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Name Sage: Will Chester Be Teased?

They were all set to use a family name, until helpful friends mentioned one drawback

a Name Sage post by: Abby View all Name Sage posts

Caren writes: 

My husband and I are due with our second child in a month. We have a daughter named Eloise Esther (both family names) and we love older names.

My husband’s grandfather’s name is Chester, and so is my husband’s middle name. Chester Reed (again, both family names) is in our top two baby names for our child.

My dilemma is the horrible nickname that Chester often comes with during the school years: Chester the Molester.

My husband was raised to be very proud of his middle name and it doesn’t bother him. I’m just afraid that our son won’t be the same, or it will hurt him more than my husband.

Close friends and family have mentioned this to me, so what the heck is the general public going to say?

It’s been suggested that we use it as a middle name, but our other favorite name is Porter, and Porter Chester doesn’t sound good at all.

What do I do? Do I put my foot down and say no way? Or do I hope that we can raise him to love his namesake and his name?

The Name Sage replies:

One of the biggest challenges of naming is that we name strangers. It’s impossible to know how our children will feel about their names, and judging by most adults’ experience, those opinions will likely change over time.

What we do know is that we love our kids, and we want the best for them. And the best, in this case, might mean a beloved family name that’s been proudly worn by your husband and his grandfather. It’s a compelling argument to use Chester.

And I do think Chester is a great option for a son, despite the potential for a cringe-worthy nickname.

Let’s see if I can talk you into using Chester.

First, the negative comments are being offered by adults. Let’s assume that they’re truly well-meaning, and want to gently steer you to a “normal” name – Nicholas or Daniel or James. But names have changed in recent decades. It’s much rarer for even the most popular names to repeat, which means that many kids experience their names as relatively unique. When every name is different, no name can be singled out as odd.

Every generation has different pop culture associations. Children born in 2015 will have an entirely different set of ideas about names than those of us born in the 1990s or earlier. It’s possible that they’ll never hear that dreaded nickname, just like they don’t expect telephones to have rotary dials. (I quizzed my ten and seven year old children, and after much prompting, the only Chester they could come up with was Cheeto’s mascot Chester Cheetah.)

In fact, Chester might be due for a comeback right about now. The name peaked in popularity during the 1910s, and it typically takes about a century for a name to feel fresh again. With names like Asher, Jasper, Archer, and Dexter on trend, why not Chester?

And, of course, there are plenty of positive associations for the name that really ought to offset any tired old nickname. There’s former president Chester Arthur, Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, and the fictional Chester Goode from long-running television Western Gunsmoke. Add to that list your husband and his grandfather, and it’s easy to see Chester as a name with a long and accomplished history.

Chester seems to fit your preference for older names, sounds just right with Eloise, and honors two important men in your family.

And yet, your last sentence makes me wonder if you’re not wild about Chester.

If you have any hesitation, there are some options.

Porter Reed is an equally handsome name.

Or maybe you could swap the first and middle names, and go with Reed Chester instead. It allows you to pass down the family name, and seems to fit your style just as well. It also allows for the possibility that you could call your son Chester or Ches – or not.

But if you love Chester, you’re on safe ground. Every name has drawbacks, but I think that Chester’s potential far outweighs a possible schoolyard taunt.

Readers, what do you think? Is Chester problematic? Did others warn you off a name you loved for your child? What happened?

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About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.
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50 Responses to “Name Sage: Will Chester Be Teased?”

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CDX Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 5:23 am

This is a great answer!
I agree — If you want the name, use it! I grew up in the 80s hearing that stupid phrase as well, but I have a feeling kids today won’t know it. It’s the adults who will need to be desensitized.
And btw, this is exactly why I don’t share my baby names until the baby is born. Too many people sharing their insecurities and opinions about a name can make you doubt something you love.

JulesBerry Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 5:34 am

Honestly, it’s the first thing I thought of when I saw the post before I even read it. Is there a name with the same meaning that they could use?

