How popular is the baby name Apollo 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 Apollo.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Apollo


Posts that Mention the Name Apollo

What made the name Napoleon popular in the Faroe Islands?

Nólsoyar Páll (1766-1808/9) on a Faroese 50 krónur banknote
Nólsoyar Páll (on a Faroese banknote)

Did you know that “Napoleon has been a common given name in the Faroe Islands since the 1800s”?

Neither did I, until I began researching Napoleon’s influence on names.

Apparently, it all has to do with Faroese national hero Nólsoyar Páll (“Paul from Nólsoy”).

Nólsoyar Páll — born as Poul Poulsen on the island of Nólsoy in 1766 — was a seaman/trader/farmer/poet who helped improve his country in various ways:

One of his most impressive achievements was his attempt to develop direct trade between the Faroe islands and the rest of Europe. To develop this trade, he bought and rebuilt a wrecked schooner. The ship was named Royndin Fríða (The Free Enterprise), and was the first seagoing ship built in the Faroe Islands and the first Faroese-owned vessel since the early Middle Ages.

Nólsoyar Páll had a strong admiration for Napoleon — who, at that time, was in the middle of trying to conquer Europe — and he wanted to name a son after the French leader.

His second child turned out to be a girl (his first child was also a girl), but that did not deter Nólsoyar Páll. He asked to name his daughter Napolonia, but the priest disapproved. Instead, she was named Apolonia after the Greek god Apollo.

Soon after, Nólsoyar Páll convinced his brother, Jákup Nolsøe, to name his son Napoleon. His brother agreed, calling him Napoleon Nolsøe. This is most probably the first Faroe Islander to be named Napoleon. Napoleon Nolsøe went on to become the first native certified doctor in the Faroe Islands.

Nólsoyar Páll’s nephew was born in 1809 — around the time Nólsoyar Páll himself was lost at sea.

I’m not sure how many Faroese Napoleons have been born since then, but my source noted that the Faroe Islands had 29 Napoleons and several Apolonias as of early 2018.

“Napoleon” didn’t pop up in the Faroe Islands baby name rankings for 2020, but if I look through the Faroese baby name data (2001-2020) for Napoleon and Apolonia specifically, I find…

  • Napoleon, b. 2002
  • Bárður Napoleon, b. 2004
  • Hanus Napoleon, b. 2006
  • William Napoleon, b. 2006
  • Sofus Napoleon, b. 2007
  • Ella Apollonia, b. 2008
  • Apolonia Ró, b. 2012
  • Napolion, b. 2013
  • Reimar Napoleon, b. 2019
  • Andrew Napoleon, b. 2020

It’s a short list, but the Faroe Islands only welcomes about 600-700 babies per year, so — proportionally speaking — these numbers are actually pretty impressive.

Sources: National hero inspired to name son after Napoleon Bonaparte, Nólsoyar Páll – Wikipedia, Statistics Faroe Islands, Births – Hagstove Foroya, FamilySearch.org

How did “Battlestar Galactica” influence baby names?

The TV show "Battlestar Galactica" (1978-1979)

Today, Battlestar Galactica is a sci-fi media franchise. But the original TV series wasn’t terribly successful — it aired on ABC for a single season (September of 1978 to April of 1979) before being canceled.

Still, the initial show managed to have an impact on American baby names. Here are the names that Battlestar Galactica characters managed to influence in the late 1970s:

  • Adama — from Commander Adama (played by Lorne Greene of Bonanza fame). The name Adama debuted (for boys) in 1978.
  • Apollo — from Captain Apollo, the son of Commander Adama. The name Apollo saw a rise in usage in 1978, and then-peak usage in 1979. (That peak was eclipsed in 2002 after speed skater Apolo Ohno became famous.)
  • Athena and Maren — from the daughter of Commander Adama, Lieutenant Athena (played by Maren Jensen). The name Athena saw a spike in usage 1979, and Maren nearly tripled in usage the same year.
  • Cassiopeia — from the character Cassiopeia, who was a “socialator” (a.k.a. prostitute). The name Cassiopeia debuted in 1979.
  • Starbuck — from Lieutenant Starbuck. The name Starbuck was a one-hit wonder in 1979. Both the name of the Lieutanant and the name of the famous coffee chain were inspired by the Moby Dick character Starbuck.
  • Tigh — from Colonel Tigh (played by Terry Carter, whose stage name was inspired in part by the comic strip Terry & the Pirates). The name Tigh debuted in 1979, and the spelling Tighe saw peak usage the same year.
The character Colonel Tigh from the TV series "Battlestar Galactica" (1978-1979).

