The baby name Dameron has been used sparingly for both genders. It’s only a one-hit wonder so far on the girls’ list, but, notably, it was the highest-hitting one-hit wonder the year it showed up:
1969: 15 baby girls named Dameron [debut]
So, what’s behind that spike?
I don’t know for sure. My only theory so far makes sense in some ways, but not in others.
In February of 1969, an episode of the TV crime drama Ironside featured a bad-guy character named Dameron (played by Skip Homeier). Ironside was a popular show, and the timing was just right, but…this was a male character, and he was only featured in the last 15 minutes of the episode.
Could the character be the cause, or is this just a strange coincidence?
Do you have any theories about the sudden appearance of Dameron in the data?
(Here are two facts that could potentially be clues: Cameron saw slightly higher usage as a girl name in 1969, and the rarity Tameron popped up on the girls’ side of the list the same year.)
In the 1950s and ’60s, Tiki culture — including Tiki bars — were all the rage in the United States. Even Disneyland got in on the action, introducing the Enchanted Tiki Room in 1963.
So it’s not terribly surprising the that the baby name Tiki emerged in the SSA data in the early 1960s:
1964: 12 baby girls named Tiki
1963: 9 baby girls named Tiki
1962: 5 baby girls named Tiki
1960: 15 baby girls named Tiki [debut]
But that rather impressive 1960 debut — and subsequent drop-off a year later– suggests that a specific event kicked off the initial usage of Tiki.
I’ve got two theories on this one.
First is the Hawaiian Eye episode “Fatal Cruise,” which aired in February of 1960 and featured actress Linda Lawson as a character named Tiki.
Second is the show Adventures in Paradise, in which the main character, Capt. Adam Troy, travels around the South Pacific on a schooner called the Tiki.
(Adventures in Paradise, which kicked off the names Sondi and Tiare, was created by writer James Michener, who was behind the debuts of Sayonara and Kerith.)
The first theory makes the most sense, because Hawaiian Eye associated the name with a (very pretty) human. But I don’t think we can discount the second theory, because Adventures in Paradise consistently presented “Tiki” as a name…even if it was just the name of a boat.
So where does the word tiki come from? It was used in the Marquesas and in New Zealand to refer to any carving with human features. (The equivalent word in Hawaiian is ki’i and in Tahitian is ti’i.) Originally, though, Tiki was a specific mythological figure: “the Polynesian Adam, the creator of man…sort of half-man and half-god.”
But we also have the similar names Tyronza and Tyrhonda, both of which saw marked increases in usage in 1978 as well.
All three names peaked in 1979:
40 baby girls
20 baby girls
13 baby girls
81 baby girls [peak]
27 baby girls [peak]
28 baby girls [peak]
73 baby girls
25 baby girls
17 baby girls [debut]
6 baby girls
10 baby girls
I’ve searched high and low, but so far I can’t figure out what was drawing attention to these names in the late ’70s.
The variant spellings suggest the influence was audio as opposed to visual, and the state data reveals that usage was concentrated in the South (e.g., Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina), but those are the only two clues I can offer.
Today we’ve got Tish, which saw a distinct spike in usage in 1971. Here’s the data:
1973: 25 baby girls named Tish
1972: 27 baby girls named Tish
1971: 63 baby girls named Tish
1970: 25 baby girls named Tish
1969: 33 baby girls named Tish
I do have a guess on this one — a bizarre film called The Baby Maker that came out in late 1970 and starred Barbara Hershey (a.k.a. Barbara Seagull) as Tish, “a free spirit who agrees to bear a child for a childless couple.” I can’t find any box office data on the film, though, so I can’t figure out how many people actually saw it.
A better guess would have been African-American model Tish Hammock…but the year she was being featured regularly in Jet magazine was 1969 — a bit too early for a ’71 spike.
Another guess would have been the character Clementine “Tish” Rivers from the James Baldwin novel If Beale Street Could Talk…except it wasn’t published until 1974.
Have any thoughts on this one? Any other theories?