Bad Boy Names: Asking for Trouble?


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.

CANNON — When regular old Gunner just doesn’t pack enough firepower.

DRAVEN — The name of Brandon Lee’s infamous undead character in The Crow.

RAIDEN — Of course, this name’s popularity is heavily related to the whole Aiden-Jaden thing.  But its meaning, and its appeal, has an aggressive edge.

BLAZEBlaise is a genuine ancient saint’s name, and Blaze Starr was a midcentury (female) stripper.  But this name is rising now for boys, more because of its fiery feel than because of its obscure connection with martyrs or fan dancers.

Other popular boys’ names are more subtly aggressive: Hunter, say, or Axel.   Harley, for both sexes, has the Hells’ Angels association.

And then there are names we’ve heard that haven’t yet hit the popularity list, but are certainly heading there, such as:

HELLER — Makes Hell more palateable by giving it a surname feel.

RAIDER — If Raiden feels too familiar, this choice gets right to the point.

WILDER — Another surname-y choice that does wild one better.

Why are parents more and more attracted to this wild kind of name?

Maybe they want to arm their kids with an aggressive, take-charge image to do battle with an ever-more-challenging world.  Perhaps they feel their sons (and daughters) will benefit from having a name that keeps people from messing with them.

Is this good parenting…..or bad?  Is naming your kid Vandal setting him up for a lifetime of trouble — or at least trouble-making?  What do you think, nameberryites?

About the Author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

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