The Beginning of Bode

bode miller, baby name, 1990s, sports
Bode Miller in 2008
A few weeks ago we looked at names that start with Snow-, so today let’s check out another name that many of us associate with snow: Bode.

Bode Miller is one of the greatest Alpine skiers in American history. He’s won six Olympic medals and competed in five Winter Olympics: 1998 (Nagano), 2002 (Salt Lake City), 2006 (Turin), 2010 (Vancouver), and 2014 (Sochi).

Notice how the baby name Bode debuted in the SSA data in 1998 and spiked in usage every four years thereafter:

  • 2017: 170 baby boys named Bode
  • 2016: 203 baby boys named Bode
  • 2015: 264 baby boys named Bode
  • 2014: 294 baby boys named Bode
  • 2013: 115 baby boys named Bode
  • 2012: 166 baby boys named Bode
  • 2011: 190 baby boys named Bode
  • 2010: 287 baby boys named Bode
  • 2009: 94 baby boys named Bode
  • 2008: 105 baby boys named Bode
  • 2007: 143 baby boys named Bode
  • 2006: 235 baby boys named Bode
  • 2005: 82 baby boys named Bode
  • 2004: 55 baby boys named Bode
  • 2003: 60 baby boys named Bode
  • 2002: 131 baby boys named Bode
  • 2001: unlisted
  • 2000: 8 baby boys named Bode
  • 1999: 7 baby boys named Bode
  • 1998: 8 baby boys named Bode [debut]
  • 1997: unlisted

So how did Samuel Bode Miller — who was born and raised in rural Easton, New Hampshire — get that interesting middle name?

According to his 2005 autobiography, Bode’s name simply came from the English word bode. It “means to indicate by signs, but it was the sound of it that my mother liked.” He pronounces it BOH-dee instead of BOHD because, as he says, the “diminutive form stuck.”

And he’s not the only person in his family with an interesting name. His older sister is Kyla (no middle name, notably), his younger sister is Gennie Wren (in full: Genesis Wren Bungo Windrushing Turtleheart Miller), and his late younger brother was Chelone, nicknamed “Chilly” (in full: Nathaniel Kinsman Ever Chelone Skan).

Wren’s naming “was a family effort” said Bode:

Jo gave her the “Genesis Wren”; I called her “Bungo” after the Bungay Jar, the local wind, because it was so breezy the day she was born. Kyla gave her Windrushing for the same reason, and “Turtleheart” was the ever-present and recurring Woody-inspired turtle meme in our lives up on Turtle Ridge. The turtle may be Woody’s totem. It wouldn’t surprise me.”

(The kids called their parents, Jo and Woody, by their first names.)

And here’s how they chose a name for Chelone (chel-OWN):

My folks hiked Mount Moosilauke when my mother was good and pregnant with him and found a flower on top they liked so much that they brought it home. When they looked it up and found that it was an herbaceous perennial called chelone, also known as turtlehead, they considered it a nice omen and planted it outside the door.

Three days after he was born, my mother was headed into town with the new baby, named Thane at the time. She was going to the laundromat when she came across a turtle in the road. It was big and blocked their way, so she had to stop. As she watched the shell waddle across Easton Road, it occurred to Jo how little she like the name Thane, and how much she liked the name Chelone.

If you’re wondering about the name Skan, it’s “a Lakota term for the great spirit of the universe.” Kinsman is no doubt a reference to location: their childhood home was on the side of Kinsman Mountain. In fact, the mountain was named for early settler Nathaniel Kinsman — Chelone’s first two names.

But getting back to Bode…he has welcomed five children so far: Neesyn Dacey (daughter), Samuel Bode (son), Nash Skan (son, named in honor of Chelone), Emeline Grier (daughter, passed away in mid-2018) and Easton Vaughn Rek (son, named for Easton, NH).

So what are your thoughts on the baby name Bode? If you were going to use it, how would you pronounce it?

Sources:

Image: Adapted from Miller Bode 2008 by Hans Bezard under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Rise of Vada

vada, my girl, 1990s, movie, baby nameIn last week’s Macaulay Culkin post, we talked about Culkin’s breakout role as Kevin in Home Alone, but not about his second-biggest role: as bespectacled Tommy in My Girl (1991).

His My Girl co-star, Anna Chlumsky, played main character Vada Sultenfuss.

The movie didn’t do anything for the baby name Tommy, but it did give Vada a boost in the early ’90s:

  • 1994: 31 baby girls named Vada
  • 1993: 29 baby girls named Vada
  • 1992: 14 baby girls named Vada
  • 1991: 7 baby girls named Vada
  • 1990: unlisted
  • 1989: 7 baby girls named Vada

This put Vada (a left-handed name) on an upward trajectory that, over time, has accelerated. In fact, the name reached the top 1,000 a couple of years ago:

  • 2017: 265 baby girls named Vada [rank: 978th]
  • 2016: 307 baby girls named Vada [rank: 904th]
  • 2015: 242 baby girls named Vada
  • 2014: 201 baby girls named Vada

The last time it was among the top 1,000 girl names in the U.S. was in the 1940s.

