How popular is the baby name Bing 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 Bing.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Bing


Posts that Mention the Name Bing

Where did the baby name Kirsten come from in 1937?

Opera singer Kirsten Flagstad (1895-1962).
Kirsten Flagstad

The name Kirsten first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1937:

  • 1939: 16 baby girls named Kirsten
  • 1938: 14 baby girls named Kirsten
  • 1937: 10 baby girls named Kirsten
  • 1936: unlisted
  • 1935: unlisted

The reason?

Norwegian opera singer Kirsten (pronounced keer-sten) Flagstad, who became famous in America in the mid-1930s, particularly for playing Wagnerian roles (like Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, and Brünnhilde in Die Walküre). People would have been able to hear her on 1930s radio shows like Kraft Music Hall (NBC) with Bing Crosby and The Ford Sunday Evening Hour (CBS).

Her first name is the Norwegian form of Christina. (She also had an interesting middle name, Malfrid, which is made up of Old Norse elements meaning “ore” and “beautiful.”)

Do you like the name Kirsten?

Sources: Kirsten Flagstad – Wikipedia, Malfrid – Nordic Names Wiki

What gave the baby name Leilani a boost in 1937?

The baby name Leilani — which means both “heavenly flowers” and “royal child” in Hawaiian — is very close to entering the U.S. top 100 for the first time.

It’s been making appearances in the top 1,000, though, for quite a while — starting way back in the 1930s:

  • 1939: 98 baby girls named Leilani [rank: 689th]
  • 1938: 101 baby girls named Leilani [rank: 685th]
  • 1937: 81 baby girls named Leilani [rank: 758th]
  • 1936: 8 baby girls named Leilani
  • 1935: 9 baby girls named Leilani

What gave it that initial boost?

The song “Sweet Leilani” from the film Waikiki Wedding (1937), which starred Bing Crosby. Crosby’s rendition of the song became one of the top songs of 1937, and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in March of 1938.1

The song hadn’t been created with the movie in mind, though. It had been composed by songwriter Harry Owens several years earlier.

Owens, originally from Nebraska, became the musical director of the orchestra at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel2 in Waikiki in 1934. He and his wife were living on Oahu when they welcomed their first child, a baby girl, in October. The day after Leilani Katherine was born, Owens wrote “Sweet Leilani” for her.

What are your thoughts on the Hawaiian name Leilani?

1A few years later, Crosby scored another hit with “Sierra Sue.”

2The Royal Hawaiian Hotel “was fashioned in a Spanish-Moorish style, popular during the period and influenced by screen star Rudolph Valentino.”

Where did the baby name Sierra come from in 1940?

Gene Autry singing "Sierra Sue"
Singing “Sierra Sue”

Back in 1940, the baby name Sierra debuted in the U.S. baby name data rather impressively. It was the top newbie name of the year, in fact.

  • 1942: 13 baby girls named Sierra
  • 1941: 24 baby girls named Sierra
  • 1940: 32 baby girls named Sierra [debut]
  • 1939: unlisted
  • 1938: unlisted

What was behind the debut?

“Sierra Sue,” a song that was a #1 hit in 1940 for Bing Crosby. A version by The Glenn Miller Orchestra also charted the same year.

The song was actually an updated version of an older song written by Joseph B. Carey (a “blind San Francisco organist”) in 1916. Carey died in 1930, and in 1939 the Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. sheet music company secured the rights to the song from Carey’s widow. The song “was probably revived because of the popularity of other western-style songs in the late ’30s.”

And, yes, a large number of the babies named Sierra in 1940 also had the middle name “Sue.” :) Here’s a Sierra Sue who was born in Kansas in 1940.

The Spanish word sierra, which refers to a mountain range, can be traced back to the Latin word serra, meaning “saw.”

In November of the next year, a movie called Sierra Sue starring Gene Autry was released. Here’s the scene in which Gene sings the title song:

Decades later, in 1985, usage of the name began to rise rapidly thanks to soap opera character Sierra Estaban from As the World Turns. Sierra was a top-100 name from 1993 to 2004, peaking in 1999 at 49th (just below Jordan, just above Sara).

