My (least) favorite: a reprise

1. Dusk
I've always thought the name Dawn was a bit silly (no offense), and especially subject to regional accents (dahn, daun, don, etc.), but at least it's optimistic. Dusk isn't just strange, it's depressing.

2. Toolio
Pretty sure it's a joke, but who cares! It's friggin' practical compared to some of the others.

3. Tierrainney
I think this name is so densely packed with letters it will soon implode on itself, creating a star to rival our own sun.

4. Taira Rose
Oh lord this entry's cheesy. I must've drafted my comment on this one a dozen times before I scaled it back to the basics. The breathy, reach-out-and-embrace-the-aura-of-the-universe tone gave me flashbacks of that summer I worked in a bookstore and had to reorganize the Self-Help/New Age section. To this day the color "pale aqua" makes me cringe.

5. In re: Rebecca
This one fits better in Etiquette Hell. This is terrible. If this one doesn't gall you, there's something wrong with you. Period.

I mean, changing your mind about a name while the kid's still an infant is OK by me...better that than have them change it themselves on their 18th birthday, tears of rage streaming down their faces.

But to name your kid after someone and then a few months later take it back is about as low as it gets. She should just spit on her sister-in-law and get it over with.

6. Abeus
I actually don't find much wrong with the name Abeus - provided the kid goes by Abe - it's just the mother's tone that I love. There's a real anger at being criticized under there, with a sort of creeping doubt and desperation. I read that entry and it paints a whole psychological profile for me.

7. D'Artagnan, Quillon, Griffon and Bayne
It's so rare I get to hear back from one of these parents. Most people who write to me are: a) militant child-free folks who think I'm sockin' it to the breeders, b) people sending me urban legends (Orangejello, Uterus, Placenta, Female = "Femily," Ophelia Balls, Crystal Shanda Lear, etc.) c) Teachers...woah, do I get a lot of mail from teachers!

Now, D'Artagnan's mom didn't write me directly, she posted this on a bulletin board that linked to me. But her angry, wounded tone writing about being anonymous in a sea of Jennifers pairs so neatly with her, and I'm being gentle here, bizarre names for her kids. (Note: Evenutally she did write to me, but it was to take her post down. I changed it to a paraphrased version instead, but the tone is consistent.)

These four names embody everything that goes wrong in the thought process on boys' names:

  • they are, or sound a lot like, last names
  • they sound Franco/Anglocentric and posh
  • they have non-intuitive spellings
  • they may or may not to have an ethnic origin, but conflict in what origin that may be and whether it is the heritage of the family
  • there's an added Y

Lady, I'm sorry if it hurts your feelings that people think you gave your kids weird names. But did you really anticipate otherwise?

8. McKaty
As one outraged reader wrote, "Don't they realize 'Mc' and 'Mac' mean 'son of'???" Answer: If only...if only....

9. Cinsere
I find this one two levels of strange: it's strange in that it goes against the clear pattern of giving boys names that summon pictures of the Old West (Colt, Cash, Maverick) and girls names of delicate femininity, often more concept than trait. Back in the day, women were often given names that were traits they should have: Charity, Faith, Hope, Prudence. Now there are far more nouns, nouns which paint a more conceptual picture: Heaven, Angel, Solace, Flower, Destiny.

Here, for once, it's a boy that gets an adjective for a name, but a more conceptual one, and then, for fun, gets it misspelled.

10. Laken
Free association time: Land of Lakes butter. Herring snacks. Minnesota. Ice fishing. Those compressed little lumps of snow that get in your boots and stick to your socks and it's like having a pebble in your shoe, only cold. Damn I hate those.

Somehow I don't think that's what they were going for.

11. Kryslyn
Talk about textbook. We've got a name that's really a cross-bred hybrid of two names, the requisite -lyn, the replacement of everything possible with a K or Y. Top it off with no obvious nickname to fall back on (Krys?) and no ethnicity to balance/account for the weirdness, and we may have engineered before you the ultimate bad baby name: simulateously strange, stupid, difficult and boring.

12. Blaze
I got an e-mail a while back from a lady who said she gave her potential baby names a test: did they fit better in the sentence, "Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States [blank] [blank]" or "And now, on the main stage, the Lusty Beaver Adult Club presents the hot action of [blank] [blank]." I think hospital forms should be reformatted to force parents to do just that.

13. Brooklyn
In WWII movies, there's always a guy from Brooklyn. In WWIII movies, there will always be a guy NAMED Brooklyn.

14. Oleo
I take back what I said about it making me think of cookies. Or, as a lot of people pointed out, it being a name for generic margerine. Now, and I can't explain why, it conjures the image of a cartoonish figure in a plush costume, sort of like Grimace from McDonald's, and he's here to steal my Shamrock Shake. He's throwing margarine at me and I can't run because I'm trapped in a giant mixing bowl! No! I don't want to be a pie!

(Note to self: No more doing acid and watching commercials Saturday mornings.)

15. Irelynd
Self explanatory. This. Is. Stupid.

16. Random Welsh nouns and list of Celtic names
An open letter to the people of Wales, Ireland and Scotland on behalf of the U.S. and big chunks of Canada:

I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry. But here in North America, we seem to be harboring a class of people with an overzealous affinity for your nations and their history. A breed of people who think Ireland and Wales, and to some extent Scotland, is some sort of mystical Avalon full of dainty faerie folk and think it's somehow cultured to give their kids un-Anglicized Gaelic and Celtic names.

