Thoughts on nickname Ona?

Hi there,

My husband and I are TTC, and are talking some about names. My husband's grandmother is named Leona, and since my dad and grandfather are both named Leon, I've been thinking a lot about using the name for a girl. It used to sound a little too old-lady for me but I'm not sure why, in the past couple weeks it's just started sounding cuter to me, especially with the nickname Ona.

One of the comments on the page for the name Ona on this website says that girls named Ona would be bullied on the playground. Am I missing something obvious to make fun of?? 

What would you think if you met a little girl who was introduced as Ona?


March 8, 2017 7:45 PM

Leona is lovely and will fit right in with  other vintage revival names on the playground. I also love that this is a multi generational and cross gender namesake tradition.

I have no idea why someone would think Ona would be bullied.  The only thing I can think of is that it does sound like the phrase own a, but that seems fairly harmless.  If it turns out Ona is a teaseworth name, she would have the full Leona to fall back on at school.  I think you are safe using Leona with Ona as a nickname.

March 9, 2017 12:04 AM


March 8, 2017 11:57 PM

I personally love it. And it's significant to your family, so I'd say go for it!

March 9, 2017 4:15 AM

I wouldn't think much of it -- I know an Oona.

I suspect the teaseworthy thing being referenced is that Ona like Leona is pronounced like "own a", like "I own a car". I don't really think this is problematic in the slightest, but if it ever *should* become problematic, little Leona can go by Leona... or Lea or Leo or Lee or one of many other nickname choices. Thus, I think it's a total non-issue in this situation.

Leona doesn't sound fusty to me at all -- Leonie has been enormously popular in Germany in recent years. Here, I think it has the liquid sounds that are currently all the rage, just with more substance and history behind it.

March 9, 2017 7:19 AM

I think Leona is a great name to use in your family! I also have no idea why an Ona would be bullied. Certainly she wouldn't be bullied in Barcelona, where I live. It was the 13th most used name for girls last year (given to almost 6% of girls born), and I know several little ones.


March 9, 2017 9:08 AM

I can't imagine a little Ona would be bullied on the playground unless the bully's parents were of a particularly strong puritanical bent and had very innappropriate conversations around their little bully. Onan was the son of Judah, who was supposed to impregnate his brother's widow, Tamar. He instead "spilled his semen on the ground" (Genesis 38:9), which gave rise to the term onanism. Over time, that has come to be associated with masturbation. Apparently there were a number of popular pamphlets published during Colonial days in both Europe and America warning against the evils of onanism. That being said, this is not a term in current use. I only remembered it because my sister-in-law had read one of those pamphlets at one point and was talking about it over a holiday dinner (she has a flair for the dramatic). I would not hesitate to name a daughter Leona--it's a lovely name--but Ona might give me pause as it's an image that is hard to erase once mentioned. Sorry I had to pass it on to you!

By EVie
March 9, 2017 10:59 AM

Onan and onanism always makes me think of an anecdote I read about Dorothy Parker. She named her pet bird (in some versions it's a canary, in some a parakeet, I haven't verified the sources) Onan, because he "spills his seed." 

I can see making the connection between Ona and Onan, but I think it's one that very few people will make, plus there's no need to use the nickname Ona if you don't want to.

March 9, 2017 12:44 PM

Onan the pet bird! I love it!

I know the Biblical reference and word (it comes up occasionally when discussing the word "onomastics"), but I totally failed to connect Ona to it, and even now that it has been pointed out, I'm finding it hard to associate the two. In any case, it is NOT a playground teasing topic, because the sorts of kids (or adults) who try to raise themselves by lowering others are not usually the sorts who have any inkling about esoteric vocabulary.

March 9, 2017 2:26 PM

Ditto. Even with Ona is in Onan pointed out, I don't make a connection between them. They're said differently, too, aren't they? Own-uh and Own-in?

Ona comes across as European or Scandinavian to me. There's no good or bad value in that. I don't make any other associations. And it is a nickname so hardly worth further scrutiny.

By mk
March 9, 2017 3:05 PM

Any name that is in the least bit uncommon or unusual seems to have some comment online saying the person will be teased. I'd ignore it, personally.

Besides, kids are pretty adaptable to a person's name. It's not like we are all born knowing what is popular and what is rare. Plus, those growing up today are used to more unusual names.

March 10, 2017 9:45 AM

Thanks everyone! My main concern was that there was something really obvious I was missing. I will keep trying out the name and see if I'm still digging it when the time comes!