If they use Chester as a middle name, their kids’ middle names will rhyme, which isn’t bad (my sons’ do), it’s just something I noticed.

dalb Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 6:01 am

Unfortunately the nickname is the first thing I thought of too – and I’m as far away as Australia. It even had a little rhyme when I was at school (which I will not repeat).

While young children may not know the connotations at age 7, they definitely will at ahe 14. And all it would take is for one parent to snigger within earshot of their child and the nickname would start and persist.

While you never know which name will attract a negative connotation after a child has already been named, I wouldn’t choose one where the teasing potential is obvious from birth.

1berry2berry Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 6:39 am

Food for thought: Chester and Esther rhyme, making matching middles. Children inevitably go through a phase where they try to make fun of everyone’s name. While sometimes teasing persists, it has been in my experience that it usually passes. I wouldn’t exclude a fine name that has meaning to you simply because of what might happen for a moment in childhood. If you are supremely worried that teasing may occur and you want to have a backup plan, choose a middle that you love that could serve as first name or a middle that would make good initials. My first thought would be Chester James, C.J. For a year in sixth grade I went from using my first name to initials. There was no particular reason that I decided to do this, but it just goes to show that it’s possible to switch from a name to initials.

Millikate Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 7:06 am

I think you should go for it if it is the name you love. He can always go by Chet or Che (rhymes with gray) too,

I do like Reed Chester too. I don’t think it is a big deal that it rhymes with Esther.

Good luck.

saraallison Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 7:34 am

Personally I would do Porter Chester if those were really the 2 names I loved most. But I’m not a big “flow” person when it comes to mns bc really they are used so infrequently. Make it the combo you really love. I do think Reed Chester sounds great though.

CaitlinBrittin Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 7:42 am

I am 25 and I have never heard that ‘nickname’ for Chester. Kids that want to tease another kid will always find a way to do it no matter what their name so I say if you love the name you should use it.

GJSG Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 7:59 am

I’m 19 and I have never heard that nickname for Chester either. If I had grown up with ache stereo feel the only teasing he would get would be for having a ‘grandpa’ name, but that is way more common now anyways and would not be a problem. As caitlinbrittin said if they want to tease they will find a way even with the most common names.

eoxima Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 8:00 am

I think you should go for it. I, too, have never heard of the cringe-worthy nickname associated with Chester, and I doubt anyone at school will even know what a molester is, let alone put them both together and ridicule your son. British TV presenter and model, Holly Willoughby, has a son called Chester and I really like it.

vicioustrollop9 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 8:03 am

Nortn Eastern US – late twenties here, and I’ve never heard that nickname. I know a couple Chesters and they wear the name well.

Look, if another kid wants to tease your kid, they are going to find a way regardless of what you name them. You just have to give your kids the self confidence and tools to rise above it. I think we need to stop worrying so much about teasing potential of names (I mean, maybe stay away from Dorkas and Dick….) and start worrying about how to not only reduce bullying, but to also teach our kids how to handle getting teased/bullied. Cause chances are it is going to happen. So name your kid what you want.

I also think that it is a different world today for kids. They go to school with Emily, Jack, Freya, Jayden, Sofeya, Shadaye, Apple, August, Xiaole, and Beaureguard. Kids aren’t phased by different or uncommon names like us adults are. They are used to them.

nadjajay Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 8:05 am

I have never heard of this nickname until I came to this site and I’m in my 20s and have known one Chester in my life.

Eu Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 8:27 am

I’m in my early 30s and have no idea what this is all about. Whatever this nickname is, no kid born today is going to have a clue.

If I met a Dennis, I would not automatically think “the menace,” unless he was a menace, of course.

ddayle124 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 8:29 am

I think its a great name for your little guy, and again, I’m mid 20’s and have never heard of the nickname, so I would imagine there would be little- to nil chances of it coming up from today’s generation of kids.

Toronto87 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 8:36 am

I like the sound of the name Chester, but I do think that the nickname is overpowering and is the first thing most people will think of. For that reason, I’d either use Reed Chester or I’d do Chester J—- and use CJ like another poster suggested.

