The Most Outrageously Outrageous Names of the Year

Candelabra, Yoyo and Moo

By Esmeralda Rocha

Over the coming weeks we’ll share some insights into themes and patterns of some of the rarer names that appeared on the 2017 USA lists, but we thought you’d like to jump ahead to some of the more outrageous ones that were given to American babies last year.

Money can’t buy that sort of publicity

There’s a whole subgenre of brand names that we will unpack in a future blog, but some of the more bizarre examples include:

Tesla: given to 130 girls and 11 boys

–Fanta: given to 24 girls

Beretta: given to 21 girls; firearms fans preferred Colt (which came it at # 269) for their sons

–Maybelline: given to 20 girls

Evian: given to 10 boys

Sports fans

There’s a love of sport and then there’s the sort of crazed devotion that saw 12 girls and 6 boys being named Espn.

It’s in the jeans

There are a few materials that were given as names but Denim, given to 141 boys and 53 girls, and Suede given to 5 boys, are two of the most out-there.

Babies are God’s gift

Religion has always been an important source of name inspiration, but some of America‘s choices are more inspired than others. We were surprised to see:

–Halo (given to 149 girls and 25 boys)

–Om (given to 96 boys)

Amen (given to 75 boys and 55 girls)

–Calvary (given to 16 girls and 7 boys)

Lucifer (given to 24 boys)

–The somewhat clumsy Getsemani (given to 11 girls).

–Yogi (given to 6 boys)

Prestige names

America loves giving names that bestow children with power, wealth and an regal air.

While Earl, Duke and Queenie are old favorites, some of the more outlandish given in 2017 include:

Kaiser (ranked at #929 on the boys’ list); cognate Caesar went to 74 boys

Pharaoh (given to 145 boys)

Empress (given to 106 girls) and Emperor (given to 9 boys)

–Heiress (given to 53 girls)

Milady (given to 12 girls)

General (11 boys)

–Czarina (given to 10 girls) and Czar (given to 6 boys)

–Duchess (went to 9 girls – somewhat dispiritingly, the misspelled version Dutchess went to 11 girls)

–Sirprince (given to 5 boys)

 Natural wonders

It’s only natural to look to the world around you for the perfect name for your new addition. Though sometimes people either should have kept looking, or not looked quite so far… strange nature names include :

–Koi (given to 26 boys and 25 girls)

Lemon (given to 25 girls)

Talon (rated highly at #754 for boys but also given to 16 girls)

–Alp (going to 36 boys)

Maize (given to 8 girls and 6 boys)

–Fennec (which went to 7 boys)

Attitude names

This is a category of name that we will devote a lot more attention to in a future blog, but there are some values or attitudes that we’re surprised parents would want to promote in their children. These include:

–Vanity (given to 38 girls)

–Envy (given to 28 girls)

–Brazen (given to 32 boys)

–Riot (46 boys and 16 girls)

–Havoc (17 boys)

Shooter (14 boys)

–Arson (11 boys)

–Yoyo (given to 10 girls)

–Furious (to 10 boys)

–Slayer (6 boys)

 Why would you do that?

We try to be forgiving of names as much as possible here at Nameberry, but there were some that had us shaking or scratching our heads. These include:

–I-am (21 boys)

Nil (given to 19 girls)

–Boy (given to 28 boys), Son (given to 6 boys) and Girl (given to 19 girls)

–Babyboy or Babygirl (given to 8 boys and 7 girls)

–Mister (which went to 18 boys)

–Paw (given to 16 girls)

Man (given to 13 girls)

–My (11 girls)

–Papa (9 boys)

–God (given to 8 boys)

–Moo (given to 7 girls and 6 boys)

–Abcde (given to 6 girls)

–Any (given to 6 girls)

Notorious Namesakes:

Similarly there were some namesakes from history getting honored that either have a lot of baggage or have pretty weighty names that we feel qualify them for a discussion on outrageous names:

Cleopatra (29 girls)

Jezebel (27 girls)

–JesseJames (17 boys)

–Cuauhtemoc (15 boys)

Attila (13 boys)

–Stalin (7 boys)

–Casanova (6 boys)

–Charlemagne (6 boys)

–Capone (6 boys)

Godiva (5 girls)

Note: We also think it’s too soon for Osama (13 boys) and Adolph (given to 6 boys), despite the nice etymologies or slight spelling adjustments.

