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

101
April 26, 2011 11:07 AM

Amanda RB., I'm wondering what percent of parents looking for a baby name use the internet. And doing "research" about anything implies a certain educational level. That's why I think it may be impossible to discern the most-hated baby names "in America".

A 2009 Gallup poll found that "48% [of Americans] now report using the Internet more than one hour per day... Large education, income, and age gaps continue to exist in terms of Internet usage. Post-graduates, those making more than $75,000 per year, and those under age 30 are the most frequent users of the Internet... At the same time, the least educated, least affluent...Americans are those who least often use the Internet."

It may be that some of the names on Laura's list of most-hated names are most popular among parents who are least educated, least affluent and at the same time those names are "most-hated" by more prevalent internet users as described above.

If the non-Internet using parents consult a baby name book, that may be a random choice, and most baby name books, unlike Laura's, don't discuss popularity of a name or a name's image.

102
April 26, 2011 11:09 AM

This is really interesting, but it all just reinforces my theory that people who purposefully use or promote ‘’popular’’ names because it provides more acceptance and makes life easier for the child are wrong. Most of these are traditional names that have been very popular, or they are currently very popular in the US .It seems to be a situation of staying faithful to the proverb :” familiarity breeds contempt”.

At the risk of sounding stereotypical or presumptuous, most of the people I have encountered that dislike the use of names such as Hope are usually/because of :
Too religious and they’re generally not or are more liberal than not

Don’t want to give a child something that they feel pressured to be and might feel to be

It brings on stereotyping

Also, I can’t help but wonder if there is a difference between the non-name interested public’s opinion and those who are more interested in name trends.

Honestly, it all just seems to reinforce that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. At another site about 18 months ago, we were asked to list the names that just drive you batty – think cat nails on a chalkboard, and essentially all of the names that I listed that I could never in a foggiest day use on a hypothetical/real child (I’d only use them for the villians in my writing) landed up being the favourites/highly liked of another woman. As she said, one man’s trash is another’s treasure.

103
April 26, 2011 12:53 PM

Aybee @100: "A friend of mine was shocked that Emma and Isabella are popular. She was equally shocked by my suggestion that certain names go together."

I think that may be more usual than parents who extensively research names through the internet and the most highly recommended baby name books. I've come across so many parents who have no idea -- or only a vague idea -- about the popularity, style, history, etc. of a name they've chosen for their baby. And in most cases, it seems that even if they did find out more about the name, that wouldn't matter very much if at all.

104
By M. M. (not verified)
April 26, 2011 12:05 PM

I thought this was a great article, and I've also had a lot of fun reading all the comments as well.

@Kern

I love the name Ottilie! It's not a name I've heard before but it does not sound "made up" (Which is my biggest name-peeve)

It has the same feel as Odette, the swan princess.

105
By McKenzie (not verified)
April 26, 2011 12:58 PM

As an adult McKenzie, I find it hard to believe that my name is a MOST HATED name - but I do agree with many of the names on the list.

106
April 26, 2011 1:48 PM

Nevaeh
I understand why people like it and understand why people don't.I'm neutral about it.

Destiny
I'm not too keen on the sound

Madison
I don't mind it. The only dislike is that if you break it up, it could be a plea for insanity ''Mad I Son!''

Mackenzie
the argument raised is silly. I used to like it when I was a kid,and I don't have a problem with it. It just seems like one of those names that people like to bash

McKenna
sounds patriotic to me

Addison
honestly find that whole ''boy'' argument out-dated in comparison to its usage. Don't like it because it reminds me of the disease, but I haven't got a problem with it

Gertrude
it is aesthetically challenging and a bit challenging for the ear.

Kaitlyn
I'm not really a fan of the ''kate'' sounding names. I don't hate them, I'm more antipathetic towards them

Makayla
not a fan because I've known too many and most of them always seemed to be mean. I don't dislike the name,though

Bertha
there's a reason they call the past the past

Hope
I like the sound and I like names that evoke positive professions and associations.Only negative, you don't want to always keep on hoping, but getting some substance.

BOYS

1. Jayden
it's another one where familiarity breeds contempt. I don't have a problem with the sound or the name and I get why people like it. It's too popular foe me, but it doesn't sound bad

Brayden
I don't mind it at all.It's not unattractive, but the word ''brei''' sounds the same and has an unattractive association in my second language

Aiden
It is honestly a really, really nice name that is just too popular

Kaden
not a bad sound at all and I might lean more towards liking it, but it's too popular

Hunter
I used to love it when I was a kid, because it sounded strong,impressive and authoritative and I thought unique.

