According to Nameberry, “cool names” are names that will impress your friends and family when you send out the birth announcement. They’ll say, “I wish I had thought of that!” Or, “Great name! Where’d you find it?” However, if you pick a name that causes friends and family to say, “You must be kidding!” you know you’ve picked name which isn’t a “keeper” (if you’d caught it while fishing, you would immediately remove the hook and throw it back into the water).
For reasons I can’t fathom Pamela Redmond Satran and Aela Mass specialize in names that would cause most people to say “You named your baby What?” It appears Satran has an acolyte named Aela Mass who wrote an article called “10 Unusual Baby Names I Discovered While Walking My Dog,” which I found on Babble.
All ten of the names would do a great job of confounding your friends and family when you announce them. All ten would also come in handy when you are angry at your child: “If you do that again, I’m going to change your name to Sophronia!” Or, “Hobart, get a sponge and clean up the milk you just spilled. Now!”
That said, here is the list of ten dead names Aela Mass claims she found in a cemetery: Sophronia, Eudora, Drusilla, Alaric, Hobart, Emiline, Annourilla, Lugretia, Gratia and Almeda
The proof that Mass found these names in a cemetery rather than on her laptop is that she included a photo of her dog, Darla in her “Walking My Dog” article. I wonder if the cemetery Aela Mass claims to have visited with her dog is the same cemetery where Satran finds the names she uses in her articles about “unusual,” “forgotten,” or “never heard of” names. I suspect both Nameberry writers use the same source, whatever it might be. Their writing styles are both quite similar. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
I must admit it took me some time to copy down the dead names, because I had to keep rechecking to make sure I had spelled them correctly. Annourilla, Lugretia, Gratia and Emiline are begging (from the grave) to be misspelled and mispronounced. However, just about all the names would be great fun to use when your children are late for dinner. “Alaric, Drusilla, dinner is on the table. Wash your hands immediately or no dinner for the two of you!”
Why did Aela Mass decide to share these ten names with us? You’d think someone named Aela (who must have hated her name when she was a child) would want to prevent babies from getting awful names. Instead she promotes embarrassing names on behalf of Nameberry and Pamela Redmond Satran for distribution through Babble.
P.S. I just remembered where I’d heard of Aela Mass; she’d written an article called “20 Cool and Unusual Names” which I think contained 20 of the names Pamela Redmond Satran had included in a longer article called “100 Cool and Unusual Names.” I wrote a post about Mass’ article called “Has Nameberry Lost Its Cool?” It is one of my most popular posts. I also wrote a post about the longer article that Satran wrote, “Should Come With a Warning,” which was even popular.) It would appear that Satran and Mass are colleagues. Do they hold editorial meetings in cemeteries? I doubt it.
The kind of “dead” names in Aela Mass’ latest article were similar to the kind of “cool and unusual” names from Mass’ and Satran’s recent articles). For example Eulalie was recommended in the “cool and unusual” article and Eudora was recommended in the “dead names” article. All of the names Mass and Satran have been recommending could just as easily be called: “forgotten” or “unheard of”–words Satran has used in the title of recent articles featuring archaic names that are rarely if ever used in recent years.
However “dead” (a word that fits the “cemetery theme” Mass invented) strongly suggests that the names aren’t fit for real live children. What they can’t be called is “cool” because there’s nothing remotely “cool” about the dead names they’ve been recommending to expecting mothers whose babies would be devastated by the embarrassment and teasing these awful names would bring them. (Aela Mass should know from first-hand experience how painful it is to be given a “weird name.”)
To her credit, Mass didn’t call the latest batch of 10 names “cool.” But the fact that Nameberry is still recommending names that died 100+ years ago and have little or no possible appeal to parents in 2014 is amazing. What’s more amazing is that websites like Huffington Post and Babble feature these dead names which are of little or no use to contemporary parents.
Sooner or later Nameberry’s distributors (Huff Po, Babble and major market newspapers) and Nameberry’s employees are going to rise up and say “We don’t want to recommend dead names to parents whose babies could suffer as a result.” There’s something ghoulish about Nameberry’s continuing obsession with names that have been rotting in their graves for 100 years or more.
If you think I’m crazy, ask yourself this question. Would you happily switch your name (whatever it is) for Annourilla or Lugretia? Is there a single name on Mass’ list of dead names you would give serious thought to naming your next child? Why would any rational parent want to subject their next baby to embarrassment and teasing? (I exclude certain celebrities from the category of “rational parents.”)
You may recall that boxer Laila Ali called ridiculous celebrity baby names like North West and Blue Ivy “crazy.” I think the ten dead names Aela Mass claims to have found in a cemetery are as embarrassing as many of the names on my list of “29 outrageous celebrity baby names.”
The Baby Name Police have their eyes on Mass and her Nameberry colleagues. It’s a fine thing to call attention to lovely old names that have been overlooked in recent times. It’s a harmful thing to promote the use of unpleasant and unappealing old names which likely to subject contemporary children to likely to embarrassment, teasing and harassment. And to add insult to injury, many of the names are difficult to spell and pronounce as well.