Where did the baby name Condoleezza come from in 2005?

American political scientist Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice

The curious name Condoleezza was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 2005:

  • 2007: unlisted
  • 2006: unlisted
  • 2005: 5 baby girls named Condoleezza [debut]
  • 2004: unlisted
  • 2003: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Condoleezza (pronounced kon-dah-LEE-zah) Rice, who, in January of 2005, was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of State under George W. Bush. She was the first African-American woman to hold the position.

(The two previous office-holders, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell, were the first woman and the first African-American secretaries of state, respectively.)

Condoleezza “Condi” Rice was born in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, in 1954. How did she come to have her unusual first name? Here’s how she told the story in her 2012 memoir:

[Mother] wanted a name that would be unique and musical. Looking to Italian musical terms for inspiration, she at first settled on Andantino. But realizing that it translated as “moving slowly,” she decided that she didn’t like the implications for that name. Allegro was worse because it translated as “fast,” and no mother in 1954 wanted her daughter to be thought of as “fast.” Finally she found the musical terms con dolce and con dolcezza, meaning “with sweetness.” Deciding that an English speaker would never recognize the hard c, saying “dolci” instead of “dolche,” my mother doctored the term. She settled on Condoleezza.

Just last month, Condoleezza Rice mentioned in a tweet that she’d met one of her namesakes, Duke University student Condoleezza Dorvil:

What are your thoughts on the name Condoleezza?

P.S. When Condoleezza Rice was a student at the University of Denver during the 1970s, her mentor was professor Josef Korbel — a Czech-American political scientist who just so happened to be the father of Madeleine Albright (who was born in Prague in 1937).


Image: Adapted from Condoleezza Rice (public domain)

Baby born in Australia, named after Melbourne Cup winner (1894)

Patron (Melbourne Cup-winning horse)

In 1894, the winner of Melbourne Cup — a horse race that’s been held in Australia every year since the early 1860s — was a horse named Patron (ridden by a jockey named Henry Dawes).

The day of the race, a baby girl “was born in one of the dressing rooms at Flemington [Racecourse].”

Her name? Patrona.

Source: “Born at Flemington.” Smith’s Weekly 20 Sept. 1919: 8.

Image: Adapted from Patron, 1894 Melbourne Cup winner postcard (public domain)

What gave the baby name Cadel a nudge in the early 2010s?

Australian cyclist Cadel Evans
Cadel Evans

Last week, the Los Angeles Times profiled a 12-year-old girl named Evan Kim who ran the Ventura Marathon and placed second among all females with a time of 2 hours and 58 minutes.

How did she come to have the (typically male) name Evan?

Born into a family of athletes in 2012, she was named after Cadel Evans, the cyclist who won the Tour de France the year prior.

Cadel (pronounced kuh-DEL) Evans is the only Australian to have ever won the Tour de France. I don’t know how many other U.S. babies were named “Evan” after Evans, but dozens were named Cadel:

  • 2013: 10 baby boys named Cadel
  • 2012: 19 baby boys named Cadel [peak usage]
  • 2011: 17 baby boys named Cadel
  • 2010: 12 baby boys named Cadel
  • 2009: 12 baby boys named Cadel
  • 2008: 14 baby boys named Cadel
  • 2007: 14 baby boys named Cadel
  • 2006: 8 baby boys named Cadel
  • 2005: 6 baby boys named Cadel [debut]
  • 2004: unlisted

In fact, usage of the name tracks with Cadel Evans’ Tour de France career: He first participated in 2005, he placed second in both 2007 and 2008, and he finally won in 2011.

His first name is a simplified spelling of the Welsh name Cadell, which can be traced back to the Old Welsh word cat, meaning “battle.” (One of Evans’ great-grandfathers immigrated to Australia from Wales.)

What are your thoughts on the name Cadel? (How about on Evan as a girl name?)

P.S. Another young runner we’ve talked about is Nasiya Jobe, and another professional cyclist we’ve talked about is Lance Armstrong.


Image: Adapted from CadelEvans by troye owens under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Baby name story: Valor

Actress Valora Noland (1941-2022)
Valora Noland

American actress Valora Noland played minor roles in various movies and TV shows during the 1960s.

Her real name wasn’t Valora Noland, though. It was Valor Baum.

She was born to Franz and Abigail “Abby” Baum of Seattle, Washington, on December 8, 1941 — the day the United States formally entered WWII (following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor one day earlier).

Abby — recalling that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had spoken the somber words, “Death and sorrow will be the companions of our journey; hardship our garment; constancy and valor our only shield” — was inspired to name the baby girl Valor.

Valor Baum later added an “a” to the end of her first name. Later still, when she decided to become an actress, she began using the surname Noland.

Interestingly, the baby name Valora saw peak usage in the U.S. in 1963 — the year Valora Noland was profiled in a July issue TV Guide (which was being read by millions of Americans every week at that time).

What are your thoughts on the name Valora?

P.S. Churchill’s words came from a speech he gave to the House of Commons in October of 1940. (He also mentioned the effectiveness of the Anderson shelter in this speech.)


Image: Screenshot of The War Wagon