How popular is the baby name Dick 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 Dick.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Dick


Posts that Mention the Name Dick

How did “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” influence baby names in 1984?

Title of the TV beauty pageant "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (1984)
“The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” pageant

In January of 1984, a one-of-a-kind beauty pageant called “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” was broadcast live on television from Oahu, Hawaii.

What made it unique? The fact that viewers at home could participate in picking the winner!

Back in 1984, this was a novel idea — so novel that, even though creator Dick Clark had come up with the concept back in the late ’60s, he wasn’t able to garner any interest in it until decades later.

The show was hosted by Jayne Kennedy and David Hasselhoff. In fact, the Hoff was featured in the TV commercial for the pageant:

TV commercial for "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" featuring co-host David Hasselhoff

Twenty-one young women from around the globe were chosen as contestants. Here are their names and the regions they represented (in order of introduction):

  • United States: Susanne Ashley Trimble
  • India: Safira Afzaal
  • Great Britain: Debi Brett
  • Japan: Yoko Ami
  • Swaziland: Zanella Tutu
  • Denmark: Lene Nyholm Jensen
  • Spain: Maria Jose Bustos
  • Italy: Antonia Dell’Atte
  • Brazil: Carmen Carolina Baldelli
  • Germany: Birgit Wiemann
  • Saipan: Zelma Tomokane
  • Puerto Rico: Deborah Carthy Deu
  • The Philippines: Yoraidyl (YOR-ah-dil) Diaz Stone
  • Canada: Elizabeth Stimson
  • Mexico: Jaqueline De La Vega Pineda
  • Singapore: Julie Nickson
  • Morocco: Nadia Bahy
  • France: Patricia Talazac
  • Hong Kong: Tracy Chan
  • Australia: Melanie Ivanhoe
  • Israel: Yarden Levinson

I want to draw your attention to two of these contestants, Safira Afzaal and Yarden Levinson, because the rare names Safira and Yarden both debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1984 specifically:

Girls named SafiraGirls named Yarden
1986..
1985..
198418*6*
1983..
1982..
*Debut

(Safira may be based on the Arabic name Safeerah, meaning “messenger”; Yarden, the Hebrew name of the Jordan River, is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “descend” or “flow down.”)

Here are Safira and Yarden introducing themselves at the start of the program…

Safira:

Beauty pageant contestant Safira Afzal from "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (1984)

Yarden:

Beauty pageant contestant Yarden Levinson from "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (1984)

Over the course of the two-hour program, the field of contestants was reduced three times: from 21 to 10 (by a panel of judges), from 10 to 3 (again by the judges), and finally from 3 to 1 (by popular vote).

Both Safira and Yarden survived the first cut. The second portion of the show featured the ten remaining women modeling in swimsuits, modeling in evening gowns, and, rather unusually, doing aerobic exercise. (How ’80s is that?)

Here’s Safira doing aerobics:

Beauty pageant contestant Safira Afzal from "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (1984)

And here’s Yarden:

Beauty pageant contestant Yarden Levinson from "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (1984)

Before the three finalists were announced, David Hasselhoff explained that each of the three would be assigned a specific “1-900” phone number.

To cast a vote for your favorite girl, you simply dial her phone number. It’s that easy. Your vote will automatically be registered in the phone company’s computer in Kansas City, Missouri, and there’ll be a telephone charge of 50 cents. The total number of calls received at the end of the ten-minute period by the phone company’s computer in Kansas City will be transmitted to us, five thousand miles away, in Hawaii, and we will know our winner.

The three finalists? Debi, Jaqueline, and Yarden. (Not Safira, sadly.)

Here’s Yarden, right after being named a finalist:

Beauty pageant contestant Yarden Levinson from "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (1984)

During the next ten minutes, viewers saw (among other things) clips of the finalists talking about themselves. Yarden mentioned that, in Israel, every girl goes into the military and “learns how to fight,” and that she “served in a rescue unit in the Air Force.” She also said:

I come to the competition and they look at me and they say, ‘You’re Israeli? You’re blonde, I mean, how can that be?’

Alas, Yarden finished in third place with just 17.48% of the vote.

