These baby names are one-hit wonders in the U.S. baby name data. That is, they’ve only popped up once, ever, in the entire dataset of U.S. baby names (which accounts for all names given to at least 5 U.S. babies per year since 1880).
There are thousands of one-hit wonders in the dataset, but the names below have interesting stories behind their single appearance, so these are the one-hits I’m writing specific posts about. Just click on a name to read more.
The name Yuri first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in the early ’60s, and the name Aldrin showed up in the late ’60s. But these aren’t the only two Space Race baby names that popped up on the charts during the ’60s.
In 1965 and 1966, the 10 manned missions of NASA’s Project Gemini were flown. The sixth mission, in March of 1966, included the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit — the Gemini VIII with the Agena Target Vehicle (an unmanned spacecraft built specifically for that purpose).
Right on cue, the baby name Gemini debuted in 1965, and Agena followed in 1966:
Girls named Gemini
Girls named Agena
Gemini reappeared in the data later on (e.g., 11 baby girls and 12 baby boys were named Gemini in 2015) but Agena, the top one-hit wonder of 1966, never did.
So how did Project Gemini and the Agena Target Vehicle get their names?
Gemini, which means “twins” in Latin, reflects not only the two-man crews of the Project Gemini missions, but also the fact that Gemini was the second human spaceflight program (after Mercury), and that one of the overall objectives of the project was to achieve a space rendezvous that involves two spacecraft.
Agena was named after the bright star Agena (a.k.a. Beta Centauri; Hadar) in the constellation Centaurus. The name “Agena” is thought to have been coined by Connecticut astronomer Elijah H. Burritt (1794-1838) from the Greek words alpha, “first,” and gena, “knee,” as the star marks the knee of one of the centaur’s front legs.
Which do you like better as a baby name, Gemini or Agena?
Some of the above — Narice (1926), Saford (1941), Gevan (1952) and Jefre (1961) — are also on the top debuts list.
P.S. I’ll come back every few years and update this list with the most recent pairs of names. In the meanwhile, for more one-hit wonder content, check out this list of interesting one-hit wonder baby names…