In the TV sitcom Family Affair, which premiered in 1966, a Manhattan bachelor suddenly becomes a father of three when he takes in his late brother’s orphaned children: 15-year-old Cissy and 6-year-old twins Buffy (girl) and Jody (boy).
All of the children’s names — Cissy, Buffy, and Jody — plus variants like Buffie and Jodie — saw higher usage while the show was on the air.
But the name I want to highlight is Anissa — the first name of child actress Anissa Jones, who played pig-tailed Buffy. The name debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1966, skyrocketed into the top 1,000 the next year, and entered the top 500 the year after that:
1972: 459 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 421st]
1971: 724 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 348th]
1970: 603 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 388th]
1969: 607 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 377th]
1968: 503 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 417th]
1967: 219 baby girls were named Anissa [rank: 646th]
1966: 23 baby girls were named Anissa [debut]
Anissa Jones was born Mary Anissa Jones in Indiana in 1958. She was of Lebanese descent, and her middle name was apparently derived from the Arabic male name Anis, meaning “friend.” She pronounced the name ah-NEE-sah.
The name saw peak popularity in 1971 — the year Family Affair went off the air. (It also saw an uptick in usage in 1976, the year Anissa Jones died at the age of 18 from a drug overdose.)
A secondary peak in popularity happened in 1993-1994 thanks to the TV movie For the Love of My Child: The Anissa Ayala Story, which aired in mid-1993 and was based on the true story of Anissa Ayala, a teenage leukemia patient in need of a bone marrow donor. Her parents had another baby (Marissa) in the hopes that the second child would be a compatible donor (she was).
“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
Next Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, 30-year-old identical (and alliterative) triplets Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik of Estonia are expected to run the women’s marathon. This will make the “Trio in Rio,” as they call themselves, the first set of triplets to compete in an Olympics.
In comparison, about 200 sets of twins have competed in the Olympics over the years. Here are some of the Olympic twins with similarly alliterative names:
Åke & Arne (Sweden) [not technically alliterative; see JJ’s comment]