What does Blake have to lose?
The CW’s reboot of 1980s hit nighttime soap “Dynasty” started its third season last week. Teaser previews said billionaire Blake Carrington (Grant Show) fights to reclaim his empire from daughter Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies) while staving off half-sister Dominique Deveraux (Michael Michele), and Blake “loses something incredibly valuable.”
Blake’s an English surname. In Old English, blæc meant “black” while blac meant “pale.” Both became nicknames referring to hair color or complexion. By medieval times, the words were confused, so Blake families don’t know if their medieval ancestor was swarthy or fair.
In Ireland, Blake was also an English form of Ó Bláthmhaic, derived from a personal name meaning “flower son.” There were 73,797 Americans with the surname Blake in 2010, ranking it 447th.
In the 19th century, parents began using surnames as given names. The 1850 United States Census found 266 men and boys called Blake.
Blake made only a few appearances on Social Security’s top thousand lists until 1945. During the 1950s, it rose to around 350th. No particular pop culture influence seems responsible, other than resembling other newly popular former surnames like Wayne, Dale and Craig.
In 1980, the 969 newborn Blakes ranked the name 237th. In January 1981, the first “Dynasty,” with John Forsythe starring as oil magnate Blake Carrington, premiered. When the series ended in 1989, 3,524 baby Blakes ranked 97th.
Blake first peaked at 77th in 1995. Country singer Blake Shelton (born 1976) became a star with the hit “Austin” in 2001. Blake peaked again at 76th in 2002.
Shelton’s career soared in 2011, when “Honey Bee” was the country song with the fastest-ever rise to gold record status, and he began coaching contestants on “The Voice.” Blake’s third peak at 72nd came in 2012, when 6,083 boys received it.
A few Southern girls were named Blake in the early 20th century. Then in 1988, daytime soap “Guiding Light” rapidly aged child character Christina Thorpe (born in 1975), reintroducing her as an adult going by her middle name, Blake. Blake Thorpe Marler (played 1989-92 by Sherry Stringfield and later by Elizabeth Kiefer) endured the birth of twins thought to have been fathered in a one-night fling who later turned out to be her husband’s after all. Enough “Guiding Light” fans named daughters Blake to just get the name into the top thousand between 1990 and 1997.
In 1987, talent agent Elaine Lively and actor husband Ernie were expecting a child. Convinced it was a boy, they decided to name him after Elaine’s uncle Blake. When a girl arrived, they named her Blake anyway.
Blake Lively became a star playing Serena van der Woodsen on “Gossip Girl” (2007-12). She hit it big in the film “Green Lantern” (2011). Blake jumped to 817th in 2011.
Lively married “Green Lantern” co-star Ryan Reynolds. They’re now one of Hollywood’s most famous young couples. There were 1,181 American girls named Blake in 2018, ranking it 279th.
Blake fell to 158th for boys in 2018. Is it on its way to switching from male to female, like Ashley and Shelby? Or will it be like Dale and Jordan, where boys stay ahead? Or maybe, as a name that began with two opposite meanings, Blake can become that rare gem, a truly unisex name.