Hayden
I actually like it. What messes me up is my mind makes it to mean a ''den of hay'' . Ironically, I know an NE with a Hayden and she routinely used to bash the -'aden'' names or any other trends and would then have to always defend herself, because when she names her son, she didn't know it was a trend.It has this long family history for her

Bentley
I don't like it. It sounds like a creative way of bending something

Tristan
It's a favourite. I like the sound and I like it's history. For some reason, I find tragic history interesting.Heath and Tristan sound like an interesting sibset.I could care less about it sounding like a ''soap star''.

9. Michael
Great name, but too popular with nn's that have become generic

10. Jackson
Poor personal associations for me, but I don't have a problem with it

Overall, very few of these names actually garner any strong or any negative reaction other than them seeming to be trendy and overly popular. Other than that, I'm neutral

107
By Guestreader (not verified)
April 26, 2011 1:38 PM

Ellie
Claire
Skyler (but pls don't)
Madison
Mackenzie
Camryn for a girl; Cameron for a boy.
Isabelle,
Kate
Isla
Leah
Paige
Adeline
Evelyn (my favorite of your list)

108
By Annessa (not verified)
April 26, 2011 1:41 PM

My parents were very close to naming my little sister "elspeth." This is the first time I've heard it used. I wasn't able to pronounce it at the time so they settled on "Elsabeth."

109
By JM (not verified)
April 26, 2011 2:00 PM

Almost any name with a hard "U" or "ER" sound is one I'd avoid. My husband's middle name is Eugene, and when our son was born I told him I didn't care how many generations it had come down, I wasn't hanging my kid with that name.

If you like the name Trudy, then use it, but don't saddle a little girl with Gertrude. That's just awful.

110
By Kenton (not verified)
April 26, 2011 2:13 PM

I am not sure why you are surprised about Faith, Hope and all the other virtue names being objectionable - they are not names! I wouldn't name my kid Trust, Compassion, Loyalty or Friendship, anymore than I would Hope or Destiny.

I do dislike Neveah, as well, because of its (weak) origin (heaven backwards? really?), but the rest of the names on the list seem fine to me.

111
April 26, 2011 2:29 PM

@105 "As an adult McKenzie, I find it hard to believe that my name is a MOST HATED name..."

I think that among those in this study, Mackenzie, McKenna and Makayla may have been among their "most-hated" names for the same reason many objected to the "-ayden" names for boys: too many of them, too many spellings, all in all very confusing. I know that when I hear or read one of these names, later I can't recall if the name was Mackenzie or Makenna or Mikayla or what.

I looked those three up on SSA to see which name with which spelling came first. Here's a comparison of the year various spellings of these names first made the Top 1000 and what the current rank is (SSA doesn't differentiate capital letters or not in the middle of names):

Michaela - 1967; 370 in 2009
Makayla, Mikayla, Mikaela - all 1989; presently 44, 179, 508
Mckayla - 1994; 668
(Spinoffs: Kayla 1959; Cayla 1987)

Mackenzie - 1976; 77 in 2009
Mckenzie - 1984; 155
Makenzie - 1991; 172
(Spinoff: Kenzie 1994)

Mckenna - 1991; 213 in 2009
Makenna - 1994; 243
Makena - 2002; 950
(Spinoff: Kenna - 2000)

Of course there are more spellings than these, but those aren't presently in the Top 1000.

With combined spellings of names in the Top 1000, your name McKenzie ranked 41st of all names given to baby girls in the USA in 2009. So not to worry about McKenzie being on this list. As much as some may dislike your name, others love it! :)

112
April 26, 2011 2:35 PM

What's interesting also to me is that this seems to break those who care about names into further sub groups. We've touched on the generational idea before. Some of us love the names of our grandothers (sp purposeful) and some of us don't. I personally no matter how much I loved my grandmothers wouldn't name a dd after one of them. Of course my grandfathers names are more generic and span many centuries of use. There are those that LOVE those older names though and despise the newer creations. So all in all, its a matter of preference. So generically "Go ahead and use Bertha, Gertrude, Petunia, Vera or whatever but just don't make a fuss if I don't happen to like them or vice versa".

