12 baby names that made you go “what were they thinking?”

Here are 12 names that made HerFamilie.ie  wonder, “What were they thinking?” I think you’ll have the same reaction. Here’s their list:

  1. Nutella
    In France one couple recently got the axe for trying to name their child after the world’s favorite chocolate spread. But in the US, however, couples name their kids after their favorite brands all the time. Here are some that were recently registered: Cartier, Chanel, Dior, L’Oreal, Armani and Nike.
  1. Messiah
    A Tennessee judge recently  told two parents that they couldn’t name their child Messiah. However, the judge’s request to deny Messiah his birth name was later overturned because of religious bias, and the child joined the ranks of several thousand others with the name. We feel people might have some unreasonable expectations to this guy!
  1. Porsche
    Well, if Mercedes can do it…
  1. Winner and Loser
    We’re not even joking about this one. Parents from Harlem actually used these names for their twin babies.
  1. Hashtag
    A couple in San Francisco named their first-born Hashtag – we can’t wait for his sister, Retweet, to come along!
  1. @
    No, guys, this is NOT a typo. A Chinese couple wanted to dub their son “@.” But at least they had a sweet reason mind: In Chinese, @ is pronounced ai-ta, which is very similar to a phrase that means “love him”. Okaaaay then, we’ll let them away with that one.
  1. Adolf Hitler
    A New Jersey couple actually named their son Adolf Hitler Campbell — and his poor sister JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell. Guess what? The New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services ended up intervening. Shocker.
  1. Facebook
    In Mexico, a judge recently banned the name Facebook, but an Egyptian dad dubbed his little girl with the same name, and got away with it.
  1. Lucifer
    We feel like it is a little bit poor form to brand your child with the name of Antichrist, no?
  1. Cheese
    Three UK babies were bestowed this moniker last year. We feel like they all need siblings called either Smelly or Chutney.
  1. Panda
    There are no words for this one. Really
  1. Kiwi
    Well, if Gwyneth got away with Apple….


An Open Letter to ebabynames.com About The Most Bizarre Name, Zzyzx

Hi Dennis,

Thanks for writing me about Zzyzx. I think the research you collected about the “most bizarre” name was interesting from the standpoint of using bizarre names to gain attention for your website. However, I seriously doubt that “real baby name experts with a passion for onomnastics” are interested in finding out whether the most bizarre name is Zzyzx, Abcde or Nimrod. I think there are a lot more interesting and important questions to investigate. By spending time and money on consumer research to find the most bizarre name you trivialize your “baby name experts” and the value of your website to parents.

I can imagine 15 clowns driving to work in a Smart Fortwo auto and piling out at your front door. They agree that Zzyzx is the most bizarre name but debate whether Abcde or Nimrod is the second most bizarre name. Good luck in finding someone who takes the work of your onomnastics experts seriously.

Bruce Lansky
Baby Names in the News

P.S. I just got back from a trip to sunny southern California. Suddenly the snow is gone from Minnesota roads and golf courses. I haven’t written a new post in about a week. I hope you don’t mind me having a little fun at your expense. If you’re serious about wanting some tips about what you should be researching and writing about instead of discovering “the most bizarre name,” here are a few ideas: What motivates a parents to give their babies bizarre names like Zzyzyx, Nimrod or Abcde? Should bizarre names like these be banned? If not, do people see them as a form of child abuse? If so, what kind of court-ordered “counseling” should the parents who gave their babies these names receive?


From: Dennis van Rooij Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2014 2:38 PM

Subject: Zzyzx voted the most bizarre real baby name

Hi Bruce,

My name is Dennis van Rooij and I’d like to let you know about an article we at eBabyNames have been working on. We wanted to investigate what people think is the worst baby name of the last fifteen years. There are a lot of lists about the worst celebrity baby names, but how good (or bad) are American parents themselves when it comes to picking a baby name? We compiled a list of strange names from the past 15 years and asked 1,500 people to let us know what they considered the most strange name and why. We also asked them if they know people with strange names themselves that might not have been on our list.

We were able to find the top ten strangest baby names and found that, while everyone agreed on the number one name, there was a difference between men and women and between the Western and Eastern part of the US.

You can read the full article here: http://www.ebabynames.com/zzyzx-most-bizarre-name

I hope you like the article. Maybe you could share your opinion on the article or give us some tips for future articles?

About eBabyNames.com

eBabyNames is a team of name experts and web designers. eBabyNames is a website built to help expectant parents find the best baby names. Unlike many websites, our database of names was created by real name experts with a great passion for onomastics, the study of names and their backgrounds. As a result, we proudly offer a selection of the finest baby names accompanied by accurate and complete background info.

Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback.

