About Names: Dr. Cleveland Evans on the name “Axel”

Viennese Cellist Axel Simonsen in a photo dated to 1915 (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 30th column, he discusses the name “Axel”.

Axel is back investigating crime in Beverly Hills on Wednesday.

“Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F” premieres on Netflix on July 3. Thirty years after his last appearance, Detroit policeman Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) returns to California when conspirators threaten his daughter.

Axel’s derived from Hebrew Avshalom, “my father is peace.” Absalom in English Bibles and Absalon in Danish, it’s the name of a son of King David who leads a revolt against his father. During battle his long hair becomes entangled in a tree, allowing David’s general Joab to kill him.

Absalom was occasionally used in medieval Europe, sometimes as a nickname for a long-haired man. In Denmark, Absalon, bishop of Lund (1128-1201), was an advisor to King Valdemar I who led battles against Slavs and built a fortress where Copenhagen later developed. A famous equestrian statue of Absalon can be seen there today.

By 1400 Absalon shifted first to Axelen and then Axel in everyday Danish speech. The famous bishop himself was often called Axel. The name was popularized all over Scandinavia by Axel Pedersen Tott (c. 1375-1447), an advisor to Queen Margaret I when she’d unified Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Axel Oxenstierna (1583-1684) was Sweden’s ruling regent while Queen Christina was a child. Esaias Tegner’s romantic poem “Axel” (1822), where Swedish soldier Axel is saved by Russian girl Maria, who disguises herself as a Russian soldier to follow him and is herself killed in battle, cemented Axel’s popularity as a Swedish name.

Scandinavian immigrants brought Axel to America. The 1930 United States census found 15,195 Axels — 68% born in Sweden, Denmark or Norway.

Norwegian figure skater Axel Paulsen (1855-1938) publicized the name by inventing the “Axel jump” in 1882.

Enough Scandinavian-Americans named sons Axel for it to rank 336th in 1886. It then declined, leaving the top 1,000 in 1917. In 1982, only 25 American newborns were named Axel.

Axel had a slight rise after the first “Beverly Hills Cop” film appeared in 1984. The fame of Guns N’ Roses star Axl Rose (born William Rose Jr. in 1962) brought Axel back into the top 1,000 in 1989.

Axel grew slowly until suddenly skyrocketing 567% between 1999 and 2001. The cause? Mexican telenovela “DKDA: Sueños de juventud” (“DKDA: Dreams of youth”) which premiered in November 1999. There the teenage members of a rock band cope with sudden fame. One member, Axel Harris, (Patricio Borghetti) probably had a name inspired by Axl Rose. “DKDA” was a huge hit across Latin America, leading to the birth of thousands of Axels.

About Names: Dr. Cleveland Evans on the top Baby Names of 2023

Photo of a newborn (Photo by Kimberly Vardeman, CC-BY-2.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 19th column, he discusses the name the top Baby Names of 2023.

Sophia, Liam and Noah cemented their baby name popularity in 2023, while a soccer star and a country singer helped their names soar.

May 10 the Social Security Administration released the United States’ top baby names of 2023.

On SSA’s lists, Liam and Olivia have been No. 1 since 2019.

SSA counts every spelling separately. I add together spellings pronounced the same, creating lists I believe show popularity more accurately.

When alternative spellings like Jaxon were added, Jackson was first on my list from 2013 through 2020. Jackson’s now swiftly declining, only ranking fourth in 2023. Liam, Noah and Oliver are the top three on both my “combined spellings” list and Social Security’s single spelling version.

Liam rose 1.8% and Noah 2.2% last year, despite the total number of births declining 2.3%.

Liam and Noah are international hits. Both rank among the top 11 in Germany, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Quebec, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Argentina. Noah’s now No. 1 in England, Australia and New Zealand, where Liam had its heyday back in the 1990s.

After Jackson, the rest of my 2023 male top 10 were Mateo, Lucas, Elijah, Luca, James and Aiden. All were on the list in 2022, though Mateo, Lucas and Luca rose in rank.

