The War-Inspired Name Nasiriyah

The name Nasiriyah was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 2003:

  • 2005: unlisted
  • 2004: unlisted
  • 2003: 15 baby girls named Nasiriyah [debut]
  • 2002: unlisted
  • 2001: unlisted

Where did “Nasiriyah” come from, and what happened in 2003 to draw people’s attention to it?

It came from the city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. The city was founded and named after a local sheikh name Nasir in the 1870s. (The Arabic name Nasir means “helper.”)

The event that introduced Nasiriyah to the American public was the Iraq War (which overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein and, thereby, had an influence on Iraqi baby names). The Battle of Nasiriyah, one of the first major battles of the war, was fought between U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces and lasted from March 23 to April 2.

(One of the female soldiers involved in the battle, Jessica Lynch, had a baby girl in 2007 and gave her the middle name Ann in honor of Lori Ann Piestewa, the first woman in the U.S. military killed in the Iraq War.)

What do you think of Nasiriyah as a baby name? Do you like it more or less than the similar names Nayirah and Nasiya?

Sources: Nasiriyah – Wikipedia, U.S. Marines in Battle: An-Nasiriyah (PDF)

The Premiere of Petehn

Pe’tehn, age 3, early 2015

So far, the baby name Petehn has only appeared in the U.S. baby name data a single time, in 2017:

  • 2018: unlisted
  • 2017: 5 baby girls named Petehn [debut]
  • 2016: unlisted

What was the influence?

A little girl from Chicago named Pe’Tehn Jackson, whose first name is pronounced “pey-ten.”

In early 2015, when she was 3, she recited the poem “Hey Black Child” by Useni Eugene Perkins on local Chicago talk show Windy City Live (vid). A year later, in March of 2016, she performed the same poem for a national audience via the NBC show “Little Big Shots.” Several months later, in September, as a 5-year-old, Pe’Tehn made an appearance on Steve Harvey’s talk show to recite a poem written by her parents called “Affirmations” (vid).

What do you think of the name Pe’Tehn?

Source: Princess Pe’Tehn

The Debut of Mardeen

mardeen, baby name, comic, 1950
Mary Worth – July 30, 1950

The name Mardeen has appeared in the U.S. baby name data just twice — once in 1950, then again a couple years later:

  • 1953: unlisted
  • 1952: 5 baby girls named Mardeen
  • 1951: unlisted
  • 1950: 14 baby girls named Mardeen [debut]
  • 1949: unlisted

Other variants of the name (Mardene and Mardine) had been in the data before this, but neither has ever been given to as many as fourteen babies per year.

So where did Mardeen come from? My best guess is a secondary character from the nationally syndicated comic strip Mary Worth. Mardeen made appearances regularly in 1950, from June through August.

Mardeen worked as a housekeeper for fellow character K. T. “Katy” Farrell, who was the 35-year-old, “brilliantly successful” head of a publishing house. Katy was involved in a romance — well, a love triangle — with “young novelist” Gregory Ford, one of Mary Worth’s friends. (Despite the title, Mary herself didn’t often make appearances in the strip.)

The comic Mary Worth, which has been around since the late 1930s, was being written by Allen Saunders and drawn by Ken Ernst at that time.

What do you think of the name Mardeen? How would you spell it?

Charmin’ Sharman

sharman douglas
Sharman Douglas © 1947 LIFE

The name Sharman was the fastest-rising baby name of 1948, the second-fastest of 1949, and saw its highest usage in 1950:

  • 1953: 44 baby girls named Sharman
  • 1952: 63 baby girls named Sharman
  • 1951: 76 baby girls named Sharman
  • 1950: 160 baby girls named Sharman [peak]
  • 1949: 126 baby girls named Sharman
  • 1948: 30 baby girls named Sharman
  • 1947: 8 baby girls named Sharman

What was the influence?

American socialite Sharman Douglas.

Her father served as the U. S. ambassador to the Court of St. James’s from early 1947 to late 1950. While the family lived in England, Sharman became famous for her close ties to the British royal family — particularly Princess Margaret. (They were roughly the same age.)

Here’s what the American newspapers were saying about Sharman in mid-1947:

An eager, flaxen-haired teenager from Tucson, Ariz. has become Britain’s debutante of the year. The common people and the socially elect have fallen under her spell. She is tall, lithe Sharman Douglas, 19-year-old daughter of U.S. Ambassador and Mrs. Lewis W Douglas. Apart from the two royal princesses, she is undoubtedly the most photographed girl in all Britain, screen stars included.

The press followed “Charmin‘ Sharman” throughout the time she was overseas.

In late 1948, for instance, the papers reported that she was dating two men — the Marquess of Blandford and the Marquess of Milford-Haven — both of whom had been linked to Princess Margaret. In mid-1949, it was reported that her father “had cut down on [her] social life” after a London columnist brought up the possibility of Sharman and Princess Margaret falling for the same man.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Sharman?

Sources:

  • “British Study Likely Romance.” Billings Gazette 18 Jul. 1949: 8.
  • “English Nobleman to Visit U.S.–Business Or Romance?” Sandusky Register 14 Oct. 1948: 16.
  • “Life Visits U.S. Ambassador to Britain.” Life 27 Oct. 1947: 150-156.
  • Sharman Douglas – Wikipedia
  • Wace, Barbara. “Sharman Douglas Captivates British Society in First Season.” Corpus Christi Caller-Times 12 Aug. 1947: 9.