The influence wasn’t the movie that gave yesterday’s name Ilya a boost, but the Cold War-era spy show The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which premiered on TV in 1964 and ran until 1968. (U.N.C.L.E. was an acronym for “United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.”)
The main characters were CIA agent Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn) and KGB agent Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin (played by David McCallum). Illya, a Slavic form of Elijah, was spelled out in the opening credits.
The name Napoleon may have also gotten a slight boost from the show, though it’s hard to tell.
Bottled water became increasingly trendy in the U.S. during the final decades of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the mid-to-late ’90s, though, that major players in the beverage industry finally hopped on the bandwagon: Pepsi launched Aquafina in 1994, and Coca-Cola followed with Dasani in 1999.
While I’ve never* seen “Aquafina” used as a human name, Dasani popped up in the U.S. baby name data right on cue in 1999. In fact, in was a rare dual-gender** debut that year:
People are having a lot of fun guessing the origin of the name DASANI. One Coca-Cola executive jokingly said it sounded like a “Roman god of water.” Actually, the name DASANI is an original creation. Consumer testing showed that the name is relaxing and suggests pureness and replenishment.
Similarly, an article from early 1999 explained that “the name Dasani isn’t derived from any existing word, English or foreign, but is meant to evoke the idea of freshness and purity.”
What are your thoughts on the baby name Dasani?
*I’ve seen Aquafina used as a stage name, though: Awkwafina (born Nora Lum).
Rikishi is rather unique. Not only is it a rare dual-gender one-hit wonder, but it’s it’s also the only debut name I know of that was popularized by a fake sport.
If you’re a professional wrestling fan, you already know where this one came from: Rikishi, the character played by Solofa Fatu, Jr.
Fatu’s pro-wrestling career started in 1985. He played a series of not-so-successful characters (Prince Alofa, Fatu, The Sultan) before appearing as the bleach-blond, loincloth-wearing Rikishi Fatu on the TV show WWF Metal for the first time in late 1999.
The following year, the baby name Rikishi debuted (twice!) on the SSA’s baby name list:
10 baby boys named Rikishi [debut]
6 baby girls named Rikishi [debut]
That’s the only year it managed to make the national list, though.
So where did the ring name Rikishi come from? Rikishi is the Japanese word for “sumo wrestler.” It can be traced back to an Old Chinese word meaning “man of strength.”
And what helped Rikishi become a WWF superstar? His signature wrestling move, the humiliating “Stink Face.”
With his opponent lying prone in the corner of the ring, Fatu sticks his sizable rear end, which is covered in skimpy tights, in their face with a smile normally reserved for children at Christmas.
“That [move] came up two years ago in Mobile, Ala., when I was wrestling the Big Bossman and he fell in the corner,” said Fatu, who has given the stinkface to almost every top WWF performer. “As I turned around, I heard some man yell out, `Put your [butt] in his face.’ Meantime, I forgot what spot came next, so I walked over and put my [butt] in his face.
“It was the biggest reaction I had gotten, so I said I was going to do it next time. It’s been easy since then. I don’t think the Bossman knew what was coming. He saw my cheeks backing up and had nowhere to go.”
Before reading the rest of this post, check out the names in the image below. What do you think these names have in common?
Ok, ready for the answer?
They are the 15 synchronized dual-gender one-hit-wonder baby names on the U.S. baby name charts.
Did anyone guess that? :)
Of the fewer than 200 baby names that are dual-gender one-hit wonders, these are the only ones that made their single appearance on the girls’ list and on the boys’ list in the same year:
Clinnie, given to 6 baby girls and 5 baby boys in 1920.
Chaffee, given to 5 baby girls and 5 baby boys in 1975.
Datril, given to 5 baby girls and 6 baby boys in 1975.
Chamel, given to 5 baby girls and 5 baby boys in 1979.
Chezarae, given to 6 baby girls and 9 baby boys in 1982.
Jakkia, given to 16 baby girls and 8 baby boys in 1990.
Daebreon, given to 13 baby girls and 5 baby boys in 2000.
Rikishi, given to 6 baby girls and 10 baby boys in 2000.
Xing, given to 7 baby girls and 5 baby boys in 2000.
Jaalyn, given to 5 baby girls and 6 baby boys in 2002.
Ryly, given to 6 baby girls and 5 baby boys in 2008.
Elyah, given to 5 baby girls and 5 baby boys in 2009.
Koli, given to 8 baby girls and 13 baby boys in 2010.
Music, given to 6 baby girls and 6 baby boys in 2012.
Zikora, given to 6 baby girls and 10 baby boys in 2012.
(Three more names — Chikamso, Harbour and Khymani — had dual-gender debuts in 2013, but we won’t know about their one-hit status until we see the 2014 data.)
Chaffee I’ve already written about, Ryly appeared when Riley was at its trendiest, and a couple of the other names (Rikishi, Chezarae) I’ll be writing about soon. The rest I can’t yet explain, but I’m working on it!