113
By Aybee (not verified)
April 26, 2011 2:39 PM

Patricia, I think you are right about my Isabella/Emma friend having a normal level of interest/knowledge in names. I never realize quite how much my name enthusiasm drives the way I think until I have a conversation like that one and realize the type of discussions read here, while fascinating to me, are boring or weird to most people.

114
By Mal (not verified)
April 26, 2011 2:47 PM

@Lillo-

Sophia, Hannah, Harper, Ellie, Amelia, Claire, neither, Adele.

115
April 26, 2011 2:48 PM

@Lillo

Sophia or Skylar? - Sophia
Hope or Hannah?? - Hannah
Harper or Piper? - Harper
Ellie or Addie? - Ellie
Natalie or Amelia? - Amelia
Claire or Isabel? - Claire
Morgan or Maddie? - Morgan
Nellie or Adele? - Adele

116
April 26, 2011 2:52 PM

Janie:
Ellie
Claire
Skyler
Madison
Mackenzie
Cameron
Isabel
Kate
Isla
Lia
Paige
Adeline
Evelyn

Lillo:
Sophia
Hannah
Harper
Ellie
Natalie
Isabel
Maddie
Nellie

117
By kasey (not verified)
April 26, 2011 2:59 PM

Yup, I don't like any of the names mentioned in the post.

I also have a knee-jerk reaction to Peyton. The thought of someone naming his or her kid after a football player just makes me think "low class".

At the same time, though, however unfair this may be, the thought of someone naming his/her kid Shakespeare also rubs me the wrong way. It's like... it'd be okay to name your kid after literature if it was a bit more obscure... something you read, say, after college? Naming your kid after required reading in the 8th grade kind of makes me feel like maybe you never made it past 8th grade reading level.

I also feel like names can be too far the other direction as well. Trying too hard, too pretentious, etc. Those bug me as well. (The Bentley effect, I guess?) I think the virtue names and the non-tradesman surnames fall into this category. I think Grace and Hope are obnoxious in that they sort of have that holier-than-thou quality. That's especially grating when the names have a vague (or not so vague) religious connotation. I get the same sort of feeling when I hear those names as I do when I see someone with a bible walking towards my front door. I just groan inwardly. And you KNOW kids named Grace and Hope are not always going to be graceful and hopefully. I think people unfairly scrutinize those people, waiting for them to trip and fall into a deep depression or something. :-p (We love to feel better by putting others down.)

Anyway, I also have criteria for a name not to be too overused or unheard of.

So it seems to me that there's a very, very narrow window for a name to be "just right" for me personally. I think a lot of others (at least NEs) are at least as picky.

That leaves a LOT of names to dislike.

118
April 26, 2011 3:34 PM

@RobynT

Congrats on the new arrival! Honestly, I really like Olive! It's even on my list !

119
By Missy Holland (not verified)
April 26, 2011 3:50 PM

I actually heard of a 'Brentley' once. Ewww! LOL

120
April 26, 2011 4:10 PM

@Janie

I prefer :

Ellie or Elly --- Ellie (I don't like ''y''

Claire or Clare ----Claire .The I makes it more feminine, even though I adore Ireland

Skyler or Skylar ----- Skyler (Schuyler irritates me)

Maddison or Madison ---Madison

Mackenzie, Mackenzy, McKenzy, McKenzie, or Makenzy ----Mackenzie

Camryn, Kamryn, Cameron, or Cameryn ---Cameron

Isabel, Isabelle, Isabell, or Isobel ---- Isabelle/Isobel . I slightly pronounce them differently

Kate or Cate --- either

Isla or Ila Isla definitely!

Leah or Lia ---- Leah

Paige or Page ---Paige .

Adaline or Adeline ---- Adeline.Once again, my inflection is different with the names

Evelyn or Evalynn --- Evelyn. I'd say Evalynn differently

121
April 26, 2011 4:11 PM

Sometimes when a baby is named Hope or Faith, it is a reflection of what the parents are feeling, rather than a reflection of the traits that they aspire for in their children. This is often the case when a child is born with health problems and the parents are either hoping for recovery or turning to faith to believe that recovery will happen. I have a friend named Hope who was going to be Ashley, but Ashley was bumped to the middle spot when she was born with health problems. Hope actually suits her better, not because she's a hopeful person - actually, she's always worrying - but because it's less generic, and this girl is anything but common.

