6 Baby Name Pitfalls
By Aimee Gedge
Recently, the hashtag #GrowingUpWithMyName has been trending on Twitter, enabling people with a gripe about their name to share it with the world. As a name enthusiast, I took interest in the types of names being complained about most, and thought I’d compile some of the most popular reasons. Expectant parents beware – if you’re going to try and avoid every pitfall on this list you will find your baby name list will get a lot shorter very quickly!
By far the number one complaint was other people misspelling or mispronouncing the name. Most of the tweeters in this category had pretty uncommon names – Niamh and Aliyah, for example – but I also saw a Lacey and an Autumn saying that their names were often misspelt. Other victims included Kamillah, Kobe and Noemi.
The second most complained-about issue was not being able to find your name on a keychain or a coke bottle. Ellise, Amos and Shireen all had this problem (though I can’t help but think that Shireen has more name issues now thanks to Game of Thrones character Shireen Baratheon). More surprisingly, at least to me, was that Joanna, Jordan and another Autumn also claimed they never found their names on merchandise.
There’s a sub-category to this second point: people whose names have alternate spellings. Haley was annoyed at people spelling her name as Hayley, Hailee, Hailey or a myriad of other options, and Kaitlyn and Braden claimed to have had the same issue.
Paradoxically to the first two, the third complaint was people with names that were too popular. Jack, Emily and Mackenzie were the first to step forward, all saying they had to resort to using their last initial after their name to avoid confusion with other kids in their class. Another tweeter claimed he never knew whether people were talking about him or another Trygve – but something tells me he might have been joking.
Next came the people who always get the same joke made about their name. There were some classics here – two guys called Mario who both get asked “where’s Luigi” whenever they introduce themselves, and an Eden who is tired of people asking her about her garden. Less obvious names in this category were Dexter, who claims everyone at his school wanted to see his laboratory, and Destiny, who is apparently tired of the Destiny’s Child association. I also spotted three tweets from people with top name Noah, all saying they had been asked multiple times how the ark building was coming along.
Lastly, the people (usually girls) who have suffered gender confusion as a result of their names. Most were people with unisex names that are more common on the other gender – girls called Chase and Hunter, for example. Three different Danielles said they had been called Daniel by accident; one Dani said she had even been mistakenly allocated to a boys’ cabin at camp before the organisers realised she was female. Denise was another one, having been confused for Dennis for most of her life.
So if you want your child to grow up loving their name as much as you do, pick one that’s not too popular, has a fairly well-recognised spelling, doesn’t have any negative associations and won’t cause gender confusion. (Oh, and be prepared to learn how to make custom keychains if you pick a very unusual name). Might I suggest Rosalind, Lucinda or Ingrid for a girl, or perhaps Marcus, Barnaby or Julian for a boy – all are outside the top 100, have only one spelling and clear pronunciation, and don’t have any negative connotations I can think of. (If you can think of any others, please post them in the comments!)
Or perhaps, if you’re anything like me, you’ll look at this list, worry for a few minutes then decide that your perfect little Constantine, Giuliana or Reynard couldn’t help but love their amazing name.
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on July 27th, 2015 at 12:36 am
I dont think parents should go thru obstacles in order to give their child the most perfect and unique name. Who really cares at the end? Sure I had to go thru the same problem growing up and Even resented my parents for a awhile. But my name meant something to them so I got over it.
on July 27th, 2015 at 1:06 am
I like the name Eden even less now that I’ve heard that joke about her garden (though I only liked it for boys before, really).
And so what if you’re name isn’t on a keychain? Neither of my names were and I got over it. Made my initials in lanyard and it was WAY cooler.
on July 27th, 2015 at 3:38 am
@JazzieJonez – That was the conclusion I came to in the end! I spent a few hours wading through Twitter thinking of my favourite names and worrying I would be scaring my (future) children for life, and eventually I decided that if their name is the only thing these people can complain about they are very lucky!