With kind regards,

Dennis van Rooij


“What’s in a Name?” Find Out in This New York Times Movie Review

If don’t believe me when I state that the name you pick for your baby can make a big difference in the lives of the parents and the child, go to a movie theater and watch what Stephen Holden calls a  “hilarious French farce” called “What’s In a Name.” Or, read Holden’s movie review published in The New York Times.

The movie is about a well-lubricated dinner party at which a real estate agent named Vincent announces he plans to name the baby he and wife Anna are expecting Adolphe. Vincent’s sophisticated friends are shocked and soon everyone’s name is being subjected to cruel (but funny) mockery. (If you’ve ever been teased about your name–you’ll realize the importance of avoiding names likely to subject your child to teasing.)

I’m currently on vacation, and movie theaters in Naples, FL don’t usually feature French farces reviewed in the NYT. So, I’ll have to wait until I get back to Mpls. (where the temps are currently in the single digits) to see the movie. If there are any plot points or insights worth going into detail about, I’ll write my own movie review in a post I’ll call “What’s in a Name Part 2.”

P.S. If this subject intrigues you, you might want to take check out a post I wrote about a couple who named their son Adolf–an action that had serious consequences for parents and child.

What Comes to Mind When You Hear the Name Bambi?

A Wall St. Journal article about a Hollywood stockbroker whose license was suspended caught my eye—when I looked at the photo (that accompanied the article) and was informed by the caption that the broker’s name was Bambi.

The first thing I did after reading the article was to pick up a copy of The New Baby Name Survey, a book I co-authored with consumer-research expert, Barry Sinrod, many years ago. In a large-scale consumer research survey that went out to 100,000 adults, we asked respondents to tell us what came to mind when they thought of the name Bambi (and about 1,750 other names).

Here’s what our respondents told us: “Disney’s Bambi was an innocent fawn, but a woman with this name is probably far from innocent. People think of Bambi as a ditzy and bubbly bimbo. It’s most likely a stage name for a hooker or stripper.”

Reading the Journal article, I discovered that a real woman named Bambi…

“spent decades as a financial broker to Hollywood’s rich and famous, dispensing advice from her offices in Beverly Hills California. She wrote financial self-help books and frequently appeared on television. But she had another claim to fame: reaching the top 10 among 550,000 brokers with the highest number of customer complaints.”

I’ve always been on the lookout for news articles that presented stories which indicated some kind of relationship between names and behavior. For example–an item in the news about Thomas Crapper of Crapper, Ltd. Toilets in London who entitled his autobiography “Flushed with Pride.”

I found it noteworthy that Madonna, a superstar with a pious, saintly name, had a well-earned reputation for “romantic escapades” which were not remotely “pious” or “saintly.” I found it noteworthy when I drove past strip joints which featured “Bambi” on their marquee as a star performer. Which explains why I find a real-world example of a Hollywood broker named Bambi who is alleged to have “screwed” scores of (64) big-name clients, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her husband, Brad Hall.

There may be some girls named “Chastity” who live up to that ideal, though once they get married and have a family, the name becomes ludicrous (if it wasn’t already a joke). So the idea of parents trying to “legislate” morality by giving their daughters names that imply chastity, piety or innocence is likely to produce the exact opposite effect than the one intended.

Baby Born In McDonald’s Bathroom Will be Called Ronald McDonald

Here’s the exciting story from NineMSN about a young mother, 6-months pregnant, who unexpectedly gave birth in a McDonald’s bathroom on October 17.

A mother who gave birth in a McDonald’s bathroom in the US has made a remarkable homage to the fast food company, naming her newborn son ‘Ronald’ after its famed mascot.

Shardonnay Hill, 20, had stopped at a McDonald’s in Lake Walks with her family to use the bathroom when she unexpectedly went into labour, Bay News 9 reports. “She was only six months pregnant,” said the woman’s grandmother, Barbara Albert. After realising that Hill was going into labour, Albert called for help and asked employees to “go get some boxes and flatten them out and get her to lay down. She can’t have the baby over the toilet.”

A handful of McDonald’s staff surrounded Hill and helped to deliver the baby while on the phone to emergency crews. Despite the intense situation, employees remained calm as they followed instructions from the dispatcher, cradling the baby and even bursting the embryonic sac.

Five minutes into the six-minute labour the baby was born. At first the newborn wasn’t breathing, but thankfully by that time paramedics had arrived. “I just hope and pray that the baby will be ok,” said Albert. “She’s a young mother, it’s her first pregnancy , first baby. So she’s upset.”

The grandmother also revealed that on the birth certificate the baby’s name might be Joshua Murray, but he’ll be forever known for his nickname: Ronald McDonald. “That’s her [Hill’s] favourite restaurant and that’s what we need to call him.”

Mum and baby are still recovering in hospital.

