How popular is the baby name Beryl 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 Beryl.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Beryl


Posts that Mention the Name Beryl

Baby names associated with yellow: Sunny, Flavio, Ketut

lemons, yellow

Looking for baby names that are associated with yellow — including baby names that mean “yellow”?

If so, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve collected dozens of options for you in this post.

Before we get to the names, though, let’s take a quick look at what the color yellow represents…

Symbolism of yellow

What does the color yellow signify?

In Western cultures in particular, yellow can be symbolic of:

  • Optimism
  • Cheer
  • Happiness
  • Warmth
  • Caution
  • Energy
  • Intellect

The color is primarily identified with the sun, which is the most important source of energy for life on Earth.

Interestingly, the sun’s light is actually white. It only appears yellow (or, sometimes, orange) from our perspective because particles in the Earth’s atmosphere scatter short-wavelength (e.g., blue) light more efficiently than long-wavelength (e.g., red) light.

Top baby names associated with yellow

Determining the top names in a category isn’t difficult when you’re working with an easily definable category, like gender-neutral names. When it comes to names that have a connection to the color yellow, however, we need to account for the fact that certain names have a stronger connection than others.

With that in mind, here are the top baby names that have an obvious association with the color yellow:

  1. Sunny
  2. Soleil
  3. Sol
  4. Sunshine
  5. Lemon

Unsurprisingly, four out of the five were inspired by the sun.


Here are the same five names again, but this time around I’ve added some details (including definitions, rankings, and popularity graphs).

Sunny

The word sunny simply means “having plenty of bright sunlight.” In Middle English, it was spelled sonni. Sunny is also a homophone of the name Sonny, which is based on the English word son.

Sunny is currently the 650th most popular girl name in the U.S.

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

Soleil

The word soleil (pronounced saw-lay, roughly) means “sun” in French.

Soleil is currently the 999th most popular girl name in the nation.

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

Sol

The word sol means “sun” in Latin and in several of the languages that descend from Latin, including Spanish and Portuguese. Sol is also a short form of the name Solomon, which explains why it was a popular choice for baby boys in the early 20th century.

Sol is currently the 1,054th most popular girl name in the U.S.

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

Sunshine

The word sunshine refers to the light (and warmth) of the sun. In Middle English, it was spelled sonne-shin.

Sunshine was given to 69 baby girls in 2021.

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

Lemon

The word lemon — which can be traced back (via Old French limon and Arabic limun) to the Persian word limu — refers to the citrus fruit of the lemon tree (Citrus limon). By extension, it also refers to the yellow color of this fruit.

That said…most of the U.S. babies named Lemon during the 20th century (and earlier) were not named after the fruit. Instead, their names were inspired by the surname Lemon, which was derived from the Middle English word leman, meaning “sweetheart, lover” (from the Old English elements leof, “dear, beloved,” and mann, “person, man”).

Lemon was given to 50 baby girls in 2021.

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

More names associated with yellow

Ready for the rest?

All the names below are associated with the color yellow. The names range from common to uncommon, and their associations range from strong to slight.

Those that have been popular enough to appear in the U.S. baby name data are linked to their corresponding popularity graphs.

