“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.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).
When parents inflict a sickeningly cutesy name on a daughter they’re (unwittingly, I hope) defining her by her cuteness — something that a massive chunk of society was going to do even before they gave her a name that would look stupid on a Bichon Frisé. Either they’re blind to the fact that women have a hard enough time being taken seriously without being called Marshmallow Twinkletits, or they don’t plan on taking their daughter seriously themselves.
So, if idiot parents feel a biological imperative to name their children after “aDORKable” things, I think they should go for it. My one caveat is that they bestow these names on their sons rather than their daughters. Because naming a boy “Otter” may not be revolutionary, but it would definitely take one white, middle-class man down a notch.
“We are absolutely fired up to see Zumwalt get underway. For the crew and all those involved in designing, building, and readying this fantastic ship, this is a huge milestone,” the ship’s skipper, Navy Capt. James Kirk, said before the ship departed.
(The original captain of Star Trek‘s very futuristic starship Enterprise was named James T. Kirk.)
From What’s in a Name? by Jamaal Allan (who is white, but often assumed to be black):
When people have seen my name before they’ve seen my face, I get “OH — you’re Jamaal.”
It is not uncommon for people to follow up with, “I expected you to be–” and then there’s a pause; a sudden realization they are on the verge of sounding racist. There’s a look–not quite ‘deer in the headlights’, but it is a definite freeze. What to say next? I’ve heard several: taller, older, different (usually accompanied with an uncomfortable chuckle).
From the book Suffolk Surnames (1858) by Nathaniel Ingersoll Bowditch:
The following anecdote was related to me by a friend: At a trial, in which a well-known Liverpool merchant, Ottiwell Wood, was a witness, he was requested by the presiding judge, who was somewhat deaf, to spell his name; which he did as follows: “O double t, i double u, e double l, double u double o, d.”
From the book From Red Hot to Monkey’s Eyebrow: Unusual Kentucky Place Names (1997) by Robert M. Rennick:
Kentucky’s Mousie, still a post office serving many families in the Jones Fork area of northern Knott County, wasn’t named for a mouse at all but for a young woman — named Mousie. She was then (1916) the twenty-year-old daughter of Clay Martin, a large landowner in that area.
Why would a girl be named Mousie? Why not? Mousie is not at all an unusual given name in eastern Kentucky. Since the Civil War, scores of young Mousies throughout the region have borne this name. Mousie Martin, who later became Mrs. Mart Gibson, used to tell us that she was so named at the suggestion of her grandfather, for she had an older sister named Kitty and he rather liked the idea of having two little varmints in the family.
In mid-2014, K. Steenson of the University of Nottingham’s Manuscripts and Special Collections blog offered “fifteen genuine examples of people’s names taken from the manuscripts that we have come across.”
The original list included a lot of fun details, but here’s the gist of it — just the names themselves:
In the comments, an archivist from Somerset threw in a few more: Strangeways and Truefoot (brothers), Purified, and Keren-happuch.