Name Shame and other Baby Name News of the Week

Abcde and Brenda

By Clare Green

This week’s news includes the alphabetical name everyone’s talking about, a creative junior, names from video games, and the latest trends from Italy.

Name shaming: Abcde and Brenda

If you’ve heard one name in the news this week, it’s probably Abcde, pronounced “Absidy”. This alphabetical name is not as rare as you might think: it’s been registered on 373 girls – some of them now women – since 1990. Airline staff were caught laughing at the name on a 5-year-old girl’s boarding pass, in the child and her mother’s hearing.

It’s pause for thought, isn’t it? It’s fine to have opinions on names. If we didn’t we’d never make any decisions, or be able to give advice to people who ask for it. But when a name belongs to a person? Most of us know that if you can’t say anything nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all. Especially not in front of them, and not in public.

Some people didn’t get the memo. Dick Van Dyke shut down Piers Morgan for ridiculing his name (and people who care about gender equality) on Twitter. And Mark Hamill joked that it was a “crime” that parents had called their son Luke Sky Walker. So…there’s still some work to do.

Even with friends, you’ve got to be careful. Brendan Fevola, an Australian radio presenter, trolled his co-host by telling her that his new baby’s name was Brenda, after dad. She laughed, he acted hurt, cue awkward backpedaling. Later he confessed that the name is really Tobi. Tricky one: it’s absolutely funny to wind people up with unlikely names – but if in doubt, would you rather be gullible or risk mocking a baby?

Which reminds me of another wind-up, this time in fiction. Der Vorname (“The Name”) is a new German comedy film in which an expectant father tells his family that the baby’s name will be Adolf (it won’t really), and chaos ensues. It raises interesting questions of when it is and is not ok to keep your views to yourself.

Starbaby boys: Leafar, Max and Jace

On a lighter note, in the celebrity world we’ve seen several new baby boys, two with short sweet names and one junior with a twist.

Eddie Murphy chose a friendly classic name for his son, Max Charles. Jana Kramer also gave her baby boy a monosyllabic name: Jace Joseph. She’s said she liked the “healing” meaning (of long form Jason) for her rainbow baby.

Creative couple Kat Von D and Leafar Seyer have named their son Leafar after dad…or rather, after dad’s stage name. Leafar Senior’s birth name is Rafael Reyes (read it backwards). It’s cool that he has a name that also works the other way around. I don’t think I could get away with using my name backwards, Eralc. How about you?

Tech baby names: Fortnite and Twitter handles

You might have seen the story a few months ago that some parents are choosing their children’s names based on which web domains are free. I didn’t pay much attention, because it was based on a small poll commissioned by GoDaddy, who sell domain names. Vested interest much?

But it was interesting to read about a mother who really did pick her daughter’s middle name based on the available Twitter handles. As the article also says, there’s no denying that social media really can help with choosing a name. Instead of relying on the close circle of people you know, nowadays we have instant access to communities of interested and experienced name-lovers who can give advice and, if wanted, opinions.

At this time of year we see a lot of round-ups of the biggest pop culture baby name trends. Game of Thrones and Star Wars are old news, but this is the first time I’ve seen any mention of names from the video game Fortnite. The ones gathering interest apparently include Ramirez and Bunny (both very rare), Rogue and Leviathan (both rare but rising). A glance through a list of skin names (skins change the appearance of a character, yes I’m so down with the kids) shows several more that have potential or are already popular, like Magnus, Maverick, Rex, Castor, Fortune and Omega.

Romance names: Sierra and Sofia

Now for names in the news from France, Italy and the Spanish language.

Spanish nature name Sierra isn’t as popular as it was twenty years ago, but it’s still a solid Top 500 choice. It featured in the news when a Tennessee mom used it as her daughter’s middle name, after the police officer who delivered her.

Italy has released its most popular names of 2017, and the top of the list is fairly stable and just as glorious as last year. Francesco and Sofia remain numero uno, and below them on the Top 10 you’ll find beauties like Ginevra, Beatrice, Lorenzo and Matteo. For the biggest climbers and fallers, read this handy Twitter thread by international name data wizard @maybeitsdaijiro.

Meanwhile in France, another name dispute. Parents who want to name their son Griezmann Mbappé after two soccer players in France’s winning World Cup team will have to wait for a court decision on whether this is allowed, or if it’s against the child’s interests and infringes the players’ rights to protect their family name. Now that’s a complaint I haven’t heard before about surname names.

