Popular Baby Names in Oregon, 2015

According to the Oregon Public Health Division, the most popular baby names in the state in 2015 were Emma and Liam.

Here are Oregon’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names
1. Emma, 233 baby girls
2. Olivia, 219
3. Sophia, 181
4. Abigail, 170
5. Charlotte, 165
6. Evelyn, 158
7. Ava, 146 (tie)
7. Mia, 146 (tie)
9. Amelia, 143
10. Isabella, 135

Boy Names
1. Liam, 225 baby boys
2. Henry, 209
3. Oliver, 190
4. James, 182
5. Noah, 180
6. Wyatt, 175
7. Mason, 174
8. Elijah, 168
9. William, 160
10. Alexander, 158

The #1 names were the same in 2014.

In the girls’ top 10, Charlotte and Mia replaced Emily and Elizabeth.

In the boys’ top 10, James and Elijah replaced Benjamin and Logan.

Source: Vital Statistics Annual Report – Oregon Public Health


Five-Name Friday: Girl Name like Sarah

five name friday, girl name

You’re back at the furniture warehouse, this time looking for an armchair to go with the couch you got a few months ago. While there, you strike up a conversation with yet another friendly pregnant lady (what are the chances?!). You ask her if she’s chosen a name yet, and this is what she says:

I want to name my daughter after my mom Sarah, but I also want my daughter (and my mom!) to have their own unique names, not exact duplicate names. What are some nice names like Sarah?

“Do you have any suggestions?”

You’re a name-lover, and you could potentially give her dozens of suggestions on the spot. But there are hundreds of armchairs to choose from, and the store won’t stay open forever, so you only have time to give her five baby name suggestions before you get back to your shopping.

But here’s the fun part: Instead of blurting out the first five names you come up with (which is what you’d be forced to do in real life) you get to press a magical “pause” button, brainstorm for a bit, and then “unpause” the scenario to offer her the best five names you can think of.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you brainstorm:

  • Be independent. Decide on your five names before looking at anyone else’s five names.
  • Be sincere. Would you honestly suggest these particular baby names out loud to a stranger in public?
  • Five names only! All names beyond the first five in your comment will be either deleted or replaced with nonsense words.

Finally, here’s the request again:

I want to name my daughter after my mom Sarah, but I also want my daughter (and my mom!) to have their own unique names, not exact duplicate names. What are some nice names like Sarah?

Which five baby names are you going to suggest?

[To send in your own 2-sentence baby name request, here are the directions, and here’s the contact form.]

The Baby Names Shevawn and Siobhan

siobhan mckenna, 1956, life, magazine
Siobhán McKenna on the cover of LIFE
Tara, Maeve, and many of the other
Irish names used in the U.S. today weren’t popularized by Irish immigrants. Instead, they gained traction after being introduced to the public via movies, television, and other types of pop culture.

Siobhan is no different. But it’s also a special case, because Americans heard about the name before they saw it written down. The result? The Irish spelling made a splash on the U.S. baby name charts…but only after a phonetic respelling made a similar splash. In fact, the misspelled version and the correctly spelled version were consecutive top girl name debuts in the mid-1950s.

So who’s the person behind the launch of Siobhan? Irish actress Siobhán McKenna (1923-1986).

In 1955, McKenna was nominated for a Tony for her role as Miss Madrigal in the play The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold (who had written National Velvet two decades earlier). The same year, the name Shevawn debuted in the U.S. data:

  • 1960: 5 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 9 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1957: 8 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1956: 24 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1955: 36 baby girls named Shevawn [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted

The spellings Shevon, Shevonne, Chavonne, and Chevonne also debuted in ’55.

The next year, Siobhán McKenna impressed audiences with her portrayal of Joan of Arc in the George Bernard Shaw play Saint Joan. Her popularity in this role earned her the cover of LIFE magazine in September. Next to her image was her name, Siobhan, spelled correctly (but missing the fada). Right on cue, the name Siobhan debuted in the data:

  • 1960: 90 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1959: 85 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1958: 54 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1957: 67 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1956: 58 baby girls named Siobhan [debut]
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted

Once U.S. parents learned how to spell “Siobhan,” the alternative spellings became less common, though they remained in use.

Siobhan was boosted into the top 1,000 in 1979 and remained popular during the 1980s thanks to the soap opera Ryan’s Hope, which introduced a character named Siobhan in 1978.

