Nameberry Heresies: Some nameberry faves are not loved by all

Yesterday, as I was writing about the favorite names on nameberry, it seemed as if all was in perfect harmony and solidarity, complete sweetness and sunshine on the site, and that was as tranquil a place as Mayberry R.F.D.

Not totally true.

Turns out that some visitors are as passionately opposed to some of the popular names on the site as others are passionately in favor of them.  And so a kind of rebel thread was set up called Secret Name Heresies, where people could voice–make that vent–their negative feelings.  And vent is what they/you have been doing, often in EMPHATIC CAPITAL letters.  Not surprisingly, since our opinions are formed from our individual experiences, there were some who disliked a particular name because of, say, an unshakable association with an obnoxious high school classmate, or with a Disney character they will forever attach to its name.  Or in some cases a simple dislike of its image or sound.

Here, from the varied responses, are a few choice, disgruntled, examples–some of which we found hilarious:


ARABELLA   —  Sounds like some made-up Disney princess who lives in Arabia.

ASTRID  —  I liked this before The Office.

BRONWYN  —  I knew a very odd Bronwyn in high school.  I only ever think of her.

CECILIA  —  I have a slight lisp–Ce-ce-lia sounds AWFUL when I say it.

CHARLOTTE  —  Whenever I see Charlotte, I just see cHARLOTte,

DAISY —  I love this name but for a pet.

DELILAH  — I’m not a Delilah fan.  If I’m not reminded of the Biblical story, I’m reminded of that annoying radio host, Delilah.

EVELYN  —  It’s still 100% nursing home to me.

FREYA  —  I HATE Freya!  I only think of frayed fabric.

GUINEVERE  —  Waaay too regal.

JUNE  —  I’m not a fan of June, but love Jane.

OLIVE  —  Olive?  As in black olives, green olives and extra virgin olive oil?  No thank you.
— I just don’t understand why you would name your daughter after a small green appetizer.

OPHELIA  —  I’m not an Ophelia fan, not only because of the “I’ll feel ya” teasing but because I have a habit of putting the prefixes of “hem” and “ped” before it.

POPPY —  I’m all for nature names but this is way too close to “puppy,” not to mention the association with opiates.
— The words “seed muffin” follow this in my head.
— This is what we call my Dad instead of Grandpa, so no.

SADIE  —  Reminds me of S & M.

VIOLA  —  Means rape in Spanish.

WILLOW  —  This would be a massive problem if she was chubby.
— I HATE Willow! It’s a 100% Palin to me, and just…ick.


DUNCAN  —  Donuts.
— Sounds like it should be the name of a thick, chubby boy.

ELIJAH  —  The only Elijah I have ever known was a girl, so it sounds really girly to me

EZRA  —  It looks like a typo.

FELIX  —  This is a cat’s name only.

GUS  —  Just ugly and not right for a little boy–reminds me of Augustus Gloop.
— The big, fat mouse from Cinderella to me–GusGus

JASPER  —  Seems like a girl’s name to me.
— 101 Dalmatians, anyone?

KILLIAN  —  Not a fan of Killian or any other name beginning with a synonym of murder

OSCAR  —Oscar is still 100% grouch to me.

OTIS  —  Too hickish for someone who lives in rural Nebraska and gets labeled a hick for that alone.

SEBASTIAN  —  Crab from Disney movie.

THEO  —  I hate Theo!  I love Theodore but won’t use it because I hate Theo!

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40 Responses to “Nameberry Heresies: Some nameberry faves are not loved by all”

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abbey Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 5:14 am

Too funny – both my kids’ names are up there, along with one of their middle names, as well as the potential girl’s name we have picked out for a third child!

I’m absolutely shocked that Arabella is up there and Ursula isn’t. I’ve never known a name to cause such polar opposite reactions as Ursula… and of course it was once our number one choice for a girl 😉

Amy Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 6:36 am

“OPHELIA  –  I’m not an Ophelia fan, not only because of the “I’ll feel ya” teasing but because I have a habit of putting the prefixes of “hem” and “ped” before it.”
This one made me laugh.
These types of entries just prove how totally different everyones tastes are!

Sherri Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 7:09 am

I agree with all of the boy’s names… but the girls?!

