The Florence Theory: Cheryl

Cheryl Cole Album Cover

A few weeks ago I talked about how the rise of the name Florence was attributed partly to the fame of the British band Florence + the Machine, so I created the Florence Theory type of posts in order to highlight other names with strong links to a currently popular artist in the British music scene which have a chance of rising in the charts as a result of the popularity of the singer. Last time out, we talked about the name Emeli, a name strongly linked to singer Emeli Sandé. This time around, we’re talking about Cheryl, as in Cheryl Cole.

Girls Aloud were one of my favourite girl groups growing up, and today’s artist is one of their number who has gone on to have a respectably successful solo career. Somebody has also told me that her latest single, Call My Name, is one of the fastest downloads in the UK this year. I hate to admit it, but it’s not half bad.

She also happened to once be married to the fiend that is Ashley Cole, who missed his penalty and thus put England out of Euro 2012. Not that I hold grudges or anything 😉

Cheryl Cole is a Geordie, i.e. she comes from Newcastle and it’s a fact that she’s rather proud of.

As for her name, Cheryl doesn’t exactly have a modern feel to her. Most may think middle-aged mama, rather than cute, chubby baby, but Cheryl Cole happens to have just turned 29. Maybe that’s why the name Cheryl hasn’t generally received a boom thanks to the singer. That said, people here in the UK either view Cheryl Cole as the nation’s sweetheart, or as a bit of a joke since her singing skills aren’t exactly top class.

There are two theories as to the origins of the name Cheryl. The first is that she is simply an elaboration of Cherie inspired by the name Beryl. I hold the name Cherie dear to my own heart, although mostly see it as an affectionate term comme Miette – since a dear French teacher of mine would always refer to me as ma cherie.

However, whilst there are clear indications that the name Cheryl of this spelling is a 20th century invention, variations such as Cheril, Cherill and Cherille have been shown to have been used in the 19th century. It has also been shown that variants such as Cherel, Cherelle and Cherrel were once used as male name, thus backing up a theory of the name’s origins as a surname.

This surname would be Cherill, and it would have likely come from the name of a town in Wiltshire, Cherhill. This is where things get complicated because there are theories relating to Cherill having roots in Common Celtic ial and meaning fertile upland.

As for the beginning part of the name, we could related it to the name Cerne which potentially derives from Celtic and means pile of stones. Cerne could also be related to the name Cernunnos, the name of a Celtic God. His name is of Celtic origins and means horn.

The name Cheryl ranked at #965 in England&Wales in 2010, and this is how she’s fared since 2007:

2007 2008 2009 2010
Rank 1965 1247 865 965
Births 12 23 39 35

The sudden increase must be due to her short but sweet appearance as a judge on The X Factor between 2008-2010.

So there is concrete proof that Cheryl Cole has had an impact on the usage of her name already, but it’s not exactly a major impact and it could be tailing off if she fell between 2009-2010. Therefore the coming years should be interesting to see whether this name resurges or not.

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