Naming a baby is one of the most thrilling decisions most parents make before the baby arrives. It is also, unfortunately, one of the most frustrating. Will people be able to pronounce the chosen name? Is it easily changed into something mean that a bully will pick up on their first day of school? There are a million questions that run through a mom’s mind when they are trying to pick that name.
Of all the aspects that a mom has to consider there is one that, for whatever reason, people always find a way to miss: is the name too common? We all remember being in class or at work and seeing the list of names. Most people had their names all to themselves but there were always a few names that seemed to show up in clusters. And it was never one or two, oh no. They usually came in groups of three, minimum, and we’d always wonder why it seemed everyone chose the same name for their kids.
Most people probably did not know how common the names were, or at least that’s our working theory. And, to that end, we wanted to try and help out anyone looking to name their up-and-coming bundle of joy.
These twenty-five names are so common that moms everywhere are officially sick of seeing them crop up.
It used to be easy to blame this name on women who liked Jane Austen’s work a little too much. These are usually the same people who think that she wrote romance novels, totally missing the satire in the story, but that’s a whole other article.
The problem with “Emma” is that it’s so cute that it’s hard to take an adult Emma seriously. Emma Watson and Emma Thompson manage to pull it off but they’re both also wildly active in the campaign for human rights across the globe. It kind of adds some gravitas to the name that most Emmas might not be able to pull off.
Of course, most of the newest Emma namesakes could very well be named for these humanitarians, so maybe the perception of the name will turn around. Who’s to say?
All we know is that, for the moment, there are entirely too many Emmas running around and it doesn’t help when there’s an abundance of Emilys in the same space.
The Emily rant is coming further down the list, so we’ll save that for later. But, if you’re still not persuaded, let me just point out that Emma is far too easily twisted into some pretty questionable words.
This name has never really been at the top of the “popular names” list until recently and I honestly can’t put my finger on why it’s suddenly popping up all over the place. There’s a chance that Law and Order: SVU is just that popular and I haven’t noticed, but I somehow doubt that Mariska Hargitay’s detective alter ego is behind the spike in popularity. Olivia Wilde could be to blame, particularly for Olivia’s that was named several years ago when Olivia Wilde was matching wits and wills against Hugh Laurie on everyone’s second-favorite millennium medical drama, House. Whatever the cause, it is high time to move on to more original names.
As a name, Olivia has been around in English since roughly the 13th century and likely comes from the Latin word for “olive”.
Olives and their branches have generally meant “peace” in western countries since around the 5th century, so this name basically boils down to a feminine version of “peace”. The meaning might sound on-trend and empowering, and one might think that would be enough to save this name from the ban hammer. But there are so many Olivias running around that we’re feeling anything BUT peace every time the name comes up now!
A lot of moms might be surprised to see Ava on this lest, but let me explain. Ava might not be the most popular name but it is probably one of the most annoying. The best known Ava is Ava Gardner. For those who aren’t up on their Hollywood Golden Age trivia, Ava Gardner was one of the Golden Age’s most beloved actresses. She married two of the biggest names in mid-century entertainment, Frank Sinatra, and Mickey Rooney.
She was the perfectly made up and decidedly demure starlet that every director wanted in front of his cameras around the time of World War II. And that is why I am completely over this name.
It sounds like the name of someone who is trying to hard. Someone who is content to be famous because of a pretty face or a narrow waist instead of for the steel in the backbone. Okay, I might be a little biased about this but every time I hear the name all I can think of is a woman with picture-perfect makeup swooning into the arms of a man because she thinks she is supposed to. Yes, I want to steal every single piece of clothing out of her wardrobe but that does not mean that the stereotype of an Ava is anything to strive for!
I used to kind of like the name Sophia. And then I started to see it everywhere right after Disney came out with a princess named, you guessed it, Sophia.
There should be a general rule that any name given to a Disney princess is officially off limits for at least ten years following the princess’ debut.
Royal names, whether real or fake, should be off limits for a period of time after their debut to avoid the crush, but I go more into that with a name or two further along in this list.
I can understand the urge to name your child after an idealized character or a beloved heroine as much as the next person. The thought even crossed my mind and one or two name options might have been considered. But then I had a realization: Naming kids after fictional characters is so unfair to the child! Certain common names like Harry or Susan might be able to slip under the radar but if you choose a name that hasn’t been popular for almost a century and your kid was born roughly the same time a princess with that name debuted on Disney, everyone is going to be comparing your kid to that princess. And from their hair to their golden hearts, we all know Disney princess-like perfection is unattainable.