Mateo increased 11.6%, fourth biggest percentage among the top 100. This Spanish form of Matthew is Liam and Noah’s counterpart in the Spanish-speaking world, ranking No. 1 in Chile and Argentina, and No. 2 in Mexico, Spain and Uruguay.

Thiago had the quickest rise among the top 100, soaring 28.3% from 112th to 84th. Thiago’s a Portuguese form of Santiago, “St. James” in Spanish. Much of Thiago’s popularity stems from international soccer star Thiago Alcântara, born 1991 in Italy to Brazilian parents. Like many soccer greats — including his father, Mazinho, who helped Brazil win 1994’s World Cup — Thiago is a one-name celebrity. He plays for Liverpool in England’s Premier League as well as the Spanish national team.

Another example of soccer fandom influencing baby names is that Kylian, French form of Irish saint’s name Cillian or Killian, is now the most common spelling for American newborns. Kylian Mbappé is captain of the French national team.

With Sofia and other spellings added, 19,836 Sophias arrived in 2023, 156 more than in 2022. Sophia’s been No. 1 since 2011. Traditional Spanish spelling Sofia accounted for 37% in 2022 and 38.5% in 2023.

The rest of the girls’ top 10 are Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Charlotte, Isabella, Mia, Evelyn, Camila and Eliana. Eliana nudged Ava out of the top 10. A saints’ name from a Roman family name meaning “sun,” Eliana’s also used in Israel, where it’s interpreted as Hebrew “God has answered.” Its sound fits in with other fashionable names like Isabella and Amelia.

Lainey was the fastest riser among the girls’ top 100, skyrocketing 91.4% to 55th from 140th. Lainey Wilson was the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year for 2023.

About Names: Dr. Cleveland Evans on the name “Stacy”

American politician Stacey Yvonne Abrams (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 4th column, he discusses the name “Stacy”.

Remember private eye Mike Hammer on “The New Mike Hammer” (1984-1987)? “Papa” Ken Titus on the sitcom “Titus” (2000-2002)? Ed Pegram, Woody’s former business partner in Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” (2013)?

Stacy Keach, who played them all, was born Walter Stacy Keach Jr. 83 years ago today.

Stacy and Stacey are surnames derived from a short form of Eustace, the English form of the Latin Eustachius, combining the Greek Eustathios “well-built” and Eustachys “fruitful.”

Eustace was common in medieval England in honor of St. Eustace, a Roman general martyred after refusing to sacrifice to idols.

Stacy became an official first name when the custom of giving surnames as first names began around 1700. England’s 1851 census found 51 men with Stacy or Stacey as a first name.

The 1850 U.S. Census, first listing all free residents’ names, found 603 male Stacys and Staceys. There were 243 (40%) born in New Jersey, which then had 2.1% of the total population.

In the 17th century, Quakers in England wanted to find somewhere to practice their religion freely. In 1676, Mahlon Stacy (1638-1704), a wealthy Yorkshire Quaker, bought shares in the West Jersey settlement. He sold part to his brother Robert Stacy, who founded Burlington, New Jersey, in 1677.

In 1679, Mahlon Stacy settled on the Delaware’s east bank at what later became Trenton. Though today the fame of William Penn, granted the west bank as Pennsylvania in 1681, eclipses that of the Stacys, it’s clear in 1850 their memory was still honored in New Jersey.

As a female name, Stacy was either from Eustacia, feminine of Eustace, or Anastasia, a saint’s name from Greek “resurrection.”

About Names: “Tammy” is now a Rare Name for Newborns

Tammy Wynette (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 5th column, he discusses the name “Tammy”.

“Stand By Your Man.” “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad.” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” Country singer Tammy Wynette (1942-1998), who made these songs huge hits, was born Virginia Wynette Pugh 82 years ago today.

Tàmhas is a Scottish Gaelic form of Thomas (Aramaic “twin”). Lavinia Derwent’s children’s stories about slippery talking fish “Tammy Troot” have helped keep Tammy a male nickname for Thomas in Scotland.

In medieval England, Thomasin, a feminine form of Thomas, developed into Tamsin, which remained popular in southwestern England long after disappearing elsewhere.

