“Jeopardy!” Baby Names: Alancia and Brannon

jeopardy, game show

Last week, Becca commented with some interesting Jeopardy! contestant names (e.g., Hobie, Dorcas) and mentioned J! Archive, which lists tens of thousands of Jeopardy! contestants going back to 1984, when the show premiered.

I skimmed through all the contestants from 1984 to 2015 (as we don’t have baby name data for 2016 yet) and spotted hundreds of unusual names. And it looks like at least two of them got a boost thanks to the show:

Alancia

The name Alancia was a one-hit wonder that popped up in 2000:

  • 2001: unlisted
  • 2000: 9 baby girls named Alancia [debut]
  • 1999: unlisted

One-time player Alancia Wynn, a family practice physician from Virginia, was on Jeopardy! in October of 1999.

Brannon

The name Brannon saw an increase in usage in 1998:

  • 1999: 118 baby boys named Brannon
  • 1998: 158 baby boys named Brannon
  • 1997: 113 baby boys named Brannon

One-time player Brannon Denning, a graduate student from Connecticut, was on Jeopardy! in September of 1998. (Looks like Brannon Denning is now a law professor at Samford University.)

Alaric & Ezgi …?

These two names may have gotten a slight boost as well, though it’s hard to tell.

  • Alaric, in 2005. One-time player Alaric Smith was on the show in October of 2005.
  • Ezgi, in 2015. One-time player Ezgi Ustundag was on the show in October of 2015.

Ezgi is a female name that means “melody” in Turkish.

Anjali (false positive)

“Kids Week” contestant Anjali Tripathi was on the show in September of 1999. The same year, the baby name Anjali more than doubled in usage:

  • 2001: 222 baby girls named Anjali
  • 2000: 230 baby girls named Anjali
  • 1999: 202 baby girls named Anjali
  • 1998: 93 baby girls named Anjali
  • 1997: 80 baby girls named Anjali

But this was a suspiciously steep rise. And it was accompanied by the debut of an alternate spelling (Anjalie). And usage didn’t drop back to normal levels the next year, as one would expect. These facts pointed me to something more high-profile than a Jeopardy! contestant.

Turns out the very successful Hindi coming-of-age romantic comedy Kuch Kuch Hota Hai had been released in 1998. The movie featured not one but two main characters named Anjali.

More names!

Here are the rest of the names that caught my eye, sorted by year:

  • 2015: Chandreyi, Dava-Leigh, Desta, Ezgi, Kynan, Mags, Praggya, Rook, Tiombi
  • 2014: Ben-Hur, Dinu, FeiFei, Gudrun, Ilissa, Kenesha, LaWanda, Leszek, Mariusz, Myfanwy, Osei, Shloka, Sirena
  • 2013: Arne, Berek, Diva, Kelton, Kinu, Nilai, Nishanth, Ramsin, Rhea, Salvo, Shuli, Sonrisa, Tahne, Twyla, Waymond, Xan, Yellowlees
  • 2012: Anshika, Benton, Bing, Deniz, Injee, Jessamine, Jia-Rui, Mithun, Pian, Shaanti,
    Vamsi, Vinayak
  • 2011: Bhibha, Boomie, Cosi, Gabor, Gitta, Idrees, Karawan, LuEllen, Milind, Raphie
  • 2010: Huat, Kemi, Marianthe, Raghuveer, Shaama, Surabhi
  • 2009: Ariella, Claxton, Cyn, Daphna, Drusha, Hayes, Henok, Jove, Lysette, Nirav, Ranjan, Seyi, Shyra, Tui (TOO-ee), Wright
  • 2008: Anurag, Babatope, Delano, Elza, Gilah, Kew, Murtaza, Naren, Srinivas, Vibin, Zia
  • 2007: Arlynda, Bethlehem, Clé, Haritha, Khoa, Kai-Ning, Kizzle, Lateefah, Lenzy, Marvene, Mehrun, Ssezi, Tigger, Toho, Tope
  • 2006: Dianisbeth, Iddoshe, Karmie, Lizard, Nemanja, Nissan, Oz, Ozgun, Papa, Pinki, Raena, Reda, Sioux, Tawney
  • 2005: Alaric, Corinth, Jayanth, Kem, Kingslea, LeeAundra, Ruchi, Ruvani, Vanamali
  • 2004: Denele, Kermin, M’Liss, Nithya
  • 2003: Alicen, Amasa, Eok, Freya, Nulty, Snowden, Vane
  • 2002: Anagha, Dileep, Gadi, Hikma, Jara, Kirik, Kunle, Manoj, Muzy (MYOO-zee), Omid, Quyen, Rafi, Seveen, Shasa, Tana, Umiko
  • 2001: Aki, Babu, Gosia, Marek, Mittie, Neha, Ulhas, Vinita
  • 2000: Akshai, Arrington, Celiane, Cinnamon, Iyesatu, Jeeks, Manx, Meri-Jane, Mitali, Sabin, Tarun
  • 1999: Ajuan, Alancia, Anjali, Chacko, Davine, Happy, Mihee, Seale, Wellington, Yancy, Yoni
  • 1998: Ardys, Brannon, Creswell, Kemp, Melizza, Sinan
  • 1998: Boze, Jolyn, Rokshana
  • 1997: Akiva, Atish, Breck, Brick, Davia, Girish, Mita, Murat, Pooja, Sahir, Tanis, Vartan, Zinie
  • 1996: Myretta, Rima, Ulf, Vandana
  • 1995: Albina
  • 1994: Graydon
  • 1993: Bronwyn, Ferris, Leif
  • 1991: India, Kareem
  • 1990: Ardwight, Avrom, Murdock, Peji
  • 1989: Darbi, Ouida
  • 1988: Blaze, Cigus, Doak, Scooter
  • 1987: JoFrannye
  • 1986: Chub, Zanete