I swear that the princess-themed streak was unintentional. Then again, I’m not sure how many people even remember the Princess Diaries, so I’ll just be moving right along with the reasons that Mia needs to go on hiatus. Or, to be fair to the Mias of the world, three-letter first names for girls need to go on hiatus for a little while.
Any girl with a three-letter name automatically comes across as either a diva or a “mean girl”.
And, yes, that is incredibly unfair to the girls and is pretty much a stereotype, but that’s why these names need to take a break!
Too many three-letter names belong to girls and women, both real and fictitious, that end up being bullies by the end of the story. The appeal of these names is easy to see. They’re easy to spell, easy to say, and hard to get wrong. But they are also overused, saddled with a nasty stereotype, and unbelievably dated. If Mia is truly speaking to your soul, there are some beautiful alternatives that won’t have your child forever saddled with one of the attempts at a live-action princess movie, the “mean girl” vibe, or the constant urge of random strangers to burst out in Abba tunes when they hear her name.
I think there should be a rule that if a name has appeared in a book title, it’s officially time to retire it from use as a general name. Fans of the British royal family are probably grinding their teeth in agitation right about now but I stand by the statement. And the fact that you can probably tell me the plot of the exact book I’m talking really just goes to prove my point. I can completely understand the appeal of the name, don’t get me wrong. It either conjures up the stereotype of simple farm life and the freedom of childhood or the understated glamour of the Regency world that Charlotte Bronte immortalized in her novels.
Either one would be ideal for a little girl and the name has room to grow into. But there are simply too many Charlottes running around and it’s going to get worse now that Kate Middleton has named her eldest daughter Charlotte as well.
In five or six years time there will be so many Charlottes that finding even a simple keychain with the name it will prove tricky.
Do yourself and your daughter a favor, and choose something a little more unique that she can leave her own mark on.
I know vintage baby names are incredibly hip right now, but this one needs to stay in the 1700’s where it belongs. Every name carries a vibe and gives an impression of someone before you really get to know them. And there is nothing fun or modern about the impression that Abigail gives people. Abigail is the name of someone in a dress four layers deep with a bonnet on her head that she never takes off. It’s so old-fashioned that it doesn’t even have the dreaded “old lady name” impact anymore. It’s just a little bit absurd, like Jebediah or the term “Goodwife”. Fans of the name could argue that one of our First Ladies was named Abigail and they would be absolutely right.
Unfortunately, she was also one of the least popular First Ladies, both then and now. So not only does this name give the impression that the person you have just met is woefully out of date, but if you know anything about history you’re also going to be worried about a spiteful attitude and a tendency to curb free speech. That is definitely not an impression most people want their name to give, so Abigail needs to take a rest for a while and maybe try again in another hundred and fifty years or so.
Some names, like Abigail, tell stories that are anything but flattering. Other names have a problem that is very nearly the opposite of Abigail’s. These names don’t tell any story at all.
They are so bland and so overdone that you almost don’t hear them and, when you do, it’s a bit like biting into a piece of white bread. It’s bread.
But it’s also so boring that you look in the fridge for literally anything to spread over the top just to give it some flavor. Emily is exactly that kind of name.
Emilys are, by and large, kind people. And there have been attempts to add a little bit of bite to the name with characters such as Emily the Strange. But a quick Google search reveals just how, well, common the name is. Emily Blunt is usually the first result, but after there, there are just pages of articles on various Emilys across the internet and a brief Wikipedia article detailing just how common the name is.
There are so many alternatives to this name that it would take the rest of the article to list them all. And I bet that you know enough Emilys that it would take you a few minutes run through them all in your head. So with the proliferation of alternatives and the painful frequency of Emily sightings, it is definitely time to let this name take a breather.
This name has been in use for so long that there probably isn’t a person alive who hasn’t heard of an Elizabeth. I would be willing to bet that there isn’t a person alive who hadn’t met an Elizabeth, but the name is only popular in certain countries. And it is, unsurprisingly, another royal name. It’s the name of the current Queen of England, for crying out loud! Google “Actress Elizabeth” and leave the space after Elizabeth blank.
Google will run out of spaces to give suggesting before it runs out of suggestions to make. Not only is the name annoyingly common but it is one of those names that has a million possible nicknames and every single Elizabeth on the planet has one that they will tolerate.
Use the wrong nickname usually goes over about as well as throwing a brick at a grizzly bear too which makes every new Elizabeth a human minefield.
This might be a little bit of an exaggeration but not much of one. And the name is so common that I could list a dozen or so examples to back up my point. There are so many alternatives that mean the same thing as Elizabeth or have the kind of history that Elizabeth does without putting your kid into a group with six other girls with the exact same name everywhere she goes.
