How did “Yentl” influence baby names in 1984?

The characters Avigdor and Yentl from the movie "Yentl" (1983).
Avigdor and Yentl from “Yentl

The Jewish names Yentl and Avigdor both debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1984:

Girls named YentlBoys named Avigdor


Because both were featured in the 1983 musical film Yentl, which starred Barbra Streisand and Mandy Patinkin as students (Yentl and Avigdor) at a Jewish religious school in Poland in the early 1900s. Only males could attend the school, so Yentl had to dress and live as a young man, “Anshel,” in order to receive an education.

The film was based on a 1975 play which was, in turn, based on the short story “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy” (1963) by Isaac Bashevis Singer.

What do these names mean?

Yentl is a diminutive of Yente, which comes from the Yentille, the Yiddish version of the French name Gentille, meaning “noble, aristocratic.”

Avigdor is a Hebrew name derived from the expression avi Gedor, meaning “Gedor’s father.” The name Gedor means “wall.” (Avigdor was one of the by-names of Moses in the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism.)

And Anshel, the name Yentl used while disguised as a male, is the Yiddish form of Anselm, a Germanic name made up of elements meaning “god” and “helmet, protection.”

What are your thoughts on these names?

Sources: Yentl (film) – Wikipedia, Behind the Name, The Name Avigdor | BH Open Databases,

3 thoughts on “How did “Yentl” influence baby names in 1984?

  1. Avigdor also had a really big jump in the data from 2000-2002. I wonder why that is.

  2. @Aya: Maybe because Avigdor Liebermann’s political career in Israel gained traction than.

  3. @Aya – Good question! The SSA’s state-by-state data reveals that most of the baby Avigdors of that time period were born in New York and New Jersey:

    • 2003: 33 boys named Avigdor nationally (17 born in NY, 13 born in NJ)
    • 2002: 33 boys named Avigdor (20 born in NY, 10 born in NJ)
    • 2001: 23 boys named Avigdor (10 born in NY, 9 born in NJ)
    • 2000: 7 boys named Avigdor (6 born in NY)
    • 1999: unlisted

    Given the locations, it’s very plausible that most of these babies were born into Orthodox Jewish families/communities.

    So I think elbowin’s guess of Avigdor Lieberman is a very good one. I haven’t looked into it much yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he were the answer/influence here.

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