Mystery baby name: Ebay (Solved!)

The characters J.J., Ibe, and Thelma from the TV series "Good Times" (1974-1979)
J.J., Ibe, and Thelma from “Good Times

Here’s something curious. In 1977, 12 baby boys in the U.S. were named Ebay. The name Ebay doesn’t appear on the SSA’s list any other year. Not even in the late 90s, when auction site eBay was taking off.

Why were there suddenly a dozen baby Ebays in 1977? I have no idea. A few names I know of (e.g. Adebayo) include the e-b-a-y sequence of letters, but Ebay doesn’t seem like a logical nickname for any of them, so that’s probably not the source. And the online sleuthing I usually do isn’t working in this case, as all searches for Ebay just lead me to eBay.

Any guesses?

Update: Commenter Robin quickly figured it out! Ebay is a variant spelling of Ibealso a one-hit wonder in 1977. Both were popularized by a character named Ibe Wubila who appeared on two episodes of Good Times (“Thelma’s African Romance”, parts 1 and 2) in January of that year. Thank you, Robin!

4 thoughts on “Mystery baby name: Ebay (Solved!)

  1. This may be a stretch, but I remembered that on the television show Good Times, one of the characters got engaged to a man whose name sounded like Ebay. It was actually spelled Ibe, but that story arc did air in 1977…

  2. I find that sooooo frustrating: seeing a sudden rise in popularity and not being able to link it to (most likely) a soap opera character or a football player. It’s always nice to have readers who can think out of the box, because I’m sometimes stuck in there, taped shut ;)

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