When picking a name for one's precious bundle of joy, there are so many different factors that can come into play. Some parents pick a name because they like how it sounds. Others want a name that will distinguish their baby and create a legacy. Many choose names after family members that have passed or after beloved characters from books, plays, songs, or movies. And then some pick names because they love the meaning behind them.
A lot can go wrong when choosing what the child will be called for the rest of his or her life. Sometimes, the best intentions are not enough, and the kid ends up with a name that gets laughed at or constantly misspelled and mispronounced. You don’t have to be any kind of expert to pick a name that will be relatively problem-free, however.
By avoiding several different pitfalls, you can find a name for the baby that will fit perfectly and be well accepted (or even loved!) Most of the mistakes that come with picking baby’s name can be avoided with a little bit of careful planning and thought. It helps to talk about your name options with your partner, friends, and family, too. That way, you get different perspectives on the pros and cons of each name. Often, others can give input you might not have thought about, or give the much-needed encouragement to make the final decision. Read on to find out the 15 rookie baby naming mistakes to avoid!
16 Uncommon Or Made Up Spellings
A lot of parents want a name that will stand out from the crowd and give their child a unique and cute identifier. That’s all well and good, however, picking a funky spelling is a great way to cause a lot of confusion and trouble for your little one.
It’s bad enough when people take a traditional name and tweak the spelling to make it unidentifiable, but what’s worse- some people pick names that not only aren’t traditional but also have changed spellings.
When a name doesn’t look or sound how you’d expect it to, you can’t get angry when people continuously make mistakes with it. I remember seeing a friend of a friend’s name on paper, and the way the name sounded in real life was completely different from anything the spelling would indicate. I felt so bad for the girl. There was literally no chance you could look at her name and know how to pronounce it. By all means, get creative, but don’t set your child up for a lifetime of annoyance, please.
15 Confusing Gender-Bender Names
Unisex names are all the rage these days. There’s nothing wrong with picking a unisex name, and some of them are really adorable. What you don’t want, however, is to pick a name that is so far masculine or feminine that people will see it and instantly assume it’s the wrong gender.
We see this unfortunate trend a lot with celebrities. In an effort to be cool and original, a lot of them give their little girls what are traditionally boy’s names. While it can be empowering for a little girl to have that future-forward, masculine edge, some of these names go too far. George Stephanopoulos named his daughter Elliott. Alexis Stewart named her little girl Jude. And Michelle Branch named her daughter Owen. Face palm.
With gender-bending names, the trend is often to include a super feminine middle name to balance out the masculine first name. The problem with this, though, is that it forces the kid to always write or say their middle name so that people will know their gender. Take on this trend at your own risk!
14 Overused And Overly Popular Names
Here’s a really easy way to make sure your little boy or girl is confused with ten other kids in every class or group they will ever be in for the rest of their lives. Pick a name from the top 20 most popular baby names and watch the madness ensue!
I can understand liking a name as it’s gaining popularity, but to purposely pick a name knowing there are millions of other kids with the same name just baffles me. I think this is where that whole creative spelling business came from… someone picked a really basic name and then decided to add a funky letter or two to give some semblance of originality.
A good way to beat this sad paradigm is to take that super common name you love so much and use it as a middle name instead, like Annabelle Madison. Voila! Now you won’t have a little Madison getting mistaken for nine other little Madisons every two minutes.
13 Names With Bad Meanings
When I first started thinking about baby names, I found a few names I really loved but was really disappointed to find out they had less than wonderful meanings. Two of the names that fell off my baby name list were Jonah and Mara. While they sounded so adorable to me, Jonah has a rather jinxed meaning and sailors often use the name to personify someone who brings bad luck (thanks to the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale). And as beautiful as the name Mara is, it means “bitter” and is what the Biblical character Naomi called herself after the death of her husband and sons.
If you are one of the many people who believe a name can help shape your life path, you will want to do your research to avoid picking a name with a potentially detrimental meaning or story behind it. There is a reason names like Judas (the traitor) and Lola (meaing “lady of sorrows”) are seldom used.