In 1841, England’s first census found 68 female Tammys, all but one born in southwestern England’s Devon or Cornwall. Though Tammy might also come from Old Testament name Tamar (Hebrew “date palm”), only three of England’s 840 Tamars in 1841 were born in Devon and none in Cornwall, so Tammy was surely from Tamsin there.

In 1850, the first United States census listing all free residents’ names found 79 female Tammys. Checking other records on Ancestry.com, some Tammys were Tamsins, but others, especially in New England, were officially Tamar, Tama or Tamma — the last two perhaps from how Tamar was said in 19th century New England accents.

Many of 1850’s Tammys, though, are “Tammy” everywhere, including on their tombstones.

When Social Security’s baby name data starts in 1880, not even five Tammys a year were being born. In the 1920s Tamara, Slavic version of Tamar, began appearing. Perhaps this brought Tammy back in 1934, when five arrived.

Tammy slowly grew along with Tamara, reaching the top thousand in 1947. Then in 1948, Cid Ricketts Sumner published novel “Tammy Out of Time,” about a rural Mississippi girl falling in love with a professor’s son whose plane crashes nearby.

Tammy says her full name is Tambrey, found in the book “Ladies’ Names and their Significance together with their Floral Emblems,” which says “Tambrey or Ambrey. Significance — immortal. Floral emblem — amaranth.”

In 1852 Sarah Carter published “Lexicon of Ladies’ Names With Their Floral Emblems,” one of the first American name books, which has just such an entry for Ambry — but Tambrey is purely Sumner’s invention.

In 1957 the novel became film “Tammy and the Bachelor” starring Debbie Reynolds. Its theme song, where Tammy’s “heart beats so joyfully, you’d think that he could hear,” was a hit for both Reynolds and the Ames Brothers, whose version was heard during the credits. Soon book and movie sequels appeared.

There were 256 Tammys born in 1956, and 9,987 in 1958 — over 39 times more. Tammy peaked in 1968, when 20,060 arrived, ranking it eighth. When spellings Tammie, Tami, Tammi and Tamie are added in, it ranked fifth. Tamara also took a big jump, though Tammy vaulted over it in popularity.

About Names: Dr. Evans on the name “Russell”

Bertrand Russell (Photo by Bassano 1936, Public Domain)

Bertrand Russell (Photo by Bassano 1936, Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his April 7th column, he discusses the name “Russell”.

Maximus, John Nash, Jor-El and Noah all turn 60 today.

Actor Russell Crowe, born in New Zealand April 7, 1964, won an Oscar playing Maximus in “Gladiator” (2000). He was Nash in “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), Superman’s dad in “Man of Steel” (2013) and the ark-builder in “Noah” (2014).

Russell’s an English surname derived from Norman French Rousel, a nickname for a redhead. There were 221,558 Americans with Russell as a last name in 2010, ranking it 104th.

When using surnames as first names became common after 1700, Russell was one of the first to turn up. It was the surname of two noble families in England. John Russell (1795-1883), a fox-hunting vicar who first bred Jack Russell terriers, descended from the less prominent Devonshire Russells.

More famous was John Russell of Dorset (1485-1555), who King Edward VII made Earl of Bedford in 1551. But it was his three-greats-grandson, Lord William Russell (1639-1683), who was most responsible for turning Russell into a common given name.

Lord William, younger son of the fifth Earl of Bedford, was accused of participating in the “Rye House Plot” to kill King Charles II and his brother James. Though Russell wanted Catholic James barred from inheriting the throne, he denied planning to kill the king. After Russell was beheaded, he became a martyr to the Whigs in Parliament, who believed his trial was unjust.

In the next century, America’s revolutionaries used Russell as an example of the tyranny of British kings. Both John and Samuel Adams called him a martyr for liberty. American patriots named sons Russell in his honor.

An image of character Mona and her dog Russell on the popular Canadian Children’s Show “nanalan'” (Photo fair use)

Britain’s 1851 census found 449 men with Russell as a first name. In the 1850 United States census, when the two countries had about the same population, there were 3,519.