Has anyone ever had a good experience with a girl named Madison? The name is a nice break from the string of royal monikers that we’ve gone through. But Madison also has to be the most obvious name on this list. Naming kids after cities is almost never a good idea. It is such a bad idea, in fact, that it has become a stereotype thanks to Paris Hilton and her satirical counterpart, London Tipton.
The reference might be old but the point stands. Madison is, somehow, worse than both of these names combined and that can likely be blamed on the fact that Madison lacks the same air of class that London and Paris have.
It’s actually kind of hard to figure out why someone would pick this name, given its reputation and general lack of flair, but it still seems to pop up everywhere. And shortening it down to “Maddy” does not make it any more tolerable. If anything, it makes it worse and it’s very nearly the only nickname for someone named Madison. There isn’t even an option that sounds more professional if little Madison grows up and wants to be a lawyer or some other high-profile profession.
There isn’t even any snarky reason to dislike the name Chloe. It is just so overused that we are one hundred percent done with it. Chloe has not quite reached the same level of overuse that Elizabeth has, but it is just as annoying. Elizabeth, at least, has some gravitas and versatility to it, as annoying as it is that versatility usually leads to confusion on which exact nickname is the right one to use. Chloe, however, is just...Chloe. The only possible nicknames are “Chloe” or “Loey”, both of which are just one letter off from the actual name.
What is the point of the nickname at that point? And don’t even get me started on the chances of Chloe being taken seriously in any professional capacity. She might have a shot if she goes into an artistic field but if she tries to go into any field with any level of gravitas she will have to fight just to be taken seriously. There are way too many girls with this fight in their future already, so maybe the name Chloe needs to be put on ice for a little while. Or, at the very least, relegated to a middle name.
If you are considering a name that is also a personality trait, there should be a rule stating that you have to use it as a nickname and give the child a unique first name. That really doesn’t seem like that much to ask considering that the alternative leaves the child sounding like she just hopped off the Mayflower and should be wearing a bonnet. Definitely not a good look for a modern kid, And if she manages to avoid sounding like a Puritan, everyone will think she is named after Princess Grace of Monaco.
If you think naming your children after fictional characters is bad, imagine how funny it would be for everyone to assume that you named your daughter after an actress-turned-princess from the fifties.
Princess Grace was a wonderful person, I’m sure. And many, many little girls want to be an actress and a princess at some point in their lives so the idea of being one and then the other does have its appeal. But it has so much appeal that there are a million Graces running around and with Graces popping up all over the place the name has lost some of its sparkles, There are so many women who had poise and style while they reached for, and achieved, their wildest dreams. One or two of them are bound to have names with more freshness and originality than a name like Grace.
I’m going to tread a little more lightly with this name than I have with the others. Leah is most often taken from the Biblical story of the Jacob and his wives and that is a touchy subject for some people. That being said, the name really needs to go on hiatus and it is in part because of where the name comes from. Leah was the woman Jacob was duped into marrying when he really wanted to marry her sister. That doesn’t exactly give the name a warm and cozy vibe, especially in a modern world where Biblical names are less common and more people are likely to ask where the woman’s name came from.
Just imagine trying to explain that backstory over drinks or at a dinner party. There also aren’t really any nicknames that someone with a name like Leah can use. So the kid is stuck with a name that has a less-than-happy backstory and no nickname to use in its place. That leaves her with her middle name. What would the point of the first name even be at that point? If you want a Biblical name there are literal lists of them to choose from, many with happier backstories and more modern impact than “Leah”.
The most annoyingly common names seem to either belong to royals or classic Hollywood starlets. I get it, everyone loves Audrey Hepburn. Her name had become synonymous with class, talent, and the kind of beauty that is almost adorable. Her films appeal to everyone from children to the elderly, from film buffs to casual viewers, from hipsters to those who like everything mainstream.
She’s the all-around American darling despite the fact that her work was put out sixty years ago.
But I think it might be time to let her name take a rest. If you’re really focused on using a vintage actress’ names, try Ingrid or Rita. Both names are much more unique and both belonged to women who worked at the same furious pace as Audrey.
They might not have the same vibe as Miss Hepburn but at least their names haven’t become so common that they can set a woman’s teeth on edge, no matter how much she may like Breakfast at Tiffany's’. And, no, Aubrey is not different enough to make the name palatable either. Audrey (and Aubrey) need to take a hiatus from the limelight so that it can start packing a proper punch again.
I was honestly surprised to find out that people actually name their child Claire. Isn’t there some general rule that once a name is applied to a retail chain, it’s not really a good idea to use it on your kids any more? No? Well there should be.
At this point, naming your kid Claire is like naming them Hot Topic or Hollister.
