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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Willis


Posts that Mention the Name Willis

Popular and Unique Baby Names in Each U.S. State, 2020

Which baby names were the most popular in each U.S. state in 2020? And which names only popped up in the data for a single state in 2020? Here are the answers! (Any name that also appeared in last year’s post is in boldface.)

Alabama

  • Alabama’s top girl name: Ava
  • Alabama’s top boy name: William
  • Alabama’s 7 unique girl names: Emoree, Khylie, Petrona, Annalynn, Jailee, Kaloni, Loxley
  • Alabama’s 7 unique boy names: Kyser, Mills, Johnluke, Kamar, Kendarius, Saylor, Xzavion

Alaska

  • Alaska’s top girl name: Amelia
  • Alaska’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Arizona

  • Arizona’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Arizona’s top boy name: Liam
  • Arizona’s 3 unique girl names: Zo, Ariza, Payson
  • Arizona’s 2 unique boy names: Iram, Quill

Arkansas

  • Arkansas’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Arkansas’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names
  • No unique boy names.

California

  • California’s top girl name: Olivia
  • California’s top boy name: Noah
  • California’s top 10 unique girl names: Sequoia, Emiko, Rey, Melrose, Roxanna, Shaila, Briseida, Ara, Cathy, Koa (total of 551)
  • California’s top 10 unique boy names: Slater, Curren, Armen, Fateh, Agam, Angad, Gurbaaz, Subhan, Yash, Ojas (total of 394)

Colorado

  • Colorado’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Colorado’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Connecticut

  • Connecticut’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Connecticut’s top boy name: Noah
  • No unique girl names.
  • Connecticut’s 1 unique boy name: Henrique

Delaware

  • Delaware’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Delaware’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

District of Columbia

  • D.C.’s top girl name: Olivia
  • D.C.’s top boy name: William
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Florida

  • Florida’s top girl name: Emma
  • Florida’s top boy name: Liam
  • Florida’s top 10 unique girl names: Abigaelle, Harbor, Allana, Breeze, Forever, Jaziyah, Railyn, Aniyla, Arielis, Dalani (total of 81)
  • Florida’s top 10 unique boy names: Aramis, Jaheim, Javaris, Maleek, Caio, Jahleel, Jeriel, Kamir, Marvens, Amyr (total of 81)

Georgia

  • Georgia’s top girl name: Ava
  • Georgia’s top boy name: Liam
  • Georgia’s top 10 unique girl names: Harmonii, Emmagrace, Kaior, Kiersten, Maebry, Makiya, Aloni, Jersi, Allura, Amalie (total of 25)
  • Georgia’s top 10 unique boy names: Antwon, Kiari, Woods, Elnathan, Jalil, Javontae, Keigan, Londyn, Mansa, Rhylan (total of 30)

Hawaii

  • Hawaii’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Hawaii’s top boy name: Liam
  • Hawaii’s 6 unique girl names: Halia, Anela Mahealani, Ilihia, Malie, Maile
  • Hawaii’s 6 unique boy names: Kainalu, Kahiau, Kamahao, Keawe, Alika, Kaikoa

Idaho

  • Idaho’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Idaho’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Illinois

  • Illinois’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Illinois’s top boy name: Noah
  • Illinois’s top 10 unique girl names: Zuzanna, Pola, Aniela, Eleen, Daliyah, Calia, Daniya, Destini, Eleonora, Esha (total of 18)
  • Illinois’s top 10 unique boy names: Krystian, Teodor, Jovon, Petar, Syair, Vuk, Akshar, Jameer, Kiyaan, Lashawn (total of 24)

Indiana

  • Indiana’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Indiana’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Indiana’s 2 unique girl names: Aayla, Renlee
  • Indiana’s 8 unique boy names: Maciah, Axtyn, Buckley, Emmerson, Javonni, Kashten, Lavon, Layken

Iowa

  • Iowa’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Iowa’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • Iowa’s 1 unique boy name: Kinnick
    • Kinnick is the name of the University of Iowa’s football stadium.

