The Most-Hated Baby Names in America

Apr 21st 2011

[Note (05/03/11): Since I wrote this blog post, it has been picked up by a variety of media outlets -- often without context or explanation of the methodology. Much of the reporting has been guided by the post's unfortunately extreme title. To clarify, this column discusses the results of an informal survey of internet discussions, to gauge which names generated the most negative mentions. The names listed aren't "bad" or necessarily even unpopular. In fact, many of them are highly popular, well-loved names that some people are simply getting tired of. In other cases, the negative reactions reflect different cultural perspectives on a single name. Bentley, for instance, is generally seen negatively by people who hear it as a stuffy surname or a luxury car brand. It's seen positively by people who hear it as an easygoing neo-Southern name, via country singer Dierks Bentley. I believe that the existence of strongly divided opinions like these is a meaningful variable in understanding a name's impact and place in our culture.]

 

Which baby names do people like the most? You can answer that with a glance at the top of the baby names popularity chart. Which names do people loathe most? That's a trickier question. There's no such thing as the "least popular name." (Dogbreath? Margitudinal? Sxsddhwwwb? It's a many-way tie.)

What's more, the most-hated name might well be a popular one. Some names just provoke strong reactions, whether retching or swooning. In fact, popularity itself can be held against a name.

To capture negative name feelings, I scoured the web for conversations about baby names people can't stand. I skipped the "what's the worst name you've ever heard" freak shows (Felanie, Ima Hogg, La-a). My target was everyday baby-name negativity: the "normal" baby names that, for whatever reason, set your teeth on edge.

I ended up tallying the viewpoints of hundreds of U.S. messageboard participants, comprising almost 1,500 name mentions. Many of the discussions were on parenting forums, but a good number were simply chatter on forums of diverse kinds. The results are below. Spellings are combined in the count, listing the name under its most-mentioned form. I've also included comments on what people objected to about each name, which often point to themes that resonate beyond the individual name.

My goal in this is NOT to bash anyone's name. It's simply to track and describe the negative sentiment out there, as one more piece of information for parents weighing name choices.

GIRLS

1. Nevaeh (47 mentions). A landslide winner, no surprise. In the most recent edition of my book, I wrote "Nevaeh may be the most stylistically divisive name in America." Grounds for objection included look, sound and origin, the whole package.

2 (tie). Destiny (16). This name seemed to run afoul of two groups: people annoyed by "virtue names," and people who grouped it with other dreamy choices like Heaven and Candy as "stripperish."

2 (tie). Madison (16). The negative reactions to this name were particularly strong, especially in non-standard spellings. Reasons were seldom given; it just seemed to grate on people.

4. Mackenzie (13). Often presented in a group with other Mc- names, which several posters described as "low class."

5. McKenna (9). See Mackenzie above.

6 (tie). Addison (8). Sometimes grouped with Madison, and sometimes held as an example of the #1 most-cited loathing category: "boys' names used for girls."

6 (tie). Gertrude (8). When the conversation focused on "ugly" names, old-fashioned Germanic names like Gertrude, Bertha and Helga ruled.

6 (tie). Kaitlyn (8). The poster child for the #2 most common objection: "made-up spellings." Some people specifically exempted the classic spelling Caitlin from their wrath.

6 (tie). Makayla (8).  See Mackenzie above.

10 (tie). Bertha (7). See Gertrude above.

10 (tie). Hope (7). To my surprise, the objection to virtue names extended to traditional choices like Hope, Faith and Grace.

BOYS

1. Jayden (23). The overwhelming theme for boys' names was a backlash against the rhyming -ayden family. Many felt there were just too many of these names, and "it's getting really old." Others said the names sounded too childish or feminine. The names were often mentioned as a group, but Jayden was frequently singled out.

2. Brayden (16).

3 (tie). Aiden (15).

4 (tie). Kaden (15). See Jayden above.

5. Hunter (9). Objections included "should only be a last name" and "too violent."

6. Hayden (8). Part of the -ayden family but mentioned much less often than the others. It seems to be considered a little more mature and established-sounding than the rest of the clan.

7 (tie). Bentley (7). A lot of contempt was shown in mentions of this name, as people considered the luxury-car association "trashy."

7 (tie). Tristan (7). Described as "fakey" and "unlikeable."

9. Michael (6). The whipping boy for people who scorned "common" names. Names like Matthew, Sarah and Emily also came up several times. (Notably, they were the most likely names to be defended by others in the conversation.)

