How popular is the baby name Terry 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 Terry.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Terry


Posts that Mention the Name Terry

Where did the baby name Tondra come from?

Kidnapping victim Terry Taylor of Charlotte, North Carolina in 1946.
Terry Taylor, 4 years old

The interesting name Tondra first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1946:

  • 1949: unlisted
  • 1948: 9 baby girls named Tondra
  • 1947: unlisted
  • 1946: 9 baby girls named Tondra [debut]
  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: unlisted

I don’t know why it dropped out of the data and then returned in 1948 with the same (relatively high) number of babies — that’s not a typical pattern — but I can explain the initial appearance.

In February and March of 1946, the kidnapping of 4-year-old Terry Taylor of Charlotte, North Carolina, was front-page news across the nation for several days straight.

Terry, her 5-year-old sister Tondra Taylor, and their 19-year-old nursemaid Rosemary Johnson were at a park in Charlotte one Tuesday when Rosemary decided to take Terry on a bus ride out of state. (They left Tondra behind at the park.)

The pair remained missing until Thursday night, when they were discovered in Annapolis, Maryland. Rosemary had managed to find a position as a maid. She had told the homeowners that she was the child’s widowed mother, but the homeowners became suspicious (in part because the child called herself Terry even though Rosemary insisted the name was Jerry) and called the police.

Terry’s parents drove to Annapolis on Friday to retrieve her, and nursemaid Rosemary was arrested. (Turns out her real name was Loretta Brozek. She was found guilty in July and sentenced to seven years in federal prison, but in October she was transferred to a mental institution.)

Though older sister Tondra was never the focus of the story, her name was mentioned repeatedly in the news that week.

And, ironically, Tondra’s name wasn’t really Tondra — it was Tonda (according to the North Carolina birth records, the 1940 U.S. census, and at least one early news report). In fact, she seems to be the same Tonda Taylor who founded the LGBTQ group Time Out Youth in Charlotte in 1991.

The name Terry — already on the rise for both genders at that time — also saw a jump in usage in 1946.

Do you like the name Tondra? How about Tonda?

Sources:

Where did the baby name Terrea come from?

Terrea Lea album Folk Songs (1956).
Terrea Lea album from 1956

Usage of the unisex name Terry was rising fast for both genders during the ’40s and ’50s, but I think the debuts of Terrea and Terria in the early ’50s had a more specific explanation than the trendiness of Terry.

Terrea usageTerria usage
195610 baby girls [peak]
…9 born in Calif.
18 baby girls
1955.10 baby girls
19549 baby girls15 baby girls
19536 baby girls16 baby girls
1952.17 baby girls [debut]
19516 baby girls.
19505 baby girls [debut]
…all 5 born in Calif.
.
1949..
1948..

I think the influence was Missouri-born folksinger Terrea Lea, who was closely associated with the Southern California folk scene starting in the early ’50s — long before folk music became trendy in the U.S. in the mid-’60s.

Terrea Lea was born Bette June Nutz in Liberty, Missouri, in 1922. I’m not sure how she chose her stage name or when she started using it, but she was being mentioned as “Terrea Lea” in Billboard magazine by mid-1950 and was appearing on television, performing on radio, and putting out singles by 1951. In April of 1951, Billboard described her as “local TV folk chirper billed as the fem[inine] Burl Ives.”

Her own Terrea Lea Show could be heard on the East Coast radio by 1952, but the newspapers often misspelled her name (e.g., “Terria Lea,” “Terrea Lee”) in the broadcast schedules. Typos like these, combined with the fact that the shows were (of course) audio only, probably account for why the name Terria was the top debut name of 1952.

terrea lea, name
Misspelling in Billboard, 1952

In 1956 and 1957, Terrea Lea put out her first two full-length albums. In late 1958, she and some friends opened a coffee house in West Hollywood called The Garret. (The name was inspired by Puccini’s La bohème.) She regularly performed there, and it was frequented by popular folk singers of the day, including Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell. The Garret existed until 1971.

There’s a website dedicated to The Garret, and the guest book includes six comments from people named after Terrea Lea. They are: Terra Lea, Terrea Lee, Terrea Lea (b. 1954, Calif.), Terrea Lea (b. 1951, Oregon), and Terria Leigh. Another comment is from someone whose son has the middle name Garret.

