How popular is the baby name Phaedra in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Phaedra.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Phaedra


Posts that Mention the Name Phaedra

Obscene, but Obscure: Yea or Nay?

While working on the Phaedra post from earlier this week, I came across the fact that Greek playwright Euripides had two wives: Melite and Choerine.

The name Melite I recognized as coming from the Melissa/Melitta/Melita family. All these names can be traced back to the Greek word meli, meaning “honey.”

But the name Choerine didn’t ring a bell, so I went off in search of a definition.

Before tracking it down, I happened to find this enticing little snippet:

“Choerine” is an attested Athenian name, but it could easily be used for obscene puns.

Obscene puns?!

After more digging, I discovered that Choerine (and the male equivalent Choerus) were based on the Greek word choiros, meaning “pig.” And that the equivalent word in Latin, porcus, had given rise to the names Porcius and Porcia/Portia.

But “pig” isn’t he obscene part:

In classical Latin the word porcus was occasionally used as an informal term for the vulva (Greek choiros, ‘young pig,’ was employed similarly).

Here’s more:

Porcus (pig) was apparently a Roman nursery word for the external pudenda of girls […] Perhaps the allusion is to a perceived resemblance between the part in question and the end of a pig’s snout.

In fact, this obscene sense of porcus is precisely how porcelain came to be named. The word porcelain can be traced back to the Italian word for the cowrie shell, porcellana (“young sow”), which was named in reference to its vulva-like shape.

Now for the question of the day: Would information like this (i.e., obscene-but-obscure associations) ever dissuade you from choosing a particular baby name?

Sources:

  • Laqueur, Thomas Walter. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, Harvard University Press, 1990, p. 270.
  • Porcelain – Online Etymology Dictionary
  • “Pork.” Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories, Merriam-Webster, 1991, p. 371.
  • Scodel, Ruth. “The Euripidean Biography.” A Companion to Euripides, ed. by Laura K. McClure, John Wiley & Sons, 2017, pp. 27-41.

The First Appearance of Phaedra

phaedra, movie, 1960s, baby name

The ancient name Phaedra was the highest-debuting baby name of 1963:

  • 1967: 21 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1966: 22 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1965: 32 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1964: 29 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1963: 70 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted

Why?

Because of the film Phaedra, released in late 1962. It was a flop at the U.S. box office, but had a big impact on U.S. baby names nonetheless.

The title character Phaedra (played by Greek actress Melina Mercouri, who’d played Ilya in the hit Never on Sunday) was the second wife of a wealthy man named Thanos. She initiated a forbidden romance with her husband’s adult son, Alexis, and then both of them had to suffer the consequences.

The movie is one of the many modern versions of the ancient Greek tragedy Hippolytus by Euripides.

In the film, the name Phaedra (based on an ancient Greek word meaning “bright”) is pronounced FEH-dra, with a short E. (Say “Ephedra” without the initial vowel.) Looking at online discussions about the name, though, it’s clear that people use various pronunciations, including FAY-dra and FEE-dra.

What are your thoughts on the name Phaedra? Which pronunciation do you prefer?

Source: Phaedra (1962) – TCM

Biggest Baby Name Debuts of All Time: Girls, 50 to 41

biggest baby name debuts of all time, girl names, 50 to 41

For years now I’ve been talking about baby name debuts. But one thing I keep forgetting to blog about is the biggest baby name debuts of all time.

So this week I’m going to fix that oversight.

Well, half of it.

I’ll be counting down the 50 most popular girl name debuts in five posts, from today until Friday. (The boys’ list I’ll do another week.)

You’d think this would be 50 names, right? But I decided not to break ties, so the list actually contains 67 names.

I came up with explanations for as many names as I could, though a number of them are still mysteries to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these.

