32 Irish Names You Can’t Pronounce Without Peeking

Seamus is a fairly esoteric Irish name. It’s also a term Garrison Keillor uses in his Guy Noir radio stories to refer to a private eye. if you’ve ever listened to “Guy Noir” on NPR, you know how to pronounce Seamus.

Ever hear of an Irish singer named  Sinead O’Connor? Her  arrangement of a song (written by the artist formerly known as Prince) called “Nothing Compares 2 You” became a world-wide hit in the ’80s. 

After Sinead came Siobhan Donaghy, an English singer (of Irish descent) who was a founding member of the Sugababes–a girl band whose breakout hit in the year 2000 was “Overload.” 

If you don’t follow pop music closely, you’ll probably have no idea how to pronounce the names of those two Irish singers–or any of the other names on the list of Irish names below.

If you don’t believe me, try to pronounce the ten names listed below without peeking at the pronunciation guide (which you’ll have to scroll down to see). Don’t scroll down before you’ve tried to pronounce the next ten names.

Bet You Can’t Pronounce These Irish Girls’ Names Without Peeking

Aislidh

Eibhilin

Orlaith

Mairghread

Rionagh

Bet You Can’t Pronounce These Irish Boys’ Names Without Peeking 

Aoibhinn

Conchobhar

Eoghan

Ruairi

Tadhg

Now that you know even musicologists can’t pronounce the ten Irish names you’ve just slaughtered, take a look at the other 24 names to see if there are any you could have pronounced correctly. With that information in mind, print out this list, fold it up, and stick it in your pocket. Whenever you need a dollar or a fiver to buy a newspaper or a bottle of beer, bet any friend who brags of being Irish that he can’t pronounce a single one out of five or ten or fifteen or twenty Irish names correctly. It’s like stealing a green party hat from a drunk Irishman
on St. Patrick’s Day.

Hard-to-Pronounce Irish Girls’ Names (With Pronunciation)

Ailbhe: AL-va
Aine: ON-ya
Aislidh: ASH-lee
Aoife: EE-feh
Caoimhe: KEE-va or KWEE-va
Caitlin: CAT-leen or CATH-leen
Caitriona: kah-TREE-na
Ciara: KEE-ar-a or KEE-ra
Clodagh: CLOH-da
Daire: DAR-a
Eibhilin: ay-LEEN
Maire: MAIR-y
Mairghread,  Mairaid: mar-AID
Niamh: NEE-av or NEEV.
Oisin: UH-sheen
Orlaith: OR-lae or OR-la
Róisín: raw-SHEEN
Rionagh: RAY-na
Saorise:  SEER-sha or SAIR-sha
Sinéad: shin-ADE
Siobahn: sha-VAWN

Hart to Pronounce Irish Boys’ Names (With Pronunciation)

Aoibhinn, Aoibheann: EE-van
Aodhan, Aoden: AY-den, AY-dan
Cian: KEE-an or KEEN
Cillian: KIL-ee-an.
Conchobhar: CON-er
Darragh: DAR-a
Diarmuid: DER-mit
Eoghan, Eoin,: OH-wen
Oisin:  UH-sheen
Ruairi: ROAR-y
Tadhg: TIGE

Nine Cool Characters from the ’90s to Name Your Kid After

Who was your  favorite actor or movie star in the 90s’ when you were “coming of age.” Did you ever think of naming your child after one of them? Refresh your memory of the stars you dreamed about at night–and add some names to your baby name list. At least that’s the thought Kat George had when she penned this article for Bustle.com.

Here’s how she starts her entertaining piece:

“If you were a preteen or teen in the ’90s you’re probably around that baby-making age now…So why not take inspiration from that amazing decade while naming said babies.”

