A redheaded Scarlett?

Hello! I'm a brand new poster but a long time lurker. My husband and I aren't expecting yet but we are starting to talk about it. I've loved names my whole life and because I've been struggling with baby brain ever since we got married I can't help but to spend my days wistfully wondering about all the potential names I can use for my future kiddos (and bugging my husband about his favorites too).

Out of my husband's favorite names, my favorite is Scarlett. However, my husband has vibrant red hair and red hair runs in my family as well (I'm a golden blonde). My guess is that our children will more than likely be redheaded as well. One question that I repeatedly come back to is whether or not a redheaded Scarlett would be way too much. Wouldn't everyone assume she is named for her hair? Is that necessarily a bad thing?

What are your thoughts?


February 17, 2015 7:41 PM

Does it help that scarlet originally referred to a very expensive fine woolen fabric?  One could have a cloak of brown scarlet or green scarlet.  Because the fabric was so expensive, eventually only the most expensive dye was used, and that was a red dye.  So the term scarlet morphed from being a textile term to a color term.  This is why Chaucer refers to the Wife of Bath's hose as both scarlet and red, the point being that she is wearing the most expensive fabric dyed the most expensive color, a walking demonstration of conspicuous consumption, not to mention that in Revelations the Whore of Babylon is decked out in purple and scarlet (scarlet being a color term by the time of the King James Bible translation).  The association of red and the Whore of Babylon is of some relevance to the description of Alisoun of Bath.  As for a red-haired Scarlett, well, people would surely notice the congruence, but personally I don't think that's so terrible.  Now a red-head named Ginger.....

February 18, 2015 7:26 PM

I did not know that. That is really interesting. I must admit I do like the idea of a textile inspired name. Now if only the majority of the population knew Scarlett as a fabric and not as a color....

February 18, 2015 7:54 PM

Textiles with "nameyness"? Chambray, Velvet, Satin/Sateen, Chiffon, Voile, Batiste (common as a name in New Orleans), Brocade, Cambric, Charmeuse, Challis, Georgette (obviously very name-y LOL), Heather (another obviously name-y name), Lace, Melton, Organza/Organdy, Paisley (more nami-ness), Pointelle, Ramie, Sisal, Suede, Surah, Taffeta, Tencel, Toile, Tweed, Twill, Velour, Zibeline, Chenille, Cord, Dacron, Jacquard, Kevlar, Lamé, Lycra, Merino, Percale, Bouclé

Most of these are girl-y (more or less), but some would do for boys.

(That was fun!)

February 18, 2015 7:58 PM

I know a woman named Chiffon. People often assume they heard the Irish name Siobhán, but no, she's named for the fabric.

February 17, 2015 7:54 PM

My opinion is that it isn't a bad thing, though I may think to myself that it isn't very imaginative. I think that I would assume that a red head named Scarlett would be named after her hair, unless you told me different.

I work with dogs, and this is very common for people to name red coated dogs, names like Ruby, Amber, Rosie and Poppy. But yes, now Scarlett is appearing, due to its popularity rise.

I did really love the name, when it was rare and special...

Perhaps keep this one as a middle name?

February 17, 2015 8:11 PM

I love Scarlett, and honestly, even though it's a color, I don't think people think of it as a color first. 

I doubt many would even think of it, and fewer still would remark on it. 

If they did, it's hardly the worst thing in the world, and it's a lovely name. 


February 18, 2015 12:36 AM

I agree with this.

February 18, 2015 12:04 AM

Maybe I'm being dense but I can't see why a redheaded Scarlett would be an issue. And I can't imagine anyone naming their child for their hair color, so few babies are born with much hair and even fewer keep it. My kids actually were born with quite a bit of hair, and it didn't fall out, but it changed color from black to auburn/chestnut. 

February 21, 2015 2:26 PM

I was also trying to figure out how you could name a child for their hair color (although I'm sure many people would not know this and still assume she'd be named for it, especially kids or people who don't spend any time with babies). We are still not sure if my 3 year old is going to have reddish hair, and she was even born with a full head of hair but it was a dark brown at the time. My husband's family is mosty strawberry blondes and I think she might end up somewhere around a lighter auburn.

February 18, 2015 11:04 AM

As a redhead, I have to say please don't name a redheaded baby Scarlett!  FWIW, my mother wanted to call me Penny but my grandmother convinced her not to (thank you Grandma).  