Mythology

Among the more traditional mythological names were:

Eros (given to 66 boys)

Ra (given to 14 boys)

Beowulf (given to 7 boys)

Isis (yes, yes we all love the myth but again, it’s too soon for this name that went to 51 girls to not still carry some pretty serious negative connotations)

Strange but intriguing

Some of the following names are arresting rather than outrageous – because while they’re definitely an acquired taste, they’ve got some meaning or pizzazz behind them. We think this demonstrates that it is possible to choose something really off-the-beaten track and get it right! Highlights include:

–Atreyu (131 boys)

–Nubia (56 girls)

Jetson (40 boys)

–Savvy (40 girls)

–Mazikeen (27 girls)

–Zorawar (27 boys)

–Aerabella (18 girls)

Porfirio (14 boys)

–Candelaria (14 girls)

–Bereket (12 boys)

–Calcifer (10 boys)

–Solaris (8 girls)

–Eureka (7 girls)

Aesop (6 boys)

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30 Responses to “The Most Outrageously Outrageous Names of the Year”

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mill1020 Says:

June 26th, 2018 at 11:48 pm

Talon is a badass name. Arson is way over the line, though.

brittanyanitarose Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 1:15 am

I actually know a Candelaria! She’s in her mid twenties and usually goes by Cande.

There’s definitely some pretty cool choices toward the bottom half of this assortment, and other names that are simply rage inducing.

NaomiNY Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 1:25 am

I went to school with a guy named Talon. Never bothered him.

NaomiNY Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 1:26 am

But some of the other names mentioned are…questionable, to say the least.

elifsu Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 2:11 am

There’s no need to say “Why would you do that ?” for Nil because it’s the Turkish name for the Nile and is a very popular name here in Turkey as well as Turkish Americans it seems. Alp also is a Turkish name that could be listed as an attitude name since it means brave, hero. Attila is really respected as a historical figure in Turkey and not notorious. I think there’s a companion Osama and that’s why it’s still used, Bereket means abundance and I am surprised that’s used actually

Kew Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 6:43 am

Candelaria is beautiful!

But the fact that parents could choose Envy, Vanity, or Slayer as names for their children is mind-boggling. As for Sirprince and Milady, they are hilarious.

oliviamcdonald Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 7:14 am

I can’t believe someone named a child Abcde. That’s a lazy person’s computer password, not a person. How would you even pronounce it?

namefan Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 7:58 am

I think most of those “babyboy”, “babygirl”, etc. are just temporary names because the baby needed a SSN but the parents hadn’t decided on a name yet.

merlynhawk Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 9:15 am

I may be relatively old at 60 but I despair at the choices some people make for their children. Do they not see how much flack, teasing or downright bullying their child is going to take for having some of these names? Do they not care about the consequences they are heaping on their children, especially in the ‘Why would they do that’ section?

It just makes me really angry when I see some of these.

I’m not one for having an official list of names that are allowable by law but better that than naming your child ‘Papa’, ‘God’, ‘Moo’, or ‘Abcde’.

How cruel can some parents be?

MissBennet Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 9:29 am

I totally agree that many of these real-life American names deserve discussion, but bearing in mind that these all do belong to real people who had no say in the matter, is there a way for that discussion to happen with curiosity and respect, instead of the joking, ‘OMG!’ tone that can feel very unkind if you are (or your name is) the object of the joke? I’m cringing a little to think of what a google-savvy eight-year-old looking up her own name might think if she were to come across this post and find her name described–by people who love names!–as ‘dispiriting’, a ‘more bizarre example’, or ‘sometimes people either should have kept looking, or not looked quite so far’, or in the ‘why would you do that?’ category.

On to the names themselves: Nil, My, and Man are all perfectly normal names or name-elements from languages other than English, Spanish, and French–I’ve met women with those names. Though I can’t think of any examples, I’m fairly sure the same goes for Paw and Moo, too. Nil Koksall is a Toronto journalist who hosts CBC Radio’s morning newscast–I hear her name every weekday; she pronounces close to a quickly-spoken ‘Neel’.

