Absolute Guilty Pleasure Names

What are the names that you LOVE, but are maybe too outlandish for you to actually pick? Embarrassing nicknames, cultural figures, and pronunciation or appropriation issues are all out the window here. Go crazy!




May 28, 2012 2:49 AM

I'll get started. I love the name Io. It's two letters, and only vowels! And a moon of Jupiter! I found out about it during my preteen Greek myth phase, and while that would be another huge plus, the actual story is what makes it unusable, as she's a lover of Zeus that gets turned into a cow that is then left to wander the earth constantly stung by a gadfly sent by a vengeful Hera. I couldn't put that story on a child.


May 28, 2012 8:49 AM

i have a greek myth one too- Persephone. also, i mentioned this in another forum, but I love Catalina. we have no real 'right' to use it though, because we have a strictly English background and no exotic Italian or Hispanic flair, so i think it would just be a weird fit for us, unfortunately. however, i do remember friends with my same background who had a baby as teenagers and named her Mercedes, they had a plain last name too, like Smith. wonder if they ever caught a case of namers regret. i do remember people being absolutely astonished by their choice.

May 30, 2012 10:48 PM

Seraphina, Sophronia, and Iolanthe. :-)

May 31, 2012 3:52 PM

I know a Seraphina who goes by Sera.  She's sister to Eva/Evangeline.

June 1, 2012 11:12 AM

Awww... I can't convince my husband plus, we don't do repeating first initials, which rules out all "s" names for us. Partly why these are guilty pleasure names for me.

May 30, 2012 8:39 AM

My favorite names have included things like Mahendra and Cuauhtemoc for boys, and Elfrieda and Joaquina for girls. Although I'd still totally use Elfrieda and Joaquina. Oh, and for one of the more obscure geeky choices, Rhuobhe.


By Guest (not verified)
May 30, 2012 8:37 PM

Tallulah and Rhiannon.  Though I might someday be brave enough to use Rhiannon. I tell my mom all the time that I am going to have twins and name them Penelope and Persephone. She hates the name Penelope.  But I actually kinda like them- but not together. That would be confusion.

September 18, 2013 1:33 AM

there was a reality TV show in Australia some years ago (http://www.abc.net.au/tv/outbackhouse/txt/s1376041.htm) where the daughters were named Persephone, Pierette and Portia.  Sounded so fancy to me.  They were a fairly well-to-do family, but, wow.


And tell your mum that Penelope's a great name!  (not that I'm biased :) )

May 31, 2012 3:52 PM

I love Shoshana ever since reading the Joy Luck Club, which is ironic since the reason it's unsuable is that our Chinese accented parents wouldn't be able to pronounce it.

By Jill
June 2, 2012 2:44 PM

I've probably said this before, but I LOVE the names of the 3 sisters from Harry Potter: Bellatrix, Andromeda, and Narcissa.  

By hyz
June 7, 2012 9:33 AM

Funny--I love the idea of pairing Narcissa and Nigella as two slightly obscure botanicals.  Not so much for kids, but I think it could work on pets.  Maybe if I had cats (but I'm allergic)... or if/when I get a couple more hens....  I couldn't quite do that to dogs, since the names are both a little too long and a little too similar, and I think the dogs would get confused.  My other fantasy is two big guard dogs (mastiffs or some such) named Scylla and Charybdis. 

June 17, 2012 5:35 PM

Ha, hyz, I used the names Scylla and Charybdis myself in a sort of similar context. Let's just say that my early baby food log keeping track of breastfeeding for the pediatrician was more creative than "left" and "right". Would make excellent mastiff names, too, though, so I hope I haven't ruined it for you!

June 17, 2012 5:41 PM

Thank you! As I slave away writing my thesis, I desperately needed that laugh!

June 17, 2012 5:51 PM

You are welcome, and good luck with the thesis! I can't really claim full credit for the idea, as I was inspired by a friend who in high school started referring to her bosoms as Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern.

July 3, 2012 10:05 PM

Ha! I had a friend who used to call hers Sherman and Tecumsah. Now THAT'S scary!

