Where did the baby name Alprentice come from in 1970?

American activists John Huggins (1945-1969) and Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter (1942-1969).
John Huggins and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter

On January 17, 1969, on the campus of UCLA, a dispute broke out during a meeting of the African Student Union. The dispute turned violent and, ultimately, two members of the Black Panther Party — Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, 26, and John Huggins, 23 — were shot and killed by a member of a rival group, the black nationalist US Organization.

The next year, the rare name Alprentice appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data. It stayed there for a total of three years:

  • 1973: unlisted
  • 1972: 5 baby boys named Alprentice
  • 1971: 5 baby boys named Alprentice
  • 1970: 7 baby boys named Alprentice [debut]
  • 1969: unlisted

Both Carter and Huggins “had been accepted for UCLA’s “high potential” program for minority students who do not otherwise qualify academically for admission.”

In 2010, a plaque in memory of the men (“slain in the ongoing struggle for student empowerment and social justice”) was hung outside the classroom in which they were killed.

I’m not sure where Alprentice’s first name came from, but his nickname, “Bunchy,” was bestowed by one of his grandmother’s friends when he was a baby. Here’s how his mother, Nola Mae Carter, told the story:

“He was real plump when he was a baby, and she came and she started […] calling him Bunchy. And that’s how he got Bunchy” — like a bunch of greens.


Image from the Sun-Telegram [San Bernardino, CA], 19 Jan. 1969, page 1.

How did the Hanafi Siege influence baby names in 1977?

Newspaper clipping about the Hanafi Siege (NY Daily News, Mar. 10, 1977)
News of the Hanafi Siege

On March 9, 1977, a dozen Hanafi Muslim gunmen led by Hamaas Abdul Khaalis invaded the B’nai B’rith building in Washington, D.C., and took hostages.

They ended up storming three buildings in the city that day, taking 149 hostages in total.

About 40 hours later, negotiators (with the help of Muslim ambassadors from Iran, Egypt and Pakistan) were able to convince the gunmen to surrender. Just one person was killed during the siege.

News of the Hanafi Siege gripped the nation for several days, and we can see the effect of this in the U.S. baby name data. In 1977, both Khaalis and Bnai appeared in the data for the first time:

Boys named KhaalisGirls named KhaalisGirls named Bnai

Khaalis was a rare dual-gender debut, while Bnai ended up being a one-hit wonder that never returned to the charts.

Hamaas Abdul Khaalis was the founder of the Hanafi Movement, a breakaway group of the Nation of Islam. His birth name was Ernest Timothy McGee.

The Jewish organization B’nai B’rith, meaning “sons of the covenant,” was founded by German-Jewish immigrants in New York City in the 1840s. The word B’nai is based on the Hebrew word b’né, the plural form of ben, meaning “son.” (The element ben can be seen in Biblical names like Benjamin and Reuben.)

Sources: 40 Years Later: Remembering the Hanafi Siege That Paralyzed DC, The day terrorists took D.C. hostage, About Us – B’nai B’rith International, Hanafi Siege: Gunmen raid D.C. buildings in 1977, killing one and wounding at least 12
Image: © 1977 New York Daily News

What brought the baby name Wanakee back in 1982?

African-American fashion model Wanakee Pugh on the cover of Ebony magazine (Jan. 1983).
Wanakee Pugh

The unusual name Wanakee popped up in the U.S. baby name data once in the late 1950s, then returned for a stretch in during the 1980s:

  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: 6 baby girls named Wanakee
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: 8 baby girls named Wanakee
  • 1983: 8 baby girls named Wanakee
  • 1982: 10 baby girls named Wanakee
  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: unlisted

What brought it back?

African-American fashion model Wanakee (pronounced WAH-nah-kee) Pugh — known mononymously as Wanakee over the course of her modeling career, which spanned the 1980s and ’90s.

Pugh’s career took off in the [early] 1980s as she rose to the status of “top model” […] She graced the fashion runways and faced the flashbulbs of New York City, Paris and Milan, and her face was seen on dozens of magazine covers and advertising campaigns.

Those covers included Vogue, Glamour, Self, Essence, and Ebony.

Here’s how Ebony described the start of Wanakee’s career in the mid-1980s:

Wanakee was employed as a fashion illustrator when, at the urging of her mother, she traveled to Detroit to try her hand at modeling. Her career really took off four years ago, when she moved to New York.

In New York, Wanakee’s big break came when future fashion designer Vera Wang — at that time working as an editor at Vogue — decided to feature Wanakee as a “new face” in the magazine.

How Pugh came to be named Wanakee I don’t know, but I do know that the name has been used for a handful of Native American characters in the movies and on TV.

It’s also a geographical name. There’s a village in Wisconsin called Waunakee, for instance. The village’s name was likely based on the Ojibwa word wanaki, defined by a mid-19th-century missionary as: “I inhabit a place in peace, undisturbed, I live somewhere in peace.”

What are your thoughts on the name Wanakee?


Image: © 1983 Ebony

How did DePrise Brescia influence baby names?

Swimsuit model DePrise Brescia
DePrise Brescia

The rare name Deprise appeared in the U.S. baby name data for three consecutive years:

  • 1994: unlisted
  • 1993: 5 baby girls named Deprise
  • 1992: 12 baby girls named Deprise
  • 1991: 5 baby girls named Deprise [debut]
  • 1990: unlisted

The even rarer name Brescia was a one-hit wonder in the data a few years later:

  • 1997: unlisted
  • 1996: unlisted
  • 1995: 5 baby girls named Brescia [debut]
  • 1994: unlisted
  • 1993: unlisted

I’m pretty sure the source of both names is a single person: swimsuit model and actress DePrise Brescia, pronounced deh-PREESS — think “Denise” — BRESH-uh.

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason, though.

During the early-to-mid ’90s, she was one of the co-hosts on ESPN’s workout show BodyShaping (1988-98), she was featured in multiple Bikini Open pay-per-view specials (as was Symba Smith of Star Search), and she had small roles on several television shows (like Silk Stalkings and Renegade).

I’ve seen her first name rendered various ways (e.g., Deprise, De Prise) but I don’t know how it was coined.

Her surname, on the other hand, has a straightforward explanation: it refers to the city of Brescia in northern Italy.

What are your thoughts on the names DePrise and Brescia? Which one do you like better as a baby name?


Where did the baby name Cybele come from in 1963?

The character Cybele from the movie "Sundays and Cybele" (1963).
Cybèle from “Sundays and Cybèle

The ancient name Cybele first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in relatively modern times — the 1960s.

  • 1965: 14 baby girls named Cybele
  • 1964: 16 baby girls named Cybele
  • 1963: 15 baby girls named Cybele [debut]
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted

The variant spelling Cybelle debuted the same year.

Where did they come from?

A 1962 French film called Les dimanches de Ville d’Avray (The Sundays of Ville d’Avray), which was later re-titled for English audiences: Sundays and Cybèle. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in April of 1963.

The movie followed an emotionally damaged war veteran named Pierre (played by Hardy Krüger) as he starts an innocent friendship with a neglected schoolgirl named Cybèle (played by 11-year-old Patricia Gozzi). Their relationship “ultimately ignites the suspicion and anger of his friends and neighbors in suburban Paris,” with tragic results.

Cybele was pronounced sih-BELL by the American media at the time. The name ultimately comes from the name of the Greco-Roman mother goddess, Cybele.

What are your thoughts on this name?

Sources: Sundays and Cybele – Wikipedia, Sundays and Cybèle (1962) – The Criterion Collection