I absolutely love Arabella and Evelyn.
And I would have no problem using June as a middle name.

The rest of the girls names I totally agree with though.

phaedraP Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 8:24 am

I laughed out loud at Olive and Killian. Hilarious indeed.

Maria Garrison Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 8:25 am

Usually I agree with these posts, but my brother & sister-in-law just had twins and both of the girl’s names are up there….Olive & Poppy. I also love Bronwyn (as in cake designer Bronwyn Webber – a true artist) and Killian.

JNE Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 8:35 am

All that ire! In fairness, some comments are worth noting, such as the one about Viola, if your thinking of using it on your child. Ophelia is another with which it is worth considering the teasing options (I actually really like the name); while kids will tease, whether it’s using a name or something else as fodder, my personal stance is to avoid practically inviting that teasing. Still, these names are generally great names, even if they are spoiled for some.

ricamaca Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 8:38 am

I believe Jasper is the 101 Dalmations comment…I don’t think there was a Theo…?

Nephele Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 8:59 am

Normally I tend avoid reading about other people’s prejudices against various names. Because (as you wisely say in your blog): “…our opinions are formed from our individual experiences…”

Other people’s experiences are not my experiences. And I have no desire to make them mine! 🙂

But you know I couldn’t resist reading one of your blog entries anyway, Linda and Pam. Even though I’ll now have to exorcise the name demons that have been released on my poor psyche! Hahaha!

— Nephele

Tracey Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 9:14 am

Nephele, exactly right. One of my kids’ names is up there, and we always get admiring compliments on it (“Arabella”). And another one of my kids’ middle names is there, as well as 3 of our short list names.

Jasper, a girl name? I guess I read too many children’s books written in Victorian times to think that. Louisa May Alcott used it for a sort of white knight character!

Andrea Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 9:22 am

Some of those are more commonly held stereotypes than others, which may have something to do why they will probably never be well-used in the United States. I don’t think Poppy is likely to catch on here because it is such a common name for “grandfather.” Every time I see it mentioned, that’s the inevitable response. My association with it is the Wicked Witch of the West saying “POPPIES” in an evil voice as Dorothy falls asleep in the field of poppies. Ophelia is also the name of a suicide from Hamlet and has such tragic connotations that it probably won’t be widely used. Clementine is one I think is not likely to take off because of “Oh, my darling Clementine.” Delilah would not be as well used as it is if not for the song by the Plain White T’s. Even there, I bet more people are using Lila instead because of the Biblical harlot. A number of the other names on the list actually are fairly popular and rising. I’ve seen several young Evelyns lately and Willow is a nice hippie name. I just interviewed a 20-year-old Willow yesterday at the State Fair who fit the image to a T.

Andrea Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 9:41 am

Jasper IS occasionally used for girls. I think it’s still considered fairly avant garde here. My sister-in-law’s reaction when a friend of hers used the name (for a boy) was open-mouthed shock.

Abby Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 10:15 am

LOL at this list – thanks SO much for sharing!

And while I actually like most of these names, I think The Office did some serious damage to poor Astrid.

As for “hickish” – great word.

Elle Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 10:33 am

At first I was slightly offended that so many of my favorite names, and some from my short list were up there. But I guess I don’t have too worry about them becoming overly popular before I get a chance to use them. I don’t think anything anyone says will convince me to dislike Olive, Ophelia, Felix, Gus, and Jasper.

olivekit Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 10:59 am

I think it’s a good thing that we don’t all agree on everything. What fun would that be if we all liked the same names? We’d all end up with Jennifer and Jason, Emily and Ethan, and Ava and Aidan. Oh, wait. 🙂

As the mom of 3 girls named Olive, Kit, and Nola, you will never find a name that pleases everyone. Just make sure you love it so when you hear comments like the ones above, it won’t matter because its YOUR favorite name.

rachelmarie Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 11:57 am

Don’t forget Nevaeh! I’m pretty sure that’s the one name almost everyone on here can agree on that they hate.
I even started a post about it on the Name Talk thing.

PlainJane Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Meh, so what? Everyone has names they dislike, and sometimes the reasons are silly and illogical. That would not change my opinion unless it was a widely held viewpoint. A grain of salt and a rather large one at that is taken with these.