Which of the above names do you like best?

P.S. Thanks again, Becca!


More “Star Search” Baby Names

symba smith, star search, spokesmodel, 1991
Symba on Star Search, 1991
When I wrote about the name Tareva a couple of years ago, I said it was the only Star Search-inspired debut name I’d ever come across. Well, I’ve since discovered one more!

Symba

The name Symba was a 2-hit wonder that only appeared in the SSA data in 1991 and 1992:

  • 1993: unlisted
  • 1992: 5 baby girls named Symba
  • 1991: 30 baby girls named Symba [debut]
  • 1990: unlisted

The cause? Not Disney’s animated baby lion, which didn’t come along until a few years later, but Star Search spokesmodel competitor Symba Smith, who appeared on multiple episodes of the show during the 1991 season and ultimately won the 1991 championship (which included $100,000 in prize money).

Two years earlier, in 1989, Mississippi-born Symba had won the “Miss Teen All-American” pageant. (Four years before that, the pageant winner had been Halle Berry.)

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But that’s not all. Here are two more names that saw a boost in usage thanks to Star Search:

Durell

The name Durell spiked in popularity in 1985 thanks to singer Durell Coleman, winner of the 1985 season.

  • 1987: 50 baby boys named Durell
  • 1986: 123 baby boys named Durell
  • 1985: 208 baby boys named Durell
  • 1984: 46 baby boys named Durell

Countess

The name Countess jumped back onto the charts in 1988 thanks to Countess Vaughn, who sang on the show as a 9-year-old.

  • 1990: unlisted
  • 1989: 6 baby girls named Countess
  • 1988: 15 baby girls named Countess
  • 1987: unlisted

Vaughn went on to join the cast of Moesha in 1996 as a teenager.

Two more names that may have been influenced by Star Search — it’s hard to tell — are Garcelle and Jordis. Garcelle Beauvais competed as a spokesmodel in 1986, and Jordis Unga competed as a vocalist in 2004. (Unga’s 2005 appearance on Rock Star: INXS was probably a bigger influence on overall usage.)

Will the Name Peregrine Get a Boost in 2016?

Miss PeregrineThe 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

Where Did Ariba Come From?

As far as I know, the first internet- or tech-related baby name to debut on the U.S. charts was Iuma, which appeared in 2000 thanks to a baby name contest put on by the now-defunct Internet Underground Music Archive.

…But am I overlooking Ariba?

Like Iuma, the baby name Ariba debuted in 2000, then dropped off the list again in 2001:

  • 2004: 10 baby girls named Ariba
  • 2003: 7 baby girls named Ariba
  • 2002: 8 baby girls named Ariba
  • 2001: unlisted
  • 2000: 11 baby girls named Ariba [debut]
  • 1999: unlisted

Ariba may have simply been a variant spelling of the Muslim name Areeba, which started appearing in the data in the mid-1990s. The names Areebah and Aribah also debuted in the early 2000s, for instance.