Kansas

  • Kansas’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Kansas’s top boy name: Liam
  • Kansas’s 2 unique girl names: Brecken, Atley
  • No unique boy names.

Kentucky

  • Kentucky’s top girl name: Amelia
  • Kentucky’s top boy name: Liam
  • Kentucky’s 2 unique girl names: Larkyn, Karson
  • Kentucky’s 1 unique boy name: Brentlee

Louisiana

  • Louisiana’s top girl name: Ava
  • Louisiana’s top boy name: Liam
  • Louisiana’s 8 unique girl names: Kaislee, Rylen, Harlym, Riyah, Cecile, Damiya, Jrue, Rhemi
  • Louisiana’s 6 unique boy names: Baylen, Daxx, Jansen, Tylin, Hutson, Tyrin

Maine

  • Maine’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Maine’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Maryland

  • Maryland’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Maryland’s top boy name: Liam
  • Maryland’s 7 unique girl names: Dynver, Oakland, Brailyn, Chidera, Gelila, Kaylei, Shekinah
  • Maryland’s 3 unique boy names: Yafet, Jordon, Karon

Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Massachusetts’s top boy name: Noah
  • Massachusetts’s 8 unique girl names: Aylla, Manuella, Eloah, Nelle, Clarisse, Emilly, Heloisa, Malu
  • Massachusetts’s 8 unique boy names: Heitor, Tadhg, Joaopedro, Noriel, Walden, Dana, Enzogabriel, Jordany

Michigan

  • Michigan’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Michigan’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Michigan’s top 10 unique girl names: Zahraa, Cashmere, Ellouise, Manar, Breslyn, Cobi, Hala, Raneem, Arla, Avacyn (total of 22)
  • Michigan’s top 10 unique boy names: Blair, Ayham, Coltyn, Nicklas, Daijon, Alastair, Deante, Haidar, Kodah, Mohsen (total of 13)

Minnesota

  • Minnesota’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Minnesota’s top boy name: Henry
  • Minnesota’s top 10 unique girl names: Maida, Rayan, Nawal, Adna, Ahlam, Ikhlas, Ayan, Britta, Mumtaz, Munira (total of 28)
  • Minnesota’s top 10 unique boy names: Muad, Muhsin, Yaqub, Sudais, Abdulahi, Mohamedamin, Masud, Liban, Mikko, Yonis (total of 23)

Mississippi

  • Mississippi’s top girl name: Ava
  • Mississippi’s top boy name: James
  • Mississippi’s 3 unique girl names: Harlei, Mattilyn, Rivers
  • Mississippi’s 6 unique boy names: Ashtin, Devonta, Aycen, Jakayden, Keondre, Landan

Missouri

  • Missouri’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Missouri’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Missouri’s 8 unique girl names: Kelce, Esma, Kamori, Quinley, Blu, Jhream, Kendyl, Mavery
  • Missouri’s 5 unique boy names: Travon, Bryton, Darrion, Sutter, Whitley

Montana

  • Montana’s top girl name: Charlotte & Olivia (tie)
  • Montana’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Nebraska

  • Nebraska’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Nebraska’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Nebraska’s 1 unique girl name: Breckyn
  • Nebraska’s 1 unique boy name: Eh

Nevada

  • Nevada’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Nevada’s top boy name: Liam
  • Nevada’s 1 unique girl name: Unity
  • No unique boy names.

