They're going to called...

One of my big peeves in regards to naming is when someone says "But they're going to get called [blank]!!!!"

My name is Molly, a name that's hovered relatively steadily between 110 and 90 for about 30 years (except the big jump to 78 in 2011), so it's popular and familiar, albeit a bit down-home and cutesy, but with a long historical legacy as a common nn for Mary. However, I've been called everything from Molly McButter to Good Golly Miss Molly many, many times in my life. My ln is L@cy, and I also got called Molly Laci Peterson frequently by certain callous people when Laci Peterson was murdered, plus a number of names having nothing to do with my name at all. Isabelle (and its varients), all very popular currently, and you'd think it the name-calling aspect wouldn't affect it, but it's my niece's name, and she was teased mercilously by a boy who called her Lizard Bell.

Of course we all know that some children and adults will find any way to make fun of someone, but I'm curious about WHY people hate on a name based on this argument. It comes up mostly with unusual names, so maybe it's a defense mechanism to deal with the unfamiliar? i.e., "I'm not comfortable with it, so the easiest way to deter you from using it is to mock it". I hate this argument, because there are so many old, interesting, and unused names that people really love, but feel too fearful to use because of the mockery someone they care about presented to them. Everything about it is mean.

Do you all have any thoughts about this? Any names you've been called, or unforseen teasing upon a child in your life?


May 16, 2012 4:54 PM

I think unless there is a particularly unpleasant association (such as the H@rry P@lmer idea that Jane proposed in another thread) you should not worry about teasing because almost everyone gets teased for some reason or another. If I was naming a daughter I might have the thought of using Nellie because it is a family name, but then hesitate because she might get called Smelly Nellie. Hmm, I would have to decide which feeling mattered more to me. However, I might also like the name Isabelle and would never think that she would get called Lizard Bell so I might go with that. She might need glasses though and the kids would then call her Four Eyes instead. 

So, I think it's a double edged sword to worry. You could avoid all the rhymes and teaseworthy names that you can think of, but there will be other reasons to get teased. Or you could pick the name you absolutely love and teach the child to be strong and support her if she feels she needs to change her name at some point. It's name regret either way. Oh and the same holds true for boys names.

By EVie
May 16, 2012 5:19 PM

This makes me think of the old Full House episode in which Stephanie gets upset because some kids at school start calling her Step-on-me. She decides that she wants to change her name to Dawn, and spends the episode insisting that people call her that, until her friends & family come up with various ways to make fun of the name Dawn and convince her that any name can be teased and she should stick with Stephanie.

My husband has vetoed at least a couple of names based on teasing potential—most notably Liesel, which he says sounds like Weasel and Diesel, and Marcus, which makes him think of Mucus. I think in his case, and probably for a lot of people who make that argument, what they actually mean is that's the association *they* make when they hear the name. Even if they're too polite themselves to actually tease someone (which I would hope most adults are), they project the instinct onto others and assume that other kids will make the same connection (and apparently when my husband was a kid, there was a company in his area called Marcus Milk, and he and his friends actually did refer to it as Mucus Milk—so there's a precedent). 

In my husband's case, I (somewhat grudgingly) respect his bad associations—he shouldn't have to name his kids Weasel and Mucus. I would probably be much less tolerant if other people said the same thing, which is why we're not revealing any names until they're already given.

And by the way, I love Molly. My first choice name for a long time was Amalia with Molly as the nickname. It was vetoed because DH knew an Amalia he disliked, not for any teasing reasons this time.

By mk
May 16, 2012 5:45 PM

I think because pretty much any name has teasing potential, being teased for your name is a relatable topic for everyone. So people in general are more sensitive to teasing possibilities of a name because they remember being teased for their name.

Growing up, it seemed that it was the more recognizable names that were used for teasing, since they could be attached to a song or character (like you with Molly), or names that have obvious rhymes.

But yes, a kid who wants to tease another kid will find a way, and kids are really creative.


May 19, 2012 10:31 AM

the worst i was ever called was Dana Pana or Dana Wana or oddly, Dana Banana, but they didn't really hurt my feelings. however i myself DO hesitate when thinking of potential teasing with a baby name. when i see (on another pure polling site) names like Annalee Analeigh or Oralia, Oralie, i cringe and only think of the nasty things they may get called in junior high or high school.   also in dealing with my own family, a 'cousin-in-law' made a disgusted wrinkled face when we introduced Clair four years ago and said please tell me you won't call her 'clair bear', well we do, but i bet if he said that when i was pregnant, i would've been crushed, even though clair bear is not an insult, the negative reaction was really hard for me. another example, my mom crushed my poor sister in law, who, in her young 20's decided she liked the name Jeremiah, to which my mom replied "was a bullfrog'.  so my brother and sis in law did pick a different name, but she still likes jeremiah and i told her to use it, because no one will call him a bullfrog, once he arrives. that conversation really bothered my sil. another example from the past, was  a "man" , i use quotations, since he really acted like an immature boy. he would rhyme any name with a negative word or phrase. Scary sherry or mary, chester molester, lizard for any elizabeth, wendy drut neighborhood slut.  people can be unbearable!  but to agree with all posters that have said it already, people or kids can find ways to tease you could never imagine, so you just have to pick something you really like, unless it is among the Lemonjello type name that is an invitation to tease, and go with it.

