names: Roen and Elbert. But I hated it, and no one used it, so I changed it to Rell.”

From a blog post by Jason Fisher on naming practices in Nigeria:

When [Kelechi Eke] was born, his mother experienced dangerous complications, which his parents acknowledged in his naming. In Igbo, Kelechi means “thank God”, and Eke means “creation”. The usual Igbo name for God, Chineke, means literally, “God of Creation”, and you can see both elements (chi + eke) in his two names. When K.C.’s own son was born, it was in the wake of difficulties in bringing his wife to the United States; consequently, they chose the name Oluchi, meaning “God’s work”, suggesting their gratitude that the immigration problems were resolved before his mother went into labor.

From the about page of writer Tsh Oxenreider:

My name is Tsh Oxenreider, and no, my name is not a typo (one of the first things people ask). It’s pronounced “Tish.” No reason, really, except that my parents were experimental with their names choices in the 70s. Until my younger brother was born in the 80s, whom they named Josh, quite possibly one of the most common names for people his age. Who knows what they were thinking, really.

Want to see more quotes about names? Check out the name quotes category.


Where Did the Baby Name Geddy Come From?

geddy lee, rush,
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2004

Last weekend, the Toronto Zoo announced that its three capybara pups would be named Geddy, Alex, and Neil in honor of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart — the three members of the legendary Canadian rock band Rush.

Vocalist Geddy Lee was born Gary Lee in Toronto in 1953 to parents Morris and Manya Weinrib, Holocaust survivors from Poland. Here’s how the name “Gary” morphed into the name “Geddy”:

“Okay, it’s like the same story of Leave it to Beaver. The story goes: my mother is Polish and she has a very thick accent. When I was about twelve years old, I had a friend who, whenever he heard my mother pronounce my name, he thought she was calling me, ‘Geddy.’ He started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually, all of my friends started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually my mother started to call me ‘Geddy,’ for real. And eventually, I changed my name legally to ‘Geddy,’ so that’s the story and that’s my name, Geddy.”

So have any human pups ever been named for Geddy Lee? Yup–so many that we can see them in the data. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, when Rush was a fixture on the Billboard charts, Geddy started appearing on the U.S. baby name charts:

  • 1984: 9 baby boys named Geddy
  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: 14 baby boys named Geddy
  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 5 baby boys named Geddy [debut]
  • 1978: unlisted

Since then, at least 175 U.S. babies have been named Geddy.

And that’s how a Canadian prog rock band turned “Geddy” — a Polish mispronunciation of Gary — into an American baby name. :)

(Kinda reminds me of the mondegreen Kasara…)

If you were having a son, and you had to name him either Gary or Geddy, which would you choose? Why?

Sources: Toronto’s ‘capybaby’ triplets named after famous rock trio Rush, Geddy Lee: The Reluctant Rockstar (originally in Bass Frontiers Magazine)

P.S. Here’s that Leave it to Beaver story.

Name Quotes for the Weekend #32

Thana, cover of LIFE, 1947

Happy Friday! Here’s another batch of random, name-related quotes to end the week…

From the description of the December 15, 1947, cover of LIFE magazine:

Among the prettiest showgirls in New York’s nightclubs are (from left) brunette Dawn McInerney, red-haired Thana Barclay and blond Joy Skylar who all work in the Latin Quarter. […] Thana, also 22, was named after her mother’s favorite poem Thanatopsis. She is married to a song plugger named Duke Niles and owns a dachshund named Bagel.

The poem “Thanatopsis” was written by William Cullen Bryant. The word itself means “a view or contemplation of death.” In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the god of death.

From the All Music Guide to Hip-hop by Vladimir Bogdanov:

Ginuwine was born in Washington, D.C., on October 15, 1975, with the unlikely name of Elgin Baylor Lumpkin (after D.C.-born Basketball Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor).

Elgin Baylor, born in 1934, was named after the Elgin National Watch Company. (He’s on my Long List of Unusual Real Names.)

From “The Art Of Knowing When Less Is More” by Greg Dawson, published in the Orlando Sentinel in 1997:

Fellow immigrants…Here is proof that we need that national “conversation about race” urged by President Clinton: Last week in a whimsical moment I argued that official hurricane names are too “white bread” (like Greg) and don’t reflect America’s ethnic stew. To make my point I looked at the births page of the Sentinel for names that you never see attached to a hurricane — names such as Attaliah, Desjambra, Ofori. A reader called to complain about the “white bread” line and added, “A lot of those names aren’t even American.”

