Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 19th column, he looks at the history of the name Owen.
Owen is a name with two origins. It’s the English form of Welsh Owain. Some experts think Owain is from Welsh “eoghunn” (“youth”), but more say it’s the Welsh form of Eugene (Greek “well-born”). Owain Glyndwr (1359-1415), last native Welsh Prince of Wales, began a decade-long revolt against Wales’ English rulers in 1400. Owen Tudor (1400-1461), probably named after Glyndwr, was grandfather of Henry VII, founder of England’s Tudor dynasty.
Owen became a Welsh and English surname in medieval times. Many early American examples of the given name come from that. The mother of anti-slavery leader Owen Brown (1771-1856), father of famous abolitionist John Brown (1800-1859), was Hanna Owen. Even more American Owens derived from Celtic tradition. There were 8,842 Owens listed in the 1850 census. Meanwhile, 41.5 percent were born in Ireland and 3.1 percent in Wales, compared with 4.1 percent and 0.1 percent of all Americans.
Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Owens in history!
Mark Hamill at Star Wars: The Last Jedi Japan Premiere Red Carpet
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 5th column, he looks at the history of the name Mark.
Mark is the English form of Marcus, a common given name for ancient Roman men. It’s derived from Mars, Roman god of war. The most famous Roman Marcus is Marcus Antonius, called Mark Antony in English. A friend of Julius Caesar, he vied for power after Caesar’s death. His love affair and alliance with Cleopatra, leading to defeat and suicide in 33 B.C., have been portrayed in countless books and films.
In the 19th century, many Biblical names went out of style in America. The 1850 United States census included 7,623 Marks. In Britain, 17,193 were found in 1851, when the two countries had similar populations. In 1880, when Social Security’s yearly baby name lists began, Mark ranked 160th. By then, the most famous American Mark was Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), known by his pen name Mark Twain. Creator of beloved characters Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Twain was one of the best known public figures of his day.
Famous Marks born during the name’s heyday include investor and “Shark Tank” star Cuban (born 1958), Olympic swimmer Spitz (1950) and Luke Skywalker actor Hamill (1951).
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Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 22nd column, he looks at the latest rankings of US baby names in 2017.
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Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 8th column, he looks at the history of the names Shania – and Twain.
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Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his April 24th column, he looks at the history of the name Barbara.
Barbra Streisand, famed for these and many other artistic triumphs, was born Barbara Joan Streisand 76 years ago on April 23rd. First Lady Barbara Bush (1925-2018), who died a week ago at age 92, is the only other Barbara whose renown rivals Streisand’s.
When Barbara Bush was born in 1925, the name had risen to 22nd most popular. Then, in 1926, Broadway chorus girl Ruby Stevens saw a poster for Fitch’s play and renamed herself Barbara Stanwyck. She became a star the next year, when Barbara first broke into the top 10. Though Barbara would have been popular without Stanwyck, her film career pushed it to its peak when she claimed her first Oscar nomination for the tearjerker “Stella Dallas” in 1937. In 1938, more than 3.4 percent of newborn girls were named Barbara, ranking it second only to Mary. It stayed at No. 2 until 1945, and in the top 10 until 1959.
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Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his April 11th column, he looks at the history of the name Daisy.
The flower name daisy comes from Old English “dægesege,” “day’s eye,” because a daisy’s white petals surrounding a yellow center open at sunrise. Daisy wasn’t a girl’s name in Old English. The story of how it became a name starts in France. The original Latin word for “pearl” was “margarita,” a Greek derivative that’s the origin “Margaret.” In French, this became “margarite.”
Around 1300, “margarite” (modern “marguerite”) became the French word for “daisy.” No one’s sure why. To some, when the flower folds up at night, it looks like a pearl. Others say medieval French brooches often featured a circle of pearls around a larger central gem, resembling a daisy.
In 1879, Henry James published “Daisy Miller,” about a flirtatious American girl who scandalizes older tourists while visiting Rome. In 1880, when Social Security’s yearly name lists began, Daisy ranked 48th.
