How popular is the baby name Chuck in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Chuck.
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The rare name Lelaina first popped up in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1990s:
1996: 5 baby girls named Lelaina
1995: 5 baby girls named Lelaina
1994: 11 baby girls named Lelaina [debut]
Because of the Gen-X movie Reality Bites, which starred Winona Ryder as aspiring videographer Lelaina Pierce. The movie came out in February of 1994.
The name Lelaina is very similar to a name we talked about a couple of weeks ago, Lalena, and there’s a reason for that: Reality Bites screenwriter Helen Childress named the movie’s main character after her high school friend, Lalena Fisher, who was, in turn, named after the Donovan song.
Fisher, who’s now an artist, said during an interview:
My dad thought the song “Laléna” by Donovan was a beautiful song, so he wanted to give me that name. He didn’t listen to the words, though — it’s about a prostitute! But I don’t really mind.
(Fisher’s husband, music journalist Chuck Eddy, also mentioned this onomastic connection in one of his books.)
Which of the two names, Lelaina or Lalena, do you prefer?
Eddy, Chuck. Terminated for Reasons of Taste: Other Ways to Hear Essential and Inessential Music. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.
Mark Calcavecchia, who won the British open last month, withdrew from the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday in suburban Chicago, because his wife gave birth to their first child — a seven-pound, six-ounce daughter named Britney Jo.
[To clarify: The baby, born two weeks after the British Open, was named Britney to commemorate the victory.]
From a 2013 article about names in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“The Name Game” was a hit for Shirley Ellis in 1965. You know the song: “Shirley-Shirley-bo-burly, banana-fana-fo-furly, fee-fie-foe-murly … Shirley!” She bragged that “there isn’t any name that you can’t rhyme.” While entertaining soldiers in Vietnam, however, she discovered she couldn’t rhyme “Rich” or “Chuck.”
[The other names featured in the original version of the novelty song were Lincoln, Arnold, Tony, Billy, Marsha, and Nick.]
Vogue editor Anna Wintour (in the February 2011 issue) writing about Tucson-born model Arizona Muse:
When I look at Arizona, I see shadows of Linda Evangelista and Natalia Vodianova, but most of all I see her, a gorgeous, smart, grown-up. And how could anyone resist someone with that name?
Want to see more quotes about names? Check out the name quotes category.
The unusual name Wanderlei popped up in the U.S. baby name data in 2009:
2009: 5 baby boys named Wanderlei [debut]
So far, that’s the only time it’s made an appearance (though the very similar name Vanderlei has shown up twice, also starting in 2009).
What was the influence?
Brazilian mixed martial artist Wanderlei Silva, who made a name for himself in the U.S. thanks to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).
After being part of the UFC in the late ’90s, he re-joined in mid-2007 — at a time when the company was growing in popularity and getting mainstream media coverage. His first bout in the Octagon was against Chuck Liddell at the end of 2007. He lost that match, but won his next one against Keith Jardine in mid-2008.
I’ve never heard Silva pronounce his own first name, but the sports announcers call him VAN-der-lay. (Interesting side note: The letter “w” doesn’t naturally occur in Portuguese, so you’ll only see it in personal names and foreign words.)
You might be surprised to learn that the first name Wanderlei — along with the spelling variants Wanderley, Vanderley, and Vanderlei — are not exactly uncommon in Brazil. Other people with the name include, for instance, former soccer players Wanderley Paiva and Vanderlei Luxemburgo.
These first names come directly from the corresponding Brazilian surnames, all of which derive from a single Dutch surname: Van der Ley.
And the Dutch surname can be traced back to a single man: Gaspar van der Ley, “a well-known 17th century officer from the Dutch West India Company” who settled in Brazil during the period (1630-1654) when the Dutch controlled a large part of northeastern Brazil. (His first name is also spelled Caspar and Kaspar, depending upon the source.)
What does the surname Van der Ley mean? It’s a variant of yet another surname, Van der Lee, the original bearers of which would have lived near a canal called “De Lee” or “De Lede.” The second component of the name is derived from the Middle Dutch word lede or leide, which referred to dug or excavated watercourse (as opposed to a natural one).
What are your thoughts on the baby name Wanderlei?
With the presidential inauguration just two days away, now is a good time to take a closer look at the baby name Kamala.
Most Americans already know that Kamala Devi Harris’ first name is pronounced KAH-mah-lah (or “comma-la“). And I bet some also know that the Sanskrit name Kamala means “lotus,” and is sometimes used to refer to the Hindu deity Lakshmi.
But here’s an intriguing fact that isn’t very well known: usage of the baby name Kamala peaked in 1964 — the year that Kamala Harris was born.
1967: 46 baby girls named Kamala
1966: 51 baby girls named Kamala
1965: 91 baby girls named Kamala
1964: 105 baby girls named Kamala [rank: 1,064th]
1963: 44 baby girls named Kamala
1962: 20 baby girls named Kamala
1961: 10 baby girls named Kamala
Here’s the graph:
What caused the spike?
I believe the influence was half-Indian, half-English actress Kamala Devi (birth name: Kamala Devi Amesur). She came to the U.S. from India around 1960, and over the course of the decade appeared in two U.S. films and on about ten TV shows (including My Three Sons).
The thing that put her name in the papers, though, was her 1963 marriage to actor Chuck Connors, her co-star in the 1962 film Geronimo. (You can see several press photos of the pair at one Chuck Connors fan site.) Here’s what Louella Parsons wrote about the couple in mid-1963:
The Brooklyn-born Irishman and the Bombay-born East Indian, married in April, are as unlikely a combination as you could dream up, but they seem ideally mated. Chuck and Kamala met when both played in “Geronimo.” She was the last actress to be interviewed for the lead opposite him. “I took one look at her,” says Chuck, “and that was it.”
So, now, back to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
I have never seen anything that explicitly connects Kamala Devi Harris to Kamala Devi, but the fact that Harris’ middle name is Devi (which means “goddess”), and the fact that she was born in 1964, makes me think Harris’ parents were probably influenced by the actress — whether they were aware of it or not.
(Her parents, Donald Harris of Jamaica and Shyamala Gopalan of Tamil Nadu, met as graduate students in California in the fall of 1962. They married in July of 1963 and welcomed their first daughter, Kamala, the following year in October. Their second daughter, Maya Lakshmi, was born in early 1967.)
Regardless, Kamala Harris’s visibility over the last few years seems to have had a slight influence on the name: