12 Unusual and Mostly Unusable Names Recommened by Pamela Redmond Satran for 2014

Last year, Pamela Redmond Satran found 100 rarely used, abandoned names, called them “cool unusual names” and wrote an article suggesting them for use by expecting parents. The fact that many of the names were likely to subject baby boys and girls to teasing or embarrassment was not a factor she seems to have considered. (At the time, I wrote that most of the names “should have come with a warning.”)

I’m writing to let you know she’s been sorting through lists of unwanted, abandoned and unlikely names again and has come up with 15 names she’s suggesting for use in 2014. The good news is: she’s not calling them “cool” any more (except for Detroit*). Instead, she describes them, quite accurately, as “names you’ve never heard of.” Most of her “finds” are quite unusable. But she was clever enough to add three recycled surnames that may be of interest to fans.

Here are Satran’s latest list of  strange old names plus some new ideas:
-6 read like combinations of random letters smushed together that don’t seem much like names: Betsan, Cabe, Kaius, Neri, Macsen, and Macson.
-3 are capitalized words that don’t seem much like names either: Camber, Legacy and Sender
-2 are place names (a bankrupt city and a town in Arizona that few people who don’t live there know how to pronounce): Detroit and Tempe
-1 is a rarely used (for good reasons) variation of a popular name: Isabeline
-3 are surnames of famous people that fans may want to consider: (Lou) Costello, (Rudyard) Kipling, and (Douglas) Macarthur

Why does Satran continue to recommend ridiculous and burdensome names?  Why does Nameberry publish this outrageous advice?  Why does Huffington Post feature this irresponsible information on their website?

It’s impossible to dig up buried bodies and breathe life into the corpses. It’s almost impossible to dig up almost dead names (used by ten or less people in the U.S.) and breathe life into them by writing an article about how cool or charming they are.

It must be a rush for Satran to check out last year’s “resurrection” projects to discover that usage on some of the names doubled, tripled or rose even higher from 10 to 20, 30, 50 or even 100. But it’s not so great if you look at it from the perspective of the children who wind up with weird, almost dead names like Neri or Betsan.

It’s difficult (but not impossible) to make up new names that might catch on using Satran’s approach: “Jaxson is a hot name, so maybe Macson or Macsen might work.” Unfortunately, this example from Satran’s latest post doesn’t work well, because Macson and Macsen don’t look like or sound like “names.”

Why would any parents knowingly doom their children to the teasing and torture of going through high school with these awful names: Cabe, Detroit, Kaius, Macsen, Sender, or Tempe (pronounced TEM-pee)?

*Believe it or not, here’s Satran’s “far out” rationale for suggesting Detroit as a name people should use in 2014: “Detroit has a so-far-out-it’s-gotta-be-cool quality.”

Actually, Detroit is a bankrupt city that is down and out. There’s nothing remotely “cool” about Detroit at the moment. I really hope that city makes a comeback, like Brooklyn did. Maybe one day Detroit will be cool. But it won’t impress your friends your children’s friends in 2014. They’ll be too busy shouting, “You must be kidding! Have you lost your mind?

6 thoughts on “12 Unusual and Mostly Unusable Names Recommened by Pamela Redmond Satran for 2014

  1. Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe named her new son Kaius in December. That would make it a very cool name to have indeed in many people’s eyes.

    Nameberry seems to appeal to a different type of reader than yourself. Not everyone has the same tastes.

    It would be nice to see you creating more of your own original content rather than focusing so much effort writing snarky posts demeaning the hard work of other people.

    • Brooke, Thanks so much for writing to make a case for
      Nameberry’s recommendation of Kaius and to suggest in a very reasonable way that “Nameberry seems to appeal to a different type of reader than” (I do.) “Not everyone has the same tastes.” Well said!

      I also think it’s reasonable to suggest I avoid demeaning the hard work of others with “snarky posts.” It’s obvious I need to do a better job of explaining why I write critical posts about a number of Pamela Redmond Satran’s articles, so you will find them convincing rather than “snarky.”

      It’s true that I use humor to demonstrate that many of Pamela Redmond Satran’s articles recommend names that are ridiculous and potentially harmful to children. I’m sorry that strikes you as “snarky.” If I’m right, it’s a very serious problem both for children and for Nameberry. I hope after reading this note you will better understand why I write about Nameberry and why it’s important for even one Nameberry employee to understand what the heck I’m writing about.

      As a result of your carefulness, I will try to be equally careful about the way I phrase this response.

      I explored a number of differences between Nameberry and me in a December “Dear Bruce” post which discussed why I write so often about Nameberry. Nameberry seems to focus on the fashion and celebrity aspects of names. By contrast, I am primarily interested in the potential effects of names on the children to whom they are given.

      I hope you would agree that if a name Pamela Redmond Satran recommends in an article is likely to subject Nameberry-readers’ children to teasing, bullying or abuse, it is reasonable for me to warn Nameberry readers about those potentially harmful names.

      I don’t get the impression that Pamela Redmond Satran is particularly concerned about the effect of the names she recommends on real, live children to whom they may be given. (In that respect, I’d compare her to Kanye West, Beyoncé and Gywneth Paltrow, who didn’t seem to care how the names North West, Blue Ivy or Apple might affect their daughters).

      Pamela Redmond Satran’s most recent post about names she recommends for use in 2014 includes Detroit (which she claims is a “cool” name) and Tempe (pronounced TEM-pee).
      You don’t have to be a psychologist to see that both of these names could turn children who are given them into targets for teasing and derision.

