The curious name Radames has appeared in the U.S. baby name data rather consistently since the early ’50s.
1952: 5 baby boys named Radames – all 5 born in NY
1951: 6 baby boys named Radames – all 6 born in NY
1950: 5 baby boys named Radames [debut]
The name Radames was created by Giuseppe Verdi for the opera Aida (1871), which was set in ancient Egypt. The character Radamès was a soldier involved in a love triangle: he was in love with Aida, the Ethiopian slave of Princess Amneris, who was in love with him.
A full concert-version of Aida was performed by the NBC Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Arturo Toscanini) in New York City in 1949. The performance — featuring tenor Richard Tucker as Radamès and soprano Herva Nelli as Aida — aired not just on radio, but also on television. Due to length, it was divided into two broadcasts (March 26 and April 2).
Thanks to these broadcasts, more people experienced a performance of Aida at one time “than had seen the work performed in the previous 60-some years of its existence.” This could account for the debut of Radames in 1950. After all, the name Aida saw increased usage in 1949, and much of that increase happened in New York specifically:
1951: 105 baby girls named Aida – 39 (37%) born in NY
1950: 107 baby girls named Aida – 42 (39%) born in NY
1949: 112 baby girls named Aida – 50 (45%) born in NY
1948: 73 baby girls named Aida – 31 (42%) born in NY
1947: 76 baby girls named Aida – 32 (42%) born in NY
That said…there’s also immigration to consider.
Puerto Rican immigration to New York City peaked in the early 1950s. The name was already in use on the island, so some of the 1950s New York usage of Radames is no doubt attributable to Puerto Rican families. (And this is on top of the pre-existing low-level usage of Radames in the city thanks to the Italians.) So immigration is another possible explanation for the debut.
But, getting back to the opera…in October of 1954, a movie-version of Aida (starring teenage Italian actress Sophia Loren) was released in the U.S. The same year, we see higher usage of both Aida and Radames:
Girls named Aida
Boys named Radames
163 [rank: 766th]
173 [rank: 718th]
193 [rank: 669th†]
129 [rank: 810th]
128 [rank: 800th]
So we can assume that pop culture had at least some influence on these names during the ’50s.
What are your thoughts on the name Radames? Which factor — radio/TV or immigration — do you think had more of an influence on the usage of Radames in 1950?
Below are hundreds of baby names with a numerological value of 3.
What do I mean by that?
Well, in numerology, you substitute each letter in a word with that letter’s ordinal value in the alphabet. (The letter B has a value of 2, for instance, because it’s the second letter.) Then you add those ordinal values together to come up with a total. Lastly, you add the digits of that total together to obtain a numerological value.
Here’s an example: The letters in the name Ben have the values 2, 5, and 14. Added together, these values equal 21. And the digits of 21 added together equal 3.
All of the “3” names below are sub-categorized by totals — just in case any of those larger numbers are significant to anyone. Within each group you’ll find some of the most popular “3” names per gender (according to the most recent set of U.S. baby name rankings).
3 via 12
The letters in the following baby names add up to 12, which reduces to three (1+2=3).
Girl names (3 via 12)
Boy names (3 via 12)
Aja, Fae, Bia, Abi, Bee
Gad, Jb, Abed
3 via 21
The letters in the following baby names add up to 21, which reduces to three (2+1=3).
Girl names (3 via 21)
Boy names (3 via 21)
Kai, Asa, Gala, Jaia, Clea
Kai, Kade, Asa, Alec, Ben, Beck, Cale
3 via 30
The letters in the following baby names add up to 30, which reduces to three (3+0=3).
So today let’s check out another fun set of “top” names: the top rises. The names below are those that increased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next according to the SSA data.
Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year jumps in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Isa grew 240% and usage of the boy name Noble grew 333%.)
The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does get a lot more accurate starting in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…
(Did you catch all the doubles? Tula, Delano, Tammy, Jermaine, and Davey/Davy.)
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about many of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it! Leave a comment and let us know what popularized Dorla in 1929, or Lauren in 1945, or Dustin in 1968, or Kayleigh in 1985, or Talan in 2005…
A reader named Tamara is expecting a baby boy in May. She writes:
We are a bi-racial couple…he is Mexican and I am American (white), and are looking for a Spanish name for our little boy. Unfortunately, I don’t LOVE a lot of the Hispanic boy names, and we are having some trouble finding the perfect name.
So far, she and her fiance Oscar like the names Tiago and Gabriel…but here are the issues:
We need a good middle name to go with Tiago. And we haven’t gotten a lot of positive feedback on the name. And I feel like Gabriel is overused and doesn’t hold its own when paired with our daughter’s name, Nadia. And the two names don’t exactly flow well together, so pairing them up isn’t an option for us. Any suggestions? Middle names for Tiago? Or just different first names all together?
Here are some thoughts on Tiago and Gabriel:
Nicknames (e.g. Benji, Topher, Xander) sometimes loose their charm when used as standalone names, so people might like Tiago more if it were a nickname for Santiago. Santiago is currently ranked 200th, but I don’t think it will rise too much higher.
How about Diego? It’s not as hip as Tiago…but it’s got a similar sound, and, because it’s more familiar, it’ll probably get better feedback. In terms of popularity, Diego seems to be plateauing just outside the top 50.
I think Gabriel sounds fantastic with Nadia, personally. But it’s become popular recently (i.e. over 10,000 babies have been named Gabriel every year since 2001) and my hunch is that it will remain popular for a while to come. So I can understand wanting to avoid it for that reason.
Let’s see, middle names for Tiago…I think iambic names like Ramón, Raúl and Noé sound good after Tiago. I also like longer middles (e.g. Antonio, Mauricio).
Here are a few other ideas for first names:
Armando Arturo Elías Iván
Lorenzo (Enzo) Marcelo Mateo Rafael
Renato Silvio Ulises Víctor
What other advice/suggestions would you offer Tamara?