I learned recently that actress Shawnee Smith (remember The Blob?) had a daughter in 1999 and named her Verve, in part “after a British band” that she and her then-husband really liked.
That band must have been The Verve; their 1997 song “Bitter Sweet Symphony” [vid] was extremely popular circa 1999.
The name Verve has never been used enough to appear in the SSA’s publicly available dataset (which excludes names bestowed fewer than 5 times per year). But similar-sounding word-names like Brave, Ever, and Valor have been picking up steam lately, so do you think we might see Verve in the dataset one day soon? (Would you use it?)
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?