The Baby Name Trevira

trevira, fabric, baby name, 1960s, 1970s
Trevira/Oleg Cassini ad, circa 1968

The name Trevira — not to be confused with the name Tareva — has appeared in the U.S. baby name data only once so far, in 1973:

  • 1975: unlisted
  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: 5 baby girls named Trevira
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted

What inspired it?

Fabric!

Trevira polyester, like Qiana nylon, was one of the branded synthetic fabrics that became trendy during the 1970s.

Trevira was created in Germany in the late ’50s, and by the end of the ’60s could be seen in American retail advertisements that touted the arrival of “The Trevira Era.”

It seems that Trevira hit peak usage among consumers in the early-to-mid ’70s, when it was used to make 1970s fashion staples like flared-leg trousers.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Trevira?

Source: 1970s Disco Fashion – Fashion-Era.com

The Debut of Dorsett

The name Dorsett first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1978:

  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: 5 baby boys named Dorsett
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 7 baby boys named Dorsett
  • 1978: 7 baby boys named Dorsett
  • 1977: unlisted

What put it there?

Football player Tony Dorsett [pronounced dor-SET]. He won the Heisman trophy in college, was a first-round draft pick for the Dallas Cowboys in 1977, and had a very successful rookie season.

A running back, Dorsett ended up playing professionally for twelve seasons: eleven with the Dallas Cowboys (1977–1987), plus one more with the Denver Broncos (1988) alongside Ricky Nattiel.

The surname Dorsett, based on the English place name Dorset, ultimately comes from the Old English words durn, meaning “fist” [i.e., fist-sized pebbles] and soete, meaning “dwellers.”

Do you like Dorsett as a baby name?

Sources:

The Entrance of Nattiel

In the late 1980s, the unusual name Nattiel was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1990: unlisted
  • 1989: unlisted
  • 1988: 10 baby boys named Nattiel
  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: unlisted

(In fact, Nattiel is one of the top one-hit wonders overall.)

Where did the name come from?

It was the surname of Florida-born professional football player Ricky Nattiel [pronounced nah-TEEL].

A wide receiver, Nattiel was chosen by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 1987 NFL Draft. He ended up playing for the Broncos for six seasons (1987 to 1992).

I’m not certain about the origin of his surname, but my best guess is that it was based on the Biblical name Nathaniel.

Do you like Nattiel as a baby name?

Source: Ricky Nattiel – Wikipedia

The Emergence of Mychal

mychal, sports, baby name, 1970s

The name Mychal first appeared in the SSA’s baby name data in 1978, when it was suddenly given to nearly five dozen baby boys:

  • 1981: 29 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1980: 26 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1979: 35 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1978: 59 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: unlisted

That number was impressive enough to make Mychal not just the top debut name of 1978, but also the 26th-highest boy-name debut of all time.

What was the influence?

Bahamian basketball player Mychal Thompson. He was the #1 pick in the 1978 NBA draft (chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers) and also happened to be the first foreign-born player to be a #1 pick.

Later in his career, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two championships with them in the late ’80s. As a result, the baby name Mychal shot into the top 1,000 in 1987 and saw peak usage in 1988.

So how did he get the name “Mychal”? He gave it to himself, actually. In an interview with Lakers Nation, he told the story of why he changed the spelling from the original “Michael”:

When I did start playing basketball in high school, all of a sudden people started talking about Michael Thompson in all the [newspaper] write-ups. […] So every time they’d write my name they’d go, Mike Thompson. And my name is Michael.

Now I understand Mike is short for Michael, but I wanted to be known as Michael, so I said, ‘How can I get them to stop calling me Mike?’ I’ll tell you what, I’ll change the spelling of my name so that way, and I figured I wanted to make it kind of a unique name, so people know it’s me, cause there are a million Michaels out there, it’s one of the most popular names there is.

So I figured, ok, just [so that] everybody knows that it’s me when I write Michael Thompson, I started writing M-y-c-h-a-e-l, nah, M-y-k-a-e-l, nah I don’t like that one, M-y-c-h-a-l, oh that looks cool, I’ll just go with that. So I started signing my name that way and to make it legal, I actually had to go back home [to the Bahamas] and change my name legally to Mychal.

All three of Mychal’s uniquely named sons — Mychel (different spelling; “I didn’t want him to be a junior”), Klay, and Trayce — now play professional sports. In fact, much of the recent usage of “Klay” is in California, where Klay Thompson has been playing for the Golden State Warriors since 2011.

Mychal admitted that his eldest son doesn’t like that his name is often mispronounced Michelle, but also noted that, while Mychel is “always complaining about it, […] he’s never changed it back to the original spelling.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Mychal? Do you like the spelling?

Sources: Mychal Thompson – Wikipedia, Lakers Nation Special Feature, Part 1: Getting to Know Mychal Thompson [vid]

The Arrival of Laryssa

laryssa, tv, the doctors, karen werner, baby name
Laryssa Lauret as Dr. Karen Werner

The name Laryssa debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1968, when it was suddenly given to nearly 70 baby girls:

  • 1971: 12 baby girls named Laryssa
  • 1970: 7 baby girls named Laryssa
  • 1969: 22 baby girls named Laryssa
  • 1968: 67 baby girls named Laryssa [debut]
  • 1967: unlisted
  • 1966: unlisted

It was the name that debuted most impressively that year, and it went on to rank as one of the biggest girl-name debuts of all time.

The less-common variant Lyrissa debuted the same year, and the more-common variants Larissa and Larisa both saw higher around the same time. (Larissa jumped into the top 1,000 for the first time in 1967, in fact.)

What’s the reason?

An actress featured on the popular TV soap opera The Doctors (1963-1982). Laryssa Lauret played character Dr. Karen Werner, who was introduced in 1967 and had a heavy German accent. One writer later described the character as “the resident Teutonic trouble-maker.”

Laryssa Lauret, an American actress of Ukrainian descent, was born Larysa Kukrycka in Warsaw in 1939. She was raised in Austria for a time, then finished her schooling in New York. She shares her name with a martyr, a nymph and various ancient Greek cities. According to this Greek-English Lexicon, the meaning of the name is “citadel.”

The Doctors also influenced the usage of at least two other baby names:

  • Carolee saw a jump in usage in 1968, the year after actress Carolee Campbell originated the role of like-named character Carolee Simpson, R.N.
  • Sindee re-entered the data in 1963, the year actress Sindee Ann Richards appeared on the show for 5 sequential episodes as “Jennie.”

But getting back to Laryssa…do you like the name? How do you prefer to spell it?

Source: “Ukrainian Actress to Appear in TV Show.” Ukrainian Weekly 15 Jan. 1978: 4.

P.S. Sindee was put on the onomastic map in the 1950s by a baby-related news story.