I did know another redhead in high school named Ginger (her parents thought it was cute).  She hated her name & everyone had to make a comment.  The comments weren't always mean spirited, it was sometimes more of the "Gee, did you know your name matched your hair?" type comments.  Ginger found it annoying and not really funny, but people thought they were so clever to have noticed.  

Redheads tend to stand out a bit anyway, and we get comments about our hair color all the time.  The comments can be mean spirited (in 3rd grade a boy on the bus liked to tell me I was "red on the head like a d*ck on a dog.") They can be complimentary & they can be kind of back-handed compliments (That can't possibly be your real hair color.")  A lifetime of it gets old.  It was especially hard to be a ginger during those awkward adolescent years when everyone just wants to blend in, but there I was with a giant beacon on my head.  Having your name match your hair, especially when your hair color is uncommon, is just too much.  

However, Scarlett is a lovely name otherwise.  If you happen to have a non-red daughter (you're blonde, it could happen) feel free to name her Scarlett.  Just have another non-red name handy, just in case.

February 18, 2015 5:06 PM

I don't want to dismiss NAGA's experience, but I would like to say that it's hardly universal. I come from a large redheaded family and teasing has never been a big issue. There's some in childhood yes, and a few crude comments in high school about carpets matching drapes, but I think most everyone is teased about something and overall I think the anti-bully campaigns are making schoolyard teasing less of an issue these days. By and large the comments are complimentary, or intended that way. Though none of us are named Scarlett or Ginger, so I can't speak to that specifically.

February 18, 2015 5:34 PM

I wonder if this has something to do with where you live? I would imagine that someplace like Boston with lots of Irish ancestry and many redheads would be an easier place to have red hair than, say, southern California with its melting pot with strong Hispanic overtones.

February 18, 2015 8:38 PM

I agree location probably has a lot to do with it (I grew up in the Midwest).  At my fairly large high school, there were only a handful of redheads.  Even though we didn't all run in the same groups, we did acknoweldge each other and share frustrations.  I think the biggest issue I've had is that the comments seem to be all the time, and people seem to act as if they are pointing out something I've never noticed.  It can be nice (who doesn't like a compliment) but it does get annoying at times.  Luckily the ruder comments stopped (for the most part) after high school.  

February 18, 2015 10:40 PM

That sounds similar to the comments my cousin gets about being tall. I forget how tall he really is, 6'5" or 6'7" or something. People always say "you're really tall" as if he hadn't noticed, or ask dumb questions like "how's the weather up there?".

I don't know about the geography thing. My redheaded clan is spread up and down the west coast, mostly in California. 

I do think Ginger would be pretty awful as a name for a redhead, but I think that's because ginger is used to describe red hair. Scarlet means red, but I think of cherries or fire trucks not hair. Anyone with scarlet hair got it from a bottle. I also just don't really like the name Ginger. :)

February 19, 2015 11:35 AM

For those who encounter this problem, I think any red reference is likely to be bad. I had a red-haired ballet teacher whose given name was Cherry. We called her Miss Cherry; as a child I never thought a thing about it, except that she was about the most glamorous person I knew and Cherry seemed like a pretty glamorous name.

Then when I was ten or eleven I went to sleep-away camp. One of my (college age?) counselors had red hair, and some of the other counselors told us we should call her Cherry if we wanted to see something funny. I thought she must be related to my ballet teacher, and resented the connection! Fortunately I could tell that something was fishy and didn't call my counselor Cherry, or ask if she was related to my teacher. Many years later I realized what was really going on.

So far as I know, Miss Cherry was not particularly bothered by her name, at least as an adult. But my camp counselor must have had bad enough experiences for cherry to be a trigger of some sort. Or possibly it was a personality thing.

Overall, I think it's impossible to predict what combination of personality and environment your kid will grow up in; some red-headed Scarlets would either never get a whisper about their name/hair or would happily embrace the connection and brush off any negative comments, while others would find it traumatizing. It's a great name, but I think in the too-risky category for me.

February 21, 2015 1:12 PM

I agree with the location point.  I grew up in the South.  This is considered such a Southern name there (obviously from the connection to Scarlett O'Hara), that I'm betting THAT'S the first association that would be made.

It could be O'Hara, Johansson, or the baby's red hair.  When all is said and done, none of those associations are negative enough (in my opinion) to ditch the name you love most.  If your Scarlett ever asks, you can explain that she was lovingly named before she was born--before you had any idea how she'd look.  She'll love that YOU love her name.

