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.


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.


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.


By Quin (not verified)
April 28, 2011 2:16 AM

I also wanted to ask, when you were doing the tally's did you factor in, if the same posters were mentioning the name over and over again in posts? It seems that on nameberry their are people who continually mention their hatred for Addison...over and over again. I guess Im asking if the pool of comments were from alot of different people? And if Addison was mentioned as such a loathed name, why is it so popular? Its almost in the top ten.

By Quin (not verified)
April 28, 2011 1:09 PM

Im confused I just re-read this article and it says there were 1500 name mentions yet as I read the individual names listed, you have the name mentions being much smaller. So it seems that these names really dont even make a dent in the ratio. neveah having 47 name mentions out of 1500? That isnt alot. Addison having 8 name mentions out of 1500? Is it even worth listing these? I dont know this survey isnt making sense to me.

By Quin (not verified)
April 28, 2011 1:23 PM

Its me again, I just looked at a live science journel where they apparently interviewed you and they provided more details about this survey. I think its very irresponsible on your part to do an article like this and label it as the most hated names when the citings of mentions are so small. And how do you know that the people who are on parenting forums arent also familiar with baby name message boards and that they dont frequent those? If a name is popular and the majority are using it then isnt that more telling of where America sits with if they do or dont like the name? Over 15 thousand picked Madison and over 11,000 picked Madison dont those numbers far outweigh the 16 and 8 mentions of the name? I dont agree with this article, the numbers behind this survey are completely insubstanceable and you have lost crediability with me, I actually really respected your website and books, but this is pure reckless on your part to go labeling these as the most hated you have put the idea in peoples heads and maybe that was your intent...who knows.

By Quin (not verified)
April 28, 2011 1:54 PM

Laura said: "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."

Im sorry but again this article inferiates me, its almost as if you wrote it to get attention and publicity...but its bad makes you look irresponsible. The numbers are so minute and not even worth mentioniing....I mean really what was the point? And you did label this the most hated names in america! You clearly wanted to make it about names being good and can you dispute that? Why didnt you label it, "a survey on names from obsure places" or "how to tell if a name is hated or loved" (and then you could have based the article around the fact that their is no real gage on how many hate a name, the real gage on who is actually choosing the name).

you actually made the comparison of names that are popular and loved to hated in your article when their is NO comparison....the numbers are soooo small...heck neveah only had 47 mentions and thousands have chosen the name. I mean really this article is so reckless and if other name sites etc pick it up and mention it and people go and do digging and read the article like I have then oh boy your going to lose your fan base. I was a fan but Im not now! Look already live science journal has quoted you and written an article siting this story as if its even got legs to stand on!!! You are reckless Laura and Im peeved!

By Quin (not verified)
April 28, 2011 2:02 PM

I forgot to mention that Im going to put a google alert on this article and every time it is cited or mentioned, whether be on a baby name board or article, Im going to be there to give my thoughts on this whole thing and raise awareness to the points I made in my above posts. I am going to be VERY hard on Laura and this article and Im not going to hold back. This article was reckless!

By kaitlynrose (not verified)
April 28, 2011 8:06 PM

Quin, why don't you tell us what you really think?

By Sharyn (not verified)
April 28, 2011 8:46 PM

I agree that Gertrude is heavy and Young Frankensteinish, but the name Trudie is charming.

By Guest's Guest (not verified)
April 28, 2011 8:49 PM

Lately there've been a bunch of people I'm acquainted with naming their sons Keegan or Teegen. Both ugly names, sounds like bratty, spoiled whiney kids to me.

Then there was the kid named Een. Not Ian, but Een. And his sister, Kortny. Ugh. Poor kids.

By Dexex (not verified)
April 28, 2011 9:19 PM

One man's trash is another man's Destiny.

By Dianakimm (not verified)
April 28, 2011 9:21 PM

I LOVE the names of your sons...they're unique and catchy...and the best part is that they're not going to find two other children with the same name in their classroom...LOVE them!

