Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dynasty Names

Hello, readers!

While researching names for articles, I've learned to recognize patterns - how long it takes names to go from the top 100 to the top 10, how quickly a named is deemed "passé," how names are discussed whether they're Hebrew, Japanese, or Spanish in origin. One tiny thread I've noticed between quite a few names? The 1980's soap opera, Dynasty.

Dynasty premiered in 1981 and ended in 1989, spanning a hugely important decade in American culture, politics, and style. At its height, it was the #1 show in the United States, with over twenty-one million homes watching (thanks, Wikipedia!) It's certainly no surprise then that the series popularized quite a few names - with the data to prove it.

Now, the parents who picked these names weren't all inspired by the show - but when a name starts becoming more prevalent in social conversation, it spreads ("So-and-so had a baby last month, and named him Blake. Isn't that unusual?") While Dynasty certainly prompted interest, it wasn't the deciding factor every time. But let's look at some choices that link directly to the show that "has it all and more!"

A classic Biblical name already on the rise, Adam's highest rank at #18 occurred during the Dynasty show run - when long-lost son Adam Carrington entered the scene. The name means "earth" or "man" in classical Hebrew, and it's been in the top 100 since 1970.

This trendy unisex name jumped eighty places when the estranged ex-wife and mother came on the scene: Alexis Carrington is often credited with helping this name become a household name. The name rose, fell, then rose again, ultimately reaching its peak in 1993 at #3.

In the top 10 from 1976 through 1995, Amanda had a good two decade run as an American favorite. Dynasty capitalized on this popular choice - the character arrived when Amanda was at #4. Still an English standard, Amanda has been updated today via Amelia, Amandla, and Amada.

Though Anders is a more modern pick in the United States - it only debuted in the top 1000 in 2006 - it has long been a Scandinavian favorite. Now that Andrew is more common, however, international variants are on the rise! Anders more than doubled in average usage during Dynasty's run, as the last name of multiple characters.

While this name isn't unusual, Blake's steepest jump in popularity was between 1980 and 1981 - seventy-nine places up the top 1000, and over 700 *more* boys born. It's now in the top 100 for boys, and in the top 500 for girls. Other than its Dynasty link, Blake is liked for it's brisk sound and friendly vibe.

Never a top 1000 member, Carrington did septuple in use between 1980 and 1989 - from nine boys a year to sixty-three. The name was also used for girls occasionally during the decade. This surname is English in origin, and could work as an alternative to Harrison or Carson.

Though it was strictly a surname on Dynasty, Colby moved from #546 to #250 during the series. Since then, it's gone up and down, but now is mostly on the decline. Colby gained more fans during the run of Survivor in the early 2000's - another TV show with clout!

Dexter "Dex"
This name has two origins - from the Latin for "right-handed", and from an occupational English surname meaning "dyer." Dexter also has two television shows to thank for its popularity - the 1980's spike from Dynasty, of course, and the eponymous HBO show about a serial killer. While Dexter is often associated with devilish characters, the name is a solid yet uncommon choice.

With a name like Dominique Deveraux, it's no wonder audiences took notice. The name moved up almost 250 places on the top 1000 from 1983 to 1984 - when Dominique's character debuted. It peaked at #83 in 1985, but may never have made the top 100 without the Dynasty boost.

Now more likely to be associated with Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, this Irish surname made waves when connected with the Carrington daughter. Fallon only ranked between 1981 and 1995, however, declining along with average hair volume.

Like Fallon, Kirby only lasted a few years on the girls' top 1000. For boys, on the other hand, the name had long been in use, receiving a boost during the run of the show. Today, Kirby is close enough to Keira and Shelby, Kieran and Kobe, to be used for any gender.

With probably the most creative spelling on this list, Krystle had been recorded as far back as 1969. But only twenty-six baby girls were named Krystle in 1980; in 1981, that number soared to 446. Today, that number is down to six, as most variations of Crystal begin to wane.

Sabella "Sable"
In 1986, Sable ranked #904 - never before or since. With animal names, like Bear or Fox, on the rise, it could definitely make a comeback. Sabella has been in use since the show's debut, with seventy-one babies born last year - an almost-too-close alternative to Isabella.

Samantha Josephine "Sammi Jo"
The last name on the list, with a rather interesting statistic - "Sammijo" was recorded a total of forty times between 1983 and 1991. Samantha had been on the rise by the time the character appeared on the show, ending up as one of the top names of the 1990's and 2000's.

Any names I missed? Other shows with a big impact? Tell me in the comments!

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