Wanna know who Kat George thinks are the coolest characters from the ’90s? (FYI, I looked up the names of the actors who portrayed the cool characters and the names of the TV shows or movies they starred in–so you’d know. I also included a brief rationale by Kat George for each selection):

  1. Adriana (La Cerva) in “The Sopranos”; Portrayed by: Drea de Matteo
    Why: “She had the best wardrobe on television ever, period.”
  1. Josh (Lucas) in “Clueless” (the movie); Portrayed by: Paul Rudd
    Why: …”the character that made a whole generation of women fall in love with Paul Rudd.
  1. Anya (Jenkins ) in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”; Portrayed by: Emma Caulfield
    Why: ”Anya is the best character…and a powerful woman too, so it’s a win-win situation for your kid.”
  1. Jesse (Katsopolis ) in “Full House”; Portrayed by: John Stamos
    Why: “Who is cooler than Uncle Jesse? Can’t think of anyone, can you?”
  1. Elaine (Benes ) “Seinfeld”; Portrayed by: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
    Why: “I feel like it goes without explaining but I will tell you this: Elaine is EVERYTHING!”
  1. John (McClane ) “Die Hard”; Portrayed by: Bruce Willis
    Why: “Yippee kiyay mother****er!”
  1. Mia (Wallace) “Pulp Fiction” ; Portrayed by: Uma Thurman
    Why: So she did a few drugs. She survived!
  1. Korben (Dallas); “The Fifth Element”; Portrayed by: Bruce Willis
    Why: “Korben was the coolest guy. I mean, he had to be to pull off the bleached hair and neon orange tank top.”
  1. Maude (Lebowski); “The Big Lebowski”; Portrayed by: Julianne Moore.
    Why: “If I could be any woman in any movie, I’d be Maude Lebowski.“

If you want to see the great photos and videos that accompany the Bustle piece, click here.

The Most Popular Canadian Names in 2014 by Province and Territory

Since I reported the most popular Canadian names in 2013 (by province and territory), it has been one of my most popular posts. I’m happy to update that report with 2014 popularity data, provided by Today’s Parent.com.

Here are the top-20 baby names for boys and girls in: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, the popularity data available for Northwest Territories,  Prince Edward Island, and Yukon Territories was less complete; and I was unable to obtain any data for Nunavut.

I think it will be helpful if I use one asterisk to indicate names that were only popular in one province or territory in 2014 and two asterisks to indicate names that were popular in two provinces or territories. This will quickly enable you to spot names that are broadly popular throughout Canada and names whose popularity is limited to one or two provinces and territories.

Baby Names Whose Popularity was Limited to One Province or Territory:

Quebec: There were 21 baby names which were only popular in Quebec. Girls’ names more popular in Quebec than in the rest of Canada include French names: Juliette and Camille; prototypical English Names: Victoria and Alice; gender-neutral names: Charlie and Laurence; and names spelled differently than in other provinces: Lea (instead of Leah) and Zoe (instead of Zoey). Boy’s names popular in Quebec that are not as popular in the rest of Canada include: Alexis, Felix, Emile, Charles, Adam and Leo.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Names more popular in Newfoundland and Labrador (than in the rest of Canada) included Parker, Landon, Ryan, Kayden and Chase for boys; Allie,  Sarah, and Anna for girls.

Saskatchewan: Names more popular in Saskatchewan (than in the rest of Canada) included both Jase and Bentley for boys; Brielle, Sabella and Aubrey for girls.

Yukon Territory: Names more popular in the Yukon Territory (than in the rest of Canada) included: Connor, Declan, Everett, Flynn, Nolan and Sawyer for boys; and Alexa, Julia and Kaylee for girls.

Nova Scotia: Names that were more  popular in Nova Scotia (than in the rest of Canada) included Jaxson for boys; and Claire for girls.

British Columbia: Girls’ names that were more popular in British Columbia (than in the rest of Canada) included Natalie and Scarlett.

Manitoba: Grayson is a boys’ name that was more popular in Manitoba (than in the rest of Canada).

New Brunswick: Caleb is a boys’ name that was more popular in New Brunswick (than in the rest of Canada).

Ottawa: All the top-20 names for boys and girls were also popular in three or more other provinces and territories.

Alberta: All the top-20 names for boys and girls were also popular in three or more other provinces and territories.

