The name Winona has been in the U.S. baby name data since the very beginning, but the specific spelling Wynonna didn’t show up until the mid-1980s:
1986: 6 baby girls named Wynonna
1985: 5 baby girls named Wynonna [debut]
What was the influence?
Country singer Wynonna Judd. She and her mother, Naomi Judd, formed The Judds in the early ’80s and the duo won a Grammy Award in 1985 for the song “Mama He’s Crazy.”
The name saw peak usage in 1993, not long after Wynonna began her solo career.
Wynonna’s birth name was Christina Ciminella. She was inspired to change her name after her mother, previously known as Diana Ciminella, became Naomi Judd in the early ’70s following a divorce. (‘Judd’ was her maiden name, but ‘Naomi’ was brand new.)
She chose the name ‘Wynonna’ because she liked the song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” which mentions Winona, Arizona.
(Naomi tried to persuade her younger daughter, Ashley, to change her name as well — to ‘Ramona,’ because of its similarity to ‘Wynonna.’ She wasn’t interested, but she did start to use the surname ‘Judd.’)
The name dropped out of the data in the early 2000s, but has come back recently:
2017: 20 baby girls named Wynonna
2016: 5 baby girls named Wynonna
Why? Because of the supernatural Western TV series Wynonna Earp, which debuted on Syfy in 2016.
What are your thoughts on the baby name Wynonna? Do you like the spelling?
Source: Millard, Bob. The Judds: A Biography. New York: Doubleday, 1988.
Madge Evans was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in New York in 1909. Her birth name was Margherita Evans. Madge Kennedy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1970s. She was born in Illinois in 1891. Madge was also a character name in multiple films, including The Tragedy of Ambition (short, 1914) and The Peace of Roaring River (1919).
Magda Foy was a child actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in New York in 1905. Her birth name was Magdalena Patricia Foy. Madga was also a character played by actress Gertrude Michael in the film I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby (1940).
Malvina Longfellow was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in New York in 1889. Malvina Polo was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in California in 1903. Malvina was also a character name in multiple films, including Ann Vickers (1933) and Let’s Make Music (1941).
Marcelle Corday was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in Belgium in 1890. Marcelle Hontabat was an actress who appeared in 1 film in 1916. She was born in New York in 1897. Marcelle was also a character name in multiple films, including The Way Out (1918) and 50 Million Frenchmen (1931).
Maud Allan was an actress who appeared in 1 film in 1915. She was born in Canada in 1873. Her birth name was Beulah Maude Durrant. Maud was also a character played by actress Miriam Cooper in the film Daughters of the Rich (1923).
Maudie Dunham was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in England in 1902. Maudie was also a character name in multiple films, including Tell Your Children (1922) and Night After Night (1932).
Mayflower was a character played by actress Gladys Hulette in the film Secrets of Paris (1922).
Mayme Kelso was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Ohio in 1867. Mayme was also a character name in multiple films, including One Hundred Percent American (short, 1918) and The Mighty (1929).
A number of Cajuns have nicknames prefixed with “Tee” “Ti,” “Tit,” “T,” and so forth — all pronounced tee. This prefix is derived from the French word petit, meaning “small” or “little.” It typically denotes a namesake/junior, or else the youngest child in a family.
In a blog post about Cajun French, writer Ramona DeFelice Long noted that “[o]n the bayou, a T-Rex would not be a dinosaur. T-Rex would be a boy named Rex who was named after his father named Rex.”
Linda Barth, author of The Distinctive Book of Redneck Baby Names, compared the prefix to the diminutive suffix -ie and gave the example of ‘Tit Carl as being “sort of the Cajun version” of Carlie.
Speaking of examples…Ti-Grace Atkinson (b. 1938) played a prominent role in the early radical feminist movement. She was born “Grace” in Baton Rouge, but has always gone by “Ti-Grace.” Here’s why:
My mother’s family was from Virginia. I was named for my Grandmother, whom I adored. My father’s family was from Pennsylvania. I kept the “Ti” which is Cajun, and I kept it because I knew I was going to live in the North and I did not want to forget or let anybody else forget that that was part of my heritage.
