From the 2010 book Runaway Dream: Born to Run and Bruce Springsteen’s American Vision by Louis P. Masur:
Peter Knobler, a writer for Crawdaddy, got an early listen [to “Born to Run”] in Springsteen’s Long Branch house. The place was cluttered with motorcycle magazines and old 45s. Over Bruce’s bed, according to Knobler, was a poster of Peter Pan leading Wendy out the window. The detail is suggestive: “Wendy let me in, I wanna be your friend/I want to guard your dreams and visions.”
[T]he municipality has recently erected a statue of the fabled Yeay Penh, the woman who is credited with giving Phnom Penh its landmark hill.
As the story goes, in the 1370s, Yeay Penh asked her neighbors to raise the mound in front of her home so as to build on top of it a sanctuary to house the four statues of Buddha she had found inside a floating tree trunk. That mound, or phnom, is credited with giving Phnom Penh its name.
“The problem is we have no proof,” said Ros Chantrabot, a Cambodian historian and vice president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia.
“In all likelihood she did exist or, at the very least, the tale is based on an actual person, since Penh’s hill, or Phnom Penh, is there for all to see,” he said.
[“Yeah Penh” is the equivalent of “Grandmother Penh.” The word yeay in Cambodian is a title used to refer to and/or address an older female.]
My own name scratches and constricts like an ill-fitting sweater. It comforts me to be [at Yosemite National Park] with wild things that do not speak it. As I walk among Steller’s jays and Brewer’s lupine and Douglas firs, I think, you, too, wear someone else’s name. This is also true of mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes—names within names. I wonder about the people and the motivations behind these names, which I feel hesitant to say aloud.
Tait says one might expect the saint names, pushed by the Catholic church during the Reformation, and English names, handed down to descendants of settlers, to overtake and eradicate the use of Gaelic names as it did in England (315). She found this was not the case. Irish natives and settlers each retained their own naming systems, preserving them both. In the 1660s, she finds the top 6 names used by native Irish families remained largely Gaelic– Patrick, Bryan, Hugh, Owen, Thorlogh, and Shane, while the top names used by the descendants of settlers remained largely English– John, Thomas, William, Robert, James, and Richard (316).
As a frequent consumer of Starbucks…the most contentious aspect for me when ordering coffee—until now, anyway—has been the perpetual misspelling of my name on the side of the cup. The mutations have been many, and they have often been egregious—“Zal,” “Sowl,” “Sagi,” “Shi”—and then once, incredibly, three years ago, at a branch in the financial district, “Saïd,” diaeresis added, prompting me to seek out the barista, whose hand I grasped with deep feeling but who, frankly, seemed perplexed that anyone would have difficulty spelling my name. He was Latino, I think, and he told me that he had a best friend named Saïd, spelled identically, which would explain his astuteness. Never mind the backstory, I was delighted by the outcome. I photographed the cup for posterity, and then, for good measure, tweeted it for the world to see.
Virginian rap crooner DRAM returned last night with the release of his new, three-song EP, That’s A Girl’s Name. Produced and co-written by Josh Abraham and Oligee, the EP’s title refers to DRAM’S real name, Shelley Massenburg-Smith, which means “that’s a girl’s name” is probably a phrase he heard quite a bit growing up.
(“DRAM” is an acronym for “Does Real Ass Music.” DRAM’s goldendoodle also has an interesting name: Idnit [vid] — “as in, idnit so cute.”)
The Texas native also revealed that when he was born his father wasn’t there. Instead, he explained that James “called my mom and said, ‘Only thing I have to say is if it’s a boy, don’t name him Kelly.’”
From a New York Times article about the marriage of Sugar Good, a Dunkin’ Donuts manager, to one of her drive-through customers:
A year would go by before she gathered the courage to pass him her sprinkle-bedecked business card with his breakfast in September 2018. But when she did, it came as a relief to both. The man, John Thompson, a recently retired Marine working as a car salesman in Oklahoma City, had been wondering how he was going to figure out what her real name was.
“When I started going through the drive-through, I noticed she would smile with her eyes, and I thought, maybe if I read the receipt I can see what her name is,” he said. “But it said ‘Sugar No. 7.'” He figured Sugar must have been a reference to how he likes his coffee. With the card, which listed her cellphone number at the bottom, she cleared up the mystery — as well as her own case of the blues.
“As a culture, we are realizing that gender is no longer a fixed concept,” says Sam Cheow, senior vice president of corporate innovation and product development at the Estée Lauder Companies, which owns brands like M.A.C, Tom Ford Beauty, Le Labo, and Frédéric Malle . . . Cheow points to evidence that the needle is moving forward: the growing backlash surrounding gender-reveal parties; a rise in gender-neutral baby names (for example, in 2018, 51 percent of “Charlies” were female); and the arrival of Q, the world’s first genderless voice assistant.