New Hampshire

  • New Hampshire’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • New Hampshire’s top boy name: Lucas
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

New Jersey

  • New Jersey’s top girl name: Olivia
  • New Jersey’s top boy name: Liam
  • New Jersey’s top 10 unique girl names: Bluma, Ruchama, Leba, Avigayil, Jadelyn, Alianny, Arna, Bina, Ita, Maahi (total of 13)
  • New Jersey’s top 10 unique boy names: Boruch, Shraga, Gershon, Shaul, Avigdor, Naksh, Abeer, Nesanel, Refoel, Yerachmiel (total of 19)

New Mexico

  • New Mexico’s top girl name: Olivia
  • New Mexico’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

New York

  • New York’s top girl name: Olivia
  • New York’s top boy name: Liam
  • New York’s top 10 unique girl names: Gitty, Yitty, Raizy, Sury, Esty, Goldy, Idy, Henny, Yides, Hinda (total of 174)
    • Esty came up in the 2020 Pop Culture Baby Name Game because of the Netflix mini-series Unorthodox, which features an ultra-Orthodox Jewish main character named Esty from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC. Of the 67 baby girls named Esty last year, 59 were born in New York specifically.
  • New York’s top 10 unique boy names: Lipa, Yechiel, Hershel, Pinchas, Avrum, Lazer, Md, Nachman, Berl, Muhammadyusuf (total of 157)

North Carolina

  • North Carolina’s top girl name: Olivia
  • North Carolina’s top boy name: Liam
  • North Carolina’s 8 unique girl names: Wrenn, Katara, Beckley, Embree, Kaileigh, Promyse, Reigna, Twyla
  • North Carolina’s top 10 unique boy names: Nolyn, Calihan, Aysen, Bladen, Damarcus, Dempsey, Hilton, Jahmere, Kaedyn, Kamdon (total of 16)

North Dakota

  • North Dakota’s top girl name: Amelia & Olivia
  • North Dakota’s top boy name: Oliver
  • North Dakota’s 1 unique girl name: Girl (…still probably just a place-holder)
  • No unique boy names.

Ohio

  • Ohio’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Ohio’s top boy name: Liam
  • Ohio’s top 10 unique girl names: Damyla, Jozie, Delainey, Delila, Dorcas, Joselynn, Maisley, Maizey, Marcia, Bexleigh (total of 22)
  • Ohio’s top 10 unique boy names: Willis, Larkin, Jashawn, Abdallah, Bennet, Bexley, Buck, Cylus, Freeman, Graeme (total of 26)

Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Oklahoma’s top boy name: Liam
  • Oklahoma’s 4 unique girl names: Brenlee, Jentri, Lun, Man
  • Oklahoma’s 5 unique boy names: Pau, Creek, Mung, Cale, Dayson

Oregon

  • Oregon’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Oregon’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • Oregon’s 1 unique boy name: Rogue

Pennsylvania

  • Pennsylvania’s top girl name: Emma
  • Pennsylvania’s top boy name: Noah
  • Pennsylvania’s top 10 unique girl names: Barbie, Suhaylah, Lavina, Verna, Surah, Erma, Adalind, Azara, Saloma, Aasiyah (total of 28)
  • Pennsylvania’s top 10 unique boy names: Mahlon, Benuel, Ayyub, Aasim, Lavern, Baxter, Carmen, Muadh, Ahzir, Asir (total of 32)

Rhode Island

  • Rhode Island’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Rhode Island’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

South Carolina

  • South Carolina’s top girl name: Ava
  • South Carolina’s top boy name: William
  • South Carolina’s 3 unique girl names: Kaniya, Ellory, Indya
  • South Carolina’s 3 unique boy names: Drayton, Bowman, Collins

South Dakota

  • South Dakota’s top girl name: Harper
  • South Dakota’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Tennessee

  • Tennessee’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Tennessee’s top boy name: Liam
  • Tennessee’s top 10 unique girl names: Anslee, Callaway, Henleigh, Mallie, Amellia, Blakley, Chloee, Crimson, Emersynn, Ivyanna (total of 14)
  • Tennessee’s top 10 unique boy names: Neyland, Martavious, Holston, Ladarius, Mckinley, Ripken, Conley, Crockett, Kimoni, Ryman (total of 11)
    • Neyland is the name of the University of Tennessee’s football stadium.
    • Holston is the name of a river in Tennessee.
    • Ryman is the name of the Nashville auditorium that was the home of the Grand Ole Opry (1943-’74).