So here’s 50 to 41:

Jashanti, Tamre & Yuliza, 3-way tie for #50

  • Jashanti debuted with 63 baby girls in 2002.
    Inspired by singer Ashanti.
  • Tamre debuted with 63 baby girls in 1958.
    Inspired by the song “Tammy,” theme song of the movie Tammy and the Bachelor.
  • Yuliza debuted with 63 baby girls in 1997.
    Inspired by Yulissa, a character on the telenovela “Te sigo amando.”

Natori, #49

  • Natori debuted with 64 baby girls in 1995.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by the Avon perfume Natori. (Thank you Blue Juniper!)

Yatzari, #48

  • Yatzari debuted with 65 baby girls in 2000.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.

Brieanna, Fanta & Kherington, 3-way tie for #47

  • Brieanna debuted with 66 baby girls in 1979.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.
  • Fanta debuted with 66 baby girls in 1977.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by Fanta, a character on the TV miniseries “Roots.”
  • Kherington debuted with 66 baby girls in 2008.
    Inspired by Kherington Payne, a contestant on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Chantay, Charde & Laryssa, 3-way tie for #46

  • Chantay debuted with 67 baby girls in 1960.
    Inspired by Chantay, a character on the TV western “Lawman.”
  • Charde debuted with 67 baby girls in 1985.
    Inspired by singer Sade [shah-DAY].
  • Laryssa debuted with 67 baby girls in 1968.
    Inspired by Laryssa Lauret, an actress on the soap opera “The Doctors.”

Jennavecia & Laquita, 2-way tie for #45

  • Jennavecia debuted with 68 baby girls in 2008.
    Inspired by Jennavecia Russo, a cast member on the reality TV show “The Bad Girls Club.”
  • Laquita debuted with 68 baby girls in 1930.
    Inspired by…I’m not sure what.

Zhane, #44

  • Zhane debuted with 69 baby girls in 1993.
    Inspired by the duo Zhane.

Kaydence, Phaedra & Shalawn, 3-way tie for #43

  • Kaydence debuted with 70 baby girls in 2002.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by Cadence, a character from Shallow Hal. (Thank you Angela!)
  • Phaedra debuted with 70 baby girls in 1963.
    Inspired by Phaedra, a character in the movie Phaedra.
  • Shalawn debuted with 70 baby girls in 1974.
    Inspired by Shalawn (b. 1974), baby of O’Jays singer Walter Williams.

Tyechia, #42

  • Tyechia debuted with 71 baby girls in 1982.
    Inspired by orphaned toddler named Tyechia who had been in the news.

Adilene, #41

  • Adilene debuted with 72 baby girls in 1987.
    Inspired by the song “Adilene” by Los Yonics.

Do you have any ideas about where Kaydence, Fanta, Brieanna, Yatzari or Natori might have come from?

If you want to make guesses about the names higher up on the list, here are some posts that will help:

*The Top 50 Baby Name Debuts for Girls: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1*

Popular and Unique Baby Names in Idaho, 2010

The state of Idaho recently released its 2010 annual report, and the report includes some baby names.

First, here are Idaho’s most popular baby names of 2010. (More or less the same as what SSA has listed for Idaho that year.)

Popular Boy Names Popular Girl Names
1. William (119)
2. Samuel (116)
3. Logan (115)
4. Ethan (101)
5. Jacob (95)
6. Aiden (92)
7. Mason (89)
8. Noah (82)
9. Alexander (81)
10. James (79)
1. Olivia (122)
2. Emma (103)
3. Sophia (99)
4. Ava (88)
5. Abigail (85)
6. Elizabeth (83)
7. Emily (78)
8. Isabella (77)
9. Ella (71)
10. Addison & Brooklyn (65 each)

Now on to the bizarre stuff!