It’s rather fitting that Siobhán McKenna was best known for playing Saint Joan, as both “Siobhán” and “Joan” were derived from the name Jeanne, which is French feminine form of John (meaning “Yahweh is gracious”).

How do you feel about the name Siobhan? If you were going to use it, how would you spell it?

Sources: Siobhán McKenna – Wikipedia, SSA

The Baby Name Tinker

Tinker the Toymaker
The curious baby name “Tinker” debuted on the SSA’s list in the mid-1950s:

  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: 5 baby girls named Tinker
  • 1954: 5 baby boys named Tinker [debut]
  • 1953: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Well, the girls would have been named Tinker with the Peter Pan character Tinker Bell in mind. (Disney’s film version of Peter Pan came out in ’53, and the Broadway musical came out in ’54.)

But for boys, the inspiration would have been the children’s TV program Tinker’s Workshop, which was on the air from 1954 to 1958. The sole human character was gray-haired, Geppetto-like “Tinker the Toymaker” played by Bob Keeshan (who also produced the show). Keeshan wrote in the ’80s that:

[Tinker] was warm and welcoming, a grandfather who finds joy in talking to young people, passing on his wisdom, exploring the world with them.

The show was a success, but Keeshan left less than a year after it premiered to become “Captain Kangaroo” — a role he played for the next three decades.

Tinker’s Workshop continued until mid-1958, with the role of Tinker being taken up by several other actors, the last of whom was a very young Dom DeLuise.

Do you like Tinker as a baby name? Do you think it works better for boys or for girls?

Source: Keeshan, Bob. Growing Up Happy: Captain Kangaroo Tells Yesterday’s Children How to Nurture Their Own. New York: Doubleday, 1989

The Curious Name Tanaquil

Last week’s post on Vera Zorina helped me discover another interesting name: Tanaquil (pronounced tan-a-keel). It belonged to French-born American ballerina Tanaquil “Tanny” Le Clercq (1929-2000) who, like Zorina, had been married to famous choreographer George Balanchine.

Thanchvil, Etruscan, female, nameTanaquil Le Clercq was named after the legendary Etruscan prophet Tanaquil, whose omen-reading abilities helped her husband become the fifth king of Rome (616-578 B.C.).

The Etruscan rendering of the name Tanaquil is “Thanchvil.” The Etruscans had a relatively small pool of first names (praenomina) to draw from, so it’s possible that many Etruscan women were named Thanchvil. In fact, the MFA in Boston owns a sarcophagus (dated 350–300 B.C.) for Thanchvil Tarnai and her husband Larth Tetnies.

The Etruscan language has long been extinct, so there’s no telling what Thanchvil means. (In lieu of that, here are some of the other Etruscan female names that we know about: Thana/Thania, Ramtha/Ranthia, Hastia/Fastia, Aula/Aulia, Vela/Velia, Setha, Arnthi, Larthi.)

Getting back to Tanny…tragically, her professional career was cut short when she was stricken with polio in 1956 at age 27. She was paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of her life. The “stranger-than-fiction twist” is that, at age 15, she had actually danced the part of a polio victim at a March of Dimes benefit, and Balanchine had danced the part of polio itself:

In the final movement — a sunny allegro — she reappeared in a wheelchair, children tossed dimes, and she rose and danced again. What at the time was a simple exercise in entertaining a charity audience acquired in retrospect the weight of an omen or a hex. Balanchine, who was deeply mystical, was haunted by the notion that he had somehow brought on her fate.

Makes the fact that she was named after a noted omen-reader seem rather foreboding, doesn’t it?

Sources:

Image from Sarcophagus and lid with husband and wife © 2017 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Will Japan’s Next “Era Name” Influence Baby Names?

heisei, 1989, japan, era name
“Heisei” announced, 1989
© Kyodo
Japan has been using a system of “era names” continuously since the 8th century. Each era name “is said to represent an ideal of an era and in principle consists of two auspicious kanji, including hei (peace), ei (eternal), ten (heaven) and an (safety).”

In modern times, each era name has corresponded to the rule of a single emperor. Here are the four most recent era names and their meanings:

  • Meiji (1868-1912) – “enlightened rule”
  • Taishō (1912-1926) – “great righteousness”
  • Shōwa (1926-1989) – “radiant peace”
  • Heisei (1989-) – “peace everywhere”

The current emperor, 83-year-old Akihito, hinted last summer that he wanted to step down from the throne. (He would be succeeded by his son, Prince Naruhito.)