There’s a Rising Tide of Children Sporting Bizarre Names in School

Here’s a list of names selected by teachers who are increasingly aware of a rising tide of bizarre names (many of which were impossible to spell-check) in their school system.* I found the list in an article by Stephanie Masters published in the Courier Mail.

To help you see how eclectic this list is, I’ve tried to organize the names by categories, starting with “Altered Spellings” of recognizable names and “Alphabet Soup.” Parents also picked names that reflected: “Abstract Ideas,” ways to say “You Are Loved,” a list of “Personal Qualities,” and “Things.”

FYI, all these unusual names were found in the schools of Logan City*:

Altered Spellings: Baylea, Bayleigh, Ceasar, Darian, Emmerson, Izack, Kaelani, Khaileb, Leilesha, Mikaah, Millieka, Romaine, Santiana, Shaylani, Tanyce, Zenen,

Alphabet Soup: Alareal, Ataria Avantika, Caylis, Jadzia, Jetiis, Jezzer, Kahu, Kalaize, Khynan, Kovee, Narvasha, Qaira, Shizia, Taylay,

Abstract Ideas: Australasia, De ja Vu, Freedom, Heritage, Styles,

You Are Loved: Cherish, De ja Vu, Miracle, Precious,

Personal Qualities: Beautiful, Bravado, Brilliance, Felicitas, Gorgeous, Twinkle,

Things: Hawke, Sapphire, L-Car (pronounced Ledashcar), Psalmz,

Now that you’ve read the names, you may enjoy a few quotes from Masters’ article:

One teacher who had worked in Logan for more than 20 years said she had seen names become more bizarre over the years. “It’s like a competition as to who can come up with the most unique, bizarre name,” she said. “We don’t see John Smith or Mark Brown anymore – those names are long gone.” The teacher said while many children in Year 1 often had difficulty learning to spell their own name, no one batted an eyelid during roll call. “Sometimes it’s a matter of taking a deep breath and trying not to laugh. “These children do have to grow up to be adults and most of the ones with unusual names will have to spell them out for the rest of their lives.”

*No, Logan City is not located in America; it’s a city in Southeastern Australia—in the vicinity of Brisbane. Does that surprise you?

Romney Family Adopts A Black Baby Named Kieran; The “Usual Suspects” Are Upset About It

It’s worth reading the brief opinion piece by Jessica Wakeman to find out what people are upset about. Here’s a snippet: “Some folks on Twitter are upset that in Gaelic, the name Kieran means ‘black,’ ‘little dark one,’ or ‘dark skinned.’” However, reading between the lines of Wakeman’s article in “Frisky” magazine, it’s likely that the kind of people who are uncomfortable with an African-American president are also uncomfortable that a member of the extended Romney family has adopted a non-Caucasian baby.

Wikipedia’s article about the Irish population mentions  “black Irish” as a historical term that most commonly refers to people with dark hair (who may have fair skin and blue eyes or, less commonly, brown eyes and a Mediterranean complexion). It’s not clear whether dark-haired Irishmen resulted from remnants of the defeated Spanish Armada or from Spanish and Portuguese traders who populated Ireland with some dark-haired descendants.

Kieran is certainly an appropriate name for a boy with dark hair (and a darker complexion than most Irishmen). Similarly, Jennifer and Blanche are appropriate choices for girls with blonde hair and “fair” complexions; and Russell is an appropriate choice for a red-haired boy. (That’s why it makes sense to make the final name choice after the baby has been born.)

The whole “controversy” looks to me like a “tempest in a tea pot,” if you get my drift.

Hawaiian Woman With 36-Letter Name Wins 21-Year Battle to Have It Printed on Government Documents

Here’s an interesting BBC story (see link below) about a woman who acquired a name with 36 letters and 19 syllables in 1992 via marriage. (Her maiden name was Worth.) Janice Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele’s name is so long, it will not fit on government documents. So, she has been fighting the government for 21 years for the right to have her married name printed on her driver’s license. Apparently, she’s finally succeeded.

If you like stories about people fighting for their rights, you may enjoy the article. As noble as her cause may be, I’m an advocate of selecting names that create a positive impression and that are a pleasure to use every day for the child, the parents (and in this case) for the wife. Clearly, her married surname has been more of a struggle or burden than pleasure.

Instead of shortening the name so it would work better for her and others, she chose to fight. I wonder if she’ll be as happy now as she was before she won the right to have her un-spellable and un-pronounceable name printed on government documents.

One of the issues that comes up in dating is how “geographically desirable” the person you’ve just met might be for you. Now I realize that there is another issue in dating that is worth considering: whether the person you just met is onomastically desirable.

BBC News – Long-named US woman celebrates government climb-down.

