Successful entrepreneurs Sergey Brin (Google) and Anne Wojcicki (23andMe) were married from 2007 to 2015. During that time they had two children, a son and a daughter.
They named the kids Benji and Chloe, but that’s not all — they also gave the kids a brand new surname: Wojin, a combination of Wojcicki (which is pronounced wo-JIT-skee) and Brin. According to a Gawker tipster, the surname had been created “for security reasons.”
Do you know of any families with invented/blended surnames?
Last week I posted about the usage of the name Estelle in Sweden, and one of the sources I used for that post mentioned the intriguing case of Engla.
In the early 2000s, the name Engla was on the upswing in Sweden.
Then tragedy struck: a 10-year-old named Engla Juncosa Höglund was abducted in April of 2008. Days later, she was found brutally murdered. Controversially, Engla’s funeral was broadcast live on national TV in Sweden in May. The murderer was apprehended and his trial went on for months.
What happened to the baby name Engla as a result? In the U.S., I would have expected to see a continued rise in usage, thanks solely to the extra exposure. But in Sweden, the opposite occurred:
2017: 20 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2016: 17 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2015: 29 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2014: 16 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2013: 26 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2012: 37 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2011: 51 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2010: 40 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2009: 44 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2008: 169 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2007: 224 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2006: 209 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2005: 147 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2004: 105 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2003: 94 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2002: 75 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2001: 56 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2000: 30 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
1999: 16 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
1998: 11 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
Even more surprisingly (to me), the name never recovered.
Within a span of 20 years, the name went from being unpopular, to ranking in the top 100 for several years straight, to being unpopular all over again.
The name Engla can be traced back to the Germanic name element engel, which referred to the Angles (as in “Anglo-Saxon”).
A few years ago, Texas-born storyteller Kambri Crews was interviewed about her unique first name. Here’s some of what she said:
I’ve never met another Kambri and don’t know of any who are older than me. As far as I can tell, I’m the first. A few friends have named their girls Kambri taking liberty with its spelling. It’s like the old Vidal Sassoon television commercial. “They tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on and so on.” So, if you search for Kambri a bunch come up in the south, where I’m from.
She’s right about the South: Most Kambris (and Kambrys, and Kambries) are born in Texas, Utah, and Oklahoma, according to the SSA data.
She also mentioned that no one ever spells “Kambri” correctly on the first try:
Once in maybe 1,000 times people will get the “K” right but always, always, always spell it with an “Y”. The Toyota Camry is responsible for all my name confusion woes.
What are your thoughts on the name Kambri? If you were going to use it for a baby girl, how would you spell it?
Speaking of names in the Swedish royal family…the Swedish royal family caused some controversy back in 2012 when Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel named their baby girl Estelle.
One Swedish journalist said the name was “a very strange choice which I believe will be much discussed.” He added: “Estelle sounds like the name of a nightclub queen.”
Many speculated that the princess was named after American-born Countess Estelle Bernadotte (1904-1984) in order to make a political statement. Estelle’s husband Folke Bernadotte (son of Ebba Munck) was assassinated in Jerusalem in 1948, and one of the people behind the murder was future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
Regardless of the reason it was chosen, the Princess’s name is now more popular than ever before in Sweden. Usage dipped right after she was born, but rebounded a few years later:
2017: 75 baby girls named Estelle in Sweden
2016: 70 baby girls named Estelle in Sweden
2015: 43 baby girls named Estelle in Sweden
2014: 45 baby girls named Estelle in Sweden
2013: 33 baby girls named Estelle in Sweden
2012: 55 baby girls named Estelle in Sweden
2011: 64 baby girls named Estelle in Sweden
2010: 53 baby girls named Estelle in Sweden
2009: 38 baby girls named Estelle in Sweden
2008: 41 baby girls named Estelle in Sweden
It didn’t come close to hitting the top 10 in 2017, but did rank somewhere around 145th.
According to one source, “[t]he name Estelle fits into a smallish trend in Sweden, where names of French origin — or just French-sounding — are slowly becoming popular. Some other names in this group are: Amélie, Celine, Leonie and Noelle.”
Plus: two fictional characters, and lots of restaurants.
Originally, though, Dinty Moore was a character. He was created for the comic strip Bringing Up Father, which was popular back in the 1920s and ’30s. The main characters were Jiggs and Maggie; Dinty Moore was the keeper of the tavern where Jiggs met up with his friends.
NYC restaurateur James Moore, a friend of the strip’s creator, believed he was the inspiration behind the character. So, to capitalize on the popularity of the strip, he changed his restaurant’s name to Dinty Moore’s.
Others followed suit, and soon “Dinty’s Moore’s” restaurants could be found in various parts of the country.
In 1935, Hormel began using the name for a canned beef-and-gravy product that cost 15 cents a can. (And, in the ’60s and ’70s, commercials for Hormel’s Dinty Moore beef stew introduced the second Dinty Moore character: an animated lumberjack.)
While all this was going on, several dozen baby boys with the surname Moore were given the first name Dinty.
Another example is American essayist Dinty Moore, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1955. “Why my mother thought naming me after a comic strip was a good idea is a secret she took to the grave,” he said. But he also insisted that he doesn’t mind having the name:
“The name is more of a gift than a burden, or at least that’s the way I’ve decided to approach it. People are amused, and when they are amused they smile, and smiling makes them think they like me, so I am more popular than I deserve to be.”