If he does, Japan will transition to a new era name. And this could have an impact on baby names.

Data released by Japan’s Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company (est. 1881) indicates that during the early Taisho era, the most popular names for baby boys (e.g., Shoichi, Shoji, Shozo) all started with Taishō’s shō character, which means “right” or “just.”

And during the early Shōwa era, there was strong usage of Shōwa’s (different) shō character, which means “bright” or “calm.”

These days Japanese parents are less tradition-bound and more influenced by “look and sound,” said a Meiji Yasuda Life spokesperson. But if Japan’s next era name includes an attractive kanji character, who knows — Japanese parents might just start using it and kick off a new baby name trend…

Sources: Imperial abdication talk poses question of Japan’s next era, What to call baby?, Businesses await Japan’s new era name as Emperor’s abdication looms

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: Letter Z

zaza, movie, gloria swanson
Gloria Swanson as Zaza (1923)
Looking for an under-the-radar girl name with a retro feel?

A few years ago I combed though a bunch of IMDb pages looking for interesting female names associated with old films (1910s-1940s).

Most of the names I spotted — names like Mabel, Maisie, Hazel, Hattie, Elsie, Selma, Bessie, and Betty — were ones I expected to see. But I did manage to collect thousands of rarities, many of which have never appeared in the SSA data before.

Want to check out all these unusual names? I thought so! To make things interesting I’ll post the Z-names first and go backwards, letter by letter.

Enjoy!

Zabette
Zabette de Chavalons was a character played by actress Bebe Daniels in the film Volcano! (1926).

Zabie
Zabie Elliot was a character played by actress Mary Alden in the film The Broken Butterfly (1919).

Zada
Zada L’Etoile was a character played by actress Sylvia Breamer in the Cecil B. DeMille-directed film We Can’t Have Everything (1918).

Zadee
Zadee Burbank was an actress who appeared in films during the 1910s and 1920s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1867 with the name Sarah Pyle Watt.

Zahanna
Zahanna was a character played by actress Marie Walcamp in the short film The Girl and the Tiger (1913).

Zahrah
Zahrah was a character played by actress Gene Gauntier in the short film The Fighting Dervishes of the Desert (1912).

Zahrat
Zahrat was a character played by actress Betty Blythe in the film Chu-Chin-Chow (1923) and by Anna May Wong in Chu-Chin-Chow (1934).

Zalata
Zalata was a character played by actress Ruth Stonehouse in the short film Ashes of Hope (1914).

Zalea
Zalea was a character played by mononymous actress Armida in the film Congo Bill
(1948).

Zalia
Zalia Graem was a character played by actress Virginia Bruce in the film The Garden Murder Case (1936).

Zalla
Zalla Zarana was an actress who appeared in films during the 1920s. She was born in Slovenia in 1897 with the name Rozalija Sršen.

Zamina
Zamina was a character played by actress Edna Eichor in the film The Roughneck (1924).

Zana
Zana was a character name used in multiple films, including Tonight Is Ours (1933) and Call Out the Marines (1942).

Zanda
Zanda was a character played by actress Laska Winter in the film Shipwrecked (1926).

Zandra
Zandra was a character name used in multiple films, including Carnival Lady (1933) and Good Dame (1934).

Zarika
Countess Zarika Rafay was a character played by actress Rosalind Russell in the film The Night is Young (1935).

Zarita
Zarita was a character played by actress Julie Suedo in the film King’s Mate (1928).

Zarmi
Zarmi was a character played by actress Julie Suedo in the three short films The Queen of Hearts (1923), The Man with the Limp (1923), and The Golden Pomegranates (1924).

Zarrah
Zarrah was a character played by actress Violet Horner in the film A Daughter of the Gods (1916).

ZaSu
ZaSu Pitts was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1960s. She was born in Kansas in 1894.

Zavia
Princess Zavia was a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film The Theft of the Crown Jewels (1914).

Zaza
Zaza was a character played by Pauline Frederick in the film Zaza (1915), Gloria Swanson in Zaza (1923), and Claudette Colbert in Zaza (1938).

Zedorah
Zedorah was a character played by actress Mayo Methot in the film Counsellor at Law (1933).

Zee
Zee was a character name used in multiple films, including Jesse James (1939) and Man from Texas (1948).

  • Usage of the baby name Zee (which debuted in the data the year Jesse James came out).

Zeetah
Zeetah was a character played by actress Bessie Eyton in the short film The Totem Mark (1911).