You’ll probably know that the US doesn’t have as many restrictions on names as some countries – but did you know that some states are especially liberal? According to this article, in Oregon and Kansas you can register names with diacritics, like Zoë and André, while in Illinois it’s theoretically possible to use a number – good news if you’re considering K8ie or Ke2rah.

And if you use those names, no one should mock them.

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12 Responses to “Name Shame and other Baby Name News of the Week”

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klutzy_girl Says:

December 6th, 2018 at 7:55 am

I absolutely love that Kate Siegel and Mike Flanagan named their newborn daughter Theodora after her Haunting of Hill House character, especially since they learned of her pregnancy during filming. It’s sweet!

SparkleNinja18 Says:

December 6th, 2018 at 10:26 am

Interesting about the state laws about diacritics! I’d heard years ago that the US didn’t allow names to be registered with accent marks, but I know a girl (I’m from Kansas btw) named Zoë, and wondered how that was possible. Got my answer!

thehairypawter Says:

December 6th, 2018 at 12:17 pm

I absolutely love Zoé and Zoë. I think that criticizing anyone’s name is never okay, but it wasn’t right of any of those people to lie to make others feel bad or awkward. I personally much prefer Rafael to Leafar, but at least it’ll be unique, and I wouldn’t want to go through life named after a video game 🙂

Bobcat108 Says:

December 6th, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Eralc sounds like the name of a priest from Game of Thrones…Maister Eralc? 🙂

josephinedagnall Says:

December 6th, 2018 at 3:39 pm

My name backwards wouldn’t work at all – it would be enihpesoj.

I personally adore Ginevra and Matteo from the Italian top 10.

I also think Max Charles is a gorgeous name.

ClareB Says:

December 6th, 2018 at 5:43 pm

@Bobcat108 I hadn’t thought of it that way…I feel more epic now!

lesliemarion Says:

December 6th, 2018 at 10:12 pm

If people are going to name their children stupid things like ABCDE, they’ll just have to live with the natural consequences.

oliviamcdonald Says:

December 7th, 2018 at 2:01 am

I don’t really understand how the author is defending Abcde but then saying Elrac is not ok.

Mikey_pp Says:

December 7th, 2018 at 5:54 am

The whole Abcde thing reminds me of an incident when I was 7 and invited to another girl’s birthday party. Her name was Sioban. I made her an elaborate birthday card with lots of glitter on it and spelt her name ‘Evonne’ which is how I honestly assumed it was spelt. Her mother saw it and lost her fucking mind, she started screaming at me and tore up the card. She was just going on and on about how I spelt it wrong and how could I be so ignorant and this wasn’t right etc. The worse part was I couldn’t leave early because I was too scared to ask them to use their phone to call my dad. Even as a kid I understood that it was unreasonable for her to expect that young child would just know how to spell something so counter-intuitive and out of ordinary. I really don’t believe that deep down she didn’t know what she was getting into when she named her daughter that and part of her just wanted to create drama.
Notice how the flights attendants weren’t mocking the girl and her mother to their faces. It just so happened that mom was in earshot when they genuinely shared a laugh over something they couldn’t help but find ridiculous and the mother just has to spread it all over the news because she’s probably just that kind of person. She herself wasn’t born yesterday under a rock she must have known that she was subjecting her daughter to this when she chose that name and I really don’t think the airline personnel are at fault here. I bet that little girls life is full of mom having angry altercations with all kinds of people over all sorts of things.

strawberrytree Says:

December 7th, 2018 at 6:11 pm

I don’t think the lesson we should take away from Abcde is “never laugh at a baby’s name” (although, yes, don’t laugh right in front of them). It’s that we need to remember that we are naming actual humans who will be moving through the world with the name we give them long after pop culture references are gone and the likes we got on Insta for our name announcement are meaningless. These are real lives. Don’t turn them in to a joke. Don’t make it all about you and the attention you get for your choice. It’s not you who will have to live with the name- it’s them.

Sinclaiiir Says:

December 8th, 2018 at 5:21 am

This Abcde controversy is very over dramatic to me. POC often get mocked if they have an “ethnic name” or even a “creative” name and it affects them in school, work and every day life due to racism and xenophobia. So i don’t really see the issue that a mum felt bad over giving her child a name that she will be bullied over. What she did to her child is quite cruel. I know people on this forum like “unique” names, but at the end of the day you are naming a person in real life. You need to consider how society is.

Burnie Says:

December 11th, 2018 at 11:48 am

My name backwards would be the exact same thing…

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