In 1953, America was in the grips of the "Red Scare." From Washington D.C. to Hollywood, careers and reputations could be shattered by the mere hint of communist ties. And yet this name shows up in the 1953 baby name records as given to six newborn girls:
A show of pride by communist parents? An act of defiance in the face of witch hunts? Perhaps, but I suspect the real explanation is less dramatic. Take a look at the popularity history of the name Connie:
The orange line highlights 1953, the year that the oh-so-similar Commie hit the baby name stats. One Commie for every 1,500 Connies doesn't sound so surprising. My question is, was it deliberate? Did a handful of parents decide to give the popular name a little twist...or did the national focus on "commies" make that word a likely slip-up in the records process?
Mistakes do happen. On the path from parents' dreams to birth certificate, a name can be misheard, misspelled, misread or mistyped. It's not always easy to tell a typo apart from a creative name choice. And realistically, some mistakes are more likely than others. Try typing your own full name, but in place of the last two letters type "xz." Chances are your fingers will rebel and try to follow the more familiar groove. That same autopilot effect makes common words particularly likely to pop up as typos.
Of course, a common word may also be deliberately chosen as a name if it fits in perfectly with the baby naming sound of the times. Here are some more examples of unlikely words that hit the name charts when a similar baby name was at its peak. Creative name choices or typos? What do you think?
The second in a series of reports based on exclusive user ratings of names.
Can a name be sexy on its own, without a person attached? Absolutely. When we asked thousands of BabyNameWizard.com readers to rate the names in our Namipedia on "sexiness," specific name styles kept rising to the top. Most of those styles have shown staying power, sounding sexy for decades or even centuries.
Take a look and see whether these names send your heart aflutter:
If you're a Bob or a Gert, don't despair. Sexiness isn't a universal positive in a name. Every name style comes with tradeoffs, and what sounds good on a lingerie label may not serve as well for a salesperson or aspiring politician. But if you're looking for pure sex appeal in a name, here's what the results tell us:
1. Latin lovers never go out of style. Romance languages, especially Italian, dominate the sexiest boys' list. That romantic image goes back not just to film heartthrobs like Fernando Lamas and Rudolph Valentino, but all the way back to Shakespeare. Italy was his favorite setting for romance, and names like Lorenzo and, of course, Romeo are plucked straight from his plays.
2. Vive la différence. Italian names make a strong showing on the girls' list too, but French comes to the fore as well. The French girls' choices add a saucy flavor, with the flouncy diminutive Nicolette and the literarily erotic Anaïs.
3. Gender front and center. More than half of the names on the sexy lists end in the classic gender markers -o and -a.
4. Double your pleasure. Doubled letters seem to amp up a name's sexiness, especially for girls.
5. Hitch your wagon to a star. Almost 80 years after the publication of Gone With the Wind, Rhett and Scarlett both still hit the sexiest name lists. But they're newbies compared to Romeo, which is celebrating its 5th straight century of star-driven sexiness. Clearly, a romantic tale can attach itself to a name for the long term.
6. Deliver youth or excitement. The names rated least sexy for girls fit a clear formula. They're two syllables, packed with consonants, and old. Really old: as a group, they peaked in the 1890s. The boys' names are no spring chickens either, but at least they hit their popularity peak within the past century. It's a good bet that you know someone living named Bob, Ernest, Norman, Dick or Howard, but not Gertrude, Bertha, Agnes, Ethel or Mildred. The main marker of "unsexiness" for boys seems to be a lack of excitement. The names are all plain-spoken with heavy sounds.
But keep in mind...
These results are based on ratings from Namipedia visitors, the majority of whom are female. It's certainly possible that an all-male panel would choose differently. Yet the girls' style, including Italian and French names and double letters, does line up with a style heavily favored by the adult entertainment industry for targeting male customers. (Missing is a second common stage-name style: meaning names like Angel and Candy, which emphasize the role being played.) As for male names designed to appeal to a gay male audience, one 2005 study found a proponderance of simple boy-next-door stage names like Tom and Mark.
In the end, though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do the names on the list fill the bill for you? And how do these sexy names compare to the Most Sophisticated Baby Names?
