One in Five British Mothers Regrets Her Child’s Name

When I read the title and reading line for the article Amelia Hill wrote in The Guardian: I guessed that the leading cause of “baby-name regret” was caused by picking a popular (e.g., top-20) name and then realizing how many other parents had made precisely the same choices.

Here are two fragments from the article that explain when and why parents begin regretting the names they have chosen:

-“The main reason for regretting the name was that it was too commonly used (25%).”
-“23% began to regret their choice when their children first started nursery or school.”

Why do so many parents fall into the trap of picking highly popular names for their children, (even though naming experts strongly recommend against that)?

Once you are pregnant, you start reading articles and books about baby names (which contain lists of the most popular names); and you also may start reading the birth announcement section of your local newspaper. Your ears are likely to perk up when friends and relatives start talking about their new babies. And when you notice new parents pushing baby strollers or carrying babies in slings, you go over to have a closer look. If you’re lucky, you might even be invited to hold the baby. Naturally, you ask the baby’s name, and say something nice about the baby and its name.

Pretty soon you realize that your interest in anything related to babies is giving you a “good feel” for names and which ones you like. Every time you meet a cute baby and “like” the name you are adding “data” to your very own baby-name “research project”—which includes your feelings about the names of cute babies you’ve cooed over or bounced; the names of babies your friends, relatives and neighbors have just announced; and the cute celebrity babies photographed in “People” and “Us.”

At some point it may dawn on you that the short list of names you are actively considering for your baby includes half of the top-10 list published every year by the Social Security Administration (or the agency in your country that publishes official name statistics).

How can newly pregnant parents avoid picking names they may wind up regretting, when they find out how popular they are? It helps to start your name search by making a list of names you like. They could be names of famous people you admire (e.g., Lincoln and Eleanor) names of characters in books or movies you love (e.g., Scout and Starbuck); names of your favorite actors or Olympic heroes (e.g., Simone and Bolt); names common in the language you studied in high school (e.g., Natasha and Ivan); names of your favorite foods or wines (e.g., Brie and Kale); names of your favorite places to vacation (e.g., Kauai and Siena); or names of relatives you want to honor.

By picking names that have meaning for you, you won’t be sidetracked by falling-in-like with names currently used by your friends, relatives and acquaintances and by the popular names in announcement lists and the media.

Brits are giving their dogs and babies the same names

Get ready for a lot of “Oh, no, I meant my dog; not your baby” moments. According to a new survey from, Brits are giving their dogs, cats, and babies the same names. Think that’s weird? Apparently, people think of their pets as children, suggests Ellen Scott of

Top male dog names:

  1. Charlie   6. Fred
  2. Jack         7. Simon
  3. Jasper     8. Simba
  4. Dexter    9. George
  5. Milo        10. Boomer

Top female cat names:

  1. Lily        6. Maddie
  2. Chloe    7. Emma
  3. Lucy       8. Coco
  4. Bella      9. Molly
  5. Luna      10. Callie

Other notable survey results:

-18 of the top 20 dog names are also on the most popular names for babies in 2014.

-Charlie and Jack are high up on the list for both dogs and babies.

-Lily, Chloe, Emma, Lucy, and Molly top both cat and baby names.

-Dogs are more likely to have alcohol names, like Whiskey and Kahlua.

-Cats tend to have dessert names.

-Star Wars leads in the category of nerdy pet names, like: Chewy, Leia, Yoda, and Vader.

-More current pop-culture-inspired pet names are: Elsa, Daenerys, and Piper.



32 Irish Names You Can’t Pronounce Without Peeking

Seamus is a fairly esoteric Irish name. It’s also a term Garrison Keillor uses in his Guy Noir radio stories to refer to a private eye. if you’ve ever listened to “Guy Noir” on NPR, you know how to pronounce Seamus.

Ever hear of an Irish singer named  Sinead O’Connor? Her  arrangement of a song (written by the artist formerly known as Prince) called “Nothing Compares 2 You” became a world-wide hit in the ’80s. 

After Sinead came Siobhan Donaghy, an English singer (of Irish descent) who was a founding member of the Sugababes–a girl band whose breakout hit in the year 2000 was “Overload.” 

If you don’t follow pop music closely, you’ll probably have no idea how to pronounce the names of those two Irish singers–or any of the other names on the list of Irish names below.

If you don’t believe me, try to pronounce the ten names listed below without peeking at the pronunciation guide (which you’ll have to scroll down to see). Don’t scroll down before you’ve tried to pronounce the next ten names.

Bet You Can’t Pronounce These Irish Girls’ Names Without Peeking






Bet You Can’t Pronounce These Irish Boys’ Names Without Peeking 






Now that you know even musicologists can’t pronounce the ten Irish names you’ve just slaughtered, take a look at the other 24 names to see if there are any you could have pronounced correctly. With that information in mind, print out this list, fold it up, and stick it in your pocket. Whenever you need a dollar or a fiver to buy a newspaper or a bottle of beer, bet any friend who brags of being Irish that he can’t pronounce a single one out of five or ten or fifteen or twenty Irish names correctly. It’s like stealing a green party hat from a drunk Irishman
on St. Patrick’s Day.