And all of you who actually just considered the name Hollister need to go sit in a corner and think about what you were just considering. Claire (and Hollister) are both names associated with chain stores that not adult in their right mind would wander in to. One store is likely to see you bedazzled in rhinestones before you can make it out the door and the other will leave you stinking for days, and that’s just the start of it!
Claire might stem from the Latin word for clear, but I’m still foggy on why people use their name for their children. Rhinestones aside, it just seems too much like naming your child after a business to feel familiar and cozy the way a name should. A quick Google search would turn up names that are much more unique and personal than the one across a marquee at the mall.
There is something about the name Samantha that screams trouble, and not in an endearing way. Take a few minutes to scroll through modern media and, with the exception of the American Girl series and the Bewitched, Samanthas are almost always on the wrong end of the story. Real-life Samanthas are probably not that one-dimensional, but that doesn’t make the name any less grating. Whether they go by Sam, Samantha, or Sammy, we are completely over this name. And that’s not even getting into the constant “Sam not Sammy!” or “Samantha not Sam” shouting matches that every Samantha in the history of the world has gotten into.
There is no originality to it anymore. If a little girl is going to have a common name, at least make it easier on everyone and choose something shorter and easier for the kid to spell in kindergarten. This list could has a bunch of great examples, though most of them are just as bad as Samantha. We’re not suggesting that this is ideal, of course. But at least it would have fewer letters and less fuss surrounding nicknames. If you really have you heart set on something like Samantha, try Sage, Sasha, Sadie. They have fewer letters, more originality, and loads less potential for someone to pick a fight over whether or no the right nickname was used.
We get it. Every Angela since the dawn of time was their mom and dad’s little angel. And I’m sure that name was really cute until the first temper tantrum set in. Or they got caught sneaking out for the first time. At that point her name just becomes almost funny though it isn’t likely that the parents are laughing right then. But that is honestly the least annoying thing about this name. Angela is not a name that lends itself to any real nickname. And don’t try to tell me that “Angel” is a nickname.
Angel is the name of a bunny or a kitten. Even if it were a nickname, it’s only one letter off from the original name. Again, at that point there is absolutely no need for a nickname in the first place.
Sure, the name has its merits. It’s easy to write and that can be a perk for little ones learning their names. But it is also so painfully common - especially when combined with other incredibly similar names - that there really isn’t any other upside to it. Angela has become the dry white bread toast of names simply from over-exposure and it is time to move on to fresher monikers.
A good rule of thumb is that, the shorter the name, the more common it is and the easier it is to get sick of it. Kara is another one of the super short names that we would really love to stop seeing all over the place. The name in and of itself isn’t bad. It’s easy to write and easy to remember, but it also lacks any kind of softness or means of endearing its carrier to someone.
Kara is the kind of name you’d expect to hear whined out over the crowds of a music festival or shouted in the mall by that group of kids that nobody can stand but everyone has to put up with.
You know the one I’m talking about. Kara just isn’t a name that commands any kind of respect unless it comes with Mean Girl-style antics. Every possible root of the name means something akin to “beloved” or “sweetheart”, but it just doesn’t give off that vibe any more. There are a ton of names that mean the same thing and have a much more endearing air about them as well as the wiggle room to generate nicknames. With any luck they’ll also add some variety!
This is another name that, most recently, was made famous by a singer. I’m going to be really honest with you, though. Naming your daughter after Nora Jones is way more understandable than a lot of other celebrity baby names that have become popular in recent years.
I’m sure that Nora Jones isn’t the only reason that Noras have become so common these days, but she must have had some kind of impact. It’s also a name that can come across as sweet during childhood and serious during adulthood, which is another reason that I completely understand why this name is so popular.
Throw in an easy spelling and you would normally have a real winner.
Everyone else seemed to think the same thing around the same time, unfortunately. It has been in the list of top one hundred baby names for years now and it’s getting to the point where it’s losing all of it sparkle. There are dozens if not hundreds of alternatives out there and I think it’s high time that Nora is left off in favor of more unique choices. At least for a little while. Maybe it can make a comeback in fifty or sixty years when it could be considered vintage!
Zoey has many of the same problems that Chloe does. There is no room for a nickname, no room to personalize the name. This can lead to problems later on, especially because Zoey is not a name that anyone is going to trust when they see it on a business card.
Every time I run into one of the many, many Zoeys that are running around now, the only thing I can think is that the girl should really focus on something other than any possible dream of going into law school, medical school, or business school to be a CEO. Would you trust someone with a name like Zoey to diagnose a medical problem or represent you in court? It might be a little bit biased of me, but I definitely would not.