aspen trees in autumn, yellow leaves
Aspen trees in autumn
  • Antu, the Mapuche word for “sun,” is the name of the Mapuche god of the sun.
  • Arevik is an Armenian feminine name based on the word arev, meaning “sun.”
  • Aspen trees (in particular the North America species Populus tremuloides) are famous for their golden-yellow autumn foliage. The word aspen is derived from from the Old English word for the tree, æspe.
  • Beryl is a mineral that can be yellow. The name of the stone ultimately comes from the ancient Greek word beryllos.
  • Blaine is a Scottish surname that can be traced back to the Old Irish word blá, meaning “yellow.”
  • Bowie is a Scottish surname that can be traced back to the Gaelic word buidhe, meaning “yellow.”
  • Buff is a light brownish-yellow color — the hue of buff leather, which was often obtained from the European buffalo.
  • Buttercup flowers are yellow. “Buttercup” is the common name of several species of flowering plants in the genus Ranunculus.
  • Canna flowers are sometimes yellow. The genus name Canna is derived from the Latin word canna, meaning “reed.”
  • Chrysanthemum flowers are commonly yellow. The genus name Chrysanthemum is derived from a combination of the ancient Greek words khrysos, meaning “gold,” and anthemon, meaning “blossom, flower.”
  • Citrine, a variety of the mineral quartz, is often yellow. The adjective citrine can be traced back to the Latin word citrus.
  • Daffodil flowers are frequently yellow. “Daffodil” is the common name of plants in the genus Narcissus.
  • Dahlia flowers are sometimes yellow. The genus Dahlia was named in honor of Swedish botanist Anders Dahl.
  • Dandelion flowers are yellow. “Dandelion” is the common name of the plant species Taraxacum officinale. The common name is derived from the Latin phrase dens leonis, meaning “lion’s tooth” — a reference to the shape of the leaves.
    • Fífill is the Icelandic form of Dandelion.
  • Diell is an Albanian masculine name based on the word diell, meaning “sun.”
    • Diellza is the feminine form of Diell.
daffodils, yellow
  • Flavius was an ancient Roman name derived from the Latin word flavus, meaning “yellow, golden.”
    • Flavian was an ancient Roman name based on Flavius.
    • Flavia was the feminine form of Flavius.
    • Flavio is the modern Spanish and Italian form of Flavius.
  • Forsythia (commonly pronounced for-SITH-ee-uh) flowers are yellow. The genus Forsythia was named in honor of Scottish botanist William Forsyth.
  • Fulvio (masculine) and Fulvia (feminine) are the modern Italian forms of the Roman family name Fulvius, which was based on the Latin word fulvus, meaning “deep yellow, reddish-yellow, gold-colored, tawny.”
  • Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) often has yellowish flesh. The word ginger is ultimately derived from the Sanskrit word sringavera.
  • Gladiola refers to Gladiolus, a genus of plants with flowers that are sometimes yellow. The genus name, meaning “little sword” (a diminutive of the Latin word gladius, “sword”) refers to the shape of the leaves.
  • Haetbit is a Korean feminine name meaning “sunlight.”
  • Haru is a Japanese gender-neutral name that can mean “sun,” or “sunny,” depending upon the kanji being used to write the name.
    • Haruki is a Japanese name that can include the element Haru.
    • Haruna is another Japanese name that can include the element Haru.
  • Helios, the ancient Greek word for “sun,” was the name of the Greek god of the sun.
    • Helius is the Latinized form of Helios.
    • Helio (masculine) and Helia (feminine) are the modern Spanish forms of Helios.
  • Helen is part of Helenium, a genus of plants with flowers that are sometimes yellow. The genus was named in honor of Helen of Troy.
  • Heulwen is the Welsh word for “sunshine.”
  • Honey can be yellow. The Old English word for “honey” was hunig.
