I’m a baby name blogger, but sometimes I feel more like a baby name detective. Because so much of my blogging time is spent doing detective work: trying to figure out where a particular baby name comes from, or why a name saw a sudden jump (or drop) in usage during a particular year.
If a name itself doesn’t make the answer obvious (e.g., Lindbergh) and a simple Google search hasn’t helped, my first bit of detective work involves scanning the baby name charts. I’ve learned that many search-resistant baby names (like Deatra) are merely alternative spellings of more common names (Deirdre).
If that doesn’t do it, I go back to Google for some advanced-level ninja searching, to help me zero in on specific types of historical or pop culture events. This is how I traced Irmalee back to a character in a short story in a very old issue of the once-popular McCall’s Magazine.
But if I haven’t gotten anywhere after a few rounds of ninja searching, I officially give up and turn the mystery baby name over to you guys. Together we’ve cracked a couple of cases (yay!) but, unfortunately, most of the mystery baby names I’ve blogged about are still big fat mysteries.
Here’s the current list of open cases:
- Wanza, girl name, debuted in 1915.
- Nerine, girl name, debuted in 1917.
- Laquita, girl name, debuted in 1930.
- Norita, girl name, spiked (for the 2nd time) in 1937.
- Delphine, girl name, spiked in 1958.
- Leshia, girl name, debuted in 1960.
- Lavoris, girl name, debuted in 1961.
- Djuna, girl name, debuted in 1964.
- Latrenda, girl name, debuted in 1965.
- Ondina, girl name, debuted in 1968.
- Khari, boy name, debuted in 1971.
- Jelani, boy name, debuted in 1973.
- Toshiba, girl name, debuted in 1974.
- Brieanna, girl name, debuted in 1979.
- Sumiko, girl name, spiked in 1980.
Tou, boy name, debuted in 1980.
- Marquita, girl name, spiked in 1983.
- Caelan, boy name, debuted in 1992.
- Deyonta, boy name, debuted in 1993.
- Trayvond, boy name, debuted in 1994.
- Zeandre, boy name, debuted in 1997.
- Yatzari, girl name, debuted in 2000.
- Itzae, boy name, debuted in 2011.
If you enjoy sleuthing, please give some of the above a shot! I’d love to knock one or two off the list before I start adding more mystery names in the coming weeks…
Update, 1/23/15: Forgot to add Avenir from the distinctive baby names, state by state list (see Oregon & Washington). It debuted as a boy name in 2002.
Update, 7/13/16: More still-open cases from the Mystery Monday series last summer: Theta, Memory, Treasure, Clione, Trenace, Bisceglia, Genghis and Temujin.