Picking a baby name is never easy. Between balancing your own opinions with your family’s ideas — it’s tough. And don’t forget complete strangers putting in their two cents! And after all that consideration, it would be such a shame to pick something that doesn’t stand the test of time.
Think that’s impossible? Think again. Bertha was the tenth most popular name in 1890, but there’s no way you could imagine a "Bertha" getting crowned as prom queen today. So, to avoid a potential whopper of a name-fail, here are some baby names that are sure to sound ridiculous in 10 years. youtubeSubscribe=1]
The trend of the "-ayden" names started in the 1990’s and has remained popular through all of the 2000s. But just because it’s trendy, doesn’t mean it’s good. Laura Wattenberg of Baby Name Wizard held an informal survey to find the most hated baby names. For boys, "-ayden" names rank high on the hate list: Jayden, Aiden, Brayden, Kaden, and Hayden all make the top ten. (Sorry, boys!)
Though Zayden isn’t featured on the list, it’s gaining popularity. Given that similar names have had such a bad reception — a lot of people said "-ayden" names are "getting old" — it’s safe to say Zayden won’t be well liked in years to come.
Grayson has been steadily climbing baby name charts since 2002. According to Baby Center, it was the 31st most popular boys name in 2016 and on track to be number 27 for 2017. But popularity isn’t always a good thing. LiveScience stated that "popularity often breeds backlash."
In the LiveScience interview, Wattenberg said that people tend to dislike "modern" sounding names: "Similar-sounding names that explode in popularity all at once usually become victims of their own success." She continued, "The most hated boys’ names — Jayden, Brayden, Aiden and Kayden — all rhyme and all shot up from obscurity during the last decade." The future of Grayson might be similar due to the trend of naming baby boys with the popular "son" suffix, such as Jackson, Emerson, Bryson, Mason and Jameson. Search any of these names in the Social Security Administration’s name database and you’ll see they’ve each shot up to popularity over the past five to ten years — which means a plummet is likely imminent.
Naming your child after a fictional character can go poorly. In 2009, Cullen was in the top 500 most popular names after languishing at 200-300 places lower for years, according to Baby Center. Its rapid surge was all thanks to Twilight. The main character Edward Cullen was suddenly a big deal and a lot of people wanted to name a child for their favorite sparkly vampire. But once the Twilight glow wore off around 2010, the moniker lost its shimmer. Usually names with a sudden spike in popularity don’t last as favorites for long.
Khaleesi, made popular by Game of Thrones, might have a similar Cullen curse. Sure, Khaleesi is great right now while everyone’s still talking about how cool it was that Daenerys walked through fire, but the show will be off the air in two seasons and you’ll be stuck with a hard to pronounce name in a made up language.
I have to give Poppy props for being adorable, but it might not be a great choice in the long run. A study from Northwestern University found that girls with very feminine sounding names didn’t choose advanced classes in math or science. Professor at Northwestern, David Figlio, told the Today Show that "First names can influence individual self-concept and the ways in which a person is perceived by others." So, young ladies with "girly" names are often treated in a more feminine way. People expect them to live up to feminine stereotypes and girls don’t easily develop an interest in typically "masculine" subjects and hobbies.
Of course this isn’t true for every girl. Penny Marshall was a major film director in a male-dominated field, and Sally Ride was the first woman to go into space. And Penny and Sally are about as girly as names get. So, if your heart’s set on "Poppy" just remind your daughter that the world is her oyster.
Dulce is a sweet name — literally, since dulce means "sweet" in Spanish, but it’s not aging so well. A name that’s maintained popularity since 1999, it slumped in 2016 when it slipped from 663rd place to number 2,215. Parents found that Dulce is one name that’s quickly going out of style. Sure, it’s not always ideal to give your child a super popular name (I’m sure Tiffany M., Tiffany S., and Tiffany A. from my first grade class would agree), but if a name grows unpopular really fast, it’s doubtful it’ll stand the test of time.
Also, giving your child a name that starts with "D" could lead to her getting lower grades. This sounds nutty, but the Association of Psychological Science published a study stating that people were naturally attracted to things with their initials. Therefore, the study found, "Students whose names began with ‘C’ or ‘D’ earned lower GPAs than students whose names began with ‘A’ or ‘B.’" So, if you’d like to parent a stellar student, you might want to go with Aaron or Amy.
Nevaeh topped the list of Baby Center’s most hated names. Why? Well, Nevaeh is a recently made-up name and it’s hard to spell and pronounce — typical qualities that lead to hate-able names. Also, it’s "heaven" spelled backwards, in case you hadn’t guessed it.