Zeffie
Zeffie Tilbury was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in England in 1863.

Zeleekha
Zeleekha was a character played by actress Mary Duncan in the film Kismet (1930).

Zelia
Zelia de Chaumont was a character played by actress Ruth Chatterton in the film The Rat (1937).

Zelie
Zélie was a character name in multiple films, including The Rat (1925) and The White Black Sheep (1926).

Zell
Zell was a character played by actress Mollie King in the film Fate’s Boomerang (1916).

Zelle
Zelle was a character played by actress Anne Cornwall in the short film The Roughneck (1924).

Zelma
Zelma was a character name in multiple films, including Charity Castle (1917) and Turkish Delight (1927).

Zema
Zema was a character played by actress Louise Vale in the short film The Debt (1912).

Zena
Zena Dare was an actress who appeared in films during the 1920s and 1930s. She was born in England in 1887. Zena Keefe was an actress who appeared in films during the 1910s and 1920s. She was born in California in 1898. Zena was also a character name in multiple films, including The Code of Honor (short, 1916) and The New York Peacock (1917).

Zenia
Zenia was a character name in multiple films such as His Friend’s Wife (short, 1911) and Centennial Summer (1946).

Zenobia
Zenobia was a character name in multiple films such as Secrets of Chinatown (1935) and The Crystal Ball (1943).

Zephne
Zephne Lamont was a character played by actress Edna Murphy in the film The Man Between (1923).

Zephyer
Zephyer Redlynch was a character played by actress “Miss DuPont” (born Patricia Hannon) in the film One Night in Rome (1924).

Zephyrine
Zephyrine was a character name in multiple films, including The Suicide Club (1914) and Women Everywhere (1930).

Zerelda
Zerelda was a character name used in multiple films, including Jesse James (1927) and Jesse James (1939).

Zerilda
Zerilda James was a character played by actress Dorothy Sebastian in the film Days of Jesse James (1939).

Zerlina
Zerlina was a character played by actress Lucile Browne in the film The Devil’s Brother (1933).

Zetta
Zetta was a character played by actress Zalla Zarana in the film The Lady Who Lied (1925).

Zilah
Zilah was a character played by actress Ruth Miller in the film The Sheik (1921).

Zilla
Zilla Riesling was a character played by Cissy Fitzgerald in the film Babbitt (1924) and Minna Gombell in Babbitt (1934).

Zillah
Zillah was a character played by actress Eulalie Jensen in the film Fighting Love (1927).

Zinida
Zinida was a character played by actress Paulette Duval in the film He Who Gets Slapped (1924).

Zira
Zira was a character name in multiple films, including Heart of Flame (short, 1915)
and The Fortieth Door (1924).

Zita
Zita was a character name in multiple films, including The Master Mystery (1919) and The Great Flirtation (1934).

Zixi
Queen Zixi was a character played by actress Juanita Hansen in the short film The Magic Cloak (1914).

Zizi
Zizi was a character played by actress Maudie Dunham in the film Circus Jim (1921).

Zohra
Princess Zohra was a character played by actress Edna Maison in the film serial Under the Crescent (1915).

Zoila
Zoila Conan was an actress who appeared in films during the 1930s. She was born in Mexico in 1903.

Zoldene
Zoldene was a character played by actress Gretchen Lederer in the film Black Friday (1916).

Zonia
Zonia was a character played by actress Eugenie Forde in the film The Light (1916).

Zoradi
Zoradi was a character played by actress Myrtle Gonzalez in the short film The Thief of the Desert (1916).

Zorah
Zorah was a character name in multiple films, such as The Cry of the Captive (short, 1914) and Samson (1914).

Zorina
Vera Zorina, often credited simply as Zorina, was an actress who appeared in films during the 1930s and 1940s. She was born in Germany in 1917 with the name Eva Brigitta Hartwig.

Zudora
Zudora was a character played by actress Marguerite Snow in the film serial Zudora (1914).

Zuleika
Zuleika was a character played by actress Maria Montez in the film Raiders of the Desert (1941).

Zuletta
Zuletta was a character played by actress Lucille Young in the film The Spell of the Poppy (1915).

Zulika
Zulika was a character name used in multiple films, including The Greed of Osman Bey (short, 1913) and How the Earth Was Carpeted (short, 1914).

Zulima
Zulima was a character played by actress Blanche Cornwall in the film Fra Diavolo (1912).

*

Which of the above names do you like best?