February 18, 2015 8:41 PM

Ha!  I forgot about the carpets matching the drapes one!  I think women especially also get comments/jokes about having a high libido.  The comments of a sexual nature are especially hard during high school/jr high.

I'd be curious to see a poll of redheads, asking about names like Ginger or Scarlett.

February 18, 2015 7:37 PM

My husband does get a lot of comments (people call him Red or Ireland) and I'm sure it gets very old. He doesn't seem to worried about teasing since it was him who suggested the name. I'm sure its different for boys and girls however.

That is funny that you mention Penny. That is one of my favorite names (The husband isn't too interested in it) and I have noticed it has a similar problem to Scarlett. I also like Lucille but then there is that connection to the famous redhead Lucille Ball. I doubt Lucille or Penny/Penelope would run into too many problems however, or at least not near as many as a redheaded Scarlett.

February 18, 2015 7:41 PM

Woops. This was meant to be a reply to NotAGuestAnymore. I guess I haven't quite figured out the forum yet.

February 18, 2015 8:48 PM

I agree it is probably different for boys and girls.  See my comments above about the sexual nature of some of the jokes/comments about red haired women.

I would hesitate about Lucille, because most adults will make the connection to Lucille Ball right away.  But I don't think it would be as big of a teasing issue as I doubt kids today would have such a strong association.  

Penelope is what my mom wanted to name me, with the intention of calling me Penny exclusively.  It didn't help that Penelope was still hopelessly old lady back when I was born.  Without the nickname Penny, I don't see a problem with Penelope at all.  You could also do Nell as a nickname, or perhaps limit Penny to just a special mom-only pet name. 

February 18, 2015 8:50 PM

Do you think this is generational? 

Reading these posts I'm remembering that my redheaded friend Did get teased back in the 70s, but I'm a junior high school teacher, and I honestly cannot think of a time I've heard of it being an issue. 

Maybe kids have just moved on to other things? Or perhaps it's more of an elementary thing. 

I also just don't think most people automatically think, "Red," with Scarlett. I think they're much more likely to say, "Southern," or "O'Hara," if you played word association. I would agree that Ginger or Cinammon (I knew a red headed Cinammon) would be too much.  

I could certainly be wrong about all that, though. I'd love a poll of a mixed age group of red headed gals.  Who wants to organize that? lol


February 18, 2015 10:48 PM

If we're doing free association, I think the most likely response to Scarlett is going to be Johansson. And O'Hara too, I suppose it would depend on who you ask.

If we really want a poll I could ask my aunts and cousins who range in age from 8 to 65. What should I ask them specifically?

February 19, 2015 6:51 AM

All the youngsters in the UK are choosing this because of Scarlett Johansson, and its sudden cool factor makes people all copy each other. Though I'm sure there are exceptions. And if they do connect a southern vibe to this name, it will be from the Scarlett O'Connor character on Nashville. If they know about Gone With The Wind, most likely it'll be because someone older has filled in the gap.

I personally have always thought of the Margaret Michell character, when I hear or see the name; and Vivien Leigh bringing the character Katie Scarlett O'hara to life. Oh and Clarke Gable was the perfect Rhett!

I did really like the name, before it became mainstream. I'd still consider it for a middle name, but my husband hates the 'scar' part of it, acting out the scene from Scarface, 'say hello to my little friend'...Boys will be boys!

Luckily, the name Charlotte is also similar, with a southern link, and has a nicer sound to it imo.

February 19, 2015 10:58 AM

I think it would be very interesting to know their opinions about naming a red-haired baby a "red" name.  Perhaps you could ask their opinion just generally, then break it out into a few specific names?  Scarlett, Ginger, Cinnamon, Ruby, Penny.  I do agree with someone upthread who said something like Ginger or Cinnamon would be much worse than Scarlett or Ruby, though I personally wouldn't do any of them for a red haired girl.

I'm the only redhead in my family, but I do have a couple of friends.  I could ask them as well.

February 22, 2015 1:01 AM

Preliminary poll results are in! I didn't get responses from everyone yet, so this may get updated. I asked people if they had ever been teased about their hair and what their thoughts would be on naming (or encountering) a red haired child with a red themed name. I gave the examples Scarlett, Ginger and Ruby.

So far only one ginger reports childhood teasing related to hair color, he is in his late 30s. None of the other people, or their ginger children, have had teasing about their hair. Including those children, that is respondents ranging in age from toddler to mid-40s. One woman, in her mid 30s, reported occasional teasing/crude comments only after reaching adulthood but she added that she isn't bothered by it.

