Yesterday we looked at the baby name Laura, which saw a curious dip in usage from 1965 to 1967:
You know what was happening at the very same time? A drastic increase in the usage of the very similar name Lara, which suddenly jumped into the top 1,000 in 1966:
Here’s the data, side-by-side:
Laura usage (rank)
Lara usage (rank)
18,743 baby girls (11th)
1,295 baby girls (227th)
15,817 baby girls (15th)
945 baby girls (277th)
15,549 baby girls (19th)
236 baby girls (618th)
16,213 baby girls (18th)
65 baby girls (1,376th)
18,974 baby girls (14th)
57 baby girls (1,512th)
So…what caused Lara to suddenly skyrocket (and thereby steal some of Laura’s thunder)?
The film Doctor Zhivago, which was released at the very end of 1965 and which, accounting for inflation, currently ranks as the eighth highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S.
Doctor Zhivago, based on the 1957 Boris Pasternak novel of the same name, was a drama set in Russia during the early 1900s — primarily around the time of WWI and the Russian Revolution. The main character was married physician/poet Yuri Zhivago (played by Omar Sharif), who was having an affair with Larisa “Lara” Antipova (played by Julie Christie), the wife of a political activist.
But it was more than just the character — we can’t ignore the influence of the film’s leitmotif “Lara’s Theme.” After Doctor Zhivago came out, it was turned into a Grammy-winning pop song, “Somewhere, My Love,” that name-checked the character in the lyrics:
Lara, my own, think of me now and then Godspeed, my love, till you are mine again
Renditions of both versions of the song ended up peaking on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” list during the summer of 1966: Ray Conniff’s “Somewhere, My Love” at #9, and Roger Williams’ “Lara’s Theme” at #65.
Ironically, the names Lara and Laura are not related. Laura comes from the Latin name Laurus, meaning “laurel,” whereas the Russian name Lara is a short form of the Greek myth name Larisa, which may have been inspired by the ancient city of Larisa.
The movie also seems to have given a boost to the name Yuri (which had debuted a few years earlier thanks to cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin). And it must be connected somehow to the 1980 debut of the one-hit wonder nameZhivago. (Perhaps it was airing on TV around that time?) “Zhivago” isn’t a Russian surname, incidentally — it’s a Church Slavonic word meaning “the living.”
Getting back to Lara…the name’s popularity declined after the 1960’s, but, so far, it has never dropped out of the top 1,000. (The uptick in usage in 2001-2002 corresponds to the release of the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which starred Angelina Jolie.)
Now let’s try a poll: Which name do you prefer, Lara or Laura? Give me your reasons in the comments!
The following baby names add up to 155, which reduces to two (1+5+5=11; 1+1=2).
“155” boy names: Krystopher, Chrystopher, Muhammadmustafa
What Does “2” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “2” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “2” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“2” (the dyad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“The dyad is the first to have separated itself from the monad, whence also it is called ‘daring. ‘ For when the monad manifests unification, the dyad steals in and manifests separation.”
“Among the virtues, they liken it to courage: for it has already advanced into action. Hence too they used to call it ‘daring’ and ‘impulse.'”
“They also gave it the title of ‘opinion,’ because truth and falsity lie in opinion. And they called it ‘movement,’ ‘generation,’ ‘change,’ ‘division,’ ‘length,’ ‘multiplication,’ ‘addition,’ ‘kinship,’ ‘relativity,’ ‘the ratio in proportionality.’ For the relation of two numbers is of every conceivable form.”
“Apart from recklessness itself, they think that, because it is the very first to have endured separation, it deserves to be called ‘anguish,’ ‘endurance’ and ‘hardship.'”
“From division into two, they call it ‘justice’ (as it were ‘dichotomy’)”
“And they call it ‘Nature,’ since it is movement towards being and, as it were, a sort of coming-to-be and extension from a seed principle”
“Equality lies in this number alone…the product of its multiplication will be equal to the sum of its addition: for 2+2=2×2. Hence they used to call it ‘equal.'”
“It also turns out to be ‘infinity,’ since it is difference, and difference starts from its being set against 1 and extends to infinity.”
“The dyad, they say, is also called ‘Erato’; for having attracted through love the advance of the monad as form, it generates the rest of the results, starting with the triad and tetrad.”
“2” according to Edgar Cayce:
“Two – divided” (reading 261-14).
“Two – the combination, and begins a division of the whole, or the one. While two makes for strength, it also makes for weakness” (reading 5751-1).
Does “2” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 38, 47, 83, 101) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe you like how “101” reminds you of education and learning new things, for example.
Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.
If you have any interesting insights about the number 2, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
When my mother was pregnant with me, she and my father read La montaña es algo más que una inmensa estepa verde, Omar Cabezas’ personal account of his time living with Sandinista guerrilla revolutionaries in the Cordillera Isabelia, a mountain range in Nicaragua. Today I choose to do justice to the radical provenance of my name, after years of subjecting myself to mispronunciations, ultracorrections, and the bulldozing erasure that accompanies nicknames. […] Because I’m not Izzy or Isa, I’m Isabelia.