Texas

  • Texas’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Texas’s top boy name: Liam
  • Texas’s top 10 unique girl names: Elida, Kymber, Roberta, Xaria, Debanhi, Karyme, Abilene, Kirby, Analeigh, Bryar (total of 452)
    • Abilene is the name of a city in Texas.
  • Texas’s top 10 unique boy names: Crawford, Homero, Guadalupe, Eliazar, Abiel, Clemente, Javi, Koe, Javen, Kutter (total of 276)

Utah

  • Utah’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Utah’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Utah’s 5 unique girl names: Alta, Scottlyn, Cozette, Auburn, Swayzie
  • Utah’s 6 unique boy names: Kaladin, Taggart, Thayne, Trapper, Alma, Quaid
    • Kaladin is the name of a character in the Stormlight Archive book series by Utah author Brandon Sanderson.

Vermont

  • Vermont’s top girl name: Amelia
  • Vermont’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Virginia

  • Virginia’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Virginia’s top boy name: Liam
  • Virginia’s 6 unique girl names: Soliana, Soliyana, Cornelia, Harlan, Makenzi, Yanet
  • Virginia’s 6 unique boy names: Yuvin, Berkley, Keandre, Nayel, Nyzir, Sarim

Washington

  • Washington’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Washington’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Washington’s 6 unique girl names: Ellinor, Jasper, Freja, Korah, Ravenna, Robbie
    • Ravenna is the name of a neighborhood in Seattle.
  • Washington’s 7 unique boy names: Finlay, Amnen, Finnan, Lochlann, Peregrine, Echo, Jettson

West Virginia

  • West Virginia’s top girl name: Harper
  • West Virginia’s top boy name: Liam
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Wisconsin

  • Wisconsin’s top girl name: Charlotte
  • Wisconsin’s top boy name: Oliver
  • Wisconsin’s 1 unique girl name: Marietta
  • Wisconsin’s 2 unique boy names: Chet, Everhett

Wyoming

  • Wyoming’s top girl name: Olivia
  • Wyoming’s top boy name: Oliver
  • No unique girl names.
  • No unique boy names.

Have any info/theories on any of the unique names above? If so, please leave a comment!

Source: Popular Names by State – SSA

What gave the baby name Aleeta a boost in 1933?

Aleeta & Mertis Fleming, 1933

In 1933, the relatively rare baby name Aleeta saw an isolated spike in usage:

  • 1935: unlisted
  • 1934: unlisted
  • 1933: 17 baby girls named Aleeta [peak]
  • 1932: unlisted
  • 1931: unlisted

What gave it a boost that year?

Aleeta Fleming, a 28-year-old “farm wife” from northeastern Ohio who was in the news starting on August 6th. A physician had recently determined that her 4-month-old son, Mertis, Jr., had died of strangulation. Following that revelation, Aleeta “glibly” confessed to the murder of not just Mertis, Jr., but also to the murder of an earlier son, Willis, who she’d poisoned as a baby in January of 1932.

The next day, she repudiated her confession and instead blamed her 55-year-old husband Mertis, who “disliked boy babies,” for the deaths:

Mrs. Fleming said her husband gave all his affection to their 3-year-old daughter, Beatrice, and complained to her that the boys fretted too much…[She] was quoted by the sheriff as asserting her husband threatened to kill her unless she made away with the boy babies.

Both parents ended up pleading guilty to second degree murder. In early November, both were sentenced to life in prison.

Interestingly, the spelling “Aleeta” seems to be a newspaper typo. In all the records I’ve seen (e.g., Willis’s death certificate, Mertis’s death certificate, the 1930 U.S. Census, the 1940 U.S. Census) the name is spelled “Alleta.”

Do you like the name Aleeta?

P.S. Beatrice, who spent her childhood in an orphanage, “worked as a foster parent with Indian children out west” as an adult.