By hyz
June 17, 2012 11:17 PM

too funny!  And I think Scylla and Charybdis are pretty perfect for that context, at least if you had the same issues with early oversupply that I did--two rocks would've been an accurate metaphor (ouch), but a rock and a whirlpool are pretty good, too.  I do not miss those early breastfeeding days.

June 17, 2012 11:57 PM

The naming predated this, but turned out to be prophetic as I also have major oversupply. S&C have been feeding my own massive baby into residing far above the growth charts and still donating somewhere in the ballpark of 15 oz per day. Charybdis particularly, so whirlpool seems apt, really, considering the deluge!

By Guest (not verified)
July 24, 2012 9:58 PM

I absolutely love Bellatrix and if she was't evil in the books I would use it. Instead I've transferred my love to Beatrix instead.

By Guest (not verified)
June 3, 2012 1:58 AM

Quetzal is the first one that comes to mind.  Paloma is another.  (Never noticed the bird theme before!)  On the boys side, Javier and Rafael, so I could get the nicknames Javi and Rafi. I'm a huge fan of Spanish names, but I'm about as white as they come.  Kind of a problem for someone who lived in Spain and speaks Spanish fluently.


October 24, 2013 10:57 PM

Oh my, I chose Quetzal years ago when living in Argentina!! I was certain I would use it! There is an NPR reporter named Ketzel Levine and I thought that might also work better for English. Now, despite having a Hispanic husband, I am not allowed to use the name because he hates it!

June 3, 2012 6:23 AM












Briseis (prisoner of Achilles)

Persephone (I think a lot of us like this one!) 







I have loved the name Nicodemus since seeing The Secret of NIMH as a child, Matthias and Enos just come across as powerful, classic names that would be fitting in a great literary tale. Caliban seems simi ok but it means demon, don't think I could ever do that to a child. Milias and Pryor are actually family names for me, my great grandfather was named Milas (pronounced like Silas but with an M) Pryor was a great uncle. I have always loved their names but my husband doesn't care for them and he says that putting Pryor in front of any last name almost sounds like you're saying Friar Lastname.

Theon, Arya and Sansa are all from Game of Thrones obviously as Eowyn comes from Lord of the Rings, I just think they're awesome names but having met an actual Arwen in college who hated her name, I know better than to go down that path, haha.

Loden is another name I have always loved but its too close to Logen which ironically enough, I don't care for. I have the greek guilty pleasure name syndroym too apparently with Briseis, its such a pretty name but I worry about people pronoucning it right and also it actually means prisioner of Achilles, so I don't think I feel right bestowing it on a child. I think its funny how many of us like Persephone, haha.

Ola, I would love to use this one except my hubby isn't a fan, its another old family name, my great aunt was named Ola and I think its an adorable name. I can see it easily fitting in with other 3 letter one syallable names like Ava, and Mya. I think Ola and Ava would be an adorable twin set or Ola and Mia just to move away from the kind of rhymey feel of Ola and Ava. I would love to see this one surge in popularity.

Oriana means golden and probably would be ok to use except it feels a little too out there for me, in terms of once again, pronounciation worries. I feel she would go through life constantly correcting people which I have dealt with too much being simply a Caroline who constantly gets called Carolyn instead.

But its fun to talk about the names that you know you'll never use, I really like this thread!

June 3, 2012 3:45 PM

One of mine is Elestren.  I think it sounds beautiful, but can also see how it would sound a bit hippy-scifi-fantasy.  Plus I don't have any Cornish connections to justify it.  Plus a nickname like Ellie wouldn't really do it justice.

By Guest (not verified)
June 6, 2012 6:15 PM

Olympia and Oswald

June 7, 2012 6:21 PM

Alexavier for a boy. my husband thinks it looks and sounds made up and he dislikes Xavier for being too preppy.

June 15, 2012 4:22 PM

Boys: Nicodemus (like BravoEcho), Archimedes, Joachim (though this is on our list for future boys), Atticus

Girls: Jacinta, Mattea, Seraphina, Christiane, Regan, Junia

June 24, 2012 12:09 PM

Also Xanthe and Jemima for girls, and Cajetan for a boy

June 16, 2012 5:37 PM

Ariadne is my big one. It's gotten quite acceptable in my head due to thinking about it through the years (and Inception helped!), but I never managed to turn my husband around. I also have five kids with pretty traditional/popular names, so it would be a bit of an outlier at this point (and my sixth child who I'm currenty pregnant with is probably our last and male). 