Would you consider using any of the names above?

Source: Battlestar Galactica – IMDb

Name Quotes #104: Che, Shanaya, Bluzette

quotation marks

Time for the latest batch of name quotes!

From an interview with Saturday Night Live comedian Michael Che:

I was named after Che Guevara. My name is Michael Che Campbell. My dad is a huge history buff, and he named me after Che Guevara cause he loved Che Guevera for whatever reason. Which is a very polarizing figure, because when I tell people I was named after Che, they’re either like, “Oh, wow that’s cool,” or they’re like, “You know, Che killed people.” I’m like, I didn’t pick my name.

From Sanjana Ramachandran’s recent essay “The Namesakes“:

Shanaya Patel’s story, in more ways than one, encapsulated an India opening up to the world. In March 2000, Shanaya’s parents were at a café in Vadodara, Gujarat, when some Shania Twain tunes came on: she was also the artist who had been playing when her father saw her mother for the first time, “during their whole arranged-marriage-thing.” Finally, after eight months of “baby” and “munna,” Shanaya’s parents had found a name for her.

But “to make it different,” Shanaya’s parents changed the spelling of her name slightly. “Before me, all my cousins were named from this or that religious book,” she said. “When my parents didn’t want to go down that road, the elders were all ‘How can you do this!’—but my parents fought for it. There was a small controversy in the family.”

(Her essay also inspired me to write this post about the name Sanjana!)

About the “naming” of a Native American man who was discovered in California in 1911, from a 1996 UC Berkeley news release:

Under pressure from reporters who wanted to know the stranger’s name, [anthropologist] Alfred Kroeber called him “Ishi,” which means “man” in Yana. Ishi never uttered his real name.

“A California Indian almost never speaks his own name,” wrote Kroeber’s wife, “using it but rarely with those who already know it, and he would never tell it in reply to a direct question.”

About street names in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, from the book Names of New York (2021) by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro:

Clymer, Ellery, Hart; Harrison, Hooper, Heyward, Hewes; Ross, Rush, Rutledge, Penn — they’re all names belonging to one or another of those fifty-six men who scrawled their letters at the Declaration [of Independence]’s base. So are Taylor and Thornton, Wythe and Whipple.

[…]

[Keap Street’s] name does not match that of one of the Declaration’s signers, but it tries to: “Keap” is apparently a misrendering of the surname of the last man to leave his mark on it: Thomas McKean of Pennsylvania, whose name’s illegibility was perhaps due to his having rather less space to scrawl it by the time the document reached him than John Hancock did.

From a 2008 CNN article about the pros and cons of unusual names:

“At times, for the sake of avoiding an uncomfortable conversation or throwing someone off guard, I answer to the names of ‘Mary’ or ‘Kelly’,” says Bluzette Martin of West Allis, Wisconsin. At restaurants, “the thought of putting an employee through the pain of guessing how to spell and pronounce ‘Bluzette’ just isn’t worth it to me.”

Martin was named after “Bluzette,” an up-tempo jazz waltz written by Jean “Toots” Thielemans. Despite her daily problems with this name, it certainly has its perks, like when she met Thielemans in 1987 at a club in Los Angeles. “When I met [him], he thanked my mother,” she says.

(Here’s “Bluesette” (vid) by Thielemans, who was Belgian.)

From a 1942 item in Time magazine about ‘Roberto’ being used as a fascist greeting:

Last week the authorities ordered 18 Italian-Americans excluded from the San Francisco military area as dangerous to security — the first such action against white citizens. The wonder was that it was not done earlier: everybody heard about the goings on in the North Beach Italian colony. Fascists there used to say RoBerTo as a greeting — Ro for Rome, Ber for Berlin, To for Tokyo. Italy sent teachers, books and medals for the Italian schools. Mussolini won a popularity contest hands down over Franklin Roosevelt.

From a news release about the 2021 baby names at St. Luke’s in Duluth, Minnesota:

Parents also got creative with their children’s names, naming tiny new Apollos, Elfriedas, Tillmans and Winnifreds. Other great names included everything from Atlas to Ziibi and some precious little gems like Amethyst and Ruby.

From a 2014 article in Vogue about 1950s fashion model Dovima:

Dovima, born Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba, would have been 87 today. She hailed from Jackson Heights, Queens, and was purportedly discovered in 1949 when she strolled out of an Automat near the Vogue offices. The name Dovima wasn’t thought up by a canny publicist, if was concocted by Dorothy herself, invented for an imaginary playmate during a lonely childhood when she was bedridden with rheumatic fever.

