How (Not) To Name Your Baby

931 Comments

baby-names
Is it just me, or is it like a freakin’ contest nowadays of who can give their kid the most gag-worthy name? All of a sudden, everyone is “that guy” with regards to naming their offspring. You know, that guy who makes folks roll their eyes or stare blankly when they hear the baby’s “hip” or intentionally unusual furniture- or foreign city-inspired name that is spelled with 7 extra consonants and a random apostrophe? Yeah. I didn’t want to be that guy. Don’t you be that guy, either.

So please, don’t:

• Create a new spelling for an otherwise normal name. Why on earth would you intentionally botch the spelling of your kid’s name? People are shitty spellers already. You don’t have to make things harder by taking a perfectly well-spelled name and adding silent letters or superfluous punctuation. Your kid will not be more unique just because you buck the rules of written English and change Mark to Marq. They will not be more mysterious or well-rounded if you spell it S’mantha and not Samantha. They will, however, spend their life correcting people and getting agitated that no-one ever spells their name right, even if the assumed spelling is reasonable (“It’s Mary. No, with four Rs. Yes, M-A-R-R-R-R-Y. God! Everyone thinks it’s just one R!”). Side note: If you change the spelling of a nickname to align it with the real name, I might be able to forgive that. Eg, Catie, instead of Katie, for Catherine.

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• Invent a stupid pronunciation, especially for a [relatively] normally spelled name. A friend told me of a girl she knows named Le-ah. No, it’s not pronounced “Lee ah.” It’s not pronounced “Lee.” It’s “Lee dash ah.” You read that right. “Lee dash ah.” The dash in the name is part of the pronunciation. I thought my friend was kidding, but you can’t make stuff like this up. Poor Le-ah is going to be insane by the time she’s 4.

• Name your kid something that is a well-established name of the opposite sex. I’m all for squelching gender stereotypes, but I think there are better ways to do it than by confusing people with your kid’s name. I’m not talking about those borderline names that can go either way, like Terry or Kelly. I’m talking about giving your child a name that is straight up for the opposite sex. I’m talking to you, Jessica Simpson. Maxwell? For a girl? Really? Perhaps you had a great reason for giving your daughter a boy name, but because I don’t know what it is, I am just confused.

• Name your kid a nickname. My brother had a friend named JD. Named JD. It didn’t stand for anything (he’s a Southerner. No further comment necessary). The poor guy got so tired of repeating the line, “No, it isn’t short for anything. That’s just my name,” that he made up a full name for himself. He went with Jack Daniel. Like I said, he’s a Southerner.

• Have a crappy reason for selecting a goofy name. If you want to name your kid Esmeralda Ireland because it was your grandma’s name and grandpa’s birth country, OK. I can get behind that. Maybe the name is weird, but you have a nice reason for choosing it. But if you’re naming your kid Esmeralda Ireland because you like witches and you hope to visit Ireland someday, you’re a tool. You’re also a tool for naming your kid after a random object, place, celebrity, or trendy fictional character (ahem, Edward Cullen).

• Invent a name just to be quirky. My husband and I joked we were going to get on the portmanteau baby-name wagon by combining my grandmas’ names (Gloria + Sophia = Glophia). We high-fived each other for our hilarious originality, but really, with this trend of inventing unique names, the odds are slim that Glophia isn’t already taken. In the end, we had no reason to invent a name, so we didn’t. If you don’t have a reason to invent one, don’t.

Obviously, you can name your kid whatever you want, so really my point is this: if you’re going give your kid a goofy name, have a damn good reason. Or at least a mediocre story.