Methodology Notes: Ratings were submitted by tens of thousands of BabyNameWizard.com visitors over the couse of five years, rating names they chose to visit on a scale of 1-100. Rankings are based on names rated by a minimum of 150 users. Alternate spellings may be dropped from lists to avoid repetition. Rare names (outside the current top 1,500 for boys and girls and no apperances in the top 500 in the past century) are excluded as they are easily dominated by a particular character; e.g. Severus and Draco rate low on friendliness.
It's safe to say that lots of us love star-gazing on the night of the Academy Awards, with it's roughly 40 million viewers. And while we are intrigued and inspired by today's celebrities, we're over the moon for the days of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The styles were classic and seductive, with an understated glamor that some of today's stars still try to emanate.
The legends of the silver screen from the Golden Age (late 1920s–early 1960s) are deeply fascinating. But it's not just the personalities and talent that we hold dear, it's their names as well. They evoke glitz and glam, while at the same time communicating humble beginnings and old-fashioned charm.
Many of them are iconic, but they can all be worn confidently and separately from the star. They are perfect for today, whether it's the first name or surname in the spotlight. Part darling and straight-laced, part glamorous and undone, they make idyllic hybrid charmers that have become runaway hits on the naming stage.
Audrey: The lovely British actress, humanitarian, and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn is still a true inspiration, even down to her given name. Audrey is a hit, sitting at 32 out of the top 1,000 girls' names. Even with a namesake from Shakespeare's As You Like It to add to its history, as well as a saint and a princess, Hepburn remains the most famous Audrey of all time.
Ava: Ava is a Latin form of Eve with loads of Hollywood appeal, starting for some with the past group of celebrity babies born with this name, including daughters of Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Jackman, Heather Locklear, Eli Manning, Martina McBride and oh-so-many more. But the original inspiration straight out of Tinseltown came from Gardner, a glamorous actress and wife to Sinatra (among others). It's stylish, pretty, and simple, and this darling name, ranked 5th in America, has momentum that seems unstoppable.
Clara: This new favorite was worn by perhaps the most iconic flapper and sex symbol of the roaring twenties, "The It Girl," actress Clara Bow. Today her name may not ring as many bells as it once did, but it's the spirit of the silent films that makes the name Clara as glamorous as it is darling.
Clark: Frankly, my dear, we DO give a damn about the dashing name Clark. Actor Gable, known for delivering that iconic line among many others, was the King of Hollywood who knew how to dazzle audiences and wear a mustache with expertise. We love his name for its straightforward, classy image with a delightfully handsome demeanor, thanks also in part to Superman's alter ego, Kent.
Cooper: Among the popular surnames that recently became a favorite as a given name, Cooper stands out as an unassuming, friendly choice. Legendary actor Gary Cooper makes this name shine with natural charm. It's been a top-100 choice since 2007, and even though it's trendy it feels as reliable as Gary Cooper himself.
Dean: It took A Rebel Without a Cause to draw attention to this clean-cut name with a bit of an edge. That edge is enigmatically supplied by the sensitive, tortured soul of teen icon James Dean, heartthrob actor who rode his motorcycle at full throttle and smoked in the rain without a thought of an umbrella. He's one compelling reason why the name Dean is doing pretty well today, sitting in the low 200s and rising.
Flynn: This surname was famously worn by debonaire swashbuckler and spirited rake Errol Flynn, who starred in a countless number of adventuresome films in the 30s and 40s. He inspired the expression "in like Flynn" and these days, he's inspiring parents on the hunt for the perfect alternative to contemporary favorite Finn. Flynn was also the name of Rapunzel's love interest in Disney's Tangled.
Grace: Academy Award winner and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly did it all and lived up to her name with stylish elegance. Today we're wild over this perfectly classic virtue name, as it's stayed in the top 30s since 1999 and is a favorite for a short-and-sweet middle name as well.
Grant: Everybody wants to be Cary Grant, including the actor himself, as he was famous for saying. The quintessential leading man during the Golden Age, actor Cary Grant has a surname that's right on track with today's trends. And while President Ulysses S. Grant gives this name a star-spangled vibe, actor Cary Grant adds a dashing, gentlemanly quality as well.
