What’s in a Name? Answers to 7 Questions.

I recently answered some baby naming questions for Alicia at Bottle Poppin’ Mama.  Check out her questions below and feel free to leave one of your own in the comments.

  • How do you conduct your research in compiling this list of names?
  • What are your most popular Boys & Girls Names predictions for 2016?
  • What do you think of the gender neutral naming phenomenon?
  • How influential are celebrities/pop culture when it comes to naming children?
  • Why do you think we are seeing a resurgence of more classical names?
  • How do parents rate the importance of a unique name/unique spelling?
  • What is a good approach to deciding on a name for a child when family members can’t agree?

To read my answers check out “What’s In A Name?” at Bottle Poppin’ Mama.

 

10 Worst Celebrity Baby Names of 2014

While researching awful celebrity baby names for this post, I visited the Celebrity Baby Scoops list of 2014 Hollywood babies to make sure I had considered all the names being considered for Worst Celebrity Baby Names of 2014. (I found all but one of the names on that list.)

Here are my top-five candidates for worst celebrity baby names of 2014 (for both girls and boys):

5 Worst Celebrity Baby Girls’ Names:

Zhuri Nova James
Parents: NBA all-star Lebron James and his wife Savannah

Comment: Zhuri is a headscratcher and, to add insult to injury, it’s both hard to spell and pronounce. She should be grateful to have a spellable and pronounceable middle name (Nova) to fall back on.

Royal Reign Jones
Mother: rapper Li’l Kim

Comment: Royal Reign is a grandiose name that sounds like royal rain, whatever that is.

Cai MyAnna Dukes
Parents: actor Shanola Hampton and husband, producer Daren Dukes

Comment: Cai presents spelling and pronunciation problems—and MyAnna is another headscratcher.

Daenerys Josephine
Mother: American Idol contestant Gina Glocksen

Comment: Daenerys is name that will only be familiar to “Game of Thrones” fans. No one else is likely to be able to spell or pronounce it.

Wyatt Isabelle Kutcher
Parents: actors Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher

Comment: When parents give their child a unisex name it makes sense to pick a middle name with clear gender identification. But Wyatt is a “macho” name that was chosen by Chicago Bear’s quarterback Jay Cutler to give his son a name that works well in football huddles and frat parties. Why give a macho name to a baby girl and then pair it with an elegant, feminine name like Isabelle? It’s as though the parents couldn’t agree on a naming strategy. Unfortunately, it sends a confusing message to the child and to people the child meets.

5 Worst Celebrity Baby Boys’ Names

Future Zahir Wilburn
Parents: rapper Future and R&B singer Ciara

Comment: Future doesn’t sound much like a name. Actually, Future is the boy’s father’s stage name. (I’m not sure which is worse, his father’s stage name or his father’s real name: Nayvadius Cash.) To make matters worse, a cheating scandal caused a rift between the senior Future and Ciara. So as far as Ciara is concerned, Future (senior) is now the The Past.

Megaa Omari Grandberry
Parents: B2K singer Omarion and girlfriend Apryl Jones

Comment: Megaa is a grandiose name (meaning extra-large or super)–and the extra “a” makes it hard to spell and pronounce. Omari is Megaa’s father’s given first name. (FYI, Omarion’s whole given name is Omari Ishmael Grandberry).

Lyric Sonny Roads Goldberg
Parents: actress/writer/director Soleil Moon Frye and husband, producer Jason Goldberg

Comments: Another headscratcher. Lyric is an “arty” name that may not work well in the locker room. But Sonny couldn’t be more declasse. I know what sunny roads are, but what are sonny roads?

Saint Lazslo Wentz
Parents: rocker Pete Wentz and girlfriend Meagan Camper

Comment: Another grandiose name (Saint). It’s not clear whether the boy is named after St. Lazslo’s winery or the first king (Ladislaus–also known as St. Lazslo) of Hungary. Either way, wine or spirits might have been involved in the selection of the name. By the way, Pete Wentz also fathered a boy with Ashlee Simpson named Bronx Mowgli Wentz which is on many “worst name” lists.

Bodhi Rain Palmer
Parents: “Warm Bodies” star Teresa Palmer and husband Mark Webber

Bodhi Ransom Green
Parents: “Transformer”star Megan Fox and husband Austin Green

Comment: Bodhi means “enlightened one.” It’s a lovely meaning, but most people aren’t enlightened enough to know how to spell and pronounce the name.