On a related note, if you’re going to be “that guy” and give your kid an effed up name, don’t also be the guy who refuses to share the name because you’re afraid of negative commentary or feedback. As soon as someone tells me they’re not sharing baby names, I assume the name they picked sucks or will scare people—-and they know it. When you pick a name for your kid—good or bad—own it. Don’t be a puss about it. If someone begins to pooh-pooh your name, cut them off. Who cares if the biggest moron in their high school was Skippy, or the biggest douche was Biff? That’s their experience, not yours. Who cares if your coworkers think Maroon Marmalade is a terrible name as long as you love it. Most people know better than to slam your baby name anyway. Everyone is so damn sensitive nowadays. But on the bright side of the unwanted commentary, someone might actually have a helpful tidbit about your name that you should know before legally assigning it to your child. Like, “Adam Samuel Samsonite? Soooo…his initials will be ASS?” Oh hell no. Thanks for pointing that out, Friend.

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Lastly, a little food for thought: When you hear of a kid with a bizarre name, I bet the first thing you think is, “Why would a parent do that to their child?” That’s the important and oft overlooked part: the parent makes the call, but the kid lives with it. Your unusual name choice and alternate spelling are burdens your child has to bear. Maybe they’ll work it like RuPaul, maybe they’ll get shoved in a locker, who knows. Just keep that in mind when you’re deciding which fruit or color to name your kid after.

Comments

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  1. 1

    Sunshine says

    As a person that had to live with a “gag-worthy name,” I am in total agreement with this post. If someone asks me if my sister’s name is Moonshine one more time…well you may see me on “Snapped.”

    I gave all 3 of my babies “normal” names so they don’t have to go through this shit. My parents tried to chime in on the baby naming process but I told them they should never be allowed to name another living thing!

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    • 2

      Jen says

      You have my sympathy. As I read your comment, the only thing I could think was “Gosh. That could have been me.” My maiden name is White. My mother wanted to name me Snow. Yep, Snow White. Thank goodness Dad was a “stick in the mud” and refused to allow it. Instead, I’m named after two characters from “Valley of the Dolls.” Thanks, Mom. But meh, they’re pretty normal names. I’m still calling it a win. (I also made it a point to give my children traditional names.)

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      • 3

        Cassandra says

        Jen, my maiden name is also White. My parents went through the same scenario. The only way my mom got around it was with being half Japanese and making my middle name, Yukiko. Japanese for snow.

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    • 13

      Sandie says

      My sister’s name is Misty.
      When we’re together meeting new people, one of us tells them an easy way to remember our names “Just think of a misty morning on a sandy beach.”

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    • 18

      Tara says

      The worst name I ever heard for a girl was Jersey….I honestly hear a cow moo in my head ever time I hear her mother call her. I have two daughters with traditional simple names, Lauren and Victoria..and no Victoria is not a Vicki/Vickie/Tori – don’t mess with an already easy name….grrrr

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      • 19

        Lauren says

        Before I found out I was having a girl I had picked the name August for a boy. My dad ruined this for me by telling everyone my child would be named Gus. I think Gus is one of the worst names to ever exist. Its only a 6 letter name in the first place. There is no reason to destroy a beautiful name with your own crappy version. I’m so excited I’m having a girl so my dad can’t ruin my child’s name.

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        • 20

          Belladonna says

          God, parents can be so invasive. I wanted to name my daughter Dante. ( pronounced Dan-tay I think it suits a girl, but not as Don-Tay) and my parents say the name is for boys and always spell it Daintae (I know right! ) on her birthday cards because it’s more ‘feminine’. I drew a very firm line when my mum started pronouncing it ‘dainty’. At school I got so fed up with people saying I was a poisonous plant and running away I went by Donna at my second school.

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    • 23

      Rodney says

      I never liked the name Rodney, although many people call me “Rod”. There aren’t many “Good” famous people named Rodney. you have Rodney Dangerfield, and Rodney King. Yeah, there is a baseball player and country western singer. But when i tell people my name is Rodney, older folks say ” like Rodney Dangerfield’ and younger ones sometimes bring up Rodney King. I’m constantly pushing for Rod. Oh by the way… Rod Stewart’s name is Roderick Stewart.