Hard-to-Pronounce Irish Girls’ Names (With Pronunciation)

Ailbhe: AL-va
Aine: ON-ya
Aislidh: ASH-lee
Aoife: EE-feh
Caoimhe: KEE-va or KWEE-va
Caitlin: CAT-leen or CATH-leen
Caitriona: kah-TREE-na
Ciara: KEE-ar-a or KEE-ra
Clodagh: CLOH-da
Daire: DAR-a
Eibhilin: ay-LEEN
Maire: MAIR-y
Mairghread,  Mairaid: mar-AID
Niamh: NEE-av or NEEV.
Oisin: UH-sheen
Orlaith: OR-lae or OR-la
Róisín: raw-SHEEN
Rionagh: RAY-na
Saorise:  SEER-sha or SAIR-sha
Sinéad: shin-ADE
Siobahn: sha-VAWN

Hart to Pronounce Irish Boys’ Names (With Pronunciation)

Aoibhinn, Aoibheann: EE-van
Aodhan, Aoden: AY-den, AY-dan
Cian: KEE-an or KEEN
Cillian: KIL-ee-an.
Conchobhar: CON-er
Darragh: DAR-a
Diarmuid: DER-mit
Eoghan, Eoin,: OH-wen
Oisin:  UH-sheen
Ruairi: ROAR-y
Tadhg: TIGE

British Reality TV Star Peter Andre and His Fiancee Finally Pick Amelia for Their Baby Girl

According to Samantha Carter of UK Celebrity News, “Peter Andre has got us waiting with anticipation on the edge of our seats.We never thought waiting for a baby name would be this nail-biting.” Apparently, reality TV star Peter Andre’s procrastination about picking a name for his baby girl had turned the British entertainment press into a bunch of angst-ridden, nail-biting neurotics as they waited for Andre and fiancée Emily MacDonagh to “MAKE UP YOUR MINDS, ALREADY!”

While entertainment writers were booking appointments for therapy and manicures, Andre and his fiancée were trying out names on their new-born daughter to see which one fit. They tried Elizabeth, Alexandra and Rose. And then they tried Amelia. And that’s when their baby girl smiled to let them know: “That’s the name I want.”

If Andre and Macdonagh had visited my “Cool Names for Girls” page on, they would have quickly discovered Amelia was the best choice and no therapy or manicure appointments for entertainment writers would have been necessary.

Top-10 Boys and Girls Names for 2013 in the United Kingdom

Here’s a list of the top-10 boys’ and girls’ names for 2013 in the U.K. (Source: Because there is no official source of U.S. baby name popularity data for the year 2013, I have added 2012 Social Security Administration popularity data (in parentheses) for each of the U.K. top-10 names to give you a rough idea how the top-10 U.K. boys’ and girls’ names rank in the U.S.

Boys’ Names:  Four of the U.K. top-10 names also rank among the U.S. top 10: Noah, Jacob, Ethan and William. Three of the U.K. top-ten names rank below the U.S. top 10 but higher than 100: Oliver, Isaac and Jack. And three of the U.K. top-10 names rank below the U.S. top 100: Oscar, Dylan and Harry. (And after all the fuss, did you notice that George (which was among the U.K. top-10 list before Prince George was born, has fallen off that list. For what it’s worth, George didn’t even make the U.S. top 100.)

Girls’ Names: Three of the U.K. top-10 names also rank among the U.S. top 10: Ava, Olivia and Mia. Three of the U.K. top-10 names rank below the U.S. top 10 but higher than 100: Grace, Amelia and Ella. And Four of the U.K. top-10 names rank below the U.S. top 100: Freya, Isla, Eva and Alice. (I’d wager that one reason Isla is relatively unpopular in the U.S. is that most Americans may not know how to pronounce it: EE-lah? I-lah? or ISS-lah.)

Boys’ Names                          Girls’Names

1. Noah (#4 in U.S.)                      1. Ava (#5 in U.S.)

2. Oscar (not in U.S. top-100)    2. Freya (not in U.S. top 100)

3. Oliver (#73 in U.S.)                   3. Isla (not in U.S. top 100)

4. Jacob; (#1 in U.S.)                     4. Grace (#21 in U.S.)

5. Isaac (#30 in U.S.)                     5. Amelia (#23 in U.S.)

6. Dylan (not in U.S. top-100)     6. Ella (#12 in U.S.)

7. Ethan (#3 in U.S.)                      7. Eva (not in U.S. top 100)

8. William (#5 in U.S.)                  8. Olivia (#4 in U.S.)

9. Harry (not in U.S. top 100       9. Alice (not in U.S. top 100)

10. Jack (#46 in U.S.)                     10. Mia (#8 in U.S.)

The Worst Celebrity Baby Names for 2013 From a U.K. Perspective

Here’s the way the Worst Celebrity Baby Names for 2013 looks on the other side of the Atlantic. My source was HeatWorld–a U.K. entertainment and celebrity news magazine. I’ll present the “awards” in reverse order, from bad to worse and all the way down to worst to heighten the suspense:

10th Fergie for naming her son Axl

9th  Kim Kardashian and Kanye West for naming their daughter North

8th Katie Price for naming her son Jett

7th Colleen and Wayne Rooney for naming their son Klay

6th Edith Bowman for naming her son Spike

5th Halle Berry and Oliver Martinez for naming their son Maceo

4th Bryan Adams for naming his daughter Lulu

3rd Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullum for naming their daughter Margot

2nd Jessica Simpson for naming her son Ace

1st Peaches Geldof for naming her son Phaedra

A few comments about the worst celebrity name. Phaedra was a character in Greek Mythology and the protagonist in a play by ancient Greek dramatist, Euripides. Apparently Phaedra was the wife of Theseus who cheated on him and came to a very bad end. Apparently Brits don’t think Phaedra is a great name for a baby boy. I agree wholeheartedly.

BTW, if you’re not familiar with some of the celebrity parents, you might want to click on the link to see what they (and their babies) look like.