122
April 26, 2011 4:40 PM

I'm always kind of confused by the, "But what if Grace grows up to be clumsy" argument. Is it really that big of a deal? It might be a little ironic, but would it really matter? And maybe the parents mean the other type of Grace, the grace of character.

Regarding Gertrude and Bertha, I class those into what I would like to call the "clunky Cacasian grandma names." Others that I would include are Agnes, Maud, Frances, Gladys, Ruth, Thelma, and yeah, Olive. But that's really appealing to a lot of parents nowadays. I'm seeing more and more of them all the time. I don't think there's anything wrong with them. Not my favorite though. Except for Fern. Boy, do I love Fern.

Funny story, this other baby name website was listing names of real twin sets, and one of them was Ottilie (a girl) and Tatum (a boy). I honestly thought that the parents made a mistake and switched the genders. I had never seen Ottilie before, and the only Tatum I knew was O'Neal. But I guess I'm wrong.

And I hate Peyton too. That name is like nails on a chalkboard.

123
By Heather A. (not verified)
April 26, 2011 4:49 PM

JMT:

I have to same daydream, and Gertrude is my top choice for a girl's name. I love the nickname Trudy, and Tru is also lovely and simple.

I completely disagree with JM's comment that Gertrude is too much to saddle a little girl with, and to just go with Trudy as a given name. Gertrude allows for more options - (Didn't Laura have a post about that a while back?) Trudy for a little girl, Tru for family and friends, and Gertrude when she's a Supreme Court justice.

I do think I'm a little ahead of the name curve on this one though. And I'm definitely NOT very fond of Bertha or Mildred, etc... But, Gertrude, I don't know.... I just really like it!

124
By Heather A. (not verified)
April 26, 2011 4:56 PM

Lillo:

These are my picks:
Sophia
Hope
Harper
Ellie
Amelia
Claire
Morgan
Adele (but maybe because I always hear "Oleson" after the name Nellie)

125
By Ac8080 (not verified)
April 26, 2011 5:09 PM

I like a lot of names on that list. Mackenzie is actually one of my favorites. But some of those names, while fine names, are just so overused. Jackson and Jack come to mind. But I don't think names like Navaeh can be put in the same class as Addison. Addison is over used, but at least it's an actual name. Navaeh has trailer park/teen mom written all over it.

126
By German Poster (not verified)
April 26, 2011 5:09 PM

I second Ottilie as well! There aren't any reliable statistics, but I would estimate that Ottilie reached its peak around 1890's/1900's and is definitely up to a revival, as many have commented.

With Annelise and Gretl I'd be much more careful, at least if you care how they sound in German ears. Gretl (or Gretchen) is a nickname. Strickly speaking, Gretl is an American nickname, the German variant would be Gretel, which in it's turn is dialect, spoken somewhere in the middle or south of Germany. It's not (yet) considered a name on it's own, though Grete/Greta might be. Gretchen literally means 'little Grete', -chen being a syllable similar to the Spanish -ita/-ito (Carlos, Carlitos). Both Grete and Annelise in my perception peaked around the 1940's - not a time and place you'd like to associate with, though that association isn't very strong either.

Clara is a perfectly German name. There are quite a lot of famous German Claras born in the 19th century - e.g. Clara Schumann, Clara Zetkin. What I can deduct from my own family tree, spelling names with a K instead of a C only started around 1900, and the idea that a K was German (or rather 'Germanic' in the awkward sense) was supported by the Nazis. It quickly lost its relevance afer 1945.

A word on Lorelai, a name that is often mentioned as being German - I have never in my life met or heard of a German girl called Lorelai (or similar spellings). I'd dare say it's the 'German' variant of Kaitlyn, at least, as not only the spelling is made up...

127
By German Poster (not verified)
April 26, 2011 5:12 PM

To clarify: Loreley is the name of a mermaid in an old saga - I just don't think it's ever been used as a girl's given name.

128
April 26, 2011 5:48 PM

"I love the name Ottilie! It's not a name I've heard before but it does not sound "made up" (Which is my biggest name-peeve)

It has the same feel as Odette, the swan princess."

Odette and Odile (pick your swan--white or black) are nicknames for Ottilie/Ottilia/Odilia and similar names. I did know an Odette who is probably in her fifties now, but have never met an Odile.

129
April 26, 2011 6:30 PM

So I took a Lenten break from baby names and now I'm trying to catch up =)

alr - I was so excited to see your news about your two little ones. Congratulations!