In the report, Idaho included a selection of unique names:

Unique Boy Names Unique Girl Names
Bear, Character, Dagger, Freighter, Genghis, Hatchet, Hemi, Ice-T, Jethreaux, Justify, King Tiberius, Laugh, Nightsky, Permisius, Raysyn, Ripken, Saw, Scythe, Skeeter, Sourish, Theory, Truth, W’dbin, Wisdom, Zytareon Arrehli, Aoife, Balou, Bronwyn, Dawnlight, Dixi, Espn, Hickory, Kalifornia, Koal, Legacy, Little Noah, Meeka Bella, Mhyrrauzhe, Moneeq, Moserratt, Omolola, Oo, Rootsy, Saphron, Sparkle, Sunset, Tietsie, Virtue, Xoko

Some thoughts:

  • Nightsky and Dawnlight need a playdate. (Just like Thunder and Lightning.)
  • Mhyrrauzhe = Mirage?
  • My first impulse with “Oo” was to pronounce it “uh-oh.” (Uh-oh indeed, if that’s actually how you say it!)

Since Idaho’s annual reports for 2006-2010 are all available online, lets look at the selections of unique names from years past, shall we?

2009:

Unique Boy Names Unique Girl Names
“Champion” Reese, Civic, Cougar, Domonique, Eleven, Evol, Hopper, Huckleberry, Irish, Jah Kobi, Jaxxon, Kastle, K-Den, Major Jack, Nixon, Noall, Oz, Pledger, Reef, Sabyr, Shade, Shadow, Skeet, Taft, Zebedee Arlington, August Star, Beatriz, Byrkli, Charm, Clarixxa, Daiquiri, Fayte, Goldie-Moon, Gyzzelle, Jubilee, Kanyon, Lala, Love, Montana, Nirvana, Pepper, Prairie, Poppy, Soul, Tottie, Tundra, Zipporah

2008:

Unique Boy Names Unique Girl Names
Adjrick, Andronicus, Arrow, Blazer, Brayke, Buzz, Casino, Chamillionaire, Dacx, Driggs, Gamble, Heman, Klete, Kodiak, Kroten, Krue, Link, Mitt, Pheonix, Ransom, Rodee, Silynce, Summit, Zzyzx Angelic, Beautifull, Boisen, Byainett, Calloway, Celestial, Ecstacy, Eeleceya, Hadies, Heaven, Infiniti, Integrity, Jewleah, Kaskade, Kozmo, Maplejo, Mishalyn, Remmington, Season, Symphony, Thyme, Ugonna, Xerenity, Zepplyn

2007:

Unique Boy Names Unique Girl Names
Aodhan, Braestyn, Buell, Champ, Dazryn, Elisjsha, Enveus, Grimsley, Hayze, Holdem, Kamero, Kay-Sin, Khonnerk, Lowgin, Makaijden, Mickyle, Nykolaus, Painter, Praze, Sander, Shadrack, Solo, Space, Tlaloc, Trackin Arbor, Auktober, Blessin, Brizzbin, Brookenzie, Cabella, Clarity, Denym, Eos, Epiphany, Honesty, Kwincee, Lavender, Lybburtie, Miami, Modiesty-Star, Mysticque, Peaches, Perfect, Rebel-Ann, Seattle, Shy, Uneike, Vegas, Zoigh
  • Casino and Gamble in 2008, Holdem and Vegas in 2007…do I detect a pattern here?

2006:

Unique Boy Names Unique Girl Names
Akhilles, Backtash, Blend, Bronco, Chalk, College, Colquohn, Daily, Gid, Hampton, Howdy, Jameraquoi, Karona, Lake, Packer, Polo, Razor, Rythmik, Sacramento, Spur, Trask, Tucson, Winn, Wracer, Xzavvyer Allyvia, Anakalia, Aptisam, Aveda, Blayde, Bristol, Cedee, Dorcas, Fall, Heziachiah, Kalispell, Klowie, Lexington, Little Summers, Navy, Northstar, Nutaliay Harmoney, Pennilane Meadow, Phaedra, Russia, Tacheranai, Tragen, Tsunami, Viktoriya, Yochabelle

P.S. In the 2006-2009 reports, the heading of the unique names section was “Selected Unique Names, Yewneek Spellings.” For 2010, it was lengthened to “Selected Unique Baby Names, Yewneek Baybee Spellings.” I happen to love these headings, but aren’t they a bit snarky for an official state document…?