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Name Stereotyping: Are you guilty?

November 14, 2012 Pamela Redmond

Is Jesse a “bad boy name“?, a visitor to our message boards asked.

She wanted to know because she loved the name Jesse but was afraid that any boy named Jesse would be stereotyped as wild, naughty, rebellious — a bad kid.

That question summoned up an issue that simmers beneath many discussions on names: What’s the image that name conveys, and do we want to take that on for our child?

To put it more plainly, do some names carry stereotypes, positive or negative, that go beyond our individual expectations and experiences?  Are you guilty of stereotyping people based on their names, and what names carry the strongest stereotypes for you?

Is a Lola always sexy, for instance, and a Margaret always studious?  Does Brock summon to mind an athlete while Edward is the kid with the slide rule?

Are name stereotypes ever fair?  And when you meet a Brock who’s more into physics than football, does the old stereotype fade away?

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.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles

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