The topic of bullying is one that is being talked about and debated a lot lately. One thing that people often say is that we need to focus on getting the bullies to improve their behavior rather than changing the targets to be less prone to being bullied. This is absolutely true. All kids should be able to wave whatever freak flag they have, from cradle to grave, without fear of being subjected to wet willies, purple nurples, yellow swirlies, snakebites, wedgies, super-wedgies and hertz donuts.
The fact is, though, that bullying is real. It is a real problem that exists in our schools: all of them. Elementary schools are a battlefield, so why would anyone send a child into battle with a kick-me sign on their back? I know I’m preaching to the choir. Most parents are conscientious when it comes to avoiding bully-attracting names.
There isn’t a parent alive who hasn’t gone through the possible names list and then said the name aloud in conjunction with the last name in order to see if it rhymes with or can be construed as a potty word or phrase. Sometimes, though, parents drop the ball. Just ask Lucy Guici, Ben Pupin, Sharon Dix, Ima P. Ness, Ben Dover, Hugh Gass, Seymour Bunz, Dick Tickler, Dick Klutch and little Michael Hunt. Still, there are some names that will incite the wraths of bullies everywhere no matter what your last name is. Here are twenty-five of the worst offenders.
There are only two reasons someone would name their little bouncing baby boy Aloysius. One: it’s a family name, and they are really fond of their great uncle. Two: they really want a cool sounding old-fashioned name. The thing is, that although the name sounds cool to adult ears, and it does, it is not cool. Sure, it’s a tempting pick for your future hipster, and just think of the nicknames: Aloy, Alo, Loy, Wish, Al…which sounds fairly pedestrian, but when you follow it with “short for Aloysius,” it really ups the cool factor. Besides, it would look great printed on an artisanal pickle bottle with an expensive old-timey font. I can see it now. Aloysius Hand Crafted Gherkins. Perfect. To a kid, however, Aloysius is about as far from cool as a tire fire. Two minutes after being introduced to his first classmates, little Aloy will hear about twelve variations on the “Aloysius pishes hish pantsh” theme.
There are only two reasons to name a child Egbert. One is that the mother really craved eggs during the second trimester, and the second is none and the first reason does not count as a reason because it is, in actuality, temporary insanity. That’s it. There is never a valid reason for Egbert. Not ever. Not even if all your friends tell you that the name Egbert is really cute. They’re lying to you. How could Egbert be cute? It has the word Egg in it, right at the beginning like the phonemes making up the name are welcoming the bullies in. “Come in. bullies, would you like to ridicule me? There’s eggs!” What else are the bullies going to do? Not bully the kid? His name is Egg! Sure, there’s a Bert in there as well, but mostly just egg. As in “Hey, Egg, what’s your brother’s name? Andhash? What’s your dad’s name? Rooster? What’s your mom’s name? Henrietta? What’s your sister’s name? Chicken McPoopins?” Well. You get it.
At first glance, Dewey seems like a fine name. It is derived from a Welsh name for David and means beloved. It is the name of a decorated and well-lauded general from the Spanish-American War. The Dewey Decimal System is a system for categorizing library shelves so seriously awesome, you will never, ever have to pick through a bunch of Tuscany-based cookbooks to find a copy of Eat, Pray, Love. At one time, people avoided naming their baby boys Dewey just because of the decimal system. No one wants their kid to grow up with the nickname Bookface unless it was because he really liked to read, and not because kids kept throwing books at his face. Then, Google was invented, and people started naming boys Dewey again and looking forward to many jars of artisanal pickles. Then, in 2007, a little movie called Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story was released and everyone had to get off the Dewey train. Thanks a lot, John C. Reilly.
I’ll let you all in on a little secret. I love the name Peggy. It’s a beloved family name as a nickname for the many Margarets in my lineage. It was on my short list of names for my own baby girl. However, I took it off the list because of one simple fact. Kids can be cruel, mean and relentless. Oh so mean and relentless. Any kid with the name Peggy or Peg will become Piggy or Pig the second they step into a room with anyone under the age of twenty-one…if they’re lucky! If they’re unlucky, they will be called Sooey. Over and over and over again. That doesn’t mean that this name is safe for families who tend to produce naturally thin kids. First, bullies don’t care about reality when it comes to their name-based insults. Also, have you haven’t you ever been to a farm or seen Babe? There are some slim-hipped pigs sashaying around the slop trough.