    • Meli is the ancient Greek word for “honey.”
  • Inti, the Quechua word for “sun,” was the name of the Incan god of the sun.
  • Jonquil flowers (which, like daffodils, are part of the genus Narcissus) are frequently yellow. The species name, jonquilla, means “little rush” (ultimately derived from the Latin word iuncus, meaning “rush, reed”) and refers to the shape of the leaves.
  • Ketut is a Balinese gender-neutral name associated with the word kitut, which refers to a small banana.
  • Khurshid (also spelled Khorshid) is a Persian gender-neutral name derived from the word xorshid, which means “sun.”
  • Lillesol is a Swedish feminine name meaning “little sun.”
  • Marigold flowers are sometimes yellow. “Marigold” is the common name of plants in the genera Tagetes and Calendula.
  • Mehr is a Persian gender-neutral name meaning “sun.”
  • Meyer lemons are a cross between citron and hybridized mandarin/pomelo. They were named after Dutch-American agricultural explorer Frank N. Meyer (born Frans N. Meijer), who discovered the cultivar while in China in 1907. The occupational surnames Meyer and Meijer are both derived from the Middle High German word meier, meaning “administrator, steward.”
  • Mzia is a Georgian feminine name meaning “sun.”
  • Naran is a Mongolian gender-neutral name meaning “sun.”
  • Nou is a Hmong feminine name meaning “sun.”
  • Nurit (pronounced noo-REET) is a Hebrew feminine name meaning “buttercup.”
  • Nyima is a Tibetan gender-neutral name meaning “sun.”
  • Orchid flowers are sometimes yellow. Orchids are all members of the Orchidaceae family of plants.
  • Oriole is a type of bird that often has yellow plumage. “Oriole” is the common name of birds in the genera Icterus and Oriolidae. The common name is derived from the Latin word aureolus, meaning “golden.”
  • Ra, the ancient Egyptian word for “sun,” was the name of the Egyptian god of the sun.
sun, yellow
  • Seqineq is a Greenlandic gender-neutral name meaning “sun.”
  • Sequssuna is a Greenlandic masculine name meaning “egg yolk.”
  • Shams is an Arabic gender-neutral name meaning “sun.”
  • Shimshon is a Hebrew masculine name meaning “sun.”
    • Samson is the Biblical (Late Latin) form of Shimshon.
  • Solaris comes from the Latin word solaris, meaning “of the sun” or “pertaining to the sun.”
    • Solar is a modern word (used in English, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and other languages) based on solaris.
    • Solara is an elaboration of Solar.
    • Solaria is another elaboration of Solar.
  • Sunflower petals are usually yellow. “Sunflower” is the common name of plants in the genus Helianthus, particularly the species Helianthus annuus. The common name is a reference to the sun-like flower heads.
  • Surya, a Sanskrit word for “sun,” is the name of the Hindu god of the sun.
    • Ravi, another Sanskrit word for “sun,” is one of Surya’s alternate names.
  • Susan is part of “black-eyed Susan” — the common name of the plant species Rudbeckia hirta, which has flowers that are typically yellow.
  • Taeyang is a Korean masculine name meaning “sun.”
  • Tonatiuh, the Nahuatl word for “sun,” is the name of the Aztec god of the sun.
  • Topaz is a mineral that comes in several different colors, most notably golden-yellow. Its name is based on the Middle English word topas, which referred to any yellow-colored gemstone (not just topaz). The earliest known form of the word, the ancient Greek topazion, referred to a specific yellow gemstone (possibly yellowish olivine).
  • Xanthos was an ancient Greek name derived from the word xanthos, meaning “yellow.”
    • Xanthus is the Latinized form of Xanthos.
    • Xanthe (pronounced ZAN-thee) is a feminine form of Xanthus.
    • Xanthia is an elaboration of Xanthe.
  • Zinnia flowers are sometimes yellow. The genus Zinnia was named in honor of German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn.