Zoey is a name that belongs in childhood and it simply does not transition well to adult life. That is an awful trait for a name that is as popular as Zoey is! It’s like all those parents didn’t stop to think about what their daughter’s name was going to do to her chances of being taken seriously later on in life. Which is pretty ironic considering that the name Zoey means “life” in Greek.
Skylar is part of a naming trend that I had really hoped to see fade away in the nineties. Apparently, I had no such like. Skyler, Kyler, Tyler, Syler. If your kids name ends with “-yler”, you are trying too hard. There is just something so pretentious about a name that ends with “-yler” and as mad as that might make some people, you guys know I’m right.
These are the kinds of names that you think up so that your kid will sound cool in high school or early college.
But unless you raise the sweetest kid on the planet, these are also that names that predispose people to think of them as arrogant or rude because it just sounds like the kind of name that would belong to someone who is either too self-centered or too burned out to see what is going on around them.
Neither is appealing and the whole mess is decidedly overdone for a rest. Unless you want your kid to come equipped with their own skateboard, attitude, and general air of selfishness, might we suggest that you try another type of name. Nearly any other type of name, in fact. For the kid’s sake and for ours.
Don’t even try to be cute and use spelling to slip past me don this one. No matter how you spell is, Allison is played out. Allison has become the go-to name for a stuck up well-off girl and if you don’t believe me, take a look at most media that has an Allison in it. I’m not even really sure where this name came from but it needs to go back and stay there for a bit. It is a name that tries to be classy but really just hides a lack of creativity and, as mean as that sounds, you know I’m right.
The name doesn’t even have its own meaning! It’s either French variant of Alice or it means “son of Alice”, depending on which root branch you follow. So not only is the girl stuck with a name that at least one other girl in her class will always have to share, but there isn’t even a good reason to choose the name because it doesn’t really have any meaning. And, no, names don’t always have to have meanings. But when they don’t, they are essentially the extra mounds on royal frosting on the edge of the cake. They’re there, we all know they’re there. But most people would rather just do without.
This name went from being almost unheard of to being absolutely everywhere. And that’s without counting names like Alexis and Alexandria, both of which were more common for decades. Alexa is an incredibly pretty name and is probably the most versatile name on this list in terms of nicknames. Nobody would be surprised to see the name Alexa on a name tag in a science lab or to see Lexi as an artist’s signature.
The problem, however, is that the name got too big too fast and I’m really not sure where the sudden surge in popularity came from. Billy Joel’s daughter is named Alexa and one of his songs uses the name, but Alexa Joel is past thirty at this point and is not nearly popular enough to account for the surge in new Alexas all on her own.
The only other possibility is actually kind of terrifying. People might be naming their child Alexa just to mess with the Amazon product of the same name. Like I said, kind of terrifying! I’m all for interesting names but this might be one that needs to be put in the same category as Siri and Cortana: pretty, but just not meant for actual people anymore.
This name has not been popular for very long, but over the last few years, it seems like Arianas have been cropping up everywhere. It is another name in a long line that skyrocketed to popularity after being carried by someone who reaches fame and fortune. Ariana Grande is hugely popular and has been for several years now.
It really isn’t surprising that her name has been climbing the popularity charts as well.
The only real problem with this is that there are going to be a million Arianas running around in ten or fifteen years and their namesake will likely have retired from public view.
Think about it. Are most of the pop divas you grew up with still in the limelight or have they gone on to work in different parts of the music industry that let them have more private home lives with their partners and children? Exactly. The same thing is going to happen with Ariana Grande and that isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. It lets the namesake get on with her life. But it also means that all these girls are going to be running around with the name of a pop star that their parents happened to really like listening to the year the baby was born.
The real problem with Anna is that it is so close to so many other names. Anne, Ann, Annie. It’s been tacked on to the beginning of names like Anna Mae, Anna Marie, and Anna Sophia. It has even been used as a short-hand nickname for women named Anastasia and Annabelle.
The name is beyond tired. It’s become a bit like vests from the 80’s and 90’s. Vests were everywhere.
It was impossible to look through a fashion spread, store display, or group of people and not find at least one vest. Linen, denim, embroidered, or dyed it didn’t matter. No outfit was complete without a vest. And if you think I’m kidding, I dare you to look up fashion from the 80’s and 90’s without vests. It exists but there’s almost always a vest lurking to side, waiting to jump in. “Anna” is like that vest. It is so versatile that it fits well with just about any other girl’s name and so it’s been mashed onto the front or thrown in as a nickname until it’s lost any real sense of originality.
So like Queen Elsa says, just let it go. Just don’t tell her what we’ve been saying about her sister’s name!