How popular is the baby name Acquanetta in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Acquanetta.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Acquanetta


Posts that Mention the Name Acquanetta

Mystery Monday: The Baby Names Quinetta & Quinette

Here are two curiously similar Quin- names that popped up in the U.S. baby name data around the same time. So far, I haven’t been able to figure out where either one came from.

The first is Quinetta, which first appeared in 1955:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: 12 baby girls named Quinetta [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted

It dropped back below the 5-baby threshold the next year and didn’t reappear in the data until 1963.

The second is Quinette, which emerged in 1957:

  • 1958: 5 baby girls named Quinette
  • 1957: 8 baby girls named Quinette [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted

Girl names with -ette and -etta endings (like Annette and Loretta) were popular mid-century, but girl names starting with Quin- (like Quintina and Quintella) were rare, making the sudden appearance of a pair of Quin- names pretty noteworthy.

I doubt that Burnu Acquanetta was an influence here, but I also can’t rule her out.

Do you guys have any ideas?

Where did the baby name Acquanetta come from?

Burnu Acquanetta

Back in the 1940s and early 1950s, an actress called Burnu Acquanetta — sometimes billed simply as “Acquanetta” — starred in a string of campy B-movies. She played an ape-woman in Captive Wild Woman (1943) and Jungle Woman (1944), a leopard-woman in Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946), and a native girl in Lost Continent (1951).

As a result, the rare name Acquanetta began popping up in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1940s:

  • 1948: 12 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1947: 5 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1946: 13 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1945: 6 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1944: 6 baby girls named Acquanetta [debut]
  • 1943: unlisted
  • 1942: unlisted

At the height of the name’s popularity in the early 1950s, the variants Aquanetta and Acquanette popped up. Later the same decade, we see the very Aqua Net-like Aquanette.

So what’s the origin of “Acquanetta”?

A LIFE article from 1942 stated that both of Acquanetta’s parents were Native American and that her surname meant “laughing water.” Her 2004 obituary in The Independent says she claimed to be “part-Arapaho Indian and part-English aristocrat” and that her name means “burning fire, deep water.”

But a Jet article from the early ’50s tells us the truth: Burnu Acquanetta’s legal name was Mildred Davenport. Census records show that she was born in South Carolina and raised in Pennsylvania. (So was her brother, Horace Davenport, who became the first African-American judge in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.)

The stage names “Burnu” and “Acquanetta” aren’t genuine Native American names at all, then, but fanciful creations based on the words burn and aqua. They must have sounded exotic enough to pass as Native American back in the 1940s, though.

What are your thoughts on the name Acquanetta?

Sources:

  • Acquanetta.” Independent 19 Aug. 2004.
  • “Hollywood Jungle Girl.” Jet 14 Feb. 1952: 58-62.
  • “Venezuelan Volcano.” Life 24 Aug. 1942: 57.

Image: © 1952 Jet