Finally, i really love watching 30Rock reruns and remember Tina Fey's character, Liz Lemon balking at all Jacks' (Alec Baldwins) name choices for a new baby, Jacqueline-Jack with Boobs, she made fun of Claire, and several other good names, but what i loved was when she said something like 'don't ever name your kid Christina because they'll get called Tina and Tina's are all such bitches" which was classic that she made fun of her own name, very disarming.

May 23, 2012 12:06 AM

I got called both "Laura Bore-a" and "Laura Poor-a" as a child (which was extra-annoying as my family's pronunciation of Laura rhymes with neither of those words, so the teasers were not even getting my name correct).   Kids will find something, is my feeling, although it's probably worth avoiding obvious problems (initials that spell ASS, naming your son Richard when your last name is Ball, etc). 

May 25, 2012 1:06 PM

I think you're right about it being a defense mechanism against the unfamiliar. 

I thought this comment thread at Reddit was really interesting:

It's full of people explaining how their names were made fun of growing up, and some of the most normal, common names came in for the most abuse! Long story short is that well-known names don't defend you from name-related teasing, and in some cases may even make it easier!


Some quotes from that thread:

  • "my name is nickname is maxi pad"
  • "'Oh, we have a room here named after you.' (My name's John)"
  • "In sixth grade people felt compelled to inform me every day that Liz rhymes with jizz."
  • "oh, you were named after Hannah Montana!" NO. Shut up. You can't be "named after" someone younger than you.
  • "Annie, little orphan Annie!"
  • "My friends in school were big fans of Homestar Runner. Every time they saw me 'Eh!! Steve!'"
  • "George George George of the jungle. HAR HAR HAR"
  • "Fellow George here. Don't forget Curious George, George Washington, George Porgie, kissing the girls and making them cry. Childhood was torture."
  • "Every six months or so, I'll be just outside a room and hear, "Where'd Chris go? CRISCO HAHAHAHA" and then everyone laughs."
  • "My name is Dan. I *expletive* hate when people say 'Dan the Man'"
  • "Nick-Nick-Nick- Nick-Nick-Nick-Nick- Nickelodeon."

May 25, 2012 1:48 PM

Whenever asked for input on baby names, I usually share my associations and potential silly nicknames.  I hope that tendency isn't interpreted as an argument against those names; I'm not sure I always add that disclaimer, but will now.  

I personally solicited such potential nicknames, rhymes, and stupid jokes, just to be prepared for them and in case I was missing something obvious to dirtier minds, like Mike Hunt, or legitimately bad, such as malicious characters in history or fiction.  For example, I liked the name Delilah, but was comepletly unaware of the negative biblical association.  

I agree, though, about the weight of such information.  I also like the examples from the article linked above.  It makes sense that the most common names will get the most teasing, because the less inventive teasers have so much more opportunity to hear previously-invented nicknames.

June 14, 2012 2:24 AM

I would concentrate more on what "well meaning" people (or at least neutral people) will think when they hear your child's name.  Laci Peterson???? Seriously???  And Lizard Bell?  I think anyone who is that aggressively negative will try their best to make up a bad name association... and if they fail, they'll resort to "poopy-head" or "dumb face".  Ignore the haters.

November 12, 2012 9:42 AM

Not all teasing is completely bad, and not all nicknames that kids come up with are negative, either.


I've known a kid who's name was pronounced differently than what the spelling would suggest. Everyone in class knew how to pronounce their name correctly, but when school subs came, some kids would purposely tell the sub the wrong pronounciation. But they didn't mind this too much.

At one point in time, two kids in class had shared the same name, so one of them started getting called by their surname (which we all thought sounded like the coolest of all of our surnames!) 

Those are the best I can think of right now :)




May 18, 2015 11:12 PM

My given name is Philomena Mihalopoulos (I've always gone by Mena). That alone should tell you how much I was teased growing up.

Most kids called me Philip , Meanie, Mania, etc. It wasn't until middle school when my teacher, a devout Catholic, stood up for me and had a whole class period where he discussed Patron Saint Philomena and her story. To this day, I avoid discussing my first name with strangers because I was teased all through my childhood.