130
April 26, 2011 6:43 PM

Another Laura, I was just wondering about how you were doing yesterday. Glad to see you back! And happy belated Easter.

Have you narrowed down your choices some more? I haven't! My kids have suggested Booger Fartman, but somehow that doesn't cut it for me (har har).

131
April 26, 2011 6:58 PM

I know the superfluous 'y' is not a new topic here, but after reading this post this morning, I went to my baby board (due any time now!) and found these names parents have picked for May babies - all on the same page! Who knows what I'd find if I went looking.

Milynah
Addisyn
Alyx
Kynzie
Kaylynn
Maysie

Each of these names is from a different person, all within the space of 10 posts.

The extra 'y' is NMSAA, and they really jump out at me even more than other names I wouldn't personally choose. Perhaps due to increasing frequency?

132
By fancynancy (not verified)
April 26, 2011 7:47 PM

I'm not a huge fan of the name Grace, but I absolutely love the nickname Gracie. I think it's a great way to have a more formal sounding name for college applications and resumes, and a cute nickname that can last for a long time. Plus, I think I associate Gracie more with Tracy or Stacy than with Grace.

Also, I don't really like the Mc names when they use that spelling since it makes it look like a last name (same with the capitalized middle letter). I know they started out that way, but if you're going to make a last name into a first name, you should make it look like a first name. That said, Mackenzie and Michaela are two names that I really like the sound of, and would totally use with those spellings.

133
April 26, 2011 8:24 PM

I find the virtue names just not my style. I wouldn't say I hate them, but they just don't work for me. I like names that were chosen for a meaningful reason, so I can appreciate the sentiment, but Faith/Hope are just too obvious and heavy-handed in the execution, for me.

I really like Gertrude. Granted, I speak German and I am gestating a baby who will get an rt consonant cluster name as well, but I don't find the rtr cluster too cumbersome, and I think it sounds fresh and has great kicky nickname options. I like Tru and Trudy but think Gertrude would be nicer as the formal name on the birth certificate.

On the Ellie/Elly decision front, and the mention of gratuitous ys, I've got a question as to what people think of the choice between Sophie or Sophy. If used in our family it would be a nickname, so the spelling isn't quite as critical as it would be if it were the full name we were considering putting on a birth certificate... but I've been thinking about it, since the full name we'd be using is a mouthful and would probably get shortened often.

I prefer Sophy, as it looks cleaner, less frilly to me - I'm a Jenny and not a Jennie for similar reasons. However, I wonder if Sophie is just too entrenched at least in the US for that to be a viable option.

(ETA: Sophy would probably get me lumped with the gratuitous y name choosers, but our son's name is already perceived as an invented name with unnecessary y, so I think I'm already in that camp.)

134
April 26, 2011 9:06 PM

Regarding virtue names, I am really not a fan, though they most likely wouldn't make my list of most-hated names.

I mentioned this a year or two ago (when I had more time to participate in conversations), but in my husband's family tree, there is a woman named Submit. We were horrified when we saw that name, thinking that it was a male oppression sort of thing, but his mom suggested that it was probably a reference to a submission to god - a very likely possibility since we're talking about a woman born in 1771 to a family of (what my husband calls) religious nutbars.

So, yes, I definitely think that tinaconn's thought that parents may mean a different type of grace is completely plausible.

135
By EVie
April 26, 2011 9:52 PM

lucubratrix - Have you read Georgette Heyer's novel The Grand Sophy? She is a *fabulous* character. That was the standard English spelling of the name at least through the 18th century (the character Sophia in Tom Jones is also called Sophy by her father). So it's in no way gratuitous—if anything, it's the simpler, more English spelling (Sophie is the fancified French version). I don't strongly prefer one over the other, but I think Sophy is totally defensible if that's what you like. Out of curiosity, what is the full name? (I'm guessing it's not Sophia—seems too mainstream for your tastes).

German Poster - Thanks for that info, especially that bit about the use of the K in Germany—that is really fascinating! Do you know if Liesl vs. Liesel falls into the same pattern as Gretl vs. Gretel? (i.e., is one spelling more authentic than the other?)

re: Gertrude - This is actually starting to grow on me. I still don't care for Trudy, though—I much prefer Gertie as a nickname.

