The unwieldy name Westmoreland was a one-hit wonder on the charts in 1917:
- 1918: unlisted
- 1917: 6 baby boys named Westmoreland [debut]
- 1916: unlisted
Because that’s the year Westmoreland Delaware “Morely” Davis was elected 48th Governor of Virginia.
But the early SSA data only accounted for a portion of the U.S. population, so the actual number of Westmorelands born that year is higher. For instance, according to records I’ve seen, at least 7 Westmorelands were born in Virginia alone in 1917:
(I especially like the well-balanced “Westmoreland Eastwood.” Even better, Westmoreland Snead’s father’s name was Grievous: “Grievous Snead.”)
Source: Westmoreland Delaware Davis – Dictionary of Virginia Biography
It’s December 2 — the doubly momentous day on which Britney Spears celebrates her birthday and on which we start another round of the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game.
Which baby names will see significant movement on the charts in 2016 thanks to popular culture (TV, movies, music, sports, politics, products, current events, video games, etc.)? Below are some possibilities. Leave a comment with the names you’d add — and don’t forget to mention the pop culture influence.
- Addison – Chicago Cubs winning season
- Adonis – movie Creed (suggested by Becca)
- Ali – death of Muhammad Ali
- Aroldis – Chicago Cubs winning season/World Series
- Auli’i – movie Moana
- Bernie – presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (suggested by elbowin)
- Bison – new national mammal & Dakota Access pipeline protests
- Boomer – son of Michael Phelps
- Bowie – musician David Bowie
- Canaan – son of Oprah Winfrey
- Clark – Chicago Cubs winning season
- Cohen – death of Leonard Cohen
- Creed – movie Creed (suggested by Julie and Becca)
- Cub – Chicago Cubs winning season
- Cubby – Chicago Cubs winning season
- Cyrus – TV miniseries Roots
- Dexter – Chicago Cubs winning season/World Series
- Doris – movie Hello, My Name Is Doris
- Emayatzy – TV miniseries Roots
- E’myri – TV miniseries Roots
- Esperanto – number of speakers (suggested by elbowin)
- Greyson – son of JWoww
- Hamilton – musical Hamilton
- Harriet – Harriet Tubman, chosen to appear on $20 bill
- Hillary – presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
- Ingwen – Tsai Ing-wen, president of Taiwan (suggested by elbowin)
- Ivanka – daughter of president-elect Donald Trump (suggested by elbowin)
- Jikan – death of Leonard Cohen (suggested by elbowin)
- Jonbenet – anniversary of the death of JonBenet Ramsey
- Juno – NASA space probe
- Jupiter – NASA space probe
- Lorca – death of Leonard Cohen (suggested by elbowin)
- Luna – daughter of John Legend & Chrissy Teigen
- Keanu – Key & Peele movie Keanu
- Kizzy – TV miniseries Roots
- Kunta – TV miniseries Roots
- Lyanna – TV show Game of Thrones
- Malachi – TV miniseries Roots
- Melania – wife of president-elect Donald Trump (suggested by elbowin)
- Maui – movie Moana
- Moana – movie Moana
- Monica – Puerto Rican Olympian Monica Puig (I’m curious about the rankings in Puerto Rico specifically; Monica fell out of the top 100 in PR after 2002.)
- Mountain – daughter of actress Jena Malone
- Mowgli – movie The Jungle Book
- Muhammad – death of Muhammad Ali
- Murray – Chicago Cubs winning season/World Series
- Ode – daughter of actress Jena Malone
- Omran – Syrian boy Omran Daqneesh
- Onyx – daughter of Alanis Morissette
- Phiona – movie Queen of Katwe
- Paisley – death of Prince
- Prince – death of Prince (suggested by elbowin)
- Queen – TV show Queen Sugar & movie Queen of Katwe
- Regé-Jean – TV miniseries Roots
- Rio – location of the 2016 Summer Olympics
- Rykiel – death of Sonia Rykiel (suggested by elbowin)
- Sanders – presidential candidate Bernie Sanders
- Simone – gymnast Simone Biles & daughter of John Legend & Chrissy Teigen
- Solace – daughter of Alanis Morissette
- Sully – movie Sully
- Teresa – canonization of Mother Teresa
- Tiffany – daughter of president-elect Donald Trump (suggested by elbowin)
- Trump – president-elect Donald Trump
- Tulip – movie Storks
- Valor – son of JWoww
- Wilder – death of Gene Wilder (suggested by m4yb3_daijirou)
- Wrigley – Chicago Cubs winning season
- Zephyr – U.S. House of Rep. (NY) candidate Zephyr Teachout, who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders. (She was born in Washington state, where Zephyr is particularly popular.)
