Retro Brand Name as Baby Name: Icilma

icilma, brand, beauty, baby name
Icilma: brand name & baby name
Icilma was an English cosmetics company. Icilma products (creams, soaps, powders, etc.) were on the market from the late 1890s until the mid-1960s.

The founder of Icilma was an Englishman named Stephen Armitage who had “acquired permission from the government to exploit a natural mineral water spring [in] Algeria, which had been discovered in the 1890s by oil prospectors.” He apparently coined the word “Icilma” by combining two Arabic words meaning “flows” and “water.”

So why are we talking about a long-gone bath-and-beauty brand on a baby name blog?

Because I’ve found dozens of females with “Icilma” as either a first or middle name. They earliest examples I’ve seen were born in the early 1900s. The most recent one I spotted was born in England in 2006.

Interestingly, the first Icilmas were born not just in England, but in various parts of the British empire. I found a particularly high number of Icilmas in Jamaica, for instance. Here’s a record for Icilma Marjorie Veronica O’Connor, who was born in Saint Andrew, Jamaica, in August of 1925:

icilma, baby name, brand name
Icilma O’Connor, b. 1925 in Jamaica

I also found a few living in the United States, but it looks like most/all of them were born elsewhere.

Do you like Icilma as a baby name?

Source: Icilma Co. Ltd. – Unilever Archives


Mystery Monday: The Baby Name Dollinda

The baby name Dollinda has appeared in the U.S. baby name data twice:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 12 baby girls named Dollinda
  • 1958: 18 baby girls named Dollinda [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted

That’s an impressive debut — just a few babies away from Tequila, which appeared the same year thanks to a hit song.

But I can’t figure out what gave Dollinda a boost. I don’t see the name anywhere in typical pop culture places (e.g., TV) and I also don’t see any telling similarities among the late-’50s Dollindas I’ve found online (e.g., birthplaces, middle names).

One interesting fact is that the spelling “Dolinda” is nowhere to be seen in the data. It’s just Dollinda. This makes me think two things. First, the source must have had a visual component in order to anchor the spelling. Second…is there some sort of “doll” association here? Was this the name of a toy? Hm.

Around the same time Dollinda was in the data, Dorinda was seeing peak usage. A little later, in the early ’60s, Delinda peaked. I’m not sure if these names had any influence on Dollinda, though.

Any thoughts on this one?

From Norma to Jill

norma, jill, 1950s, name change
Her name was changed from Norma to Jill.

Speaking of yesterday’s name, Jilla

In late 1953, an 18-year-old Italian-American girl from Pennsylvania named Norma Jean Speranza was the subject of a photographic essay in Life. She was “a small-town singer” about to get her big break. But she wouldn’t get that big break without adopting a stage name:

She even had to give up her name, for the people who are supposed to know best about those things decided she should be Norma Speranza no longer. From now on she would be Jill Corey.

As Jill Corey, she put out singles and appeared regularly on TV throughout the ’50s. Her biggest hit was the 1957 song “Love Me to Pieces.”

(She also had another name: Scarpo. It was a childhood nickname that referred to her big feet. Scarpa means “shoe” in Italian.)

Source: Parks, Gordon. “From Speranza to Corey.” Life 9 Nov. 1953.
Image: © 1953 Life

Mystery Monday: Skeeter & Skeet

This dual-mystery might be unsolvable, but I’ll throw it out there anyway:

  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: unlisted
  • 1950: 7 baby boys named Skeeter [debut] + 7 baby boys named Skeet [debut]
  • 1949: unlisted
  • 1948: unlisted

Both Skeeter and Skeet appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 1950, then dropped off the list the next year. (Skeeter returned in the late ’50s, Skeet in the late ’60s.)

The nickname “Skeeter” should have been familiar to people at the time, as it was the nickname of several fictional characters and several high-profile people (athletes, musicians) circa 1950. But none of them were doing anything particularly special during or just before 1950, so I can’t figure out what boosted both names into the data that year.

My best guess right now is that Skeet and Skeeter were inspired by a radio character I have yet to discover…?

If you know a 1950 Skeeter/Skeet, and you know the story behind his name, please leave a comment and point us in the right direction!

Hawaiian Nature Name: Lehua

lehua, hawaii, name, plant, nature, flowerThe Hawaiian name Lehua (pronounced leh-HOO-ah) refers to the showy flower of the ‘ōhi’a lehua plant, Metrosideros polymorpha. The flower’s petals are very small, but its stamens are long and typically bright red.

The plant is endemic to the Hawaiian islands and has great cultural significance among Hawaiians. The word lehua refers not just to the flower, for instance, but also (figuratively) to various types of people: “warrior, beloved friend or relative, sweetheart, expert.” The plant even has its own creation myth: the goddess Pele created the plant by transforming human lovers Ohia and Lehua into the tree and the blossom, respectively.

This cultural importance no doubt stems from the plant’s ecological importance. The ‘ōhi’a lehua is a keystone species in Hawaii that’s often the first to colonize barren lava. The adaptations that allow for this include: year-round flowering, lightweight seeds, roots adept at growing vertically (i.e., in cracks and fissures), and the plant’s ability to close its stomata when volcanic gases are around — to hold its breath when the air turns toxic, in other words.

So Lehua, like other flower names, refers to an object of beauty…but this particular object of beauty is also a genuine symbol of concepts like resilience and adaptation. Which makes Lehua rather unique among flower names, I think.

What are your thoughts on the name Lehua?

(The photo is of a young ‘ōhi’a lehua inside the Kīlauea Iki pit crater, which my husband and I visited a few years ago on a trip to Hawaii. That particular lava flow happened in 1959.)

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