Kathleen Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 1:09 pm

I love seeing my daughter Bronwen’s name up there! I don’t want it to get popular!! 🙂

redridinghood Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 4:38 pm

This is a tricky one, isn’t, and despite the protestations otherwise, I think some people’s feelings have been a bit offended when they find “their” name up there on that list. I well remember getting one of Pam and Linda’s early books and my dismay at reading how “uncool” most of my children’s names were considered – particular poor Heather, which I discovered had such a poor image in the USA that I don’t think I should ever get her a passport!

It is essential not to take things too personally. We do all have different tastes, as you said, Olivekit, and let’s be thankful for it. There was a little boy in the toyshop I work in today, called Kit (it is frequently used in Britain for a boy, traditionally short for Christopher). I also have a penfriend in Australia – we have been writing to each other since 1965! – called Nola, and she will be thrilled to hear about your daughter. It is much more frequent in Australia than anywhere else, I believe – how did you choose it?

Rambling again. Getting back to the lists:

Very suprised about Arabella and Evelyn. Love both (also adore Ursula).

One of my boys is Robert Duncan – Duncan after his Scottish great-grandfather, Duncan Macfarlane, and it is a name I love. Rob is 16, 6″ and quite skinny. Its being on your list is not going to change my perceptions of it anyway!

Very interesting blog, if a bit contentious!

Wv Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Couldn’t agree more about Delilah. Ubiquitous sappy late-night radio host. She was also featured in Sleepless in Seattle. I’ve heard her everywhere from upstate NY to California… can’t get away.

linda Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 4:57 pm

I certainly hope there weren’t many hurt feelings. After all, each of those statements was just the opinion of one person–and certainly not ours. After all, I think I’ve said that if my daughter Chloe had been a boy, she may well have been Duncan–donuts or not.

Karen Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 6:06 pm

I thought it was implied by heresies, these names were well-liked and often recommended by many people. There are some names most agree are not really a wise choice for some reason – maybe not a great reason, but they are popularly and openly disliked, and there are some names that seem to be popular around nameberry that make a few people cringe even to suggest. I’m sorry but I don’t like Hazel or Daphne, they might be awesome people, and I sort of like the name Duncan and I hope he brings me donuts! I’m really glad there are a variety of names and not everyone has to have some undefinable nameberry taste. It’s about finding a lot of names, not sticking to the short list suggestions that you hear every day.

twinkle Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 7:07 pm

I just have to say … I was quoted by the great Nameberry-powers-that-be! Whoo-hoo!

stephanie_elizabeth Says:

July 28th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

me too..the Otis one is mine!!

firefly Says:

July 29th, 2009 at 7:56 am

I’m a little disappointed with this post. I thought it was going really fun to discuss all that bad names out there (Kaden and Madisynne I’m looking at you). But this post says more about the commenters than it does about the names. I feel a bit sorry for the commenter who thinks Arabella is a made up name (guess they skipped reading Thomas Hardy in high school). And the one who insists Jasper is female name – really? Guess they never spent much time looking at the work of Jasper Johns – one of the great American artists. Ezra Pound is out of luck here too. Even the biblical names get short shrift (Elijah is female? Huh? Do you think she misheard an Eliza?) On the positive side – the comment about Viola is actually a helpful bit of insight. I wish all the comments you featured had been of that stripe.

teabee Says:

July 30th, 2009 at 2:30 pm

I love this thread because names are a public thing and it helps to be aware of what possible ridicule is out there (then we decide for ourselves whether it’s legitimate or not), and because nameberry need not be homogeneous. There are names I love being trashed and names I trash that I should reconsider. I want to hear it all!

Mookie Says:

July 31st, 2009 at 5:07 pm

I’m completely furious at the people insisting Elijah and Jasper are feminine. That really disgusts me, and I’m not even a major fan of the names. I’d shudder to hear what they think of Harper, Jamie, Addison/Madison, Cassidy, Haley, Kelly, Kendall, Courtney, Leslie, Leighton, Mackenzie, Mckenna, Robin, Schuyler/Skylar, Sheridan, Tracy, or Whitney… on boys. 🙂

I’m guessing they were thinking of Eliza or Jasmine or something. At least, I’m hoping they misheard them.

redriding Says:

August 1st, 2009 at 6:02 am

I have NEVER heard of an Elijah or Jasper who is a girl! But then I live in Britain, and we have not adopted the American habit of calling girls by modern boys names in such a whole-hearted fashion. (We are also more reluctant to name babies with surnames beginning with Mac).