A word spelled backwards that’s difficult to pronounce, could lead to your child to be seen as less trustworthy. A study from UC Irvine found "that people trust strangers with easier-to-pronounce names more than strangers with difficult-to-pronounce names." Even though Nevaeh means "heaven", it might mean hell on the playground.
Madison, for a girl, has remained a popular name for a while, but it’s also on the hate list. People tend to dislike girl’s names that had been used traditionally for boys — like Madison and Addison. Of the people surveyed for the most-hated name list, most of them couldn’t say why the name was so unappealing. Wattenberg said, "It just seemed to grate on people."
I guess those people would be pretty annoyed by Splash, where the mermaid selects Madison for her human name. It was a joke in the movie, in fact Tom Hanks says "Madison’s not a name," but according to Yahoo News, that’s when Madison for girls began. It’s not to say that you should avoid genderless names because other people don’t like them, but Madison in particular seems to garner more ire every year.
When you think of "Bentley" you’re more likely to think of the car rather than a cute little kid. But the name has stayed in the top 100 most popular names since 2010. Even so, a lot of people don’t like the trend. Cafe Mom lists a number of rules for baby names and Bentley breaks two of them. Naming your kid after random stuff or brands should be avoided, according to the article. It can sound pretentious, or half-baked. Plus, if your child’s name is Bentley and he’s driving around in a Ford Taurus? That poor kid’s going to get made fun of.
Wattenberg found that Bentley "is generally seen negatively by people who hear it as a stuffy surname or a luxury car brand." But if Bentley is still a top pick, there’s some hope. People from the south tended to associate the name with country singer Dierks Bentley, who, as a fun and chill guy, made people like the name. So, if you’re living south of the Mason-Dixon line, get ready for baby Bentley. If not, it might be a poor choice in a few years.
Cathy? Has Cathy been popular since the 50s’? Well, no, but it’s getting so unpopular, it might go extinct. Moose Roots calculated the popularity of names in English-speaking countries over the generations and pinpointed those that may not be around for much longer.
But if Cathy is already unpopular, why bother to put it on this list? Well, Catherine is still a very common name that’s been holding steady on the charts for years and you may choose to call her "Cathy" to be cute. Though a lot of old timey names are becoming trendy again, names that are nearing extinction will sound more like "Gertrude" than "Clara" in a few years. Plus, Cathy will forever be associated with the Cathy comic strip — and no little girl wants to grow up to be that lonely lady. Ack!
Placing fifth on the hated names list, people thought that Hunter "should only be a last name" and that it’s "too violent." If your child’s name immediately makes people think of gun violence, that’s probably not a good thing. Plus, if kids have an unappealing name, it can lead to low self-esteem and increased likelihood of smoking!
How could a name make somebody smoke? A report on a study from the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science revealed a poor name can make a kid feel bad about himself, leading to loneliness. The study found that online daters didn’t respond as often to people with names with negative connotations. If Hunter makes people think of violence, it might make poor Hunter difficult to date. According to the report, "[The study] indicated those with ‘unfortunate’ first names were generally more likely to smoke, be less educated and have lower self-esteem than those whose names were attractive." That’s a lot of bad news, all from one unfortunate name.
Ranked as number four on Baby Name Wizard’s most hated baby names in America list, Mackenzie actually has the opposite effect of Bentley. Instead of sounding pretentious, it is associated with a "lower class." The same goes for a whole host of other "Mc" names such as McKenna and McKella. Is it because we automatically associate it with the golden arches or an old farmer? Maybe.
But one reason Mackenzie and its "Mc" brothers and sisters might be sticking around is a new trend with Millennial moms. In losing their maiden name to marriage, they are instead passing it on to their offspring. There are plenty of McBrides, McCormicks, and McCauleys out there who may be eager to keep their family name in the family. If that’s the case, they better make sure they’re well-read and well-spoken so as to squash any misconcemptions about their name.
Though Olivia made it to number three on Baby Center’s Most Popular Names of 2016 list, its red-headed step sister (pronounced the exact same way as Olivia), Aliviyah, hasn’t gotten the same love. In fact, it made it to the "Worst Baby Names" list on Reddit — sharing the honor with gems such as Elizabreth and Little Sweetmeat.
Apparently, Reddit users were not big fans of "creative spelling." Sabrina Rogers Anderson of Kidspot.com explains why it’s best to stick to the original or most common spelling.
"By placing an original "Y" in Alyson or a kooky "X" In Jaxon, you’re setting your child up for a lifetime of exasperation as they’re constantly forced to spell it out to friends, teachers, colleagues and semi-literate customer service representatives," she says.