- Zobrist – Chicago Cubs winning season/World Series
I’ll post the results next May, when the SSA releases the 2016 baby name data. If you don’t want to miss the results post, please subscribe!
Previous rounds of the Pop Culture Baby Name Game: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011: #1 & #2, 2010.
Within the next few years, the baby name Jubilee will likely enter the girls’ top 1,000:
- 2015: 227 baby girls named Jubilee [1,118th]
- 2014: 164 baby girls named Jubilee [1,397th]
- 2013: 153 baby girls named Jubilee [1,453rd]
But it debuted on the charts only recently, in 1975:
- 1977: 6 baby girls named Jubilee
- 1976: 8 baby girls named Jubilee
- 1975: 9 baby girls named Jubilee [debut]
- 1974: unlisted
I don’t think the year is a coincidence, as it lines up with one of the Roman Catholic Church’s more recent jubilee years.
Speaking of special Roman Catholic years…the church has also celebrated a total of two Marian years, the first of which was in 1954. That year, the baby name Marian saw a sharp rise in usage:
- 1956: 1,249 baby girls named Marian [232nd]
- 1955: 1,497 baby girls named Marian [208th]
- 1954: 4,014 baby girls named Marian [104th]
- 1953: 1,366 baby girls named Marian [217th]
- 1952: 1,246 baby girls named Marian [221st]
The name nearly landed in the top 100 for baby girls that year. (The last time it was in the top 100 was the mid-1930s.)
Which name do you prefer for a baby girl, Jubilee or Marian?
JFK was elected U.S. president in late 1960, began serving his term in early 1961, and was assassinated in Texas on November 22, 1963 (53 years ago today).
During the first half of the 1960s — especially around the time of the assassination — all three of John Fitzgerald Kennedy‘s names saw increased usage on the U.S. baby name charts. In fact, both Fitzgerald and Kennedy (as a male name) saw their highest-ever usage in 1964:
||71,563 baby boys
|58 baby boys
|122 baby boys
||82,541 baby boys
|125 baby boys
|230 baby boys
||78,645 baby boys
|52 baby boys
(outside top 1,000)
|158 baby boys
||78,450 baby boys
|10 baby boys
(outside top 1,000)
|85 baby boys
||79,910 baby boys
|24 baby boys
(outside top 1,000)
|177 baby boys
||76,124 baby boys
|(fewer than 5)
(outside top 1,000)
|117 baby boys
||76,425 baby boys
|(fewer than 5)
(outside top 1,000)
|21 baby boys
(outside top 1,000)
And did you know that the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum maintains a small collection of correspondence regarding babies named after JFK? The collection consists of 34 items (mostly typewritten and handwritten letters/telegrams) delivered from 1960 to 1963 that document eight specific JFK namesakes. Here are most of them:
- John Kennedy Adjei, born circa 1961 in Kumasi, Ghana
- John Kennedy Grant, born in July, 1960, in Haverstraw, New York
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jones, born on July 15, 1960, in Massillon, Ohio
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy, born on August 17, 1960, at Minot AFB in North Dakota
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy, born on September 8, 1960, in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania
- John Kennedy Twyman, born on May 15, 1960, in Cincinnati, Ohio
The name Jacqueline also saw peak usage in the early 1960s. It reached 37th twice during this period: once in 1961, again in 1964. (Did you know that Jacqueline Kennedy pronounced her name “JAK-ə-leen“?)
Did you know that tens of thousands of baby girls have been named Piper within the last few years?
These young Pipers have 84-year-old actress Piper Laurie to thank for putting their name on the map in the first place.
