Blessyn. Amazyn. Dazzlyn. Take an uplifting -ing word, tweak the ending to match Kaitlyn and Brooklyn, and voilà, a new girl’s name is born. It’s an ultra-modern approach to naming—you won’t find any Blessyns, Amazyns or Dazzlyns in past generations. The entire style is exclusive to the new millennium.
Or is it?
Over time, innovations lose their novelty and origins fade into memory. Let’s take a trip back to the days when a name we now take for granted was new.
The Age of -ENE
Welcome to the “Gay Nineties.” The new Edison phonographs are bringing musical stars into our homes. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show is touring the world. Women are riding bicyles! And the hottest new sound for an American girl’s name is “-ene.”
The fresh new hit Irene is leading a fashion wave that won’t crest until the 1930s. Its snappy sound is inspiring parents to innovation: glamorous imported names like Claudine, riffs on popular names like Ethelene, feminizations of male names like Floydene, and scores of other trendy choices.
The NameGrapher tells the tale with this historical popularity chart of 71 of the most popular “ene” names.
And one more.
In 1896, the name Darlene made its debut in American name stats. It wasn’t an import or an extension of another name. It was a “namified” version of the word darling.
Darlene proved to be one of the most lasting names of the -ene wave, continuing to rise through the 1950s. Along the way it launched its own spinoffs, including Darlyn starting in 1926. Today, Darlene is so familiar that few people even notice its word roots. But back in the 1890s, it must have seemed…Amazyn.