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

Dear Bruce: Nobody Has the Right to Pass Judgment on “Game of Thrones” Names

Dear @Mercurial Jane,

I assume you took offense after reading my recent post: “Surprise: “Game of Thrones” Fans are Naming Daughters Daenerys and Khaleesi (as Well as Arya)” In that post, I commented that Daenarys and Khaleesi are likely to be misspelled and mispronounced by most children and adults who are not familiar with Game of Thrones.  I wonder if you noticed my comment that Arya was likely to work better as a baby name than Daenarys and Khaleesi, because it looks and sounds like Aria and won’t be as hard to spell or pronounce as either Daenarys and Khaleesi.

it is likely to be frustrating and annoying for children whose parents give them names of characters from Game of Thrones (or any movie or TV show) that are likely to be mangled and likely to get them teased or bullied. (I also mentioned Katniss (a name from The Hunger Games) as another impractical baby name because it is also likely to be misspelled and mispronounced.)

I hope you’ll agree that the child who has been victimized by a name he or she doesn’t like is one person who has a legitimate “right to pass judgment.”Another person who has a right to pass judgment would be a baby-name expert whose mission is to help parents make intelligent baby naming decisions by avoiding names likely to subject their children  to embarrassment or teasing. Sorry to inform you that teasers and bullies will go right ahead and make children with strange-sounding names miserable without asking for your permission.

I hope you realize I’m not criticizing Game of Thrones. I’m simply pointing out that not every name mentioned in a TV show or movie will make a great name for children. And to pick a name that will be a pleasure for the parents and the child, parents need to distinguish between what works well in the TV show and what is likely to work well in the real world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Thandie and Ol Picked Jomba as Their Baby Boy Booker’s Middle Name

How strange it is to read a birth-announcement article (about a baby boy named Booker Jombe) illustrated with gorgeous 4-color photos featuring beautiful Thandie (“Crash”) Newton and handsome hubby Ol Parker, and think: I need to look up four of those names: Booker, Jombe, Thandie, and Ol. Where do those names come from? What do they mean?

I picked up my handy-dandy name book: 100,000+ Baby Names. Here’s what I found:

Thandie is a beautiful Zulu name that means “beloved.”

Ol is a short form of Oliver; a (Latin) name  that means “olive tree.”

Booker is an (English) name that means “bookmaker,” “book lover,” or”Bible lover.”

Jomba is still a puzzle to me and to all seven of the  websites I visited. However, I suspect it’s an African name that may or may not be related to Jambalaya—a tasty creole dish.

What I’m getting at is: Thandie and Ol have unusual names that are not familiar to Most North Americans. They gave their daughters unusual names: Nico and Ripley, both of which are more commonly used for boys than girls. But they gave their son a first name that might suggest a bookie, a book nerd or a Bible hugger and a middle name that will be a conundrum to most people and most name experts.

It’s reasonable to suspect that  Booker may not like being called Bookie (a slang term for bookmaker).  In that case he’s pretty much left with a middle name that’s “a puzzle wrapped in an enigma.” I got the impression from what I read that Newton and Parker were overjoyed to have a baby boy to join their two daughters. But naming him Booker Jomba is not the warmest welcome they could have arranged.

Answer: 10 Dead Names. Question: What Did Aela Mass Find in a Cemetery?

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.

Dania Ramirez Gives Her Twin Boys Greek Mythological Names

When Dominican actress, Dania Ramirez, named her twin boys in December, she picked names from Greek mythology: Aether (the personification of rare air only Gods could breath) and Gaia (the goddess of the earth). The star of “Devious Maids” explained that Aether and Gaia “were actually siblings in Greek mythology. My 12-year-old stepson’s name is Kai, which means ocean, and we wanted to connect them all. So now we have water, earth and air.”

In concept it makes a fascinating story. But because I like to use celebrity baby names as “teaching opportunities,” permit me to mention a few issues with the names she and her husband John Beverly Amos Land picked: John Aether and Gaia Jisssel.

1)    I suggest that parents use thematically related names for siblings, especially in the case of twins. Naming one of them John Aether and the other Gaia Jissel doesn’t seem “well-balanced” to me, even though Ramirez said they won’t use the name John often.

2)    Giving one of the twins the name of a goddess also disturbs the balance of the naming process. The inequality would come across more clearly if she had named one of her sons Arthur and the other son Venus, because that’s, in effect, what she did.

3)    My guess is that most friends and family members probably won’t be familiar with either Gaia or Aether—whether they speak Spanish or English. Ditto for the children the twins meet in daycare. In that case, their names won’t win them warm welcomes from their classmates either in kindergarten or in college. Many people who meet them won’t know what to make of the Greek names.

In short, I’m impressed by the intellectuality of the Ramirez-Land name choices but I suspect that one or both boys will wind up with a nickname that’s a lot easier and more fun for them to use. Too bad Ramirez didn’t provide both boys with both Anglo and Spanish alternative options.

You may recall that Uma Thurman give her daughter five names, most of which were unfamiliar and difficult to pronounce. Six months later she decided to forget about those long, complicated names and call her daughter Luna. The Ramirez-Land twins may eventually wish they had different names, too.

Dear Bruce: I wish you wouldn’t focus on “writing snarky posts demeaning the hard work of other people.”

(Comment from Brooke Cussans about my post criticizing Pamela Redmond Satran’s post recommending “14 Names for 2014.”)

Brooke: 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.

Bruce: 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 perverse recommendation because it will make children named Detroit laughable. The name Detroit 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. Clearly, 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.”

Brooke: 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 ☺