(Dovima was the first single-name fashion model. She did legally change her name from Dorothy to Dovima at some point, according to the records, and a handful of baby girls born in the late ’50s were named after her, e.g., Dovima Marie Ayers, b. 1959, VT.)

P.S. “Louvima” is another three-in-one name I’ve blogged about…

Popular and unique baby names in Alberta (Canada), 2019

According to the government of Alberta, the most popular baby names in the Canadian province in 2019 were Olivia and Noah.

Here are Alberta’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Olivia, 229 baby girls
  2. Charlotte, 188
  3. Sophia, 181
  4. Emma, 178
  5. Ava, 161
  6. Amelia, 159
  7. Emily, 150
  8. Abigail, 141
  9. Hannah, 137
  10. Elizabeth, 124

Boy Names

  1. Noah, 275 baby boys
  2. Liam, 234
  3. Oliver, 225
  4. Ethan, 213
  5. Jack, 198
  6. William, 185
  7. Lucas, 174
  8. Owen, 167
  9. Benjamin, 163
  10. Jacob, 162

In the girls’ top 10, Hannah returned and ousted Harper.

In the boys’ top 10, Owen replaced Logan, Alexander, and James. (It’s uneven because there were two ties in the 2018 top 10.)

Rare baby names that were bestowed just once in Alberta last year include…

Unique Girl NamesUnique Boy Names
Anesidora, Aviendha, Brungus, Castrence, Calluna, Doxa, Eilish, Fitia-Jane, Giannajoe, Historia, Isleigh, Jennathul, Kriscilla, Kipper, Kurdistan, Lilith-Luna, Lillix, Loonskin, Maxeld, Navaline, Neepin, Ovalah, Phoemella, Ruftael, Starbrit, Tenacious, Timely, Uzuvira, Verily, Waskway, Xanthal, Yuvleen, ZsanelleAbundance, Apollo-July, BlueJay, Couloir, Cousteau, Cowboy, Despot, Ellejon, Felix-Ivan, Glenter, Gravity, Handsome-Jack, Harmonick, Humbly, Iguttaq, Iskotew, Jenzieland, Kitterick, Luxton, Maxjay, Nomatic, Ozmo, Pétain, Ranxel, Revic, Sprocket, Thundersky, Uael, Varis, Whirlwind, Xiron, Ylan-Maël, Zagger

Explanations and/or potential influences for a few of the above:

  • Aviendha was a character from Wheel of Time book series (1990-2013) by author Robert Jordan.
  • Waskway is the Cree word for “birch” or “birch tree.”
  • Couloir is the word for “a steep gully in alpine terrain” (from the French word for “corridor” or “hallway”).
  • Iguttaq is the Inuktitut word for “bumblebee.”
  • Iskotew is the Cree word for “fire.”
  • Nomatic is a company that creates minimalist travel products.
  • Revic (“revolutionary” + “optics”) is a company that makes rifle scopes.

In 2018, the top two names in Alberta were Olivia and Liam.

Sources: Alberta’s Top Baby Names, Alberta reveals top baby names of 2019, Online Cree Dictionary, Couloir – Avalanche.org

Where did the baby name Marpessa come from in 1960?

Actress Marpessa Dawn in Ebony magazine (Nov. 1959)
Marpessa Dawn

The name Marpessa was a mere one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data, back in 1960:

  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 8 baby girls named Marpessa [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The inspiration was a half-black, half-Filipino actress named Marpessa Dawn. She was American, but spent most of her adult life in Europe.

It was her starring role in the 1959 Portuguese-language film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) that brought her to the attention of American audiences. The film was based on the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, but set in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. The film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in mid-1959, the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1960, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign-Language Foreign Film in 1960.

But Marpessa wasn’t able to capitalize on this brief period of fame, so she (and her name) soon fell out of the spotlight.

Marpessa’s name, like her most memorable film, has ancient Greek roots. The mythical Marpessa in Homer’s Iliad was an Aetolian princess who had been seized from her mortal lover Idas by the sun god Apollo. The name, accordingly, is based on an ancient Greek verb meaning “to seize.”

Do you like the name Marpessa? Would you use it?

Sources:

  • “America’s Dawn Comes Up in France.” Life 14 Mar. 1960: 57-59.
  • Nelson, Eric. The Greek Tradition in Republican Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Image: © 1959 Ebony