By Cato (not verified)
April 28, 2011 10:16 PM

The whole dislike of using 'boys' names for girls is curious. Historically, many girls in upper class and upper middle class families would have (one or more) middle names, and sometimes given names (more frequently in the South), that were surnames within their parents respective families. This practice would account for the use of Scots (and Irish?) 'mac' names, and the use of typical English surnames such as Brooke or Madison.

Of course, the use of these names when they do not occur in one's family, was considered very poor form, almost rising to level of a class indicator.

Made up names are unfortunate, as they stigmatize the bearers as lower middle or lower class.

By Quin (not verified)
April 28, 2011 10:19 PM

Now Ive read the second article regarding this article, the second ones title: "the most hated names in america, released."

By Quin (not verified)
April 28, 2011 10:22 PM

correction, its titled:
"List of most hated baby names in America released"

Again this is so beyond reckless on Laura's part. Im not ever buying one of her books again!

By Paula (not verified)
April 28, 2011 10:29 PM

I am actually really surprised to find both of my daughter's names listed...Destiny and Hope. I am FAR from being a teenage mom and I love their names.

By Guest12415 (not verified)
April 28, 2011 10:42 PM

you have kids named jency and tesher. i'm not sure you're meant to be commenting on this story.

By Lizarde (not verified)
April 29, 2011 12:17 AM

Theophania is an awesome name! Ok, maybe an awesome middle name. But Tiffany just sounds like a poodle. If the movie Heathers had been Tiffanies, it would have remained unchanged. Well...maybe slightly trashier.

By madhatter (not verified)
April 29, 2011 3:27 AM

I have to agree with Quin. I dont really understand the point of even writing such an article when the results are based on such an extremely small number of mentions...most of the mentions are less then 10. And then to title it "most hated names in america"? I would imagine something like this could seriously hurt an authors career when they make such a huge error in judgement. The title of the article is huge, yet the data is insignificant...the issue is that most who arent in the naming world and smart enough really add up the variables (less then ten conversations for most of these names does not equal them to being the most hated names in america)will really think that these are indeed the most hated names in america...Im guessing that the author wanted to push her own agenda and influence others into abandoning these names probably because they are "her" most hated names. Unfortunate and as Quin said, "reckless".

By Quin (not verified)
April 29, 2011 3:58 AM

Luara did an interview with Livescience writer Stephani Pappas, here is the link:

Now, livescience is posting their article on Lauras most hated names in america.... Ive counted over 8 different sites that its been posted on...and that was just today. I really am astonished that anyone can write anything and put it out their as if its the truth...we all know this article has no legs to stand on...look at the data, the numbers are beyond insignificant.

By shortysar (not verified)
April 29, 2011 10:33 AM

The one thing I disagree w/the point about "I'M the one that needs to live with them, NOT everyone else", comes in regards to the fact your boys will need to live with them too - and honestly, much more intimately a for a much longer time than you will. I agree wholeheartedly with every other point you make - that really, the general view of names shouldn't affect what we name our children, they can't choose as infants so we need to choose accordingly, and I'm not a fan of overly-common names either (says she who named her two sons Liam and Jacob before realizing they were both on the top 10 list for their years) - but I would take into account 'Can my CHILD live with this, how will this play at school, etc.' Names that are INCREDIBLY old fashioned (or incredibly trendy - ie, I would not name a child of mine Justin or Miley right now), or that rhyme unfortunately with rude words, or go unfortunately with last names, or create unfortunate acronyms ... I wouldn't write them off 100% necessarily, but it would definitely give me pause. Bottom line: think of the kid too, not just your own whims at the moment.

By Heather A. (not verified)
April 29, 2011 11:00 AM


RE "If the movie Heathers had been Tiffanies, it would have remained unchanged..."

As a Heather I have to point out that, had they been Tiffanys, they would have been wearing pink lipstick and frosted eyeshadow and the assigned colors would have been pastels, including the croquet balls and mallets.

