New Orleans dogs are often the namesakes of the cuisine (Gumbo, Roux, Beignet, Po-Boy, Boudin); the Saints (Brees, Payton, Deuce); music (Toussaint, Jazz, Satchmo); streets (Clio, Tchoupitoulas, Calliope); neighborhoods (Pearl, Touro, Gert) and Mardi Gras krewes (Zulu, Rex, Bacchus).
At any given moment, the trucks are working away to keep Scotland’s roads safe, with their progress available for all to see on an online map [the Trunk Road Gritter Tracker], which updates in real time. But a closer look at this map, with its jaunty yellow vehicles, reveals something still more charming: An awful lot of these salt trucks have very, very good names. Gritty Gritty Bang Bang is putting in the hard yards near Aberuthven. Dynamic duo Ice Buster and Ice Destroyer are making themselves useful near Glasgow and Loch Lomond. Three trucks apparently hold knighthoods–Sir Salter Scott, Sir Andy Flurry, Sir Grits-a-Lot. At least two (Ice Queen and Mrs. McGritter) are female. Every one is excellent.
(Some of the other gritter names are: For Your Ice Only, Grits-n-Pieces, Grittalica, Grittie McVittie, Luke Snowalker, Plougher O’ Scotland, Ready Spready Go, Salty Tom, and Sprinkles.)
No doubt the popularity of the name Brenton interstate and in the US is down to the paddleboat TV drama All the Rivers Run, which starred John Waters as captain Brenton Edwards and Sigrid Thornton as Philadelphia Gordon.
The miniseries first ran on Australian television in October 1983 and was later broadcast on the American channel HBO in January 1984.
Once upon a time the list of top 100 names in a year used to capture nearly 90 per cent of the boys born, and three-quarters of girls. Now it’s less than half of either gender.
The reason is an explosion in variety, with multiculturalism and parents’ desire for individuality seeing the pool of baby names grow from 4252 in 1957 to 16,676 today. That’s 300% more names for only 30% more babies being born.
Professor Jo Lindsay from Monash University has researched naming practices in Australia and said parents today had more freedom and fewer family expectations than previous generations.
They were, in order, Cretta in 1910, Leland in 1912, Rosa in 1913, Woodrow in 1916, Wilmar in 1918, Joseph in 1919, Dorothy in 1921 and Virginia in 1923.
The second wave included Irving in 1924, Blanche in 1925, C.D. in 1927, Geraldine in 1928, Marverine in 1930, Billy in 1932, Tom in 1934 and Gene in 1938.
Gene Autry Sullivan, the youngest of the children and the one who organizes the reunion each year, said he was told he was named after legendary cowboy movie star Gene Autry “because his parents had run out of names by then.”
(The post about Sierra includes a photo of Gene Autry.)
Recently I was asked to give a talk to students at a mostly white school. I’d been in back-and-forth email contact with one of the teachers for ages. My full name, Bilal Harry Khan, comes up in email communication. I’d signed off all our emails as Bilal and introduced myself to him that way too. He had been addressing me as Bilal in these emails the entire time. But as he got up to introduce me to a whole assembly hall of teachers and students, he suddenly said, “Everyone, this is Harry.”
Mifanwy was a character name in multiple films, including Mifanwy: A Tragedy (1913) and A Welsh Singer (1916).
Mignon Anderson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Maryland in 1892. Mignon was also a character name in multiple films, including The Drive for a Life (short, 1909) and Mignon (short, 1912).
Milada Mladova was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1950s. She was born Oklahoma in 1921. Her birth name was Annabel Milada Mraz. Milada was also a character played by actress Luise Rainer in the film Hostages (1943).
Minna Grey was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in England in 1877. Minna Gombell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in Maryland in 1892. Minna was also a character name in multiple films, including Perils of the Secret Service (1917) and The Oath (1921).
Moyna MacGill was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was born in Ireland in 1895. Her birth name was Charlotte Lillian McIldowie. Moyna was also a character played by actress Colleen Moore in the film Come on Over (1922).
Moyra was a character played by actress Alice Hollister in the short film The Shaughraun (1912).
Myrna Myrna Loy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1980s. She was born in Montana in 1905. Myrna Dell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1980s. She was born in California in 1924. Her birth name was Marilyn Adele Dunlap. Myrna was also a character name in multiple films, including The Face or the Voice (short, 1912) and Broadway to Cheyenne (1932).
Myrta Bonillas was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1930s. She was born in Massachusetts in 1890. Myrta was also a character played by actress Ollie Kirby in the short film The Trap (1917).
Myrtle Gonzalez was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in California in 1891. Myrtle Stedman was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in Illinois in 1885. Myrtle was also a character name in multiple films, including Salvation Nell (1931) and Rackateers in Exile (1937).
Last week I posted about the usage of the name Estelle in Sweden, and one of the sources I used for that post mentioned the intriguing case of Engla.
In the early 2000s, the name Engla was on the upswing in Sweden.
Then tragedy struck: a 10-year-old named Engla Juncosa Höglund was abducted in April of 2008. Days later, she was found brutally murdered. Controversially, Engla’s funeral was broadcast live on national TV in Sweden in May. The murderer was apprehended and his trial went on for months.
What happened to the baby name Engla as a result? In the U.S., I would have expected to see a continued rise in usage, thanks solely to the extra exposure. But in Sweden, the opposite occurred:
2017: 20 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2016: 17 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2015: 29 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2014: 16 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2013: 26 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2012: 37 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2011: 51 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2010: 40 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2009: 44 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2008: 169 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2007: 224 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2006: 209 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2005: 147 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2004: 105 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2003: 94 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2002: 75 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2001: 56 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
2000: 30 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
1999: 16 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
1998: 11 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
Even more surprisingly (to me), the name never recovered.
Within a span of 20 years, the name went from being unpopular, to ranking in the top 100 for several years straight, to being unpopular all over again.
The name Engla can be traced back to the Germanic name element engel, which referred to the Angles (as in “Anglo-Saxon”).
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.