Do you like the name Sierra?

Sources:

How did “Jeopardy!” influence baby names?

jeopardy, game show

Last week, Becca commented with some interesting Jeopardy! contestant names (e.g., Hobie, Dorcas) and mentioned J! Archive, which lists tens of thousands of Jeopardy! contestants going back to 1984, when the show premiered.

I skimmed through all the contestants from 1984 to 2015 (as we don’t have baby name data for 2016 yet) and spotted hundreds of unusual names. And it looks like at least two of them got a boost thanks to the show:

Alancia

The name Alancia was a one-hit wonder that popped up in the U.S. baby name data in 2000:

  • 2002: unlisted
  • 2001: unlisted
  • 2000: 9 baby girls named Alancia [debut]
  • 1999: unlisted
  • 1998: unlisted

One-time player Alancia Wynn, a family practice physician from Virginia, was on Jeopardy! in October of 1999.

Brannon

The name Brannon saw an increase in usage in 1998:

  • 2000: 116 baby boys named Brannon
  • 1999: 118 baby boys named Brannon
  • 1998: 158 baby boys named Brannon [peak]
  • 1997: 113 baby boys named Brannon
  • 1996: 114 baby boys named Brannon

One-time player Brannon Denning, a graduate student from Connecticut, was on Jeopardy! in September of 1998. (Looks like Brannon Denning is now a law professor at Samford University.)

Alaric & Ezgi …?

These two names may have gotten a slight boost as well, though it’s hard to tell.

  • Alaric, in 2005. One-time player Alaric Smith was on the show in October of 2005.
  • Ezgi, in 2015. One-time player Ezgi Ustundag was on the show in October of 2015.

Ezgi is a female name that means “melody” in Turkish.

Anjali (false positive)

“Kids Week” contestant Anjali Tripathi was on the show in September of 1999. The same year, the baby name Anjali more than doubled in usage:

  • 2001: 222 baby girls named Anjali
  • 2000: 230 baby girls named Anjali
  • 1999: 202 baby girls named Anjali
  • 1998: 93 baby girls named Anjali
  • 1997: 80 baby girls named Anjali

But this was a suspiciously steep rise. And it was accompanied by the debut of an alternate spelling (Anjalie). And usage didn’t drop back to normal levels the next year, as one would expect. These facts pointed me to something more high-profile than a Jeopardy! contestant.

Turns out the very successful Hindi coming-of-age romantic comedy Kuch Kuch Hota Hai had been released in 1998. The movie featured not one but two main characters named Anjali.

More names!

Here are the rest of the names that caught my eye, sorted by year:

