How popular is the baby name Romeo in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Romeo and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Romeo.
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We’re all familiar with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, thanks to the catchy Christmas song.
But the character was around for a full decade before the song came out. He originated in a 1939 children’s book by Robert L. May.
May, a copywriter at Montgomery Ward, wrote the book as part of the retailer’s annual holiday promotion. More than two million copies of Rudolph were handed out to shoppers nationwide that year.
One of May’s handwritten notes from that era reveals that, before he’d settled on the name “Rudolph” for the red-nosed reindeer, he’d considered the following alliterative R-names:
The two names he’d circled were Rudolph and Reginald — the top two contenders, no doubt. (Sources say he decided Reginald was “too British,” and Rollo “too happy.”)
Robert L. May’s songwriter brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, later turned Rudolph’s story into a song. Gene Autry recorded “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in mid-1949 and it became a massive hit that Christmas. (Autry followed it up with “Frosty the Snowman” in 1950.)
So now imagine you’ve gone back in time, oh, say, 78 years. Your copywriter friend Rob sends you a telegram asking for your assistance in naming a fictional reindeer character he’s writing about, for work. He includes a list of ten possibilities. Which name do you select?
Or, if you’re not keen on any of these, feel free to comment with a write-in candidate. Just be sure it starts with R!
“A giveaway that sold millions.” The Bookseller 24 Dec. 1960: 2376.
Nope, this isn’t a post about a pink smoothies. “Feminine blend” was a phrase Henry Louis (H. L.) Mencken used in his 1921 book The American Language to describe a female name created by blending two other names together. Here are the feminine blends he lists:
(Addie + Lloyd)
(Addison + Nellie)
(Adrienne + Belle)
(Ardelia + Wilhelmina)
(Elizabeth + Christine)
(Birdie + Pauline)
(Charles + Pauline)
(Leila + Elizabeth)
(Luna + Nettie)
(Marjorie + Henrietta)
(May + Elizabeth)
(Ola + Isabel)
(Olive + Louise)
(Romeo + Juliette)
(Rose + Bella)
If you had to use one of the above in real life, which one would you choose?
“Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners is the official winner of the Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament!
It beat “Rock Me Amadeus” (1986) by Falco in the final round of voting.
The name Eileen has a complicated etymology. It’s an Anglicized form of the Irish name Eibhlín, which is a form of the Norman French name Aveline, which is a form of the Germanic name Avelina, which is ultimately based on either the Germanic root avi, which might mean “desired, wished for,” or the Germanic root aval, which means “strength.”
The related name Evelyn is the 20th most popular baby girl name in the country right now, but not-as-stylish Eileen is down in 748th place. Eileen was most popular in the U.S. during the 1940s, peaking at 70th in 1945.
And how about the band — where did they get the name Dexys Midnight Runners? “Dexys” (no apostrophe) comes from the club drug Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine sulfate) and “Midnight Runners” refers to the extra energy the stimulant gives users.
Thanks for playing along, everyone! I threw the Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament together last-minute, so there wasn’t much time to research songs. I ended up overlooking a few good ones, such as:
“All for Leyna” (1980) by Billy Joel
“Romeo and Juliet” (1980) by Dire Straits
“Luanne” (1981) by Foreigner
“Baby Jane” (1983) by Rod Stewart
“Jane Says” (1987) by Jane’s Addiction
“Sweet Jane” (1988) by Cowboy Junkies (Velvet Underground cover)
Do you think any of these would have had a chance against “Come on Eileen”?
Finally, if I hold another name-related tournament next March, should it be songs again? If so, songs from what decade? If not, what would you like the theme to be?
English actor Richard Burbage and English playwright William Shakespeare were close friends. So close that Burbage named his first daughter Juliet, very likely after the character from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
So Juliet Burbage, who was born in 1608 and only lived a few months, could have been the first baby girl in history to be named after the famous character.
Burbage and his wife Winifred also had children named Richard, Francis, Anne, Winifred, Julia (probably named in honor of her deceased older sister), William and Sara. Some speculate that Anne and William were named after William Shakespeare and his wife Anne, but there’s no way to know for sure.
Have you ever met anyone named Juliet? Do you like the name?
Collier, J. Payne. The History of English Dramatic Poetry to the Time of Shakespeare; and Annals of the Stage to the Restoration. London: George Bell & Sons, 1879.
Neil, Samuel. Shakespeare. London: Houlston and Wright, 1861.
Wilson, Ian. Shakespeare: The Evidence: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Man and His Work. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999.