21 Evelyn For A Boy
Believe it or not, back in the olden times, back before things like common sense and decorum were in fashion, people used to name their baby boys Evelyn. At the time, they didn’t really think anything wrong with naming their sons after the female half of the couple featured in Genesis. This was the olden times. People also didn’t think there was anything wrong with a lot of things, like cholera and naming their sons Evelyn. People still do name their little boys Evelyn, though, but they smartly hide it in the middle name. The last known male to have the name Evelyn was a fictional man from the 90s TV show News Radio, Bill McNeal . At least we thought his name was Bill, but in reality his first name was Evelyn and his middle name was Bill, a fact that he went to extraordinary lengths to hide because of the incredible bullying he’d been subjected to because of the name, mostly from his parents. Oh and the kids were bad too.
20 John For A Girl
John is spuriously appropriate for a boy. First of all, there are a lot of boy’s names that can easily go back and forth along the gender line. Chris, Joey, Jess, Jamie, Bobby, Roberta (but not Alberta…I’ll get into that later) Pat, Stevie, Leslie, and thanks to the popularity of Sarah Chalke’s character on Scrubs, Elliot. John is just not one of those names. John is one of those other names that will always sound like a boy’s name, no matter how you say it, like Kevin, Eric, Phil, David and Mike. Second, why would anyone name their daughter a name that is identical in pronunciation and spelling to what your dad calls the toilet? Boys at least can own their scatological birthright. Two boys talking: “What does your name mean?” “It’s what you poop in.” “Cool!” Two girls talking: “What does your name mean?” “It’s what you poop in.” “Cool! But isn’t John a boy’s name? I have two Uncle Johns.”
At first glance, the name Griswalda sounds like a fancy antique vessel Victorian ladies put old hair in because Victorian ladies were gross. As in: “I found an old hair ball under the divan. I’ll just shake the lice off it and put it in the Griswalda.” However, that is not what Griswalda means. Griswalda means: from the gray forest. Which really only makes it worse, doesn’t it? Now that we know the origin, the name Griswalda conjures up an old, asthmatic wolf, stumbling out of a sparse forest and hacking up a fur ball. That’s the sound decrepit wolves make when they hack up a fur ball. “GriiiiisWALLLLduh.” But a child won’t notice any of that, all they’ll notice is that Walda is almost like Waldo (which is coming up next on this list for its own reasons, but it should be part of the discussion about Griswalda, as well) and that Gris rhymes with Pizz (as in Pizz Pants Wally).
Even before little slick-haired Waldo stumbled away from his mom and got on the school bus with diminished hopes of making friends that year in Van Halen’s video for “Hot for Teacher,” Waldo has been classic bully fodder. In 1987, a little book called “Where’s Wally” (or “Where’s Waldo in the US) was released, and the days when kids only half-heartedly teased kids named Waldo were over. From that moment on, kids teased Waldos with their whole hearts. Bullies all over the world made it their business to never, ever let a child named Waldo walk into any room, ever, without hearing at least six kids yell out, “There he is! I found him.” Imagine the tragic results when a little fourth grade Waldo or Griswalda back in the late 80s, unaware of the popularity of the new book, arrived at a school assembly in a red and white shirt. If they had the glasses and the hat as well, they’d have to move.
Hugh is one of those names that seems perfectly innocent, but can act as a diabolical weapon in the hands of a bully. Hugh sounds like “you.” That’s an undeniable fact. Also undeniable is that fact that no matter how innocuous your last name, even if it’s Smarty, DaMann, or Argrate, the bullies will make up their own surnames for sweet, innocent little Hugh. Parents of Hugh Smarty, DaMann or Argrate, please meet your new son Hugh Dingleberry, Doofus, Dweeb, Dink, Dimwit, or Dummy. What makes this name worse is that with an added soft G, this name sounds like Huge. If you have a child named Hugh, you might want to adjust your new stationary to reflect the new last names the bullies will be giving him: Jass, Jidiot Jardon, Jeboobies and Jetits. Also, it might not be a bad idea to get an unlisted phone number. Or get rid of your phone altogether. Everyone texts these days, anyhow.
