The 13 Spookiest Real-Life Baby Names

Oct 24th 2018

Do you want a baby name that comes with a creeping shadow and a chill down your spine? You might, judging from the names American parents are choosing today. Flat-out spooky names are more popular than ever before.

We're not just talking about names you can link with scary stories. That's too easy. Sure, "Jason" was the creepy killer in a long string of Friday the 13th movies, but at the end of the day his name is still Jason, same as your brother-in-law. To make our list, a name has to have spooky in its DNA. It also has to be a real-life baby name: every one of our Chilling 13 was given to at least five newborn American boys or girls last year.

Morticia and Gomez Addams. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

1. Morticia
Remember the elegantly ghoulish lady of the house in The Addams Family? With her floor-length gowns and corpse-like pallor, Morticia Addams made the sinister stylish. So much so, in fact, that her mortician-inspired name is no longer just a joke.

2. Lucifer
Lucifer comes from the Latin for "light bringer," but you can't get much darker than the Prince of Darkness himself. The association with Satan made this name essentially off-limits for centuries. Today, the tv series Lucifer has given the devil, and his name, a modern makeover.

3. Arkham
The fictional dark city of Arkham, Massachusetts was a favorite setting for horror legend H.P. Lovecraft. Today, comics fans know the name from the world of Batman, where the "Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane" houses a Who's Who of supervillains. The Asylum's name was a tribute to Lovecraft.

4. Belladonna
The name Belladonna sounds like a fashionable mashup of Isabella and Donatella, and in Italian it means "beautiful woman." In English, it means deadly nightshade.

5. Graven
Something graven is indelibly etched or carved, like the graven images (carved idols) forbidden by the Ten Commandments. But "grave" also means serious or somber, and the place where a body is buried. So a graven gravestone is grave indeed.

6. Shadow
This name offers a subtler kind of shudder, a silent darkness. It pairs its chills with a red-hot sound, like Willow, Shiloh and Harlow. Shadow is also the mysterious protagonist of American Gods, and the only name on this list that is given to both boys and girls.

7. Alucard
The name Alucard was literally built from the pieces of a vampire: it's Dracula backwards. The very first Alucard was played by monster master Lon Chaney Jr. in the 1943 film Son of Dracula. Since then the name has become a vampiric staple in every medium.

8. Grim
The word grim means bleak, forbidding, dreadful. That's plenty of spooky points to start with, but it's the soul-harvesting Grim Reaper who gives the name extra "spirit."

9. Gotham
As a nickname for New York City, Gotham dates back two centuries to author Washington Irving. Since 1940, though, Batman has made it his own. The Dark Knight and friends fight crime by night in the menacing streets of Gotham City. Bonus spooky-name points for the nickname Goth.

10. Hades
Like Lucifer, Hades is a name that thinks big. No mere demon or specter, Hades was the Greek god of the underworld, ruling over a vast eternal realm of the dead. Woe betide anyone who tried to cheat death on his watch.

11. Thorn
The thorn represents hidden danger, the menace lurking even in a bouquet of roses. It's one floral name that's anything but sweet.

12. Morrigan
At first glance this may look like just a mild-mannered Irish surname. Look again. The Morrigan was the great Celtic goddess of war and death. She would appear on the battlefields in the form of a crow; she could fill warriors' hearts with courage, or with fear; she foretold doom. Mild-mannered she wasn't.

13. Whisper
Shhh…did you hear that? A whisper can be a sign of intimacy, or a sign that somebody, something is lurking in the darkness. Or just a perfect sister for Shadow.


Read More: The 21 Most Utterly Geektastic Baby Names of the Year



October 24, 2018 11:49 AM

Some of these are beautiful names; Belladonna and Morticia stand out in a good way. But I can't think of the name Shadow without thinking of Shadow the Hedgehog, and it's never a good sign when someone's first reaction to a name is laughter. 

I do wish there were more halloween themed names on the subtle side, however. I absolutely adore the Halloween season, but I can't help but think of the namesake whenever I see these names. Maybe I just need a bit more time to get used to the current trends, since pop-culture names seem to be in vogue right now. 

October 26, 2018 5:15 PM

Subtle Halloween names?

Catrina sounds normal enough, but it's also the name of La Calavera Catrina, the famous illustration of a female skeleton dressed up that has become the main symbol of the Mexican Dia de los Muertos. Unfortunately, it would have passed muster in Anglo communities until Hurricane Katrina.

Kali has gained traction despite popular depictions of the Indian goddess.

Although Samhain is well-known enough as the Celtic pagan source for Halloween, it's actually pronounced closer to "Savin" or "Sawin." 

The big thing is to remember that Halloween is just the first day of a three-day Catholic holiday: All Hallows' Eve (aka Hallowe'en), All Hallows' Day (or All Saints Day), and All Souls' Day. As the vigil to all the saints and holy, there's a lot of subtle references that can be made in that space.