Elifsu has already pointed out that Alp and Attila have long histories of use outside the English speaking-world. Have a look at Olympic canoe-kayak champions from Canada and Hungary to find modern examples of men called Attila. Alp and Alpin are occasionally used in Scotland, with a different derivation from the mountain range. Going back to English, Dutchess is an archaic spelling of the now-standard ‘Duchess’, but it lives on in some place names and as a surname, too. There have been a few news articles here and there about Abcde–I understand that it’s a rare, uniquely American name that the families who use it pronounce as AB-sih-dee, and it’s been in use for 30-40 years. I’m boring, so I’d probably go by Abby if it were my name!

elifsu Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 10:17 am

@MissBennet Nil Köksal seem to be Canadian Turkish – I searched her after your comment – I think Nil is popular because it’s short and easy to pronounce ? And follow the nature name trend that is popular in both Western countries and Turkey. Great to learn Alp is multicultural as well.

Selkit Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 11:16 am

The two strangest ones I’ve ever come across on real children are L’lis, pronounced “Ellis,” and Royalty Mi’Queen. Even those are practically tame compared to some of the ones on this list…

stephaniebrooke Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Abcde is pronounced “Ab-sid-ee”. Which I don’t think is that bad, but neither spelling is great.

Godiva is such a guilty pleasure name of mine. I think it sounds so nice, but I would never use it for a child. Maybe a cat.

Beretta is also interesting sounding, but again, way too heavy for a child. It was actually the stage name of a dancer friend of mine at one point.

Mazikeen is the one that really puzzles me. Not only is the pronounciation is a little clumsy, but it’s the name of demons in Jewish folklore that cause minor annoyances. Not something I’d want to bestow on my child.

indiefendi2 Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Kaiser isn’t outrageous at all. What with King being the 147th most popular boy name in America… smh

I think Kaiser is cool, handsome, usable, stately, and unique.

LaurynMichelle Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Might be worth noting that Czar is also cognate with Caesar!

Courtney Lee Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 4:34 pm

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Jezebel… It’s a really pretty name…

MontessoriMeg Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 6:21 pm

As others have mentioned, several of these are names with history and use outside of the United States, originally. My is a very common Swedish name (in the top 100 currently). Paw (which means flower) and Moo are both used by the Karen people (a Burmese ethnic group). I know that this isn’t necessarily common knowledge for many people, as awareness of names varies so much based on who you interact with. For those of us in contact with these communities, the names don’t seem unusual at all! There are other names that I am surprised by, but that are likely form sources I am unfamiliar with.

ashthedreamer Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 6:50 pm

I was going to mention that My is a common Scandinavian name, but @MontessoriMeg beat me to it! Attila is also used with some regularity in Hungary–it ranked number 6 there in 2010 (where I believe it is said aw-tee-law, rather than the English pronunciation). It’s easily believable that parents have recently come here and used those names from their home countries.

(And maybe I’m crazy, but I think Kaiser is SUPER cool. I’ve grown up with multiple people with variants on Caesar–Caesar, Cesar, even a Caesarine–so Kaiser doesn’t seem that crazy? It sort of seems like a mix between Caesar, Kai, and Tyler to me.)

esita Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 6:52 pm

Hi all,
Thanks for the great discussion. I was aware of most, though not all, of the backgrounds to these names, living in quite a diverse community myself. I guess the threshold is: does a name carry a strong connotation which is going to be difficult for a child growing up in a English-speaking country?

To turn it around, a couple I knew were really keen to give their kid the name “gift” as a middle name, as they had a long road to having a child. But… They lived in Austria. There, the word gift means “poison”. So they decided against it because, even as a middle name, that’s a difficult meaning to carry around with you.

Same with names like Attila (which I actually love) or Osama (which has the gorgeous meaning of Lion). It’s not that these names are inherently bad, but they are names that carry a lot of baggage. There are English names that would split non-Western communities (Rhodes, for example, who is indelibly linked with very damaging colonialist attitudes is a pretty controversial name in many parts of the world, and that would be completely understandable even though you could also argue that the name is connected to the Greek island).

Keep sharing your views!

stellarvra99 Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 6:58 pm

Nil is actually quite common in Spain… A rising name, modern and cool!

tp b Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 7:41 pm

Can we all agree that God is a poor choice?