Let us all make a pact right here and now to never, ever name our little boys this vicious insult ever again. It’s one thing that this name is another word for male genitalia. That’s really not the problem. Peter, for example, is a fine male name. Lots of men grow up with the name Peter and are just fine. As are men named Rod. Dick, however, is not just slang for male genitalia. It’s an insult. A few years ago, Jon Stewart caused trouble when he called Tucker Carlson a dick on national television. There wouldn’t have been trouble if Tucker’s name had been Dick, but because his name was Tucker, it was scandalous. The really strange thing about Dick is how popular the name is. It might be that parents want to get out in front of the bullying by just giving their child an insult for a name. Bet they wouldn’t name their child Jerkface, though would they? Let’s all hope not, for little Jerkface’s sake.
While we’re on the subject of Tucker, I feel I need to mention that Tucker is a person who tucks. Tuck is verb: A verb with connotations similar to the words cram, push, poke, enter, flop, and flick. No one outside of the fictional parents of the kid who got his tongue stuck to the flagpole in A Christmas Story name their child Flick. Even worse than the RuPaul’s-Drag-Race tinge the name has to it, the fact is that it rhymes with a swear word. A swear that, according to A Christmas Story, is “the queen-mother of dirty words. ” Oh? You didn’t notice that? Congratulations. You don’t have a dirty mind or the brain of a bully. You know who has both those things? Bullies. The connection between the F word and Tucker is something the Bullies are going to not only notice but capitalize upon, early and often.
Without looking at it through a historical or societal lens, Bertha is a beautiful name that brings to mind wind, whispering through the gentle pink flowers dotting a German meadow. However, unlike those flowers, the lens of time is not so rose colored. Historically, Bertha is the name of the howitzers used by Germans in World War I. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. The name of the guns was actually Big Bertha. That one, little three-lettered adjective led to many elephants being named Bertha throughout the next few decades. No matter how peanut-sized little Bertha turns out to be, she will forever be associated with elephants. It seems strange that bullies would know anything about World War I weaponry and elephant naming in the last century, but they know quite a bit of seemingly useful information that contributes to their chosen trade, which, in this case, is bullying kids. Also, everyone knows that bullies love the History channel. Everyone.
Elsa is a beautiful name that at one time conjured up thoughts of hot cocoa and braids done up in bows. Now, it conjures up the most beloved song amongst the preschool crowd, and what has to be the most hated song amongst the elementary school crowd ever. “Wheels on the Bus” doesn’t even come close. “The Barney Theme Song” comes closest, but no one is really naming their children Barney. (Are they?) Children named Elsa will most certainly loathe the song Let it Go from Disney’s Frozen long before they are serenaded with it each and every time they walk down the halls of school, “conceal don’t feel,” or walk into class “don’t let them know,” or raise their hand to ask the teacher something, “well now they now,” especially if that something is permission to go to the bathroom, “let it go! Let it go! Don’t hold it back anymore!”
I just checked, and it turns out that parents are naming their baby boys Barney. Not a lot of them, to be sure. Still after a steady decline since the late 1800s, the name has had a small resurgence in popularity, jumping up over a thousand places to 4,025th most popular baby boy name in the US. That seems really high for a big purple dinosaur. Sure, Barney has an air of WASPy respectability to it because of the department store and full name of Barnaby, but really, even now, to children all over the world who have access to Youtube, Barney is a big purple dinosaur who sings the worst song in the world. That’s not hyperbole, that’s a fact. The Barney Theme Song is the worst song that has ever been or ever will be. Don’t take my word for it. Ask any boy named Barney. He’s heard it sung, by his bullies, many many times.