I do agree with you that Heather and Tiffany are fairly interchangeable if you tweek the socioeconomic stereotype a bit.

By StateOfThUnknwn (not verified)
April 29, 2011 11:14 AM

I found this interesting (and I agree with a lot of the dislikes), so here are my comments:

Never met anyone named Nevaeh actually, but it sounds like something you'd call a druid or an Aztec priestess.

Destiny...yeah, this one just screams "skanky."

Madison is a city in Wisconsin and a former President, not a child.

Mackenzie and McKenna I really don't mind. Maybe because they remind me of Mackenzie Phillips.

Addison. Sounds like a textbook.

Gertrude and Bertha would be good names for a valkyrie or something. A little girl, not so much.

Makayla sounds nice, but on paper it looks like the name of someone out of a BeastMaster-type show.

I actually like the name Hope.

Jayden/Brayden/Aiden/Kaden--ugh, don't get me started on these. You can't just put two random syllables together and call it a name.

I don't think I actually know anyone named Hunter. Makes me think of Boy Meets World.

Hayden isn't bad, mainly because it was already a real name before the -ayden craze started.

Bentley...what's next, a kid named Wal-Mart?

Tristan sounds almost cartoonish.

I don't mind the name Michael.

I agree that Jackson is too trendy. It makes me picture some kid in a leather jacket on the Disney Channel.

One name that wasn't on your list particularly annoys me: "Gracyn." I know a little girl named Gracyn--cute kid, but the name is the epitome of the just-string-two-syllables-together-and-call-it-a-name craze that I find so irritating.

By StateOfThUnknwn (not verified)
April 29, 2011 11:56 AM

A few other things I want to add...

Gertrude also strikes me as a weird name because it makes me think of a grandma who came over on a boat from the old country.

Tristan might be considered "fakey" because, to those that don't know the history of the name (people like me, at least initially), it just sounds like a mutation of Kristen or something similar.

There are two other names that just have a bad connotation with me personally (solely due to my own experiences):

Austin--roughly half of the Austins I've ever known ended up as special ed kids. Not that I have anything against kids with special needs...the name just feels "unlucky" (I'm not superstitous about it, though).

Cody--every Cody I've ever known was a maladjusted, overprotected, and overindulged mama's boy. The name just brings back too many memories of spoiled brats.

By Cato (not verified)
April 29, 2011 12:56 PM

As a kid who grew up with an unusual, apparently unique, given name - which happened to be a name that ran in the family through several generations into the 18th century, but it was unusual nonetheless, I would caution parents strongly against using offbeat, cute, or made-up or that is likely to be the object of teasing by other children. I certainly endured my share of it, though most of it was fairly good-natured. And, to this day, I've never met another person with my given name.

Give your children names that are meaningful, perhaps within your own families, or your friends, or which are within the mainstream of ordinary American sensibilities. Kids have it tough enough without adding the baggage of a given name that plays to cultural, gender, or ethnic stereotypes (I guess that nixes Skip and Muffy... but those were always nicknames, anyway.)

By Tornado (not verified)
April 29, 2011 1:51 PM

We name our daughter Destiny! We pick it because you cannot Properly abbreviate the name. & it a wonderful name; Regardless some Stupid people associate it with a stripper. Woman or Men that do that kind of job for the income have low self-respect/self-esteem. Because if they DID they won't work in that establishment. After all they could be out getting a degree to an career. To make the money they make in one night. Publicly opening up that you go to these male or woman adult entertainment place is a disgrace. Anyone who does goes to these place have LOW respect for woman or men. I know I'm not alone to think this way! I can think of despicable First name for girl than our Daughters name Example: Mary Jane, Sky, Ryan Shadow . Or ANY BOY NAMES for a Girl .