There were no negative responses to the idea of naming a redheaded child a red themed name. In fact one mother reports that Ginger was one of the top two names she considered while pregnant with her daughter because her daughter would likely be red haired. That daughter is in fact red haired (total carrot top) but they went with the name Georgi@ Gr@ce nn GG, and GG only ever gets complements on her hair.

I will update if I get further responses.

By mk
February 19, 2015 2:31 PM

I don't recall any redheads being teased when I was a kid. Never even occured to me. The redheads I know as an adult the ones making fun of themselves. I was a redhead up until about 6 or so, then my hair turned over to brown. So that's always a possibility.

I think people see Scarlett as an actual name more than Ginger or Cinammon, and will associate it with O'Hara and Johannsson. I have no idea what the problem is with Penny.

February 19, 2015 3:13 PM

I think the issue is that Pennies are made of copper and so have a color association that is red/orange.

February 19, 2015 4:23 PM

Yep, it's the copper-colored association that makes it an issue.  I think some of the problem with Penny might depend on the specific color of red hair.  It might not be much of an issue for a strawberry blonde.  My hair is darker/more copper colored, and I think it would have been just too much.  

For those wanting a visual, my hair is about the same color as Karen Gillan's.


February 19, 2015 5:02 PM

Wow NAGA, that's a gorgeous color!

I'll add in another vote for passing over Scarlett for a redhead. As someone mentioned above, it reminds me of the unimaginative way that people (especially kids) name their pets by color: Midnight, Snowy, Brownie, etc. It comes off as gimmicky on a baby, whether you intended it or not.

February 19, 2015 8:37 PM

I think you should have two names set up: Scarlett and something else; if the baby's hair is red you can call her the other name.

February 20, 2015 2:28 PM

As a redhead who loves the name scarlett, I've had a similar dilemma. I've never been teased for my hair color, but my hair has always been a huge part of my identity. It's the first thing people comment on when they meet me, and I know when I was young especially it was what I was known for and I kind of wished people would notice you know, ME more. So I think a name like Scarlett would have just added to that. I wouldn't use it on a little redhead. (I'm making my hair sound like some kind of disfiguration or something. For the record I LOVE my hair color.)

The good news is that redheads don't typically change their hair color after they are born. If your child is born redheaded, she will stay redheaded, and if her hair isn't red, it won't be later in life. So you can feel safe using the name if her hair is not red at birth. And it really is a beautiful name.

February 20, 2015 4:24 PM

I don't think that's always true about hair color changing. Both my kids were born with black hair and it gradually changed to red(ish). My dad and his sisters all have red hair (I don't know what color they were born with) that has changed as they aged. So while it may be true for some, even most, redheads that their hair doesn't change I wouldn't count on it.

February 21, 2015 1:27 PM

I agree, redheads can change their hair color.  Like kids who are born towheads, some redhead kids will darken as they get older.

My oldest son was born platinum blonde, went through a strawberry blond phase as an infant and then darkened to his current light brown color.  In summer he'll pick up a few red highlights, but he is definitely not a red head anymore.  I also went to elementary school with a boy who had hair about the same color as mine.  But by the time we were in middle school his had changed to a very dark brown/almost black color.  

By mk
February 23, 2015 4:43 PM

You are right, it's not true. Anyone's hair color can change as we get older, because it has to do with the hair color genes turning on and off and not the original color.

So I would not use hair color at birth as the basis for choosing a name, unless you are ok with the possibility of it not working out as you hope later on.

February 24, 2015 11:20 PM

On second thought, it could actually be really cool, especially when she is older, like Scarlett in one of my favourite films, 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. She is edgy, hippy, cute and plays upon her name. It could be a feature and she may love to wear scarlet red lipstick. I know that the colour was originally a fabric, but one of the most prized colours was red, hence why the cloth became known as scarlet. Miriam offers the best explanation of this above. But most people do not associate the name with fabric, the colour takes precedence. It is however associated therefore, like scarlet, with scarlet fever, scarlet women aka prostitutes, O'hara and Johansson. But none of this should put you off. Especially if she is a strawberry blonde. But even so, I know of hippy women who have reinvented themselves, calling themselves Scarlett and dying their hair scarlet red. Either way, hippy, seductive or pretty and ethereal like Scarlett O'Connor in Nashville, this name has many sides. Everyone can agree that it has edge though. I think it can be pretty, and the girl makes the name, not the other way around.