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Names That Mean Trouble

Names That Mean Trouble
Baby 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.
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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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.

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.

JettHeart

  • Origin:

    Mineral name
  • Description:

    Aviation enthusiast John Travolta put this fast-paced name in the lexicon when he used it for his late son, and George Lucas followed suit.

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.

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.
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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.

WolfHeart

  • Origin:

    Animal name or diminutive of Wolfgang
  • Meaning:

    "traveling 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.

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.

HuxleyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "inhospitable place"
  • Description:

    Huxley is definitely rising as a surname name, with its X that makes almost any name cooler. It debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2015. The modern nicknames Hux and Huck certainly don't hurt.

DracoHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek from Latin
  • Meaning:

    "dragon"
  • Description:

    For as long as we all shall live, Harry Potter's sneering nemesis.
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BlaiseHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "to lisp, stammer"
  • Description:

    As modern as it sounds, Blaise is an ancient Christian martyr name. In Arthurian legend, Blaise is the name of Merlin the Magician's secretary. Its relation to the word and name Blaze gives it a fiery feel. Amanda Beard named her baby boy Blaise Ray.

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.

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.

BlazeHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Meaning:

    "fire"
  • Description:

    Originally a form of the saint's name Blaise, though now more likely to be a hot word name used for both sexes, though heavily weighted toward the boys. It has been in the boys' Top 1000 since the year 2000.
    br>On the pop culture side of things, Blaze Bayley is a singer and musician who has been connected to the bands Wolfsbane and Iron Maiden.

RemingtonHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "place on a riverbank"
  • Description:

    Remington Steele was the perfect name for an upper-crust action hero on 1980s television. Now, Remington is catching fire along with a new generation of predatory baby boy names such as Hunter, Gunner, and Colt. Or you might consider it a unisex namewith a buttoned-up British feel and the friendly short form Rem or Remy.
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PandoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "all gifted"
  • Description:

    Pandora has occasionally been used by the British gentry (for girls with brothers who might be called Peregrine) and is now starting to be heard in the US too: It was given to 39 baby girls last year.

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.

JezebelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "not exalted"
  • Description:

    Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab in the Hebrew Book of Kings, has long had a bad girl reputation. But in the modern secular world, this is somewhat mitigated by the feminist perspective of her as a strong woman, the power behind the throne. Previously avoided as a baby name, Jezebel is now, along with the also previously avoided Delilah and Desiree, coming into use, helped by its relation to other 'bel' name such as Isabel and Bella.

GokuHeart

  • Origin:

    Japanese
  • Meaning:

    "aware of emptiness"
  • Description:

    Goku is the name of the protagonist of the popular "Dragon Ball" manga series, which was turned into a live action film. The character of Goku is reportedly based on Sun Wukong, the hero of the Chinese legend Journey to the West.

CainHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "spear; possessed"
  • Description:

    Biblical name Cain was, until recently, seldom heard outside of the Old Testament and soap operas. Although Cain's murderous actions will always make this name difficult for some, Cain, Eve and Adam's firstborn, was a farmer - making this a good choice for those with farming connections. Long outshone by Abel, Cain is starting to find a broader audience, helped along by homophones Kane or Caine.
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GunnerHeart

  • Origin:

    Scandinavian variation of Gunther
  • Meaning:

    "bold warrior"
  • Description:

    The kind of nouveau macho name favored by NRA-leaning parents. Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers gave it to his son in 2009. Gunnar is another spelling that makes the name a bit less militaristic.

TalonHeart

  • Origin:

    French word name
  • Meaning:

    "large claw of a bird of prey"
  • Description:

    Despite its somewhat menacing meaning, this name has been widely used in recent years, probably due to the appeal of its trendy on ending.

MalloryHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "unfortunate"
  • Description:

    Early 1980s sitcom (Family Ties) name that has been well used ever since, with an upbeat three-syllable sound and a slightly tomboyish edge.

BladeHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    One of the new crop of boys' names that manage to be unconventional and macho at the same time -- though Blade verges on the threatening.

OdysseusHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Meaning:

    "wrathful"
  • Description:

    The name of the brave, resourceful hero of Homer's epic saga has almost always been considered too weighty for a child to bear, but at this point, some brave, resourceful parents out there might be willing to take it on.
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HarleyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "hare clearing"
  • Description:

    You can ride one, you can use it as a baby name – or, as is often the case, both! Harley is currently trending up for girls and down for boys in the US, although it remains predominantly masculine in the UK. A lesser-used -ley ending choice for boys, Harley has a current sound but an old-school biker appeal.

DravenHeart

  • Origin:

    Modern invented name
  • Description:

    Inspired by Brandon Lee's character in The Crow and Cuba Gooding Jr.'s in In the Shadows, this name, with its Wiccan feel, was used by a member of Linkin Park. It has ranked in the US Top 1000 since 1995.

LanceHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Lanzo, German "land"
  • Meaning:

    "land"
  • Description:

    Though the fuller Lancelot has for the most part been shunned as a 'too-much-name' name, the short form Lance has been consistently in or around the Top 500 since 1938, climbing as high as Number 76 in 1970. It was used as a character name by Walter Scott as far back as 1823. Lance is also the name of a medieval weapon, making this name all boy.

StormHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Windswept and dramatic, but perhaps asking for trouble. Quite popular in Denmark and Sweden, where it derives from Stromr, which is a fairly common surname. Storm Thorgerson is a famous bearer of the name - he designed iconic album covers for Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, the Cranberries, Anthrax, and Pink Floyd.

RoxyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Roxanne, Persian
  • Meaning:

    "dawn"
  • Description:

    Roxy, also spelled Roxie, is one of those high-stepping showgal names with plenty of moxie, among the many sassy nickname names on the U.K. popularity list--currently Number 398.
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SalomeHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "peace"
  • Description:

    A soft and interesting Hebrew name long popular in France, where it has ranked in the Top 400 since 1986 (as Salomé). Ex-ER star Alex Kingston named her daughter Salome Violetta.

StormiHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name, variation of Stormy and Storm
  • Description:

    Stormi is like Sunni, with angst. If naming your child Storm or Stormy is asking for trouble, naming her Stormi -- as Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott did -- is asking for trouble of several different kinds. But we're sure she'll be adorable and as celebrity baby names go, this one is nearly normal.

PortiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "pig, hog or doorway"
  • Description:

    Portia is a perfect role-model name, relating to Shakespeare's brilliant and spirited lawyer in The Merchant of Venice, and is now also a Hunger Games name .

NarcissaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "daffodil"
  • Description:

    This Greek flower and mythological choice doesn't make it into the pantheon of possibilities because of its association with narcissism. But narcissa is December's flower of the month, so Narcissa and Daffodil theoretically make perfect names for December babies.

DoloresHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish
  • Meaning:

    "lady of sorrows"
  • Description:

    Though it's related to the Virgin Mary, this name was once perceived as the height of sensuality, a role since taken over by nicknames Lola and Lolita.
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RansomHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "shield's son"
  • Description:

    Ransom may be rakish and handsome, but it carries an unavoidable association with holding someone for ransom. But that kind of bad boy image might be exactly what attracts you to Ransom in the first place. While Ransom feels like a modern appellation ala Breaker or Ranger, it's interesting to note on the popularity chart that it was actually quite popular at the end of the 19th century but fell off the Top 1000 around 1930.

RogueHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Now that names like Cannon and Gunner, fit for comic book heroes, are rising up, Rogue may fit right in.

MortimerHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "dead sea"
  • Description:

    Other kids might see a teasible connection to mortician or mortuary. Mortimer is an English family name used a few generations ago as an Anglicization of Moses; it was Walt Disney's original choice for the name of his mouse, until his wife talked him out of it.

JabezHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "borne in pain"
  • Description:

    Jabez has a rare combo of three appealing elements: a Biblical heritage, a captivating Southern accent, and a jazzy feel. It was popular with the Pilgrims and on into the nineteenth century (there have been four U.S. Congressmen named Jabez), but it hasn't been in the Top 1000 since 1880.

AcaciusHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "thorny; or, innocent, not evil"
  • Description:

    Acacius is a Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Akakios and can be interpreted to relate to the same root as the name Acacia, for the thorn bush, or Akakios which means "not evil." With the modern taste for ancient names that end in "us," this obscure but attractive choice may have a chance of new life. Acacius is the name of three early saints.
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