      Detroit is bankrupt and struggling right now. I doubt many people would call that city, or the use of that city as a name for babies, “cool.” The idea that Detroit might be cool now is laughable, so giving a child that name is a laughable recommendation. The name isn’t cool; it’s an embarrassment. And to classmates the name Detroit is like taping a “kick-me” sign on the child’s back.

      Tempe is another recommendation likely to subject children with the name to unwanted derision and abuse. Children find “bathroom words” extremely funny, which is why classmates would find it great fun to tease someone whose name seemed to include a bathroom word in the second syllable (TEM-pee).

      I’ve already mentioned three celebrities who have given embarrassing and burdensome names to their daughters. So use by celebrities does not guarantee a name is safe for use on your children. It’s a lot more realistic for parents to regard celebrity-baby names as “questionable” if they can’t afford to send bodyguards to school with their children to make sure they are not teased and bullied.

      There are many government agencies established to insure that products intended for use or consumption by children are safe. But there is no agency monitoring names parents give children. You’d think baby-name pundits would rise as one to protect children. Unfortunately, I seem to be in the minority on that issue. Nameberry’s visitor count is approximately 1,000 times greater than mine. I really don’t know how much one tiny advocate of intelligent baby-naming practices can accomplish. But I do the best I can to change attitudes on this issue. I hope my response will change your attitude.

      I go out of my way to comment favorably about Nameberry articles I like. I recently praised a Nameberry article about names meaning dawn (like Aurora). And I raved about another recent Nameberry article by Linda Rosenkrantz about the origin of popular nicknames like Peg or Jack.

      I purposely praise insightful, entertaining and informative articles published by Nameberry to make it clear I find many of their articles to be of value and want to encourage them to write and publish more helpful articles and not writing and publishing articles that recommend names which are a disservice to their readers.

      What concerns me is when Nameberry recommends names that are likely to subject children to teasing, derision, or verbal (and possibly physical) abuse. I hope that would concern you, too, and other people who work for Nameberry. (Most people would not for a company that is unconcerned about the harmful side-effects caused by products they make or, in this case, articles they write and publish.)

      I would be happy to talk to Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran about our differences. There’s no rational reason why they couldn’t or wouldn’t take steps to come up with a way to provide baby-name recommendations while avoiding names likely to come across as harmful to children. How can it possibly benefit Nameberry or anyone who writes for Nameberry to become known as a source of recommendations of names that are ridiculous or harmful or burdensome to children?

      There must be someone working at Nameberry who shares my concern about names that may subject children given those names to ridicule or abuse. Why not invite that person (or a new hire, if no current Nameberry employee shares that concern) to function as an ombudsman? You’d need someone in that position who cares greatly about children and who has the authority to challenge high-profile writers.

      Brooke, I want you to know I write all the posts that are published BabyNamesInTheNews.com myself. And I also have the equivalent of 2 other full-time jobs. About 95% of the posts I write either have nothing to do with Nameberry or are positive about Nameberry.

      However, if Nameberry keeps publishing articles that recommend potentially ridiculous and harmful names for babies, someone needs to keep warning parents about them. There would be no reason for anyone to write critical posts about Nameberry if people who work at Nameberry took steps to change the policies which permit (or encourage) irresponsible articles to be written and published.

      I can’t imagine that harming children is in Nameberry’s corporate charter. (If it were, nobody would want to work there.) When it is finally understood that the names they recommend are often ridiculous, weird and likely to harm children, I’m sure Nameberry will discover that a responsible approach to providing baby-name advice is in their best long-term interest.

      Brooke I hope this response helps you see the benefit to Nameberry of joining forces with me to challenge celebrities and baby-name pundits who act as though they have little or no interest in the effect of names on children. I think most parents join me in describing that attitude as “irresponsible.”

      • Thanks for your response Bruce.

        It can sometimes be hard to satisfy the desire to give a child a “special” name, without needlessly causing them a lifetime of problems. We should all want children to have a name they can feel proud of. I hope that when it is my time to name a child I’m able to make a well balanced choice ☺

  2. Bruce is right in calling out irresponsibility. My kid started preschool and I was excited to see the list of all his classmates names until I saw them: misspelled names using z’s and y’s, girls with boys names, surnames for first names. One boy’s name I can’t even fathom to explain it is so horrible that I’d like to smack the parents along side the head. I can’t believe these are the names I am going to hear regularly for the next 12-14 years!

  3. Laura, thanks so much for your comment. I think most parents agree (with us that) it makes good sense to pick a name for your child that will be a pleasure for both parent and child to use and that will work well in a variety of different informal and formal situations throughout life. Some parents pick outrageous names because they see celebrities picking outrageous names and they read baby-naming “experts” like Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry who recommend outrageous names likely to embarrass or harm children. I’d like to convince Linda Rosenkrantz, Nameberry staffers and Nameberry readers to confront Satran and put an end to her irresponsible articles. Many parents don’t know better. But Satran should know better and should advise parents to choose names that will help, not hinder, their children.

    • I notice Pamela Redmond Satran benefits from having a classy name that lends credibility to her writing. Too bad for her readers that she recommends names that will subject their children to teasing and rob them of credibility. How can healthy children grow up with names like Kaius, Detroit, and Neri, Ms. Satran?

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