I know Welsh and Gaelic pronunciations are very different from English, but they're not well-known here at all, so these parents are being three levels of mean: a) giving a kid a difficult-to-say name, b) spelled entirely different from how it's said in English and c) way, way pretentious because it's a lot of effort for a name that Mom found in a Dungeons & Dragons guide and has no real connection to.

I'm very sorry your history, language and culture are being appropriated by geeks. What can I say, we're really dumb sometimes. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

17. Kaytaquana and others
I don't know what the hell is going on here. Most of the list is entirely random, but Kaytaquana gets extra credit for appearing to be a name-ization of katakana, a Japanese alphabet.

Which, in retrospect, only makes my joke name of Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz that much more appropriate.

18. Dacoda
Follow these handy steps to naming your child:

  • Step 1. Locate random state on map that, despite all efforts to the contrary, is not a name of a person.
  • Step 2. Replace all consonants with similar sounds.
  • Step 3. Buy lozenges. You're throat's going to get mighty sore with all the explaining and defending calling your kids Centukki and Mesheghan.

21. Flower
The single greatest failure of the "Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States, [blank] [blank]" test.

20. Bubba
I stand corrected.

21. Ruger
I made a joke about this sounding like a firearm without doing any research. Turns out, oh yes, it's a fire arm - a fire arm manufacturer, and a controversial one at that. Seems some of your far-right paranoid amendment enthusiasts....have a problem with Ruger founder and chair Bill Ruger for advocating the banning of high-capacity magazines as a compromise to banning rapid-fire assault rifles as a whole. (Remember, our twitchy-fingered friends who like to decide who lives and who dies would tell us, the authors of the U.S. Constitution wanted us to be able to spray 200 rounds a minute at anything we want. And that makes Bill Ruger a traitor!)

So be warned. Name your kid Ruger and anti-fire arms folks will think you're a freaky gun nut, pro-fire arms folks will think you're some sort of left-wing commie from the guv'mint who wants to take away their precious, precious kill-sticks.

22. Scatman
No comment.

23. Kakinston and Creighton
Attempts to find a snooty surname-sounding names go terrible wrong.

24. Bad attitudes

  • Barbara Fay
    This lady's name is fine. In fact, that's the issue I have with it. She writes this long essay about how grotesque and horrible an ordeal her life has because (sniff!) Grandma named her instead of Mom! NNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    OK, I see her point, it was rude of Granny, but her tone is...I don't know. I find her tone to be incredibly snotty. She's framing her tale as overcoming adversity, or going from "victim" to "survivor," but I'm really not seeing it.

    THEN there's the thing about how one side just happens to be blue blood. Well cripes, that makes your past indignities so much more terrible! Not unlike the Grand Duchess Anastasia, crawling through the mud and slime disguised as a mere peasant to escape her assassins, her sumptuous robes now mere rags, her beautiful youthful visage dark and haunted! Oh, the epic tragedy of .... wait, what was the half-assed bad thing that happened again? Oh, right, Grandma named you. Oh, the horror! (swoon)

  • "It's MY baby"
    First off, she's, uh, not good at expressing herself in writing. Secondly, she's psychotically combative about her designer baby names, asserting her ownership of her future children with the ferocity of a mama bear on crank. They're my children! Mine! MIIIIINE!!!!

    But finally, and this is the important thing, she says everyone's being supportive and LIKES her dopey names. But she's still ready to chew someone's throat out at a moment's notice if she thinks they MIGHT have an opinion, positive or negative.

    She's scary. She's what makes childfree-by-choicers militant. And, in many cases, right.

  • "Cool" names
    I admit, I use finger quotes a lot, but usually for parody purposes. But they bug me. I don't like how most finger-quoters slow down, over enunciate and vamp what they're saying in this giant forced show of post-modernism.

    "I found that very AVANT GARDE"
    (clenched-teeth laugh, clink of martini glasses)

    Oh, you witty bitch.

    This entry marks the first time I've ever been able to hear finger quotes in writing. Hey, maybe they're not even meant to be there, but I think they're there are and it changes everything. It makes her smacking her "to-be husband" even snottier, his names even dafter, and these two things combine to make him sound like a weener and her like the boss' spoiled daughter.

25. Cierra, Makynzi and Quinlynn, Quinylin and derivitives
I hate all these, and more, for the same reasons, which I think summarize the advocacy intent of this site.

I appreciate these parents want their children to be unique. I really do. BUT (and you knew there'd be a "but") these parents are all foraging for this originality in one incredibly narrow direction, and when they feel the (weird) name they want is too common, they go to further and further extremes. It's strip-mining the alphabet; It's like an arms race between parents. The result are names like these - pretentious as hell names with difficult (to guess, to reasonably explain) spellings.

Meanwhile, outside of this narrow range of ideas, there's a whole universe of other options being ignored. In between the silly names, was there a single Claire or Hannah or Monica on this site? A single Charles or Kenneth? John? Mary? It's not that I cut them - I rarely found them!

I get e-mail after e-mail from people bemoaning the fact their preschoolers are in classes with 2, 3 or even 4 Madisons or Masons. And I know from e-mail from teachers, and my own memory of growing up with Chris M. and Kris L., that Madison and Madysyn will not be differentiated by a teacher. So much for not being Matt R.

Bottom line: If you want to be original, stop following the trend. It's that simple.

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Diana Goodman 2003-2009 except as noted.