"Arthur" names from PBS show

I overheard a conversation on the "Arthur" show today that I thought you would all appreciate: Arthur's little sister, D.W. (which I've always been sort of fascinated by -- I'd never think D.W. would be do-able -- W just isn't a great letter to abbreviate to -- but D.W. feels very natural to me after having heard it so often on the show), whose full name is Dora Winifred, met another little girl whose name was W.D. The latter's mother revealed that W.D.'s full name is Wilhelmina Dagmar.

Both Dora Winifred and Wilhelmina Dagmar seem really heavy -- in a good way, in my opinion -- for a kids' show, though of course kids would be familiar with Dora from Dora the Explorer, and Wilhelmina's been in the celeb news recently as one of the Hanson brothers recently named his new daughter (and fifth child) Wilhelmina. Winifred and Dagmar seem to me to be particularly unusual for characters on a kids' show.

It also reminded me that Arthur's creator, Marc Brown, gave his own children interesting names: Eliza, Tucker, and Tolon.


November 1, 2012 5:28 PM

Dagmar was the name I took in high school German class, so I've always had a fondness for it. It's just so ... clunky! I love it, but would never actually be brave enough to use it.

November 2, 2012 1:37 PM

I actually know a 3 year old Dagmar who goes by Dagi.

D.W. (1987) has been around *long* before Dora the Explorer has (2000). :-)

By hyz
November 2, 2012 2:15 PM

Oh heavens, is Dagi pronounced like "daggy"?  I quite like the name Dagmar, but I'd be inclined to drop the nn before her peers are old enough to learn the slang meaning(s) of the homonymous term. 

November 2, 2012 2:52 PM

Alright... I'm off to find out what daggy means...


Edit: So, it's an Australian/New Zealand term for uncool?

(Or were Urban Dictionary's entries saying that it meant sheep dingleberries accurate?)

By hyz
November 2, 2012 4:43 PM

Karyn, I believe both of those are accurate, the latter being the origin of the former (i.e. likening someone who is sloppily or poorly dressed, uncool, etc. to a sheep with feces matted in the wool around their bum).  Growing up (in the US), I also heard it as a derogatory term relating to lesbians, deriving presumably from the term "bulldagger", used primarily by the same "delightful" (read: "repulsive") individuals who might use "faggy" as a descriptor, and in the same sort of way.  I haven't heard anyone say that in a long time, and I don't know how prevalent that usage is/was, but reading "Dagi" reminded me of it instantly.    

November 2, 2012 5:39 PM

Interesting. I hadn't heard any of these before.

November 2, 2012 6:23 PM

Wow, this site teaches us about so much more than names! :D

November 4, 2012 3:06 PM

Yep hyz is correct, both those meanings are VERY closely associated with daggy in Australia/NZ so it makes Dagmar particularly unusable. It's the sort of name I normally dig, but I could never never do it.

I do love Wilhelmina though :)

November 2, 2012 4:30 PM

Yes--now I'm off to google "daggy". *Sigh* the things I learn on here....

July 27, 2015 6:10 AM

Having a German relative called Dagmar myself, I find it is pronounced with a slight 'k' sound when said in a German accent. This creates 'Dak(g)mar' and the nickname Daky/Ducky (instead of the very commone term here- Daggy). As a child she was affeccionately called 'Ente' or 'Entlein' by her family - which translates to duck/duckling.

By Fly
July 28, 2015 12:24 AM

Daggy does mean 'uncool' in Australia, and kids can be cruel, so there is that.  But its not usually derogatory- in fact daggy is usually used almost affectionately 'you're such a dag!' - after someone expresses a particular affection for old-but-not-yet-vintage fashions (music, movies, clothing, hair styles, footwear), tells 'dad-jokes'... think Michael Caton's character in The Castle (1997 film).  An 'opp-shop ball' (where everyone has to come in clothes they bought at the opportunity/charity shop) is meant to be super-daggy, but it doesn't mean 'scruffy' or 'unkempt'... which would probably be termed a 'hobo'.

I've never heard it in reference to lesbians.

July 28, 2015 2:29 AM

Bulldagger is an old term for lesbian, a variant for bulldike/dyke.  I don't know if it was ever current in Australia.

By Fly
July 28, 2015 4:21 AM

If it was it must've been really uncommon. I just asked a few people and they've never heard of it.  We'd probably understand "bulldike" because we understand "dyke", but the bull- part seems extraneous.  Australians rarely use more syllables than absolutely necessary anyway, so that might be why it didn't catch on.

July 28, 2015 10:13 AM

I mainly lnow about this because a colleague of mine published an article on the origin and history of bulldyke/dike and bulldagger, and she consulted me about some points.  Bulldagger pretty much went in and out of use before my time.

July 28, 2015 1:45 PM

I'd love to read that article.  "Bulldagger" is fairly rare these days, but iirc it originated as African-American slang?

July 28, 2015 5:07 PM

My friend is a Shakespearian, and she was mainly looking at Renaissance associations.  THe article didn't say anything about African-American slang.  I myself am no authority here.

July 28, 2015 5:44 PM

I think I can actually help out here. The book "Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold" has a helpful index and lo, bull dagger (two words) is in it. It says, "The term 'bull dagger' was used by hostile straights as an insult, but it was sometimes used by members of the African-American community to indicate toughness."

Also, I learned that the song "B.D. Woman Blues" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nmrWB1ovQ0 apparently has BD stand for Bull Dagger.

July 28, 2015 6:17 PM

I just wrote a fairly lengthy scholarly discursion on this subject, which the spam filter censored.  I don't know what the filter specifically thought to be "spam-my" or otherwise unsuitable, so I can't change it to suit.  If anyone is interested in my (pedantic) take on the subject, I will be glad to send it along if there is some way to do this without freaking out the spam filter.  I wish this software permitted private messaging.

July 30, 2015 9:23 AM

I adore pedantic takes on names and words and so on, but aside from email I can't think of a way around Ye Olde Spamme Filtre with the setup here. Hm. 

By Fly
July 31, 2015 2:09 AM

A facebook group or twitter hashtag?  I'd go with a twitter hashtag personally.

November 2, 2012 3:55 PM

Oh right, of course -- I'm just thinking of my own kids (and their peers), who knew Dora as little ones before they were old enough to watch Arthur. I myself watched Arthur as a kid -- pretty amazing that he's still around!

July 27, 2015 2:11 PM

I loved Arthur when I watched it 10+ years ago. Now, I'm getting to watch it with my niece! So fun.

The names certainly are interesting. I looked up the characters on Wikipedia to see and the sure are a lot. For the kids, it seemed like there were two categories: in fashion and older.

To me, Marina, Kate/Catherine, Jenna, Emily, James, and Lydia (as examples) are the more timeless ones.

Arthur, Francine, Alan, Mary Alice "Muffy" (OK, I think that's an interesting nn), Sue Ellen, and George are the older names, not quite in style.

Don't get me started on the adults' names. Those are even more diverse and interesting!

I also think it's funny how they love double names. Sue Ellen, Dora Winifred, and Mary Alice. Just a thought.

Great topic!