Larksong - you're actually not far off on Hayden! One possible translation of the name (from Old English) is heg, "hay" + denu, "valley" -> "valley where hay is made".

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April 26, 2011 9:59 PM

lucubratrix @133: I've got a question as to what people think of the choice between Sophie or Sophy. If used in our family it would be a nickname, so the spelling isn't quite as critical as it would be if it were the full name we were considering putting on a birth certificate...

I've had the impression that Sophy-with-a-y was not uncommon during the 18th C. and may have been the preferred spelling. "The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names" (1945) says of the name Sophia, "[It] became common in the 18th C, being a favourite with German royal families. It was often anglicized to Sophie or Sophy. Admiral Croft, it will be remembered, wished that 'young ladies had not such a number of fine names. I should never be out, if they were all Sophys or something of that sort'. Admiral Croft, a character in Jane Austen's "Persuasion", is married to Sophy. While not the usual spelling today, I think that spelling is perfectly acceptable.

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By Adelia (not verified)
April 26, 2011 10:19 PM

@Kern- I like the name Otillie. It was my grandmother's name and she came from Germany. Her nn was Tillie.

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April 26, 2011 10:35 PM

EVie, It seems we were responding to the Sophy/Sophie question at the same time. I'm in agreement with what you wrote, except I wouldn't call Sophie "the fancified French version", but the standard French version of Sophia. I can't recall any French female names ending in 'y' and think that 'ie' is the usual way that ending sound is written in French, as in Marie, Emilie, Sylvie, Julie...

For about 20 years Sophie has been a Top 10 name in the UK -- the #1 name in 1996 -- while Sophia is just starting to catch up: 2009 in England and Wales, Sophie - #5, Sophia - #35. It seems that Sophie is the more usual form of the name in the UK, a 'regular' name that happens to currently be most popular in its French form, like Claire.

Lucubatrix, is Sophronia the Sophy/Sophie name in your family tree?

139
By A Rose, nli (not verified)
April 26, 2011 11:19 PM

Don't have time to fully comment on this (very interesting) post, but I have a sibset I'd like to share:
Just!n Sp3nc3r and J0rdan Ashl3y
Both are 15, almost 16, what what's surprising (at least to me, given the names) is that both are boys. The "Ashley" is after Ashley Wilkes. I actually love it as a boys' name (because of Ashley Wilkes lol,) but I wouldn't have the guts to use it. I thought they just seemed like two really different styles. I'm also surprised that both ambiguous names were on the same kid. It's possible that their mom named one and their dad the other.

140
By Kern (not verified)
April 26, 2011 11:44 PM

#131--Justrachelmarie--how does one even pronounce Milynah? That one stumps me.

Re: Sophy/Sophie, the y-spelling just doesn't look right to me. But I like "ie" endings more generally. I know someone who named her daughter Sofie only to realize later the more common spelling was with a "ph".

German poster, thanks. Interesting about the K spelling. My name is Heidi which my Swiss cousins and Austrian host family tell me is a total hick name that modern Swiss/German/Austrian families are unlikely to use--kind of the equivalent of "Joe Bob" here. So I'm not bothered by Gretl being casual. But that name is fading from our list, in any event. I like Liesl better. I have to say, Ottilie is growing on me more and more. We shall see....might not be a girl in any event.

141
April 27, 2011 12:07 AM

justrachelmarie-I have the same question as Kern. I would guess either Mah-lye-nah or Mill-ih-nah maybe even Mye-lynn-ah/Mih-lynn-ah. Wow! those are not intuitive at all. I would probably call the the kid Milena (rhymes with Marlena) on first glance as with the most common mixups we mentioned upthread.

lucubratrix-I would pick Sophie but then again I like the "frenchified" names with -ie's.
Natalie vs. Nataly
Sophie vs Sophy
Claire vs Clare, etc.

Speaking of the gratuitous y's above. The only spelling that makes me cringe is Addisyn (except as noted above). With the Y this name sounds more like Addy-sin rather than Addy-son and that doesn't sound correct to me.

142
April 27, 2011 12:50 AM

@lucubratix, I much prefer Sophie over Sophy but I'm generally a fan of more 'French' spellings and not a fan of y's in names. I do think the history of Sophy is interesting though and think you could legitimately use it without any problems. I was also wondering what the name was, my guess was also Sophronia.