In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Ti-Grace was mentioned in articles about militant feminism in Life, Newsweek, the New York Times, Esquire, and elsewhere. Though her name never ended up on the SSA’s baby name list, I did find records for two non-Louisiana females born in the early ’70s and named Ti-Grace, thanks to her influence.
Her name came in particularly handy (from her perspective) when she ran away from home as a teenager:
They had hired detectives to find me, but because my first name is so difficult, the detectives kept getting lost. Nobody would ever put it down right, thank God.
Have you ever met someone with a Cajun T- (or Ti-, or Tee-, etc.) nickname?
Barth, Linda. The Distinctive Book of Redneck Baby Names. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 2012.
Actress Dolores del Rio was the star of not one but two silent films with theme songs that influenced the baby name charts.
In 1926 she played Charmaine in What Price Glory?, and two years later she played the titular character in Ramona, which was based on the book Ramona (1884) by Helen Hunt Jackson.
The book is a tragic romance set in mid-19th century Southern California, and the protagonists are Ramona, a mixed-race Scottish–Native American orphan, and her lover Alessandro.
Like Trilby a decade later, Ramona was a bestseller that inspired many namesakes: schools, streets, freeways, even towns (such as Ramona, California). The number of human namesakes is harder to gauge, though the U.S. Census of 1900 indicates that there was a moderate increase in the number Ramonas in 1884.
Still, the book’s impact on baby names can’t compare to the impact of its most successful film adaptation, Ramona (1928)…thanks in large part to the music.
The song “Ramona” was commissioned for the film in 1927, and released later that year — long before the film came out in May of 1928, interestingly. It was a big hit with more than two million copies sold and two different versions reaching #1 on the Billboard charts in 1928: first the Paul Whiteman version for 3 weeks, then the Gene Austin version for 8 more weeks.
This song, the first to borrow a film’s title, became the most successful movie theme song of the decade, and greatly enhanced the success of the film. Its popularity gave Hollywood producers much food for thought about how to publicize movies.
Usage of the baby name Ramona, already on the rise in the late 1920s, increased so much in 1928 that the name nearly reached the top 100:
1931: 1,130 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 164th]
1930: 1,410 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 149th]
1929: 2,036 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 120th]
1928: 2,237 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 117th]
1927: 567 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 277th]
1926: 467 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 307th]
1925: 450 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 313th]
So where does the name Ramona come from?
Ramona and its masculine form, Ramón, are the Spanish versions of Raymond, which is ultimately based on the Germanic words ragin, meaning “advice, decision, counsel,” and mund, meaning “protection.”
Do you like the name Ramona? Would you use it?
Source: MacDonald, Laurence E. The Invisible Art of Film Music: A Comprehensive History. Lanham, MD: Ardsley House, 1998.
Readers Tracie and Hugh Roarty, who are expecting a baby girl in August, would like a few baby name suggestions.
We have an almost 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter. Their names are Liam Robert and Brenna Kelly. My husband and I are both of Irish American descent. I had loved the name Liam since I was a child (am a bit shocked at how popular it is becoming now!). Their middle names are both family names.
Tracie, Hugh, Liam and Brenna currently live in Belgium, but they’ll be moving back to the U.S. before the baby arrives. They keep track of their travels at Belgian Bloggin, where Tracie recently announced her pregnancy. Tracie mentioned that Brenna would like to name the baby Rapunzel, while Liam would simply like to use the name Brenna again. :)
We have decided that we do not want another very Irish name (I feel like it will start to sound like we wish we lived in Ireland – if that makes sense?).
The names I have been drawn to so far are Margot and Valerie – both French I believe. I think it is the European influence on me. I like that these names are easily recognizable but not extremely popular.
The middle name would be either Patricia or Claire (our mothers names). For the two names so far we like Margot Patricia or Valerie Claire.
I love both Margot and Valerie.
Here are some other names I think Tracie and Hugh might like as well:
Which of the above do you like best for Liam and Brenna’s baby sister? What other names would you suggest?