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Names That Mean Trouble

Names That Mean Trouble

Names with negative meanings used to be a no-no, but now many parents want to arm their children for a difficult world by choosing a name that means trouble, or danger, or aggression. There is a certain charm about modern names like Maverick and Rebel that come prepackaged with a badass image.

And you might argue the negative meanings concealed inside otherwise-lovely classic names, such a Cecilia meaning blind and Kennedy meaning misshapen head, don't really matter in the modern world anyway. And then there are names inspired by notorious trouble-makers, like Delilah or Dexter.

Whether you're looking for a name with a negative meaning on purpose or you've fallen in love with one by accident, here's a master list of names that mean trouble....literally.

  1. OpheliaHeart
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "help"
    • Description:

      Ophelia is a beautiful name that has long been hampered by the stigma of Hamlet's tragic heroine—for whom he seems to have invented the name—but more and more parents are beginning to put that association aside. There is also a gutsy Ophelia in Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 Uncle Tom's Cabin, which seems to have had some influence on baby namers at the time.
  2. CeciliaHeart
    • Origin:

      Feminine form of Cecil, Latin
    • Meaning:

      "blind"
    • Description:

      Cecilia is a feminine form of Cecil, which was derived from a Roman clan name related to the Latin caecus, meaning "blind." The martyred Saint Cecilia was designated the patron of musicians, either because she supposedly sang directly to God while the musicians played at her wedding, or because she sang to God as she was dying. The name was popularized in the Middle Ages as an homage to the Saint.
  3. LuciferHeart
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "light-bearer"
    • Description:

      Lucifer is the name of the archangel cast into hell -- theologians disagree on whether he and Satan are separate beings -- and as such has long been on the forbidden list for religious parents. Still banned in New Zealand, Lucifer is occasionally used in the contemporary U.S.: Six boys were given the name in the most recent year counted.
  4. LilithHeart
    • Origin:

      Assyrian, Sumerian
    • Meaning:

      "ghost, night monster"
    • Description:

      Lilith is derived from the Akkadian word lilitu meaning “of the night.” In Jewish folklore she is portrayed as Adam's rejected first wife, who was turned into a night demon for refusing to obey him. Lilith is unrelated to most other Lil- names, with the exception of Lilita, which is the Latvian variation.
  5. DelilahHeart
    • Origin:

      Hebrew or Arabic
    • Meaning:

      "delicate"
    • Description:

      Delilah has shed the stigma of its Biblical image, and is now appreciated for its haunting, melodic, feminine qualities. Checking out Delilah's popularity graph shows that Delilah's use is heading straight for the top. Right now, Delilah is among the most popular Hebrew names for girls in the US as well as the Number 1 girls' name starting with D.
  6. PersephoneHeart
    • Origin:

      Greek mythology name
    • Description:

      Persephone is the esoteric name of the Greek mythological daughter of Zeus by Demeter, the queen of the harvest. After she was kidnapped by Hades to be Queen of the Underworld, it was decreed by Zeus that she would spend six months of the year with her mother, allowing crops to grow, and six in mourning, thus accounting for the seasons.
  7. ClaudiaHeart
    • Origin:

      Feminine variation of Claude
    • Meaning:

      "lame; enclosure"
    • Description:

      A classic name with a hint of ancient Roman splendor that has never been truly in or truly out, Claudia still feels like a strong, modern choice — one of our "sweet spot" names.
  8. CalvinHeart
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "bald, hairless"
    • Description:

      Calvin is a slightly quirky but cozy name that has a fashion edge thanks to Calvin Klein. It has been steadily on the popularity list since records were kept, never lower than Number 250, peaking in the 1920s, the era of the Calvin (originally John Calvin ) Coolidge presidency.
  9. TristanHeart
    • Origin:

      Celtic
    • Meaning:

      "noise or sorrowful"
    • Description:

      Tristan -- known through medieval legend and Wagnerian opera -- has a slightly wistful, touching air. This, combined with the name's popular "an" ending, makes Tristan very appealing to parents seeking a more original alternative to Christian.
  10. BriarHeart
    • Origin:

      English
    • Meaning:

      "a thorny patch"
    • Description:

      Fairy-tale memories of Sleeping Beauty inspire some parents—such as Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen—to call their daughters Briar Rose. But Briar plus a different middle name might work even better. It's one of the newly popular nature-word names, charting in the US for the first time in 2015 for both genders.
  11. FoxHeart
    • Origin:

      Animal name
    • Description:

      Fox is one animal name backed by a longish tradition, and then popularized via the lead character Fox Mulder on X Files. Fox is simple, sleek, and a little bit wild, and could make an interesting middle name.
  12. DangerHeart
    • Origin:

      American word name
    • Description:

      Prime example of the aggressive word names that are an off-the-grid branch of the new macho names. Makes Cannon, Maverick, and Ranger feel almost soft and sensitive by comparison.
  13. LeahHeart
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "weary"
    • Description:

      Leah was derived from the Hebrew word le’ah, meaning "weary." In the Old Testament, Leah was the first wife of Jacob, the mother of one daughter, Dinah, and six sons including Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. She is considered one of the most important biblical matriarchs.
  14. CameronHeart
    • Origin:

      Scottish surname
    • Meaning:

      "crooked nose"
    • Description:

      Cameron is a popular Scottish name, for both boys and now girls (thanks to Cameron Diaz). With its good-looking, sensitive aura, Cameron has also generated a deluge of variant spellings.
  15. HunterHeart
    • Origin:

      English
    • Meaning:

      "one who hunts"
    • Description:

      Hunter has been dropping a bit for the past few years but is still one of the leaders of a distinctive band of boys' names that combines macho imagery (Hunter, Austin, Harley) with a softened masculinity. Hunter was for years attached to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson; Josh Holloway used it for his son.
  16. MaraHeart
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "bitter"
    • Description:

      Mara is the evocative ancient root of Mary, appearing in the Book of Ruth, in which Naomi, devastated after the death of her two sons, says "Call me not Naomi, call me Mara." It's one of the girl names starting with M that both fits in and stands out.
  17. RavenHeart
    • Origin:

      Word and animal name
    • Description:

      Bird name Raven, once a symbol of pride for both African-American and Wiccan parents, is finding new life as a superhero name. Raven Darkholme is the real name of Mystique, heroine of the X-Men films played by Jennifer Lawrence. And there is another Raven superheroine in Teen Titans. Some parents may still choose Raven to signal black pride or mystical powers or maybe even Edgar Allan Poe fandom, but we are guessing most inspiration is coming from the comics.
  18. DexterHeart
    • Origin:

      Latin
    • Meaning:

      "dyer, right-handed"
    • Description:

      The jazzy, ultra-cool Dexter, like most names with an "x," has a lot of energy and dynamism. Over the years, it's been attached to a number of diverse real and fictional personalities—C. K. Dexter Haven, the witty Cary Grant character in The Philadelphia Story; Dexter Green, the protagonist of the F. Scott Fitzgerald story "Winter Dreams"; great jazz tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon; the boy-genius protagonist of cartoon Dexter's Laboratory; and the most recent TV series Dexter based on the books by Jeff Lindsay, whose lead happens to be a genial but sociopathic serial killer.
  19. NemoHeart
    • Origin:

      Greek
    • Meaning:

      "nobody"
    • Description:

      One of the best known early Nemos was the captain in Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, while the more familiar modern one is the animated little orange fish in the Disney movie. Unusual name well worth considering. By the way, there is also a Shakespearean Nemo and one in Dickens's Bleak House. An enchanting early comic strip by Winsor McCay was called Little Nemo.
  20. WolfHeart
    • Origin:

      German
    • Meaning:

      "wolf"
    • Description:

      Wolf is a name with a split personality. It can be seen as one of the fierce animal names, like Fox and Bear and Puma, with a touch of the werewolf, or it can be viewed as a quieter, Wolf Blitzer kind of name, fairly common in German (where is pronounced Vulf) and Jewish families, sometimes as a short form of Wolfgang, or even Wolfram or Wolfhart.