Piper Laurie’s breakout role was in the 1950 film Louisa (which also starred future president Ronald Reagan). One year later, the name Piper popped up for the very first time in the SSA data:
- 1956: 38 baby girls named Piper
- 1955: 31 baby girls named Piper
- 1954: 36 baby girls named Piper
- 1953: 40 baby girls named Piper
- 1952: 35 baby girls named Piper
- 1951: 11 baby girls named Piper [debut]
- 1950: unlisted
Piper Laurie wasn’t born “Piper Laurie,” though. She was born Rosetta Jacobs. Here’s how she got her stage name:
Ted told me one evening that he had thought of a good professional name for me and handed me a scrap of yellow paper with “piper laurie” written on it. He’d not capitalized it, so it looked strange. I didn’t care for it because it didn’t seem to be a name. He couldn’t explain how he’d thought of it; he said it just came to him! I had used a variety of professional names by then. In those days it was understood that Rosetta Jacobs was not a name that could be used professionally. Everyone advised us so. Not because of its ethnicity, I never thought of it as such, but because it didn’t sound like Lana or Cary and was hard to remember.
(Ted Radin was Laurie’s first agent. “Lana” and “Cary” refer to Lana Turner and Cary Grant.)
The name “Piper” was given to several dozen babies per year from the ’50s through the ’80s. Usage started to increase in the mid-1990s, but the TV show Charmed (1998-2006) is what really gave it a boost. The name broke into the top 1000 in 1999, reached the top 500 two years later, and has been in the top 100 since 2012.
How high do you think Piper will climb?
Do you think the recent Pixar short Piper (starring an adorable baby sandpiper) will have a discernible influence on usage in 2016?
Source: Laurie, Piper. Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir. New York: Crown Archetype, 2011.
In the mood to do some detective work? Here are a few one-hit wonder baby names with mysterious origins.
First we have the French words enchantée and enchanté, which mean “enchanted.” Both debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1987:
- 1988: unlisted
- 1987: 9 baby girls named Enchantee + 6 baby girls named Enchante
- 1986: unlisted
My first guess was perfume, and indeed both words have been used in perfume names before (e.g., Rêve Enchanté by Van Cleef & Arpels). None of these perfumes were launched circa 1987, though.
The fact that there are two spellings suggest an audio source — perhaps music or a minor TV character (à la Ibe) — but I haven’t found a song or a character that fits the bill yet.
The only other information I have is that the name Chantee saw a spike in usage the same year.
Second we have the fanciful name Enchantra, which debuted in 1978:
- 1979: unlisted
- 1978: 8 baby girls named Enchantra
- 1977: unlisted
Five of those eight babies were born in Louisiana specifically.
The popular sitcom Bewitched (1964-1972) included a character named Enchantra, as did a cartoon called Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch (2013-2014), but neither of these shows was airing new episodes in 1978.
So where did Enchantee/Enchante and Enchantra come from? I wish I knew! What theories do you guys have?
The movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children came out in late September. It’s a dark fantasy based on the best-selling 2011 novel of the same name.
I haven’t seen the movie, but the usage of “Miss Peregrine” in the title has me wondering whether we’ll see a corresponding uptick in the usage of Peregrine-the-girl-name in 2016.
Peregrine is traditionally a male name, of course, but it has started seeing regular usage as a girl name recently. In fact, in 2012 and 2014 it was bestowed more often upon baby girls:
- 2015: 15 baby boys, 8 baby girls named Peregrine
- 2014: 6 baby boys, 7 baby girls named Peregrine
- 2013: 6 baby boys, (0-4) baby girls named Peregrine
- 2012: 6 baby boys, 7 baby girls named Peregrine
- 2011: 9 baby boys, 5 baby girls named Peregrine [debut]
- 2010: 12 baby boys, (0-4) baby girls named Peregrine
The character Miss Peregrine — actually “Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine,” played by actress Eva Green — could easily tip the scale back to to majority-female in 2016.
What do you think of the name Peregrine? Do you think it works better as a boy name or as a girl name?
P.S. A more explicitly feminine form of the name is Peregrina, which was a one-hit wonder on the charts in 2006 thanks to the Mexican telenovela Peregrina.
Sources: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Wikipedia, Peregrina – IMDb