12 Picking Celeb Names
Before picking the baby’s name, you want to make sure not to choose the same name as someone very well known, like a celebrity or politician. There are tons of horror stories out there about what it’s like to have the same name as an adult film actor, singer of a one-hit wonder, or even the President.
Sometimes, people don’t think about the long-term consequences of the baby name they pick. And then they wind up with a baby named George Bush, and wonder why their son got detained at a London airport, suspected of having a fake passport. Or imagine having someone ask if you’re related to an 80’s singer who had exactly one popular song in his or her entire career? Not fun.
Think of the horror of having someone look for your baby registry, and all that pops up is raunchy adult film clips. These are problems that can be avoided with a little bit of research and planning. Don’t let this happen to your baby!
11 When Initials Go Horribly Wrong
Initials are something parents might forget to think about when picking a baby name. You could pick the most perfect and beautiful name for the bundle of joy, but if the initials spell out something bad or silly, that poor kid could be the butt of jokes for years.
Think of the name Ashley Sarah Stevens. Sure, it looks and sounds cute, until you write out her initials… A.S.S. Not a lovely thing to monogram on a bookbag, is it?
Always think about the spelling of the name and the initials to make sure you avoid embarrassment for your child. This is something so easy to avoid but actually happens to a reasonable number of people. Some of the worst initials out there are C.O.W., D.U.M, P.I.G., H.A.G., and S.U.X. Ouch! You can’t help but feel awful for those poor unfortunate souls!
10 Silver Screen Names
Sometimes, it can be really cute and endearing to name the baby after a beloved movie, book, play, or song, but you just never know which names will be a hit and which will be the brunt of every joke for the kid’s life. So many names have been immortalized in Hollywood. If you name the baby something along these lines, you run the risk of having to deal with it being brought up every time someone meets your little one for the first time.
We all know someone with a name like this. No matter how great the name is, it usually brings to mind the song or a funny moment from the movie character’s acting. I knew a girl named Maria, and boy did she hate when you sang Carlos Santana to her. Apparently, she got that a lot. I actually named my baby after a well-known book and movie character, and it’s always the first thing people ask. We love the name and wouldn’t change it for the world, but it does get annoying.
9 Elderly Names
While classic names are certainly making a comeback as of late, we all have certain names in our minds that bring to mind a grumpy old great-aunt or crotchety sitcom character. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a family namesake to be remembered, but some names just don’t seem to fit with babies.
Some of the names I can’t imagine on an infant are names like Agatha, Maude, Shirley, Wanda, and Agnes. There are “good” old lady names, however. Names like Adelaide, Marilyn, Joy, Iris, and Josephine are retro yet still very trendy.
The best thing to do is make a list of name choices and wait until the baby has arrived so you can see if the name fits the looks and personality at all. Sometimes, the name you picked out simply doesn’t fit and becomes a non-issue, making your backup name the perfect choice.
8 When The Last Name And First Name Don't Fit
One of the key components of picking a great baby name is whether the name “has a nice ring to it.” What this means, exactly, is that the name flows nicely and doesn’t have any harsh or inharmonious sounds to it.
Making sure the last name goes nicely with the first name is a good way to make sure you have picked a winner. You also shouldn’t forget about the middle name. No joke… I knew a kid named Gaylord Packer Jones. And what do you think people called him? Gay Packer. Not such a nice ring to it, right?
It kind of makes you think of the movie Meet The Parents. Remember when they were talking about the last name Focker? Some last names are really hard to pair a good first name with, but it’s the parents’ duty to at least try their best.
7 Too Many Syllables
There are a lot of long, elegant names for parents to choose from. Choosing a long name can set the child apart, give a classical feel to the name, and make for some wonderful choices in nicknames. There are a few things you need to consider when choosing a long name, though.
If you’re picking a name with several syllables, you want to make sure the middle name and last name aren’t equally long. And what you really don’t want to do is tack on two or more middle names to make writing out the name a total nightmare.
Some beautiful long names that have always been pretty well loved are names like Alexandra, Elizabeth, Christopher, Jeremiah and Maximilian. Those are just a few of my personal favorites, but you can obviously pick ones you love, too. Just make sure to balance the name so it is not impossible to say or fit onto important paperwork.