Can you think of any other names that have a connection to the color yellow?

Sources:

Images by Richard John from Pixabay, Intricate Explorer from Unsplash, RitaE from Pixabay, and xuuxuu from Pixabay

Baby names associated with blue: Indigo, Gentian, Ao

blueberries

Looking for baby names that are associated with blue — including baby names that mean “blue”?

If so, you’re in the right place! I’ve collected dozens of ideas for you in this post.

Before we get to the names, though, let’s take a quick look at what the color blue represents…

Symbolism of blue

What does the color blue signify?

In Western cultures in particular, blue can be symbolic of:

  • Trust
  • Calm
  • Sadness
  • Peace
  • Loyalty
  • Depth
  • Authenticity

It can also be associated with melancholy. “To have the blues,” for instance, is an expression meaning “to feel sad.”

Top baby names associated with blue

To determine the top blue names, I first took into account the fact that certain names have a stronger connection to the color than other names. (I also did this for the top purple names and orange names.)

With this in mind, here are the top baby names that have an obvious association with the color blue:

  1. Ocean
  2. Navy
  3. Sky
  4. Indigo
  5. Sapphire

Now here are the same five names again, but this time around I’ve added some details (including definitions, rankings, and popularity graphs).

Ocean

The word ocean refers to the vast body of salt water that covers over 70% of the earth’s surface — or to any of the five large bodies of water (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Antarctic, or Arctic) into which it is divided.

Ocean is currently the 711st most popular boy name and 877th most popular girl name in the U.S.

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

Navy

In the mid-18th century, officers in Britain’s Royal Navy began wearing uniforms that were dyed blue with indigo. The pigment was particularly colorfast (i.e., able to withstand exposure to sun and salt water), so, over time, other countries began to use it for naval dress as well. The dark shade of blue eventually came to be known as “navy blue.”

The word navy refers to a country’s collective sea force. It comes (via French) from the Latin word navigia, meaning “vessels, ships, boats.”

Navy is currently the 452nd most popular girl name in the nation.

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

Sky

The word sky refers to the upper atmosphere, which is bright blue on clear days. It’s based on the Old Norse word ský, which meant “cloud” (ironically).

Sky is currently the 717th most popular girl name in the U.S.

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

Indigo

The word indigo refers to flowering plants of the genus Indigofera — particularly the species Indigofera tinctoria — or to the dye made from the leaves of these plants. By extension, it also refers to the purplish-blue color of this dye.

The name of the plant can be traced back to the ancient Greek word Indikón, meaning “Indian,” as the plant is native to India. (It’s no coincidence that the British Royal Navy began using indigo dye extensively during the years that the British East India Company was gaining control over the Indian subcontinent.)

Indigo is currently the 906th most popular girl name in the nation.

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

Sapphire

The word sapphire refers to the blue variety of the mineral corundum. By extension, it also refers to the blue color of these crystals.

The name of the stone can be traced back to the ancient Greek word sappheiros, which is thought to have referred to lapis lazuli originally (not to sapphire as we know it today).

Sapphire is currently the 1,103rd most popular girl name in the U.S.

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

More names associated with blue

bluebird

All the names below have an association with the color blue. The names range from traditional to unusual, and their associations range from strong to slight.

Those that have been popular enough to appear in the U.S. baby name data are linked to their corresponding popularity graphs.