The winner was Debi Brett, the Brit, with 53.46% of the vote. (She received over $100,000 in cash and prizes, including a 30-day round-the-world trip, a full-length mink coat, a grand piano, a diamond ring, a Dodge 600 convertible, and a Ricoh 35mm camera.)

So, neither Safira nor Yarden won the pageant. But their names live on the U.S. baby name data, which is arguably far cooler. :)

I’m not sure what became of Yarden after the pageant, but I can tell you a bit about Safira (whose last name is actually spelled Afzal). She was born in Pakistan, raised in England, and went on to earn a law degree and become a barrister.

(Other post-pageant careers: Debi became photographer; Antonia became a model/TV personality; Deborah won Miss Universe 1985 and became an actress/TV personality; “Jaqueline” (actually spelled Jacqueline) became a model/TV personality; and “Julie” (Julia) became an actress — in fact, she played the female lead in the second Rambo movie.)

So what are your thoughts on the names Safira and Yarden? Which one would you be more likely to use for a baby girl?

Sources:

How did “African Names for Your Children” influence baby names?

african baby names, 1971
List of African names in Jet magazine, 1971

In September of 1971, Jet magazine published a one-page article that ended up having a strong influence on U.S. baby names. It was called “African Names for Your Children.”

The intent of this…[i]s to give some African names with their meanings to our readers who may be interested in understanding or giving their babies some African names. The following are some of the common and interesting African names.

The article featured just 20 names overall, but half of them ended up seeing increased usage as baby names in the U.S., including eight (!) debuts in the U.S. data.

  • Adwoa – not in the data yet in the early ’70s
  • Akpan – never in the data
  • Ayanna – debuted in 1971
  • Azikiwe – debuted in 1971
  • Diallo – debuted in 1971
  • Ete-ete – never in the data
  • Ima – no movement in the data
  • JaJa – debuted in 1971
  • Kwabeneone-hit wonder in 1971
  • Kwame – increased in usage ’71/’72
  • Lumumba – debuted in 1971
  • Machumu – never in the data
  • Nkenge – debuted in 1971
  • N’namdi – not in the data yet in the early ’70s
  • Okon – never in the data
  • Rudo – never in the data
  • Rufaro – never in the data
  • Sekou – increased in usage ’71/’72
  • Shango – debuted in 1971
  • Shangobunmi – never in the data

Ayanna is an interesting case because, later the same year, it became a celebrity baby name (Ayanna was one of the children of Dick Gregory). This one-two punch of influences gave the name a huge boost in 1971. Ayanna was the top girl-name debut of 1971 and currently ranks 9th on the list of highest girl-name debuts of all time.

Similarly, Diallo was the top boy-name debut of 1971, and ended up ranking 29th on the list of highest boy-name debuts of all time. My guess is that most Americans pronounce the name dee-ah-loh, but the original pronunciation is jah-low. It’s a very common surname in West Africa (where it’s spelled Jalloh).

Finally, discovering this article helped me realize that Lumumba debuting in 1971 actually had little to do with Patrice Lumumba, as I’d assumed years ago. (Though no doubt Patrice was still an influence on some level.)

Of all the names above, which one do you like best?

P.S. In the later ’70s, Ebony magazine also published a list of African names. Their list had a similarly strong impact on U.S. baby names.

Sources:

Name quotes #82: Rosebud, Pirate, Habakkuk

From an article about the Mad About You reboot:

On the original show, Theresa was portrayed by Burnett as a bit overbearing. But, she always brought extra love…and helped them name their daughter Mabel. When Jamie and Paul Buchman (Paul Reiser) couldn’t decide on a name for their baby, Theresa proclaimed that “Mothers Always Bring Extra Love,” an homage to The Dick Van Dyke Show where Rob and Laura explain Ritchie’s middle name. The Buchman’s decide to call their daughter Mabel.

The conversation between Rob Petrie (dad) and Ritchie Rosebud Petrie (son) referenced above, from the 1962 Dick Van Dyke episode “What’s in a Middle Name?” [vid]:

Rob: …and there’s no reason to look so sad, your middle name isn’t really Rosebud.

Ritchie: Yes it is, my birth certificate says it’s Rosebud.

Rob: Yes it does, but do you know why?

