A kid's-eye view

Oct 20th 2005

My four-year-old daughter has decided to dress as Dorothy for Halloween. Does that call a picture to your mind? Perhaps blue gingham, sparkling slippers, and a pup in a basket? Hold on...when she told a preschool classmate about her plan to be Dorothy he said, "Oh, Dorothy from Elmo!" Indeed, Dorothy is the name of Elmo's pet goldfish on "Sesame Street."

In fact, the Oz image happens to be the correct one for my daughter's costume. (The kid is ready to start the preschool chapter of the L. Frank Baum fan club.) But her friend's reaction was a good reminder: when it comes to names, we grownups don't always know as much as we think we do. We're busy avoiding names that remind us of Rocky or "The Flintstones," while our kids' peers are more likely to relate to the "Backyardigans."

For first-time parents especially, the world of kiddie entertainment tends to be the great unknown. Luckily, many of the names are carefully selected to be out of fashion, especially the boys' names--Elmo and Oswald are typical. But below is a starter set of fashionable names that carry strong associations for the 8-and-under crowd. They're not necessarily negative associations, but it never hurts to know what you're getting into.

Angelina: A ballet-dancing mouse in a popular series of books (and now videos).

Ash: Young, world-traveling Pokémon trainer. Along with Ashton Kutcher, he's made the world safe for boys name Ash again.

Aurora: Sleeping Beauty.

Cleo and Theo: The lion librarians who guide their cubs through a world of literature on "Between the Lions."

Dashiell and Violet: Two of the Incredibles kids, Violet being the shrinking type (invisible) and Dash the dash-ing type (fast).

Jasmine: The princess from Disney's Aladdin, enshrined as part of the Disney Princess pantheon.

Kiara: A little lion, daughter of Simba and star of the direct-to-video "Lion King II."

Maisy: A sweet mouse featured in books and a tv series for pre-schoolers. (Not Daisy-Head Mayzie, who scarcely makes a cultural dent.)

Olivia: Ian Falconer's books about a young pig who is creative and appealing, but "very good at wearing people out."

Zoe: A muppet who joined "Sesame Street" in 1993 to help balance out the sex ratio and build on the youth movement of kid-muppets like Elmo.

...and please feel free to add to this roster with comments.


By Anonymous (not verified)
October 20, 2005 6:57 PM

It's funny what sticks and what doesn't. I was considering Simon for a boy's name last year, but my aunt discouraged me because her son (an 8th grader) and his friends strongly associated that name with the Mike Meyers SNL character ("You see my name is Simon. And I like to do draw-rings")My husband and I never did agree on a boy's name, but we had a girl and gave her a name we both love.

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 20, 2005 7:25 PM

I always associate the name Ariel with little mermiad now

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 21, 2005 12:09 AM

Our 7 month old daughter is named Anneliese and more than once a little girl has said "oh, like the princess in the Barbie Princess and the Pauper movie!"I also think that Dora will be associated with Dora the Explorer.Thomas will forever bring up the image of a little blue tank engine, thanks to my 4 year old's obsession!I always associate the name Belle with Beauty and the Beast.

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 21, 2005 5:21 AM

Mia Hamm is a strong role model for young girls as well. When trying to convince my husband to use the name, he said it made him think of Mia Farrow. I highly doubt any kids today would even know who she is!

By Kathie (not verified)
October 21, 2005 11:11 AM

And Mike Meyers got Simon who does "draw-rings" from a cartoon that used to be on the children's show "Pinwheel"-----"Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings"

By ros (not verified)
October 21, 2005 9:13 PM

Great list...A local radio morning talk show host was recently mentioning how her daughter, Chloe, was talking about how there was a Bratz doll with her name. The other Bratz dolls are Dana, Jade, Sasha, and Yasmin. I also don't know if the rugrats are still big, but if so there's a bratty girl on the show named Angelica.

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 22, 2005 3:49 AM

Don't forget the Wiggles - Murray, Greg, Anthony, Jeff, (people)Dorothy the Dinosaur and Henry the Octopus.There's another Zoe on Rolie Polie Olie - it's the little sister.

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 22, 2005 3:29 PM

This is all very helpful to someone who doesn't have a clue about any of this

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 22, 2005 4:39 PM

Hi!Our kids are 7 and 2- here are a few more names from books and TV shows and the like.Elliot- a toy moose with books and a popular tv show. The Elliot at preschool often gets called Elliot Moose.George- spunky 4 inch high kid on George Shrinks. Think human version of Stuart Little. Arthur- Arthur the Aardvark and his friends are very popular with kids age 4 to 9 or 10 (though the older ones tend not to admit this...), and has a bunch of oddly- named friends that have made old fashioned names quite acceptable among the younger set- Arthur, his sisters DW (Dorothy Winifred) and Kate, Prunella, Francine, Fern, Sue Ellen, Buster and I know I'm missing a few...Emmy, Max and Enrique are the humans in the Dragon Tales tv show, while Cassie and Zak are dragons. Finn is a baby dragon.Ruby is the occasionally overpowering big sister of the silent Max on a slightly odd but lovable tv show about the prechool siblings who seem to live on their own. Lyra and Will are the heroes of Philip Pullman's excellent series His Dark Materials.George and Harold are the best friends in the Captain Underpants seriesIf you're a first-time parent, it's probably a good idea to check out the scholastic and kids' tv websites, or google the name...and please read Harry Potter!-EleanorPS my kids actually don't watch *that* much tv- it's funny how much you pick up!