“Excuse me,” I said, “but they were born in this country. They’re just as American as you and me.”

“You know what I mean,” he said.

Yes, unfortunately, I think I do.

From The Making of Cabaret by Keith Garebian, regarding the name of English actress Valerie Jill Haworth, who was born on Victory over Japan Day (Aug. 15, 1945):

The initials of her baptismal names (Valerie Jill) were in honor of her birth on VJ Day.

Related: American actress Robin Vee Strasser was born on Victory in Europe Day.

A quote from Freddie Prinze, Jr., in the documentary Misery Loves Comedy (sent to me by Anna of Waltzing More Than Matilda):

“When you’re a Junior you’re pretty much just a statue to what went before.”

From “My Daughter Will Be Named Ruby Daffodil” in US magazine article

Back when Drew Barrymore was only 20 years old, she already had a name picked out for her future child.

During an interview with Rolling Stone in June 1995, Barrymore opened up about her relationship at the time with Hole musician Eric Erlandson.

[…]

“I never thought I’d have a sense of family until I had my own kids. I want two: a boy and a girl,” she revealed. “My daughter will be named Ruby Daffodil.”

Today she has two daughters, neither of whom are named Ruby Daffodil. The first was named Olive and the second Frankie.

From “The History Of How “Cow Poop” Became A Real-Life Japanese Family Name” by Mami of the blog Tofugu:

There are some Japanese family names that are so ridiculous that I’m forced to believe that someone was playing some kind of horrible family prank when they named themselves. Cow Poop (Ushikuso), Horse-Butt (Umajiri), and Boar-Crotch (Inomata/Imata) are actual people in Japan. If they wanted a memorable name, they’ve certainly achieved it, but I can’t imagine what it’s like to grow up with a name like that as a child.

From the “Name Wisely” section of “8 Tips for Creating Great Stories” by Hugh Hart of Fast Company:

Fantasy novelist Neil Gaiman stresses the importance of a good name in describing the genesis of his American Gods protagonist. “There’s a magic to names, after all,” he says. “I knew his name [needed to be] descriptive. I tried calling him Lazy, but he didn’t seem to like that, and I called him Jack, and he didn’t like that any better. I took to trying every name I ran into on him for size, and he looked back at me from somewhere in my head unimpressed every time. It was like trying to name Rumpelstiltskin.”

He finally discovered the name, Shadow, in an Elvis Costello song. (American Gods will be on TV soon…will we soon be seeing more babies named Shadow?)

Baby Names from ‘American Gods’?

Neil Gaiman’s award-winning book American Gods is going to be made into a TV series. Here’s a quick synopsis, courtesy of Nerdist:

For those of you who haven’t read the novel, American Gods centers around a war brewing between old and new gods; the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world, who are now steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity, and drugs. The lead character, Shadow Moon, is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday. Mr. Wednesday is a con man who is in reality one of the older gods on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.

I don’t know when the show will be on the air (2016?) but Shadow’s name is already being thrown around a lot on social media, thanks to the #CastingShadow social media campaign.

Do you think we’ll see an uptick in the number of babies named Shadow the year the show comes out?

(At least two other Gaiman character names, Coraline and Yvaine, saw increased usage after the books Stardust and Coraline were made into movies.)

Source: Starz Greenlights Neil Gaiman’s American Gods Television Series

The Baby Name Coraline

CoralineNeil Gaiman’s fantasy book Coraline (2002) tells the story of young Coraline Jones. The book was turned into a movie in 2009.

The book did inspire a few baby names, but watch what happens when the movie comes out:

  • 2013: 385 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2012: 325 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2011: 224 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2010: 237 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2009: 120 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2008: 11 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2007: 5 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2006: 7 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2005: unlisted

Since 2012, the name Coraline has been among the top 1,000 baby girl names in the U.S.

How did Gaiman come up with the name? Here’s what he said in his recent University of the Arts Class of 2012 commencement speech [9:17 to 9:43]:

Fourthly, I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you make mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be very useful. I once misspelled Caroline in a letter, transposing the A and O. And I thought, “Coraline…looks almost like a real name.”

(h/t Tim Ferriss)

Related: Yvaine is another Neil Gaiman character name.