P.S. I found a name on a Vocative.com’s “Worst Celebrity Baby Names of 2014” list that I think may be the single best celebrity baby name of 2014. Check it out.

 

 

 

Drew Magary Claims that American Baby Names Are Getting Even Worse

 

Here’s a small sample of names Drew Magary found in a recent issue of Parents magazine. Readers were asked what they would name their next baby boy or girl. Here are just a few of the names Drew Magary went off on.

First, some boys’ names: 

Jaydien That’s right. Jaydien. Don’t forget that I. That I is what sets young Jaydien apart from the mere Jaydens of the world. Now don’t you people who named your kid Jayden feel behind the times? You bought the beta version of that name. It’s like buying an iPad too early. Six years from now, the name will have morphed into Jayydizzosoian, and then you’ll really feel like a sucker.

Tulsa If you’re gonna name your kid after a place, at least have the common courtesy to name him after a legitimate tourist destination. No one wants to hang out with a kid named Tulsa, or a kid named Kalamazoo. Ol’ Kal. Always gettin’ in trouble.

Zaiden Of course Zaiden is here. It takes Jayden and throws a Z in front, which makes it SO STRONG. God, I just wanna slap a loincloth on little Zaiden and club dragons with him. Be on the lookout for Drayden, Fayden, Waiden, Strayden, and Klayden coming to your hood.

Zebulon Classic hillbilly, with the bonus of sounding like a cartoon alien planet.

Then some girls’ names:

Annyston Joined by brother Schwymmir

Brook’Lynn The abuse of apostrophes in names has to end. A reasonable person should be able to know, by looking at a name, when one syllable ends and another begins. But no, [some people] all over the country have to be like “I’ll name him Raw’Bert.” You stop that. Give me some credit for being able to read even if you can’t.

• Luxx Why not add that third x and fulfill her destiny? That’s what you want, right? You want little Luxx to grow up, move to the Valley and earn $60 a week getting jet spraykakke’d for a series of Brazzers short films, yes? There’s no other reason to name your child Luxx.

Sharpay This is a character from High School Musical. It’s also a breed of dog. Why stop there? Name your child Dobyrman.

And his close:

There are so many more horrible names on the list: Tayzia, Xylethia, Kayson, Mayson, Kayleen—it goes on and on and on. I wish I could tell you there’s an end to this, that writing your local Congressman to draft laws preventing this kind of child abuse from happening would do the trick. But I can’t. It won’t. Our fate is sealed, not unlike that of poor Luxx. Luxxx. Luxxxx’Ann. God help us all.

Click on the link, above, and read the whole article on Deadspin. It’s seriously funny; read it all.

An Open Letter to ebabynames.com About The Most Bizarre Name, Zzyzx

Hi Dennis,

Thanks for writing me about Zzyzx. I think the research you collected about the “most bizarre” name was interesting from the standpoint of using bizarre names to gain attention for your website. However, I seriously doubt that “real baby name experts with a passion for onomnastics” are interested in finding out whether the most bizarre name is Zzyzx, Abcde or Nimrod. I think there are a lot more interesting and important questions to investigate. By spending time and money on consumer research to find the most bizarre name you trivialize your “baby name experts” and the value of your website to parents.

I can imagine 15 clowns driving to work in a Smart Fortwo auto and piling out at your front door. They agree that Zzyzx is the most bizarre name but debate whether Abcde or Nimrod is the second most bizarre name. Good luck in finding someone who takes the work of your onomnastics experts seriously.

Bruce Lansky
Baby Names in the News

P.S. I just got back from a trip to sunny southern California. Suddenly the snow is gone from Minnesota roads and golf courses. I haven’t written a new post in about a week. I hope you don’t mind me having a little fun at your expense. If you’re serious about wanting some tips about what you should be researching and writing about instead of discovering “the most bizarre name,” here are a few ideas: What motivates a parents to give their babies bizarre names like Zzyzyx, Nimrod or Abcde? Should bizarre names like these be banned? If not, do people see them as a form of child abuse? If so, what kind of court-ordered “counseling” should the parents who gave their babies these names receive?

 

From: Dennis van Rooij Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2014 2:38 PM

Subject: Zzyzx voted the most bizarre real baby name

Hi Bruce,

My name is Dennis van Rooij and I’d like to let you know about an article we at eBabyNames have been working on. We wanted to investigate what people think is the worst baby name of the last fifteen years. There are a lot of lists about the worst celebrity baby names, but how good (or bad) are American parents themselves when it comes to picking a baby name? We compiled a list of strange names from the past 15 years and asked 1,500 people to let us know what they considered the most strange name and why. We also asked them if they know people with strange names themselves that might not have been on our list.