In 1880, when Social Security’s baby name lists start, Russell ranked 197th. It boomed over the next three decades, peaking at 49th in 1914 when 0.376% of boys received it.

Russell plateaued at around 65th until it suddenly jumped to 52nd in 1956, when 0.345% of newborns were Russells. This may be partly because of the career of basketball great Bill Russell (1934-2022). Probably more important was television sitcom “Make Room For Daddy” (1953-1964, later retitled “The Danny Thomas Show”), where Russell “Rusty” Hamer (1947-1990) played Danny Thomas’ young son Rusty. Famous cute kids often popularize baby names.

About Names: Shakespeare invented the name “Jessica”

Astronaut Jessica Meir in her EMU suit (Photo by Josh Valcarcel, Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his March 24th column, he discusses the name “Jessica”.

Happy birthday to two Tammys who are both Jessica.

Jessica Chastain, who won 2021’s Best Actress Oscar as evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” and a Screen Actors Guild award as country singer Tammy Wynette in Showtime’s 2022 “George & Tammy,” turns 47 today.

The name Jessica was invented around 1597 by William Shakespeare for “The Merchant of Venice.” Jessica, Jewish moneylender Shylock’s daughter, feels unloved by her inflexible father and elopes with Christian lover Lorenzo.

It’s been speculated Shakespeare modified “Jesca,” (Hebrew “he looks”), name of Abraham’s niece, mentioned once in Genesis. “Jesca” in early translations, since the 1611 King James version it’s ”Iscah” in English Bibles. Others think Jessica’s simply a feminine for Jesse (possibly “God exists”), David’s father.

Shakespearean name expert Grant Smith thinks Jessica’s from “jess,” the leather strip binding hunting falcons to one’s arm. Other Shakespearean heroines, including Desdemona in “Othello”, are compared to falcons, and Jessica breaks bonds with her father.

In the late 18th century, real girls began being named after Shakespeare’s Jessica. The oldest of 88 Jessicas in Britain’s 1841 first census, Jessica Hoppens of Somerset, was born in 1781.

Surprisingly, given the first Jessica’s conversion, the earliest American Jessicas were Jewish. Malcolm Stern’s “First American Jewish Families” includes Jessica (Jochebed) Simson (1810-1886), wife of New York rabbi Ansel Leo — an example of Jews using a Hebrew name in synagogue (Jochebed was Moses’ mother) and an “English” one elsewhere.

Mrs. Leo was “Jessie” in the 1850 census. The oldest of 16 Jessicas, Jessica Lyons (1822-1894) married Alfred Jones, first president of Philadelphia’s Jewish Hospital Association. His sister, Jessica Jones (1824-1902), married George Davis, founder of a San Francisco department store.

In 1880 when Social Security’s lists start, Jessica ranked 705th. It started rising in 1942, when model Jessica Patton Barkentin (1920-2003) began appearing on magazine covers.

Jessica jumped in 1946 when fan magazines featured actress Deanna Durbin with new daughter Jessica — an early example of celebrity babies inspiring fashion. It then plateaued until 1962, when Angie Dickinson played an American nurse stranded in Sicily in romantic comedy “Jessica,” and author Jessica Mitford published bestseller “The American Way of Death” (1963).

Jessica kept rising as a “different but not too different” alternative for Jennifer. Actress Jessica Walter (1941-2021) helped by starring in “Play Misty For Me” (1971).

Jessica had been in the top 10 for eight years when Jessica Lange (born 1949) won an Oscar for “Tootsie” in 1983. Angela Lansbury starred as sleuth Jessica Fletcher on “Murder She Wrote” from 1984 to 1996.

About Names: the story behind the name “Jasmine” in Disney’s Aladdin and beyond

Cosplayers portraying Jasmine and Aladdin at a convention in 2014 (Photo by: RyC Behind the Lens, CC-BY-2.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his March 10th column, he discusses the name “Jasmine”.

Remember Whitley Gilbert, spoiled “Southern belle” college student on sitcom “A Different World” (1987-1993)?