I think it’s useful to know about some potential pitfalls like if a name has a particular annoying joke associated with it or a not-so-nice meaning in another language, but you can’t avoid every problem.
on July 27th, 2015 at 3:39 am
@elza0911 I have half a dozen keychains, magnets, pens etc with my name on, mostly bought for me by well-meaning relatives, and you’re not really missing out on much!
on July 27th, 2015 at 2:02 pm
I agree that you can’t avoid every problem. Perhaps Destiny was born long before the girl group came along. Besides, it’s completely rude and huumourless to make remarks like, “how’s the ark coming along?” (to a Noah), and rude people shouldn’t be catered to.
on July 27th, 2015 at 7:45 pm
Some parents who choose unisex names or names that have swapped genders in popularity, (like Taylor), don’t know the dangers of choosing such names before taking the plunge, and others have chosen unisex names on purpose. If little Taylor or Jordan hates being confused with the other gender all the time, I feel sorry for them, but my real issue is with the parents. YOU may want your child to grow up gender-neutral, but your child may not, and he/she is the one who has to wear the name.
What gets me are alternate spellings. Some like to be as unique as possible, such as Jaymz instead of James (really? you’re just making life harder for your child), and others do it for cultural reasons, which I respect and think is cool.
When it comes to names like Noah and the ark, if others are going to be rude, that’s their problem, but I’m begging parents to be prepared against the image of the name. For every rude person, there are many more who think the name and the parents are weird but don’t dare say it. I like Noah, but there are many names where I’ve wondered, “How could you DO that to your child?” If you think a favorite name might be a little too weird, save it for the middle name. Expectant parents, please research names you like for their meanings and images. Contrary to what you may have thought, Typhus is not a strong Roman name.
There are also cases where the parents didn’t realize the popular image of a name in years to come, and (good news!), fads come and go. All the Mileys who endured Hannah Montana comments a few years ago might soon breathe a sigh of relief once Miley Cyrus’ star dims.
As someone else said, don’t get upset if your name/spelling is too unique for merchandise. I’ve seen merchandise that had “Catherine” and not “Katherine,” and you can’t get more common than “Katherine,” even with a K. Most of it is overpriced, anyway.
The bottom line is that we parents should consider whether the name will suit our CHILDREN’S preferences and that of society in general, and not just our own tastes. Cute little Maisie will eventually grow up and put her name on job applications and resumes, and all his life, Thor just wants to be taken seriously.
Thank you for the excellent article, Pebbles 320. I’ll save my more “interesting” names for my dogs.
Baby Name Mistakes You Should Avoid Said
on August 3rd, 2015 at 3:04 pm
[…] This post was originally published on Nameberry by Aimee Gedge. […]
on December 4th, 2015 at 5:39 pm
Kids can gripe all they want, parents usually put a lot of time and consideration into their kids’ names. I’m Hailey, but since the name didn’t really take off until recently I went through childhood without custom keychains, etc. with the correct spelling on it. But I know the name is significant to my parents and that’s the important part.
on October 6th, 2017 at 3:31 am
Mario, Luigi, Eden, Dexter, and Noah aren’t on the top of my name list. However, if my children are like me (and their dad will probably have my humor too), they will have a great sense of humor and enjoy those jokes! It might get a little old and tiresome every once in awhile, but they wouldn’t consider the jokes a negative.
Forgot about the potential keychain issues as I was never really into them. I’m actually a little impressed at how often I find my name on the keychains because my name is more common during like the baby boomers time and not as common in my generation. Guess we’ll just have to make our own keychain or a lanyard if my future child’s name is too uncommon.
on December 6th, 2019 at 3:06 am
I want to encourage parents’, especially mothers’, gut instincts. I think Aragon is cool because of the Lord of the Rings association. I also like Corabella, Blubelle, Amaris.
In the future, keychains will go out of business as more and more people opt to give their children unique names. I also agree with the previous comment that lanyards are cooler.
I think some names sound good because they have a sense of humor. If your surname is Roll, I sincerely like the sound of Monico Roll and Sassa Roll.
Also, some alternate spellings deserve to replace the accepted form. I prefer Silena to Celina and Aleah to Aaliyah. Custela even sounds nicer than Stella.
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