In a world where we want our children to stand out from the crowd, it seems we’ll do anything to give them a good head start. However, maybe we’re better off leaving our children to create their originality on their own.
We couldn’t resist adding this celebrity-inspired baby name to the list. Though Kim and Kanye were not the first to think of naming their child after a cardinal direction, they certainly brought the idea to the public’s attention. According to Mashable, records show that parents have been naming their kids North, South, East, or West as far back as 1790.
This is not to say that baby North has skyrocketed to the top of the popularity list. But it has increased its standing. In 2004 it was not even on the radar of the Social Security Administration, but by 2013, there were twenty little Norths crawling around the US.
It wouldn’t be the first time that a celebrity went a little wacky with their baby name. In fact, North is tame compared to the likes of Bronx Mowgli (son of Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz), Bear Blue (son of Alicia Silverstone), and Moon Unit (daughter of Frank Zappa). The thing is, a celebrity kid is born into weirdom. A "normal life" was never expected of them, nor of their name. So we might have to give them a pass. However, North East from Middletown, Rhode Island might get some weird looks at roll call.
We know. Sounds weird to put one of the most common names of all time on this list. But it’s not alone. We’re going to group it with James, John and Robert — posted by the Social Security Administration as the top most common names over the last 100 years. Why? Because baby names are becoming more and more unique as time goes by.
According to LiveScience, in the 1950s, half of all babies had names in the top 25 boys’ names list and top 50 girls’ names list. Today, however, we’d have to go all the way to 134 names for the boys and 320 names for the girls to account for wahalf of the baby population.
Michael Varnum, doctoral candidate in social psychology at the University of Michigan, told LiveScience that there are two schools of thought when it comes to baby naming: the parents who want their kids to stand out, and the parents who just want people to be able to communicate with their children. And guess which side is winning? That’s right. The non-conformists. So it is entirely likely that in 2027, John will sound a little odd when called for on the playground next to Liam, Asher, and Atticus.
This one was high on Wattenberg’s list of hated baby names for girls. Destiny, it seems, is a lose-lose situation. To some, she is either too "virtuous" (along with Hope, Faith, and Grace), or she is too "stripperish" (similar to Heaven and Candy).
As Julie Ryan Evans from Cafe Mom says, "It’s been around the pole a time or two." If you’re worried that the name you have in mind will come off a little too "exotic," Evans suggests that you Google Image search it first. If the pictures that come up are of women in barely-there attire, then you might have your answer.
When they’re teeny tiny and oh so adorable, it’s tempting to name them something that fits the bill. However, there are certain names that are at risk for being "too cute." The point being, the little bitty baby is going to grow up at some point and parents might want to ask themselves — will my 17-year-old daughter want to answer to this name?
SheKnows.com warns against girl names that end with an "ee" sound. Names such as Finley, Gracie, Bailey, and Kiley are undeniably adorable. But will little Finley be taken seriously when she applies for her first job or hands in her college application?
Same goes for Benji, Brady, and Teddy. Although I’m sure Teddy Roosevelt’s mother would disagree.
Nameberrry believes that names like Arrow are this year’s "elite 100" and are the "most emblematic of our times while also being timeless and forward-facing."
Though the list includes quite a few unusual choices (Quincy, Sasha, Amity), Arrow pops out on the list as one of the few names that essentially means exactly what it says. An arrow. A sharpened shaft shot from a bow as a weapon or for sport. A pointer to indicate direction. An inanimate object. And according to Kristen Frisa of BabyGaga.com, this can be harmful to your child. She says,
"It associates your child with something unthinking and unfeeling… Names are always pretty personal, but objects can mean different things to different people — or worse, can mean absolutely nothing at all."
As we know, kids can be cruel. And if you can be proactive in avoiding names that will make your child an easy target, then maybe you should think through it in all of its contexts. Huffington Post posted the "Top 10 Baby Names Guaranteed To Get Your Kid Beaten Up."
Though there are some humdingers on there — Gaylord, Fanny, Rosepetal Hummingbird — a name like Tucker could easily be overlooked by parents. It’s definitely increased in popularity in recent years. The problem is not the name itself, it’s what it rhymes with. The last thing you want are curse words being used against your child just because it rings nicely next to their given name.
Let it gooo! Let it gooooooo!!
What? Is that annoying? Well, you better get used to it If you name your child Elsa. Because that is exactly what she’ll be hearing from the time you tell the nurse her name in the hospital, till her first day of school when her class plays the name game.
