The unusual name Bocephus first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1986:
1986: 7 baby boys named Bocephus [debut]
Where did it come from?
The 1986 song “My Name Is Bocephus” (pronounced boh-SEE-fuss) by Hank Williams, Jr.
Billboard described the song as “Muddy Waters-style blues” in its review of Hank’s album Montana Cafe, which reached #1 on the Top Country Albums chart in September. The song was also released as the B-side to the single “Mind Your Own Business,” which hit #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart later the same year.
“My Name Is Bocephus” apparently became popular enough on its own, though, to warrant the making of a music video. That video, which came out in early 1987, ended up winning the CMA’s Music Video of the Year award.
So…why would a guy named Hank write a song declaring that his name is “Bocephus”?
Because Bocephus was his childhood nickname. And a rather public one at that.
Hank, Jr., was born Randall Hank Williams in 1949 to country music legend Hiram “Hank” Williams and his first wife Audrey. Hank, Sr., nicknamed his son Bocephus after Grand Ole Opry comedian Rod Brasfield’s ventriloquist dummy.
Hank, Sr., died on the first day of 1953, when his son was three-and-a-half. During the short time they had together, though, he would end his radio performances with a message to his son — something like “Don’t worry, Bocephus, I’m coming home.” In this Feb. 1951 “Mother’s Best” radio show, for instance, you can hear Hank say “Bocephus, see you directly son” at 27:09.
When I think of the name Billie Jean, I think of the Michael Jackson song. Next, I think of the tennis player.
But the name Billiejean first appeared in the U.S. baby name data way back in 1962, decades before the song, and years before the tennis player was at the height of her fame.
1962: 5 baby girls named Billie Jean
My guess on this one? Country singer Billie Jean Horton.
Today she’s best remembered for her relationships with various country singers: Faron Young, Hank Williams (married 1952-1953), Johnny Horton (married 1953-1960), and Johnny Cash.
But she was a recording artist in her own right, and her most successful single, “Ocean Of Tears,” peaked at #29 on the country chart in August of 1961. The next year, for one year only, Billiejean popped up in the data.
The name didn’t return until 1973, when tennis player Billie Jean King defeated male player Bobby Riggs in tennis’s most famous “Battle of the Sexes” match. This time it stuck around until the late ’70s.
It emerged a third time with the help of Michael Jackson, whose song “Billie Jean” was the #1 song in the nation for seven weeks straight in March and April of 1983.
What are your thoughts on the name Billie Jean? What’s your strongest association with the name?
“142” boy names: Huntington, Konstantine, Naetochukwu, Iyanuoluwa, Marquavius
7 via 151
The following baby names add up to 151, which reduces to seven (1+5+1=7).
“151” girl names: Montserrath, Victorious
7 via 160
The boy name Arinzechukwu adds up to 160, which reduces to seven (1+6+0=7).
7 via 169
The boy name Somtochukwu adds up to 169, which reduces to seven (1+6+9=16; 1+6=7).
What Does “7” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “7” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “7” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“7” (the heptad) according to the Pythagoreans: …
“Since everything comes together and is distinguished by coincidence and in a critical manner at the place of the hebdomad [group of seven], they called it ‘critical time’ and ‘Chance,’ and custom has entrenched the habit of saying ‘critical time and Chance’ together.”
“Many things, both in the heavens of the universe and on the Earth – celestial bodies and creatures and plants – are in fact brought to completion by it. And that is why it is called ‘Chance,’ because it accompanies everything which happens, and ‘critical time,’ because it has gained the most critical position and nature.”
“It is also called ‘that which brings completion,’ for seven-month children are viable.”
“Everything is fond of sevens.”
“It is called ‘forager’ because its structure has been collected and gathered together in a manner resembling unity, since it is altogether indissoluble, except into something which has the same denominator as itself”
“7” according to Edgar Cayce:
“Seven is the spiritual number” (reading 261-15).
“As does seven signify the spiritual forces, as are seen in all the ritualistic orders of any nature” (reading 5751-1).
Does “7” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 25, 43, 88, 151) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe you like how “88” reminds you of piano keys, for example.
Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.
If you have any interesting insights about the number 7, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
The list was created by amateur genealogist G. M. Atwater as a resource for writers. It contains names and name combinations that were commonly seen in the U.S. from the 1840s to the 1890s. Below is the full list (with a few minor changes).
Victorian Era Female Names
Victorian Era Male Names
Abigale / Abby
Almira / Almyra
Ann / Annie
Dorothy / Dot
Elizabeth / Eliza / Liza / Lizzy / Bess / Bessie / Beth / Betsy