10. Jackson (5). No consistency to the reasons. Some grouped it with Peyton as "way too trendy," others with Jack as "old-fashioned and worn out." This was the one name where I didn't collapse spellings, since the several people who mentioned Jaxon objected to it solely on basis of spelling.

Other Notables:

- At least three mentions apiece were tallied for Kayla, Kaylin, Kyle, Kyler and Kylie along with the high scores for Kaitlyn and Makayla, suggesting negativity toward that general sound category.

- Two statistically unlikely names ranked just outside the top 10. Star is a very rare name, so the fact that it occurred to so many people suggests particularly active negativity. Tiffany peaked back in the 1980s. That it's still mentioned so often as a disliked baby name leads to me suspect it may have been the "Nevaeh" of its generation.

P.S. If Your Favorite Name is Listed Above...


Sorry to freak you out! Don't go tearing up your name list yet.

First off, remember that "loved" and "loathed" are often two sides of the same coin. Anything that scales the heights of fashion attracts attention and becomes a target for contrarians. Many of the names listed are simply victims of their own success. In fact, almost every name in the top 10 for boys or girls received at least one "hate it" vote. Realistically, your little Aiden and Addison will be comfortably in the fashion mainstream, and any currents of negativity will flow right by them.

As for rarer names like Bentley that set off disproportionate levels of bad vibes, in the end you have to choose the name YOU think is best. Just consider this list a heads-up that some folks may respond badly to your beloved name. Forewarned is forearmed.

Comments

1
By JM (not verified)
April 21, 2011 7:32 PM

The logic behind most of these "hatreds" did not surprise me. But Tristan being "too fakey" was a bit odd as it is a fairly old name. It is unexpected for the name to still have to weather such complaints.

2
By ADawnL (not verified)
April 21, 2011 7:36 PM

Most of the names I would say are or aren't MY taste but its really up to the people that have to say it all the time. So whether I like it or not doesn't matter. Yes I may say I don't like certain names but that is my preference...just like I havea favorite food, color, small, etc... Most people DO NOT like my kids names, Jency & Tesher (both boys), but I"M the one that has to live with them NOT everyone else!

But I also think there is a point. Once I name is OVER USED I think its time for society to step back on those names. being a popular name or a well used name is one thing but Using it to death...really does Kill a name!

3
By C C & B's Mom (not verified)
April 21, 2011 7:39 PM

One's man's trash is another one's treasure!

4
April 21, 2011 7:55 PM

Interesting. Is there any way to find out if little Nevaehs are more likely to be the daughters of women named Tiffany?

I find I'm tolerant of most names. Not that I'd use them myself, but I don't mind their use or overuse.

5
By JMT (not verified)
April 21, 2011 8:04 PM

Another lovely, insightful post!

I daydream now and again about naming a daughter Gertrude, or probably Gertrud after the great-aunt who's informed my opinion of the name. How cute is Trudi for a nickname?!

6
By PJ
April 21, 2011 8:40 PM

So interesting! I would guess that a lot of those feelings have to do with the geographic location of the poster as well- but I think the influence can go both ways. Either you hate on Madison cause every other girl you meet is called that, or you hate on Madison cause your neighborhood is full of Carolines and Lucys and you can't imagine using such a modern invented name.

For example I seem to live in a Stella pocket and everywhere I go there are at least a few. I don't hate the name but I am a little tired of hearing it. But, I could also imagine living in a place with lots of modern invented names and thinking "Stella? Isn't that an old lady name?"

The one that surprises me is Hope. Now I'm curious- I don't really get what's to hate about that.

7
By Karen L (not verified)
April 21, 2011 9:06 PM

Then there are names that people hate just for their own associations. I'm a teacher and I've had several students by the name Jordan that drove me up the wall. Some were strong students, some were not. Some were well-behaved, some were not. But they grated on me in some way shape or form though. So I cannot abide the name now. This despite having had an enormous crush on Michael Jordan when I was in my teens and twenties.

8
By Birgitte (not verified)
April 21, 2011 9:09 PM

I guess I live in the modern, invented pocket. Pretty much every name on the list, at least for girls, is used and I cringe every time I have to hear this unusual name the parents have found for their child and it almost invariably is on this list.

