How popular is the baby name Sayonara 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 Sayonara.

The graph will take a few seconds to load, thanks for your patience. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take nine months.) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.


Popularity of the Baby Name Sayonara


Posts that Mention the Name Sayonara

Interesting one-hit wonder names in the U.S. baby name data

tulips

They came, they went, and they never came back!

These baby names are one-hit wonders in the U.S. baby name data. That is, they’ve only popped up once, ever, in the entire dataset of U.S. baby names (which accounts for all names given to at least 5 U.S. babies per year since 1880).

There are thousands of one-hit wonders in the dataset, but the names below have interesting stories behind their single appearance, so these are the one-hits I’m writing specific posts about. Just click on a name to read more.

1890s

1900s

  • (none yet)

1910s

1920s

1930s

1940s

1950s

1960s

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

2010s

2020s

  • (none yet)

As I discover (and write about) more one-hit wonders in the data, I’ll add the names/links to this page. In the meanwhile, do you have any favorite one-hit wonder baby names?

P.S. You might also be interested in this list of the top one-hit wonder baby names since 1880

Where did the baby name Tiki come from?

In the 1950s and ’60s, Tiki culture — including Tiki bars — were all the rage in the United States. Even Disneyland got in on the action, introducing the Enchanted Tiki Room in 1963.

So it’s not terribly surprising the that the baby name Tiki emerged in the SSA data in the early 1960s:

  • 1964: 12 baby girls named Tiki
  • 1963: 9 baby girls named Tiki
  • 1962: 5 baby girls named Tiki
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 15 baby girls named Tiki [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

But that rather impressive 1960 debut — and subsequent drop-off a year later– suggests that a specific event kicked off the initial usage of Tiki.

I’ve got two theories on this one.

First is the Hawaiian Eye episode “Fatal Cruise,” which aired in February of 1960 and featured actress Linda Lawson as a character named Tiki.

tiki, 1960s, baby name, television
The schooner Tiki

Second is the show Adventures in Paradise, in which the main character, Capt. Adam Troy, travels around the South Pacific on a schooner called the Tiki.

(Adventures in Paradise, which kicked off the names Sondi and Tiare, was created by writer James Michener, who was behind the debuts of Sayonara and Kerith.)

The first theory makes the most sense, because Hawaiian Eye associated the name with a (very pretty) human. But I don’t think we can discount the second theory, because Adventures in Paradise consistently presented “Tiki” as a name…even if it was just the name of a boat.

So where does the word tiki come from? It was used in the Marquesas and in New Zealand to refer to any carving with human features. (The equivalent word in Hawaiian is ki’i and in Tahitian is ti’i.) Originally, though, Tiki was a specific mythological figure: “the Polynesian Adam, the creator of man…sort of half-man and half-god.”

What are your thoughts on Tiki as a baby name?

Sources: Fatal Cruise, Hawaiian Eye – IMDb, Adventures in Paradise – Fifties Web, Tiki Hangover: Unearthing the False Idols of America’s South Seas Fantasy

Where did the baby name Kerith come from?

literature, 1960s, kerith, baby name

In 1967, the baby name Kerith debuted in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1970: 18 baby girls named Kerith
  • 1969: 15 baby girls named Kerith
  • 1968: 20 baby girls named Kerith
  • 1967: 12 baby girls named Kerith [debut]
  • 1966: unlisted

The source? The Source — a 1965 novel set in ancient Israel. It was written by James Michener, who had written Sayonara about a decade earlier.

Kerith was a character featured in the early chapter “Psalm of the Hoopoe Bird,” which was set during the reign of King David specifically. Kerith was the wife of the chapter’s central character, an engineer named Jabaal (but nicknamed Hoopoe, after the bird). Jabaal worshiped Baal, but Kerith, who was Hebrew, worshiped Yahweh. By the end of the chapter, she had given up her husband and children in order to live in Jerusalem.

“Kerith” is also found in the Hebrew Bible as a place name (sometimes spelled “Cherith”). It’s a wadi where the prophet Elijah hid during a drought. The word can be traced back to a Hebrew root meaning “cut.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Kerith?

What turned Sayonara into a baby name?

The characters Lloyd Gruver and Hana-ogi from the movie "Sayonara" (1957).
Lloyd and Hana-ogi from “Sayonara

We’re all familiar with sayonara, the Japanese word for “goodbye.”

