About Names: We can thank pop culture for scores of Gen X Amys

Singer Amy Winehouse; Greg Gebhardt from Laguna Beach, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 23rd column, he looks at the history of the name Amy.

Amy is the English version of medieval French Amée, “beloved,” itself from Latin “Amata.” Saint Amata, who died around 1250, was an Italian girl miraculously healed by her aunt, St. Clare of Assisi. By 1320, Amy was well-used by England’s Norman French-speaking aristocracy. It was among the Top 50 names for English girls baptized between 1538 and 1700.

The most famous Amy then was Amy Robsart Dudley (1532-1560), first wife of Queen Elizabeth I’s favorite Robert Dudley. She was found dead of a broken neck at the foot of a flight of stairs. Though both a 1560 coroner’s jury and most modern historians conclude this was accidental, rumors abounded that Dudley murdered Amy in hopes he could then marry the queen.

In 1880, Amy ranked No. 108 on Social Security’s first yearly baby name list. It steadily declined, bottoming out at No. 364 in 1933. By 1948, Amy inched back up to No. 310. That year “Where’s Charley?”, Frank Loesser’s musical based on British author Brandon Thomas’ play “Charley’s Aunt,” began a two-year run on Broadway. Its hit song “Once In Love With Amy (always in love with Amy)” became star Ray Bolger’s signature. He often sang it on 1950s television variety shows. Both Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra recorded it.

Call for Interviewees on the Baby Names Podcast!

We’re seeking name experts to be interviewed on this season of The Baby Names Podcast. We’ve already featured many ANS scholars on the show and always get an amazing response. The podcast is hosted by longtime ANS member Jennifer Moss.

The Baby Names Podcast receives over 10,000 listeners PER DAY and it’s growing fast. We promote it through our site and social media and are happy to link to your social accounts and/or research. Here’s our lineup for seasons 4 & 5 – If you have an expertise in any of the subjects – or want to pitch your favorite name topic,  please reach out!
  • Puritanical Names
  • Italian Names
  • Hebrew/Jewish Names
  • Early 20th Century Naming 1900-1930
  • Cultural Appropriation and Names
  • Naming Trends
  • Chinese Names
  • Japanese Names
  • Slavic Names
Email Jennifer Moss, jennifer@babynames.com, to submit yourself for a topic…or to suggest one!

Call for Papers: Special Journal Issue of NAMES devoted to Children’s Literature, Names, and Naming

The American Name Society (ANS) is issuing its first call for abstracts for an upcoming special issue of the Society’s journal, NAMES.  This issue will be devoted to analysis and discussion of children’s literature, names, and naming. For many of us, one of the earliest and fondest memories includes story-time, when we discovered tales that had the power to inspire, calm, or chill the spirit.  Although over the years, the plots of most of those  stories may have faded from our memories, the names of many of those main characters and the fictional places they inhabited, have managed to survive.  For an upcoming special issue of NAMES, onomastic scholars and names enthusiasts are warmly invited to re-ignite that early childhood fascination and submit a paper that explores names and naming in literature intended for children and/or adolescents.  From the names of places, people, animals, and plants to the monikers of ferries, goblins, witches, and hobbits–any type of name from any period of time or language is welcome.  Papers examining author names, be they real or pseudonyms, are also invited.   The primary works examined may be fiction or non-fiction. The only stipulation for submission is that the primary intended reading audience of the piece(s)  of literature investigated must be children and/or adolescents/juveniles.

Proposal Submission Process

  • Abstract proposals (max. 500 words, excluding the title and references) should be sent as a PDF email attachment to Dr. I. M. Nick (nameseditor@gmail.com)
  • For organizational purposes, the proposals must include “CHILD2020” in the subject line of the email
  • All proposals must include an abstract, title, and a preliminary list of references;
    the full name(s) of the author(s), the author(‘s’) affiliation(s) must appear in the body of the email and NOT the abstract itself
  • In the case of multi-authored submission, one person must be clearly designated as the primary contact
  • The DEADLINE for abstract submission is June 15, 2021. Authors will be notified about acceptance on or by July 15, 2021
  • Final papers (max 5,000 words, excluding abstracts and references) will be due October 15, 2021

For further information about this call, please feel free to contact Dr. I. M. Nick (nameseditor@gmail.com).

NAMES Vol 69 Issue #1 is published!

We are delighted to announce that the new issue of NAMES is now published! NAMES 69:1 is available online at its new home at the University of Pittsburgh as an open access journal.

All articles in this and past journals are available for free, as downloadable PDFs.

If you are a subscriber to the print version of the journal, it should be arriving at your address in a couple of weeks.

About Names: 2020 Name of the Year no surprise given dominance of politics, pandemic

Vice President Kamala Harris

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his January 31st column, he reviews the ANS Names of the Year.

Pandemic and politics dominated names last year, along with the rest of our lives.
This year, like most organizations, the American Name Society (ANS) held its annual meeting online. On Jan. 24, ANS voted COVID-19 and Kamala as co-winners of the Name of the Year – the first time ANS has had a tie, fitting how unique 2020 was!
ANS chooses Names of the Year for Place Names, Artistic-Literary Names, Personal Names, Trade Names, ENames and Miscellaneous Names before picking the overall Name of the Year.

COVID-19 won the Miscellaneous Names category. On Feb. 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced “COVID-19” as the official name for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It’s short for “coronavirus disease first recognized in 2019.” Certainly no name, not even created until six weeks after a year started, has ever dominated the world’s consciousness as COVID-19 has.

Kamala was a nominee for Personal Name of the Year. The first name of our new vice president, Kamala Devi Harris, became an issue when U.S. Sen. David Perdue of Georgia referred to her as “KAH-mah-la, or Kah-MAH-la, or KAH-mah-la or Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever,” at a Trump rally on Oct. 16. This mockery, considered racist by many, led Perdue Foods to issue a statement pointing out the senator had no connection to them, and was widely perceived as one reason why Perdue was forced into a runoff with Jon Ossoff in the November election. He lost the runoff on Jan. 5. Kamala, pronounced “Comma-lah”, is a Sanskrit name meaning “lotus,” inspired by the Hindu heritage of Shyamala Gopalan, Harris’ mother.