I also love Bellatrix, but couldn't work out how to explain to a child that her namesake was a bit of a sadistic villain. On a more mainstream note, my husband and I both adore the name Cora, but our last name has a very similar sound and it just doesn't work. 

June 20, 2012 8:00 PM

I remembered another one of mine on the subway this morning - I love the name Brooklyn. I live in Manhattan, so I would feel ridiculous naming a child that. But I really love the sound of it. 

June 20, 2012 6:59 PM

I just posted them in that contest thread.   This is not even a complete list.



I have so many.


Thessalonica - this was the name of one of Alexander the Great's sisters

Sparta - the name of a nymph from Greek mythology but nobody would realize that

Philadelphia - again nobody would know that this started as a woman's name before the city was founded


Iphigenia (I might use this)

Agrippina (would probably use it)

Kilminta - love it but is starts with kill



Maria da Glora

Bienvenue - legit French name but most people will only think of the word

Dieudonnée - to French and over the top

Touissante - too French and too obscure

Hortense - I would never do that to a child but I have a positive association with this name

Theodolinde - so clunky

Polyhymnia - might use this

Jocasta - might use this one too


Ankhesenamun - my favorite ancient Egyptian name


Tanaquil - sounds like a medicaton

Semiramide - Italian form of Semiramis,  lots of pronunciation issues


Ptolemais - feminine form of Ptolemy


Pompeia (maybe I would use this)


Ryngałła - virtually impossible to pronounce in English

Januaria /  Janvière - Polish and French forms,  first sounds made up second has pronunciation issues

Gertrudis - too clunky but I have a soft spot because of the character in Like Water for Chocolate

Mnestra - too out there

Messalina - bad conotations although there were also saints by the name


St. John (pronounced sinjin) - to over the top and nobody would get the pronunciation

Agamemnon - over the top

Longinus / Longin - might use this

Ajax - love it but it's a brand of cleaning products in America

Agenor - might use this

Cato - too many moder cultural references overshadow the ancient figure but I might use the Polish form Katon in the middle

Sejanus - love the sound but it ends in anus

Orestes - sounds like arrest these,  love the Italian form Oreste as well

Pertinax - too much and some kind of product name in some countries

Winwaloe - way too obscure

Rama - probably not culturaly appropriate plus it's a word meaning gate in my first language

Indra -  again not culturally appropriate

Napoleon - maybe in the middle

Guilford/ Guildford  - couldn't bring myself to use a random surname as a name

Lytton - ditto

Actor - nobody would know this is a legit Greek name

By Guest (not verified)
June 21, 2012 10:05 AM

Thais is pretty great!  I like it in the same way that I like Anais and Xanthe.  Short, Greek, with nice soft consonants.  

[Although I'm a little hung up on the fact that it seems that the correct Greek pronunciation of Xanthe is more like Ksantay, so much harder consonants than in the English (mis)pronunciation. (Basing the latter on a brief mention of the name on an episode of Who Do You Think You Are, so correct me if I'm wrong).]

To continue my tangent, I'm a little wary of Greek names that aren't widely used in English because I think the modern Greek pronunciation tends to be quite a bit different from the English pronunciation, and often somewhat unpleasant to English ears.  If a Greek name has a common English pronunciation, like, I don't know, Zoe or Athena, I don't think it's an issue.  But, for example, several people have mentioned the name Calliope/Kalliope.  I have a Greek acquaintance with that name, and she pronounces it much more like Kali-ope, rhymes with cantaloup.  That said, she also pronounces it very quietly, so I could be wrong.

Any Greeks want to help me with correct pronunciation of some of these names we NEs seem to be intrigued by?



