Where did the baby name Corby come from in 1954?

The character Corby Lane from the movie "She Couldn't Say No" (1954).
Corby Lane from “She Couldn’t Say No

In the middle of the ’50s, the rare name Corby — typically given to baby boys — was given to dozens of baby girls all of a sudden. In fact, Corby was the top debut name of 1954.

YearGirls named CorbyBoys named Corby
19571622
19562319
19552819
195439 [debut]15
19538

Why?

Because of the 1954 movie She Couldn’t Say No, which starred Jean Simmons as English oil heiress Corby Lane. (Her co-star was Robert Mitchum, who played the doctor in the rural Arkansas town where the story was set.)

The baby name Corby never took off, though — for either gender. It returned to male-majority usage by the end of the ’50s, and these days it’s so rare that it doesn’t even appear in the SSA data every year (there’s a 5-baby cutoff).

I’m not sure if there was a story behind Corby Lane’s unusual name in the film, but I can tell you that the surname Corby has several possible derivations. The English version, for instance, can be traced back to any of various English place names, several of which were derived from the Old Norse personal name Kori (meaning unknown) combined with the Old Norse word býr, meaning “village, town.” The French version, on the other hand, was derived from the Old French word corb, meaning “crow.”

Do you like Corby as a baby name? Do you like it better for girls or for boys?

Source: Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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