What are your thoughts on the name Terrea?

Sources:

Where did the baby name Diahn come from?

diahn
I believe Diahn is the one in the middle…?

The Diane-variant Diahn made appearances in the U.S. baby name data for five years straight during the 1960s:

  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: 5 baby girls named Diahn
  • 1967: 9 baby girls named Diahn
  • 1966: 6 baby girls named Diahn
  • 1965: 21 baby girls named Diahn
  • 1964: 24 baby girls named Diahn [debut]
  • 1963: unlisted

The inspiration? Actress Diahn Williams. Her first major role was as one of the girls (Terry) in the single-season sitcom Harry’s Girls (1963-1964). The series, set in then-modern times, featured a small American vaudeville troupe that performed dance numbers in Europe (because acts like theirs had long since fallen out of favor in the United States).

Diahn continued to appear on various television shows until the mid-1970s, when she quit acting to become a lawyer.

In terms of spelling, do you prefer the unusual “Diahn” or the standard “Diane”?

Source: Harry’s Girls – Wikipedia

Where did the baby name Taffy come from?

The character Lt. Taffy Tucker from the comic strip "Terry and the Pirates," drawn by Milton Caniff.
Lt. Taffy Tucker

Taffy isn’t just a type of candy — it’s also a name, and it debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1943:

  • 1947: 12 baby girls named Taffy
  • 1946: 6 baby girls named Taffy
  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: 5 baby girls named Taffy
  • 1943: 6 baby girls named Taffy [debut]
  • 1942: unlisted
  • 1941: unlisted

Why?

Because of Taffy Tucker, a new character introduced in the Terry and the Pirates comic strip during 1942.

Titular character Terry Lee joined the military in 1942, and there he met new people, including Taffy Tucker, an Army nurse, and Flip Corkin, an Army flight instructor (who was also Taffy’s boyfriend).

Taffy Tucker was a “spunky, dedicated nurse, hardworking and tireless, cheerful and caring and always feminine.”

"Terry and the Pirates" comic book

At one point in the storyline, Taffy was kidnapped by a Japanese agent. She was beaten and left for dead in the interior of China. Thankfully, she was eventually rescued by Terry and Flip.

It took cartoonist Milton Caniff about three months to create the character:

[He] spent several days just worrying about a name for Taffy. Since he visualized her as a pert, snub-nosed girl from Georgia, he wanted a name with a typically Old South sound. He finally settled on Guinevere Marianne Tucker, nicknamed Taffy because of her candy-colored hair. She had to be short, because she was scheduled to fall in love with Flip Corkin, who is short, and she had to be blond [sic] for contrast with Flip, who is dark.

Caniff had modeled Taffy after a photo of real-life WWII military nurse Bernice Taylor of Kansas.

What do you think of Taffy as a baby name?

Sources:

P.S. The name Taffy got a slight boost around 1949 thanks to the film The Doctor and the Girl, in which the young Dr. Corday has a love interest named Evelyn “Taffy” Heldon who operates a taffy machine in a candy store.

P.P.S. Other Terry and the Pirates-inspired baby names include Normandie, Merrily, and Raven.

Babies Named for Famous Kings

king solomon image

A few months ago, I got an email from a reader who’d spotted an obituary for a man named “King David.” Even more intriguing, King David’s father’s name was “King Solomon.” The reader wondered what other famous kings had inspired similar first/middle name combinations.

Historical records reveal that, long before the name King became trendy in the 2000s, hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of people in America were given the first name “King.”

While most that I saw had middle names that didn’t create a special pairing (e.g., King Clyde, King Terry), a good number did have middle names that — whether intentionally or not — turned the pairing into the name of some historical, biblical, or legendary king.

Here are some of the pairings I spotted, plus links to a few examples:

King Alfred
King Arthur
King Asa
King Charles
King Edward
King Frederick
King George
King Henry
King Hezekiah
King James
King Josiah
King Louis
King Olaf
King Oscar
King Richard
King Saul

Several of these (Kingarthur, Kingcharles, Kingdavid, Kingjames, Kingjosiah, and Kingsolomon) also appear as compound names in the SSA data.

Do like the recent King-as-a-first-name trend? Why or why not?