  • Aciano is the Spanish word for cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), a species of plant with flowers that are usually blue.
  • Afina is a Romanian feminine name meaning “blueberry.”
  • Alice is part of “Alice blue” — a shade of blue named after Alice Roosevelt (the oldest daughter of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt) in the mid-1910s. It was inspired by either the blue of Alice’s eyes or the blue of one of her dresses, sources disagree. The name Alice ultimately derives from the Germanic name Adalheidis, meaning “nobility.”
aliceblue
(The web color aliceblue, hex value #F0F8FF, is considerably lighter than the original “Alice blue.”)
  • Ao is a Japanese name that can mean “blue,” depending upon the kanji being used to write the name.
    • Aomi is a Japanese name that can include the element Ao.
    • Aori is another Japanese name that can include the element Ao.
  • Aqua is a greenish-blue color. The name of the shade comes from the Latin word aqua, meaning “water.”
  • Asuman is a Turkish feminine name meaning “sky.”
  • Azure is a sky-blue color. The name of the shade ultimately derives from the Persian word lazaward, which referred to lapis lazuli.
    • Azul is the Spanish word for Azure.
    • Azur is the French word for Azure.
    • Azzurro (masculine) and Azzurra (feminine) are the Italian words for Azure.
  • Beryl is a mineral that can be blue. (Blue beryl is often called “aquamarine.”) The name of the mineral ultimately comes from the ancient Greek word beryllos.
  • Blue, of course, refers to the color blue. :)
  • Bluebell flowers are blue. “Bluebell” is the common name of plants of various genera (including Hyacinthoides).
  • Bluebird is a type of bird with predominantly blue plumage. “Bluebird” is the common name of birds in the North American genus Sialia.
  • Bluejay is another type of bird with predominantly blue plumage. “Bluejay” is the common name of the bird species Cyanocitta cristata.
  • Caelum is the Latin word for “sky, heaven.” (Though it’s used as a name in modern-day America, it was simply a vocabulary word in ancient Rome.)
    • Cielo is a modern Spanish feminine name based on caelum.
  • Cerulean is a sky-blue color. The word may ultimately be derived from caelum.
  • Chicory flowers are typically blue. “Chicory” is the common name of the plant species Cichorium intybus.
  • Chóro is a Hopi name meaning “blue-bird.”
    • Chórzhoya is a Hopi name meaning “little blue-bird.”
  • Cobalt is a vivid shade of blue. Cobalt pigment was originally made from the metallic element cobalt.
  • Cyan is a greenish-blue color. The name of the shade comes from the ancient Greek word kyanos, meaning “dark blue.”
  • Darya (pronounced dar-YOH) is a Persian feminine name meaning “sea, ocean.”
  • Denim fabric is traditionally blue, as it was originally dyed with indigo. The name of the textile is derived from the French phrase serge de Nîmes, which referred to fabric produced in Nîmes, a town in southern France.
  • Deniz (pronounced deh-neez) is a Turkish gender-neutral name meaning “ocean.”
  • Fayruz is an Arabic feminine name meaning “turquoise (the stone).”
  • Gentian (pronounced jen-shun) flowers are often blue. According to Pliny, the genus Gentiana was named in honor of Illyrian king Gentius, who is said to have discovered the plant’s medicinal properties. The name Gentian is traditional in Albania, the territory of which was inhabited by Illyrian tribes during ancient times.
    • Gentiana is the modern Albanian feminine form of Gentian.
  • Glory (besides being a vocabulary word) is part of “morning glory” — the common name of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae. Morning glory flowers are sometimes blue.
blue sky
  • Haneul is a Korean gender-neutral name meaning “sky.”
  • Hyacinth flowers are sometimes blue. The genus Hyacinthus was named for the plant’s association with the myth of Hyacinthus (who was one of the lovers of Apollo in Greek mythology).
  • Jurate (pronounced YOO-rah-teh) is a Lithuanian feminine name based on the word jura, meaning “sea.”
  • Kekai is a Hawaiian gender-neutral name meaning “the sea.”
  • Kallfu is a Mapuche feminine name based on the word kallfü, meaning “blue.”
    • Kallfuray is a Mapuche feminine name meaning “blue flower.”
  • Kyanite is a mineral that is usually blue. The name of the mineral is based on the ancient Greek word kyanos, meaning “dark blue.”
  • Lafken is a Mapuche name meaning “sea, ocean.”
  • Larimar is a light blue variety of the mineral pectolite. Its name, coined in the 1970s, is a combination of Larissa (the name of the daughter of one of the stone’s discoverers) and mar, the Spanish word for “sea.”
  • Lazuli is part of “lapis lazuli” (pronounced LA-piss LA-zuh-lee) — the name of a deep-blue gemstone. The word lazuli can be traced back (via Latin lazulum and Persian lazaward) to the place-name Lajward — a region in central Asia where the stone was mined. (The Latin word lapis simply means “stone.”)
  • Livia (feminine) and Livio (masculine) are the modern Italian forms of the Roman family name Livius, which is thought to derive from the Latin word lividus, meaning “bluish.”
  • Lobelia (pronounced loh-BEEL-ee-uh) flowers are often blue. The genus Lobelia was named in honor of Flemish botanist Matthias de l’Obel.
  • Lupine flowers are sometimes blue. The genus name Lupinus is derived from the Latin word lupinus, meaning “wolfish” (from lupus, “wolf”).
blue water
  • Mayim is the Hebrew word for “water.” (Though it’s used as a name among English speakers, it’s simply a vocabulary word among Hebrew speakers.)
    • Maya is a Hebrew feminine name based on mayim. It also happens to be a Zuni word meaning “crested blue-jay.”
  • Moana is a gender-neutral name meaning “ocean” in Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan, Tongan, and other Polynesian languages.
  • Myosotis (pronounced my-oh-SOH-tiss) flowers are frequently blue. The genus name Myosotis, meaning “mouse’s ear” in Latin, refers to the shape of the petals.
    • Miosotis is the Spanish form of Myosotis.
  • Nila (also spelled Neela) is a Hindi feminine name based on the Sanskrit word nila, meaning “dark blue” or “blue.”
  • Nilam (also spelled Neelam) is another Hindi feminine name based on the Sanskrit word nila.
  • Nilgün is a Turkish feminine given name based on the Persian word nilgun, meaning “indigo (the color).”
  • Safira is the Portuguese word for “sapphire.”
  • Sagar is a Hindi masculine name meaning “sea, ocean.”
  • Shyam is a Hindi masculine name based on the Sanskrit word shyama, meaning “dark blue”.
  • Sini is a Finnish feminine name meaning “blue.”
  • Sora is a Japanese gender-neutral name meaning “sky.”
  • Sunil is a Hindi masculine name derived from the Sanskrit word sunila, meaning “very blue.”
  • Tchelet is a Hebrew feminine name meaning “sky blue.”
  • True (besides being a vocabulary word) is part of “true blue” — an expression that means “loyal, faithful.” The association between the color blue and the idea of loyalty or constancy may been inspired by the unchanging blue of the sky.
  • Turquoise (pronounced TUR-koyz) is a mineral that is typically greenish-blue. The name of the stone can be traced back to the Old French term pierre tourques, meaning “Turkish stone.” Though it was mined in Persia, the stone was introduced to Europe in the 13th century by Turkish traders.
  • Umi is a Japanese feminine name that can mean “sea,” depending upon the kanji being used to write the name.
    • Umiko is a Japanese name that can include the element Umi.
  • Zafiro is the Spanish word for “sapphire.”