Yes, I am a recent transplant here, can you tell? :P

9
April 21, 2011 9:27 PM

Tiffany is still a common baby name among Asian parents. Personally, I don't see what's so bad about it other than that it's a relic from the '80s. I'm surprised to see Hope, Tristan, Michael, and Jackson on the list.

10
By Guest019383 (not verified)
April 21, 2011 10:12 PM

like others, I'm surprised by Tristan! I would like to know those people thing it's "fakey". but great article Laura really insightful. I hope no one is too offended, I love a lot of the names on the list but it's interesting to know what's being said on the internet.

usually when I don't like a name it's because of the sound or because I knew someone with that name and had a bad experience with that person so it taints it a bit but I usually get over it eventually, but I've never gotten over the name Megan.

11
By Betsyinbham (not verified)
April 21, 2011 10:34 PM

I think the fakiness comes in because people think it sounds like you are trying to be something you are not--such as Irish or romantic. I kind of feel that way when I see a strip mall development that is named something like "Bishop's Close" or "The Abbey." But all names could be accused of trying to be something the parent is not, because naming children is a chance to make the beginnings of an identity for them.

12
April 21, 2011 11:12 PM

Interesting post, but it does seem likely to upset parents who chose one of these names for their child. A couple of family names are on the boys list, but I don't mind. Michael is classic and Aidan, an Irish saint's name, *did* seem like a good choice in 2001 for a boy with an Irish surname. On the other hand, I've never liked the creative spelling Aiden, similar to those who don't dislike Caitlin but "hate" Kaitlyn.

Laura, your study is interesting, but I wonder how meaningful the results are since you had to do it so randomly. The unknowing participants may have brought up those names without the thought they would have given it had they been knowingly surveyed with a question like, 'Among names being given to babies in the past 10 years, which name do you most dislike for girls and for boys?'. (That would eliminate Gertrude and Bertha.) Or participants could be given the list of the 2009 Top 100 names and asked the same question. Eight of the boys names on the "most-hated" list are in the 2009 Top 100, with Kaden just below it at 102; Bentley at #518 is the exception. Seven of the girls names on the "most-hated" list are in the Top 100; Hope ranks at 233, and Gertrude and Bertha don't really fit since they're not even in the Top 1000.

I'm a bit concerned by the title of this post-- "The Most-Hated Baby Names in America." I think it may be an overstatement that these names *are* the "most-hated". That's fine for us to discuss here, but if this post is picked up by other baby name blogs or ends up in print, it could be received with the same sort of skepticism and criticism another baby name book author/expert received for her online article claiming a certain 25 names for girls and another 25 for boys are "The Elite's Top 50 Baby Names".

13
April 21, 2011 11:43 PM

Very interesting read. Patricia, I would go along with most of the comments above and I am a fairly regular poster here. I think several of the names above are overused. I think the rhyming aspect of the "Aiden" group has been overdone. Would I fault anyone for naming their child that-NO! I wouldn't call them the "most hated" names but rather the most "talked about" or "disliked" names.
The Tristan mention makes me think that people dislike it because it sounds like a soap-opera character. However, I seem to remember many a name from Spanish/Latino soap-operas being on the rising lists from a the past few years.

As far as your question of my top disliked name, I will consider the list and report back.

14
By JR (not verified)
April 22, 2011 12:09 AM

I have always preferred non-trendy names and when I hear that people are naming their children Jayden or Kayla, I cringe at, what I see as a complete lack of creativity on their part. Not that one has to make up a name, but I sometimes mention a few "different" names, when people are seeking a baby name. Suggestions I've made include Paulina, Elspeth, Tamsin, Mina, Tavia, Flora and Emlyn for a girl. Boys names included Seth, Neil, Levon, Kieran, and Joel. No takers of my suggestions yet but Calvin and Etta are two names that my husband suggested that were used by family members.

15
April 22, 2011 12:55 AM

From Laura's post: "Tiffany peaked back in the 1980s. That it's still mentioned so often as a disliked baby name leads me to suspect it may have been the "Nevaeh" of its generation."

It puzzles me that Tiffany is so disliked. It certainly is no Nevaeh, a made-up name, heaven-spelled-backwards. Maybe Tiffany is disliked because some think it has a shallowness about it, with its modern source being the 1961 film "Breakfast at Tiffany's", Tiffany's being the name of a select jewelry shop in New York.

