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Trilby - Baby Name

Many baby names have hazy origins. Not Trilby. Trilby comes from a very specific fictional character that was popularized during a very specific period of time.

The character? Trilby O'Ferrall.

The time? The very last years of the 19th century.

Trilby O'Ferrall was featured in the gothic novel Trilby by French-born British author George du Maurier. The novel a was first published serially in Harper's Monthly in 1894. It was a great commercial success and was later adapted into a long-running play.

In the book, Trilby is a naive, tone-deaf woman who becomes a famous singer. How? A hypnotist named Svengali puts her into trances. While under his spells, she's able to sing.

Where does her name come from? Well, because of the character's connection to singing, it's reasonable to assume the author coined it as a play on the musical term trill, which refers to rapid alternation between two adjacent notes. Then again, he may have taken the name from an earlier literary source--the novel Trilby, ou le Lutin d'Argail (1822) by Charles Nodier.

In 1895, the year after du Maurier's Trilby was first published, the name Trilby became the 978th most popular baby girl name in the United States. That was the only time Trilby managed to rank in the top 1,000.

And the name wasn't given just to babies. It was also used for:The character Svengali also made an big impression. His name never caught on as a baby name, but it's now used as a vocabulary word denoting someone who is manipulative or controlling.


10,000 Most Popular Baby Girl Names 10,000 Most Popular Baby Girl Names

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