The baby name Ryder became trendy in the early 21st century, thanks in large part to actress Kate Hudson naming her son Ryder in early 2004.
But Ryder wasn’t new to the data at that point. It first showed up in the early 1960s:
1963: 7 baby boys named Ryder
1960: 6 baby boys named Ryder [debut]
The source? Looks to be Where the Boys Are, which was actually three things: a bestselling novel published in early 1960, a successful movie released in late 1960, and the movie’s title track, which peaked at #4 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart in early 1961.
The book focused on a group of four co-eds — Merritt, Tuggle, Melanie, and Angie — from a Midwestern college. For spring break, they decided to escape winter and head to the sunny beaches of Ft. Lauderdale. Because that’s where the boys were, of course. And the “boy” that main character Merritt eventually fell for was an Ivy Leaguer named Ryder Smith.
The book was a comedy, but also included realistic depictions of the behaviors and attitudes of teenagers in the early ’60s. The Saturday Review called it “[b]oth good comedy and first-rate social anthropology.”
The author, Glendon Swarthout, was an English professor at Michigan State University. In the late 1950s, when he was in his early 40s, he learned about the tradition of going to Fort Lauderdale for spring break (which had begun with collegiate swimmers in the 1930s). He tagged along with his students one year, and soon after wrote a book inspired by the experience.
The movie Where the Boys Are, which was a watered-down version of the book, was out by late December. It featured a cast of relatively unknown actors. The most famous face in the film was that of singer Connie Francis, who played Angie (and also sang the title track).
Merritt was played by Dolores Hart, and the character clearly had an influence on the usage of Merritt as a girl name:
1963: 12 baby girls named Merritt
1962: 13 baby girls named Merritt
1961: 17 baby girls named Merritt
Merritt’s love interest, Ryder, was played by “a young, preternaturally tan George Hamilton.” Her friend Melanie was played by Yvette Mimieux, who’d appeared on the big screen as Weena earlier the same year.
Thanks to the book and (especially) the movie, spring break grew from a minor phenomenon into the “cultural rite of passage” that it is today. The number of American college students flooding into Fort Lauderdale every spring swelled from about 15,000 before the book came out to about 370,000 by the mid-1980s.
The trendiness of Fort Lauderdale as a spring break destination peaked in the ’80s, but the trendiness of Ryder (as a boy name) didn’t peak until the mid-2010s:
2018: 3,000 baby boys named Ryder [rank: 131st]
2017: 3256 baby boys named Ryder [rank: 122nd]
2016: 3,883 baby boys named Ryder [rank: 102nd]
2015: 4,154 baby boys named Ryder [rank: 98th]
2014: 4,103 baby boys named Ryder [rank: 95th]
2013: 3,785 baby boys named Ryder [rank: 103rd]
2012: 3,814 baby boys named Ryder [rank: 100th]
2011: 3,706 baby boys named Ryder [rank: 108th]
What are your thoughts on the name Ryder? Would you use it?
“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 peculiar name Weena popped up in the data a few times in the 1960s and 1970s, starting in ’62:
1962: 6 baby girls named Weena [debut]
My best guess is the movie The Time Machine, an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ classic sci-fi story The Time Machine (1895). The movie was released mid-1960, so this is a slightly late debut, but the baby name matches up perfectly with the name of the primary female character, Weena (played by Yvette Mimieux).
The protagonist is an English time traveler who jumps hundreds of thousands of years into the future and discovers that humans have split into two species: the childlike Eloi, who live above ground, and the barbaric Morlocks, who live below ground.
He befriends a female Eloi, and eventually learns that her name is “Weena.”
Here’s the quote from the book:
Then I tried talk, and found that her name was Weena, which, though I don’t know what it meant, somehow seemed appropriate enough.
And here’s the scene from the film:
TT: “Well, what’s your name?” W: “Wee-nah.” TT: “Weena?” W: (nods) TT: “How do you spell it?” W: “…Spell?” TT: “Spell. Write. Can’t you write?” W: (blank stare) TT: (writes WEENA in the dirt)
I don’t think Wells left a record of how he came up with the name Weena for his Eloi character, but he may have been inspired by the name Edwina, which was more common in Victorian England than it is in modern America. (It’s the feminine form of the Old English name Edwin, meaning “wealth” + “friend.”)
Speaking of Edwina…the baby name Edwina happened to see a usage spike in in 1962, and the short form Wina appeared in the data in 1961 and 1962 (only). But I don’t think Weena from Time Machine had much to do with it — I think these spellings point to the character Edwina Brown from the TV show National Velvet (1960-1962), which also boosted the name Velvet to peak usage in 1961.
What are your thoughts on the baby name Weena? How about Edwina?
So here’s an interesting case. The baby name Chevette debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1965:
1969: 5 baby girls named Chevette
1967: 8 baby girls named Chevette
1966: 6 baby girls named Chevette
1965: 6 baby girls named Chevette [debut]
You’d think it’d be the car, right? The Chevrolet Chevette? Except, the car didn’t arrive until 1975. You can see the corresponding spike in usage in 1976:
1977: 7 baby girls named Chevette
1976: 17 baby girls named Chevette [peak]
1975: 6 baby girls named Chevette
The only pop culture reference I can find for the mid-1960s is, weirdly, another car: a custom-build race car. Created by engineer Bob McKee, it was called the “Chevette” because it was made out of parts from the Chevelle and the Corvette. It was driven in various American road races in 1964 and 1965, but I can’t find any press coverage.