However, unlike Nevaeh, Tiffany has a history that dates back at least to the Middle Ages. According to "Penguin Reference Dictionary of First Names," (UK), Tiffany is an "English first name derived via the French variant Tifainé from the Greek Theophania...interpreted as meaning 'manifestation of God'. It was traditionally reserved for girls born on the feast of Epiphany (6 January)... Relatively common in medieval times..."

To quote from an online article about the name Tiffany : "There are a lot of girls in this country named Tiffany because Tiffany is pretty, and because the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s was romantic. But surely Tiffany as a name has more roots than a jewelry store?

Of course. Tiffany is actually a very old name. Tiphaine is its French spelling... The name comes ultimately from the Greek “theophania”, theophany — an appearance or manifestation of God (as when God shows up at Abraham’s tent, or in the burning bush, etc.). As a name, however, it was traditionally given, in the Eastern Churches, to those born on the Feast of the Epiphany — which is called Theophania there, because Jesus showed Himself as God and Man to the Magi, and hence to all Gentiles.

On the Constantinople patriarchate’s site, you can see another example of this old name. In the Patriarch of Constantinople’s current home church, the relics of the ascetic Byzantine empress St. Theophano — St. Tiffany — are preserved. This is certainly a different image for the name Tiffany!

...So here’s to the Tiffanies of the world. They bear a truly majestic name of great depth and significance."

Thus, there is far more to the name Tiffany than many people know -- myself included, until I just now looked up the name of my DIL Tiffany.

16
By Other Bridget (not verified)
April 22, 2011 12:59 AM

This was an interesting post. I don't think any of these are as bad (in my opinion) as the ones in <"http://jessica-jensen.blogspot.com/2011/04/names-2010.html">this post, collected from baby name announcements in a particular geographical area known for creative naming. Although that list also includes a Nevaeh, but it's spelled Naveyah.

17
April 22, 2011 1:06 AM

After writing the above, I read Laura's take on Tiffany in BNW and agree with it all, but still think that the name isn't given the credit it deserves.

Tiffany's in the movie refers to the company founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1837. Tiffany is an "internationally known, but quite rare, surname, of medieval English origin. It is a dialectal variant of Tiffin, itself from the female given name Tiffania, and ultimately the Greek Theophania. It means "To appear like god" and was one of the famous Crusader names. That is to say names brought back to Europe after the Crusades of the 12th century. As a baptismal name it was usually given to girls born around the feast of the Epiphany..." (internet surname database)

While I can understand Laura's comparison of Nevaeh with Tiffany (there is a "downwardly mobile reputation"[BNW p.145] with both names), I certainly would much rather be named Tiffany than Nevaeh!

18
April 22, 2011 1:09 AM

Patricia wrote: "I'm a bit concerned by the title of this post-- 'The Most-Hated Baby Names in America'...if this post is picked up by other baby name blogs or ends up in print, it could be received with the same sort of skepticism and criticism another baby name book author/expert received for her online article claiming a certain 25 names for girls and another 25 for boys are 'The Elite's Top 50 Baby Names.'"

I hear what you're saying, and I was concerned about it too. But there's only so much equivocation you can do in a title! My #1 goal was to avoid the word "worst." I wanted to make clear that this isn't about names being "good" or "bad."

As for methodology, I think asking people to select from a range of names (e.g. the current top 100) is fundamentally different, because you're putting the ideas into their heads. I wanted to get at the names that people spontaneously suggested -- names that bug them so much that they came right to mind in response to "what baby names do you totally hate?" Yes, Gertrude is very different from Addison. But I think it's still a useful data point in case a parent is thinking "Hmm, Gertrude! That's an old-fashioned name that isn't too common!"

It occurs to me that it might be good for me to follow up with a list of the most common names that weren't mentioned at all. "The least objectionable names in America"?

19
April 22, 2011 1:23 AM

By the way, I want to thank all of you who "get" this post and understand the spirit in which it's intended. I think negative sentiment level is interesting information to help parents understand a name's place in our culture. No more, no less.

Oh, and for those surprised by the inclusion Tristan: The comments that described it as "fakey" weren't suggesting it was a fake/made up name, but that it came across as affected or pretentious.