Jasmine Guy, who became famous playing Whitley, turns 62 today. She recently won an Emmy as Barbara Baldwin on streaming series “Chronicles of Jessica Wu.”

Jasmine’s the name of a genus of over 200 shrubs and vines cultivated for the beauty and aroma of their flowers. At least 13 other garden plants not in the genus are also called “jasmine” in everyday English.

The word, originally Persian “yasmin,” traveled through Arabic and French to England along with the plants around 1500. It was first “jessamine” in English, with modern “jasmine” not found until about 1575.

Though girls have been named Yasmin in the Middle East for centuries, it wasn’t until the Victorian craze for names like Daisy and Hazel that British and American parents named babies after jasmine.

The earliest examples are forms of Jessamine, probably because it resembled then-popular Jessie. Jessamine’s never been common, though variations are borne by two famous American novelists: Jessamyn West (1902-1984), whose “The Friendly Persuasion” was a 1945 bestseller; and Jesmyn Ward (born 1977), winner of the National Book Award for “Salvage the Bones” (2011) and “Sing, Unburied, Sing” (2017).

In an amazing coincidence, considering Guy’s character, the first girl named Jasmine in the United States census was Mississippi-born Jasmine Whitley (1872-1952), who married Philip MacMahon and spent most of her life in Laredo, Texas.

Missouri-born Jasmine Stone Van Dresser (1878-1948) was the first prominent Jasmine. “Jessie” in the 1880 census, after 1900 she’s always “Jasmine.” Moving to New York to attempt a stage career, she married fellow actor William Van Dresser in 1902. Though during World War I they performed plays Jasmine wrote for soldiers at military bases, she made her living writing children’s books, which William illustrated. These included “How to Find Happyland” (1907) and “Jimsey” (1925), about an interracial friendship between two girls.

The name stayed rare until 1973, when it first entered the top thousand. Name observer Abby Sandel has suggested Seals and Crofts’ 1972 hit “Summer Breeze,” with its line “blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind,” was responsible, though more importantly, Jasmine was a “different but not too different” shift from Jessica, Amanda and Kristin.

Though Jasmine had risen to 95th in 1985, Guy’s “A Different World” fame skyrocketed it. In 1991 it had almost quadrupled to rank 24th. Disney’s Princess Jasmine in “Aladdin” gave it a final push to peak at 23rd in 1993.

Jasmine’s attracted many respellings. If all those named Jasmin, Jazmin, Jazmine, Jazmyn, Jasmyn, Jasmyne, Jazzmin, etc. were added in, it would’ve ranked ninth in 1993.

About Names: Dr. Evans on the name “Sean”

“The actor Sean Astin giving a talk at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign” (Photo by Daniel Schwen, CC-BY-3.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his January 28th column, he discusses the name “Sean”.

Happy birthday to Samwise Gamgee!

Actor Sean Astin, famed as Frodo’s heroic helper Sam in “The Lord of the Rings” films (2001-03) turns 53 today. His second most famous role is probably the title character in “Rudy” (1993), who achieves his dream to play Notre Dame football in the last game his senior year.

Seán’s an Irish form of John, from Hebrew “Yahweh is gracious.” When Christianity came to Ireland, John was translated “Eoin”, the form used in Gaelic language Bibles. Seán developed from French “Jean” after Normans settled in Ireland in the 12th century.

When Ireland’s English rulers suppressed Gaelic names, Seáns officially became “John.” Irish immigrants automatically translated Seán to John when speaking English, so it doesn’t reliably occur in United States censuses before 1900. One early example, Shawn MacMenamin, Irish born in 1904, lived with immigrant parents Brian and Alice in New York in 1910. He’s Shaun in 1920, but “John” when naturalized an American citizen in 1927.

Seán returned to official use in Ireland after 1900 among Irish nationalists. Two of Ireland’s greatest authors, playwright Sean O’Casey (1880-1964) and short story writer Seán Ó Faolaín (1900-1991), born John Casey and John Whelan, changed their names to support Ireland’s independence.

