So today let’s check out another fun set of “top” names: the top rises. The names below are those that increased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next according to the SSA data.
Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year jumps in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Isa grew 240% and usage of the boy name Noble grew 333%.)
The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does get a lot better in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…
(Did you catch all the doubles? Tula, Delano, Tammy, Jermaine, and Davey/Davy.)
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about many of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it! Leave a comment and let us know what popularized Dorla in 1929, or Lauren in 1945, or Dustin in 1968, or Kayleigh in 1985, or Talan in 2005…
As far as I can tell, the very first person to boost both a first name and a last name into the baby name data was dancer and movie star Cyd Charisse. Charisse debuted in 1946, and Cyd followed a year later:
14 baby girls
20 baby girls
6 baby girls
8 baby girls [debut]
Singin’ in the Rain (1952) was what propelled Charisse to stardom, but in the late ’40s she had minor dancing parts in various musicals, and these appearances must have given her name enough exposure to influence expectant parents.
But she wasn’t born with the name Cyd Charisse. Her birth name was Tula Ellice (ee-leese) Finklea. Here’s how one name morphed into the other:
My real name was Tula Ellice, it was not Cyd. But my brother was only a year older than myself and he couldn’t pronounce Tula Ellice, so he started calling me Sid as a nickname, for sister. And it stuck with me and all my life I’ve been called Sid. But when I went to MGM, Arthur Freed did not like the spelling of S-i-d, which is a boys’ name. And he changed the spelling to C-y-d — a little more glamorous.
And of course Charisse was my first husband’s name, Nico Charisse. So actually Cyd Charisse you could say is my real name.
But there’s actually more to the story, as she went through several stage names before settling on “Cyd Charisse”:
Before I went to MGM, I had danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. And, of course, joining a Russian ballet company in those days, you were supposed to have a Russian name. So Colonel de Basil, who was the regisseur of the ballet at that time, he first named me Felia Siderova. And after a couple of months he decided he would change it to Maria Istomina. Two names.
Then when I wound up back in California, before I went to MGM, I met another Russian director. And he decided that my name should be Lily Norwood.
So finally, when I got to MGM, and Arthur Freed said “We have to change your name,” I said “No please, I’ve had my name changed so many times. Let me just be Sid Charisse.” And that’s when he changed the spelling to C-y-d. And finally I had my own name.
These days, American parents still bestow the name Charisse occasionally, but they rarely go for Cyd. Which name do you prefer?
Looking for a rare girl name with a retro feel? Here are dozens of ideas. All came straight from very old films that were released from the 1910s to the 1940s.
This post is part of a series of posts featuring female names from early cinema. I’m going backwards, so the other lists so far are U, V, W, X, Y, and Z. The names below are the second half of the T-list (Ti- to Ty-). The first half has the Ta- to Th- names. Enjoy!
Tiare was a character name in multiple films, including The Leopardess (1923) and The Moon and Sixpence (1942).
Trixie Trixie Friganza was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in Kansas in 1871. Her birth name was Delia O’Callahan. Trixie was also a character name in multiple films, including Falling Leaves (short, 1912) and The Good Bad Girl (1931).
Tsakran was a character played by actress May Robson in the film Turkish Delight (1927).
Tsuru Tsuru Aoki was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1960s. She was born in Japan in 1892.
Tui Bow was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1980s. She was born in New Zealand in 1906. Her birth name was Mary Lorraine Tui.
Tuila was a character played by actress Conchita Montenegro in the film La Melodia Prohibida (1933).
Tula Belle was a child actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Norway in 1906. Her birth name was Borgny Erna Bull Høegh. Tula was also a character name in multiple films, including The Vengeance of Najerra (short, 1914) and Kongo (1932).
In total, 1,989 baby girls share these 25 versions of Darcy. If we could rank the entire group, it would fall between #24 Phoebe and #25 Millie on the 2013 list.
As Lou of Mer de Noms noted in a post about female names on the rise, dancer Darcey Bussell became a judge on the TV show Strictly Come Dancing in 2012. This explains why Darcey overtook the more traditional spelling Darcy that year.
And the name is still being used for boys, at least for now. Last year, more than 2 dozen baby boys were named Darcy.
The 5th most popular girl name in England and Wales right now is Isla, which is pronounced EYE-la. The –s– is silent, the same way the –s– is silent in the word “isle.”
But more and more parents are opting to simplify the name by respelling it Iyla. Watch how the number of baby girls named Iyla has been rising in the shadow of skyrocketing Isla:
I doubt Iyla will ever overtake the traditional version of the name, but you never know, alternative spellings sometimes catch on. Darcey is now ahead of Darcy, after all, and Zoey has been more popular than Zoe here in the U.S. since 2011.
Last year, two variants of this name entered the girls’ top 1,000 for the first time:
Manahil (52 baby girls) – ranks 750th
Minahil (47) – ranks 813th
And I found a fourth variant, Minaahil, on the list from 2012.
Manahil is an Arabic name that means “springs, fountains.” It’s the plural form of the word Manhal.
Ruzgar, given to 20 baby boys last year, comes from the Turkish word rüzgâr, meaning “wind.” You can hear the proper pronunciation of Rüzgâr at Forvo.
Usage of the name Tulisa plummeted last year, but that’s only part of the story. The name also increased in popularity markedly from 2009 to 2012:
2013: 33 baby girls named Tulisa [out of the top 1,000 again]
2012: 126 baby girls named Tulisa [ranked 375th]
2011: 86 baby girls named Tulisa [ranked 494th]
2010: 34 baby girls named Tulisa [ranked 988th]
2009: 6 baby girls named Tulisa [debut]
What accounts for the steep rise and the even steeper drop?
English singer and television personality Tulisa (born Tula Paulinea Contostavlos). She became famous as a member of the hip hop group N-Dubz (2000-2011) and was a judge on the TV show The X Factor (2011-2012).
But 2013 was not a good year for Tulisa. First, she left television. Second, she was arrested on drug charges. These two things were enough to knock the baby name Tulisa out of the top 1,000.
Though the stage name is pronounced tu-lee-sa, her name was originally pronounced tu-litz-a and was used to distinguish her from her grandmother (and namesake) Tula. The Greek name Tula/Toula is a short form of any Greek feminine name ending with the diminutive –toula such as Aretoula, Fotoula, Kostoula, Kritoula, Margaritoula, Panagiotoula or Stamatoula.
Have you had a chance to scan the list? Which of the baby names there made you curious?
Gandhi, Maneka, and Ozair Husain. The Complete Book of Muslim and Parsi Names. New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2004.
Smith, Sean. Tulisa. London: Simon & Schuster UK, 2012.