Do you like the name Vada? Would you use it?

Source: My Girl (1991) – IMDb

The Emergence of Macaulay

The baby name Macaulay debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1990.

The wildly successful Christmas comedy Home Alone, released at the end of 1990, starred child actor Macaulay Culkin as a little boy (Kevin McCallister) mistakenly left at home by himself for the holidays while his family went on vacation.

Thanks to the movie, Macaulay Culkin became a household name virtually overnight. In fact, he was soon being called “the biggest child star since Shirley Temple.”

Unsurprisingly, the year the movie came out, the unique name Macaulay began appearing in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1995: 12 baby boys named Macaulay
  • 1994: 5 baby girls + 25 baby boys named Macaulay
  • 1993: 23 baby boys named Macaulay
  • 1992: 36 baby boys named Macaulay [peak]
  • 1991: 10 baby girls + 16 baby boys named Macaulay
  • 1990: 5 baby boys named Macaulay [debut]
  • 1989: unlisted

Soon after, the variants Macauley, Mccauley, and Macauly (a one-hit wonder) popped up in the data as well.

Macaulay Culkin was born in 1980 and named for 19th-century English* historian Thomas Babington Macaulay. He was the third of seven children; his siblings are named Shane (m), Dakota (f), Kieran (m), Quinn (f), Christian (m), and Rory (m).

What are your thoughts on the baby name Macaulay? Do you like it better for boys or for girls?

Sources:

*Speaking of England…usage of Macaulay spiked in Britain in 1995, which was weirdly late. Anyone know why?

The Coming of Quindon

quindon tarver, romeo + juliet, baby name, 1996, movie
Quindon Tarver

The baby name Quindon was one of the top debut names of 1996:

  • 1999: unlisted
  • 1998: 11 baby boys named Quindon
  • 1997: 23 baby boys named Quindon
  • 1996: 67 baby boys named Quindon [debut]
  • 1995: unlisted

(The variant form Quinden popped up the same year.)

If you remember the 1996 movie William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, then you’ll remember who kicked off the name: young singer Quindon Tarver (b. 1982), who covered two songs for the film: Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and Rozalla’s “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good).” In fact, he can be seen singing the latter song in the film’s wedding scene.

What are your thoughts on the name Quindon? Would you use it?

Sources: Quindon Tarver – Wikipedia

African Nations as Baby Names

biafra
Flag of Biafra

During the ’60s and ’70s, a slew of Africa-inspired baby names debuted in the U.S. baby name data. These included traditional African names (e.g., Abayomi, Ayanna), names taken from African and African-American public figures (e.g., Lumumba, Levar), and — the focus of today’s post — African place names, particularly country names.

Here are all the African country/region/kingdom names I’ve spotted in the SSA data so far. (I didn’t omit Chad, even though it coincides with the English name Chad.)

Name Debut year Peak usage
Chad 1914 13,400 baby boys in 1972
Tunisia 1943 (due to WWII) 39 baby girls in 1974
Rwanda 1951 5 baby girls in both 1951 & 1973
Kenya 1952 894 baby girls in 1973
Sahara 1964 248 baby girls in both 2006 & 2007
Rhodesia 1966 12 baby girls in 1977
Mali 1967 65 baby girls in 2008
Tanzania 1968 38 baby girls in 1992
Africa 1969 76 baby girls in 1972
Biafra 1969 (due to Biafra being in the news; the Biafran War lasted from 1967 to 1970) 5 baby girls in 1969; one-hit wonder
Ghana 1969 7 baby girls in 1969
Tanganyika 1969 16 baby girls in 1972
Nubia 1969 83 baby girls in 1969
Ashanti 1970 2,945 baby girls in 2002 (due to the singer)
Uganda 1973 12 baby girls in 1973
Algeria 1974 6 baby girls in both 1993 & 1995
Libya 1974 8 baby girls in 2011
Zaire 1974 316 baby boys in 2017
Egypt 1975 266 baby girls in 2017
Nigeria 1975 58 baby girls in 2000
Niger 1976 9 baby girls in both 1976 & 1977
Somalia 1977 43 baby girls in 1993
Zimbabwe 1981 5 baby boys in 1981; one-hit wonder
Sudan 1982 5 baby boys in both 1982 & 1995
Eritrea 1991 (due to Eritrea being in the news; the Eritrean War of Independence ended in 1991) 5 baby girls in 1991; one-hit wonder
Asmara 1993 (due to Asmara being in the news; it became the capital of independent Eritrea in 1993) 13 baby girls in 2013
Morocco 2005 19 baby boys in 2017

Only five of the above did not either debut or see peak usage during the 1960s/1970s.