The 1960s TV series Star Trek has launched movies, sequels, catchphrases and fan conventions. But baby name trends? Let's take a trip back in the Baby Name Time Machine back to meet the name Nichelle.
The year 1967 is remembered as a cultural powder keg in the United States. The youth counterculture bloomed into the "Summer of Love." The number of U.S. troops in Viet Nam increased, and so did homefront protests against the war. Cities like Detroit and Newark erupted in deadly rioting. Stokely Carmichael published the book Black Power.
Yet even in turbulent times, everyday life can remain surprisingly everyday. The top television series of the year were Bonanza, The Red Skelton Hour and The Andy Griffith Show. The top baby names of the year were Michael and Lisa, for the sixth straight year. But among the fastest-rising names of the year are hints of change.
The biggest tv-driven name phenomenon of 1967 was Nichelle, sparked by a lightly watched new science fiction show called "Star Trek." Actress Nichelle Nichols played Lieutenant Uhura, chief communications officer of the 23rd-century starship Enterprise. Star Trek's creators wanted to portray an inclusive future society, and no character represented that vision more boldly than the African-American Lt. Uhura.
From today's perspective, Star Trek's '60s vision of diversity may not look so bold. The bridge of the Starship Enterprise typically held four or five white men, one Asian man, and one black woman -- the sole representative not only of her race, but of the entire female half of humanity. Unlike her male colleagues, Lt. Uhura wore a regulation Starfleet minidress and sheer stockings. Nor was Uhura one of the series' most central characters. She's not immortalized by any catch phrases like "Live long and prosper" or even "He's dead, Jim!" In fact, in the original series she didn't even have a first name.
50 years ago, though, Uhura's very presence on the bridge resounded as a symbol of hope and progress. Nichelle Nichols has told the story of how she had planned to quit Star Trek until Martin Luther King Jr. personally approached her and told her how important her role was. Previously, African-American women on scripted television had been relegated to roles as servants. Uhura was nothing like that. Even in a minidress, the Enterprise's chief communications officer radiated professional pride and dignity.
That image struck a powerful chord. Nichelle was an all-but-unknown name that Ms. Nichols (born Grace) had adopted as her stage name. As soon as she appeared on Star Trek, Nichelle soared into the top 500 girls' names in the United States. That's as heartfelt a tribute as you can find. Nichelle remained popular for the rest of the series' run, and ushered in an era where boys' and girls' names alike were chosen as emblems of ethnic and racial pride.
In the past generation, parents have seized control of baby names. Sure, they've always been in charge of the name on the birth certificate, but now they want more. They want to send their kids off into the world knowing that every teacher, every friend will call them by the exact names that the parents prefer.
It wasn't always this way. Once upon a time, friends and even strangers could casually call a boy named Daniel "Danny" and nobody would think a thing of it. Today, every young Daniel I know goes exclusively by his full name, by his parents' choice.
There's nothing wrong with steering your child away from a nickname you dislike. You chose a name with care and love, so it's natural to ask people to use that name. Yet there are virtues to the wide-open nickname approach, too.
Nicknaming lets kids adjust a name to fit different stages of their lives, or different social situations: Danny to Grandma, Danno to buddies, Daniel at a job interview. An openness to nicknames also puts control of the name in the hands of the person who bears it. That can help offset the fundamental dilemma of baby naming, that we're choosing a name for someone we've never met, not knowing what kind of person they'll grow up to be.
What if you want the gift of a name to be the gift of flexibility? Ironically, it's the most traditional baby names that offer the greatest options for creative personalization. Nicknames for English standards like Mary, Ann and Margaret proliferated back when those names accounted for half of all girls in a typical village. Longer classics like Alexander and Anastasia lend themselves to many options as well.
The names on this list may not seem like creative choices in themselves, but they'll give your children the flexibility to creatively name -- and rename -- themselves.