Alberta

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. Lucas
  3. Ethan
  4. Noah
  5. Logan
  6. Benjamin
  7. William
  8. Jacob
  9. Mason
  10. Carter
  11. Alexander
  12. Jack
  13. Nathan
  14. Samuel
  15. Owen
  16. Oliver
  17. Hunter
  18. Jackson
  19. James
  20. Jaxon

Girls

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Emily
  4. Sophia
  5. Ava
  6. Avery
  7. Abigail
  8. Charlotte
  9. Chloe
  10. Lily
  11. Ella
  12. Isabella
  13. Hannah
  14. Amelia
  15. Brooklyn
  16. Madison
  17. Sadie
  18. Grace
  19. Mia
  20. Elizabeth

British Columbia

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. Mason
  3. Ethan
  4. Lucas
  5. Benjamin
  6. Logan
  7. William
  8. Alexander
  9. Oliver
  10. Noah
  11. James
  12. Jacob
  13. Owen
  14. Jack
  15. Nathan
  16. Carter
  17. Daniel
  18. Hunter
  19. Jackson
  20. Jayden

Girls

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Sophia
  4. Emily
  5. Ava
  6. Chloe
  7. Charlotte
  8. Ella
  9. Avery
  10. Hannah
  11. Isla**
  12. Isabella
  13. Amelia
  14. Lily
  15. Abigail
  16. Mia
  17. Elizabeth
  18. Aria*
  19. Sophie
  20. Brooklyn

Manitoba

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. Noah
  3. Logan
  4. Ethan
  5. Mason
  6. Jacob
  7. James
  8. Lucas
  9. Benjamin
  10. Jackson
  11. Nathan
  12. Hunter
  13. Owen
  14. Alexander
  15. Jack
  16. Oliver
  17. Luke
  18. Carter
  19. William
  20. Grayson*

Girls

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Sophia
  4. Emily
  5. Ava
  6. Chloe
  7. Avery
  8. Abigail
  9. Isabella
  10. Madison
  11. Sophie
  12. Hannah
  13. Sadie
  14. Zoey**
  15. Leah
  16. Natalie*
  17. Mia
  18. Charlotte
  19. Anna
  20. Scarlett*

New Brunswick

Boys

  1. Jacob
  2. Liam
  3. William
  4. Noah
  5. Carter
  6. Logan
  7. Benjamin
  8. Jackson
  9. Owen
  10. Alexander
  11. Hunter
  12. Mason
  13. Jackson
  14. Thomas
  15. Caleb*
  16. Lucas
  17. Ethan
  18. Xavier**
  19. Jace**
  20. James

Girls

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Charlotte
  4. Sophie
  5. Abigail
  6. Sadie
  7. Sophia
  8. Emily
  9. Ava
  10. Ella
  11. Lily
  12. Mia
  13. Addison
  14. Avery
  15. Madison
  16. Grace
  17. Brooklyn
  18. Chloe
  19. Isabelle
  20. Leah

Newfoundland and Labrador

Boys

  1. Jackson
  2. Jack
  3. Liam
  4. Owen
  5. William
  6. Carter
  7. Chase
  8. Ryan
  9. Aidan/Aiden**
  10. Benjamin
  11. Luke
  12. Nathan
  13. Ryder**
  14. Mason
  15. Noah
  16. Parker*
  17. Landon*
  18. Alexander
  19. Ethan
  20. Kayden*

Girls

  1. Emma
  2. Sofia/Sophia
  3. Ava
  4. Emily
  5. Lily
  6. Avery
  7. Chloe
  8. Olivia
  9. Hailey**
  10. Sarah**
  11. Sofie/Sophie
  12. Peyton**
  13. Abigail
  14. Ella
  15. Allie
  16. Brooklyn
  17. Madison
  18. Anna**
  19. Lauren*
  20. Addison/Addyson

Northwest Territories

Boys

  1. William

Girls

  1. Ava

This is the only data that is available.