Daisy had its biggest success in the Hispanic community. Despite its English origin, Daisy has been well-used in Latin America for decades. One example is Nicaraguan Daisy Zamora (born 1950), one of the greatest living Spanish-language poets.
Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Daisys in history!
One famous Gloria is singer Gloria Gaynor, who had huge hits with “I Will Survive” and “Never Can Say Goodbye.” THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his March 27th column, he looks at the history of the name Gloria.
“Gloria” is Latin for “fame” or “glory.” It has the same meaning in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. The name began in Iberia. As veneration of the Virgin Mary developed in medieval Europe, she was given many titles, such as “Mary of Mercies” and “Mary of Glory” — in Spanish, “Maria de las Mercedes” and “Maria de Gloria.” By 1700, Iberian parents were naming daughters with the full titles. Soon Mercedes and Gloria became names in their own right. Gloria was often given to girls born around Easter.
Some famous Glorias are fictional — Gloria Bunker Stivic (Sally Struthers) of 1970s hit “All in the Family” and Gloria Pritchett (Sophia Vergara) of today’s “Modern Family” are two of America’s best-known sitcom characters. Jada Pinkett Smith voiced Gloria the Hippo, who falls in love with giraffe Melman, in the “Madagascar” animated film series. In 2016, Gloria ranked 550th — lower than in 1907. Its pleasant sound and positive meaning will surely make it ready for another close-up in a few decades.
Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Glorias in history!
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his March 13th column, he looks at the history of the name Neil.
Neil is the English spelling of Niall, an Irish Gaelic name so ancient its derivation is unclear. “Cloud,” “passionate” and “champion” are all possibilities. The original Niall was Niall of the Nine Hostages, a king who lived in the fifth century. Few facts are known about him, though legends say he led the raid on Britain when St. Patrick was brought to Ireland as a slave.
The 1850 United States census includes 1,801 men called Neal, Neil or Niel — a third born in Ireland or Scotland. When Social Security’s yearly baby name lists started in 1880, Neal ranked 270th and Neil 292nd. Neal fell off until Neil became more common in 1912 — still ranking 292nd.
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Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 27th column, he looks at the history of the names Joanne and Joanna.
Joanne is a medieval French feminine form of John, derived from Jehohanan, Hebrew for “God has been gracious.” Joanne was common enough in the Alpine province Dauphiné to become a French surname. Adolphe Joanne (1813-1881) wrote the “Guides Joanne,” popular tourist manuals from the 1840s to the 1920s. By 1500, Joanne was eclipsed by Jeanne in France. It’s still very rare there.
Joanna became a regular English name after the Reformation. In the gospel of Luke, the King James Bible’s Joanna is one of the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.
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Lisa Loring as Wednesday Addams
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 13th column, he looks at names associated with Mardi Gras and days of the week.
Tuesday, Feb. 13th, was the last day before Lent on the Christian calendar. Traditionally a day of revelry before Lent’s austerities begin, it has inspired Mardi Gras (French “Fat Tuesday”), the famed New Orleans parties and parades that began Jan. 6 and end Tuesday night. Mardi was regularly if rarely used as a girl’s name between 1936 and 2009. Model Mardee Hoff (1914-2004) started it off. In 1935, she won a contest for “most perfect figure in America.” Artist Norman Rockwell painted her for a 1936 “Saturday Evening Post” cover; she was later featured on the cover of “Life.”
English names for days of the week have also been used as first names or nicknames. Sunday, Monday, Friday and Saturday are English surnames, going back to medieval ancestors. Friday is the most common — men thought unlucky were nicknamed “Friday” no matter what day they were born. All the days of the week turn up as given names in censuses between 1850 and 1940. In the 19th century, most examples were African-American men. West Africa’s Akan culture traditionally named boys after days of the week. That custom occasionally survived among slaves and their descendants.
Want to know more? Read on to find out more about “days of the week” names in history!