20
By Jew Jenny (not verified)
April 22, 2011 2:02 AM

I totally agree with Madison, Addison, and rhymes with Aidan. My other pet peeve are names I think are pretentious like Brooks and Emerson for boys. And, for girls, the super frilly names like Adrianna and Ellabell etc

21
April 22, 2011 5:26 AM

Great post!
What a shame about Tristan and Michael - two very nice names.
However, I had to pause reading at Bentley in order to engage in a totally involuntary full-body cringe. I guess that must be my most-hated.

22
April 22, 2011 5:39 AM

Interesting post! I could have guessed most of the names on the list as they also annoy me. Generally for the reasons give in the post :) I was also a little surprised by Tristan, Michael and Hope. I wouldn't have picked any of those as being so disliked by many people.

There must be something about Gertrude as it's the one name my mother has asked me to please not name her grand-daughter.

I think one of the most common names that really rubs me the wrong way is Cooper. There is something about it I just don't like. It makes me cringe when I hear of a baby named Cooper!

23
By Amy3
April 22, 2011 9:11 AM

It only makes sense that some of the most popular names are also those that elicit the strongest negative reactions -- familiarity breeds contempt and all that.

Personally I agree with the cringeworthiness of creative respellings of established names. As hypocritical as it may be, I think Caitlin is fine, but dislike Kaitlyn; Aidan is ok, but I don't like Aiden. (And I say this as the aunt of someone whose name is a creative respelling.)

I also think if people are going to be hurt by finding out others don't like the names they've chosen (or are planning to choose), they should develop a thicker skin. Parenting is nothing if not an exercise in having other people (friends, family, and complete strangers) criticize choices you make -- naming, dressing, feeding, sleeping, discipline ...

24
April 22, 2011 9:27 AM

Laura, as I've said, I find this post very interesting and would certainly rank Nevaeh and Jayden among my least liked baby names that are widely used today. I understand the challenge of trying to discover which baby names are "most-hated" across America and have concluded it's probably impossible to do that. More possible would be a study based on just one or two clearly defined segments of the population. I'm guessing that your data reflects the views of name enthusiasts from many, perhaps all, states, but I doubt that all socio-economic groups are more or less equally represented on baby name blogs. If that were so, a name as popular as Jayden -- 2009 rank 8 -- or Nevaeh, 2009 rank 34 -- probably wouldn't be at the top of the most-hated names. There are plenty of people who very much LIKE Nevaeh, Destiny, Madison, Jayden and all the '-aydens. I'm guessing if a wider study could be conducted, there would be those who most dislike the more formal names currently in the Top 100, perhaps Sebastian, Henry, Oliver and Charlotte. The increasing number of Spanish language names in the boys' Top 100, reflecting America's growing Latino population -- Jose, Jesus(hay-ZEUS), Carlos, Miguel -- could be the most-hated baby names for some. I know you're aware of this and speak to the difficulty of gathering data for this topic. You've done that well, and the results are mostly not surprising, but I find the title of this post inadvertently misleading. Instead of "The Most-Hated Baby Names in America", these are more accurately "The Most-Hated Baby Names among American Baby Name Blog Participants". Not as catchy for a blog title, but more accurate. :)

(This post was written before seeing Laura's comments @18 and 19 and isn't a response to them.)

25
April 22, 2011 9:35 AM

Laura @ 18: It occurs to me that it might be good for me to follow up with a list of the most common names that weren't mentioned at all. "The least objectionable names in America"?

Again, it seems to me that the available data from baby name blog participants cannot be used to prove anything about baby name preferences *"in America"*. I've looked at many baby name websites and blogs and haven't had the impression that all socio-economic, ethnic, religious, political, educational, etc. groups in this very diverse country are equally represented. I may be incorrect about this, but what data is there to prove that a fairly equal representation of all America is participating on baby name blogs?

26
April 22, 2011 9:40 AM

Okay, I've looked through the Top100 lists from 2009 and found an interesting thing about myself. There are a lot more boys names I am tolerant of compared to girls names. These are the top names I dislike and why:
(Of course, not calling out anybody this is just my opinion of the name itself)
Girls:
Serenity, Genesis, Trinity, Destiny=these virtue names are just too much for me
Valeria=I don't care for the A ending it makes it sound like a disease
Bella, Layla=too nicknamey and movie star, etc.
Autumn=no seasons same as virtue names
Riley=boys name
Nevaeh=see Laura's post
Sophia, Isabella=too overused and movie star

Boys
Joseph=I don't care for the ph sound plus there are religious concerns as I am not religious
Gabriel=sound and religious as above
Johnathan=too common and i don't care for the sound
Landon, Hayden=too made up sounding
Jack=too nicknamey
Brayden, Brody=too made up sounding
Carter, Carson, Colton=too surnamey

So if you look at my list you see the girls have legitimate reasons such as they are virtue names. With the boys it's primarily the sound of them. I found that interesting.