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 23, 2005 4:41 PM

After seeing a couple of episodes of _How I Met Your Mother_, I thought favorably about using the name Barney (played by the cutie who once played Doogie Howser), which suddenly sounded interesting and hip. But of course, Barney the purple dinosaur owns that name.

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 23, 2005 4:46 PM

There's Emily Elizabeth on Clifford The Big Red Dog, and Matt, Jackie, and Inez on Cyberchase. And although I liked the name Lyle, I can't think of the name without thinking of the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile book.Kristen

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 23, 2005 4:59 PM

Patrick is the big dumb starfish on SpongeBob Squarepants. David is the main character in the "No, David!" books. Franklin is a turtle with his own TV show. Anthony ("Big Anthony") is a character in the Strega Nona books. George makes me think of Curious George. There's a whole series of children's books about Junie B. Jones, for those considering the name June.

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 24, 2005 6:12 AM

Intriguing! Most of the comments-leaving people here seem to be from the USA, but although I'm from Australia I thought I'd put in my two cents' worth as well. Morgan, Amy and Lulu are giant teddy bears on Bananas in Pyjamas. Archie, Josie, Frank, Buster, Ned, Mitzi, Alice, Sammy, Penny and George are all characters on the EXTREMELY annoying show The Koala Brothers. Others that aren't uniquely Australian but would still resonate with the children I know:Charlie and Lola: A brother and sister, the main characters of a cute British TV show. Jasmine, Ariel, Aurora, Belle: I think these have already been said. They are all Disney Princesses. The other princesses are Pocahontas, Mulan, Snow White and Cinderella, none of which are terribly likely names, although some children who know the traditional story VERY well may assosciate Ella with Cinderella. Miffy: A 'cute little bunny', according to the song. Olliver/Oliver: A boy with a big imagination who goes on adventures, usually involving his toys coming to life. Okay, I think that might be enough for now...

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 25, 2005 8:40 PM

"Caillou" is an annoyingly whiny little boy, with a sister Rosie and a friend Clementine.The newest Barbie movies:"Pegasus" has Barbie as a princess named Annika, and "Fairytopia" features her as a fairy named Elena.

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 28, 2005 3:33 PM

To my kids (3 and 6), Dorothy is a name for a dinosaur -- a green one that eats roses. This is a generation raised on the Wiggles, after all!This reminds me of how first time parents pick "unusual" names that are so popular with the under 5 set because they don't spend much time at the playground yet.

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 29, 2005 3:48 AM

Names have different connotations to different generations, for instance I mentioned Amos, and my m-i-l said, No, because of Amos and Andy. And I was like what are you talking about? Besides, your s-i-l is named Andy! I have never heard of that show and I still don't know what it was really.It's kind of silly to consider those types of things, unless it's peer associated names, because all that pop culture will have been forgotten by the time they are old enough to know, which is why this list is great! As far as the Simon thing, that's out of the next generation, right now there isn't a Simon that they would related to (And American Idol is not going to be on in 8 years I bet so no need to worry abou that!)Thanks for an interesting read!

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 29, 2005 4:46 PM

My husband's 40 year old aunt is having her first baby in January and is naming him Emmett, but people of the over 50 crowd say to her, "Like Emmett the Clown"? I'm 35 and had never heard of Emmett the clown until this. This hasn't daunted her however and she is still choosing Emmett.

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 29, 2005 4:48 PM

Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings was also shown on "Captain Kangaroo". But to a generation of teen girls from the 80s, Simon can only mean one thing - Simon LeBon of Duran Duran.

By Stitchwitch D (not verified)
October 31, 2005 5:16 AM

My nickname as a child was Nellie, which was horrible because that was when Little House on the Prairie was popular, with the extremely annoying Nellie Olson. You can't guess which new characters will come along and change the associations of a name. My daughter's name is Lucy, chosen before I found out the Narnia books were being made into movies- a plus for children named Lucy or Peter, less so for any little Susans or Edmunds out there. I once commented to a friend about my son looking up when President Bush mentioned his name in a speech. She said that most of the time when her son hears his name on TV, it's in reference to a stupid pink starfish, a connection that she hadn't thought about when they named him.

By Anonymous (not verified)
November 5, 2005 1:27 PM

I can't stand Spongebob! However, I am expecting a boy. My husband, Patrick, says he doesn't want his son named after him. If he changes his mind when the little boy is born though, I will give my son the middle name Patrick, starfish or no starfish. Little one can have a first name of his own.