On the other hand, it may have been inspired by California software company Ariba, which was making headlines around that time. The B2B company had an impressive IPO in mid-1999, and the stock price surged during 2000. (“Ariba Executes Marketplace Magic” declared The Motley Fool in July.)

Of the hundreds of technology/internet companies (WedMD, Red Hat, Priceline, iVillage, NaviSite, etc.) that went public around the same time, Ariba was one of the few with a name that sounded even remotely human.

But the stock crashed in mid-2001 with the bursting of the dot-com bubble:

Explore more ARBA Data at Wikinvest

What do you think: Did Ariba debut — and then drop off the list just as suddenly — thanks to tech news/hype, or were those 11 Aribas bound to show up in the data regardless due to prevailing trends?

Sources: Twitter’s Up 75%? Bah, That’s Nothing Compared With 1999, Ariba’s next big challenge: managing hypergrowth

The 9/11-Inspired Baby Name Giuliani

Giuliani, TIME magazineOn September 11, 2001, members of the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda carried out four coordinated terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people, most of whom died with the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York City.

New York City mayor Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani was lauded for his leadership in the aftermath of the attacks. He made a number of appearances on TV* and radio. Oprah Winfrey dubbed him “America’s Mayor.”

On the last day of 2001, Time magazine declared Giuliani “Person of the Year.” (That day was also Giuliani’s last day as mayor, incidentally). Time said:

With the President out of sight for most of that day, Giuliani became the voice of America. Every time he spoke, millions of people felt a little better. His words were full of grief and iron, inspiring New York to inspire the nation. “Tomorrow New York is going to be here,” he said. “And we’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before…I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.”

And in 2002, we see the baby name Giuliani appear for the very first time in the SSA’s baby name data:

  • 2003: unlisted
  • 2002: 6 baby boys named Giuliani [debut]
  • 2001: unlisted

Two other baby names that debuted around this time, Independence in 2001 and Patriot in 2002, were also likely given a boost by the events of 9/11.

*Later in September, Rudy Giuliani was featured in the Saturday Night Live9/11 Tribute” (video) that memorably ended with this short exchange between Lorne Michaels and Giuliani: “Can we be funny?” “Why start now?”

Source: Pooley, Eric. “Mayor of the World.” Time 31 Dec. 2001.

P.S. Fr. Mychal Judge, the first official casualty of 9/11, also had an impact on baby names in the early 2000s.

Babies Named after the Pope’s Hospital?

During a pontificate that lasted over 26 years, Pope Saint John Paul II was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital nine times, spending “a total of 153 days and 152 nights there.” He was at Gemelli often enough that in the mid-1990s he jokingly dubbed it the “Third Vatican” — that is, the third papal residence after the Apostolic Palaces in Rome and Castel Gandolfo.

In early 2005, during John Paul II’s final months, he was taken to Gemelli for two long stretches: February 1 to 11, then again from February 24 to March 13. He passed away on April 2.

Also in 2005, for the first and only time, the baby name Gemelli appeared in the U.S. baby name data released by the Social Security Administration:

Agostino Gemelli
Agostino Gemelli
  • 2006: unlisted
  • 2005: 5 baby girls named Gemelli [debut]
  • 2004: unlisted

The Gemelli is a teaching hospital associated with Italy’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, which was founded in the early 1920s by Franciscan friar and doctor Agostino Gemelli (1878-1959).

The Italian surname, which is identical to the Italian word for “twins,” comes from the personal name Gemello, which in turn comes from the Latin word gemellus, “twin.”

The baby names Johnpaul, Juanpablo and Gianpaolo also saw increased usage in 2005.

Benedict, John Paul II’s successor, was elected in April of 2005. The same year, the usage of Benedict spiked and the one-hit wonders Benedicte and Johnbenedict (the top one-hit wonder of the year) popped up on the U.S. charts.