Nova Scotia

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. William
  3. Benjamin
  4. Owen
  5. Hunter
  6. Lucas
  7. Carter
  8. Ethan
  9. Jacob
  10. Jackson
  11. Oliver
  12. Mason
  13. Jack
  14. Alexander
  15. James
  16. Luke
  17. Noah
  18. Gabriel**
  19. Henry**
  20. Jaxson*

Girls

  1. Emma
  2. Olivia
  3. Ava
  4. Sadie
  5. Sophia
  6. Lily
  7. Abigail
  8. Brooklyn
  9. Ella
  10. Chloe
  11. Charlotte
  12. Emily
  13. Alexis*
  14. Isabella
  15. Claire*
  16. Hannah
  17. Amelia
  18. Peyton**
  19. Sarah**
  20. Avery

Ontario

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. Lucas
  3. Ethan
  4. Noah
  5. Logan
  6. Benjamin
  7. William
  8. Jacob
  9. Mason
  10. Carter
  11. Alexander
  12. Jack
  13. Nathan
  14. Samuel
  15. Owen
  16. Oliver
  17. Hunter
  18. Jackson
  19. James
  20. Jaxon

Girls

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Emily
  4. Sophia
  5. Ava
  6. Avery
  7. Abigail
  8. Charlotte
  9. Chloe
  10. Lily
  11. Ella
  12. Isabella
  13. Hannah
  14. Amelia
  15. Brooklyn
  16. Madison
  17. Sadie
  18. Grace
  19. Mia
  20. Elizabeth

Prince Edward Island

Boys

  1. Jack
  2. Oliver
  3. Owen
  4. Mason
  5. William
  6. Henry**
  7. Noah

Girls

  1. Anna**
  2. Mya*
  3. Emma
  4. Ellie*
  5. Lily
  6. Charlotte
  7. Ava
  8. Chloe
  9. Olivia
  10. Mia

This is the only data that is available.

Quebec

Boys

  1. William
  2. Nathan
  3. Samuel
  4. Alexis*
  5. Olivier*
  6. Felix*
  7. Thomas**
  8. Liam
  9. Jacob
  10. Gabriel**
  11. Antoine*
  12. Logan
  13. Raphael*
  14. Noah
  15. Xavier**
  16. Benjamin
  17. Emile*
  18. Charles*
  19. Adam*
  20. Leo*

Girls

  1. Lea*
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Florence*
  5. Alice*
  6. Zoe*
  7. Rosalie*
  8. Juliette*
  9. Charlie*
  10. Chloe
  11. Charlotte
  12. Sofia
  13. Jade*
  14. Mia
  15. Eva*
  16. Camille*
  17. Victoria*
  18. Anais*
  19. Beatrice*
  20. Laurence*

Saskatchewan

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. Carter
  3. Noah
  4. Lucas
  5. Ethan
  6. Jacob
  7. Mason
  8. William
  9. Owen
  10. Jace**
  11. Alexander
  12. Jaxon
  13. Bentley*
  14. Benjamin
  15. Jase*
  16. Logan
  17. Hudson
  18. Ryder**
  19. Hunter
  20. Samuel

Girls

  1. Emma
  2. Sophia
  3. Emily
  4. Olivia
  5. Lily
  6. Ava
  7. Brooklyn
  8. Zoey**
  9. Brielle*
  10. Avery
  11. Grace
  12. Hannah
  13. Mia
  14. Hailey**
  15. Sabella*
  16. Aubrey*
  17. Ella
  18. Abigail
  19. Sadie
  20. Chloe

Yukon Territories

Boys

  1. Benjamin
  2. William
  3. Aiden
  4. Alexander
  5. Conner*
  6. Declan*
  7. Duncan*
  8. Everett*
  9. Flynn*
  10. Jack
  11. Luke
  12. Nolan*
  13. Patrick
  14. Samuel
  15. Sawyer*
  16. Thomas**

Girls

  1. Kaylee*
  2. Julia*
  3. Isla**
  4. Hannah
  5. Emma
  6. Avery
  7. Ava
  8. Alexa*
  9. Grace
  10. Olivia

This is the only data that is available.

Nunavut

No data was available for Nunavut.