HaYley I would definitely think feminine (Hayley Mills)
Leslie is masculine over here generally if it is spelled with an IE, but feminine if spelled LeslEY.
Jamie is still predominantly for boys, being a short form of James
Robin can be either, but girls usually have the spelling RobYn.
Schuyler/Skyler is still very unusual here, so has not been overexposed, and I think of it as a Dutch name with a nice sound.
Sheridan I have known on both girls and boys, but I would think masculine in the first instance
Tracey I have only heard for girls.
Whitney I think girl.

Anna Says:

August 9th, 2009 at 3:11 am

Love this blog 🙂 great to hear others opinons 🙂
doesn’t stop me loving some of them still though 🙂

The world would be a very boring place if everyone was called Bob and Anne.

kkss Says:

September 21st, 2009 at 4:57 am

Great – someone brought up Kaden and Madisynn. Yikes. My pet hate is Jayden/Jaiden/Jaden/Jaydenne and variations thereon – very popular in NZ, for both boys and girls. And then there’s Tayla. Good grief.

My daughter is Freya. I’d never met one or heard of another one until after she was born and have now found out they’re everywhere – even on this list!!

spotlightstarlit Says:

February 6th, 2010 at 3:53 am

Must disagree with Arabella, Jasper and Guinevere as a middle name, yes too regal for a first, but middle names are meant for creativity.

Arabella if pronounced harshly is awful, but a good alternative to Isabella in my opinion. I love Mirabella because it includes my nn Bella and Mira is a hebrew word meaning wonder so I will have a wonderful beauty!

Jasper- I love this name, everyone else hate it, go right ahead! 😉 I want it to myself, I’m distraught over yesterdays list. Evangeline Eden has been my name pick for forever, can we make those two switch lists?!

MutantAnemone Says:

March 16th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

One of my personal hates (though not necessarily on Nameberry) is Christopher. It looks like Christ + gopher to me. And Christian. Christian is way too presumptuous for me. =/

And I agree with others- it’s nice that there’s some variety, or else we’d all look like a bunch of pretentious name elitists bashing all the “bad” names out there. I don’t like Kaylee or Jadyn at all, but at least I can laugh at myself for it~<3

itsallthere Says:

March 23rd, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Some of these are quite funny! I have a good sense of humor so even though I like some of these name, I have the ability to enjoy the comments from other people.
We each have differing opinions on names, which is why we aren’t all still called Millie and John, though they are pretty names, it would be rather boring.
Don’t be upset if your fave names are up there, you have to know that not everyone thinks the same way you do.

Sunshinetina Says:

May 20th, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I like Astrid and am anti nickname, but really what are her friends going to shorten it too? Trid? I dont think so.

It seems to me that a good majority of those names are far more popular in the UK then the Americas. I think that is wrong. They are for the most oart very lovely names. I would be happy with just about all of them.

Freya Says:

June 5th, 2010 at 2:44 am

I disagree with most of these. My name is Freya, and everyone I know loves it. I know its much more popular in England and Scotland, but in the U.S it’s seen as soft, pretty and unique.

Megan Says:

August 5th, 2010 at 7:55 pm

my daughter is due in 5 weeks, and we are naming her Astrid Jane. I’ve seen the episode of the office and think it’s hilarious. I don’t think it ruined the name. It was actually one of the first times I’d heard it. Now, there is a character on Fringe named Astrid and in the movie How to Train Your Dragon. My husband and I think it’s a beautiful name with a beautiful meaning!

Viola Says:

August 20th, 2010 at 2:15 pm

…my name means rape?!

linda Says:

August 20th, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Not at all! It’s related to Violet, the flower and the color.

Saramee Says:

September 28th, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Arabella? How could anyone hate the name Arabella!!

emilymaryjane Says:

February 4th, 2012 at 5:50 am

ophelia is roald dahls daughter

SuperMrsPackman Says:

April 1st, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Why is Renesmee not on this list? I think that is the most vile name. Simply awful. It reads awful too.

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