Ritchie: No, but I wish it was ‘Jim.’

[…]

Rob: So you see, Ritch, actually, your middle name is Robert, Oscar, Sam, Edward, Benjamin, Ulysses, David. And, the initials to all of your middle names spells…

Ritchie: Rosebud!

(The seven names were suggestions from various family members. To see the scene and hear the full explanation, click the link to the video.)

From the 2018 children’s book Who Is Pele? by James Buckley, Jr.:

Edson Arantes do Nascimento was born on October 23, 1940, in the tiny village of Três Corações (say: TRACE kor-ah-SOYS), Brazil. Even in 1940, there were many parts of the world that did not have electricity. Most of southeastern Brazil was one of those areas. In honor of their village finally getting electricity, Edson’s parents named their first son after the American inventor Thomas Edison.

From a BBC interview with Billie Eilish:

Q: Hello Billie Eilish… Have I pronounced that right?

A: Yes! It’s eye-lish, like eyelash with a lish.

Q: Your family name is O’Connell, though, so is that a stage name?

It is my middle name. So I’m Bille Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell.

Q: Pirate! That’s an amazing name.

Pretty weird, right? Pirate was going to be my middle name but then my uncle had a problem with it because pirates are bad. Then Baird is my mother’s name.

From an NPR interview with Leonardo DiCaprio:

My father tells me that they were on their honeymoon at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, I believe. They were looking at a da Vinci painting, and allegedly I started kicking furiously while my mother was pregnant. And my father took that as a sign, and I suppose DiCaprio wasn’t that far from da Vinci. And so, my dad, being the artist that he is, said, “That’s our boy’s name.”

From a Christianity Today article called “Sorry, James and David: Silas and Obadiah Are Today’s Trending Baby Names“:

Looking forward, there’s plenty more space for creativity with highly unique but still highly religious names. Of the 2,606 biblical names I track in my ongoing research, only 811 ever had a year with more than 4 baby boys or girls given that name. We haven’t yet seen kids named Abijam or Paltiel, nor have we seen name fads for Philetus or Berechiah. Even notably faithful biblical figures like Ehud, Elkanah, Habakkuk, Hilkiah, and Jehonadab have been passed over.

Where did the baby name Anjanette come from in 1963?

Actress Anjanette Comer
Anjanette Comer

The name Anjanette first appeared in the baby name data in 1963, and the very next year it was popular enough to enter the top 1,000:

  • 1966: 90 baby girls named Anjanette
  • 1965: 106 baby girls named Anjanette
  • 1964: 133 baby girls named Anjanette [rank: 904th]
  • 1963: 6 baby girls named Anjanette [debut]
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted

Several variant spellings (Anjeanette, Annjanette, Annjeanette, Anjanetta, and Anjannette) also emerged in 1964. In fact, one ’64 baby who was part of this trend was actress Vivica Anjanetta Fox.

What inspired this one?

Texas-born actress Anjanette Comer. She began popping up in small roles on TV in 1962. In 1964, she appeared in her first feature film (Quick, Before it Melts) and was nominated for an Emmy for “Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actress” (an episode of Arrest and Trial).

In her earliest TV roles, she was credited as “Anja Comer.” And, toward the end of 1964, popular Hollywood columnist Dick Kleiner mentioned that Anjanette was called “Anja” by friends and family. So it’s not surprising that the first two years we see Anja creep into the data are 1962, followed by 1964:

  • 1966: 20 baby girls named Anja
  • 1965: 41 baby girls named Anja
  • 1964: 11 baby girls named Anja
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 7 baby girls named Anja [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted

Which name do you prefer, Anjanette or Anja?

Sources:

How did “Bewitched” influence baby names in the 1960s?

bewitched, baby names, 1960s

Bewitched, the sitcom about a witch who marries a mere mortal, premiered on ABC in September of 1964 and ran all the way until 1972. Like many popular TV shows, it had a noticeable influence on U.S. baby names. For instance…

Samantha

The name Samantha, which had ranked far outside the top 1,000 for most of the 20th century, skyrocketed in popularity in the mid-1960s thanks to main character (and witch!) Samantha Stephens, played by Elizabeth Montgomery.