This is by far the most tempting girls name on this list. Hermione is one of the most beloved characters from children’s literature of all time. However, can we stop and think about this for a moment. Let’s all go back and reread the first Harry Potter book. (Or, I suppose we could watch the movie, but would it kill us to pick up a book? No. It would not.) Hmm. That’s odd. There’s something that maybe we all forgot about the character of Hermione Granger. She is a friendless outcast who is cruelly picked on by the other kids, even Ron and to a lesser degree Harry, for her know-it-all ways. If we name our daughters Hermione, the bullies will certainly not forget about Miss Granger’s awkward years, and they will remind little Hermione about it every time she raises her hand in class. She will also be greeted with calls of “lev-ee-oh-saaaaah!” whenever she says anything, does anything, or goes anywhere.
Jumping Jehoshaphat! Are people really naming their children Jehoshaphat? I really, truly think that making fun of someone for their name is reprehensible and wrong, but I must admit, if you caught me on a bad day, and I ran into a kid named Jehoshaphat , I might….just might…laugh until I could barely stand up. The word “fat” is in the name. Sure it’s at the end, and it’s the good kind of fat, as in “those are some phat beats, you’re spinning, Jehoshaphat.” It also has the word “sa” in it, which isn’t a word, but right before it is the word “ho.” It also has the word “jee” in it, but that is definitely not a word, so we’ll just cut that out. What are we left with? “ho sa fat.” Combine that with the pure indecorous nature of Jehoshaphat, and you’ve got yourself a good old-fashioned bully field day.
Back in the 70s, there was a show called Fat Albert. Albert is not a girl’s name, but Alberta is. Albert really isn’t a good name for a boy or a girl, but a boy can tell everyone that his name is Al, and unless the bullies are up on their 1980s Paul Simon discography (which most of them certainly are not) then they’ll probably just ignore little Albert’s name and find something else about him to make fun of like his clothes because they are bullies after all. If Alberta tries to tell people to call her Al, she will be teased for having a boy’s name. If she tries to get sneaky and tells people that her name is Berta, she’ll get teased because Berta is too close to Bertha. If she just throws caution to the wind and goes by Alberta, everyone is going to call her Fat Alberta even if she is not fat because all bullies everywhere know who Fat Albert is.
Seymour is so hopelessly and relentlessly nebbish, you should just name the kid Nebbish, and get it over with but please do not because nebbish is not a name. It’s a Yiddish word for hopelessly and relentlessly nebbish. Seymour used to be a nerdy name. A name you would give to the shy guy who works in a plant shop and never gets the girl…until he finally does. Something happened, though, and the name Seymour became even bigger fodder for schoolyard ribbing than ever before. The thing that happened was Bart Simpson. A yellow, spiky-headed cartoon character with a penchant for calling up the local pub and asking for a guy named Seymour Butts. And while the cartoon Seymour Butts never came to the phone, the real Seymour will never answer to Seymour Butts. One thing is for sure, though. The budding Bart Simpsons at little Seymour’s school will never get tired of trying.
7 Anita or Jawana
Jawana is a Malaysian name derived from Javana. Anita is a beautiful name that means Grace. It’s too bad though, that neither one of these names can ever be used again. Never. It’s too bad, but they’ve been retired since the 90s, and the world was introduced to Bart Simpson, yes him again, and the phone pranks he pulled on Moe the bartender. Specifically, Bart would often call up the bar and ask for a lady named Anita Bath. You can bet on two things. One: the bullies have all seen The Simpsons. And two: by the time the bullies get a hold of little Anita, Anita Bath will seem almost kind. A kid named Jawana used to be be able to skate by on charm and charisma. That is until 2002 when the movie Juwanna Mann came out. And you can bet your sweet Juwanna that bullies have seen that movie and are prepared to expound upon Mann.
The problem with this name is that parents will see the success of actor Benedict Cumberbatch and assume that Benedict is safe to name kids without fear of retaliation from local bullies. The problem is that kids don’t learn about English actors with sharp cheekbones and piercing eyes in history class. They learn about Benedict Arnold. The traitor. Naming an US baby Benedict is like naming a catholic baby Judas. It’s just not done. Even, though, if the kid is not from the US or if he goes to a school that teaches an alternate history of the American Revolution, where Benedict Arnold is a hero, he is still a guy named Benedict. And the name Benedict has the word “dick” in it, and that, to the bullying mind, is somehow worse than just being named Dick. If you don’t believe me, just ask Mr. Cumberbatch. He’s admitted that his name made him a bully’s dream. Of course, he was mostly talking about his last name, but Benedict was a big part of it.
There is really nothing intrinsically wrong with the name Katrina. It’s a German name meaning pure. It sounds like the name of a woman who is very good at golf. Or likes to go adventure camping. Or has a really well-kept home. (As in “How does Katrina do it? Where does she find the time?”) Katrina does not sound like one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit North America, but it is. Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 and was the fifth deadliest hurricane the United States ever suffered. It was so bad, that girls who were already named Katrina got kind of a free pass. A get out of bullying free card. Now that the requisite “too soon” waiting period is over, however? All bets are off. Any girl named Katrina can be sure to endure years of bullies pouring their water bottles on the floor and yelling “Look! Katrina is flooding the hallway.”
If there is something that humans who like stuff just love, it’s The Simpsons. We love it so much, we quote it all the time, and name our children after characters on the long-running animated show. There is nothing wrong with naming a child Lisa, Maggie, Marge or even Homer. No one ever must name their child Milhouse unless they want the poor kid to endure the same fate of the fictional Milhouse at the hand of real-life Jimbos, Kearneys and Nelsons. Milhouse was a name that was invented just to be made fun of. Don’t believe me? Look it up. Milhouse’s full name is Milhouse Mussolini Van Houten. That is a name designed for pure ridicule. It would’ve been better to name the kid Santa’s Little Helper, but please do not. A much cooler Milhouse-related name is VanHouten because then his nickname would be Van which, after Finn McCool, is one of the coolest names ever.
3 Adolf or Osama
Do I even have to mention this one? Really? Can we all just agree that Adolf and Osama are over. The amount of bullying that will be dumped upon your poor child’s head if you give him one of these names is so monstrously huge, it would be impossible for him to survive childhood without needing a lot of therapy. And once they get out of childhood, it’s not like things are going to get any easier. It’s actually going to get worse. Can you imagine the look on the guy at the DMV’s face when Osama or Adolf comes strolling in with his birth certificate and two forms of ID. And it’s not just the kid who’s going to get bullied. The parents who dare to name their kid this will never hear the end of it. They won’t be polite about it, either. They’ll just blurt it out at the block party or PTA meeting. “Why did you name your kid, Adolf, Bob? Are you crazy?” And Bob will have to admit that, yes, he is crazy. He named his child Adolf.
Fanny is a name that parents need to watch out for. No one really sets out to name their child Fanny. Except of course, Fanny Flagg, who was a comedian/actress/author/frequent Match Game guest, but that was the 70s, and the 70s were a weird time. The fact is that Fannie is a name that all modern bullies dream about. Fanny is like a bully jackpot. Fanny is a slang term for butt in the United States and for something even worse in the UK and Australia, but either way it’s still pretty bad, and yes…Fannie Flagg was technically Butt Flagg. Which is bad, but nowhere as bad as the ridicule that little Fanny will endure. I can see her, the poor thing, clutching her books close to her as she walks down the hall, terrified of dropping them because she knows that, she’ll have to bend over and pick them up and if she does that, she will never stop hearing kids yell, “Hey! Look! It’s Fanny’s fanny!”
There is nothing really wrong with the name Enis. It means friend. The problem is that, no matter how you pronounce it, the bullies are going to pronounce it so that it rhymes with penis, and hilarity will ensue from there. This is why people need to go through their baby name lists and repeat each name out loud to make sure it doesn’t rhyme with anything body, body part or body excretion related or any other word that could possibly be naughty or rude. Bart? Rhymes with fart. That’s out. Mary? Rhymes with fairy. Nick rhymes with prick. Earl rhymes with hurl. Luke rhymes with puke. Jane? Rhymes with pain? Where is the pain? Could be the butt. Who knows? Hmm. Come to think of it. You know what? Maybe it would be easier to just teach the bullies not to tease kids about their names. Let’s make a pact right now to name our babies whatever we want to name them, and not worry about the bullies. Hey, it worked out okay for Fanny and Benedict.