About Names: Where did the name Glenda come from? And where did it go?

British actor Glenda Jackson

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 9th column, he looks at the history of the name Glenda.

Glenda is a modern name with obscure origins. Most baby name books claim it’s from the Welsh words glân, “clean, pure,” and da, “good”. Welsh pride created many names from Welsh words in the early 20th century. Delwyn (“pretty and fair”) and Tegan (“lovely”) are two examples.

The problem with the Welsh theory is that the earliest examples of Glenda in census records aren’t related to Wales. The first example in Britain, Glenda Day, was born in 1864 in Somerset, with most other early examples near London. The first Welsh Glenda doesn’t show up until 1910. It’s probable Glenda was originally created another way and reinterpreted with the Welsh meaning.

Glenda skyrocketed 136% between 1932 and 1933, when 680 arrived. Its boom continued until 1944, when the 3,366 born ranked it 79th. Glenda stayed among the top hundred through 1952.

Glinda, the good witch in L. Frank Baum’s famous 1900 children’s book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (played by Billie Burke in the 1939 film), often is misremembered as “Glenda.” Glinda was ignored as a baby name, however, until Linda became popular. Glinda was in the top thousand between 1944 and 1955, peaking at 733rd in 1951. Glinda is nonexistent as a baby name today, despite the popularity of Oz spinoffs like “Wicked.”

The coronavirus has inspired a wave of virus-related baby names

While parents are often inspired by their favourite film character or the names of lost loved ones when choosing the perfect moniker, the coronavirus outbreak has influenced couples around the world to chose novel names related to the crisis.

After giving birth to twins during lockdown on 27 March, a couple in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh named their babies Covid and Corona. In a similar vein to other virus-themed names, another Indian couple chose to call their child Lockdown. In a bid to raise awareness of the importance of hygiene during the pandemic, a father from Uttar Pradesh, India, named his newborn baby Sanitiser on Sunday 19 April. Describing the choice as a “contribution” to the fight against Covid-19, Omveer Singh told India Today Television: “We have named our baby ‘Sanitiser’ because it is being used by everyone at present to deter the spread of germs on our hands.”

About Names: Hollywood stars helped deliver a rebirth for the French name Renée

Professional tennis player Renée Richards

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his April 25th column, he looks at the history of the name Renée.

Renée is the feminine of René, French form of Renatus, Latin “born again.” The name was created by early Christians to commemorate their symbolic rebirth in baptism. By 1300, French girls were being named Renée. In 1510, King Louis XII gave his second daughter the name.

Despite Renée of France’s fame as a Protestant heroine, before 1864, Renée was nearly nonexistent as a baby name in the United States. Then French brothers Edmond and Jules de Goncourt (for whom the Prix Goncourt, France’s most important fiction prize, is named) published “Renée Mauperin,” the tragic tale of a young woman who wastes away from heart disease after her beloved brother is murdered by a French nobleman. It went through several English-language editions the next 30 years.

Renee first became a Top 1,000 baby name in 1905. It got a big boost from French-born silent film star Renée Adorée (1898-1933). Adorée moved to Hollywood in 1920. She became a star in 1925’s “The Big Parade” as Melisande, a French girl loved by American soldier Jim (John Gilbert). The film, rated by critics as one of the best silents, was a box-office smash.

Renee left the Top 1,000 list of first names in 2018. As the typical Renee turns 53 this year, that’s to be expected. In another 40 years, Renée can be reborn again for babies.

How Atlanta got its name

Atlanta was named by J. Edgar Thomson, Chief Engineer of the Georgia Railroad. The city was named for former Governor Wilson Lumpkin’s daughter’s. Her middle name was Atalanta, after the fleet-footed goddess.

Early settlers called the area Canebreak or Canebrake. In 1835, the federal government recognized the area with the Whitehall Post Office. Hardy Ivy was an early citizen and it was on his property that Stephen Long established the end of the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Colonel Abbott Hall Brisbane, Chief Engineer of the W&A named the area Terminus in September, 1837. The name Terminus was never an official name and between 1837 and 1842 the area was also called Deanville (for Lemuel Dean) and Thrasherville (for John J. Thrasher).

In 1842 former governor Wilson Lumpkin, then president of the W&A suggested either the name Lumpkin or Mitchell for the town (Samuel Mitchell had given land to build the actual terminus). On December 23, 1842, the tiny town was incorporated as Marthasville in honor of his daughter, Martha Atalanta.

About Names: Leona: A tribute to a mother who set a good example by always helping others

Leona Frances Evans, mother of names columnist Cleveland Evans. She died April 2, 2020, in Tennessee. She was 98. This photo was taken at Christmas 2016.

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his April 11th column, he tells the story of his mother, Leona Frances Evans.