  • 1968: 2,339 baby girls named Samantha [rank: 136th]
  • 1967: 1,806 baby girls named Samantha [rank: 176th]
  • 1966: 1,794 baby girls named Samantha [rank: 182nd]
  • 1965: 1,963 baby girls named Samantha [rank: 179th]
  • 1964: 421 baby girls named Samantha [rank: 473rd]
  • 1963: 73 baby girls named Samantha

The name reached and maintained top-5 status during most of the 1990s (with a lot of help from another fictional Samantha: Samantha Micelli from ’80s sitcom Who’s the Boss?).

Montgomery also played the part of Samantha’s cousin Serena, who was a recurring character during later seasons of the show. The name Serena saw higher usage in the late ’60s and early ’70s as a result.

Darrin

The name Darrin was boosted up to its highest-ever usage in 1965 thanks to Samantha’s husband Darrin Stephens, originally played by Dick York.

  • 1968: 2,078 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 138th]
  • 1967: 2,029 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 141st]
  • 1966: 2,568 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 119th]
  • 1965: 3,257 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 102nd] – peak usage
  • 1964: 801 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 272nd]
  • 1963: 310 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 450th]

In fact, all the spelling variants of Darrin saw peak usage in 1965. The most common spelling of the name, Darren, reached 52nd place in the rankings that year. Also in the top 1,000 were Darin (123th), Daren (271st), Darron (408th), Daron (494th) Daryn (717th), and Darryn (818th).

Endora

The rare name Endora debuted in 1965, thanks to Samantha’s flamboyant and moderately villainous witch-mother Endora, played by Agnes Moorehead (who, several years earlier, played another TV witch).

  • 1968: 7 baby girls named Endora
  • 1967: 17 baby girls named Endora
  • 1966: 19 baby girls named Endora
  • 1965: 28 baby girls named Endora [debut]
  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted

Endora was so dismissive of Darrin that she nearly never bothered to say his name correctly, calling him things like Derwood, Dagwood, Darwick, Dumpkin, and so forth.

Endora’s own name was inspired by the biblical Witch of Endor; “Endor” was an ancient Canaanite city.

Tabatha & Tabitha

The names Tabatha and Tabitha were both featured on Bewitched, confusingly.

Samantha and Darrin’s first child was a baby girl born in January of 1966. They named her Tabitha, a name first strongly suggested in the storyline by Endora (“Whatever you call her, I shall call her Tabitha”).

Behind the scenes, it was Elizabeth Montgomery who suggested the character name Tabitha — spelled the traditional way, with an i.

But, for some unknown reason, the name was spelled Tabatha — with an a — on the credit role. Montgomery was later quoted as saying: “Honestly, I shudder every time I see it. It’s like a squeaky piece of chalk scratching on my nerves.” The spelling wasn’t corrected until season 5 (1968-1969).

Accordingly, the usage of both baby names rose during the ’60s, with Tabatha ranking higher than Tabitha for a three-year stretch before the spelling mistake in the credits was corrected:

Girls named TabithaGirls named Tabatha
1971947 [rank: 295th]543 [rank: 398th]
19701,050 [rank: 279th]585 [rank: 401st]
1969944 [rank: 297th]658 [rank: 355th]
1968549 [rank: 391st]701 [rank: 328th]
1967444 [rank: 451st]581 [rank: 378th]
1966327 [rank: 524th]500 [rank: 419th]
1965345 [debut]
196422unlisted
196321unlisted

Adam

The name Adam more than doubled in usage over a two-year stretch thanks to Samantha and Darrin’s second child, Adam, who was born in October of 1969.

  • 1972: 5,748 baby boys named Adam [rank: 51st]
  • 1971: 5,855 baby boys named Adam [rank: 57th]
  • 1970: 4,320 baby boys named Adam [rank: 71st]
  • 1969: 2,869 baby boys named Adam [rank: 113th]
  • 1968: 2,546 baby boys named Adam [rank: 119th]
  • 1967: 2,528 baby boys named Adam [rank: 118th]

The name reached and maintained top-20 status for several years during the early 1980s.

…So are you a fan of Bewitched? Which names from the show do you like the best?

Sources: