Good Names with Bad, Bad Meanings
Names with bad meanings: what’s your take?
For example, longtime Top 20 favorite Emily (and its stylish variant Emilia) mean “rival”, from the Latin aemulus. Kennedy means “misshapen head”, while Cameron means “crooked nose”. And Calvin may be one of the coolest classic boy names of the moment, but its meaning is decidedly less appealing: “bald”.
Do Bad Name Meanings Matter?
Berry @lucyxo asks:
Do you think it’s important to consider meaning when naming a child? I’ve heard plenty of people say you shouldn’t give your child a name with a bad meaning, but do you think it really matters?
Beyond that awkward moment in fourth grade when Kennedy’s teacher decides, as a “fun” activity, to have the whole class do oral reports on the meaning and origin of their names, does a negative meaning carry any deeper power?
Or, like @beynotce, do you feel that personal meaning trumps literal meaning of a name?
I feel strongly that the meaning the parents intend when they choose a name overrides the linguistic history of the name… For example, my middle name, Rae, is typically seen as a derivation of Rachel, which means “ewe.” However, my grandmother chose it as an alternate spelling of the word “ray,” as in a ray of light. So to me, my middle name means “ray of light.”
Over to you! Tell us what you think below.
40 Good Names With Bad Meanings
There are plenty of popular and stylish names with less-than-appealing meanings, which would suggest that most parents either don’t care or aren’t aware of the negative connotations.
Even James and Mary – two of the most popular baby names of all time in the US – are usually said to mean “supplanter” and “bitter”, respectively. (Although the true meaning of Mary is up for debate.)
Here is a selection of good names with bad, bad meanings.
Acantha: thorn, prickle
Campbell: crooked mouth
Kennedy: misshapen head
Lilith: night monster
Malala: sad, grieved
Persephone: bringer of death
Ares: bane, ruin
Brennan: wet or tearful
Byron: place of the cow sheds
Cameron: crooked nose
Casimir: destroyer of peace
Colby: coal town
Gideon: feller, destroyer
Huxley: place of scorn
Jabez: bringer of pain
Discover many more unfortunate name meanings in our list of names that mean trouble (literally!)
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on November 23rd, 2020 at 9:07 am
For the most part, I think name meanings are quite fabricated. Supposedly tracing it back to some latin word that has the same beginning doesn’t necessarily mean that the name arose from that word. Though I do admit that I couldn’t get over Celcily when my husband put it on the list for our second daughter. However, I didn’t really love the name either, so it was easy to cross off
on November 23rd, 2020 at 11:53 am
I feel like I am a bad name nerd because I rarely look to meanings when deciding on if I love a name or not.
However I agree with the above comment from megank4, I think the meanings are basically made up anyways, so they shouldn’t hold too much weight. And that the reason behind it, aka the parents intent should really overrule any other meaning.
on November 23rd, 2020 at 12:42 pm
I’m a little surprised Cassandra didn’t make the list since the meaning is often listed as “doom” because of the myth in which she tells everyone about bad things that will happen and no one listens, and then those bad things do happen.
As far as bad meanings go in general, I’m a bit ambivalent: in some cases I think the meaning the name is generally given is not very important, but it does matter and is not just “made up”. There is history there (etymology) and there is also the history of use of the names. Like Kennedy: that’s a last name, so somebody long ago with a crooked head had kids and they all ended up with that last name. Now it’s a first name often used for girls, but the Celtic roots are still there. Parents don’t chose it because of the meaning, but I’ll bet the origin might matter.
Also, because most of these meanings are very old, names like Gideon meaning destroyer and Damian meaning subdue were probably not a bad thing in a culture where being a strong warrior gave you status.
on November 23rd, 2020 at 2:34 pm
Some are really bad, and I’d avoid them. But I have an Emiliana. I don’t see “rival” as being negative. Emiliana Pari… she’s equal or superior to the faeries.
on November 23rd, 2020 at 7:22 pm
I guess “bad” meanings are in the eye of the beholder. Knowing that one meaning of Lyssa is “fury,” for example, actually makes it MORE attractive to me than it was before. I’d much rather have a daughter full of righteous fury than one who is meek and passive.
on November 23rd, 2020 at 7:54 pm
I know the name, Courtney, is a bit dated to make its way into this list. But it also has the unfortunate meaning of “Short Nose”.
Being a Courtney myself, I will assure you I do NOT have a short nose hahaha ;p
on November 23rd, 2020 at 8:36 pm
I don’t put much stock into name meanings. Mary *might* mean “bitter”, but for me it’s a family name – I would be using it to honour a family member, not because of the proposed meaning. Also, lots of names can have different meanings depending on what source you’re using.
on November 25th, 2020 at 9:35 pm
I think the meaning of the name depends on what you consider significant in terms of origin. For my kids’ religious names, the meaning of the name is very important to me. For anyone’s secular name, I’m all about sound and style- not meaning.
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