This column was first published in November 2009. It’s being reprinted in memory of Evans’ mother, Leona Frances Evans. She died April 2 in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. She was 98.

Leona is the feminine form of Leo or Leon, Latin and Greek forms of an ancient name meaning “lion.” Leo became a famous name in 440 when Leo I was elected pope. Called Leo the Great, he was the first to assert the primacy of Rome within the Catholic Church.

During the early 1800s Leona turned up occasionally as a baby name in England and Germany, but it became popular only in the United States. Between 1896 and 1921, Leona was among the top 100 names for American girls, peaking at 69th place in 1905.

Want to know more? Read on to find out!

About Names: It’s not the popular name it used to be, but Rita is the patron saint of lost causes

Rita Moreno, actor

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his March 28th column, he looks at the history of the name Rita.

Rita is a short form of Margherita or Margarita, Italian and Spanish forms of Margaret, from Greek margarites (pearl). The fame of legendary St. Margaret of Antioch, swallowed by a dragon that burst open because of her holiness, made her name common across medieval Europe.

Rita became a name in its own right through St. Rita of Cascia (1381-1457). Born Margherita Lotti, Rita was married against her will at age 12 to wealthy but violently abusive Paolo Mancini. Over 18 years, her patience and prayers reformed him. After Paolo was stabbed to death in a vendetta, Rita’s example of forgiveness ended the feud. She entered a convent at Cascia, legendarily levitated into its courtyard by her patron saints.

Rita ranked between 52nd and 60th all through the 1940s. As Rita Hayworth’s reign as “Love Goddess” waned, the name began its inevitable retreat, finally leaving the top 1,000 in 2003. Novelist Rita Mae Brown (1944), recording artist Rita Coolidge (1945) and comedian Rita Rudner (1953) are famous Ritas born during Hayward’s heyday. Actress and film producer Rita Wilson (1956) is newsworthy now, as she and husband Tom Hanks were among the first celebrities to announce that they had tested positive for COVID-19.

Rita Moreno, now 88, won a best supporting actress Oscar in 1961 for “West Side Story.” She went on to win a Grammy, a Tony and two Emmys, one of only 12 artists to win all four.

About Names: ‘Peter Pan’ gave Wendy wings, but the name has fallen back down to earth

Guitarist Wendy Melvoin

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 29th column, he looks at the history of the name Wendy.

“Peter Pan” began as a 1904 play by Scottish author J.M. Barrie (1860-1937). He named Wendy in honor of Margaret Henley (1888-1894). Daughter of poet William Ernest Henley, Margaret died of meningitis at age 5. She called Barrie “Fwendy-wendy,” inspiring Wendy Darling’s name. Many names (including Vanessa, Pamela and Dorian) are author creations, and “friend” is a great meaning. Still, many commentators seem embarrassed by Wendy’s baby-talk origin and insist it’s a form of Gwendoline. There really isn’t good evidence that Wendy was used as a pet form of Gwendoline before Barrie’s play.

Wendy is an English place name and surname. Wendy is a hamlet in Cambridgeshire, meaning “island at a river bend” in Old English.

Today’s most famous Wendy is probably “Wendy” Thomas (born 1961), whose father, Dave, named his hamburger chain Wendy’s after her in 1969. Befitting a name created from baby talk, Wendy is a nickname from her childhood mispronunciation of Melinda.

Shall we rename Spanish Flu ‘1918 Influenza Pandemic’?

President Trump has recently taken to referring to the coronavirus outbreak, also known as Covid-19, as the “Chinese Virus,” and has been accused of racism and xenophobia for doing so.

A common response is to point out that the Spanish Flu is the most common name for the flu outbreak that took place after the end of the First World War – so, of course, this is being retconned.

On the Talk page for the “Spanish Flu” Wikipedia article, there is a raging debate going on as to whether to rename the page to the “1918 Influenza Pandemic.” Some commentors claimed that the name “Spanish Flu” is racist, just as “Chinese Flu” is racist, with others swearing that they definitely hadn’t referred to the pandemic as the “Spanish Flu” before.

The Army doesn’t plan on renaming 10 installations named for Confederate leaders

In the wake of news that the Marine Corps is banning Confederate paraphernalia from its installations, the Army says it does not plan to rename its bases and facilities that were long ago named after Confederate leaders.

The Confederate history of several Army installations was brought back into the news following the publication of a new order from Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger which directed any and all Confederate-related paraphernalia be removed from Corps installations.

As military historian Army Maj. Mark Herbert wrote in 2017, the first wave of new installations named after Confederate leaders emerged after the U.S. entered World War I. Those bases were originally named after “war heroes or prominent figures in American history,” Herbert wrote, but in several instances the naming decisions “were left up to local commanders.”