Where did the baby name Cybill come from in 1972?

Actress Cybill Shepherd in the movie "The Last Picture Show" (1971).
Cybill Shepherd in “The Last Picture Show

The name Cybill first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1972, and it saw peak usage the very next year:

  • 1974: 10 baby girls named Cybill
  • 1973: 31 baby girls named Cybill [peak]
  • 1972: 8 baby girls named Cybill [debut]
  • 1971: unlisted
  • 1970: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Actress Cybill Shepherd, whose first two movies — The Last Picture Show (1971) and The Heartbreak Kid (1972) — were box-office successes.

The name has disappeared from the data — that is, fallen below five instances of usage per year — several time since then. But it has also returned twice, and those returns can be attributed to other notable moments in Cybill Shepherd’s career.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Cybill in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Cybill

The name first returned in 1985 thanks to the successful comedy-drama TV series Moonlighting (1985-1989), which co-starred Shepherd and Bruce Willis as private detectives.

It returned a second time in 1995 with the sitcom Cybill (1995-1998), which starred Shepherd as a struggling actress in her 40s. (She said in her autobiography, “I’d given my name and much of my identity to the series, blurring the line between real life and fiction.”)

The name Cybill is pronounced like the name Sibyl — the word used in ancient Greece to refer to a female prophet — but the unique spelling has personal significance: “Cybill” was coined (several days after Shepherd was born) by combining the names of her grandfather, Cy, and her father, Bill.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Cybill?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.