We were able to find the top ten strangest baby names and found that, while everyone agreed on the number one name, there was a difference between men and women and between the Western and Eastern part of the US.

You can read the full article here: http://www.ebabynames.com/zzyzx-most-bizarre-name

I hope you like the article. Maybe you could share your opinion on the article or give us some tips for future articles?

About eBabyNames.com

eBabyNames is a team of name experts and web designers. eBabyNames is a website built to help expectant parents find the best baby names. Unlike many websites, our database of names was created by real name experts with a great passion for onomastics, the study of names and their backgrounds. As a result, we proudly offer a selection of the finest baby names accompanied by accurate and complete background info.

Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback.

With kind regards,

Dennis van Rooij
eBabyNames.com

 

Pamela Redmond Satran’s Latest Post Features 62 Rarely, If Ever, Used Awful, Ridiculous Names Like Nero, Hebe and Lettice

Pamela Redmond Satran has a new trick: She starts her article about “82 Stylish names” with a list of ten girls’ names and ten boys’ names listed among Nameberry’s top 1,000 names parents have clicked on lately. I can independently confirm that a few of those names are genuinely appealing. For girls: Beatrice, Isla, Ivy, Maeve and Maisie; for boys: Beckett, Declan and Finn. (I’ve seen these names on popularity lists in the U.K., Canada and elsewhere. And Finn is on my list of Cool Names for Boys.) But, before I go on, I should probably point out a few negatives among the names Satran describes as being “atop the current style wave.”

Hazel is associated with Witch Hazel, a natural remedy for treating cuts and bruises. Unfortunately, Hazel is likely to be called Witch Hazel or teased as a “witch.” Or Hazel may be called Hazelnut or teased as a “nut,” because hazel shrubs and trees produce hazelnuts.

Jasper, in children’s literature, is an African-American boy who (stereotypically) loves to eat watermelons. It’s an unfortunate association likely to make the name uncomfortable for African-American boys. (However, in fairness, Jasper is also a type of spotted or speckled rock collected by rockhounds.)

Atticus is an ancient Latin name that means “from Attica.” As much as I love Atticus Finch, beloved protagonist of To Kill a Mockingbird, non-literary types are likely to confuse Attica with a prison in New York state that was the site of a famous riot, or junk found in the attic.

After listing ten girls’ and boys’ names clicked on by visitors to her website, Satran goes right back to her “old trick” of recommending names that are the same or similar to names she has previously described as having been used by ten or less children in the U.S. (probably because they are so awful, archaic, impractical and/or ridiculous). Here’s how she describes the names she previously described as “cool and unusual” and Satran’s colleague, Aela Mass, previously described as having been found in a cemetery by her dog:

“..here’s a new style wave on the horizon, one that parents in search of more avant garde names will want to have their eyes on. This next wave takes current styles and trends to more extreme levels.” I’ve described this process as being like “alchemy,” a faux scientific process which claimed to turn “dross into gold.” (“Dross” is what the dictionary describes as “a waste product or impurity,” or as “worthless.”)

Question: how can names that parents have abandoned and don’t use any more because they are two archaic, too esoteric, too unappealing and too impractical possibly be considered “a new style wave”? The truth is: most of them are unusable because they are awful or ridiculous names.

Awful, Ridiculous, Impractical and Rarely (If Ever) Used Girls’ Names Included in the List Satran Calls “a New Style Wave on the Horizon.”

Doon: Unfortunately, this name sounds like doom, so it will need to be enunciated very clearly to avoid sounding like a horrible prediction. Literary types familiar with Lorna Doone are likely to misspell the name by adding an “e.” Ditto for cookie lovers. Doon is likely to be called either Lorna or Cookie.

Eulalie: This antique name is a name-book neighbor of Eudora which was recommended in one of Satran’s “Cool, Unusual” articles. Unfortunately Eulalie sounds like Eudora’s crazy older sister. And Lalie as a nickname is not exactly the coolest moniker in town.

Feodora: Unfortunately, this esoteric and rarely-used name sounds so much like Theodora that it is likely to be misspelled and mispronounced—which won’t be a pleasure for the poor little girls getting this name. These are practical problems a lovely meaning (“gift of God”) can’t overcome.