Chester Jackson is a great name

Chester Jeremy
Chester Julian
Chester Jacob

sgm728 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 8:42 am

I’m wondering if this is a generational thing? I’m in my mid-20’s, and like the other people in that age range who have commented, I have no association between Chester and “the molester.” I have never heard it before, and when I read the name in the title of the post, it did not come into my mind at all.

I also think it’s worth noting that if kids want to make fun of you, they will come up with a way, and it’s pretty much impossible to pick a name that is immune from teasing potential. My first name is Sarah Grey (it’s a double name, like Mary Ann), and there was a kid in 3rd grade who thought it was funny to call me “Sarah Gay.” That was annoying, but it didn’t make me dislike my name because the vast majority of people do not make that association (or if they do, they do not say so). I feel like Chester would be the same way. There may be that one obnoxious child in elementary school who comes up with the nickname “Chester the Molester,” but that will pass. If you and your family have strong positive associations with the name Chester, they are not likely to be overcome by the rare instance of teasing.

lesliemarion Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 9:14 am

Chester is SUBLIME!

Screw the teasers. It does not matter that your name is, some jerk will find a way to tease you with it.

My name is Leslie and idiot boys in elementary school used to jeer at me LESBO LESBO! I had no idea what it meant, but I never suffered fools gladly so I gave them chilling looks and they shut up.

SimoneKadele Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 9:21 am

I don’t think many young kids will know the word molester. I think that no matter what your name is, you will be teased if you are dorky and not if you are popular. At my school there are kids with really cool names who people make fun of. And then there are popular kids with “weird” names. But nobody would dare to think of that. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think that it’s really how your kid is perceived, which isn’t based on their name anyway. There are other teasing factors, too. I wouldn’t worry about it.

peach25 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 9:58 am

The only Chester I know is in his 40s and has always gone by Chet, which I think is a cool nn. So is Che.. I do like Reid Chester, though.

Abby Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 10:52 am

This is so interesting to hear – I wasn’t surprised that my kids hadn’t heard it, but if 20-somethings are also unaware, well … I think that’s a good sign that *that* particular nickname isn’t likely to be an issue.

shalexis Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 12:26 pm

I just want to chime in as another 25 year old who has DEFINITELY heard the nickname. People used to call other people “Chester the Molester” in school even when that wasn’t their name… I don’t think your child is necessarily doomed to be called that, but it would stop me from using it.

smartie352 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I don’t think it’s a problem. My sister’s name is Esther and I’ve heard that Esther the Molester is one of those nicknames out there. My sister hasn’t been called Esther the Molester once. Frankly, I don’t think she’s ever even heard of it. I’m pretty sure Chester is safe.

nativoyoung Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 1:07 pm

I taught a seventh grader named Chester about ten years ago. I wondered, when I saw the name on my rolls, if he would get teased, but he never did (at least about his name). He wore it well. My perspective as a teacher is that there are so many names that kids don’t really focus much on them. However, if you don’t like the name you don’t have to use it just because of family history. The middle spot would be fine. As for Porter, I adore the name. I also sing the Johnny Cash song to all boys named Porter because I’m lame and cannot help myself. 🙂

jpruitt76 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 1:26 pm

I don’t love Chester as a first name but I do like the nn Chet. I went to college with a really handsome and likeable Chester who went by Chet.

ARead Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Again, late 20’s and thought it was a bit out of left field that the parent writing in was worried about “Chester the molester”. Yes, it’s an awful nickname/taunt, but I’ve certainly never heard it before. I wonder if this particular little rhyme is more popular in certain parts of the country as well as certain age groups? I’m from the mid-Atlantic area.

I agree with the poster who said that dorky kids will get teased about everything (this was me in school) and popular kids really won’t.