By Alicia (not verified)
April 29, 2011 1:56 PM

The only two names that surprise me are Hope and Michael. I also don't mind the name Jackson (its one of our dogs names) but then again, it's become too overused as a kid name. The others I totally agree with and the majority of them were at the top of my most hated names list (specifially Neveah and the -ayden names: I had to laugh when I saw that so many others hated those names as well).

By McKaitlyn (not verified)
April 29, 2011 2:03 PM

Any name with an apostrophe or a hyphen

By Guesty (not verified)
April 29, 2011 2:31 PM

Im pretty sure Jency and Tesher are the ones who have been afflicted with those names, not you.

By pooslie (not verified)
April 29, 2011 2:35 PM

I agree about Tristan. It is a great name.

maybe these people think that people are trying to be "uppity" by naming their kid a "fancy" "old fashioned" name. maybe they are getting it confused with like Trip and the like--country club names.

By pooslie (not verified)
April 29, 2011 2:36 PM

oh, BOO! i was replying to Quin, didn't realize that it would stick me way at the bottom.

By Guest4453 (not verified)
April 29, 2011 2:42 PM

Well, you aren't the only one that has to live with their names-- your kids do, too.

By BrandonW (not verified)
April 29, 2011 2:54 PM

I love the names Michael, Brayden and Emma!

I think this article can do damage to young children and make them feel insecure about their names.


By BrandonW (not verified)
April 29, 2011 3:09 PM

This article is very irresponsible and could hurt many people (especially children).

When a young child reads this I can only imagine how horrible they must feel if their names are on this list!

Shame on Laura Wattenberg!

By Guest- (not verified)
April 29, 2011 3:24 PM

Are many young children reading name blogs? I've heard far worse said about children's names by other kids, frankly.

I didn't read this article with any kind of seriousness. And nothing listed is all that shocking.

By carriet (not verified)
April 29, 2011 3:33 PM

I recommend anyone considering the name Tristan pick up the Sleeping Beauty trilogy from Ann Rice and give it a quick read.

By Kansas555 (not verified)
April 29, 2011 3:59 PM

My name is Kansas. Really. I was very hard for me growing up with a name that most would consider odd. I've been teased about it, been called every other state in the Union, have had every line in The Wizard of Oz recited to when I had my daughter we were very particular on choosing her name.

Her name is creatively spelled as Madilyn. I wanted to ensure she was a -lyn not a -line. And her nn is Madi. We love it. It's a name that is still heard, but not overused and one that has traditional roots but is not thought of as old fashioned.

I'm expecting again and if it's a boy we have to go very traditional and name him Francis Edward (my husbands grandfather and great-grandfather), his nn will be Frankie. If it's a girl again it will also be a grandparent name...Brighton Belle(his great-great grandmother and his grandmothers middle), her nn will be Brighty.

What do you think?

By StrangerDanger (not verified)
April 29, 2011 4:51 PM

I don't think Tristan is so much for it's origin. I noticed that most of these are over-used names that would be likely choices for teen moms (with the exception of Neveah, they don't have much meaning behind them and they're chosen for popularity rather than someone's identity). Tristan is like Caitlin, Madison, or Mackayla in that their spellings get butchered in the name of 'originality'.

By Laurie (not verified)
April 29, 2011 4:57 PM

You forgot Lorraine that is my real name and I absolutely hate it. Plus I have never heard of anyone with that name being my age or younger just way older

By guestina (not verified)
April 29, 2011 6:48 PM

I love the name Gertrude, but then one of my kids has an "old-fashioned Germanic name".

By SiulaGrande (not verified)
April 29, 2011 7:54 PM

Madison is a "modern invented name"? Take a look at the list of our presidents. The name is not modern, nor is it invented. Unfortunately, its currently popularity as a first name most likely stems from its use in "Splash." I "hate on" Madison because the use of last name as first names, particularly for girls, is tacky. It's done by people who are trying to sound upper-class without realizing that the upper classes use traditional names like Caroline, Katherine and Elizabeth.