From an article about the Fultz sisters, Americas first identical African-American quadruplets (b. 1946):
“The doctor took it upon himself to name the girls — all of them Mary, followed by the names of the women in the Klenner family. There was Ann, for the doctor’s wife; Louise, his daughter; Alice, his aunt; and Catherine, his great-aunt.
To the delivery nurse, who is black, it didn’t seem strange.
“At that time, you know, it was before integration,” Margaret Ware, 79, recalled recently. “They did us how they wanted. And these were very poor people. He was a sharecropper, Pete [Mr. Fultz] was, and she [Mrs. Fultz] couldn’t read or write.
Charlie was our choice. Not the most “out there” name in the world, but also not too overused or common. I honestly did not see why it was so very controversial. But they hated it. With a passion.
And they weren’t afraid to tell us. At the dinner table. At the restaurant. And even the day before Charlie was born.
Maybe they didn’t realize how hurtful it might be? Maybe they thought the name was so atrocious that they had to say something or else our kid would live a life of ridicule and pain? I just don’t freaking know.
While in recent years Utah has garnered attention for spelling names in more unique (or tortuous) ways, Utah has actually been the trendsetter within the United States in naming kids for a century
For many names, popularity hits Utah typically five or so years before elsewhere in the country. In some cases, like Evan, names are popular only in Utah for decades before they gain national traction.
For a tropical cyclone with wind speeds that could reach up to 150 kmph and has forced the evacuation of three lakh people in the Odisha coastline, Titli — meaning butterfly — is a surprisingly delicate name.
“Especially in the Midwest, when they heard my name was Jihad the first thing that appeared to their minds was the image of suicide bombers, and the jihadists that attack the army in Afghanistan or Iraq.”
[Jihad Abdo, one of Syria’s best-known actors], whose most popular TV show had an audience of 50 million, simply couldn’t catch a break in Los Angeles. He suffered through 100 failed auditions and scraped by delivering pizza for Domino’s.
He realised that to keep his career, he would have to lose his name.
He considered Jude, but settled on the name Jay – simple, innocuous – American.
Things changed overnight, “because Jay for them is a lovely guy – it brings to them Jay Leno or… lovely people – people they are comfortable with. It doesn’t create any ‘sensitivity’, let’s say.”
Yes, this Asian outpost of Maine food and culture is named after that Cabot Cove. The one where the fictitious mystery writer Jessica Fletcher (played by Angela Lansbury from 1984 to 1996 on CBS) solved so many crimes that in 2012 researchers declared if the town were real, it would have the world’s highest murder rate.
It turns out that re-runs of “Murder, She Wrote” – or “Jessica Obasan no Jikenbo,” which translates to “Auntie Jessica’s Case Files” – were also must-see TV in Japan. Kiyoto and Keiko Deguchi, the owners of Cabot Cove restaurant, are big fans.
On the hunt for a rare girl name with a retro feel?
Here’s a big batch of uncommon female S-names that are associated in some way with early cinema (i.e., each is either a character name or an actress name).
For those that have had enough usage to appear in the national data, I’ve included links to popularity graphs.
Saba Saba Raleigh was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in England in 1867. Her birth name was Isabel Pauline Ellissen. Saba was also a character played by actress Myrta Bonillas in the film The Claw (1927).
Sabra Sabra de Shon was an actress who appeared in one film in 1915. She was born in Massachusetts in 1850. Sabra was also a character name in multiple films, including Cimarron (1931) and A Man Betrayed (1941).
Salomy Salomy was a character name in multiple films, including Salomy Jane (1914) and Wild Girl (1932).
Salti Salti was a character played by actress Beatie Olna Travers in the film A Romance of Old Baghdad (1922).
Samanthy Samanthy was a character name in multiple films, including The Uneven Balance (short, 1914) and The Lonesome Heart (1915).
Samaran Samaran was a character played by actress Julia Faye in the film Fool’s Paradise (1921).
Sanchia Sanchia Percival was a character played by actress Dorinea Shirley in the film Open Country (1922).
Sari Sari Maritza (SHA-ree MAR-ee-tsa) was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s. She was born in China in 1910. Her birth name was Patricia Detering-Nathan. Sari was also a character name in multiple films, including The Virgin of Stamboul (1920) and The Stolen Bride (1927).
Sigrid Sigrid Holmquist was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in Sweden in 1899. Sigrid was also a character name in multiple films, including Transatlantic (1931) and I Remember Mama (1948).
Years ago I posted about Livonia, a baby both born on and named after a Pullman car. Recently I wondered: What other Pullman car names would have made good baby names?
So I downloaded a big spreadsheet of over 12,000 Pullman car names from The Pullman Project and was slightly surprised to see that thousands of them could have been baby names, if we allow for the splitting of compound car names (like Fort Miley, Glen Norman, Meredith College, and West Willow).
Here are a handful of examples. On the left are relatively common/familiar names, and on the right are some unexpected choices.