The name Scheherazade (pronounced sheh-hehr-uh-zahd) comes to us from classic literature: Scheherazade was the wife of the sultan Shahryar in The Arabian Nights*, the collection of Middle Eastern and Indian folk tales first published in English in the early 18th century.
The name didn’t appear in the U.S. baby name data, though, until 1948:
1948: 5 baby girls named Scheherazade [debut]
What put it there?
My guess is the movie Song of Scheherazade, which was released in March of 1947. The main female character, Cara de Talavera (played by actress Yvonne De Carlo), moonlighted as a cabaret dancer known as Scheherazade.
(The name might have debuted earlier had the 1942 film Arabian Nights similarly featured Scheherazade’s name in the title.)
So…what does the name Scheherazade mean? Good question. Sources agree that it’s Persian, but don’t agree on the definition. One defintion I’ve found is “city-freer.” Another is “born to a good race” (which reminds of the definition of Eugene: “well-born”).
What are your thoughts on the baby name Scheherazade? Would you considering using it?
Mernissi, Fatema. Scheherazade Goes West: Different Cultures, Different Harems. New York: Washington Square Press, 2001.
Nurse, Paul McMichael. Eastern Dreams: How The Arabian Nights Came To The World. Ontario: Penguin, 2010.
*Shahryar and Scheherazade are part of the collection’s frame story. Scheherazade — like all of the sultan’s previous wives — had been sentenced to die. (Not because of something she did; the sultan had a habit of killing his wives, because he presumed they would all be unfaithful.) So, every night, clever Scheherazade told Shahryar a story that ended with a cliffhanger. Because the sultan always wanted to hear the ending, he kept putting off Scheherazade’s execution…
“140” boy names: Dontavious, Markanthony, Fitzwilliam, Prometheus
5 via 149
The boy name Montavious adds up to 149, which reduces to five (1+4+9=14; 1+4=5).
What Does “5” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “5” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “5” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“5” (the pentad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“They called the pentad ‘lack of strife,’ not only because aether, the fifth element, which is set apart on its own, remains unchanging, while there is strife and change among the things under it, from the moon to the Earth, but also because the primary two different and dissimilar kinds of number, even and odd, are as it were reconciled and knitted together by the pentad”
“The pentad is the first number to encompass the specific identity of all number[s], since it encompasses 2, the first even number, and 3, the first odd number. Hence it is called ‘marriage,’ since it is formed of male and female.”
“The pentad is highly expressive of justice, and justice comprehends all the other virtues […] it is a kind of justice, on the analogy of a weighing instrument.” (i.e., It is the central number in the row of numbers from 1 to 9.)
“Because it levels out inequality, they call it ‘Providence’ and ‘justice’ (division, as it were) […] Likewise, it is called ‘nuptial’ and ‘androgyny’ and ‘demigod’ – the latter not only because it is half of ten, which is divine, but also because in its special diagram it is assigned the central place. And it is called ‘twin’ because it divides in two the decad, which is otherwise indivisible […] and ‘heart-like’ because of the analogy of the heart being assigned the center in living creatures.”
“Nature separated each of the extremities of our bodily part (I mean, the extremities of our feet and hands) in a five-fold way, into fingers and toes.”
“5” according to Edgar Cayce:
“Five – a change imminent, ever, in the activities of whatever influence with which it may be associated” (reading 261-14).
“Five – as seen, a change” (reading 5751-1).
“Five always active – and double the two, and one – or three and two, which it is the sum of. Hence, as is questioned here, no factor is more active than would be that of a five…in any activity. Five being the active number” (reading 137-119).
Does “5” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 23, 50, 77, 131) — 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 “23” reminds you of chromosomes and genetics, 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 5, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
“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.
In last week’s “lowest ever” boy names post, I mentioned that reader Caitlin had shared her research on downward-trending baby names with me recently. While many girl names hit relative lows in 2017, for instance…
Sarah, now ranked 62nd — lowest ranking since 1970.
Rachel, now ranked 195th — lowest ranking since 1960.
Melissa, now ranked 273rd — lowest ranking since 1949.
…a couple of the names on her list, Rebecca and Catherine, hit their “lowest ever” rankings last year. (Plus there was Katherine, a borderline case of a lowest-ever tie.)
So I set out to find other “lowest ever” girl names.
Many of the names I checked (like Clare, Lea, and Bridget) hit a low in 2017, but it wasn’t their all-time low. Many others (like Pauline, Sara, and Mary) hit a low recently, but not as recently as 2017. Still others (like Yvonne) had to be disqualified because, even though they hit their lowest ranking on record in 2017, they didn’t appear in the data for all 138 years (1880-2017)…an issue I didn’t encounter with any of the boy names.
In the end, I was able to add a dozen thirteen names to the list:
Ann. Ranked 1,023rd in 2017; peak was 28th in the 1930s.
Barbara. Ranked 908th in 2017; peak was 2nd in the 1930s/1940s.
Carol. Ranked 1,814th in 2017; peak was 4th in the 1940s.
Catherine. Ranked 198th in 2017; peak was 18th in the 1910s.
Celia. Ranked 857th in 2017; peak was 141st in the 1880s.
Cynthia. Ranked 637th in 2017; peak was 7th in the 1950s.
Elisabeth. Ranked 775th in 2017; peak was 286th in the 2000s.
Katherine. Ranked 105th in 2017 + 1938; peak 25th in the 1990s.
Kathleen. Ranked 871st in 2017; peak was 9th in the 1940s. (Late addition–thanks Kelly!)
Linda. Ranked 708th in 2017; peak was 1st in 1940s/1950s.
Priscilla. Ranked 527th in 2017; peak was 127th in the 1940s.
Rebecca. Ranked 216th in 2017; peak was 10th in the 1970s.
Rosa. Ranked 672nd in 2017; peak was 52nd in the 1880s.
Susan. Ranked 963rd in 2017; peak was 2nd in the 1950s/1960s.
Teresa. Ranked 720th in 2017; peak was 18th in the 1960s.
Tressa. Ranked 9242nd in 2017; peak was 761st in the 1960s.
That makes 15 (or 16, if you count Katherine). I certainly could have missed a few, though, so if you can think of a good candidate, please let me know in the comments and I’ll take a look.
The Five Moons were five professional ballerinas — all born in the 1920s, all with Native American ancestry, and all with roots in the state of Oklahoma — who achieved international success in the mid-20th century. Their names were:
Moscelyne (pronounced moss-eh-leen) Larkin
(Maria and Marjorie were sisters.)
“Oklahoma’s five American Indian ballerinas would all premiere with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo: Hightower debuted in 1938, Maria Tallchief in 1942, Chouteau in 1943, Marjorie Tallchief in 1946 and Larkin in 1948.”