Ready for a mystery from the ’80s? Today’s mystery baby name is Fashionette, which popped up in the SSA data for three consecutive years in the 1980s:
1988: 6 baby girls named Fashionette
1987: 15 baby girls named Fashionette
1986: 7 baby girls named Fashionette [debut]
Why? I don’t know!
Research tells me that “Fashionette” was the name of a hair net introduced in the 1900s, a novelty song [vid] popular in the 1920s, and an air conditioner introduced by General Electric in the 1960s.
It’s also been used as the name of various local businesses (particularly beauty salons, clothing stores, and sewing stores) and at least one online business (a designer handbag store).
But what the heck was it in the 1980s? What turned Fashionette into a baby name?
The SSA’s state-by-state data doesn’t offer any clues, but records suggest that more than a few of those ’80s Fashionettes were born in Texas. (One had the very Texas-sounding first-middle combo “Dallas Fashionette.”)
So, I’m stumped. Do you have any theories about where the name Fashionette came from?
The name Winona has been in the U.S. baby name data since the very beginning, but the specific spelling Wynonna didn’t show up until the mid-1980s:
1986: 6 baby girls named Wynonna
1985: 5 baby girls named Wynonna [debut]
What was the influence?
Country singer Wynonna Judd. She and her mother, Naomi Judd, formed The Judds in the early ’80s and the duo won a Grammy Award in 1985 for the song “Mama He’s Crazy.”
The name saw peak usage in 1993, not long after Wynonna began her solo career.
Wynonna’s birth name was Christina Ciminella. She was inspired to change her name after her mother, previously known as Diana Ciminella, became Naomi Judd in the early ’70s following a divorce. (‘Judd’ was her maiden name, but ‘Naomi’ was brand new.)
She chose the name ‘Wynonna’ because she liked the song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” which mentions Winona, Arizona.
(Naomi tried to persuade her younger daughter, Ashley, to change her name as well — to ‘Ramona,’ because of its similarity to ‘Wynonna.’ She wasn’t interested, but she did start to use the surname ‘Judd.’)
The name dropped out of the data in the early 2000s, but has come back recently:
2017: 20 baby girls named Wynonna
2016: 5 baby girls named Wynonna
Why? Because of the supernatural Western TV series Wynonna Earp, which debuted on Syfy in 2016.
What are your thoughts on the baby name Wynonna? Do you like the spelling?
Source: Millard, Bob. The Judds: A Biography. New York: Doubleday, 1988.
The baby name Miata appeared in the U.S. data for a little more than a decade, 1989 to 1999, and saw peak usage in the early ’90s:
1993: 19 baby girls named Miata
1992: 17 baby girls named Miata
1991: 25 baby girls named Miata [peak]
1990: 25 baby girls named Miata [peak]
1989: 23 baby girls named Miata [debut]
The inspiration, of course, was the Mazda MX-5 Miata — a lightweight, two-seat, open-top roadster that was unveiled in February of 1989 and went on sale in the U.S. the following May.
The sporty car became popular right away, with the help of enthusiastic reviews like this one from Car and Driver (Sept. 1989):
With the new Miata, Mazda has brought back the simple, honest sports car we feared had vanished forever. No longer will we gaze in frustration at 1960s movies and their rakish Triumph TR4s and Lotus Elans and MGBs. Mazda has resurrected those barnstorming sports-car times in one spectacular, up-to-date package.
According to one source, the name of the car came from the Old High German word miata, meaning “a reward” or “due amount of praise.” Interestingly, the name was used only in the North American market.
We’re well into November, and while I don’t typically experience “November Rain” — usually just November snow — now’s a good time to talk about Axl, the name of the guy who sang “November Rain.”
Axl debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1988:
1992: 29 baby boys named Axl
1991: 23 baby boys named Axl
1990: 25 baby boys named Axl
1989: 21 baby boys named Axl
1988: 9 baby boys named Axl [debut]
The next year, the names Axle and Aksel both debuted, while the already-in-use name Axel (which can be traced back to the biblical name Absalom) more than doubled in usage.
The influence? Axl Rose, lead singer of the rock band Guns N’ Roses.
The band’s debut album Appetite for Destruction was released in July of 1987. It became a commercial success the next year, after the band started touring and releasing singles such as “Sweet Child o’ Mine” (peaked at #1 in Sept. 1988), “Welcome to the Jungle” (#7 in Dec. ’88), and “Paradise City” (#5 in Mar. ’89).
Axl Rose grew up in Lafayette, Indiana, with the name William “Bill” Bailey. As a teen, he discovered that his surname at birth had been Rose, so he started using it. Not long after that, he adopted the first name Axl:
One of the short-lived local bands he’d sung with was called AXL, which then became his moniker. When the band broke up, he kept using the name, and styled himself “W. Axl Rose.”
And in early 1986, right before signing with Geffen Records, he legally changed his name to “W. Axl Rose.”
Unexpectedly, the name is more popular today than ever before:
2017: 335 baby boys named Axl [rank: 716th]
2016: 305 baby boys named Axl [rank: 778th]
2015: 313 baby boys named Axl [rank: 760th]
2014: 266 baby boys named Axl [rank: 842nd]
2013: 111 baby boys named Axl
2012: 102 baby boys named Axl
This is probably thanks to another singer, Fergie, who welcomed a baby boy in August of 2013 and named him Axl after Axl Rose. (Some ’80s trivia for you: Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson was on Kids Incorporated with Marta “Martika” Marrero.)
What are your thoughts on the baby name Axl? Would you use it?
Davis, Stephen. Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N’ Roses. New York: Gotham Books, 2008.
Spitz, Marc. “Just a Little Patience.” Spin Jul. 1999: 80-93.
P.S. How did the band name “Guns N’ Roses” come to be? It was created from the surnames of two of the founding members, Axl Rose and Tracii Guns (born Tracy Richard Irving Ulrich), essentially. More precisely, it came from the merger of the bands they were in at the time: Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns.
Speaking of Tinamarie…the very similar name Teenamarie first appeared in the U.S. baby name data exactly three decades later, in 1985:
1985: 7 baby girls named Tennamarie [debut]
That was the year the song “Lovergirl” [vid] by R&B singer Teena Marie (born Mary Christine Brockert) peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #9 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
While the name Teenamarie was a one-hit wonder on the baby name charts, Teena Marie herself was not a one-hit wonder on the music charts; she released dozens of successful singles over the course of her career.
(Teena saw its highest usage in the mid-1950s, perhaps thanks to both the comic strip Teena and the fashion label Teena Paige. In both of those cases, the name Teena was based on the relatively new term “teenager.” The usage was also no doubt influenced by the rise of Tina.)
Which spelling do you like better, Tinamarie or Teenamarie?