The name Staria debuted rather impressively in 1955 with 20 baby girls:
1957: 9 baby girls named Staria
1956: 15 baby girls named Staria
1955: 20 baby girls named Staria [debut]
So far, I haven’t been able to figure out why. None of the other Star- names (like Starla or Starlet) shot up in usage from 1954 to 1955, and the only pop culture “Staria” I can find was an Australian comic strip character introduced in 1980 — wrong place, wrong time.
The one clue I can offer is this: I found birth records for about half of the 1955 Starias, and all of those births happened during the second half of the year (July to December). So we could be looking for some mid-year event.
Ready for another mystery baby name? Today we’ve got Carlester, which jumped on and off the SSA’s list (with curious regularity) throughout the ’50s:
1959: 6 baby boys named Carlester
1958: 9 baby boys named Carlester (5 born in Maryland)
1956: 9 baby boys named Carlester (5 born in Maryland)
1954: 11 baby boys named Carlester
1952: 10 baby boys named Carlester [debut]
So far, I can’t pinpoint the source.
The name Carlester definitely wasn’t new in 1952 — dozens of people all over the U.S. had been named Carlester prior to the 1950s, going back to at least the late 1800s.
And, contrary to what the SSA data implies, most of the 1950s usage was far to the south of Maryland. In fact, during the first few years of the decade, it looks like most of the usage was in North Carolina specifically. Football player Carlester Crumpler was born in North Carolina in 1951, for instance.
There could be an African-American angle here, but I’ve checked several African-American publications from the time period and haven’t yet spotted a Carlester (or a Carl Ester).
Any idea why the name Carlester started seeing higher usage in the early ’50s?
Acronym baby names are officially a thing. Not a major thing, but still a thing. Acronym baby names I’ve come across include Ily, “I love you,” and Lya, “love you always.”
One type of acronym that seems to be trendy these days is the “AB_” acronym, in which the first two words are “always be” and the third is a verb in “-ing” form. They stem from ABC, “always be closing,” made famous by the movie Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). Variations I’ve heard include ABS (“always be shipping” or “always be “selling”), ABL (“always be learning”), a different ABC (“always be charging”), and even ABK (“always be knolling“).
So I wondered: Could we create an “always be” acronym that’s also a good baby name?
For the name to be pronounceable (unlike Abcde) the third letter would have to be a vowel. And I’d say the best vowels for the job — considering both the number of available verbs and the resulting acronym — are E and I. So let’s see what we can come up with for ABE and ABI…
Abe is typically a nickname for of Abraham, but Abe is also used as an independent name. In fact, dozens of U.S. babies have been named Abe (not Abraham) every year for many decades.
Here are my top five acronym possibilities for the name Abe:
ABE: “always be exploring”
ABE: “always be evolving”
ABE: “always be experimenting”
ABE: “always be embarking”
ABE: “always be excelling”
And here are some of the other verbs that could be used: earning, educating, empowering, encouraging, engaging, engineering, enhancing, enjoying, evaluating, examining, exceeding, and experiencing.
Abi, like the more familiar Abby, is a short form of Abigail. Abi isn’t common as an independent name, but usage has picked up a bit recently.
Here are my top five acronym possibilities for the name Abi:
ABI: “always be imagining”
ABI: “always be innovating”
ABI: “always be improving”
ABI: “always be inspiring”
ABI: “always be initiating”
And here are some of the other verbs that could be used: illuminating, implementing, impressing, improvising, increasing, influencing, informing, inspecting, integrating, interacting, interpreting, and investigating.
What are your favorite “always be” acronyms for Abe and Abi?
Do you think anyone out there has used an “always be” acronym as a baby name yet?
If you’ve heard of Hilo Hattie, your first association is likely to be the Hawaiian tourist shop known selling “aloha wear” clothing and souvenirs.
But the name Hilo Hattie originated with a real person. “Hilo Hattie” was the stage name of Clarissa “Clara” Haili, a Hawaiian singer and comedienne who was born in Honolulu in 1901.
Her humorous live rendition of the hapa-haole song “When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop,” which she first performed in the late 1930s, was such a hit that she began using “Hilo Hattie” in place of her own name. (Hilo, pronounced hee-loh, is a town on the east coast of the Big Island.)
Some sources claim she made Hilo Hattie her legal name in the early ’40s, but the records I’ve seen don’t support this idea. Billboard was still calling her Clara Inter (her first married name) in the late ’40s, and she’s identified as Clara H. Nelson (her second married name) on her headstone.
Clara passed away in 1979. The same year, the Hawaiian fashion company now known as “Hilo Hattie” bought the rights to her name.
The name Bear was just barely being used before adventurer Bear Grylls (birth name: Edward Grylls) came to our attention via the TV series Man vs. Wild (2006-2011).
Since then, usage has increased steadily — both among regular folks and among celebrities:
2017: English musician Liam Payne had son Bear Grey
2017: English musician Howard Donald had son Dougie Bear
2013: English actress Kate Winslet had son Bear Blaze
2011: American actress Alicia Silverstone had son Bear Blu
2010: English chef Jamie Oliver had son Buddy Bear Maurice
In the U.S., the baby name Bear is currently sitting just outside the top 1,000:
2016: 186 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,055th]
2015: 134 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,311th]
2014: 131 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,327th]
2013: 84 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,730th]
2012: 79 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,845th]
2011: 85 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,728th]
The England and Wales data for 2016 isn’t out yet, but Bear entered the top 1,000* there in 2015:
2015: 36 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 859th]
2014: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 1,330th]
2013: 15 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,546th]
2012: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,319th]
2011: 7 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 2,650th]
But this data only accounts for first names. The principal usage for Bear could be happening under the radar, with middles. Two of the celebs above used Bear as a middle, and so did this Canadian couple who hit on a bear on the way to the delivery room. And don’t forget American actress Zooey Deschanel, who didn’t opt for Bear, but did give her kids the animal-middles Otter and Wolf.
Do you like Bear as a baby name? How high do you think it will climb on the U.S. charts?
*I assigned rankings to the E/W names the same way the SSA assigns rankings — breaking ties by assigning rank in alphabetical order.