@kern, out of interest what other names are on your 'list'? We seem to have some cross-over in style so am intrigued to see what else you like :)

143
By Beth the original (not verified)
April 27, 2011 9:22 AM

RobynT, a tardy congrats on little Olive! How exciting. And lucubratrix, I am glad to hear you are gestating along nicely.

I'd like to make a gentle request that we try not to bash people for whom religious connotations are an OK thing. Plenty of Jewish people give their kids Old Testament names; New Testament Christians often choose names like Hope, Eden, Faith, etc. I'm sort of agnostic-y, but my partner is a clergy member in a progressive Protestant church, and I always wince when people express contempt for religion in and of itself. Meanwhile, what I like about Hope, Faith, Patience, etc., are that they were popular Puritan names, and that happens to be my own heritage. I don't think I would use them, but I like and respect them.

On the other hand, extra Ys make me cringe, so I guess yes, trash = treasure, depending on the collector.

144
By Faye (not verified)
April 27, 2011 10:01 AM

Whether or not someone likes a name doesn't concern me overly because most people either generically like a name -- or LOVE and HATE it.

But the Mc-names being called low class smacks of weird residual anti-Irish (or -Scots) sentiment. To think I thought we were done with that. o_O

Similarly, I'm betting Tristan is being called fake for the same reasons listed above, because it's associated with roots that may not be the parents', but it's also a literary reference (and at this point, a song, etc etc). Is someone really saying, "YOUR CHILD ISN'T A KNIGHT, WHAT A FRAUDULENT NAME"? Let's abolish all Arthurs or Morgans.

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By H (not verified)
April 27, 2011 11:00 AM

Is it awful that 2 of my baby names are on the boys lists? Jackson and Bentley are both family names. I'll just have to tune this one out and think positive. :O)

146
By Yet Another Guest (not verified)
April 27, 2011 11:50 AM

I'm late to the party and there is too much to comment on!

@Kern - I had never heard Ottilie before but quite like it. I'd pronounce it a little differently (before being corrected, of course) but I like all the versions suggested. I, too, would love to know what else is on your list.

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April 27, 2011 12:18 PM

Thanks all! I know about the long history of Sophy as a legitimate English spelling and that's why it was even on the menu as a spelling choice -- I'm not generally in the habit of randomly substituting y for ie, though it might seem that way. :) I haven't read that particular Heyer book, but I sure will now -- thanks for the tip!

The long name in question is Sophonisba... not a family name, but has personal significance in that Sophonisba Breckinridge is a great namesake, and when the Spouse and I met I was living in a building named after Ms Breckinridge. Sophronia is also a fantastic name, though... if it weren't for the attachment I have to Ms Breckinridge, I think I'd probably prefer it on sound alone!

And Beth -- good point about the origins of virtue names! I think I might be more inclined favorably to virtue names if they were as adventurous as they once were!

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April 27, 2011 3:31 PM

Beth the Original, I just want to clarify that by calling his ancestors "religious nutbars", that wasn't a bash to all people who are religious or people who give biblical names to their children. I am Jewish and can't even count the number of people I know with biblical names. Rather, it was a comment on people who were so focused on their own religion being "right" that they couldn't accept that other people's different beliefs might be as valid as theirs. Sorry if I offended you or anyone else. It was a comment on religious extremists, not religious people generally.

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By Pipe-o (not verified)
April 27, 2011 5:37 PM

This is a name that I currently love, but am not sure how well it would work in real life. What do you think about naming a girl Gabrielle Grace, but calling her Gabbie Grace for short. Would that work? Also, I don't love Gabbie alone, but how likely would it be for the Grace part to just be dropped for convenience once she starts school, sports, etc. Thank you!!!

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By Quin (not verified)
April 28, 2011 2:05 AM

I would like to know what boards were used in this survey. I know that nameberry for sure tends to only favor old fashioned names and they hate anything currently trendy. I am upset that Addison is on this list, it isnt even in the same category as some of these other names. What did Laura mean by her statement about Addison and Aiden and the negativity flowing past them? I dont understand and now Im left wondering. My question for Laura, is Addison going to be in the category of Tiffany 20 years from now (dispised)? Also for Laura, did she see many mentions of the disease and Addison, will it be an issue for people with the name? Ive seen it some on the boards, will future addisons be bothered when they read this sort of thing, even what one of the posters wrote here, that she doesnt like it because it reminds her of the disease....will this sort of thing always be written about the name and will it bother the girls named Addison.