Geeky Baby Names That Won’t Scar Your Girl for Life

I’m writing to let you know about an entertaining list of geeky names from comic books, pop-culture movies, TV shows, video games and books) that Chandra Smith, writing in PC Magazine, claims “won’t scar your kids or life.” Implication: the names won’t overly annoy or embarrass them.

Knowing how easily annoyed and embarrassed kids can get, once they hit the pre-teen and teen years (aka the years of perpetual annoyance and embarrassment), that’s a tough claim to substantiate.

Having lived with an unusual Sanskrit name (Chandra) that is often mispronounced, Smith tries to help parents pay tribute to geek favorites without picking names only geeks can appreciate–that your child is likely to abandon.

What’s fun about reading her list is that it is replete with pop-culture references that will fill in the gaps of your education (particularly if you read the classics in college rather than comic books and are more likely to watch classic movies than movies inspired by Marvel Comics).

But, even though Smith claims to consider issues like spelling and pronunciation that  could make a name like Leia annoying, and issues that could make a name like Kal-El embarrassing–I think that almost half  of the “geek names” she recommends might come across as either annoying or embarrassing, or both, to your children.

In this post I will provide you with Smith’s rationale for recommending what she calls “Geeky names” for girls with my opinion, in italics, for either agreeing with her choice or opposing it.

Geeky Names Your Girls May Like

Amelia – As in Pond, one of the best and most memorable of the Doctor’s companions.
BL: Also the name of a courageous pilot, Amelia Earhart.

Aurora – It’s not this Alpha Flight member’s real name, but Jeanne-Marie Beaubie takes too long to say for someone as speedy as her.
BL: Also named after Aurora, goddess of dawn (aurora borealis refers to the beautiful light show in the sky aka northern lights).

Clara – The most recent companion of the Doctor, Clara Oswald has made a name for herself throughout history.
BL: Also, famous namesake (nurse) Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross.

Cora – Basically the Siri of Battlestar Gallactica.
BL: Other famous namesakes are: Cora Munro, the fictional heroine of The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper and Cora Crawley is a fictional character on the series Downton Abbey.

Felicity –Living up to MIT grad and member of Team Arrow Felicity Smoak is challenging but not impossible.
BL: It’s hard not to like a name that means “fortunate” or “happy.”

Peggy – Peggy Carter might have started out being best known as Captain America’s love interest but she’s her own person in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and even has her own show with Agent Carter.
BL: Nothing wrong with this nickname for Margaret.

Raven – The teen years might be tough but they’d be worth it to name a girl after the Teen Titans Go! character.
BL: A strong name, particularly for a girl with a dark complexion.

Ripley – Who’s more badass than Ellen Ripley?
BL: Makes a strong “believe it or not” impression.

River – Whether it’s after River Song from Doctor Who or River Tam from Firefly is up to you.
BL: A gender-neutral nature name.

Ruby – An object-oriented scripting language, the name was originally taken from the birthstone of the colleague of its creator Yukihiro Matsumoto.
BL: A popular name that is identified with the Rolling Stones’ song, “Ruby Tuesday.”

Sarah – A Sentinel in Fallout 3, Sarah Lyons commands her own squad, Lyons’ Pride.
BL: The classic princess name I’d recommend despite the fact that the name is sometimes spelled without an “h.”

Sonya – Special Forces officer Sonya Blade has kept her fighting spirit throughout the Mortal Kombat series.
BL: How can you go wrong with a name that means “wise”?

Willow –Buffy’s BFF who possesses both magic and intelligence.
BL: An attractive nature name that comes across as feminine.

Zelda – It’s hard not to be legendary when you’re named after Shigeru Miyamoto’s beloved video game.
BL: Also the name of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, who exemplified “The Roaring Twenties” and “The Jazz Age”; plus the name has literary cachet.
Geeky Names That May Annoy or Embarrass Your Girls

Ada – Lord Byron’s daughter was the first computer programmer, working on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
BL: Odds of mispronunciation are high. Some people pronounce it AY-da. Some pronounce it AH-da. And some pronounce it  ADD-a.

Blossom –The “everything nice” Powerpuff girl.
BL: Blossom (and the Powerpuffs) make  a juvenile impression that is less likely to work well for an adult woman.