Harlow: The original blonde bombshell, Jean Harlow, was a captivating actress with a trademark look (that made peroxide sales skyrocket). Her talent and style embodies Old Hollywood, and her untimely death at only 26 makes her forever young and glamorous in our eyes. Her surname has a soft sound and makes for a perfect throwback name in honor of a true beauty. The name Harlow may not be popular, but it's doing better each year. It was used by Nicole Richie and Joel Madden for their first daughter and transformed into Richie's jewelry brand name, House of Harlow.
Holden: Golden Boy was actor William Holden's first film and the rest is history. A prolific and talented actor with a compassionate and philanthropic side, William Holden has a devoted fanbase even today. His surname is trendy and, while it may be known better as the main character in The Catcher in the Rye, actor William Holden's contribution to the appeal of this name is strong. Holden sits at 287 and is getting more popular with each year.
Laurence: Olivier was a British gent with an elegant name, known for his performances on stage as well as on screen. Even though Laurence is the traditional spelling, the surname Lawrence took off in its place. It's very English and proper, until the overdone nickname Larry comes into play.
Mae: Actress, screenwriter, and sex symbol West takes this old-fashioned name from sweet and darling to sassy and daring. It's a change of pace from the Spring spelling May, which is nowhere to be seen these days, while this form is showing lots of promise on a sharp upward trend. We're glad Mae is moving up from the middle spot, where it's been a tried-and-true favorite for ages.
Marilyn: This once unassuming elaboration of Mary became steamy with the fame of sex symbol Marilyn Monroe, and its link to her has stayed cemented in our culture. But even though this name brings to mind a 50s icon, we find it fresh on a girl today. It sits well next to names like Madelyn and Evelyn, and its lovely sound is hitting the mark for expecting parents, as stats show Marilyn gaining momentum in the past couple of years.
Marlon: Brando's reach as one of the most influential actors of all time included influencing baby naming, helping the unique name Marlon hit the low 200s in the 1970s. It may be on a downswing today, but we think Marlon is a fantastic name with Hollywood appeal. It's currently worn by actor/comedian/director Marlon Wayans and former Jackson 5 member, Marlon Jackson.
Monroe: There isn't another Golden Age star that has an up-and-coming first and last name, but the singular Marilyn Monroe has managed both. While her first name shouts classic 50s revival, Monroe makes a definitive contemporary statement. This is a trend that was sparked by Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon's daughter, Monroe, who was born in 2011 and named after the star.
Rita: This short form of Margarita owes all its glamor to "The Love Goddess," actress and dancer Hayworth. The name Rita was a hit in the 1930s, making it on the cusp of relevant for revival today. It's spirited and sexy, with a dash of pure cute. As names like Mia, Gianna, and Sophia are current favorites, it's only a matter of time before Rita follows suit.
Sophia: She's the epitome of grace and beauty, and whether we're talking about the name itself or the actress Loren is up for debate, because both fit that description. It's hard to top the number one girls' name in America, which evokes charm, style, and wisdom (its meaning!) all at once. It has a quite literal soft sound and a classic feel, though it's never been as popular as it is now. Ms. Loren only helps characterize this name with glamor and wit, making it a favorite from every angle.
Spencer: Distinguished actor Spencer Tracy had a classic English surname that has stood the test of time. Even though Spencer hit its high point in the 90s, its has a fairly steady history as a given name in the US, and there's no need for it to ever fall out of fashion now. As one of the top actors of his time, Tracy gives this name a depth it wouldn't have had otherwise.
Vivien: Actress Vivien Leigh, most famous for her performance as Scarlett in Gone With the Wind, lends this name a romantic quality between her on-screen love affairs and her off-screen relationship with Laurence Olivier. Add to that Tennyson's poetic retelling of a legend entitled Merlin and Vivien, an enchantress whose seduction tricks Merlin, and this name earns its love-struck reputation and vivacious sound.
Love these names? You may also like 20 Roaring 20s Names Making a Comeback.