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      • 26

        Geraldine says

        There’s Roders Trotter, son of Del Boy, too in Only Fools and Horses ;)
        (A British institution for those on the other side of the Big Pond)

        We gave ours short easy to spell names that work in English and
        French, their nationalities. Some people have managed to shorten my sons, in the same way the French shorten Geraldine to Gégé …

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    • 27

      Grace says

      I know twins named Sunshine and Moonshine. they are around 23 now. I bet they will name their kids something off the top names for the year. I know I will.

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    • 28

      Alex says

      My mom named me for Alexander Hamilton, which I suspect came from her babymoon trip to Barbados. I love my name apart from being asked if I’m named for the president (he wasn’t ever president) and always having my name misspelled as Alexander (it should be Alexandra). My favorite name joke is the one where they ask if I’ve ever run into Erin Burr. Nyuk nyuk nyuk.

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    • 29

      Chelsey says

      For one I agree with everything you said except for when people don’t share their baby names you “assume” its because they don’t want to hear negative feedback. I am 28 weeks pregnant with my first child and I’m having a girl. Unfortunately I live in a very small town where everybody copies everyone and there’s a lot of noisy people who gossip and spread rumors and are pregnant with their first child as well and went to school with me and are having girls as well. For instance theres a girl I went to school with and she just had her little girl but while she was pregnant she asked me if i had picked out any baby names and at that time the name my fiance and I were thinking about was lily so I told her so far that would be the name we were giving our daughter well guess what she just named her daughter thats right LILY!! So the new name I chose I haven’t told anyone because I don’t want them to copy my name and use it. Its a name that has alot of meaning to myself and family and I don’t know anyone with this name and I could give a damn if anyone thinks its silly or doesnt like it all that matters is my fiance and I like it.

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    • 30

      Danni says

      I don’t share the name for two reasons 1) I don’t know it until I’ve seen baby’s face (ultrasounds, no matter how hi-def, do not count). 2) When the hubby and I came up with a “short list,” we excitedly told it to his parents only to have his mother tell us why she hated every single name on that list. In great detail. And then re-hash it for the next three months every time she saw us, including at the baby shower she threw me where she made me stand up, announce the names out loud to the entire company, and then proceeded to give all of her reasons for why she hated each name. Talk about embarrassing. And she made me good and mad too. The only thing that saved me from being rude was that my mother was there and she loudly announced “I love those names and here’s why!” and proceeded to list a whole bunch of positive things about each name. That helped some. So from now on, nobody gets to know. I’ll keep between hubby and I because nobody is going to tell me how much they hate it after the baby is born, not even my MIL. And also: people where I live are monogram crazy. If I even hinted that I liked a certain name I’d have a nursery full of monogrammed stuff before I knew it. And then I’d be stuck with the name.

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  2. 31

    Michelle says

    I regret being that person who had to spell their kid’s name differently (Braeden instead of just Braden or even Brayden). Why did I need that extra ‘e’?? I didn’t. I was naive and hormonally charged and it was my first pregnancy. Friends don’t let their friends add extra vowels. Where were my friends in my time of need?

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      • 45

        Hannah says

        I used to work in admissions in a local ER… I actually SAW with my own eyes, and checked in a little girl named “Le-ah”. She was about 5 or so at the time (this was almost 7 years ago) and her mother was VERY pregnant with twins. The mother said that she was naming her twins “lemon-jello” (pronounced lem-an-gel-o) and “orange-jello” (pronounced or-an-gel-o).

        NOT KIDDING!

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        • 46

          C.R says

          I watched a show called secretly pregnant and the woman who was “Secretly pregnant” had a child to a low life who she named A’King and when she gave birth to the second child to the same lowlife she named it A’Knight.
          I thought she was saying
          Ahkeen, yknow? or Ahnight. But nope. A’King and A’Knight

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          • 47

            Danni says

            Favorite name story: I taught seventh grade for two years and got some interesting names, but my all time favorite name was Te’Lar. Pronounced “Taylor.” The girl got very upset the first of class when I pronounced her name the way it was spelled, and she quickly corrected me. Not being one to rock the boat as far as names are concerned, I apologized and called her “Taylor” for that day forward. Fast forward about six months into the school year, when her father came for a parent conference. He says “I’m here to speak about ‘Te’Lar.'” It took me a minute, and then I said “Oh, TAYLOR!” And he said “Is that what they’re calling her now? Her mama is always changing the pronunciation of that kid’s name. I just can’t keep up. It was ‘Te’Lar’ last I heard.” It took everything in me not to burst out laughing. Seriously.