27
April 22, 2011 10:28 AM

zoerhenne, That's an interesting list of names, and I'm guessing it took some time to select and group them. Serenity, Genesis, Trinity, Destiny would be on my 'least-liked' list too, although I'd list Genesis and Trinity separately. Genesis...what's next, Leviticus as a long form for Levi? And Trinity sounds almost like a sacrilege to me: I can't hear Trinity without thinking of The Holy Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I don't know what to call Destiny -- it's really not a virtue, while Serenity seems risky--it certainly wouldn't work for some of the girls/women in my family! :)

28
By ajg (not verified)
April 22, 2011 10:32 AM

I'm a little surprised that Laura didn't run across enough posts about Cohen for it to make the list! It seems to me that I was hearing (reading) many complaints about it in cyberspace for awhile there. I remember not because I care for the name (I don't particularly), but a friend chose it.

29
By Kern (not verified)
April 22, 2011 11:26 AM

What a fascinating post. Laura's list hits most of the names I can't stand/would never consider using. I would add Emma, Sophia and Olivia for girls--all lovely names, but just too overused at this point for me.

Meanwhile, I've learned I'm expecting just a singleton--sorry gang, no twins to name--in December (fingers crossed). I really appreciated your help on Ansel. Now would love your input on Ottilie if it's a girl. We both have Swiss/German heritage and I've taken a fancy to this name--but is it just too weird/out there? I know about the cartoon otter and that doesn't bother me.

30
By mk (not verified)
April 22, 2011 11:49 AM

Interesting post, but the list is not too surprising. Most of those names are considered "overused" and overused anything often ends up on a "most-hated" list. The names don't bother me since I don't know many people using most of them (I'm still waiting to actually meet someone named Madison.) In that sense I can even kind of understand Hope, Faith, Grace, etc as they are often used as middle names.

The only names from the list I don't like are Bertha and Gertrude. The others are fine, although I wouldn't necessarily use them myself.

31
April 22, 2011 12:20 PM

Patricia wrote: "it seems to me that the available data from baby name blog participants cannot be used to prove anything about baby name preferences *"in America"*.

Not to worry, I know better than to mistake name enthusiasts for the general public! Only one or two threads from name-specific forums were allowed in the tally. Other discussions were from sources like general parenting forums, wide-open question/answer sites like Yahoo Answers, and the broadest array of other forums I could find including a video game fan board and a motorcycle travel board. I also avoided going too deep into a single thread, since later posters get ideas from earlier posts and parrot those names back.

I don't pretend that this was anything like a scientific study, of course! But within the rough-and-ready format of the survey, I aimed for enough diversity to make the results worthwhile. The participants definitely skewed female and under-60 (edit: and English speaking), but otherwise seemed to run the gamut.

(BTW, the lack of distinctly African-American names reflects the diversity of those names themselves. There are so many different invented names that they tended not to repeat exactly. Shaneequa got several votes, though.)

32
By izzy
April 22, 2011 12:35 PM

I agree with a lot of posters here: Aidan is fine, as is Caitlin - But Aadenn and Katelynne (I've seen these irl!!) drive me up the wall!! I generally dislike kre8yve spellings, so it also bothers me when people say "Oh, you have a very... interesting spelling of your name,' when it is actually just a more traditional way of spelling it. (Think Anne instead of Ann.) Also, @Patricia, the "Most-Hated" concept also confuses me. For instance, my favorite name right now is Amelie, which by the family members I have shared it with (I am NOT expecting or anywhere close, so I don't mind) say 'it sounds like breakfast food/Amish/omlettes' etc. I was surprised by their strong reactions to what I view as a nice name. So, essentially, I'm just trying to say this is a very subjective idea.

33
April 22, 2011 12:39 PM

I have to admit that I really don't like any of the names mentioned above. Well, with one exception. I would love to use Addison for a boy, but given its current girls stats? Middle name only for me. :(

I have not posted here for a long time. But when my SIL asked for ideas for Baby#4, this was my first place to turn. They have Le@h Rochelle, Z@chary Wade and Alex@ Noelle (Christmas baby). What is the first idea you would pass on to her?