On the one hand, what does that say about what you think about your kid? It would easily give him a complex, whether he owns it or shies from it.

On the other hand, what does that say about your level of respect for other people? A whole lot of people are going to struggle to call a little tike “God” – both non-religious and religious. Some variants of Judaism won’t even write the word out.

Those 8 boys have just been doomed for life to constant awkward interactions and occasional genuine offence, as well as personal psychological issues. This was a cruel + unthinking choice on the part of parents.

Now, someone is going to say it’s a name in another language. Like the gift / poison comment above, some names don’t fly in English.

alchemicallypurplefairy Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 7:55 pm

this is why we need naming laws in the US…..definitely not as strict as other countries, but I feel like names should go through some sort of verification council or something before the birth certificate is final.

chi1127 Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 9:17 pm

I highly doubtful that most of the people naming their children Tesla are doing so because of a company. That’s like saying people are naming their children Edison because of a company. Nikola Tesla was a scientist.

pindorama Says:

June 27th, 2018 at 9:37 pm

There was a post by Sancta Nomina featuring a Gethsemane (girl).
Heiress Harris, everyone!!! T.I.’s daughter!
Fennec, Isis and Solaris are pretty cute.
Oh! And I know one Stalin (20 years old, more or less) and an Heros (H is mute, so Eros)!

Abby.Ray Says:

June 28th, 2018 at 1:48 pm

I know a family that has three kids, Jude (boy), India (girl), and Gethsemane(girl). In my opinion, these names don’t quite fit together seamlessly, but that’s okay. I love Solaris from this list, so pretty!

MargotBear Says:

June 28th, 2018 at 3:56 pm

I went to orchestra with a girl called Isis and she was a really kind and delightful little girl. I know a Solaris and I have never viewed it as an outrageous or unusual name. Granted it’s not common, but it’s not crazy either.
Some of these names are two crazy for words! Vanity, Moo and God are all ridiculous – those are the kind of names toddlers come up with!
In the run-up to Prince George’s birth we were in a cafe, and we all took bets on his name. My sister (who was four at the time) betted on the name ‘Jesus’.
She did that when she was FOUR. Now these fully grown, competent parents call their kid God!? It’s crazy!

MargotBear Says:

June 28th, 2018 at 3:56 pm

I went to orchestra with a girl called Isis and she was a really kind and delightful little girl. I know a Solaris and I have never viewed it as an outrageous or unusual name. Granted it’s not common, but it’s not crazy either.
Some of these names are too crazy for words! Vanity, Moo and God are all ridiculous – those are the kind of names toddlers come up with!
In the run-up to Prince George’s birth we were in a cafe, and we all took bets on his name. My sister (who was four at the time) betted on the name ‘Jesus’.
She did that when she was FOUR. Now these fully grown, competent parents call their kid God!? It’s crazy!

midwinter Says:

June 28th, 2018 at 4:38 pm

Better odd names than naming laws… that’s what I believe, anyway. To be honest I’m not sure I agree that NB strives to not be judgemental, but some of these names sure are something. Most of them are strange but fine, like Tesla, but Slayer is beyond me.

One of my great namenerd tragedies is that Jezebel is such a pretty sounding name, but I could never use it. The association is borderline horrific.

Personally I kind of like Getsemane (pretty heavy, though, so I see the case against it, but it’s also a beautiful association in many ways) and Maize! Some of the more-arresting-than-outrageous names are really cool, too, like Solaris and Aesop.

Thanks for this! It’s an interesting list with a couple of hidden gems!

wandsworth Says:

June 28th, 2018 at 5:26 pm

I would like to see fewer posts like this on Nameberry. They do not seem to come from a place of kindness.

Seanachaidh Says:

June 29th, 2018 at 8:07 am

I like Tesla, but I associate it more with physicist Nikola Tesla than the car company named after him, so it’s not really a brand name to me.

It’s great to see Eureka too. I put it in my name journal about a year ago after hearing a similar name (Eusheka), but I’ve never fully warmed up to its sound. It’s nice to see some parents are liking it though!

Koi, Pharaoh, and Beowulf are intriguing too, though I don’t think I’d use them personally.

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