Baby Names to Avoid

Instead of giving you ideas about what to name your baby, in this article I’ll do quite the opposite: detail how to avoid the kinds of names likely to hinder or annoy your child.

1. Avoid names that are likely to cause teasing. Bullies look for ways to get under their victim’s skin. Here are some of their dirty tricks:

  • Teasers love names that are associated with either private body parts (like Fanny, Dick or Peter) or bathroom functions.
  • Teasers like to rhyme and will give your child a new name (like Pooper Cooper, Fat Matt, Skinny Minnie, and Tricky Dicky).
  • Teasers might give your child a new suffix or last name (like Frank Enstein, Pat The Bunny, or Frank Furter).

2. Avoid names associated with heinous historical villains (like Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Ivan the Terrible). Ditto for fictional villains (like Count Olaf from “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”).

3. Avoid names of celebrities whose popularity has (deservedly) gone “south” (like Paris, Lindsay, and Lance).

4. Avoid names that are difficult to spell and/or pronounce (like Siobahn and Hieronymous).

5. Avoid names that sound like impolite words (such as Jorge, which when pronounced properly sounds like “whore hey;” Helga, which includes “hell;” and Rich, which invites rhymes with “witch” and an unflattering b-word).

Of course, when you’re picking a name for your baby, you’re usually thinking positive thoughts as you imagine a handsome or beautiful child growing up happily. That’s why it helps to Google every name you’re considering to learn its “famous namesakes” (historical and fictional), which will help you imagine the associations that come to people’s minds when they hear it.

Another good idea is to try out the names you’re considering on schoolchildren–either relatives or neighbors. Instruct them to tease a child with each name. They may come up with taunts you never imagined.

© 2013 Bruce Lansky
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without proper notice of copyright.

2 thoughts on “Baby Names to Avoid

  1. Love that last bit of advice! It’s not too hard for adults to steer clear of baby names with obvious teasing potential — Dorcas, Fanny, Dick, etc. But testing baby names on schoolkids is bound to reveal taunts/associations adults could never have come up with on their own. Could be really eye-opening.

    • There are lots of bloggers who strive to suggest the latest, trendiest names. I’m striving to explain naming techniques in the clearest and most helpful ways.
      So when anyone notices, or better yet, reads one of my posts, I’m very happy. Glad the person who brightened my day turned out to be you. Let me know if you
      collect funny baby-naming stories. I’d like to publish them (or retweet them).

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