November 22, 2013

Name Makeovers: Fading Names of the 1950s, Part 1

Two years ago, I wrote a post on the most retro-sounding names from the 1950s. I looked at the names that were trendy at the time, eliminating classic choices, to create a list of some very iconic sounds that were fit for a sock-hop. (Or, since these were names popular for babies born in the 50s, maybe I should say they were great for Woodstock.)

Oh, I had so many hits on this list! People came in droves, ready to devour the hottest names of the 50s!

Just kidding. Today's namers are just not that into some of the top sounds from that decade. And it makes sense—these are the names of our parents, and like the authors of Freakonomics would point out, we are much more interested in the names of our grandparents and great-grandparents right now.

So, I decided I'd revive that list with a bit of a twist. Here's part 1 of those same names made over for the 21st century. I'd be the first to say that many of them are endearing exactly as they are, but being the name nerd that I am, I consider challenges like this to be fun. It's my creative take on names that are similar to the original in some way—maybe shared sounds, origin, or meaning. I hope you have as much fun reading about these names as I did writing about them!



BarryBarrett ~ Barry may have a chipper sound with an interesting variation (Baz) and Irish origins, but it's no longer in the top 1,000. Today, the English surname Barrett is showing much more potential. 
BrendaBrenna ~ Names ending in "nda" are just not as popular as they used to be. But names beginning with "Bren" are still in use today, it's just that they are favored a little bit more on the boy's side (think Brenden and Brennan). Brenna, however, is still hanging on for the girls. I could have gone with the much more popular Brianna, but I think Brenna is sweet and pretty true to the original sounds in Brenda.
BruceBryce ~ Bruce is one of the few '50s names from my list that is poised to make a comeback. It has a few great namesakes and a masculine feel. But for the purpose of this post, I looked at Bryce and Brycen, which are both more popular. Bryce is beginning to slow down, but I chose it because of its similarities to the original and updated look and feel.
CherylChanel ~ This was a close one. Cheryl is an English name meaning charity, making for an easy "after" and transforming Cheryl to a more obvious virtue name. On the other hand, Chanel shares the unique soft "Ch" spelling and sound, and ends with an l like Cheryl. The name Charity just isn't quite doing as well today, so I went for my favorite of the two.
CynthiaSylvia ~ Sylvia has been hovering around the middle of the top 1,000 for awhile now, but I think it deserves a little more attention. It's got a silvery sound and the sweet nickname Sylvie is a stylish substitute for Cindy, creating a lovely little name makeover.
DaleDalton ~ I have a personal connection with the name Dale, but if I were to make it over, I'd go for Dalton. It's the name Dale, with a "town" added on: Dale means valley, so Dalton means valley town. Dalton is in the top 300 and slowing down, but I think it's a cute way to make Dale a little more fresh. 
DannyDaniel ~ The short form Danny was right on par with the rest of the '50s favorites, but today Daniel is often preferred, sans nickname. I am a big fan of Daniel, and so are a lot of you, as it's ranked at #11 for 2012.
DarrellDashiell ~ Let's just all swoon for a second over the name Dashiell, ok? I love its sound and adore the nickname Dash. You do too? I thought so. Swooning aside, I thought the D beginning and the double l ending made these two a perfect little before and after.
Deborah or DebraDelilah ~ Delilah shares Hebrew roots with Deborah, and has become perfectly acceptable in recent years, despite a Biblical bad-girl image. It was helped along by a little song (Hey There Delilah) that hit #1 on pop music charts in July 2007.
DennisDamien ~ Dennis is a French form of the Greek Dionysios, and Damien is the French spelling of the Greek Damianos. They may not sound much alike, but they do have their roots in common. For a similar sounding alternative to Dennis, I'd go with Davis.
DianeDiana ~ A princess and a character from Anne of Green Gables make Diana a favorite for me. It's still well-liked even though it's on a teensy downward trend in the US.
DonnaDahlia ~ Oh, Donna. This name was a bit challenging to make over. My first thought was Donya, then I went to Donatella, Donae, Donata, and Drea. But in the end, I loved Dahlia. Like Donna, it's got a friendly ring to it and has Latin roots. This endearing flower name is slowly starting to show some promise in the name charts at #521.
DouglasAngus ~ Scottish origins, similar sounds, and cute little nicknames helped me pair Douglas and Angus together. Hopefully it's not just the naming fatigue (this is the eighth name beginning with D!) and you can see the connection too. Angus isn't exactly trendy or remotely popular right now, but I think the only thing holding it back may be a certain breed of cow. I say if it's good enough for MacGyver, it's good enough for me!

Soon to come are Part 2 and Part 3 of my made-over names from the 1950s. I'd like to make these a regular feature here, so let me know what you think and more name makeovers will be on the way. If you have a name in particular you'd like me to make over, send me a note.

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1 comment:

  1. I think you're spot on with some of these, especially Barrett, Brenna and Dashiell

    Looking forward to seeing more of these :)