34
April 22, 2011 1:20 PM

Jessica - I love Addison too and have also resigned myself to using it as a middle name for a boy. A boy named Addison just wouldn't fly anymore.

To tell the truth, I love how it sounds as a girl's name (doesn't elicit the hatred in me that Madison does - and yes, I do believe I was influenced in this by Grey's Anatomy), but I would never bring myself to using it on a girl.

35
By Alli (not verified)
April 22, 2011 2:06 PM

Jessica - The first names that pop into my head when reading the names of you SIL's kids are:
Boys - Cameron, Spencer, Jasper, Matthew, Levi, Daniel

Girls - Harper, Nora, Chloe, Maya

- a weird mix of names, I know, but I could picture all of them in a sibset with Leah, Zachary, and Alexa

36
By MMD (not verified)
April 22, 2011 2:28 PM

Not on this list, but my least-favorite name at the moment is "Unique". It's not super-common, but not common enough to be, well, Unique!

37
By Anne K (not verified)
April 22, 2011 2:29 PM

Re: Ottilie. Just a heads up that this name would be considered unusual even in German-speaking countries. I have lived for several years in Germany and have never met anyone with this name. A quick search of German name blogs tends to find people generally find the name attractive, but a bit old fashioned. Many adult Ottilie's seem to have weighed in to say that while they now love their names, did not appreciate it as children.

38
April 22, 2011 2:47 PM

Patricia-It didn't take me long to come up with the list. There are many names I wouldn't necessarily use because they don't match my LN or there are other associations with them or what-have-you. The names I posted though are names I would not use and dislike regardless of those reasons.

Jessica-As common as it is, the first name I thought of was Christopher. I think a mn of Wyatt would work nicely with it (depending on LN) to match the boys middles as the girl's middles have matching endings so its a subtle tie. Other choices:
Gabrielle June
Sarah Elise
Samantha Claire
Charlotte Grace
Nathaniel David
Joshua William
Benjamin Isaac

Kern-Ottilie seems odd to me even given the German heritage. Is there a name that is close in sound or meaning to this? Would Matilda work with a nn of Tillie?

39
April 22, 2011 2:46 PM

Yup,for the most part these names seem to be universally disliked by NEs. They're not my favorites, but I'm actually not as bothered by Neveah, Aiden, and Kaitlyn as most people seem to be.

There's a stereotype surrounding babies named Destiny, that they come from teenage moms. That might be part of the dislike.

I understand Michael being the whipping boy becuase it sounds like something I would do. If only in my own head and to my way-into-traditional-names family.

Aside from the surprising ones mentioned, Hunter was a surprise to me.

One name that really grates me that isn't mentioned is Dashiell. No offense to any Dashiells out there.

zoerhenne: I find that interesting. There are a lot more girls names than there are boys names, so there's more to dislike in the girls column. I've been looking at names popular in the Middle Ages, and a lot more of the boys names are still used and popular today than the girls. I think until recently naming boys have been about tradition, while naming girls have been about fashion. Unless you come from an Irish family, in which case they're all about tradition.

40
April 22, 2011 2:52 PM

Tinaconn-Its funny you mention Dashiell. I came across that one recently myself. While I can't say I would use it, the sounds and look of the name fall somewhere in the middle of my preferences. You have James on the one side (traditional-yes I would use) and Montgomery (Britishy surname I would not use).

41
April 22, 2011 2:52 PM

Laura@31, I appreciate knowing more about how you did your study. How did you determine the age of the participants?

42
By PJ
April 22, 2011 4:14 PM

@Kern- my great-grandma's name is Ottilia but she always goes by Tillie. And yes she is German and still alive, in her 90s. I think it's a great name- beautiful, distinctive with a cute nickname. It was on my own list as well but we didn't end up using it for other reasons. I still do love it.

43
By Kern (not verified)
April 22, 2011 4:39 PM

AnneK--thanks, I know it's not a modern German name, but I do think it was used in the late 1890s and one thing I like about it is its rarity. I googled it with our last name (very German) and got a genealogy hit from a German immigrant in the 1890s. I think it's also a Czech name but certainly it was used in German circles at least occasionally.