Can you think of any other names that have a connection to the color blue?

Sources:

Images by borislagosbarrera, Naturelady, Pexels, and Eiji Kikuta from Pixabay

New gemstone baby names

citrine (quartz)
Citrine

We’re very familiar with gemstone baby names names like Ruby, Opal and Jade. But you probably haven’t met anyone (yet?) who has one these names on their birth certificate…

  • Citrine: Citrine debuted in the SSA data in 2019. Citrine is an orange-y variety of quartz. It’s one of the birthstones for November.
  • Kyanite: Kyanite debuted in 2019 as well. Kyanite is typically blue, and its name is related to the color word “cyan.”
  • Lazuli: Lazuli, part of the rock name lapis lazuli (which translates to “stone of azure”), debuted in 2016.
  • Malachite: Malachite debuted in 2017. Malachite is a green-banded mineral. Its name refers to the leaves of the mallow plant.

These join the many gem-names — Amethyst, Angelite, Beryl, Celestine, Diamond, Emerald, Garnet, Jasper, Larimar, Obsidian, Olivine, Onyx, Sapphire, Topaz, Turquoise, etc. — that have previously appeared in the SSA data. (Not to mention the rock names Coal, Flint, Granite, Shale, and Slate.)

I’m sure Citrine and Kyanite won’t be the last of the names in this category to emerge in the data, though, because there are just so many other nicely-named minerals and rocks out there. Some examples…

  • Agate: a banded, colored quartz with a name that happens to look and sound similar to Agatha.
  • Alexandrite: a color-changing variety of chrysoberyl named after Alexander II of Russia. It’s one of the birthstones for June.
  • Ametrine: a type of quartz with zones of purple and yellow/orange; a mix of amethyst and citrine.
  • Carnelian: a red variety of quartz. Its name can be traced back to the Latin word conus, the name of a type of berry.
  • Peridot: a green gemstone with a name of unknown origin. It’s the birthstone for August.
  • Selenite: a type of gypsum. Its name comes from the ancient Greek word for “moon,” selene. (If you’ve ever watched metaphysical content on YouTube, you’ve probably seen a selenite wand before…)
  • Tourmaline: a gem that comes in a wide variety of colors. It’s one of the birthstones for October.

