Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we choose a name thatâs just a â 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 youâre aware of the cloud â and by cloud, we mean things like an unsavory meaning or disreputable association â then fine. Youâve consciously considered the down side of the name and chosen to embrace it anyway. Thatâs cool.
The problem comes in if you pick a name and then find out three months or three years down the road that thereâs something wrong with it. Something that makes people look at you â or worse, your child â strangely when the name is announced.
Thatâs when we call it a mistake.
Baby names that might elicit an Oooooops include:
Brain â No, people are not using this name in honor of an important body part, ala Hart. Brain was, believe it or not, in the Top 1000 for a full QUARTER CENTURY, from 1965 through 1989, as a misspelling of Brian. Yeah: Ooooops!
Brendan and Portia — Revisionists may have assigned the Irish name Brendan the meaning âprinceâ and the Latin Portia âdoorway,â but older sources say Brendan means âstinking hairâ and Portia means âpig.â Great names, as long as little Brendan or Portia doesnât get hold of an old baby name dictionary.
Cohen and Jacoby â Two widely-used Jewish surnames becoming popular, oddly enough, as first names for non-Jewish babies. The really astonishing thing is that many parents attracted to Cohen or Jacoby have no idea that they are Jewish surnames; they just see Cohen as a fresh spin on Owen or Cody and Jacoby as a newer form of Jacob. In fact, Cohen is not only one of the three most common Jewish surnames in the U.S., itâs the one most closely identified with Judaism. http://www.jewfaq.org/jnames.htm Cohen also holds a special sacred place in Judaism, as a name reserved for High Priests descended from Aaron.Â Many Jews (and non-Jews) find it offensive that those with no connection to the Cohen tradition or authentic right to use the name adopt it as a first name.Â And Jacoby, like Jacobi and Jacobs meaning âson of Jacob,â is typically Jewish too — obviously not an ooops in and of itself, only if you’re ignorant of the name’s important connection to its cultural and religious background.
Declan and Dashiell â Whatâs wrong with Declan and Dashiell, two of the handsomest of the contemporary boysâ names? Nothing, except they have no meaning. Nope, none at all. Which might not matter, until all the other kids are discovering that their names mean âgift of Godâ or âtall, handsome, strong prince,â while little Dash has to confess that next to his name, where the meaning is supposed to go, is just a big blank.
Delilah and Jezebel â Half a century ago, in more straight-laced times, no parents would have named their daughters Delilah or Jezebel, famous Biblical bad girls. Even Magdalene, as in Mary, was pretty much off the table. Today, itâs okay to name your daughter after an ancient harlot, but you definitely should be aware that youâre doing so.
Dexter â Televisionâs Dexter has inspired a new fashion for his ancient and attractive name. The problem? Heâs a serial killer, albeit a genial one who only kills bad guys. But as a role model for your little namesake? Ooooops.
Mara and Deirdre â Strong and appealing? As names yes, except that these two choices mean bitter and sad. Ooooops. Like Cecelia and Claudia, singly you can maybe get away with them, but as twin names, theyâre disaster.
Medea, Ophelia, and Pandora â Ancient names are in style, but beware reviving mythological or literary favorites with having a firm grasp of their backstories. Medea killed her kids (uh-oh), Ophelia killed herself (oh no), and Pandora dang near killed the world (yikes).