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        • 48

          liss says

          Are you in TX or Arkansas? My coworker’s mom is a teacher in Texarkana, and she had twin students named Orangejello and Lemonjello. There just can’t be that much of a coincidence.

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    • 50

      Adriene says

      I wish the Le-ah thing was an urban myth.. Maybe not THAT specific name, but it is amazing the things that people choose to name their children..
      About 8 years ago there was the Hayden/Cayden/Brayden/Aiden phase.. I assured my sister, pregnant at the time, that her child would likely have at least one of these in her class… She does, in fact!
      I agree with Niki – as another L&D RN I’ve heard many names that I just have to smile at because there is nothing else I can do! And when they ask me how to pronounce a name they spell, I’m honest and tell them I have no idea..

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    • 51

      Beth says

      I heard one about a girl who was named Shithead, but is was pronounced Shi-tay-ad. Lord, I hope that one is a myth! And since there was some kid named Hashtag, I really wouldn’t put it past someone to name their child Le-ah

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      • 52

        Athena says

        “Shithead” is typically an Indian name. My brother has a couple of friends with this name. It’s pronounced “Sha Heed”. It’s actually quite popular in their culture – and “shit” isn’t a swear word in Hindi.

        I agree with some of this post, but with a mom named Venus, my name Athena and my son’s name who is Ares (pronounced Aries, but spelled like the Greek God) we’re sticking with unusual names, who the hell cares what looks we get. I love my name.

        We’re pregnant with #2, any ideas boy or girl for a nice ‘God/Goddess’ name that starts with an “A”? Nothing like ‘Aphrodite’ which could be nicknamed ‘Afro” hahaha

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          • 59

            windy says

            I grew up with an Athena and Aurora, Aurora is goddess of the dawn, and the “real” name of Sleeping Beauty in the Disney version.

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          • 61

            Athena says

            I love the name Atticus, unfortunately for us, one of my college friends JUST named their son Atticus, like, in the past month. We haven’t see each other in person since graduating, but we share a TON of FB friends.

            I had the same issue with Ares, no one liked his name (except for my parents) when we first told them. I can’t possibly picture him as a Matthew or Lukas or anything else common, haha!

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          • 62

            Laura says

            Don’t let someone you know using a name be why you don’t name your kid something. Are they going to spend the rest of their life with that person? Probably not. A name is one of the most permanent things we get. Pick the one you want, even if everyone or no one else is using it.

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          • 63

            Jess says

            Loved the name Atticus until someone pointed it out that it sounds like someone with a lisp saying “ass kiss”. That ruined it for me.

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          • 64

            Allie says

            No it doesn’t (that would sound like Athicus or Athicuth, not Asskiss). I love this character in To Kill a Mockingbird. Although the book overall is a bit depressing, it is a modern American classic.

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        • 65

          Joanna says

          We named our daughter Ariadne from Ancient Greek times. And we named our son Athan from the word “immortal” in Greek. We have very good stories behind both names but in all honesty, we live in such a culturally divers part of the world that who cares what you name you child. The only people who seem to have a problem with my kids names are the older generation who just refuses to believe that there are other names beyond Henry and Cathrine. I personally don’t love my name, and it’s a pretty straight forward one, yet 80% of the time people spell it wrong anyways. I’m not going to base my life around other people’s inability to be divers.