Which gem/mineral/rock name do you think we’ll spot next in the U.S. baby name data?

Image by KAVOWO from Pixabay

Where did the baby name Korla come from in the early 1950s?

Musician Korla Pandit in the early 1950s
Musician Korla Pandit (early 1950s)

Behind today’s name is a fascinating story involving early television, exotic music, racial identity, and clever deception.

The name is Korla, which, along with variant Corla, first appeared in the SSA’s baby name data in 1951:

Girls named KorlaGirls named Corla
1953..
19526
(5 born in CA)
.
19516*8*
1950..
1949..
*Debut

A bit of research reveals that most of these early ’50s Korlas and Corlas — mainly females, but also a few males — were born in California specifically. This location is already pretty telling, but the smoking gun is this middle name:

  • Karlo Pandit Lindsay, male, born in November, 1950, in Los Angeles
  • Korla Ponda Williams, female, born in March, 1951, in Los Angeles
  • Korla Pandit Lord, male, born in September, 1953, in San Francisco

So what’s the influence here?

Korla Pandit, the mystical musician whose Los Angeles-based TV show Adventures in Music made him famous, particularly on the West Coast, in the early ’50s.

Pandit first appeared on TV in the spring of 1949. In each episode of Adventures in Music, Pandit wore a jeweled turban and gazed hypnotically at the camera, never speaking — just playing otherworldly music on a Hammond organ. His show, which aired on KTLA, was soon picked up by other California stations.

Some early recordings of Korla prominently feature his name, but I’m not sure if the live show Adventures in Music did. (If not, this could account for why “Corla” debuted higher than “Korla” in the data.)

Korla Pandit's television program, early 1950s

Korla Pandit was an immediate hit, particularly among suburban housewives. He received an impressive amount of fan mail.

He also started putting out albums, eventually releasing well over a dozen on various labels.

In 1951, after shooting hundreds of shows for KTLA, he left to film a series of short musical performances for Snader Telescriptions. These Snader clips introduced Pandit to a national audience.

But Pandit didn’t stay with Snader long, instead leaving to do other things (including start a new live TV show).

According to the 1952 ad below, his songs were “bringing dollars to the cash register and wild acclaim from feminine hearts.”

Korla Pandit advertisement in Billboard Magazine, 1952
Korla Pandit advertisement, 1952

His music helped set the stage for the late ’50s Exotica craze. In fact, some people have since dubbed Korla the “Godfather of Exotica,” though the title has also been given to other musicians (including Les Baxter).

As the decade wore on, Pandit’s fame began to wane. But he did spend the rest of his life recording and performing — and always wearing that bejeweled turban.

He passed away in 1998, leaving behind his American wife Beryl and their two sons, Shari and Koram.

…But the story doesn’t end there.

Because, a few years after that, a Los Angeles journalist discovered that Korla Pandit was not the half-Indian, half-French man from New Delhi he had claimed to be. Instead, he was an African-American man named John Roland Redd from Columbia, Missouri.

Adopting a non-black identity had allowed Redd to have advantages that he couldn’t have had otherwise in 1950s America. He was one of the first African-Americans with a television show, but, ironically, if the public had known he was black, it’s highly unlikely that audiences (especially those entranced housewives) would have responded as enthusiastically as they did.

Redd took his adopted identity to the grave. Not even his sons were aware of their father’s true origin. (His wife must have known the secret, but she never openly admitted it.)

Notably, “Korla Pandit” was Redd’s second adopted persona. In the ’40s he had assumed the name “Juan Rolando,” which helped him get gigs during the Latin music craze of the time and, more importantly, allowed him to join the white L.A. musicians union as opposed to the black one, which afforded him more career opportunities.