I think Chester is a really nice name and you should use it. If you’re worried it might be an issue, send him off to school as “Chet” or “Reed” and let him decide when his peers are mature enough to handle his real name.

ashbee Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Again, mid-late twenties here and have never heard of that nickname. I’m in Florida. The only Chester I’ve heard of is the president. Chet and Che are cool nicknames. I also like Reed and Porter. I support previous suggestion not to worry about flow if you really love Porter Chester.

chi1127 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 2:31 pm

I’m 31. I don’t ever recall hearing of Chester the Molester. Chester brings to mind: Cheetos, Chester V from the second Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs, chestnuts, and old men. I don’t see any of those as deal breakers. If you really love Chester, ignore the well-meaning com enters and go for it.

lillian85 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 3:20 pm

I am in my mid twenties and I have no idea where “Chester the molester” comes from (I live in California). It sounds familiar, but it was not what I thought of when I saw “Chester”. I honestly don’t think he would deal with much teasing.

SparkleNinja18 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 3:56 pm

I am 16 and I’ve never heard “Chester the molester” before nor would it be my first thought (my first thought would be the president with the best facial hair!) I doubt any kid in elementary school would know what molester means. I would love to meet a little Chester!

indiefendi2 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Personally, I can’t get the image of Chester Cheetah out of my head when I hear it. I always think of cheddar cheese when I hear Chester! But “Chester the Molester” is just cruel, kids always want to tease a name that isn’t common. I think Chet is the best nickname for Chester.

gipro2003 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 4:43 pm

I adore the nickname Chet! I’m 25 and have heard the reference to Chester the Molester. If you truly love the name, use it!

Freya_1983 Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 5:07 pm

If you go to Urban Dictionary and type in “Chester,” guess what pops up? It’s more than just the “Chester the molester” kiddie rhyme. “Uncle Chester” is a slang term for child molester; I doubt it’s going away anytime soon.

boyandgirl Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Even watching tv, you hear the slang used. On Law and Order they even refer to perverts as a Chester. I guess you need to decide if that bothers you or if you can brush it off. I don’t think he would always be teased, but i can almost guarantee it will come up….more than once. It’s like Lolita for me. It’s too tied to a negative image.

epowell Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Sorry, first thing I thought of was Chester the Molester (29 living in Texas). I couldn’t get past that. And no, kids are not going to know that but adults do and will. When they get older they’ll hear it. You could do Chester Reed and he could go by Reed. I know a lot of people who go by their middle names.

JaguarQueen Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 10:33 pm

I have never heard of Chester the Molester and had absolutely no idea there was anything wrong with Chester.

iraasuup Says:

October 7th, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Yep, I commented on this in the forums already. I’m in my early 30’s and from Australia, and most definitely do recognise the ‘Chester the Molester’ association. Also, as previously mentioned, it’s just a slang term for a molester (Uncle Chester). I honestly don’t see why anyone would knowingly do this to their child. Sure, 5 year olds might not know the reference, but I guarantee their parents will, and it won’t take long to catch on. It’s like Celeste and Molest or Charlotte and Harlot. I know all names will get teased, but there are obviously some with greater ‘tease-potential’ than others.

I think your best bet is to use it as a middle name. Reed Chester is lovely.

dresdendoll Says:

October 8th, 2015 at 1:53 am

I never heard that phrase until a couple years ago, when I suggested the name Chester to a pregnant friend who was looking for a Ch name for a boy, and she said she’d be reluctant to use that name because of that association. News to me. I do know that Tom Hanks has a son named Chester. I don’t see a problem with it at all. Someone could think of a negative association for just about any name. If you love it, and it’s meaningful to you, just use it. Chester Reed sounds perfect.

meek Says:

October 8th, 2015 at 2:57 am

Id go with Chester. It makes me think of chestnuts not molesters. Kids will find something to say if they want to say something, the name doesn’t matter. And to me, molest isn’t a word kids use. To me a Chester would be a proud, wholesome, sweet little boy. It’s a good choice

EleanorAll1 Says:

October 8th, 2015 at 3:40 pm

I’ve never heard the nickname either, and I doubt it’ll become a bigger problem in the future. Increasingly, at least where I live, people are being taught that sexual offense based jokes are not OK. I think if you love it you should go for it no matter what.

hlparker Says:

October 9th, 2015 at 1:29 pm

I’m 28 and went to high school with a guy named Chester who went by the nn Chet. As far as I remember everyone knew his given name, but I don’t recall anyone taunting him.