By Anonymous (not verified)
November 6, 2005 4:58 PM

Here's proof you can never predict what associations are going to pop up out of nowhere - My cousin was born in the early 80's and given the name Bartholomew, nn Bart. A few years later The Simpson's became one of the most popular shows, and to the bewilderment of my aunt and uncle the name Bart took on a whole new image! Also think about how popular Hillary was until Mrs. Clinton entered the White House, and it dropped out of favor like a lead balloon. It's nice to know which characters are out there with which names, but I personally wouldn't obsess over the associations unless they're really obvious.

By Anonymous (not verified)
November 16, 2005 3:38 AM

Ever since reading the most recent Harry Potter book (during this pregnancy), I've liked the name Felix for a boy. However, every stranger I've mentioned it to thinks of Felix the Cat or Felix Unger from the Odd Couple--I don't know anything about either of these characters, and the Baby Name Wizard book says the associations with Felix are no longer relevant. Is it too big a risk to burden a child with this name? Is it idealistic to think the Harry Potter book will associate Felix with "lucky"?

By Antoinette (not verified)
November 22, 2005 4:26 PM

I didn't know there was a Violet in the incredibles. I hope that won't be a problem. At least I won't be naming any boys Dashiell. Gross.

By Anonymous (not verified)
November 22, 2005 10:16 PM

Felix is a great name on the cusp of trendiness; it's mentioned often in responses on this blog and I know several hipster families nationwide who have already used it. We loved it too, but went instead for the more-classic Isaac (nn Ike and Izzy). Violet is also a great name about to make it big: Jen & Ben's baby is rumored to be Violet, and Babycenter has a blog about a Violet. --N.

By Anonymous (not verified)
December 5, 2005 11:18 PM

I have a 21-month-old Dorothy. I had no idea about the fish when we picked her name - but now she loves Elmo, in part because he says her name all the time on his show.We probably still would have picked it (family name), but it would have been nice to know.

By Rachael (not verified)
January 6, 2006 11:16 AM

@anonymous: I loved Felix as a name for my second boy, but both my mother and my m-i-l HATED it - Felix in the UK is also a brand of catfood, heavily advertised on TV with a "mischievous" cartoon cat.We used it as a third name in the end, and I still kind of wish we had been braver and used it as his first name - it also means "happy", and he is the sunniest-natured boy I've ever met (God only knows how our gumpy genes produced him....)

By Anonymous (not verified)
January 16, 2006 5:48 PM

I named my cat Felix

By girly (not verified)
May 16, 2006 5:29 AM

My friend just named her new daughter Sophie, and now everytime I hear that name I think of "Sophie" from The DaVinci Code.

By tiarna (not verified)
May 29, 2006 4:00 PM

i dont no any bratz names because i am doing a bratz power point and its very hard to think for my self.

By Libby (not verified)
July 13, 2006 6:21 PM

"Arthur, his sisters DW (Dorothy Winifred) and Kate"
I have to point out that D.W.'s name is actually Dora Winifred, not Dorothy Winifred.

By taco mom (not verified)
September 16, 2006 6:30 PM

i would consider the name dashiell if i ever have a boy. i don't think it's "gross" at all, but hip and erudite. i also like solomon and zody and xander (although that's a little too popular now because of buffy).

By Anonymous (not verified)
October 31, 2006 1:24 AM

I just have to say regarding Simon, that I was born in 1969 and graduated high school in 1987, and believe it or not, while I sure remember Duran Duran (I even have a vinyl album) when I hear Simon I actually think of Captain Kangaroo first .... Maybe it's because for a long time, that was the only Simon I ever heard of (well, except for Simon Peter, of course).

By Deborah (not verified)
May 8, 2007 7:59 PM

I am a huge fan of the tv series Medium, as is my fifteen year old daughter. The eldest daughter in the show is named Ariel-she's gorgeous as is her name. We looked up the meaning of the name Ariel to discover it is a biblical (Old Testament) name meaning an angel, spirit or a lioness of God. Some people may only associate names from popular culture, when they may actually be very ancient and meanigful.

By Paulette (not verified)
November 4, 2007 2:14 PM

My daughter's name is Penny. When I became pregnant our son was 6. The year Penny was born was 1978. I would read to him before bed and there was a book with a character named Penny. He said he was going to have a sister and her name was going to be Penny. We moved and lost the book. Would anyone out there have any suggestions as to what that book might have been. We have been looking and can't find it and I can't remember. My e-mail address is z1bebe@hotmail.com

By sarah (not verified)
December 9, 2007 9:14 AM

I need to no what the kidz names that play nania

August 1, 2015 6:09 AM

hehehe...Its funny but I do appericiate the baby girl for her positive thinking. I am going to be mother soon and what about the name Panama? Secondly I am going to shop muslin wraps, swaddle, swaddle wrap and baby blankets from Aden and Anais Australia. What do you say? Is it a good brand?