Highly educated artistic parents are first to revive names. The earliest census Sean with American parents was Sean Murphy (1924-2017), born in London to artists John J. A. and Cecil Murphy. Many museums feature John’s woodcuts. Sean became a Montreal ophthalmologist.

The first American-born Sean, Sean Burke (1926-2017), was born to physician J. Robert and wife Helen in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Sean, whose grandparents were all Irish-born, became a St. Petersburg, Florida, M.D.

Other Irish-Americans proud of their heritage followed the Murphys and Burkes. Sean entered the top thousand in 1943. Phonetic spellings Shawn and Shaun arrived in 1947 and 1950.

About Names: Dr. Evans on the name “Elijah”

Elijah Wood standing outside of a fan-built replica of the Hobbit Hole from the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (Photo: public domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his January 28th column, he discusses the name “Elijah”.

Frodo’s 43 today.

Actor Elijah Wood, famous for playing hero hobbit Frodo Baggins in the “Lord of the Rings” films, was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Jan. 28, 1981.

Elijah’s the modern English version of Hebrew ‘Eliyyahu, “my God is Yahweh.” The Bible’s Elijah was one of ancient Israel’s greatest prophets, preaching against wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Carried to heaven in a fiery chariot, in the New Testament he and Moses appear to Jesus in the Transfiguration.

Because of that, Elijah was the Hebrew prophet most revered by early Christians. St. Elias of Jerusalem, a fifth century patriarch, bore the Latin form of his name.

In medieval England, boys were named Ellis after the prophet and the patriarch. Families with surnames Ellis, Ellison, or Elkins descend from them.

The form Elijah didn’t occur until English Bible translations appeared during the Reformation. It was primarily used by Puritans in England. In Britain’s 1841 census, there were 4,444 Elijahs in England and only 17 in Scotland.

Elijah was even more popular with Puritans in New England. In 1851, there were 5,993 Elijahs in all of Britain, while in 1850, 22,937 lived in the United States, though total populations were similar. Puritan Massachusetts was the birthplace of 4,651 of 1850’s American Elijahs, while only 1,069 were born in Scots Irish and Quaker Pennsylvania, though Pennsylvania had more than double Massachusetts’ population.

About Names: Dr. Evans on the name “Tristan”

Tristan et Iseult, by Louis Bouquet (1921, Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his December 31st column, he discusses the name “Tristan”.

Tristan’s off to war, but “Creatures” goes on.

In the Dec. 24 Christmas episode of “All Creatures Great and Small” on PBS, young veterinarian Tristan joined Britain’s World War II military. On Jan. 7 the new season starts, with brother Siegfried and colleague James overworked due to Tristan’s absence.

Tristan’s a name from medieval legend. Since the 12th century the story of how Tristan, nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, tragically falls in love with Iseult (or Isolde), Mark’s bride, has been retold by multiple authors.

Experts think Tristan was originally Drustan, from Celtic “tumult,” blended with French “triste” meaning “sad.”

Since the 13th century Tristram’s been an alternate form. After 1770 Tristram was more common, partly because of “Tristram Shandy” (1767), a comic novel by Laurence Sterne. Tristram’s father claims names exert enormous influence over one’s fate, and the worst possible name is Tristram. He wanted his son named Trismegistus, “three times great,” after the mystical founder of alchemy, but his mother mistakenly had him baptized Tristram.

The 1850 United States census found 279 Tristrams and 36 Tristans. Tristram was especially common in Massachusetts, probably because Tristram Coffin (1609-1681) was a founding settler on Nantucket. Tristram’s census peak was in 1850 — in 1950, there were 55 Tristrams and 124 Tristans.

In 1950 Tristan was known to opera fans through Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” (1865), where the lovers die like Romeo and Juliet, which didn’t happen in many medieval versions.

“All Creatures Great and Small” is based on Yorkshire vet James Herriot’s memoirs. When he began publishing these in 1970, he chose Siegfried as pseudonym for colleague Donald Sinclair from the hero of other Wagner operas, and decided to use “Tristan” for Donald’s brother Brian since he was “romantic,” like Wagner’s Tristan.