Recently I’ve spotted several female movie characters named Pert:
Pert Martin – Take It Big (1944)
Pert – Danger! Women at Work (1943)
Pert Kelly – Why Be Good? (1929)
Pert Barlow – Checkers (1913 & 1919)
Plus there was the American actress Pert Kelton (b. 1907), who was named with the Checkers character in mind. (The story ultimately comes from the 1896 book Checkers: A Hard-luck Story by Henry M. Blossom.)
Despite this usage in early cinema, though, the name never really caught on; it has never appeared in the SSA data.
But it has seen some usage, according to the records. And, interestingly, that usage seems to skew masculine.
The male Perts were probably named with the surname Pert in mind. The surname can be traced back to the Old French word apert, meaning “skilled” or “experienced.” (Apert in this case is a variant of espert, from the Latin word expertus.)
But I think the female Perts — like the characters above — were more likely named with the English word in mind. The Oxford Dictionary defines pert as “attractively lively or cheeky.” This version of pert can also be traced back to apert, but, this time, apert comes from the Latin word apertus, meaning “opened, uncovered.”
As usual, the disclaimer: Some of the names below were already on the rise. Others may have been influenced by more than just the single pop culture person/event listed. I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence in each case.
I was surprised that Adonis and Wade jumped in usage as much as they did.
I was also surprised that Wrigley barely jumped at all in usage. Maybe “Wrigley” reminds too many people of gum?
Where the heck is Usain? Why is Usain not in the data yet? Sure, track and field is relatively unpopular in the United States. Still, I thought Rio might do it — with the help of that viral photo of Usain Bolt cheekily grinning at the competition in the middle of that 100 meter sprint.
Finally, as a former ’80s kid, I did have my fingers crossed for Voltron. Oh well…
How about you? Did any of these rises/falls surprise you?
It’s December 2 — the doubly momentous day on which Britney Spears celebrates her birthday and on which we start another round of the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game.
Which baby names will see significant movement on the charts in 2016 thanks to popular culture (TV, movies, music, sports, politics, products, current events, video games, etc.)? Below are some possibilities. Leave a comment with the names you’d add — and don’t forget to mention the pop culture influence.