Bobcat108 Says:

October 9th, 2015 at 9:47 pm

I’m in my early 50s & have lived in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic/Rust Belt Midwest my entire life, & I’ve never heard the terms “Chester the Molester” or “Uncle Chester” until reading this post. Chester is a cute teddy bear name; Chet is the Hardy Boys’ best friend (w/a sister named Iola). My ex was worried that our daughter would be teased w/”Queersten” because it rhymes w/her name, but she’s never heard that (she’s a senior in high school now). On the other hand, my maiden name rhymes w/”crone” & my classmates in elementary school would say to me that when I grew up I was going to be an old crone…pretty sophisticated humor for a mostly under-10 crowd!

alyssum Says:

October 10th, 2015 at 3:45 am

I actually went to school with a Chester, in the 2000s! Not the most pleasant of people, so I don’t get a warm fuzzy feeling from the name, but I never heard of anyone teasing him about his name. So you might be in the clear.

devonsuzwunsch Says:

October 10th, 2015 at 9:05 am

I was born in 1994, and I racked my brain for a problem with the name Chester, and couldn’t think of one. “Chestnuts?” I thought. This blog is the first time I’ve ever heard the phrase Chester the molester. I think it’s something of a previous generation. Also, no child needs any specific name to be made fun of. Johns and Michaels get picked on to, if not for their name, for their uneven, kitchen-scissor haircut. Don’t think that by not naming your son something, he will escape normal schoolyard joshing.

lizzycsa Says:

October 11th, 2015 at 5:29 pm

I did not associate Chester with Chester the molester.. Not at ALL. Chest (like the body part) maybe but he could definitely put a positive spin on that! My concern is that Esther is very close to the name Chester. I know it is your daughter’s middle name but Chester and Esther? Way too close in my opinion!
Porter Reed or Reed Porter get my vote 🙂 Good luck!

jesstheebest123 Says:

October 11th, 2015 at 6:04 pm

It’s the first thing I thought of when i read the post…. I honestly wouldn’t do it bc why risk it? Reed Chester is super handsome! but Porter Reed is my favorite from yours names.

I also think Chet Porter could be cute and kind of after Chester.

beth_crosby87 Says:

October 11th, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Wow never knew this

waitingforariadne Says:

October 12th, 2015 at 11:51 am

29yo / Canada
Honestly, I’d never heard of this before, but now that I have heard it, I am having trouble NOT hearing it.
And, as mentioned above, all it takes is for one thoughtless parent to say something to their kid before it spreads like wildfire around the school. It’s up to you to decide whether you’re willing to risk it.

Jennish Says:

October 12th, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Chester the molester was the first thing I thought of. Ick.

1Kissbee Says:

October 13th, 2015 at 12:43 am

One thing I haven’t seen brought up is the name Chester was used for a character in a TV show Fairly Odd Parents. And it being a unique name I fear my child would be teased about that. Even if it there is no Matthew P. Matthew W. And Mathew L. Like I had in class growing up. I still feel it isn’t around enough in the real world that kids would find it weird. Besides Chester Arthur was a horrible president. But that in itself doesn’t deter me from naming a son Arthur after my grandfather.
I say go with what you love. No matter what kids are going to tease. He will get a bag of Cheetos tossed at him as a joke perhaps. Who cares? It’s free food after all.

pinky516 Says:

November 5th, 2015 at 1:14 pm

I’m 26 and would not first think of that nickname. I don’t think it’s that common.
I actually went to school with a Chester, but he went by Chet. We all thought his name was really cool and did not make fun of him.

oliviamcdonald Says:

April 22nd, 2016 at 6:13 am

I wouldn’t use Chester because of the connotation. Being teased like many kids are is one thing but being called a molester is truly awful. What guy would want to live with that reputation.
Could you not use the name Chet as a first or middle?
Chet Porter
Chet Reed

Otherwise I love Porter Reed or Porter Chester.

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