Sources:

  • “Admits the Killing of her Infant Sons.” Lincoln Star 6 Aug. 1933: 17.
  • “Held in Slaying of two Children.” Evening Independent [Massillon, Ohio] 7 Aug. 1933: 1.
  • “Mother Admits Poisoning Babies.” Defiance Crescent 7 Aug. 1933: 1.
  • “Parents Who Killed 2 Children Sentenced.” Nevada State Journal 3 Nov. 1933: 4.
  • Beatrice M. Fleming obituary

Contrarian Baby Names: Cliff, Janet, Steve, Wanda…

contrarian baby names, uncool baby names

“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.

If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.

But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.

If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.

Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.

Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.

Contrarian Baby Names: Girls

Alberta
Anita
Ann
Annetta
Annette
Bambi
Becky
Benita
Bertha
Bessie
Beth
Betty
Beverley
Beverly
Blanche
Bobbie
Bobby
Bonita
Candy
Caren
Carlene
Carol
Carole
Cary
Caryn
Cathleen
Cathy
Charla
Charlene
Charmaine
Cheri
Cherie
Cheryl
Chris
Christi
Cindy
Claudette
Coleen
Colleen
Connie
Dale
Danette
Danita
Darlene
Dawn
Dawna
Deanne
Debbie
Debora
Debra
Deirdre
Delores
Denice
Denise
Diane
Dianna
Dianne
Dollie
Dolores
Dona
Donna
Doreen
Dori
Doris
Dorthy
Eddie
Edwina
Ernestine
Ethel
Gail
Gayle
Gena
Geralyn
Germaine
Gilda
Glenda
Glenna
Harriett
Jackie
Janet
Janice
Janis
Jayne
Jean
Jeanette
Jeanie
Jeanine
Jeanne
Jeannette
Jeannie
Jeannine
Jeri
Jerri
Jerry
Jill
Jimmie
Jo
Joan
Joann
Joanne
Jodi
Jody
Joellen
Joni
Juanita
Judi
Judy
Juli
Kandi
Karin
Kathie
Kathy
Kay
Kaye
Kerrie
Kerry
Kim
Kimberley
Kitty
Kris
Kristi
Ladonna
Laureen
Lauretta
Laurie
Lavonne
Lee
Leesa
Lois
Lorene
Lori
Lorie
Lorinda
Lorna
Lorraine
Lorrie
Lou
Louann
Lu
Luann
Luanne
Lucretia
Lupe
Lyn
Lynda
Lynn
Lynne
Madonna
Marcia
Marcy
Margie
Mariann
Marianne
Marla
Marsha
Maryjo
Maureen
Meg
Melba
Melinda
Melva
Michele
Migdalia
Mitzi
Myrna
Nanette
Nelda
Nicki
Nita
Norma
Pamela
Patrice
Patsy
Patti
Patty
Pauline
Peggy
Pennie
Phyllis
Randy
Reba
Rene
Rhonda
Rita
Robbie
Robbin
Roberta
Robin
Rochelle
Ronda
Rosanne
Roseann
Roxane
Roxann
Sandy
Saundra
Sharon
Sheila
Shelia
Shelley
Shelly
Sheri
Sherri
Sherry
Sheryl
Shirley
Sondra
Sue
Susanne
Suzan
Suzanne
Tammie
Tammy
Tena
Teri
Terri
Terry
Thelma
Theresa
Therese
Tina
Tonia
Tonya
Tracey
Traci
Tracie
Tracy
Treva
Trina
Trudy
Velma
Verna
Vicki
Vickie
Vicky
Wanda
Wendy
Willie
Wilma
Yolanda
Yvonne