It’s not hard to see how he got Juan from John, but I do wonder how he came up with Korla.

What are your thoughts on the name Korla? And on the story of Korla Pandit?

Sources:

P.S. After Pandit left Snader Telescriptions, the company found a replacement: a young Las Vegas pianist, originally from Wisconsin, by the name of Wladziu Valentino Liberace

“A Star Is Born”…and a name is nudged

Vicki Lester's name in lights outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre from the movie "A Star is Born" (1937).
Vicki Lester’s name

In April of 1937, the film A Star Is Born was released. It starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March as a married couple at opposite ends of their Hollywood careers: hers beginning, his ending.

The husband was named Norman Maine. The wife, on the other hand, had several identities. At first she was North Dakota farm girl Esther Victoria Blodgett. Then she morphed into movie star Vicki Lester for most of the film. Finally, in that memorable last line, she said: “Hello everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine.”

So how did she go from Esther Blodgett to “Vicki Lester”? Here’s the scene:

Press Agent: Do you know what her name is? Esther Victoria Blodgett.
Producer: Gee, we’ll have to do something about that right away.
Press Agent: …Esther Victoria Blodgett
Producer: Well that Blodgett’s definitely out. See, uh…Esther Victoria, Victoria, Vicki…how about Vicki?
Producer’s Secretary: Oh I think that’s terribly cute.
Producer: Let’s see, Vicki…Vicki what?
Press Agent: Vicki Vicki, pronounced Vicki Vicki. [sarcasm]
Producer: Siesta, Besta, Sesta, Desta, Fester…
Press Agent: Oh that’s very pretty.
Producer: …Jester, Hester, Jester, Lester…Vicki Lester!
Secretary: Oh I like that!

Everyone in the office started chanting the newly minted name Vicki Lester…and with that the star was born.

On the name charts, the entire name-group — Vicki, Vickie, Vicky, Vickey, and so forth — rode a wave of trendiness that started in the ’30s, peaked around 1957, and was over by the ’80s. It’s hard to say how much of this trendiness (if any of it) was fueled by the movie, but one thing definitely attributable to the movie is the higher-than-expected usage of “Vicki” in the late ’30s:

  • 1941: 542 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 274th]
  • 1940: 405 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 316th]
  • 1939: 334 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 355th]
  • 1938: 367 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 332nd]
  • 1937: 148 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 555th]
  • 1936: 82 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 738th]
  • 1935: 70 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 822nd]

Notice how the number adjusted downward in 1939 before the name was picked back up by the wave.

Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that several baby girls born in the late ’30s were named “Vicki Lester.” In 1940, for instance, the Seil family of Washington included parents Orval (26 years old) and Beryl (25) and daughters Arlene (4) and Vicki Lester (1).

vicki lester, census, 1940
Vicki Lester Seil on 1940 U.S. Census

History repeated itself in 1954 upon the release of the first A Star is Born remake, which starred Judy Garland as Esther/Vicki. The name Vicki was again nudged upward a few years ahead of schedule:

  • 1958: 7,434 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 57th]
  • 1957: 8,101 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 51st]
  • 1956: 7,762 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 57th]
  • 1955: 7,978 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 52nd]
  • 1954: 8,220 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 50th]
  • 1953: 6,822 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 61st]
  • 1952: 6,774 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 61st]

And, again, records from the mid-1950s reveal a handful of baby girls named “Vicki Lester.”

In the second remake — the 1976 Barbra Streisand version — the character was called Esther throughout the film. Even if there hadn’t been a name change, though, the popularity of Vicki was plummeting by the ’70s and I doubt the film could have done much to boost its image/usage.

Currently the name Vicki is only given to about a dozen baby girls in the U.S. per year. But another version of A Star is Born is in the works — a Lady Gaga version slated for 2018. If this third remake materializes, and if it features the name Vicki, do you think it will influence the baby name charts?

(While we wait for 2018, check out the original version of A Star is Born (1937), which is in the public domain.)

Sources: SSA, U.S. Census