Echo – First seen in the Daredevil comics, Echo is a woman of many talents: athlete, ballerina, pianist, college professor, and, oh, yeah, Avenger.
BL: Teasers may be inspired to echo her name or anything poor Echo says.

Fleur – We first meet Fleur Delacour when she participates in the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire but she proves her mettle far beyond that in the Battle of Hogwarts.
BL: The French word for flower is likely to be mispronounced FLOO-er, which, unfortunately, rhymes with sewer.

Kamala – This teenage shapeshifter is also known as Ms. Marvel.
BL: A difficult name to pronounce: Is it CA-mel-ah? Or COM-ma-lah? Or something else, altogether?

Kara – This name is sure to take off when the Supergirl series premieres this fall.
BL: This name may be pronounced either CARE-ah or CAR-ah. Only  one of those options is right.

Klara – For fans of The Hunger Games, this name hits the target.
BL: This name may be pronounced either CLARE-ah or CLAH-rah. Only one of those options is right.

Katniss – For fans of The Hunger Games, this name hits the target.
BL: This name sounds like “cat nip”; so it is likely to be misspelled by people who haven’t read the young adult book or seen the movie.

Leia – There’s no, “Leia, I am your father” line to live down.
BL: Leah (pronounced LEE-ah) is much more familiar (for spelling and pronunciation) than Leia (pronounced LAY-ah) which was popularized by Star Wars.

Leela – You won’t have to worry about her Futurama if she’s named after the captain of the Planet Express.
BL: Likely to be misspelled as “Leila” or confused with Eric Claption’s “Layla” and pronounced LAY-lah.

Teyla – Adept at technology and martial arts, Teyla Emmagan of Stargate Atlantis is prepared for life on Atlantis Earth.
BL: I doubt most people could spell this name after hearing it. It is likely to be mispronounced as TEE-lah rather than TAY-lah.

When I read Zooey Deschanel named her baby girl Elsie Otter, I laughed.

I haven’t written about silly celebrity baby names in a while. I was worried about sounding like a celebrity scold, because so many celebrities have chosen names likely to call attention to their children—and the attention those names receive is not necessarily positive. But when I noticed an article on Huffington Post about the name Zooey Deschanel and hubby Jacob Pechenik selected for their baby girl (Elsie Otter), I couldn’t resist commenting.

Elsie the cow has been among the most recognizable advertising cartoon-characters in the United States and Canada since 1936, when it was first used by Borden dairy products and then used by Eagle dairy products. To give you an idea about just how bovine (and unattactive) the name Elsie is, her cartoon mate was Elmer the Bull. Their children were named Beulah and Beauregard, followed by twins, Larabee and Lobelia. Although cartooon cows are unlikely to complain about those names, kids are likely to moo when their “cow names” are called.

I usually advise parents to select a middle name that will provide a realistic option for a child stuck with a first name he or she doesn’t like. (Celebrity children with names like Dweezil or Apple have been known to spend years praying for a “normal” middle name.) But Elsie’s parents selected Otter—perhaps thinking if she didn’t want to be perceived as a dumb cow, a weasel-like critter might be appreciated. Unfortunately, the  middle name they chose is likely to remind people of Eric “Otter” Stratton, the unscrupulous rush chairman for Delta House (fraternity) in the movie “Animal House” (played unctuously by Tim Matheson) who gave otters a bad name.

If Zooey and Jacob’s objective was to call attention to their daughter, they succeeded. Unfortunately for their baby girl.

But wait! There may be some readers who like silly names like Elsie Otter. If so, you might appreciate a quick lesson in making up similar names for your stand-up comedy routine or your sit com.

  1. Start with an old-fashioned cartoon name, like Barney (Rubble) or Homer Simpson  or Ronald (MacDonald)
  2. Add a totally unrelated animal name like baboon or hound dog or rhinoceros
  3. And voila! You have a new protagonist for your comic strip or humorous children’s book: Barney Baboon; Homer Hound Dog; and Ronald Rhinoceros.