Names with lots of nickname options:
Alexandra: Alex, Allie, Andra, Lexi, Sandra, Sandy, Sasha, Shura, Xan, Xandra
Anastasia: Ana, Annie, Nastya, Stacy, Stasya, Tasia
Annabelle: Ann, Anna, Annie, Bella, Belle, Ella, Nan, Nell
Charlotte: Charlie, Carly, Lola, Lotta, Lottie, Tottie
Christina: Chris, Chrissy, Christa, Christie, Ina, Kika, Stina, Tina
Eleanor: Ella, Elle, Ellie, Nell, Nellie, Nora
Elizabeth: Bess, Bessie, Beth, Bethan, Betsy, Bette, Betty, Buffy, Eliza, Ella, Ellie, Elsa, Elsie, Libby, Liddy, Lili, Lisa, Lise, Lisette, Liz, Liza, Lizbeth, Lizzie
Evangeline: Angie, Eva, Evie, Gilly, Lina, Vangie
Genevieve: Evie, Gen/Jen, Genie, Genna, Genny, Ginette, Ginny, Viv, Vivi
Katherine: Kat, Kate, Kathy, Katy, Katya, Kay, Kit, Kitty
Margaret: Daisy, Greta, Gretchen, Madge, Maggie, Maisie, Mamie, Margie, May, Meg, Megan, Meta, Peg, Peggy
Mary: Mae, Mamie, May, Mimi, Mitzi, Molly, Polly
Natalia: Nat, Natasha, Talia, Tally, Tasha
Sarah: Sadie, Sal, Sally, Sarita
Susanna: Sookie, Sue, Sukey, Susa, Susie, Suze, Zanna, ZuZu
Veronica: Nikki, Rona, Ronnie, Vera
Wilhelmina: Billie, Mina, Minnie, Vilma, Willa, Willie, Willow, Wilma
Alexander: Al, Alex, Lex, Sander, Sandy, Sasha, Xander, Zander
Charles: Cal, Charlie, Chase, Chaz, Chick, Chip, Chuck
Christopher: Chip, Chris, Kip, Kit, Topher
Edward: Ed, Eddie, Ned, Ted, Teddy
Frederick: Fred, Freddy, Fritz, Rick, Ricky
Henry: Hal, Hank, Harry
Jonathan: Jon, Jonty, Jonny, Than
Lawrence: Larry, Laz, Lon, Loren, Lorne
Nicholas: Cole, Colin, Klaus, Nick, Nico, Nikos
Robert: Bob, Bobby, Dobbin, Hob, Rob, Robbie, Robin
Theodore: Ted, Teddy, Teo, Terry, Theo
William: Bill, Billy, Liam, Will, Wilkie, Willie, Wills, Wim
NEW YORK, Mar. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Can a name be sexy, friendly, smart, sophisticated or creative on its own, without a person attached? For the past five years, tens of thousands of BabyNameWizard.com visitors have rated the names in the "Namipedia" database on how smart, sexy, creative, sophisticated and friendly they sound. Today, parent company CafeMom announced the results.
"We all carry around our own images of names based on our own personal experience," said Laura Wattenberg, Co-Founder of BabyNameWizard.com. "Naming is dreaming. It's the part of preparing for parenthood where you're looking not just to six months in the future, but six years or 60 years in the future, and who you want your child to be."
With 1.5 million sets of ratings submitted, the results paint an unprecedented picture of the way we view names:
Romance languages, especially Italian and French, dominate the sexiest name lists. Additionally, more than half of the names on the sexy lists end in the classic gender markers -o and -a. Doubled letters also seem to add to a name's sexiness.
For the smartest boys' names, names like Atticus and Solomon are historically linked to wisdom and genius. Surnames like Preston and Truman project a gravitas that suggests intelligence.
Meanwhile, the smartest girls' names lack a strong pattern.
The friendliest name list is full of contemporary creations, including many nicknames. The average name on the list is just five letters and two syllables. The -y ending is the English fond diminutive, the way we indicate affection. That ending dominates the lists for both boys and girls.
Most Sophisticated Names
Every name on the ultra-sophisticated list was in its most formal form, while several nicknames, including America's #1 nickname Mike, were rated at the bottom. The names rated most sophisticated also tended to be long, averaging almost 8 letters, while the average American baby name is 6 letters long.
Most Creative Names
Music-inspired names make a strong showing in the most creative names. For boys' names that comes in the form of specific well-known music artists (Lennon, Hendrix and Arlo), while girls' names more abstractly convey a musical quality (Jazlyn and Calliope).
Methodology Notes: Ratings were submitted by tens of thousands of BabyNameWizard.com visitors over the course 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 appearances in the top 500 in the past century) are excluded.
CafeMom is the leading digital media company for moms, dedicated to improving moms' lives by helping them make better decisions, form genuine connections, and take a deserved break. CafeMom's family of properties reaches more than 30MM UVs / month, and includes CafeMom.com, MamásLatinas.com, TheStir.com, and BabyNameWizard.com. CafeMom is the leader in developing custom programs for top brands, making it the premier strategic marketing partner to brands that want to win with moms. CafeMom lead investors are Highland Capital Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The company was founded byAndrew Shue and Michael Sanchez.
About BabyNameWizard.com and NameCandy.com
BabyNameWizard.com was founded in 2008 with the goal of creating the most robust, comprehensive and engaging tools and advice for baby name research anywhere. In 2009, TIME Magazine included BabyNameWizard.com on its list of "50 Best Websites," and in 2010, the National Library Association cited BabyNameWizard.com as one of the best free reference sources on the Web. The pair also created NameCandy.com, online home of the advice column "Ask the Name Lady," as well as daily news and gossip about names in popular culture.
Media Contact: Kristina Tipton, firstname.lastname@example.org