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          • 70

            C.R says

            I hope you pronounce it Awn Ya, because its pretty annoying when people call their kids Irish names and say or spell them wrong :v Connor anyone? That’s a last name in Ireland. :P

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          • 71

            Shannon says

            That is exactly how we say it :) That is a pet peeve of mine, as well. Her middle name is Aisling, none of this Ashlyn mess lol!! Traditionally it has a stress mark, but we chose to leave it off. She will be 13 in about two weeks, and most everyone in her school says it correctly now–we live in a smaller town & she has stayed in the same schools since kindergarten, so all of her peers say it correctly. Its only adults that get it wrong–We get Aine (like pain), Aine-y, Ahnay, Annie, Anna, Anne, or Aimee. She is use to it now. Her nickname is Awn or Awnie, and people always look at me weird when I call her that. Except for once when a Scandinavian lady in Walmart overheard us and got all excited because her name was Anne, pronounced Awn, and she had never heard it in this country. There are no other kids in her who school with Aine, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. :) Although, people do ask me all the time if I made it up. Aine felt vindicated when Mattel released a Legends of Ireland special edition Barbie doll named Aine.

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          • 72

            C.R says

            Ah I bet! She should have come to Ireland :v No one would have thought her name weird! My name is Corinne (Ko Rin) and no one can ever pronounce it. I’ve gotten legal letters delivered to me addressed as “Catherine” and “Caroline” and I’ve even been called “Lorraine” It’s not a difficult name I swear! My poor son, his name is Evan and he gets “Eh Vann” in the doctors surgery. I couldnt have picked an easier name and they still butcher it. Morons!

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        • 73

          Reba says

          We named my daughter Atheya (Ah Thee Ya) because we were arguing between Athena and Thea for over a month. Quite a few people didn’t like it. One kept pushing Althea but I didn’t like that. Today pretty much everyone likes it =)

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        • 75

          Kassa says

          My daughter is named Minerva, I confess I received a good deal of skepticism about it from my coworkers, but the name just fits her. My biggest concern is keeping people from calling her ‘Minnie’ as our last name is ‘Newdick’.

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          • 76

            Issa says

            Good, I have an ally! Our last name is Glasscock. Not kidding. Hubby wants to name our first girl Anya. Anya Glasscock? Not happening. He went through school with a lot of ‘Cox.’ Maycox, Willcox, ect. Still, while I like Anya as a name, it’s not for us.

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        • 77

          Alia says

          Ummmm…. no its not… I am Indian.. very much so.. We do have names like Kshitij, Surnames like Dixit, but no Shitheads.. sorry!! And we pretty much spell our names phonetically.. so Shithead would be pronounced Shit-head, nothing silent..

          Shahid, Shaheed are different names altogether, of arabic/persian origin…
          Speaking of arabic names.. There is a common name Anas its pronounced like the english “an” and “us”… My very wannabe friends decided that the traditional spelling was too boring and bland.. and decided to chage is from Anas to… you guessed it.. ANUS!!! I smfh furiously!!!

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      • 78

        Myrtle says

        I always wonder if such names are considered attractive in the old country and just sound bad in other languages, or if they’re actually the Myrtle or Egbert of “back home,” too.

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      • 79

        Just "George" says

        I hope it was a typo, but while killing time at O’Hare Airport, I picked up a paper and read a story about a girl named “As’shole.” I asked someone about it, and they said its a middle eastern name, that is pronounced Ash-olay.

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        • 81

          Carissa says

          There is a need to use profanity when all ur doing is making fun of people an judging them by some little ass mistakes they made u need to grow up…I don’t care what u think an another thing is making mistakes while texting doesn’t mean I can’t spell your a Douch

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          • 82

            Soon to be Mommy says

            There is no need to be rude and complain about profanity when you are using it yourself (ass, douche), you cannot use proper grammar, forget how to use real words instead of letters (u = your, r = are) and cannot spell (douch=douche). While some of this can be explained away because of the texting (what, I’m not sure but am trying to give you the benefit of a doubt), you are still making yourself look pretty silly.

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  3. 84

    Meg says

    Oh my god, my cousins wife had a student named La-a… Also pronounced ladasha… Oiy. My daughters are Taylor and Samantha. And someone asked me why I wasn’t spelling it S’mantha, I told them because I love my kid

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  4. 89

    Susan says

    So true. It’s because of parents like this that I now need to spell Susan when I talk to people. God only knows how they THINK it’s spelled.