Contrarian Baby Names: Boys

Adolph
Al
Alford
Alphonso
Arne
Arnie
Arnold
Artie
Barry
Barton
Bennie
Bernard
Bernie
Bert
Bill
Billie
Bob
Bobbie
Brad
Bradford
Brent
Bret
Britt
Bud
Buddy
Burl
Burt
Butch
Carey
Carleton
Carlton
Carmen
Carroll
Cary
Cecil
Chester
Chuck
Clarence
Claude
Cletus
Cleveland
Cliff
Clifford
Clifton
Columbus
Curt
Curtiss
Dale
Dan
Dana
Dannie
Darrel
Darryl
Daryl
Dave
Davie
Del
Delbert
Dell
Delmer
Denny
Derwin
Dewey
Dirk
Don
Donnie
Donny
Doug
Douglass
Doyle
Duane
Dudley
Duwayne
Dwain
Dwaine
Dwane
Dwight
Earl
Earnest
Ed
Edsel
Elbert
Ernie
Farrell
Floyd
Fred
Freddie
Fredric
Gale
Garland
Garry
Garth
Gene
Geoffrey
Gerard
Gerry
Gilbert
Glen
Glenn
Greg
Gregg
Greggory
Grover
Guy
Hal
Haywood
Herbert
Herman
Homer
Horace
Howell
Hubert
Irwin
Jackie
Jame
Jeff
Jefferey
Jeffry
Jerald
Jerold
Jess
Jim
Jimmie
Jodie
Jody
Johnie
Johnnie
Karl
Kelly
Ken
Kenney
Kennith
Kent
Kermit
Kerry
Kim
Kirk
Kraig
Kurt
Laurence
Lawrance
Len
Lenard
Lennie
Les
Leslie
Lester
Lindell
Lindsay
Lindsey
Linwood
Lloyd
Lonnie
Lonny
Loren
Lorin
Lowell
Loyd
Lynn
Marion
Marty
Matt
Maxie
Mel
Merle
Merrill
Mickel
Mickey
Millard
Milton
Mitch
Mitchel
Monty
Neal
Ned
Nicky
Norbert
Norman
Norris
Orville
Perry
Pete
Phil
Ralph
Randal
Randel
Randell
Randolph
Rayford
Rick
Rickey
Rickie
Rob
Robby
Robin
Rock
Rodger
Rogers
Rojelio
Rolf
Ron
Roosevelt
Rudolfo
Rudolph
Rufus
Russ
Rusty
Sal
Sammie
Sandy
Sanford
Scot
Sherman
Sherwood
Skip
Stan
Stanford
Steve
Stevie
Stewart
Stuart
Sylvester
Tad
Ted
Terence
Thurman
Tim
Timmothy
Timmy
Tod
Todd
Tom
Tommie
Toney
Tracey
Tracy
Val
Vernell
Vernon
Waymon
Wendell
Wilbert
Wilbur
Wilford
Wilfred
Willard
Willis
Winfred
Woody

Interestingly, thirteen of the names above — Bobbie, Cary, Dale, Jackie, Jimmie, Jody, Kerry, Kim, Lynn, Robin, Sandy, Tracey, Tracy — managed to make both lists.

Now some questions for you…

Do you like any of these names? Would you be willing to use any of them on a modern-day baby? Why or why not?

Name Quotes #44: Jacksie, Memphis, Wyllis

Welcome to this month’s quote post!

From the book C.S. Lewis: An Examined Life by Bruce L. Edwards:

“[I]t was on one of these early holiday trips that Clive refused to be called by any other name than Jacksie, which was shortened to Jacks and then to Jack. He was either three or four years old when this name change occurred, as it was possibly in the summer of 1902 or 1903. […] Lewis’s stepson, Douglas Gresham, claimed that the reason he called himself Jacksie was due to his fondness for a small dog named Jacksie that had been killed.”

From “How To Cope With Your Video Game Inspired Name” by Sephiroth Hernandez, whose first name was inspired by the Final Fantasy VII villain:

You need to understand why your parents gave you that name. It’s because they lack common sense. It probably came from playing video games all the time.

[…]

Deep inside, you possess the ability to make more of your name than you think you could. You are cursed of course, but you are blessed with an understanding that few people have. Your name doesn’t define you. You define you. Just love yourself and love others. That’s all I can say.

(Sephiroth has been on the SSA’s list since 2004.)

