Dear America, Stop Naming Your Kids Stupid Sh*t

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
name your kid Feldwick-Davis

Dear America,

Stop naming your kids weird shit.

No really, stop it. NBC Olympics commentary helpfully informed us that Michael Phelps named his infant son Boomer, which sounds like a kiddie name for poop. That’s not child abuse (because child abuse is serious and awful), but it’s bad. Clearly, Phelps hasn’t thought this through. Naming a kid “Boomer” means people will be calling him Boomer for the rest of his life. It doesn’t pass the baby name test, which is saying the following phrases aloud and seeing how stupid they sound:

“This is my son, Boomer.”

“Boomer, get your ass over here.”

“This is my dad, Boomer.”

“Okay, Boomer, time to change your adult diaper!”

“Here, Boomer! Here boy!”

See how “Boomer” doesn’t functionally work as a human name, and barely scrapes by as a dog name? Many, many American baby names now fail this test. That includes Paisley (a pattern, not a child), Kattelynn/Kaitelenn/Kytlynn, Doug, and anything with an extraneous “y” you added to make it cooler. Also, anything beginning with X.

Those parents are the reason we need an acceptable names list like some of those countries in Europe. All unique names aren’t bad: Persephone and Xanthippe. Some are quite beautiful. But “unique” doesn’t mean “awesome” — much like “Unique” would now need six u’s and three apostrophes to live up to her name.

A kid named Blade, for example, is saddled with the knowledge that as soon as he introduces himself, everyone will know his parents were asshole dorks who probably spent too much time playing Dungeons & Dragons (also a bad name: anything inspired by D&D) and reading Ender’s Game. Just do not name your kid “Ender.” Don’t.

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People forget that a kid’s name totally reflects on their parents. So if you name your kid Kal-El, we’re going to know you’re super into superheroes, and we’ll probably make kryptonite jokes.

Some people disagree with these basic premises. In fact, of Boomer Phelps’ name, one mother said on a comment board, “But at the end of the day, it is the parents’ decision what they name their children, and who are we to judge? Would you like it if someone questioned the names you chose to name your children?”

Who are we to judge? We’re the people who have to try to pronounce that name or say it without laughing. Also, and let’s be honest here, this is America. We judge everyone for everything.

And we’re especially judging people whose kids’ names fall into the following categories:

Names which function best for a dog or hamster

This includes names like Boomer, Fido, Brownie, Dougie, Cherry-Blue, Rocka, Rio, Legend, Ninja, Qwest, Ninja Qwest, Boy, Girl, Baby Boy/Baby Girl, and possibly Paisley.

If you can yell it across a yard and expect a dog to come running, it ain’t fit for your kid. You can’t make an argument here. You don’t name your kid “Whiskers,” dude, and you don’t name your dog “Elizabeth.”

Names that are all pompous literary references

I really love racial equality and To Kill a Mockingbird too. I’m also Southern with a high tolerance for dumbass names. (I once taught a “Fleetwood,” which struck me as merely pretty.) But Atticus? Really? Atticus is not a functional name. Neither is Kerouac, Hermione, Moby, Thermopylae, or Sartoris — or Queequeg, which I incidentally named my dog. We’re pretentious like that. And if you can ID all the names on this list, you probably are too.

Names ripped blatantly from sci-fi or fantasy

Your daughter is not a Khaleesi or a Katniss. Your son is not a Lannister, Tyrell, White Walker, or Peta. In fact, all names mentioned in Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Atlas Shrugged, Ender’s Game, Dune, Harry Potter, and the Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook are strictly off limits. That means not just names, but also categories of warriors. Okay, I’m-going-to-name-my-kid-Ronin-with-a-y?

Anything you just added a ‘y’ to

Kaytlynn’s the top offender here, but so are variants like Addyson, Paysley, Eryn, Allyson, Jessamyn, and Jessyca.

“Y” is not a magic letter you can substitute for any vowel sound. Moreover, your kid is going to be saying “It’s Eryn with a ‘y’” for the rest of their life. Don’t you think that might be a tad bit more annoying than going as “Allison K” for a few years in elementary school?

Anything that starts with “X” because you like that letter and think it is cool

Sorry, friends who gave their children decent “X” names a few years back. Now they’re too trendy to live. Xenon, Xarina, Xavier, Xava — no. And worst of all, you cannot just substitute “X” for other letters and expect that to work. Xeraphina, Xexelia, and Xachary are not real names for real humans.

Anything related to fairies or elves

The neo-hippie Celtic mythos has got to die. When you name your kids things like Fairy, Pixie, Nixie, Sidhe, Tuatha, Brownie (also a dog’s name), or Ariel, we’re laughing at you — at you, not your kid. It’s not their fault you decided to get all faux whimsical on the universe. They just bear the brunt of your decision.

Place names you’ve never been

I’m side-eyeing you, parents of Dakotas, Austins, Colorados, Sierras, Nevadas, and Montanas. Why don’t you just name your kid West and leave it there?

And that’s the point. When you bestow a stupid name on that bitty baby, the child bears the brunt of your decision — sound or not.

I’m not saying you need to name your kid Elizabeth or Christopher. Talitha, Tabitha, Faulkner, and Fleetwood are all fine names. Pick something traditional. Pick something nontraditional. But don’t pick something stupid, America.

One day we’ll have nursing homes full of Paisleys. And we’ll have you to thank.


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