Freesia: What’s Freesia? A flowering plant found in eastern and southern Africa. For non-botanists, Freesia is an unfamiliar, strange name that sounds very, very cold.

Hebe: This name was previously included in Satran’s last “Cool, Unusual Names” article. I pointed out that Hebe is a pejorative slang term for Jews (like kike). How foolish of Satran to repeat this faux pas.

Hero: Another foolish repeat from Satran’s last “Cool, Unusual Names” article. I pointed out that Hero refers not only to a brave fictional protagonist, but also to a big, thick fattening sandwich often filled with “junk meat” (bologna and salami) and a dollop of mayo. In addition to this junk-food reference, Hero is also a “pompous title” like Princess or Queen or Messiah which places a psychological burden on the unlucky child who is given one of these unrealistic names.

Kassiani: This esoteric and rarely (if ever) used name is unlisted in every name book I checked and is unlikely to ever be spelled properly by anyone but Satran (assuming she has spelled it correctly).

Lettice: This name is ridiculous for two reasons: It sounds like Lettuce (a ridiculous name for a child) but it is also likely to be misspelled by everyone but Satran. I was recently reading a book by Alexander McCall Smith which introduced a pompous character named Professor Lettuce. Smith was able to come up with three or four jokes at the expense of Professor Lettuce’s unfortunate name during a single conversation over lunch (which included salad).

Malou: Malu (with an accent over the u) is Spanish name that’s a compound of Maria + Luisa. As if that name wasn’t esoteric enough Satran recommends an even more esoteric name she probably just made up. People would recognize Marilou, but not many (if any) will recognize or “get” Malou.

Turia: This is not a new breed of dog related to terriers. Nor is it a reference tarriers (Irish workers hired to drill holes in rock where sticks of dynamite could be inserted to clear the way for American railroads–who are celebrated in a folk song called “Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill.” This name is probably a variation on an esoteric Catalan name. It will come across as unfamiliar to one and all and will undoubtedly be misspelled by most.

Sybella: This is little-used English form of Sybil, was probably included in Satran’s list because the name Sybil was given to more than ten children.

Awful, Ridiculous, Impractical and Rarely (If Ever) Used Boys Names Included in the List Satran Calls “the New Style Wave on the Horizon.”

Acacius: Acacia is a spiny tree or shrub related to the pea family. And Acacius is a name hardly anyone but Satran will be able to either recognize, spell or pronounce properly.

Cassion: Like Acacia, Cassia are trees or shrubs related to the pea family. And Cassion is another name hardly anyone but Satran will be able to either recognize, spell or pronounce properly–particularly because it rhymes with passion, which is what most people will think the little boy named Cassion said his name was. (To Satran’s credit, she must have used great restraint in not adding Passion to this list of supposedly “stylish” names. Passion is a great name for a perfume–but not for a child.)

Enoch: It should be enough to state that Enoch sounds like eunuch, a term which describes a boy or man who has been castrated. What makes the name even worse is that famous namesake, Enoch Powell, a conservative British Politician famously opposed a law which would have prohibited racial discrimination in his infamous “River of Blood” speech.

Florin: This strange name is actually the name for several different kinds of money: a Dutch guilder, a British coin worth two shillings, and a gold coin used in Florence. It’s like calling someone Dollar, or Dime—which is why hardly anyone has or will use it as a name.

Gower: John Gower was a poet and friend of Geoffrery Chaucer. Unfortunately he’s not nearly as well-known as Chaucer, so his last name is quite unknown as a given name. That’s why Gower appears on this list of rarely, if ever, used names. (Satran passed over Geoffrey and, instead, picked the surname of Chaucer’s little-known buddy.)

Nero: I can’t claim Nero is unknown as a name; it was the name of perhaps the most cruel and inhuman emperor of Rome. Nero persecuted Christians (burning them as a source of light), executed his mother, famously “fiddled while Rome burned” and committed suicide to avoid assassination. I have no idea who would want to name their child after such a manic. Nor can I think of anyone else who would recommend the name Nero. Calling Nero a  “stylish name” is even more irresponsible and absurd.

Oberon: Oberon was the “king of the fairies” in medieval literature and in Shakepeare’s “Midsummer Nights Dream.” High school kids study Shakespeare, which is when a boy named Oberon would start to be teased, harassed and bullied. This is another example of a name that demonstrates Satran’s absolute cluelessness about the practical consequences of using the “stylish” names she so enthusiastically recommends and promotes.

