Will Jumanji Come Back?

jumanji, baby name, 1990s, movieYou’ve probably seen advertisements for the movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which is currently playing in theaters. It’s a sequel to Jumanji (1995).

The second film (starring The Rock) quickly became more successful than the first (which starred Robin Williams). So now the question is this: Should we expect to see Jumanji return to the baby name charts?

Because the initial film managed to boost Jumanji into the U.S. baby name data for the first (and so far only) time in 1996:

  • 1998: unlisted
  • 1997: unlisted
  • 1996: 8 baby boys named Jumanji [debut]
  • 1995: unlisted
  • 1994: unlisted

Both movies were based on the children’s picture book Jumanji (1981) by author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg. In the book, “Jumanji” is the name of a magical board game. (Allsburg also wrote/drew the modern Christmas classic The Polar Express.)


Black Panther Baby Names: T’Challa, Shuri, Nakia

black panther, baby namesThe much-anticipated movie Black Panther, which comes out today, is already guaranteed to be a success (based on strong advance ticket sales).

Even better? The film features lots of great names, many of which are currently uncommon.

The one I’m really keeping my eye on is T’challa, which was a one-hit wonder in the mid-1970s:

  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: 8 baby boys were named Tchalla
  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: unlisted

(This was around the time the comic book character, who had been introduced in the ’60s, started being featured in his own storylines.)

Other character names from the movie include Shuri, W’Kabi, Nakia and Okoye. And some of the actors have notable names as well (Chadwick, Danai, Letitia).

How much of an impact do you think Black Panther will have on baby names in 2018? Which BP name has the potential to see the greatest increase in usage?

Source: Black Panther (film) – Wikipedia

Mystery Monday: The Baby Name Dainette

Here’s a name I can’t quite figure out: Dainette. It popped up in the mid-1950s, dropped out of the data the next year, and never came back. It ended up as the highest-hitting one-hit wonder of 1955.

  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: 14 baby girls named Dainette
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: unlisted

Names with -ette and -etta endings (like Danette) were trendy at the time, but this doesn’t account for why Dainette would have appeared with more than a dozen babies and then disappeared just as suddenly.

I’ve checked all the usual sources — movies, TV shows, new stories, etc. — but so far I have zero theories about Dainette.

Does anyone out there have any ideas?

The Olympic Baby Name “Sochi”

sochi, baby name, olympics, skiing

The name Sochi debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 2014, then dropped out of the data the very next year.

  • 2016: unlisted
  • 2015: unlisted
  • 2014: 10 baby girls named Sochi
  • 2013: unlisted
  • 2012: unlisted

I’m sure you know the source of this one: The 2014 Winter Olympics, which were held in the Russian resort city of Sochi. The games began two years ago today, in fact.

The settlement was named after the Sochi River in the 1890s. The river name is derived somehow from the name of the Circassian people (“Cherkess” in Russian) who once inhabited the region.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Sochi? Would you use it as a girl name or as a boy name?

Source: Sochi – Online Etymology Dictionary
Image: Adapted from Sochi 2014_386 by Denis Polyakov under CC BY SA 2.0.

The Debut of Devy

Devy Barnett, Ted Mack, television, 1960
Devy on ‘The Original Amateur Hour‘ in May, 1960

The baby name Devy popped up in the SSA’s data a single time, in 1960. But it wasn’t just any old one-hit wonder — it was the top one-hit wonder of 1960. In fact, Devy was one of the top one-hit wonders of all time, with over two dozen baby girls being named Devy that year:

  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 27 baby girls named Devy [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

So where did it come from?

A soprano named Devy Barnett who performed on the TV talent competition Ted Mack & the Original Amateur Hour at least once, on May 16, 1960. (She may have appeared on other episodes that year as well, I’m not sure.)

I don’t have much information on Devy. She was a music student at Rutgers in the early ’50s, she put out her first recording (Songs of Charles Ives, released by Stereo Age) in 1958, and in the ’80s she was a member of the studio music faculty at Cal State. She married at least twice, and had several children.

But she never achieved fame. Apparently not many Amateur Hour contestants did, with a few notable exceptions: Gladys Knight, Pat Boone, Ann-Margret, Tanya Tucker, and Irene Cara (see the posts on Fame and Sparkle for more on Irene).

The name Devy reminds me of the name Eydie in that both names were put on the onomastic map by young singers making television appearances. (Coincidentally, Eydie was also given to exactly 27 baby girls in 1960.)

What are your thoughts on the name Devy? Do you like it?