Mystery Monday: Tish

baby name Tish popularity graph

Time for another baby name mystery! Today we’ve got Tish, which saw a distinct spike in usage in 1971. Here’s the data:

  • 1973: 25 baby girls named Tish
  • 1972: 27 baby girls named Tish
  • 1971: 63 baby girls named Tish
  • 1970: 25 baby girls named Tish
  • 1969: 33 baby girls named Tish

I do have a decent guess on this one — a bizarre film called The Baby Maker that came out in late 1970 and starred Barbara Hershey (a.k.a. Barbara Seagull) as Tish, “a free spirit who agrees to bear a child for a childless couple.” I can’t find any box office data on the film, though, so I can’t figure out how many people actually saw it.

A better guess would have been African-American model Tish Hammock…but the year she was being featured regularly in Jet magazine was 1969 — a bit too early for a ’71 spike.

Another guess would have been the character Clementine “Tish” Rivers from the James Baldwin novel If Beale Street Could Talk…except it wasn’t published until 1974.

Have any thoughts on this one? Any other theories?

Source: The Baby Maker (1970) – Rotten Tomatoes

Mystery Monday: Darwyn

Time for another mystery name! Today we have Darwyn, which saw a dramatic spike in usage in 1935:

  • 1937: 14 baby boys named Darwyn
  • 1936: 17 baby boys named Darwyn
  • 1935: 67 baby boys named Darwyn [peak usage; ranked 752nd]
  • 1934: 12 baby boys named Darwyn
  • 1932: 8 baby boys named Darwyn

In fact, Darwyn was the fastest-rising boy name of 1935. (The equivalent girl name that year was the contest-inspired Norita.)

The more common spelling, Darwin, only saw a slight rise in usage in 1935. So whatever the influence was, it was spelling-specific.

I’ve done my usual pop culture/current events searches — movies, comics, politics, etc. — but so far have come up empty-handed.

Any ideas on this one?

Mystery Monday: Prisma

Here’s a baby name I haven’t been able to figure out: Prisma. It debuted in the data in 1984 with an impressive 18 baby girls, then saw even higher usage after that for several years:

  • 1988: 13 baby girls named Prisma – 7 in CA
  • 1987: 27 baby girls named Prisma – 13 in CA, 9 in TX
  • 1986: 20 baby girls named Prisma – 11 in TX, 6 in CA
  • 1985: 26 baby girls named Prisma – 13 in CA
  • 1984: 18 baby girls named Prisma – 8 in CA, 7 in TX
  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: unlisted

Most of these babies were born in California and Texas. In fact, a records search for Prismas born in the mid-1980s revealed that nearly every single one had a Spanish surname. So it’s safe to say that we’re looking for a Spanish-language influence for Prisma.

My only guess so far is an obscure Mexican singer-songwriter named Prisma (real name: Silvia Tapia Alcázar) who was active in the mid-1980s. One of her songs, “Fuego y Ternura” (Fire and Tenderness), became the title track of the successful album Fuego y Ternura (1985) by Mexican pop singer Lucerito.

But do you guys have any other guesses?

And if any mid-’80s Prismas happen to stop by: Do you know the story behind your name?

Mystery Monday: Nydra

Here’s a mystery baby name for you: Nydra. It was a one-hit wonder in the SSA data in 1981, registering with 14 baby girls. Fourteen wasn’t quite high enough to boost Nydra onto the list of most popular one-hit wonder girl names, but it’s an impressive showing nonetheless.

  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: 14 baby girls named Nydra [debut]
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: unlisted

My only guess so far has to do with an infant named Nydra Chi Vonne Pettaway, who was kidnapped* from a hospital in Houston, Texas, a few days after she was born in April of 1981. She was recovered several days later (and her 18-year-old kidnapper was sentenced to 10 years probation). But I’ve only seen baby Nydra mentioned in one Texas newspaper so far, so I’m not sure if the news item was widespread/impactful enough to account for the name’s debut.

Do you have any clues/guesses?

Source: “Baby Thief Sentenced.” Port Arthur News 11 Oct. 1981: 14.

*Speaking of kidnapped babies, here’s the post on Chaneta.