By Any Other Name

A bad wound may heal, but a bad name will kill.

~Scottish Proverb

photo credit ODHD

Disclaimer:  Any similarity of characters in this piece to real people, living or dead is entirely intentional.  If I make fun of your name, I am not trying to insult you.  I am insulting your mother. 😉

For a number of years, the local hospital published the names of the babies born there each month.  I used to peruse the lists out of curiosity and boredom to see what the most recent baby-naming trends were.  This was a source of enjoyment for me, as I am easily entertained.  I would share some of the more interesting or amusing names with my friends and wonder about the motivation behind them.  (For example, Kodiak and Zodiac, born in the same month, seem destined to end up together. Emerald is a fine name for a jewel of a baby girl, but Emerald’s middle name is Erick, poor boy.)   Sadly, the hospital stopped publishing names; the newborn’s parents have a password that they may share with family and friends, but the curious public (me) would no longer be able to browse.

When I found myself thwarted in my quest for amusement, I took my search elsewhere, looking at other local hospitals’ sites to see if I could look at the baby names there.  I found that few hospitals allow uncontrolled access to that information.  I understand it is a privacy issue, and I respect that, being a mother myself — but finding the foibles of the human race fascinating, I was truly disappointed.  I kept looking.

I found a few blogs (many, actually) that write about celebrities and their baby-naming efforts.  To me, celebrities who give their children outright bizarre names are just using another route to drum up attention.  (Except, perhaps, for Frank Zappa, whose strangeness was thoroughly documented, and whose offspring would be unusual if they didn’t have odd names.)  Other sites would do an occasional bit on certain names that were in the news or noteworthy in some way.  Still, this did not satisfy my need for mockery.  Do not get me wrong – I think babies are wonderful.  Parents — specifically, illiterate, narcissistic, pop-culture parents who name their children with seemingly little thought to the children themselves – not so much.  I wince at some of the names these children are burdened with.

Then there are parents like Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who are famous not only for having 19 children, but for naming each one something that begins with “J.”  Their names are mostly normal, save for poor Jinger, because every time I see that name, the voice in my head rhymes it with “singer” or “linger.”  The Duggars seem to be a nice, loving, albeit large, family, and I have no qualms with them, except for having to muck up a decent name like Ginger to make it match their “J” plan.  Ack.

I know a woman with a unique name.  I asked her about it, wondering if perhaps it was a family name.  She sighed and shook her head.  “My mother wasn’t very smart,” she said.  “She couldn’t spell, and I don’t think she knew what the name she wanted to give me (Chastity) meant.  I’m glad she didn’t give me that name, but I sometimes wish she had given me something normal.”  She went on to tell me that she has to pronounce and spell her name to people constantly.  Her sons have regular names that they don’t have to spell or pronounce for people.

Things that make me twitch:

  • ‘Creative’ spellings, part I — if you name your son “Kyller,” unless his middle name is “Rhymes with Tyler,” expect him to be called “Killer” for the rest of his life.  There are certain spelling rules that we all learn in school that help us read words we don’t know.  If your child’s name doesn’t follow any of them, don’t expect us to know how to say it.
  • ‘Creative’ spellings, part II – how many ways can you spell it? Marquis, Marcus, Markis, Marques, Marquess, Marquish….Abigail, Abbigail, Abbygayle, Abbigale, Abygayl… they make me dizzy!
  • ‘Creative’ pronunciation – The lady next to me at the fabric store counter was looking at those ‘Made for You By’ tags and wishing she could find personalized stuff for her granddaughter.  I asked her granddaughter’s name.  She said, “It’s spelled like ‘Candace’ but it’s pronounced “Can-Day-See.”


Today’s list of “What Were They Thinking?” names, pulled from hospital birth listings nationwide:

Aqueana – Mookie – Edicular – Dustin Thunder – Wildarious – Uniqua – Tony Orlando Smith – Sparkle – Mystic Jewelle-Spell – Zobelle – Vegas – Erriche – Tokahe (girl) – A’Miracle – My’Envi – Legend (boy) – Tennessee (girl) – Coriander (boy) – Diesel – Draygin – Stetson – Creed – Stoney – Dy’Nisti – Bijhai – Thaddeusraine – Banx Malone – Vatiken – Oakley Kate – Paietences Terry’onna


photo credit Flowzim

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Aging like a fine wine. ;-)

7 thoughts on “By Any Other Name”

    1. I think there’s a fine line between ‘fun’ names and ‘What were they thinking?’ names. I find Ima Dora Handel pretty cute, but there’s probably no child in danger of wearing that moniker.
      I did see a man on a game show once whose name was Justin Case. That was a name I found clever.
      But A’Miracle? Diesel? Coriander?

  1. Face palm is right.

    I feel sorry for the boy named Coriander.

    When my eldest sister’s first child, a girl, was born, I asked my mother eagerly what her name was.

    “Naphtali,” she said flatly.

    “Natalie?” I asked, perhaps the first of one million times in the child’s lifetime her name will be confused for a more common one.

    “No. NaPHtali,” my mother corrected, still with the flat tone of voice.

    “Oh, okay,” I replied, “I think that’s a biblical name.”

    “Yes,” said my mother tersely.

    “What’s the matter with ‘Naphtali’? You don’t like it?” I probed.

    My mother sighed. “It’s a boy’s name.”

    “Mom,” I said, suddenly remembering where exactly in the Bible I’d heard the name, “I really don’t think the common person is going to know it’s one of the twelve tribes of Israel.”

    “I hope not . . .” she trailed off.

    And this from the woman who named her daughter ‘Bobbi.’

  2. Hahaha! You got her there!
    I’m not a big fan of the unisex name. Not sure why, but they strike me as unimaginative, like the parent didn’t want to bother finding a name for a girl and a name for a boy — one name will do the trick! I know plenty of folks with names like Bobbi, Kelly, and Taylor, and even some with less-common unisex names like Kim, Shelby, and Val. Those names suit them well, so apparently their parents didn’t need my advice. Imagine that.
    Nicknames are different, though — for a Charlotte to go by Charlie is fine. I suppose I like not having to guess when I see a name written whether that person is male or female. Yet another example of my peevishness, eh?
    And by the way, I didn’t recall Naphtali as one of Jacob’s sons, but my mind immediately seized upon ‘naphtha,’ a volatile and highly flammable solvent. 😉

  3. There used to be a blog called Baby’s named a Bad, Bad Thing. It was associated with a website called, though I haven’t seen it in years. Quite a few collected names, and some snarky comments on them.

    1. Welcome to Stuck on Zero! I have seen NotWithoutMyHandbag. I loved it, and yes, it was rife with snark. I should see if it’s still around, especially since you say you haven’t seen it in years.
      What amused me most were the women who would write in and say, “I’m expecting a baby in August and I have narrowed my list down to a few, but I can’t choose. Please tell me what you think: Armani Lendzee (girl), Meichole Aspen (boy), Nouri LaPointe (either sex). My other children’s names are Syren Chaste, Bukkitt Lizst, and Temeritee Hutspah. Thanks!” It seemed all irony was lost on those poor souls.

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