Some baby naming advice from Steve Almond’s Heavy Meddle advice column:

Your instincts are spot on here: you’re the one who’s carrying the baby and will birth him. You and your husband will raise the baby. It is presumptuous for anybody who isn’t doing that honest labor to assume naming — or vetoing — rights, or really to do anything beyond offering suggestions.

From an interview with Dita Von Teese (born Heather Sweet) in Vogue:

I was just Dita for many years. I had seen a movie with an actress named Dita Parlo, and I thought, God, that’s such a cool name. I wanted to be known with just a simple first name–Cher, Madonna. Then when I first posed for Playboy, in 1993 or 1994, they told me I had to pick a last name. So I opened up the phone book at the bikini club [I worked in at the time]. I was with a friend and I was like, “Let’s look under a Von something.” It sounds really exotic and glamorous. So I found the name Von Treese and I called Playboy and said, “I’m going to be Dita Von Treese.” I remember so well going to the newsstand and picking up the magazine, and it said Dita Von Teese. I called them and they said, “Oh, we’ll fix it. We’ll fix it.” The next month, same thing: Dita Von Teese. I left it because I didn’t really care. I didn’t know I was going to go on to trademark it all over the world!

From a post about a man named San Francisco by blogger Andy Osterdahl:

Before anyone accuses me of making up a name to post here, I can assure you that Mr. Francisco was an actual person, and while he shares his name with the famed California city, isn’t believed to have had any connection with that area (despite the latter portion of his life being spent in the neighboring city of San Diego.)

From an article about the unusual names by Memphis Barker (found via Appellation Mountain):

That’s one thing about having an unusual name, your solidarity lies with the Apples and Philomenas. You can point and laugh with all the Johns and Garys, but the laugh is a little anxious. More of a squeak. It could all go wrong so quickly.

And finally, a bit about Wyllis Cooper (born Willis Cooper), creator of the late ’40s radio show Quiet, Please!:

It’s curios [sic] that when he left Hollywood, he also legally changed the spelling of his name from “Willis” to “Wyllis”. Radio Mirror magazine appears to be the first to mention it in 1940, saying “a numerologist advised him to change it” then Time magazine made a similar mention in 1941, but elaborated further that it was due to “his wife’s numerological inclinations”. Then in 1942 ‘Capital Times’ newspaper in Madison WI seemed to merge the two previous reports as: “a numerologist told his wife it should be spelled Wyllis and he’s done so ever since.”

[…]

Upon utilizing several present day numerology calculators found online, the results conclude that both spellings have virtually identical meanings in every respect.

What popularized the baby name Marva in the 1930s?

Boxer Joe Louis (1914-1981)
Joe Louis

According to the U.S. baby name data, usage of the name Marva increased quite a bit from 1934 to 1936:

  • 1937: 342 baby girls named Marva (ranked 342nd)
  • 1936: 350 baby girls named Marva (ranked 334th)
  • 1935: 187 baby girls named Marva (ranked 466th)
  • 1934: 74 baby girls named Marva (ranked 785th)
  • 1933: 60 baby girls named Marva (ranked 873rd)

Why?

Because of Marva Trotter, who married heavyweight boxer Joe Louis on September 24, 1935.

A few hours later, Joe fought fellow heavyweight Max Baer at Yankee Stadium:

Joe Louis entered the ring last night a married man, and his radiant bride, who until ten minutes before Joe left the apartment house at 381 Edgecombe Avenue for the Yankee Stadium was simply Miss Marva Trotter, 19-year-old Chicago secretary, sat in a ringside seat and urged her man on to do his best.

Louis won the fight by knockout in the fourth round.

September 24th was also an eventful day in the lives of Willis and Esther Scott of Beloit, Wisconsin. That evening, they welcomed twins — one boy, one girl. What did they name the babies? Joseph Louis and Josephine Marva, after the boxer and his new bride. (On the 1940 U.S. Census, 4-year-old Joseph is listed as “Joe Louis.”)

Sources: