This week’s baby name news has me wondering: what makes a name truly off limits? I don’t mean names that just aren’t your style, but names that actually strike you as inappropriate, even unfair, to give to a child.
It’s a tough line to draw. Some names are fine until they’re paired with a specific surname, like famed Texas philanthropist Ima Hogg. Others have associations that are difficult to shake, be they positive or otherwise. Would you name a child Elmo? Adolf seems like a burden, but what if your beloved grandpa was an Adolf?
Creative respellings put many parents off, while others have negative reactions to surnames, invented names, place names … the list is endless. But when does it cross the line from not for me, thanks, into who does that?
On to the nine names in the news, some of which you’ve probably already guessed:
Zander – Good Charlotte guitarist Billy Martin and his wife Linzi welcomed a second son, Zander Jace. Xander has been catching on, and Zander makes sense as a phonetic respelling of this nickname-turned-given-name. Visit the nametalk forums and it is very clear that many parents are frustrated by respellings, regardless of the reason. Then again, the couple’s firstborn is Dreavyn Kingslee, which makes Zander seem pretty tame.
Kendrick Kurt – Actress Kelly Stables and her husband Kurt Patino welcomed a son who shares his first initial with mom and dad. Matching initials are another choice that some embrace – Jim Bob and Michelle, I’m looking at you – while others go to great lengths to avoid repetition.
Sienna – It’s a gorgeous, feminine appellation chosen by Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima and her husband, Marko Jari?. Sienna brings to mind the hills of Tuscany, the lovely Sienna Miller – and the super-popular Toyota Sienna. I suspect Sienna could almost rival Sophia if not for the minivan. Would you avoid a name if it was already in use for a popular car model?
Camden – Another place name, but this one is very different. While Sienna brings to mind the best of Italy, Camden conjures up a less-than-breathtaking industrial New Jersey town. Of course, there’s also London’s Camden Market and Baltimore’s Camden Yards – and Nick and Vanessa Lachey’s new son, Camden John, just a month younger than Kristin Cavallari’s Camden Jack. If you’re choosing a place name, does the reputation of the place itself matter?
Merida – Name Soiree reported finding a birth announcement for a Merida Marie. Odds are good that mom chose the name after Brave hit the big screens this summer. On the positive side: Merida will have an easy first birthday party theme, and the movie character is admirable. On the downside: a lifetime of being asked why your parents named you after the Disney Pixar flick.
Satine – But what if the character isn’t G-rated? Nicole Kidman’s character in Moulin Rouge wasn’t a villain, but it might be hard to explain to your eight year old that she was named after a doomed courtesan. Some parents don’t mind. A birth announcement for Satine Chantel Louise appeared at Names For Real this week. Of course, you can argue that being ill-fated hasn’t harmed Juliet. Does it matter if the character is actually a bad guy, like Bellatrix from the Harry Potter series?
Nicaya – Plenty of parents draw the line at newly invented names. A reader wrote in to Swistle to ask if Nicaya was wearable. Most objected to Nicaya’s recent coinage. Others seemed to hesitate because the name first appeared on Dance Moms. Would you be confident enough to invent a name? Would it bother you if the first place you heard your future child’s name was reality television?
Breeze – This brings us to the big kahuna of controversial names for the week. I find it easy to defend Breeze, the first name of Levi Johnston’s new daughter. Johnston is, of course, famous for being the ex-boyfriend of Bristol Palin. Breeze’s mama is Levi’s new girlfriend, Sunny Oglesby. Breeze is easy to embrace. She’s different, yes, but in our nature name-friendly age, Breeze is different in a good way, a fresh spin on Brooke.
Beretta – Alas, Levi and Sunny didn’t go for Breeze Elizabeth or Breeze Seraphina or Breeze Juniper. Nope, their baby girl is Breeze Beretta, and the middle name is no Italian heritage choice. It’s apparently a reference to the gun. My reaction? Gorgeous sound, staggeringly inappropriate. Jordanna pointed out that if we can have boys called Gunnar and Cannon, why not girls with equally tough names? It’s a good point. I can appreciate Breeze Beretta’s gutsy, no-nonsense style. That said, I’m really hoping that Beretta is not the next Brianna.
Where do you draw the lines? What names are completely unthinkable for you? Which ones do you love, but wouldn’t dare use?