6 Pet Names
This one is laughable, yet a lot of parents do make this mistake. Or maybe they don’t think it’s a mistake, but the rest of the world does. Choosing a pet name is a really wonderful name to make people think of an English bulldog or an exotic dancer when they hear the child’s name.
There are some of these pet names that are family names or have stories behind them, but most of them are just plain terrible. Naming your kid something like Cookie, Baxter, Princess, Sugar, or Candy is almost never a good idea. While these kinds of nicknames can be endearing, people need names that others can take seriously. Can you imagine someone named Princess running a board meeting? Neither can I.
Picking the perfect name takes some critical thinking and consideration about how the name will be perceived. I was watching Catfish the other day and a girl on the show talked about how her father named her after pizza. He literally took the word pizza and tacked a few random letters onto the front. When you see her name, it’s all you can think of. Save the food names for the kittens and puppies, people.
5 Sibling Names That Don't Mesh
If you already have one or more kids, you have to be careful when picking the next baby’s name. You don’t want the names to be too similar and be mixing up the kids all the time. If you pick names that are very close, you run the risk of no one ever being able to tell the kids apart, too.
Names should also sound good together. You don’t want to have siblings with names that are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. For example, if you had a little boy named William, which is very traditional, it would be strange to give your baby girl the name Sunshine, which is very new age and hip.
Using the same first letter is okay and a very common practice. It can be really cute to keep the names in the same genre, so they mesh well together. Remember, you’ll be saying them together quite often.
4 Using Your Favorite Name On A Pet
If you have a favorite name you’ve been saving, you want to make sure to hold onto it until you actually have a baby. There’s a famous example of someone who used their favorite name on their puppy so they couldn’t use it when they finally did have a son.
It can also be tempting to name your kid after your favorite childhood pet, and that is fine if the name is fitting for a baby. You have to use your discretion with this one, and run it by others to make sure it’s not too ridiculous.
Along these lines, please don’t give your baby a name that is really similar to your beloved pet. I know a girl whose name is only one letter different from the family dog, and as a kid, I always forgot which name went with the girl and which went for the pup.
3 Names That Don't Mix With Technology
We all know technology rules our lives these days. With email being the primary communication method for many facets of life, having a name that doesn’t translate to an embarrassing handle is very important. Often times, the email address will be the first contact people have in the business world and beyond.
As silly as it sounds to consider e-mail addresses when naming a baby, think about this. If you name your baby something like Frances and your last name is Atkins, little baby firstname.lastname@example.org is what their work handle would be. Oy!
Rule out any potentially bad handles by taking the name for a test drive- writing it, saying it, talking it out with family… whatever you have to do to make sure this mistake doesn’t happen. The last thing you want is for your kid to be the grownup getting laughed at during water cooler chat.
2 Notorious Names
This one is self-explanatory. There is nothing worse than being named after someone notorious for having committed heinous crimes or being the center of a celebrity scandal. You would have to be some kind of crazy to name your kid after such a person intentionally.
When picking the perfect name, this is another time when it’s really important to do your research. The last thing you want to find out is your baby has the same name as a famous bank robber from the Wild West.
For grown adults with unfortunate names, there is strong evidence that they are likely to be treated differently based on the negative association with the name. Whether this is subconscious or not is irrelevant. There is simply no way to eliminate negative judgments if you pick a name like this.
1 Underwhelming Meanings
There are some beautiful names out there that have less than great meanings. While the meaning might not be particularly “bad” per se, it might not be what the parents want. Several names on my baby name list fell into this category, and quickly fell off the list.
There are a lot of great examples of names with iffy meanings. The name Cecilia means “blind”. As beautiful as it sounds, that’s an unfortunate meaning for a little girl’s name to have. The cute name Leah means “tired or weary” in Hebrew. I used to love the name Ashlyn, but it means “meadow of ash trees”. The boy's name Huxley means “inhospitable place”. The list goes on and on.
Don’t even get me started on made up names that have absolutely no meaning. Take Nevaeh for example. It’s “heaven” backwards, and has been booming on the charts. Why not just stick with a pretty name that isn’t reminiscent of a lady of the night- like Eden?