How popular is the baby name Sayonara 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 Sayonara.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Sayonara


Posts that Mention the Name Sayonara

The Introduction of Tiki

tiki, 1960s, baby name, television
The schooner Tiki

In the 1950s and ’60s, Tiki culture — including Tiki bars — were all the rage in the United States. Even Disneyland got in on the action, introducing the Enchanted Tiki Room in 1963.

So it’s not terribly surprising the that the baby name Tiki emerged in the SSA data in the early 1960s:

  • 1964: 12 baby girls named Tiki
  • 1963: 9 baby girls named Tiki
  • 1962: 5 baby girls named Tiki
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 15 baby girls named Tiki [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

But that rather impressive 1960 debut — and subsequent drop-off a year later– suggests that a specific event kicked off the initial usage of Tiki.

I’ve got two theories on this one.

First is the Hawaiian Eye episode “Fatal Cruise,” which aired in February of 1960 and featured actress Linda Lawson as a character named Tiki.

Second is the show Adventures in Paradise, in which the main character, Capt. Adam Troy, travels around the South Pacific on a schooner called the Tiki.

(Adventures in Paradise, which kicked off the names Sondi and Tiare, was created by writer James Michener, who was behind the debuts of Sayonara and Kerith.)

The first theory makes the most sense, because Hawaiian Eye associated the name with a (very pretty) human. But I don’t think we can discount the second theory, because Adventures in Paradise consistently presented “Tiki” as a name…even if it was just the name of a boat.

So where does the word tiki come from? It was used in the Marquesas and in New Zealand to refer to any carving with human features. (The equivalent word in Hawaiian is ki’i and in Tahitian is ti’i.) Originally, though, Tiki was a specific mythological figure: “the Polynesian Adam, the creator of man…sort of half-man and half-god.”

What are your thoughts on Tiki as a baby name?

Sources: Fatal Cruise, Hawaiian Eye – IMDb, Adventures in Paradise – Fifties Web, Tiki Hangover: Unearthing the False Idols of America’s South Seas Fantasy

The Coming of Kerith

literature, 1960s, kerith, baby name

In 1967, the baby name Kerith debuted in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1970: 18 baby girls named Kerith
  • 1969: 15 baby girls named Kerith
  • 1968: 20 baby girls named Kerith
  • 1967: 12 baby girls named Kerith [debut]
  • 1966: unlisted

The source? The Source — a 1965 novel set in ancient Israel. It was written by James Michener, who had written Sayonara about a decade earlier.

Kerith was a character featured in the early chapter “Psalm of the Hoopoe Bird,” which was set during the reign of King David specifically. Kerith was the wife of the chapter’s central character, an engineer named Jabaal (but nicknamed Hoopoe, after the bird). Jabaal worshiped Baal, but Kerith, who was Hebrew, worshiped Yahweh. By the end of the chapter, she had given up her husband and children in order to live in Jerusalem.

“Kerith” is also found in the Hebrew Bible as a place name (sometimes spelled “Cherith”). It’s a wadi where the prophet Elijah hid during a drought. The word can be traced back to a Hebrew root meaning “cut.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Kerith?

Sayonara: The Goodbye Baby Name

sayonara, brando, umeki
Sayonara (1957) movie poster

We’re all familiar with sayonara, the Japanese word for “goodbye.”

But did you know that Sayonara was also a one-hit wonder on the U.S. baby name charts in the 1950s?

  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 6 baby girls named Sayonara
  • 1957: unlisted

The James Michener novel Sayonara came out in 1953. Set during the Korean War, it told the story of U.S. airman Lloyd Gruver, stationed in Japan, who fell in love with a Japanese entertainer called Hana-ogi. (Her namesake is a historical courtesan; hana means “flower” and ogi means “fan”).

Originally, the book was going to be adapted into a stage production à la Michener’s South Pacific. With a musical in mind, Irving Berlin wrote a song called “Sayonara.”

Instead, the story was turned into a movie (starring Marlon Brando) a few years later, and so Irving Berlin’s song ended up on the soundtrack.

Both Sayonara the movie and “Sayonara” the song came out in late 1957. The film made a bigger splash than the song did, so it may have had more of an influence on baby names.

In March of 1958 the film won four Oscars, including one each for supporting actors Red Buttons (who played Joe Kelly) and Miyoshi Umeki (who played Katsumi).

Miyoshi Umeki, both a singer and an actress, was the first Asian performer to win an Academy Award. Her win drew attention to the Japanese name Miyoshi, which debuted in the data as well in 1958:

  • 1965: 6 baby girls named Miyoshi
  • 1964: 9 baby girls named Miyoshi
  • 1963: 8 baby girls named Miyoshi
  • 1962: 7 baby girls named Miyoshi
  • 1959: 8 baby girls named Miyoshi
  • 1958: 20 baby girls named Miyoshi [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted

A few months later, Umeki appeared on the TV game show “What’s My Line?” Here’s how she signed her name:

miyoshi umeki, signature, japanese
Miyoshi Umeki’s signature

Miyoshi was Umeki’s birth name, but at the start of her singing career in Japan, she used the stage name Nancy Umeki. She reverted to her Japanese name upon relocating to America, ironically.

Sources: Sayonara (1957) – Notes – TCM, Fame may be fleeting, but warm memories of Miyoshi Umeki live on – Japan Times