Smith: Maybe Satran doesn’t know that Smith (along with Jones) are the two most common surnames in the U.S. For that reason Smith Johnson or Smith Thompson or Smith Jones will sound like hyphenated last names rather than “given names” followed by a surname. This is another practical issue that should have been obvious to Satran–if she gave it a moment’s thought.

Paladin: I remember Paladin as the name of a TV gunman played by Richard Boone in a TV show called “Have Gun Will Travel.” Historically, paladins were fierce warriors from the court of King Charlemagne. They first appeared in “The Song of Roland” whose job it was to kill the Saracen (aka Muslim) hordes. At a time when gun violence is completely out control and a huge political problem for parents who want to protect the safety of their children against untreated, mentally disturbed people who are able to buy guns in the U.S., I wouldn’t recommend a name that calls to mind the slaughter of Muslims, in the name of Christianity, and a TV show called “Have Gun Will Travel.” Would you? But by now we all know that the woman who recommends Nero also recommends the name of the TV character whose motto is “have gun, will travel.”

If you didn’t believe me when I wrote that Satran’s list of 100 “Cool, Unusual Names” “should have come with a warning,” I hope you believe me now. I find Satran’s complete disregard for practical and moral issues related to baby-naming hard to justify. I’ve praised several of her most recent  articles to demonstrate I don’t dislike Satran personally. Unfortunately, more often than hot, I find her recommendations to be irresponsible and potentially harmful to the children who will bear them. I will continue to praise her good work and condemn her irresponsible work–until she gets the message. As it happens my condemnations of her irresponsible behavior are among my most popular posts. Apparently, many readers find the names Satran (and her sidekick Aela Mass) recommend and promote both egregiously awful and laughable.

 

Megan Fox Picked a Name for Her Son, Bodhi, That I’ve Already Misspelled Twice

Bodhisatttva is a Sanskrit term for a person who has chosen the path of “awakening” or “enlightenment.” Bodhi means “enlightened” or “awakened” and sattva means “being.” So it would seem as though actress Megan (“Transformers”) Fox and her husband Brian (“Beverly Hills, 90210”) Austin Green have picked an “enlightened” first name for their second son Bodhi.

However it isn’t enlightened to pick a name for your child which you know will be misspelled by 90% of the North American population after hearing the name spoken. Bodie Miller, the Olympic skier who has won 6 Olympic medals, is probably the only Bodie that most people have ever heard of. And as far as I know he has no “h” in his name.

Buddhists, on the other hand are not likely to misspell the name Bodhi, but they comprise only a small percent of the North American population. Not being a Buddhist, I didn’t spell it correctly once while writing the title and first paragraph of this article. (No kidding, I spelled it Bohdi twice and Bhodi once; neither of which are correct. I also misspelled the Sanskrit word that means enlightened being like this: Bohdisattva.)

In addition, Buddhists are likely to be concerned about the name or word that follows Bodhi in the name Fox and Green gave their son: Bodhi Ransom. You already know what Bodhi means. I suspect you also know what Ransom means. It is most commonly defined as “a price you must pay for the return of a person or property which has been lost or stolen.” So Bodhi Ransom would seem to refer to an enlightened memory loss, theft, hijacking or kidnapping. What kind of name is that to give to your son? I guess Fox and Green didn’t consider that someone might put their son’s two names together and say “What the heck is that supposed to mean?”

As much as I like the idea of an enlightened being, putting Bodhi together with Ransom is like putting something good together with something bad and since the good thing is also likely to be misspelled by most people (who don’t know that Bodhi is also a very chic and pricey brand of lady’s handbags and accessories) I think the name Bodhi Ransom has bad kharma (a word I also misspell from time to time because of that darned “h”).

As you can see, Bhodi Ransom is not a name I can recommend with any enthusiasm. However, I should probably mention that Brian Austin Green’s first son (with a different wife) was named Kassius. I have already misspelled that name three different ways while trying to write it correctly in this paragraph, so I can’t recommend that name in good conscience, either.

Why would a woman named Megan Denise Fox and a man named Brian Austin Green, both of whom have experienced the pleasure of having names that are easy to spell and pronounce, pick names that nine out of ten people will spell incorrectly after hearing the names spoken. Those are not the kind of names I’d suggest giving to children you love.

Although The Baby Name Police didn’t warn Green about Kassius, we are giving Fox and Green a ticket for the name Bodhi Ransom. As documented above, the name creates needless spelling problems and is confusing.