PJ, interesting that Ottilia was on your list.

zoerhenne--I don't care for Matilda for whatever reason. Other German-ish names I've considered are Gretl, Annelise (worried it's too many syllables though) and Klara (except I really prefer that name with the "C" spelling and that's not really German.) I liked Matthias for a boy but DH says no way to that one.

44
By Aybee (not verified)
April 22, 2011 4:56 PM

re: Ottilie. Probably not an association for most people but my first reference is Ottilie Lundgren, one of the first Americans killed by anthrax in the mail. I don't think that would be many people's first thought, but it was mine.

Jessica: My first thoughts would be Christian, Wesley, Ryan, Tyler or Owen for boys and for girls I would second Chloe and add Mia, Brynn, Paige, and Taylor.

45
By EVie
April 22, 2011 7:08 PM

This is a really fascinating post, Laura, and I appreciate the naturalistic approach. That said, have you ever considered adding a poll section to your website? Obviously your sample would be skewed (largely Name Enthusiasts who are already well-informed about trends), but you could still collect some interesting data (including some non-invasive demographic info like age, approximate location, education level), and then generate some blog posts from the results.

I pretty much agree with the general assessment of the names on the list above. Like others, I'm a bit surprised by Hope, etc. (I'm neutral on Hope and Faith; I do like Grace, but not enough to use it). I kind of like Hunter, though I understand the objections. I also don't mind Hayden, and I think it's unfortunate that it's been swamped by the other -ayden names (I should like Aidan, too, since I generally like traditional boys' names... but something about it grates on me. It might be that my first and most significant association with it is the character on Sex and the City, whom I intensely disliked). I also should like Tristan, but I think that Legends of the Fall, on top of the Tristan and Iseult story, has given the name a permanent flavor of melodrama which I find unattractive. Michael I find unobjectionable, just boring. And Jackson just has a certain je ne sais quoi that I can't quite explain... I just don't like it (though I don't mind Jack as a nickname for John).

As far as Tiffany goes, I think the jewelry store is the culprit for its negative vibe. Yes, it may have been used as a name back in the Middle Ages, but it was not used continuously since then—it turned into a surname, then the name of the jewelry store, and it was only with reference to the jewelry store that it was revived as a given name in the 20th century. It carries the same vibe as naming your kid Lexus, Bentley or Chardonnay (and I think stylistic comparisons with those names are more apt than with Nevaeh—perhaps when Laura compared it to Nevaeh, she only meant that they are both very popular but widely disliked). On the other hand, if the jewelry store hadn't existed at the time Tiffany was revived, I doubt it would have acquired such a materialistic association. Mercedes is a name in a similar predicament—a long and respectable history (albeit not really in the English-speaking world), but now predominantly and inextricably associated with a luxury brand.

46
April 23, 2011 1:09 AM

EVie-I like your assessment. Of the additional names you've mentioned I would say that Lexus Bentley and Chardonnay are very nms and quite compare to Tiffany. But Mercedes even though it compares seems to have a bit of Spanish flair which makes me kind of like it.

Aybee-I like your suggestions for Jessica. Christian is way better to me than Christopher. Why is that?

Kern-Sorry you don't like Matilda and I hope I didn't offend you in my earlier dislike of Ottilie. It just doesn't seem right for a child of the 2010's. I do like Gretl/Gretel though. Although, it may get the Hansel+Gretel association from some or may be misheard as Greta.

47
April 23, 2011 4:26 AM

@Kern

Don't Ottilie (o-TIL-ee-eh) and Annelise (a-neh-LEE-zeh) have the same number of syllables? I think you could go either way. Germans very often use C-spellings nowadays so I think Clara would also be nice. I would avoid Gretl as a full name as it's extremely diminutive, but using Greta and calling her Gretl would be very sweet. Good luck!

48
By Aybee (not verified)
April 23, 2011 10:42 AM

Thanks Zoerhenne.
I'm not sure why Christian was the first name I thought of. I think I gravitated toward Christian for Jessica because Zachary and Alexa are bit less "standard" than Christopher, a name I also like.

49
By Beth the original (not verified)
April 23, 2011 11:55 AM

I dislike every single one of those names except for Hope and Jackson. I've never met a Hope in real life, but I like the most old-fashioned virtue names like Faith, Hope, and Patience. Not so much Destiny and Genesis, which feel like 70s rock groups to me.

50
By Hera
April 23, 2011 12:35 PM

@Kern - I think Ottilie is a beautiful name. It has an old-timey feel, but is fresh at the same time.