Sources: The Gemelli: The Pope’s hospital, Gemelli’s John Paul II Statue Unveiled, Pope John Paul II Fast Facts

Delayed Celebrity Baby Name Debuts

tahnee
Raquel and Tahnee, LHJ, Nov. 1967
Last week we looked at celebrity baby name debuts. These typically occur the same year or the year after a celebrity baby is born (or adopted).

Sometimes, though, there’s a gap of several years. This typically means that the birth/adoption didn’t draw much attention to the name, but some subsequent media event did.

Here are the three earliest examples of “delayed” celebrity baby name debuts that I know of, plus the stories behind what caused them.

Tahnee

In December of 1961, actress Raquel Welch had a baby girl. The baby was legally named Latanne Rene, but her nickname was Tahnee.

But the name Tahnee didn’t debut on the baby name charts until 1967, when Tahnee was 6 years old:

  • 1970: 27 baby girls named Tahnee
  • 1969: 15 baby girls named Tahnee
  • 1968: 28 baby girls named Tahnee
  • 1967: 17 baby girls named Tahnee [debut]
  • 1966: unlisted

Why? Because that’s the year Tahnee and her mother were featured in an issue Ladies’ Home Journal.

Tahnee went on to become an actress, like her mother. The usage of the baby name Tahnee peaked in 1985, the year Tahnee Welch played an alien named Kitty in the summer blockbuster Cocoon.

(Her legal name, Latanne, has never made the SSA’s list.)

Karac

Karac Pendra Plant with his father Robert Plant
Karac with Robert Plant, mid-1970s
In April of 1972, musician Robert Plant welcomed a baby boy named Karac Pendra. “Karac” was inspired by Caractacus, the name of a first-century British chieftain.

But the name Karac didn’t debut until 1979:

  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 6 baby boys named Karac [debut]
  • 1978: unlisted

Sadly, Karac died of a stomach infection in 1977 while Led Zeppelin was on tour in North America.

In 1979, Led Zeppelin released the album In Through the Out Door, which included a tribute to Karac called “All My Love.” At least one high-profile magazine, People, mentioned Karac in its write-up of the album. My guess is that this and other press mentions are what caused the baby name to debut in ’79.

(For the record, several U.S. babies named Karac before 1979. And I found one born in London in 1977 named “Zeppelin Karac.”)

A’keiba

Akeiba Burrell on the cover of Jet with her father MC Hammer in 1992
A’keiba on the cover of Jet, May, 1992
In September of 1987, musician M.C. Hammer welcomed a baby girl named A’Keiba Monique.

But the name Akeiba didn’t debut until 1992, when A’keiba was four years old:

  • 1995: unlisted
  • 1994: 5 baby girls named Akeiba
  • 1993: 6 baby girls named Akeiba
  • 1992: 49 baby girls named Akeiba [debut]
  • 1991: unlisted

M.C. Hammer wasn’t famous in 1987. (“U Can’t Touch This” didn’t become a hit until 1990.) So A’Keiba’s birth wouldn’t have affected the baby name charts that early.

But why did it suddenly hit in 1992?

Because A’keiba was in the spotlight several times that year.

Various publications ran a photo of A’keiba and her father attending the American Music Awards together in January, for instance, and Jet put Hammer and A’keiba (and her name, sans apostrophe) on the cover in May.

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Delayed celebrity baby name debuts still occur these days, though less often — at least relative to the sheer number of celebrity baby name debuts that we now see on the charts.

The best internet-era example I can think of is Kailand, son of Stevie Wonder and fashion designer Kai Milla (Karen Millard-Morris). He was born in 2001, but his name didn’t debut until 2005 — the year he started showing up to fashion shows (one in February, another in December) with his parents.

Can you think of any other celebrity baby names didn’t debut on time?

Source: Jones, Jerene. “After Tragedy Left Their Hearts Heavier Than Their Metal, Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin Have Risen Again.” People 27 Aug. 1979: 32.

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Update, 5/1/16: Forgot to add Shangaleza to this list! Baseball player Dock Ellis welcomed a baby girl named Shangaleza in 1969, but her name didn’t debut until 1971. Why? A mention in the August issue of Sports Illustrated (“On the Lam with the Three Rivers Gang“):

Dock Ellis, the hottest-talking, hottest winning pitcher in the National League, explained that his one-year-old daugher’s name, Shangaleza Talwanga, meant “everything black is beautiful” in Swahili.

The name ended up being a one-hit wonder.