From a Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources blog post entitled “The Tiffany Problem“:
Wait, what? No way there’s a Tiffany in this book! Not when there are other women running around with convincing names like Blanchefleur, Isolde, and Ermentrude.
[T]he Tiffany Problem describes the tension between historical fact and the average, everyday person’s idea of history. So even though authors may research carefully and want to include historically accurate information in their book—like a medieval character named Tiffany—a popular audience likely won’t buy it.
I remember a guy named Bill. His view on trail names mirrored mine. He didn’t have one, didn’t want one. He was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, not seeking a new identity. As he walked the white-blazed path, he simply introduced himself as “Bill”.
The most-often stated reply to him was, “What’s your trail name?”
His standard answer, “I don’t have a trail name. My name is just Bill.”
I put an apostrophe in my name that wasn’t there before, like Smashing Pumpkins bassist D’Arcy Wretzky, because of how influential this band was to me. D’Arcy was just the epitome of cool to me. In 1993, I was really into alternative and grunge music, and whereas the Nirvanas and the Pearl Jams felt so masculine, there was something sweeter and lighter about Smashing Pumpkins. The fact that they had a girl in their band was huge for me and my friends. I learned the guitar part to “Today,” and it made me feel like such a badass. It was like, “Wow, I can play guitar!” But, of course, anybody can play the beginning of “Today.”
On the original show, Theresa was portrayed by Burnett as a bit overbearing. But, she always brought extra love…and helped them name their daughter Mabel. When Jamie and Paul Buchman (Paul Reiser) couldn’t decide on a name for their baby, Theresa proclaimed that “Mothers Always Bring Extra Love,” an homage to The Dick Van Dyke Show where Rob and Laura explain Ritchie’s middle name. The Buchman’s decide to call their daughter Mabel.
The conversation between Rob Petrie (dad) and Ritchie Rosebud Petrie (son) referenced above, from the 1962 Dick Van Dyke episode “What’s in a Middle Name?” [vid]:
Rob: …and there’s no reason to look so sad, your middle name isn’t really Rosebud.
Ritchie: Yes it is, my birth certificate says it’s Rosebud.
Rob: Yes it does, but do you know why?
Ritchie: No, but I wish it was ‘Jim.’
Rob: So you see, Ritch, actually, your middle name is Robert, Oscar, Sam, Edward, Benjamin, Ulysses, David. And, the initials to all of your middle names spells…
(The seven names were suggestions from various family members. To see the scene and hear the full explanation, click the link to the video.)
From the 2018 children’s book Who Is Pele? by James Buckley, Jr.:
Edson Arantes do Nascimento was born on October 23, 1940, in the tiny village of Três Corações (say: TRACE kor-ah-SOYS), Brazil. Even in 1940, there were many parts of the world that did not have electricity. Most of southeastern Brazil was one of those areas. In honor of their village finally getting electricity, Edson’s parents named their first son after the American inventor Thomas Edison.
My father tells me that they were on their honeymoon at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, I believe. They were looking at a da Vinci painting, and allegedly I started kicking furiously while my mother was pregnant. And my father took that as a sign, and I suppose DiCaprio wasn’t that far from da Vinci. And so, my dad, being the artist that he is, said, “That’s our boy’s name.”
Looking forward, there’s plenty more space for creativity with highly unique but still highly religious names. Of the 2,606 biblical names I track in my ongoing research, only 811 ever had a year with more than 4 baby boys or girls given that name. We haven’t yet seen kids named Abijam or Paltiel, nor have we seen name fads for Philetus or Berechiah. Even notably faithful biblical figures like Ehud, Elkanah, Habakkuk, Hilkiah, and Jehonadab have been passed over.
If you ever come across an interesting name-related quote (or article), please let me know!
Former Fifth Harmony member Normani has seen a lot of solo success lately. In 2017, she placed third on Dancing with the Stars. In 2018 and 2019, she popped up on tracks with singers like Khalid, Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj. And, just a few months ago, she released her first solo single, “Motivation” [vid].
All this extra attention has put the name Normani on the onomastic map, so to speak, as it debuted in the SSA data 2017:
2018: 17 baby girls named Normani
2017: 8 baby girls named Normani [debut]
Normani’s full name is Normani Kordei Hamilton. She was named “Normani” in honor of her maternal uncle, Norman, who died of lung cancer before she was born.
It was my mom’s brother and she promised, cause I’m my mom’s firstborn and her only child, she promised that her first child would be named after him, and his name is Norman, so she named me Normani. She was also really into fashion. She was watching an Armani fashion show and put the name together.
How high do you think the name Normani will climb in the 2019 data?