By EVie
June 21, 2012 12:49 PM

I don't think that English speakers are obligated to use the correct modern Greek pronunciations for classical Greek names, any more than we need to use the correct Italian pronunciation for Latin names (e.g. Cecilia in Italian is cheh-CHEE-lee-ah... and in classical Latin it would have been keh-KEE-lee-ah... but we say suh-SEE-lee-ah). These names have been spoken in English for hundreds of years, since before Modern Greek and Italian evolved into what they currently are, and there's an English-language tradition for their pronunciation. ZAN-thee for Xanthe and cah-LYE-oh-pee for Calliope are fine. 

By Guest (not verified)
June 21, 2012 2:32 PM

St. John pronounced "Sinjin"? That reminds me of my cousin who named her daughter "Elizabeth" and pronounced it "Butt Juice." 

June 21, 2012 3:54 PM

Nice try at being funny but St. John pronounced sinjin is a traditional English name and not something I made up.  As an example you might remember the novel Jane Eyre in which there is a character named St. John.  You can see the name come up in English birth announcements sometimes.

June 22, 2012 9:07 PM

The film Four Weddings and a Funeral has that funny wedding scene where the priest (Rowan Atkinson) botches the name of the groom ... one of his mns is St. John and the priest says "St. John" (like the evangelist) and the groom repeats back the words with the correct pronunciation, "SIN-jin." http://www.babynamewizard.com/baby-name/boy/st-john

By EVie
June 21, 2012 4:12 PM

Magdalena is right. Another example is St. Clair pronounced "Sinclair." 

June 23, 2012 6:24 AM

And to throw in another one, Sidney from "St Denis".

By Guest (not verified)
July 13, 2012 2:41 PM

Your list reminds me of the Binewski family from Katherine Dunn's Geek Love: Aloysius, Janus, Arturo, Leona, Iphigenia, Electra, Olympia, Apple, Clifford, Maple, and Fortunato. It's a pretty indescribably book.

I know a real-life St. John "Sinjohn"and a real-life Napoleon, both in their twenties, so, somebody's out there, using these names.

Also, Mnestra and Pertinax are totally awesome. As in "I am Mnestra. Welcome to my lair. This is my black panther, Pertinax."

By Guest (not verified)
July 24, 2012 10:06 PM

I noticed the Geek Love names too. I have loved Iphigenia since that book, especially because I loved that the girls nicknames were Iffy and Ellie.

By Guest (not verified)
June 21, 2012 2:55 PM

Ksenia! Which nobody could ever pronounce... I'm not even sure I'm pronouncing it correctly but if I am then i really like it.

By Guest (not verified)
August 1, 2012 7:28 PM

OOOO I know how to pronounce it! Because there have been a couple well known Russian gymnasts with that name and I am a huge gymn fan ;)


Mine are:











By Guest (not verified)
August 1, 2012 7:28 PM

OOOO I know how to pronounce it! Because there have been a couple well known Russian gymnasts with that name and I am a huge gymn fan ;)


Mine are:











July 3, 2012 10:11 PM

I love Galen and Gaius, but I'd never ever even think about using either. One of the mechanics we use is named Galen, however, and he wears it well. I'd guess he's in his mid-30s.

July 8, 2012 1:50 PM




Winifred "Winnie"

Jesse for a boy

July 20, 2012 2:17 PM

My daughter's name is Louise.  And I have a friend who has two daughters named Phoebe and Frances.  I would say you have great taste in names!  No guilt!

July 10, 2012 4:32 PM

I have two: Tallulah and Gemima. Music to my ears, but not to everyone else's.

July 25, 2012 1:20 AM

Most of these I might actually use, maybe......

Girls: Evangeline, Juniper, Ophelia, Astoria, Serephina, Virelai, Valentine, Lirael, Vesta, and Viatrix

Boys:West, Cannan, Tycho, Leander, Diggory, Ezekiel, Bastien, and Johanan

June 24, 2013 4:43 PM

I named my business Viatrix. Works well for a business that serves mostly women for the "voyage through life". :)

July 26, 2012 10:11 AM

Another name I'd forgotten i'd love to use: Melchisedec.

July 26, 2012 10:37 AM

As in, "My king is righteousness"?

EDIT: Looked it up and apparently it's a name that I must have come across in the past but that I never noticed because we didn't discuss him in class.