By SiulaGrande (not verified)
April 29, 2011 8:00 PM

Yeah, my seven-year-old niece pretty much sticks to Poptropica and the two older girls like Facebook and web sites about their favorite teen movie stars. If a kid is reading this site, it's because Mommy or Daddy got so upset that the kid got interested. Calm down, Brandon. No one's been traumatized except you, and you have a normal name.

By SiulaGrande (not verified)
April 29, 2011 8:06 PM

Guest4453, you read my mind! Mommy Dearest is NOT the one who has to live with a ridiculous name; her kids are. They are not mini-extensions of Mommy, they are separate, distinct individuals who will likely be taunted by their peers and have to spell and/or sound out their names for teachers, professors and pretty much everyone they ever meet. But, you know, congrats to everyone who comes up with these "unique" names. I'm sure your kids will come to appreciate them when they're applying to medical school or having their name plate made at work.

By SiulaGrande (not verified)
April 29, 2011 8:14 PM

Quin, you have WAY too much time on your hands. Get a hobby or better yet, get off the computer and do something with your kids.

By SiulaGrande (not verified)
April 29, 2011 8:16 PM

Oh, and Quin, I forgot to mention: Whatever you do, do not visit STFUParents. They eat Mombies for breakfast.

By SiulaGrande (not verified)
April 29, 2011 8:38 PM

I don't think anyone's paying attention to this anymore, but "Skyler" is a made-up spelling of Schuyler. I have pretty much the same opinion of it as a first name as I do all last-names-as-first-names (unless it's a family name, and then use it as a middle name, if you must). Another bit of trivia: Anneliese was Anne Frank's full first name. I think it's beautiful.

Somehow I don't think most of the people that are naming their sons Tristan actually know its origins, which is rather sad. And I find it kind of funny that Hayden has become so popular, since the first person I ever knew with that name is a man who's now in his fifties. What's been done to Aidan is just depressing. I used to love it.

By quin (not verified)
April 29, 2011 8:48 PM

Hmmm so you are trying shut me up because I am being vocal about this fraudulent artless that Laura wrote? Others aren't ok with it either. Patricia called it when she said this article would be misinterpretated. It's all over internet now, authors are writing articles on it and are listing these as the most hated names in America when in reality we that take the time to read between the lines can see that the survey is completely insignificant, hello..less then ten mentions and your going to say its the most hated name? No I don't think so. Anyway I havecountedsround twenty articles on it in the past two days. What happens to authors when they stretch the truth or mislead? They get sued. Laura needs
to be sued. As on reader put it.....this is disgusting and I agree!

By SiulaGrande (not verified)
April 29, 2011 10:21 PM

No, Quin, I just think you sound pathetic, and like I said, you should probably find a hobby before you work yourself into an overzealous frenzy.

By Guest222 (not verified)
April 29, 2011 11:18 PM

Don't ever have to worry about Jency & Tesher being overused

By Jenny b (not verified)
April 30, 2011 12:22 PM

Surprised by Tristan. That is my son's name and I get a lot of compliments. Remember Brad Pitt in legends of the fall? His name was Tristan. Young actor named Tristan Wilds. And, of course, the age old story of Tristan and Isolde. I think it's a strong, solid name. I don't like it for a girl, however.

By KateD (not verified)
April 30, 2011 1:15 PM

I agree with Quin. Laura was reckless and irresponsible printing such rubbish. It certainly put Laura in the spotlight though ...

Tristan is a lovely name, a true classic.

By MomFromBC (not verified)
April 30, 2011 3:27 PM

For those bashing Laura for writing this post, I think it's really unfair. She wrote about a topic a LOT of name enthusiasts and parents-to-be really care about and are truly intersted in. I think she really fairly claimed that it was not a scientific study but a methodology for gauging sentiment out there. I found the link here from another parenting message board and I have to say, everyone on that board said they pretty much agreed with the findings (even if their own kids' names or their own names) were on the list.