Another (more likely) possibility is that the name emerged naturally, given the stylishness of -vette names during the ’60s. The name Yvette saw peak usage (125th) in 1967, for instance, and the Chevette-like names Charvette and Jevette popped up in the data just before Chevette did.
What are your thoughts on this one?
Source: Pace, Harold and Mark Brinker. Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950-1969. St. Paul, MN: Motorbooks International, 2004.
In June of 1982, the Toledo Blade ran a short article about two local brothers who “enjoy the distinction of having initials which spell their names.” One was Thomas Owen Matzinger (T.O.M.), the other was James Irvin Matzinger (J.I.M.). Their dad Mike said it was “just as well” that he didn’t have any more kids, because he couldn’t think of any other sets of names to fit the pattern.
My guess is that Mike was joking, because there are several other sets of initials that could work with an M-surname like Matzinger, one of which, T.I.M., is just a letter away from T.O.M.
In fact, there are at least a couple of combinations that would work with every type of surname.
So today, in honor of the Matzingers of Toledo, I’ve come up with a long list of name-spelling initials. They’re sorted by third initial (that is, the first letter of the last name) so you can scroll straight to the set that matches up with your own surname.
Initials that Spell Names & Nicknames
Surname starts with:
Potential full initials (& example combo):
A.D.A. (Adelaide Diane A.) A.N.A. (Anastasia Nadine A.) A.S.A. (Asa Scott A.) A.V.A. (Ava Virginia A.) B.E.A. (Beatrix Elaine A.) E.V.A. (Eva Veronica A.) G.I.A. (Gia Idonea A.) I.D.A. (Idabelle Daria A.) I.N.A. (Ina Nigella A.) I.R.A. (Ira Ralph A.) I.S.A. (Isabel Simone A.) K.I.A. (Kia Ianthe A.) L.E.A. (Leah Elizabeth A.) M.I.A. (Mia Imelda A.) N.I.A. (Nia Ilona A.) O.D.A. (Odalys Delfina A.) O.R.A. (Ora Ruth A.) U.M.A. (Uma Magnolia A.) U.N.A. (Una Normina A.)
D.E.B. (Deborah Ethel B.) J.E.B. (Jeb Evan B.) L.I.B. (Libbie Ione B.) R.O.B. (Robert Orville B.) S.E.B. (Sebastian Everly B.) S.Y.B. (Sybil Yvette B.) T.A.B. (Tabitha Araminta B.) Z.E.B. (Zebulon Ezekiel B.)
B.E.C. (Becky Eowyn C.) M.A.C. (Mackenzie Anne C.) N.I.C. (Nicole Isabelle C.) V.I.C. (Victor Ivan C.) Z.A.C. (Zackary Arlo C.)
J.E.D. (Jedidiah Easton D.) R.O.D. (Rodney Orrin D.) T.E.D. (Theodora Eugenia D.) Z.E.D. (Zedekiah Ezra D.)
A.B.E. (Abraham Benjamin E.) A.C.E. (Ace Corbin E.) E.V.E. (Eve Violet E.) F.A.E. (Fae Adina E.) I.K.E. (Isaac Keith E.) J.O.E. (Joseph Owen E.) L.E.E. (Lee Ethan E.) M.A.E. (Maebelle Alice E.) M.O.E. (Morris Oscar E.) R.A.E. (Raelene Alicia E.) S.U.E. (Susan Ursula E.) Z.O.E. (Zoe Ocean E.)
C.A.L. (Callum Audley L.) D.E.L. (Delaney Estelle L.) G.I.L. (Gilbert Ishmael L.) H.A.L. (Harry Archibald L.) L.I.L. (Lillian Iva L.) M.A.L. (Malcolm Angus L.) M.E.L. (Melanie Eloisa L.) M.O.L. (Molly Odette L.) S.A.L. (Sally Angelica L.) S.O.L. (Solomon Osborn L.) V.A.L. (Valerie Annette L.) W.I.L. (Willy Ingo L.) Z.E.L. (Zelda Erin L.)
C.A.M. (Cameron Aidan M.) D.O.M. (Dominic Orson M.) J.E.M. (Jemima Eleanor M.) J.I.M. (James Irvin M.) K.I.M. (Kimberly Imogene M.) L.E.M. (Lemuel Emerson M.) P.A.M. (Pamela Alys M.) R.A.M. (Ramsey Archer M.) S.A.M. (Samuel Aaron M.) S.I.M. (Simon Isidore M.) T.A.M. (Tammy Anita M.) T.I.M. (Timothy Isaac M.) T.O.M. (Thomas Owen M.)
B.A.X. (Baxter Andrew X.) D.A.X. (Dax Alec X.) D.E.X. (Dexter Edison X.) J.A.X. (Jaxon Antony X.) L.E.X. (Lexie Eliza X.) M.A.X. (Maximus Alvin X.) P.A.X. (Pax Amelia X.) R.E.X. (Rex Elias X.) R.O.X. (Roxanna Opal X.) T.E.X. (Tex Emmanuel X.)
A.M.Y. (Amy Michelle Y.) G.U.Y. (Guy Urban Y.) I.V.Y. (Ivy Verity Y.) J.A.Y. (Jay Adam Y.) J.O.Y. (Joyce Ondina Y.) K.A.Y. (Katherine Addison Y.) M.A.Y. (May Augusta Y.) R.A.Y. (Raymond Adrian Y.) R.O.Y. (Royce Oberon Y.) S.K.Y. (Skylar Kerry Y.)