    Sooozyn
    Siouxzin
    Sue’sin

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    • 93

      Nilzed says

      Suzanne? I mean, I know technically that name should be pronounced differently, but that’s the alternative that first comes to mind for me.

      Karen. Yes, with a K. And an E. just one R.
      (Seriously, my name is dead common. The most common for my age peers, Ive known nearly 100. yes, I counted. Maybe 5 did not spell it Karen, so I don’t know why anyone would have to ask.)

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        • 95

          Tina says

          I named my daughter Erin. I think it’s a beautiful, feminine name, without being too fru-fru. And, yes, when i was pregnant, people asked (A LOT) if I was going to spell it A-a-r-o-n! stupid and annoying.

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        • 96

          says

          There is an announcer at a radio station who spells HIS name Erin…really confuses me because that is the traditional spelling for a girl. Aaron is the boy’s version.
          An “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash moment.

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          • 97

            Daniel says

            Aaron is nowhere near the boy’s version of Erin. In fact, Erin isn’t the right name, it’s Éirinn. It’s an Irish name. Aaron is Egyptian I believe. Erin is both a male and female name, although poets used to use it as a romantic name for Ireland itself, and tended to refer to it as female, but as a name, both are spelt ‘Erin’.

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      • 99

        Deborah says

        My son in Pre-K goes to school with a little girl named Karen. But she pronounces it CAR-in. She is such a cute kid. But I just know she is going to spend her life having to correct people’s pronunciation.

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        • 100

          Tricia says

          Karen, pronounced Car-in (sometimes spelled Karin) is actually the Danish pronunciation. It’s my sisters middle name (Karin), and I also know a woman with this name (Karen). It’s a beautiful name though!

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      • 101

        Karin says

        Well, I’m glad people have asked you how to spell Karen, because I can’t tell you how annoying it is that people ALWAYS spell my name Karen unless I tell them. It got so bad that I no longer say my name first if it has to be spelled, but spell it.

        My parents chose this spelling, and the spelling is at least as old as yours is, just less common in English. I also HATE it when people want to pronuonce it like Corrine! I have never seen Kar said like cor (as in incorrigble), but I accept ethnically correct variations in pronunciation such as the Scandinavian ways.

        Karin

        Karin

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      • 109

        Melisha says

        My sister’s name is Shanda but her middle or last name isn’t lear. Lol Her middle name is Jewell after our great grandma. People butcher my name and always have but I guess I’m weird because I’ve always liked my name. I understand people thinking it’s Melissa misspelled but once someone called me Marcia and I still wonder where they got the R from!

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  5. 111

    bethlaf says

    i love my kids names, but they are slightly off beat, not crazy , just not top 100 , having gone through school with 6 count em 6 other Elizabeth, you might see my point…

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    • 112

      Sandy says

      I was never the only Sandy in any of my elementary school classes, and it never bothered me. What did bother me was my last name, which no one could ever pronounce. On the first day of school I would sit there and wait for the long pause while the teacher struggled with it, and I’d spend months helping them with it. My conclusion was that duplication was a small price to pay for avoiding a lifetime of confusion and correction. Both my kids have names that can withstand a spell check. If they want something unique, they can come up with their own nickname, which will have more meaning to them than anything I could devise.

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      • 113

        Michelle says

        Nobody could ever pronounce my maiden name either. It was Rohde- pronounced road-ee. It got mispronounced so often that when someone would get it right (which was very, very seldom) I would actually congratulate them.

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  6. 114

    Face-Palm says

    Hand to God, I had a friend name their sone Epic. EPIC unless that kid is hand made awesome, he’s screwed. Especially since his last name is Johnson. (His father though tit would be hilarious)

    Then my sister is a mix of Danielle and Mischelle, >> Dyschelle -sighs- She was called Dirty Dishes the entirety of high school

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