But did you know that Sayonara was also a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in the 1950s?

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 6 baby girls named Sayonara
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted

The James Michener novel Sayonara came out in 1953. Set during the Korean War, it told the story of U.S. airman Lloyd Gruver, stationed in Japan, who fell in love with a Japanese entertainer called Hana-ogi. (Her namesake is a historical courtesan; hana means “flower” and ogi means “fan”).

Originally, the book was going to be adapted into a stage production à la Michener’s South Pacific. With a musical in mind, Irving Berlin wrote a song called “Sayonara.”

Instead, the story was turned into a movie (starring Marlon Brando and Miiko Taka) a few years later, and so Irving Berlin’s song ended up on the soundtrack.

Both Sayonara the movie and “Sayonara” the song came out in late 1957. The film made a bigger splash than the song did, so it may have had more of an influence on baby names.

In March of 1958 the film won four Oscars, including one each for supporting actors Red Buttons (who played Joe Kelly) and Miyoshi Umeki (who played Katsumi).

Actress Miyoshi Umeki in the movie "Sayonara" (1957).
Miyoshi Umeki in “Sayonara

Miyoshi Umeki, both an actress and a singer, was the first Asian performer to win an Academy Award. Her win drew attention to the Japanese name Miyoshi, which debuted in the data as well in 1958:

  • 1963: 8 baby girls named Miyoshi
  • 1962: 7 baby girls named Miyoshi
  • 1959: 8 baby girls named Miyoshi
  • 1958: 20 baby girls named Miyoshi [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted

A few months later, Umeki appeared on the TV game show “What’s My Line?” Here’s how she signed her name:

Miyoshi Umeki's signature from the TV show "What's My Line?" (May, 1958)
Miyoshi Umeki’s signature

Miyoshi was Umeki’s birth name, but at the start of her singing career in Japan, she used the stage name Nancy Umeki. She reverted to her Japanese name upon relocating to America, ironically.

Sources: Sayonara (1957) – Notes – TCM, Fame may be fleeting, but warm memories of Miyoshi Umeki live on – Japan Times, Sayonara (1957) – IMDb

Where did the baby name Kaycee come from in 1955?

American singer Kay Cee Jones
Kay Cee Jones

The baby name Kaycee looks rather modern, but it first popped up in the U.S. baby name data way back in the 1950s:

  • 1957: 13 baby girls named Kaycee
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: 5 baby girls named Kaycee [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: unlisted

The similar name Kayce appeared at the same time:

  • 1957: 6 baby girls named Kayce
  • 1956: 5 baby girls named Kayce
  • 1955: 6 baby girls named Kayce [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: unlisted

Where did they come from?

A singer called Kay Cee Jones.

She was born with the name Ruthie Reece in late 1929, and as a schoolgirl she sang on the radio in Phoenix, Arizona.

Her first singles came out under the stage name “Kay Cee Jones” in 1955. The one that got the biggest advertising push was called “The Japanese Farewell Song.” It peaked at #52 on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” chart in early 1956.

Here’s it is:

The song was also called “Sayonara” sometimes, which gets confusing once 1957 comes along and suddenly there’s another song called “Sayonara” on the airwaves. They’re different songs, though — Kay Cee’s “Sayonara” was created by Hasegawa Yoshida* (composer) and Freddy Morgan (lyricist), whereas the second “Sayonara,” written by Irving Berlin, was associated with the 1957 Marlon Brando movie of the same name.

It looks like Kay Cee released a few more singles over the next few years…but nothing after 1958.

What are your thoughts on the name Kaycee? Do you like it more or less than Ruthie?

Sources:

  • Hosokawa, Shuhei. “Soy Sauce Music: Haruomi Hosono and Japanese Self-Orientalism.” Widening the Horizon: Exoticism in Post-War Popular Music, ed. by Philip Hayward, John Libbey Publishing, 1999, pp. 114-144.
  • Kay Cee Jones Discography
  • KOY – The voice of Phoenix since 1921
  • Whitburn, Joel. Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles 1955-2006. Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, 2007.

*According to one source, Hasegawa Yoshida “is supposedly a Japanese-American but the credit may be a pseudonym of an American because both Hasegawa and Yoshida are last names.”