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Category: bad boy names

Name Stereotyping: Are you guilty?

naughtykid

Is Jesse a “bad boy name“?, a visitor to our message boards asked.

She wanted to know because she loved the name Jesse but was afraid that any boy named Jesse would be stereotyped as wild, naughty, rebellious — a bad kid.

That question summoned up an issue that simmers beneath many discussions on names: What’s the image that name conveys, and do we want to take that on for our child?

To put it more plainly, do some names carry stereotypes, positive or negative, that go beyond our individual expectations and experiences?  Are you guilty of stereotyping people based on their names, and what names carry the strongest stereotypes for you?

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These Names Mean Trouble (Literally!)

upsidedownbaby

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we choose a name that’s just a – well, not a mistake, exactly. In many ways, it might be a perfectly lovely name. Except for that little black cloud hovering over it.

If you’re aware of the cloud – and by cloud, we mean things like an unsavory meaning or disreputable association – then fine. You’ve consciously considered the down side of the name and chosen to embrace it anyway. That’s cool.

The problem comes in if you pick a name and then find out three months or three years down the road that there’s something wrong with it. Something that makes people look at you – or worse, your child – strangely when the name is announced.

That’s when we call it a mistake.

Baby names that might elicit an Oooooops include:

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Bad Boy Names: Asking for Trouble?

Photo by Tim Rogers

The other day on the nameberry message boards, I heard tell of a little boy named Vandal.  And then, the next day, one of the bandmembers of My Chemical Romance named his newborn daughter (yes, daughter) Bandit.

Are these parents masochistic?  Gang members?  Or do they just love the idea of launching a bad boy (or girl) into the world?

Vandal and Bandit aren’t the only hellions in the nursery these days.  There’s Breaker, one of the seven children of Robert and Cortney Novogratz, hipster parents who own Sixx Design in New York.  Then there are Racer, Rebel, Rocket, and Rogue, sons of film director Robert Rodriguez.  (Survival tip: If you’re invited to dinner at their house, wear a helmet.)

The trends toward word names, surnames, and occupational names have certainly fueled this trend.  If Cooper can be a name, after all, why not Cutter?  If Porter, why not Power?

While the popularity list is full of newborns named Heaven, Nevaeh, and Angel, it also features a growing number of babies with these less-than-angelic names:

RYKERHow many of the nearly 700 sets of parents who named their baby boys Ryker last year realize that, when spelled Rikers, it’s the name of the notorious island prison in New York?  I’d hazard to guess not many, but maybe the association will sink in if I say it’s like naming your baby Alcatraz.

MAVERICK — Okay, this one’s kind of soft-core, but it still suggests a range-riding, sharp-shootin’ kind of guy. Either that or Sarah Palin.

GUNNAR and GUNNER — I fully admit to being one of those wimpy East Coast liberals who’s in favor of gun control, so maybe it’s just me.  But this name seems to go beyond the rabble-rousing Rockets and Vandals to some darker and more lethal level of badness.

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