New Tennessee Judge Rules Baby Messiah Can Keep His Name

Judge Telford E. Forgety, Jr. of Tennesse has ruled that baby Messiah can keep his name. He reversed the ruling by Tennessee Judge Lu Ann Ballew who ruled that Messah wasn’t a name; it was a title. She believes there is only one Messiah (Jesus Christ), and no one else can use that title.

Judge Forgety made the ruling on the basis of the “establishment clause” of the U.S. Constitution which holds that the U.S. Government is prohibited from favoring one religion over another.

What it all boils down to is that Messiah DeShawn McCullough is now the legal name of a 7-month old baby whose mother picked the name Messiah because she thought it went well with his last name, “McCullough.” Of course, there’s no evidence to support the claim that Messiah goes any better with McCullough than Martin (the name Judge Ballew gave the child).

Many other countries around the world have laws that govern which names are fit for children and which aren’t. But Americans aren’t prohibited from giving their children pompous names like Messiah, King, or Prince. In fact, the popularity of all three names were among the fastest rising names on the top-1,000 boys’ list for 2012 published by the Social Security Administration, which keeps track of which names are “hot” and which names are “not,” but doesn’t favor one Messiah over another.

Makes you wonder what kind of people would give their child a name that had absolutely no basis in reality. I suppose the answer to that question is self-evident, if you give it a little thought. But I’d rather give you the pleasure of figuring it out for yourself.

How Do People Dream Up Strange or Awful Names? The Stories Behind the Names

Did you ever wonder how ordinary people come up with names that seem so strange or awful to you? I’ve been writing about strange and awful celebrity baby names for years. I just read an article from the San Jose Mercury News by Jessica Yadegaran that provides the stories behind a number of names–some of which strike me as strange or awful, and some are OK.  What amazes me is the “logic” parents use that results in names with a high probability of creating difficulties for the child.

For example one story tells of a mother who turned over the task of naming a brand-new baby to her three children. Although the kids thought of naming the baby girl Trigger, the name of cowboy Roy Roger’s horse,they settled on Nancy, from a popular comic strip carried in their local newspaper. The three kids picked an OK name, but the result could have been awful. Below are three sample stories from the article. Decide for yourself if the names are OK, strange or go all the way to awful. (To read the entire article, click on the link below.)

I was born in 1960 right after an epic hurricane hit central Florida. Nope, I was not named Donna after the storm. But apparently the low pressure system got to my parents, and they did the Southern thing: Let’s just smash names together. Thus, their names, Lorraine plus Ray, became Loray.

The questions came. Not a nickname? Your dad wanted a boy, huh? I’m not Lori or Leroy or Larry. The first-day-of-school role call? Nightmare. Plus, the disappointment of never finding my name on a personalized souvenir rack. As a child, I wished I’d been named after the dang storm.

But, as an adult, I’ve grown into and now celebrate my unique brand. It’s a perfect ice breaker when I meet someone new. I can tell them the story of how I got my name. My children’s names? The first gift I gave them was a mainstream, impossible-to-mispronounce label: Shane, Drew, Grant and Kelly. And I can find them all personalized souvenirs at Fisherman’s Wharf.

— Loray Hibbard Hawkins, 52, Danville

It actually took quite a bit of work to come up with my son’s name. I had to get “joint approval” from his mother, older brother and sister. To clarify, he is my first child. I remember that I finally received approval from them at La Victoria Taqueria in downtown San Jose.

It is kind of molded from the name DeAngelo, which I really liked, but I still wanted it to be different. Since he is my mom’s first grandson, he is in a sense hers, so from that comes De Rosario, her name.

Since he is a boy, I then took off what I thought was the “feminine” part of my mom’s name “Ros” and added a “Z.” The Z is capitalized and stands for one of Mexico’s greatest leaders, Emiliano Zapata. It is there to stand out and always remind him of his Mexican culture.

— Miguel Burciaga, San Jose (father of DeZario Agustin Burciaga, 6)

My parents blessed me with a wonderful name, and I wanted to do the same for my son. I am a lifelong lacrosse player and coach. Lacrosse is a Native American game, and I have a tremendous love and respect for the Iroquois, who still play lacrosse today.

When researching Native American names and historical figures I came across Deganawida, who, according to Native American lore, is the figure that brought peace to the Six Nations of the Iroquois. His name means the “two river currents flowing together,” but he is more widely known as “the Great Peacemaker.”

I convinced my wife to go with the shortened version of his name that we use on a daily basis, Degan (pronounced “day-gone”). But we put his full name, Deganawidah Teodoro Rodriguez, on his birth certificate. The h was added to his name when I was filling out the forms at the hospital. One of my brothers convinced me that it was the proper spelling of the name, although to this day I have never seen anything to back up his claim. Well, my son is stuck with it now!– Iliad Thor Rodriguez, 45, San Jose

via Baby names: Where does your name come from? – San Jose Mercury News.