  • 2015: Chandreyi, Dava-Leigh, Desta, Ezgi, Kynan, Mags, Praggya, Rook, Tiombi
  • 2014: Ben-Hur, Dinu, FeiFei, Gudrun, Ilissa, Kenesha, LaWanda, Leszek, Mariusz, Myfanwy, Osei, Shloka, Sirena
  • 2013: Arne, Berek, Diva, Kelton, Kinu, Nilai, Nishanth, Ramsin, Rhea, Salvo, Shuli, Sonrisa, Tahne, Twyla, Waymond, Xan, Yellowlees
  • 2012: Anshika, Benton, Bing, Deniz, Injee, Jessamine, Jia-Rui, Mithun, Pian, Shaanti,
    Vamsi, Vinayak
  • 2011: Bhibha, Boomie, Cosi, Gabor, Gitta, Idrees, Karawan, LuEllen, Milind, Raphie
  • 2010: Huat, Kemi, Marianthe, Raghuveer, Shaama, Surabhi
  • 2009: Ariella, Claxton, Cyn, Daphna, Drusha, Hayes, Henok, Jove, Lysette, Nirav, Ranjan, Seyi, Shyra, Tui (TOO-ee), Wright
  • 2008: Anurag, Babatope, Delano, Elza, Gilah, Kew, Murtaza, Naren, Srinivas, Vibin, Zia
  • 2007: Arlynda, Bethlehem, Clé, Haritha, Khoa, Kai-Ning, Kizzle, Lateefah, Lenzy, Marvene, Mehrun, Ssezi, Tigger, Toho, Tope
  • 2006: Dianisbeth, Iddoshe, Karmie, Lizard, Nemanja, Nissan, Oz, Ozgun, Papa, Pinki, Raena, Reda, Sioux, Tawney
  • 2005: Alaric, Corinth, Jayanth, Kem, Kingslea, LeeAundra, Ruchi, Ruvani, Vanamali
  • 2004: Denele, Kermin, M’Liss, Nithya
  • 2003: Alicen, Amasa, Eok, Freya, Nulty, Snowden, Vane
  • 2002: Anagha, Dileep, Gadi, Hikma, Jara, Kirik, Kunle, Manoj, Muzy (MYOO-zee), Omid, Quyen, Rafi, Seveen, Shasa, Tana, Umiko
  • 2001: Aki, Babu, Gosia, Marek, Mittie, Neha, Ulhas, Vinita
  • 2000: Akshai, Arrington, Celiane, Cinnamon, Iyesatu, Jeeks, Manx, Meri-Jane, Mitali, Sabin, Tarun
  • 1999: Ajuan, Alancia, Anjali, Chacko, Davine, Happy, Mihee, Seale, Wellington, Yancy, Yoni
  • 1998: Ardys, Brannon, Creswell, Kemp, Melizza, Sinan
  • 1998: Boze, Jolyn, Rokshana
  • 1997: Akiva, Atish, Breck, Brick, Davia, Girish, Mita, Murat, Pooja, Sahir, Tanis, Vartan, Zinie
  • 1996: Myretta, Rima, Ulf, Vandana
  • 1995: Albina
  • 1994: Graydon
  • 1993: Bronwyn, Ferris, Leif
  • 1991: India, Kareem
  • 1990: Ardwight, Avrom, Murdock, Peji
  • 1989: Darbi, Ouida
  • 1988: Blaze, Cigus, Doak, Scooter
  • 1987: JoFrannye
  • 1986: Chub, Zanete

Which of the above names do you like best?

P.S. Thanks again, Becca!

The original “Sweet Georgia Brown”

sweet georgia brown songbook

On August 6, 1911, Dr. George Thaddeus Brown of the Georgia House of Representatives and his wife Avis welcomed a baby girl.

The Georgia General Assembly promptly passed a resolution stating that the baby would be named Georgia after the state.

They then presented Avis with a certified copy of the resolution and a “magnificent silver loving cup” whose inscription noted that Georgia was “named by this body August 11th 1911.”

Georgia’s obituary in the Miami Herald noted that she was the inspiration behind the jazz standard “Sweet Georgia Brown” (1925):

According to family legend, it was her father who immortalized her when he met composer Ben Bernie in New York. A medical student at the time, George Brown told the composer about his family, including his youngest daughter with one brown eye and one green eye. Bernie whipped up lyrics to a melody by Kenneth Casey and Maceo Pinkard.

There’s no way to know if the story is true. (One part doesn’t quite work: Dr. Brown attended post-graduate medical school in New York in the 1890s, long before his daughter was born.) But the last line of the chorus does seem to refer to Dr. Brown’s daughter: “Georgia claimed her, Georgia named her, sweet Georgia Brown.”

A whistled version of “Sweet Georgia Brown” recorded by Brother Bones in 1949 became world-famous after it became the theme song of the Harlem Globetrotters in 1952. According to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), “Sweet Georgia Brown” was one of the most-performed songs of the 20th century.

Sources:

  • “First Picture of Baby Named by Georgia General Assembly.” Atlanta Constitution 24 Mar. 1912: A15E.
  • Knight, Lucian Lamar. A Standard History of Georgia and Georgians. Vol. 5. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1917.
  • Melville Carroll Brown – Obituary
  • “‘Sweet’ Georgia Brown, 90, Was the Inspiration for Song.” Miami Herald 20 Jan. 2002: 4B.
  • Zinsser, William. Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs. Jaffrey, New Hampshire: David R. Godine, 2006.

P.S. Georgia is the second baby I know of named by a state legislature.