How popular is the baby name Terry in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Terry and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Terry.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Terry

Number of Babies Named Terry

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Terry

The Baby Name Tirrell

television, actress, tirrell barbery, soap opera
9-year-old Tirrell Barbery in 1956

The name Tirrell has been used regularly for baby boys since the ’70s — no doubt thanks to the popularity of the similar name Terrell — but it first appeared in the baby name data as a girl name in the 1950s:

  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: 13 baby girls named Tirrell [debut]
  • 1955: unlisted

While it only ever charted once for girls, the spike in usage that year was high enough to make Tirrell the top one-hit wonder girl name of 1956.

So where did the name come from?

Looks like the inspiration was child actress Tirrell Barbery. She’s best remembered for playing the role of Carol on the TV soap opera Love of Life for four years in the mid-1950s. Various adults on the show vied for custody of Carol, who was actually went mute for a time after witnessing a murder. (She began speaking again after the murderer confessed.)

chris barbery, 1952
Chris Barbery in LIFE
I can’t pinpoint the reason why usage of the name Tirrell suddenly spiked in 1956, though. Perhaps the character had more airtime in 1955 or 1956?

Regardless, I can tell you that Tirrell, who went by the nickname Terry, was born in the mid-1940s to Aldo and Elizabeth Barbieri. She and her older brother Christopher, also a child actor, grew up in New Jersey. Both kids appeared on TV throughout the 1950s, and both used the Anglicized surname Barbery.

While I couldn’t find a good photo of young Tirrell, I did find a shot of her brother Chris trying out for the role of Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island in 1952. (He didn’t get the part.)

[Update: Managed to find a photo! Came from the October 1956 issue of Radio-TV Mirror.]

Tirrell’s first name appears to be based on the English/Irish surname Tirrell, a variant of Tyrrell, which may have been derived from a Norman nickname for a stubborn person. Another theory is that it was derived from the personal name Thurold (Thor + “rule” in Old Norse).

Tirrell Barbieri went on to graduate from Vassar College, get married, and move to California. While she never returned to acting, evidence of her brief acting career will always be preserved on the baby name charts…

Sources:

  • Hanks, Patrick, Kate Hardcastle and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of First Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • “Shore Area Engagements Told.” Asbury Park Press 19 Jul. 1967: 26.
  • “Speaking of Pictures…” Life 19 May 1952: 22.
  • Tirrell B. “Terry” Graham bio (1998) – Smart Voter

P.S. Did you know about the Norwegian name Tiril?


Ferlin from the Fifties

Ferlin Husky, album, 1957We’ve talked about Faron, so now let’s talk about Ferlin — a similar name that debuted for a similar reason during the very same decade.

  • 1959: 22 baby boys named Ferlin
  • 1958: 26 baby boys named Ferlin (peak)
  • 1957: 15 baby boys named Ferlin
  • 1956: 17 baby boys named Ferlin
  • 1955: 9 baby boys named Ferlin
  • 1954: 7 baby boys named Ferlin [debut]
  • 1953: unlisted

The name Ferlin was inspired by American country singer Ferlin Husky. His 1953 singles “A Dear John Letter” and “Forgive Me, John” — both duets with Jean Shepard — are what put him, and his name, on the map.

But the name Ferlin would never have come to anyone’s attention if Ferlin Husky had stuck with the stage name Terry Preston, which he’d been using since the late ’40s. Some sources say he began using a stage name because he felt his real name “sounded too rural.” He was convinced by record producer Ken Nelson to revert to his birth name in the early ’50s:

[Nelson] pushed Terry Preston to drop his stage name and use his given name, Ferlin Husky. “I thought, ‘Oh, my god, Terry Preston, my goodness’ sake’ — it sounded too sweet for a country singer. So I said, ‘Ferlin, why don’t you use your right name? It’s a good masculine name, and it’s an unusual name.’ And he didn’t want to do it. One day, he and his father and I were riding in the car, and I mentioned it to his father, and his father said, ‘Ferlin, you’re never gonna be a success until you use your right name.'”

Ironically, Ferlin’s “right name” was invented by a wrong spelling. His father had intended to name him Ferland after a friend, but the name was misspelled “Ferlin” on the birth certificate.

Do you like the name Ferlin? Do you like it more or less than Faron?

Sources:

California Family with 22 Children

Story family of California in 1940 U.S. census
The Story family on the 1940 U.S. Census
Marion and Charlotte “Lottie” Story of Bakersfield, California, had at least 22 children — including five sets of twins — from 1922 to 1946. Seventeen of their kids are listed on the 1940 U.S. Census (at right).

I don’t know the names of all the Story children, but here are 20 of them: Jean, Jane, Jack, Jacqueline, June, Eileen, Clyde, Robert, James, Jeannette, Steve, Jerry, Terry (sometimes “Terrytown”), Charlotte, Scotty, Sherrie, Garry, Joanne, Frances (called Lidwina), and Monica (called Sandy).

Charlotte Story herself was one of a dozen children, born from 1899 to 1919. Her 11 siblings were named Pearl, George, Rhea, Hazel, Fern, Ira, Myrtle, Dorothy, Helen, Russell, and Viola.

And Charlotte’s mother Elsie was one of 13 children, born from 1865 to 1892. Her 12 siblings were named Edward, Levi, William, Frank, Rosa, Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, Margaret, Archibald, Gertrude, and Emma.