After taking a dip in the 2000’s, it climbed back up the charts — reaching an all-time high in 2014 as the number 286th most popular girl names in the US. The German name means "pledged to God," and definitely has a very feminine ring to it. But you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who didn’t associate the name with the ice cold Queen of Arendelle. Not necessarily a bad thing considering she did save her kingdom from an eternal winter, and her sister from being frozen to death, all through an "act of true love." But still. A Disney princess name is a lot of pressure on a little girl.
Listed as one of the "coolest new names" by Nameberry and Huffington Post, you can’t help but wonder if it’s too cool, and therefore, will have a short shelf life.
When you think of Fox on a resume header, you have to ask yourself, what kind of impression does this leave? Is this guy sly? Cunning? Really attractive? Does he take himself seriously? Unfortunately (or fortunately), your name can influence how people perceive you. A study reported in The New Yorker found that men with odd names were more likely to have flunked school or exhibited psychological issues. Ugh.
Here’s the funny thing. According to Nameberry, 54% of their users prefer Wolf to Fox. Hmmm. I guess if you’re going to pick an animal, go for the one that’s higher up on the chain of command.
As a new parent, it doesn’t take long to become completely smitten with your new bundle of joy, immediately making them the little king or queen of your universe. That’s why it doesn’t come entirely as a surprise that a name like Royalty would creep up the popularity charts in recent years, snagging the number 532 spot on NameBerry’s list in 2016.
"Royalty joins other fast-growing names like Princess, Reign and simpler Royal as part of a trend toward ‘literal’ regal names seen for girls and boys," Sherri Suzanne, baby name consultant and the founder of My Name for Life, told me in an interview. "Royalty is the noun-name that R&B/hip hop artist Chris Brown and model Nia Guzman gave to their daughter."
Okay, so little baby Royalty might be cute for a while, but what about when she’s all grown up? This name might sound cool for a celeb, but we’re going to argue it isn’t the most practical name, say for a lawyer, doctor or pretty much any other professional career.
A certain famous Friends star a.k.a. Jennifer Aniston (with one "n") inspired the double-n version on this surname-turned-first-name. "It has been growing incrementally since the 1990s, but recently has been hovering just inside the top 1000 names," said Suzanne. "Like Madison and Addison, Anniston is a less-frilly, surname-type name that yields a friendly, feminine nickname like Maddie, Addie or, in this case, Annie."
While I wouldn’t personally mind being named after the fabulous Jennifer Aniston, it might not necessarily be the type of name that stand the test of time, especially once the next generation stares at us blankly when we make a Friends reference.
According to Suzanne, pitcher Koda Glover of the Washington Nationals baseball team may be the inspiration for this name, which recently re-entered the U.S. Top 1000 after a brief stint in 2004. "Koda is said to trace his heritage to Cherokee and Sioux nations and that his name means ‘bear,’" Suzanne told me. "Parents may like that it sounds like a derivation of another Native American name Dakota. Like many names with simple sounds, it can also be heard in other languages. Musical parents may like the relation to the Italian-derived musical term coda meaning the tail end of a piece."
From a bear to a baseball player to a musical instrument, there seems to be a lot of room for Koda to get lost in translation.
If you’re a fan of the Rocky franchise, then chances this name rings a bell. "It was likely the 2016 movie Creed that nudged this name into the Top 1000 in 2016 — the same film likely gave names Adonis and Apollo a push, too," said Suzanne. "However, this is not Creed’s first entry in the Top 1000: It achieved some popularity as a first name early in the 20th century, as well."
Other inspirations for Creed: the 90’s rock band of the same name and Creed Bratton of The Office.
Along with Titan and Atlas, Achilles is trending name borrowed from Ancient Greek mythology, Suzanne explained. And while Achilles was a hero in the Trojan War — a very buff Brad Pitt also played this character in the 2004 film Troy — his name became associated with vulnerability. Enter the ‘Achilles’ heel. "Legend has it that Achilles’ mother dipped him in the mythical river Styx to give him immortality but forgot to dip the heel by which she held him, thus his heel remained his mortal weakness, ultimately leading to his demise," Suzanne told me.
Hmm, maybe not such a powerful name after all. Oh yea, and there’s also that little body part called the Achilles’ tendon, so there’s that.
Pick a name you love
At the end of the day, you’re the one going through labor, so you can name your kid anything you wish! Just know that a name can hold a lot of power and meaning.
So, if you want to avoid forcing your child to explain why she was named after the Facebook "like" button, it might be good to stay away from things that’ll sound a little wacky in 10 years time.