So here’s the question: If you had to choose all of your own children’s names from just one of the sibsets above, which set would you pick? Why?

Sources: Charlotte M Lacount Story – Find A Grave, Elsie E Dubay LaCount – Find A Grave

The Trio in Rio – Leila, Liina, Lily

Next Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, 30-year-old identical (and alliterative) triplets Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik of Estonia are expected to run the women’s marathon. This will make the “Trio in Rio,” as they call themselves, the first set of triplets to compete in an Olympics.

In comparison, about 200 sets of twins have competed in the Olympics over the years. Here are some of the Olympic twins with similarly alliterative names:

  • Åke & Arne (Sweden) [not technically alliterative; see JJ’s comment]
  • Catarina & Christina (Sweden)
  • Darius & Donatas (Lithuania)
  • Darrin & Dan (USA)
  • Dennis & Duane (USA)
  • Dionísio & Domingos (Portugal)
  • Jean-Jacques & Jean-Marc (France)
  • Jodie & Julie (Canada)
  • Jules & Julian (Belgium)
  • Katalin & Krisztina (Hungary)
  • Katrine & Kristine (Norway)
  • Lívia & Lucia (Slovakia)
  • Madeline & Margaret (Puerto Rico)
  • Marianne & Mildred (Netherlands)
  • Sandy & Sonia (Zimbabwe)
  • Malcolm “Mal” & Melville “Mel” (Jamaica)
  • Mark & Michael (Canada)
  • Maureen & Melanie (Netherlands)
  • McJoe & McWilliams (Puerto Rico)
  • Mikuláš & Miloslav (Slovakia)
  • Pascal & Patrick (France)
  • Paula & Peta (Bermuda)
  • Paulo Miguel & Pedro Miguel (Portugal)
  • Pavol & Peter (Slovakia)
  • Randolph & Robert (USA)
  • Rhoda & Rhona (Canada)
  • Ricardo & Rodrigo (Chile)
  • Sharon & Shirley (Canada)
  • Stanley & Sydney (Great Britain)
  • Tami & Toni (USA)
  • Terry & Tom (USA)
  • Valeriy & Volodymyr (Ukraine)
  • Valj & Vita (Ukraine)
  • Veronika & Viktoriya (Belarus)
  • Vida & Vidette (South Africa)
  • Zlatko & Zoran (Yugoslavia)

You can see a full list of Olympic twins in the OlympStats post Twins at the Olympics.

Have you been tuning in to the Olympics? If so, have you spotted any interesting names so far?

Normandie, Take Two

Normandie from Terry and the Pirates (comic strip)
The elusive Normandie Drake!
Last year I guessed that the 1935 debut of Normandie on the SSA’s list was inspired by the maiden voyage of the SS Normandie.

Just a few weeks ago, though, I stumbled upon a theory that makes a lot more sense.

I was in the middle of researching the name Terrylea (a one-hit wonder from 1948 — any guesses?) when I found myself on the IMDB page for Terry and the Pirates (1940).

IMDB pages are full of names, so whenever I land on one I feel compelled to skim. And on this particular page I happened to spot the character name “Normandie Drake.”

It made me think of the baby name Normandie, of course, but the release year didn’t match up to any of the SSA data, so…dead end, right?

Well, turns out the movie was based on a popular comic strip of the same name by cartoonist Milton Caniff. The strip was first published in late 1934.

And which character was introduced in January of 1935? Normandie Drake.

Very intriguing — especially when you consider that a number of baby name debuts from that era were inspired by comic strip characters (e.g., Clovia, Dondi).

Another interesting point: Normandie Drake wasn’t featured in every storyline, and her comings and goings in the comic seem to correspond with the fluctuating usage of the name.

In 1942, for instance, she reappeared after an absence. That same year, the usage of Normandie increased:

  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: 9 baby girls named Normandie
  • 1943: 9 baby girls named Normandie
  • 1942: 14 baby girls named Normandie
  • 1941: unlisted
  • 1940: unlisted
  • 1939: unlisted
  • 1938: unlisted
  • 1937: 11 baby girls named Normandie
  • 1936: unlisted
  • 1935: 7 baby girls named Normandie [debut]
  • 1934: unlisted

Not only that, but she brought along her young daughter Merrily* and the baby name Merrily** promptly skyrocketed into the top 1,000:

  • 1944: 71 baby girls named Merrily
  • 1943: 120 baby girls named Merrily [ranked 914th]
  • 1942: 201 baby girls named Merrily [ranked 698th]
  • 1941: 13 baby girls named Merrily [ranked 513th]
  • 1940: unlisted

A magazine interview with Milton Caniff from a few years later (1945) included a photo of two little girls named Merrily after the character. The caption also mentioned young girls named Normandie after Normandie Drake and April after another Terry character, April Kane.

So, in light of all this new information, I have to admit that my first theory was incorrect. The debut was much more likely caused by Normandie Drake than by the SS Normandie. (Although I do think the ocean liner could have been a secondary influence here.)

Sorry I didn’t have the full story on this one before posting about it initially. Better late than never, though. :)

*Milton Caniff named and modeled Merrily after Mary Lee Engli, the daughter of fellow cartoonist Frank Engli.
**The baby names Merrilee and Merrilie were also affected.

Sources: