Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 10.10

I’m stepping in for Masala_Skeptic this week.  She’s spent the past several days running into burning buildings to save puppies who ran in to save orphans who ran in to save kittens whose mothers were killed in the fire.  Then she had to assist the blind firemen who responded to the call. She’s tired and needed a break. Now… on to today’s AI:

Penn always talks about “Moxy Crimefighter” being put on the “worst baby names” lists.  He says this drives him crazy and insists children should be given unique/original names. He rants that naming you kid “Dave” is akin to child abuse. Certainly “Dave” isn’t that bad, but is “Moxy” better or worse?


Are off-the-wall or untraditional names really worth the criticism that the media gives them?  Is it a bad idea to name your kid “Apple”, “Moxy” or “Pilot”?

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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112 Comments

  1. I think the best names are not-unheard-of, but not very common. You don’t want everyone who meets your kid saying, “what’s that name, again?”. You also don’t want the poor critter to be one of a dozen “Madisons” in her class. (apologies to any Madisons, or parent-of-Madisons)

    I am a Hedge

  2. I like less commonly used names, but I don’t want my kids to be made fun of because their names are totally off the wall unique, either. That said, we picked a name for our son that was fairly uncommon in our generation. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the second most commonly picked name for boys the year he was born. So you just can’t win.

  3. I think it would be cool if my name were something distinctive… it would probably make buying personalized domain names easier.

    Moxy is a fine name… kudos to Penn.

    I wish my parents had a little more guts… after getting through grade school, a unique name is a bit of an asset IMO.

  4. I dunno. I think crazy names are kind of cool, but at the same times kids will sieze on any opportunity to be vicious little bastards, and I think it’s important as a parent to protect your child from that sort of thing to some reasonable degree.

    That said, I’m in favour of the tradition of utterly ridiculous middle names. If you have to name your kid “John”, why not mix it up a bit in the middle there? So he could be John Euler Newton Tesla Vercingetorix Smith or something. And if the kid ever decides that “John” is too boring, he can pick one of the middle ones and be “J.N. Tesla V. Smith” or some such.

    I also think that more names should include numbers, as in John Newton Tesla Vercingetorix Smith VI. Even if there weren’t five other J.N.T.V. Smiths ahead of him. Perhaps especially if there weren’t. There’s no law that says I have to give my child a numerical suffix accurately representing the number of people in our family with that name, is there? I should hope not!

    It’s quite likely that my hypothetical future children will resent having such an utterly bizarre father. But if they do, fuck ’em, the boring little squares.

  5. People can name their kids anything they want, but I think it’s cruel to inflict those odd spellings of common names on people. They have to spent the rest of their lives correcting the spelling or the pronunciation. Like, being named “Pilot” is one thing but being named “Pylott” is just child abuse. :P

  6. There can be no absolute answer for the second question here. A lot will depend on the environment in which the child is raised, the sort of home life the child is provided, and the reactions of the various other people the child will face once s/he starts going to school and facing social interaction.

    Kids are individuals and, in some ways, no different than adults in terms of how they react to things. Some kids take in stride insults that would bend me all out of shape. Other kids suffer distress at the drop of a hat.

    Parents can’t predict anything about a kid before they are born, in terms of how they’ll handle having an onerous name. Neither can they always predict how the community or the child’s social group will take the name. Sometimes, a name that you’d think would be cause for mockery is considered “cool” for no readily-apparent reason. Other times, perfectly normal names lead to ridicule.

    And names themselves DO have power. We may say “what’s in a name?,” but studies (as noted by Richard Wiseman in Quirkology) do show that names have an influence on what a person does in life. There are, for instance, a statistically higher number of people named Fish working in marine biology than chance alone would predict. But this is true of almost ANY name, including last names, so even this is hard to blame.

    It’s all extremely variable and I don’t know that there’s a way to say whether it is good or bad to give kids odd names. Personally, I wouldn’t want to do it, but neither do I always think they are worth the criticism the media gives them.

    Yours, etc.

    – William Knickers

  7. @Joshua:

    I lobbied hard for the number thing, but got overruled. I was allowed to put it on the “Hospital Certificate” which is meaningless, but not on the official paperwork.

    I wanted III, like “Charles Emerson Winchester the Third”.

    (oops, biographical details slipping out)

    I am a Hedge

  8. I won’t take much of a stand on this question, I just hope that my daughters
    – Reena Marie Éponine, Onalee Star, and Éowyn Rain
    will be understanding.
    Their mother’s name is Sarah, and grew up hating that people would shout her name across a crowded room, but they’d never be calling for her.

  9. I think you are as likely to have a child who loves being the unique child in class with a strange name as you are to have a child who is dieing to fit in and meet someone else with the name. Plus if they really hate it they will either establish a nick-name that takes over their name, or change their name.

    Really there are a lot of thing that, in my opinion, parents really stress over about, that they will never be able to predict. I don’t know how much control a parent has over their child’s identity, and they may hate you for naming then John or Ralizmodan.

  10. As in most art, “original” and “good” in names are slightly correlated but by no means the same thing. There is a band where you can give a kid an original name that gets compliments, not jokes. I lucked out and got one. Apple? Mkay. Moxy? Ehh, little bit too comic-book-y for my tastes, but it might be fun. The girl at the bank who had been named Jasmine-with a G? Yep, Gas-mine. Not so hot.

  11. I’m with Hedge (who still has the best username on here): give them unusual names that still sound regular. I named my children Sinclair and Aleena, because they’re good-sounding names, but not a lot of people have them.

    (Actually, since she’s been born, it seems like everyone’s naming their daughter Aleena, or Alina, or something similar. Oh, well.)

  12. Kids are mean no matter what your name is, odd names are just one of the many reasons kids are cruel to each other.

    Growing up with the name Zebulon was fantastic, it’s not that unusual in parts of the N America but where I was it was weirder than Dweezle. For the most part I’ve found it to be helpful, it’s a great conversation starter and it makes an impression.

    I was recently listening to a podcast where one of the people had a name that was very similar to “Zeb” (that’s what most people call me), I was telling a group of my friends about how disconcerting it was to constantly hear the guys in the podcast say my name. As I was relaying this to my friends I realized I was the only one of the four of us not named Dave.

    Anyways love the blog,

    Zebulon Pike

  13. Christian Parenti wrote a book called The Soft Cage in which he investigated the origins of ID cards and the surveillance state. One unexpected side track was the origin of African Americans being more open to giving their children unique names. In the slave world, there was no guarantee that your family members and children would be around, as they could be sold, so slaves would give their children unique names. As all news had to travel by word of mouth, it was necessary for all people to have unique identifiers to insure that important news would get to the intended recipient. As slaves were forbidden from being literate, messages could not be written down. You could imagine how difficult it would be to remember messages if everyone was named Tome and Mike.

    I hope unique and original names spread, I think having a lot of names out there is a good thing.

  14. I like interesting names, and love the name Moxie (it’s not “Moxy,” I don’t think) Crimefighter. I reserve the right to laugh at other people’s silly names, but frankly I’d rather laugh than be bored.

    That said I think certain “normal” names are funny for babies: Norman, Ernie, Frank, Steve, Ethyl, Titsy….

  15. I think every person should have a unique name. It cuts down on confusion, makes them easier to find on the Internet (or any other data-processing context), avoid accidental mistaken-identity credit problems, and it will keep them off the terrorist watch list (unless they’re very unlucky or sinister). Plus odd names add a little bit of spice to the culture.

    For many of these same reasons, I don’t think anyone should change their name because they get married.

  16. Trivia note: Bill Lear, designer of the Lear Jet, named his daughter Shanda.

    Worse, there’s a fairly well-known NASCAR driver named Dick Trickle. Why not just name your child Prostate Trouble?

    I’ve been happy both as a child and as an adult with having a name that is unusual, but still historically established, not artificially contrived (I’m the “Emory” who shows up as a Quickies link contributor occasionally). And artificiality may be the simplest standard – If the name sounds contrived rather than merely unusual or creative, then pick another name.

  17. I think that one should be able to tell it is a name when seeing it in print or use without special quotation marks. When you can’t tell if it is a name, a regular noun, a phrase or some random sentence, it becomes rather impractical. That being said, I don’t give a rip what Penn names his children. That’s his, I mean their, problem.

    The worst name I have heard is a preacher’s grandchild who is named “Supreme Mind”. With an arrogant sounding name like that, the kid is in for some beating at school. I feel bad for him.

  18. My two eldest daughters are very close in age. Their names are Sarah and Tegan.

    Sarah hates her name because it is so common and there are a squillion Sarah’s in her school.

    Tegan hates her name because she’s only ever met a couple of Tegans in her life, and none of them go to her school.

    At age six they both decided that their name should be Alexandria. They called each other Alexandria for about a year. It was funny.

  19. Pretty sure the name change thing is a holdover from the good old days when marriage meant the woman became property of the man.
    I tried to tell my wife not to change hers, but she was stuck in a “traditional” marriage rut that it’s taken nearly 10 years to get out of. She probably wouldn’t change it now, but has been signing my last name for too long to go back.

  20. Rebecca, sure but your name scans, there are plenty of people given names that have no flow. In that case I think it’s perfectly reasonable to make the change.

    When we had our kids I was very clear with my wife that I wanted the kids to have the last name that fits their given name. Hers or mine made no difference, as long as it had that natural quality.

    And no hyphenates, I don’t like that in last names. After a couple of generations the kids have eight last names and it gets stupid.

  21. I have a unique name (Kaylia) and I love it.

    The shortened version is “Kay” which isn’t totally uncommon and is easy for people to spell/pronounce etc and Kaylia is distinctive and, well, downright pretty if I do say so myself.

    If I have kids, I would want to be able to balance unique with “not horrible” when it comes to naming them.

  22. I’m a “third / III” and my older sister called me “the terd” when we were youngens. My wife and I gave both of our kids (girl and boy) two middle names but nothing out of the normal and all with some family connection. IMHO really odd names are going to be cruel to your kids at some point so why bother. They wont benefit from the experience and any notion that ridicule builds character or something like that never saw Carrie. I nearly took my wife’s last name when we got married as mine can be a bother at times. In retrospect I should have done it.

  23. Wow, ok, so I have to be the first one to admit to this? My name is actually David. For reals.

    I don’t liken it to child abuse, personally. However, my brother’s name is John, which is an indicator that my parents are non-creative dolts. I’ve supplemented this by creating several nicknames for myself. My actual name is David Sanders; my on-air persona for the radio station I work at is Danny Salamander (thank you Goudeau), and if I ever join an emo-core band, my stage name will be Donald Sorrow. That having been said, I would have much rather been named ‘Audio Science’.

  24. I wanted to give Moose the middle name “Danger”… Maximus Danger. My husband thought it was great for almost an hour then backed down and vetoed it.

    My father hated the name Maximus so much that he called me, just hours after my c-section to tell me that maybe I didn’t understand that my son was going to have to spend the rest of his life with that name and if I didn’t fill out any forms yet, I could still change his name to “Joe”.

    But I firmly believe that a child should have a unique name. I’m actually against doing the whole “jr” thing, too; or naming him after your favorite historical figure/hero/sports figure. A baby is not an homage.

    @Rebecca:

    Maybe when your last name is Watson it’s different. My maiden name is Wojnowski. It was an easy transition to Anders. God it’s nice to go out and not have people stumble over my name.

    I also made it a mission to marry up the alphabet. I always wanted to know what it was like to be called first.

  25. Oh, and on Moose’s middle name, we spent a couple of months figuring it out. Brian did end up agreeing to my rule that his middle name “could not be a name”. It could be anything but it couldn’t be something that was traditionally considered “a name” and he could not be named after anyone… so “Gretzky” was out.

    We finally settled on Fenway.

  26. Also, my name “Marilee” is awesome because it’s just unique enough without being silly. I am happy with my parents’ choice. :) (I was named after my Aunt Merrilee, but my dad spelled it wrong when I was born … and I’m glad for that!)

  27. My opinion varies with my opinion of the parents’ intent. Sometimes I think parents choose names more for their own vanity than the kid’s sake, but certainly not everyone who gives their children offbeat names is like that. Sometimes, it’s really cool.

    My daughter has a very traditional name (Elizabeth), but it’s a name that allows her a lot of different options for nicknames when she gets old enough to choose one for herself, so it lets her have some say in who she is.

  28. @Kaylia_Marie: I love your name so much! Kaylia Marie has such a ovely ring to it.

    Speaking of names, my younger sister recently had a baby. She named him Nathaniel Wyatt. I LOVE it. I just want to call him “Nathaniel Wyatt” all the time, even if it is rather long. I like the way those two names sound together.

    Also, my parents named us 3 girls: Marilee (me), Raelee (twin sister), and Kimberly (younger sister). My mom’s side has a loooooong history of the name “Lee” as either the first name, middle name, or an extention of a first name. If I ever have a kid, I want to name her Emmalee.

  29. My name is Teresa, and it really only lends itself to one nickname–Terri–and that nickname is so not me. So I decided that the right way to name a kid is to pick a name that lends itself well to nicknames. That way you can have something cute to call them as a kid which doesn’t have to be the same as the name their lover screams out in the dead of night.

    I’m going with Wesley Charles and Penelope Darwin. Someday when I actually reproduce, that is.

  30. My name is too unique to mention while preserving pseudonymity. However, most people have heard of it because it appears in a famous opera. This has worked well for me.

    Trouble is that you never know what names will be popular in the next generation. I’ve heard that names start by being popular in the upper classes, and this popularity tends to roll down to the lower classes over time. This has implications that I don’t like…

  31. “And Pilot is a name for a Honda….”

    Is it? What, a car, or bike, or outboard motor or something? I didn’t know that. I’ve learned something.

    When I saw first Pilot as a name my initial thought was airplane or harbour pilot.

    @Expatria:

    I love Tegan and Sara! Great Canadian indie- popsters. And on Neil Young’s manager’s label too! Very impressive.

  32. If I ever have kids I plan to go with one of two names. Either Ba’al or Quetzalcoatl. I’m leaning toward the latter simply because filling in the apostrophe can be confusing for kids on standardized tests.

  33. It happens that today, I saw a guy at the bus stop, whose university ID (hanging around his neck) proclaimed his given name to be “Adequate”. Now that’s just… awkward! (for “ronstreleck” @#18: yes, he was black.)

    Joshua @#5: Some Asian families do use “lucky” numbers as middle names. There’s a New York Times reporter named “Jennifer 8 Lee”. Here’s an article by her:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/dining/16fort.html?scp=3&sq=Jennifer%208%20Lee&st=cse

    Regarding the kids teasing: If kids want to tease you, they’ll come up with something no matter what your name is!

    Detroitus: On the other hand, some of those standardized forms have a limited number of spaces for each name, and “Quetzalcoatl” may well run over….

  34. @Kimbo Jones: Yah, I wouldn’t hyphenate a kid’s name, that’s just cruel. If I ever spawn, the kid will have the last name of whichever parent s/he most resembles, physically or in personality. Or whichever name sounds best. Or we’ll roll dice. Or! A third name, a mash-up of my name and the father’s. Now that could be fun.

  35. I don’t think I’m likely to ever change my name, but I DO take issue with a certain aspect of it:

    My name is Jared, and that’s totally cool (Subway guy aside, that is). However, the problem with a name like Jared is that it’s pretty much square in the middle between typical and atypical names.

    The upshot of this is that, when people ask for my name, it’s not SO atypical that they need to ask again, nor is it SO normal that it’s easily remembered. If my name were Dave, well, Dave is easy to remember and hard to screw up. If my name were something more atypical, like Herakles, people would ask me to say it again. “What was that? Hera-cleez? How interesting!”

    But, since my name is at neither extreme, people screw my name up all of the time. Gerald, Jerry, Darren, Jarret, etc. I hate it.

  36. Oh, and I meant to add:

    For those of you whose names either sound like or happen to be regularly used words, I still feel your pain despite the comparative irregularity of my own name. It just took me until about freshman high school English class to get there.

    I was pretty unaccustomed to having to do a double take over similar-sounding words, but then came the lesson when we learned about “gerunds.” Man, that got a subconscious snap-to-attention out of me every time. I don’t know how those of you named Matt or Mary or Helicopter make it.

  37. I gave my daughter 11 names, including 2 last names. The last names are not hyphenated, so legally she can use one or both.

    She also doesn’t have to use all of them on her passports or any other id. I checked. I’m in Canada, don’t know if it’s the same anywhere else.

    Three of her last names correspond to a famous female tv character. It also allows her to demand that her teachers call her “Princess” when she finally goes to school. Most of the female students I teach have thought that was a great idea.

    What I have found was the amount of prejudice apparent based on name choices. Her first name is relatively normal (I didn’t want her to hate us after all), but one of her middle names is ‘Tonicha’. We’ve been told that Tonicha is “too black”.

    ????

    This is from otherwise normal people I would have characterized as non-racist.

    And yeah, you interpreted that right. Three of her middle names are Xena Warrior Princess. And there’s a goddess name, as well a couple of ‘normal’ names to give her lots of options.

    Anybody who stops at only 3 names obviously hasn’t put very much thought into it.

  38. @rcn2: Hmmm, Princess is one of the names? The 9 (minus the 2 last names) wouldn’t be Princess Sabrina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fana Fo Fesca, would it?

    @Rebecca: Great! Let’s get right on that ASAP, shall we? ;^)

  39. @Kimbo Jones: My daughter’s last name is hyphenated. I think it works because both my last name and her father’s is short and easy to spell/say – and I’m completely open to her tossing one of them out as she gets older. I tried to build as much personal choice into her name as I could – after all, it’s HER name.

    @shanek: You can call her Dot. But call her Dottie, and you die. :)

  40. @Jen: As long as she can fit her whole name into those boxes on various forms. I’m thinking of my friend who has one of those double first names and a hyphenated last name. She has hard times filling out those test multiple choice bubble sheets. :)

  41. @Boxie: You could always call yourself Tess or Tessa. Much nicer than Terri and still short for Teresa.

    My last name is hyphenated. But then so is my husband’s. We flipped a coin to see whose name was first. In terms of “what do the kids do when THEY get married?” well, they can keep their own name, change it entirely, drop one half and re-hyphenate, or have a triple name. Up to them.

  42. I am all for weird child names but I am of the opinion that some constitute abuse.

    A friend of mine teaches a grade one class and has a student with the first name “Lordjesus”. It is pronounced fluidly with the start of the jesus component pronounced somewhat like “juce”.

    This wins the worst name contest hands down.

  43. It’d be kind of messy if people keep hyphenating names that are already hyphenated. Before too long, thanks to exponential growth you’d end up with a kid named Malcolm-Peter-Brian-Telescope-Adrian-Blackpool-Rock-Stoatgobbler-John-Raw-Vegetable-Brrroooo-Norman-Michael-Dingding-Whistle-Edward-Carhorn-Choogachoogachooga-Buzz-Thomas-Moo-We’ll-Keep-A-Welcome-In-The-Kapow-William-Vleep-Raindrops-Keep-Falling-On-My-Zeem-Don’t-Sleep-In-The-Subway-Cuckoo-Cuckoo-Naaoooo-Smith.

  44. Though I fully support unusual names, one issue still at hand is that of unusual spellings of normal names. My take on that: PLEASE NON-EXISTENT GOD MAKE IT STOP! If you are naming your child Lindsay, then name them Lindsay, not Lynzee. We do not need even one more Britni, Morgynn, or Brentt. This major issue is particularly egregious with girls’ names. If you want your daughter to have a different name than everyone else in their class, don’t name them Maddisyn, that’s just obnoxious. Go all in and name her Medea.

  45. Well I named my daughter Paige. When she was 10 or so she asked where I got the name. Told her “I saw it in a book”.

    Don’t think she got it till she was about 14. And then she thought it was a dumb joke.

    But now at 17 I think she’s using it as a small intelligence test. If a boy asks where the name came from she’ll say her dad saw it in a book. And then kinda watch to see whether or not the light dawns.

    No boy lasts more than a month or two.

    I think it’s great. She’s set her sights high and she’s sticking to it.

  46. Hi there!

    Why is this even an issue?

    Anytime someone gives a kid a name that isn’t the name of an Apostle, everybody freaks out. “But the other kids are going to make FUN of him!!

    Because you know … the only kids who EVER get made fun of are kids with funny names …

    Children are as cruel as they are creative. If the kid’s name is Peter, they’ll call him “Penis”, if his name is Luke, they’ll call him “Puke”. If her name is Maribeth, they’ll call her: “Scary-breath”. If her name is Guenivere Artemis Aribella they’ll call her “Penny-Beer Farty-Piss Sacred-ta-smell-ya”.

    And if they’re totally unable to come up with a creative way to mock your child, they’ll come up with: “Ass-munch”, “HomoFag”, or “Dickweed”.

    My name is Craig. Not a common name, but not something that lends itself to ridicule. I’ve heard: “Craigory”, or once “Craig McMuffin”, but generally I got called “faggot”. No, I’m not gay. I never was. Somehow that doesn’t matter to the sophisticates of grammar school. [shrug]

    — Craig McMuffin

  47. I like the idea of having one last name for the whole family. Like we all go together. It’s definitely practical.

    At my last job we’d spend hours trying to figure out who any two of our clients were related. Are they married? Dating? Friends? Brother and sister? *gasp* LESBIANS?!?!

    Couples no longer share names or phone numbers. It’s confusing sometimes.

    @Expatria:

    I have the same problem with “at least” and “a lease”. As a kid I had no idea why people would have to sign my name to get an apartment.

  48. Thanks for covering for me this week, Elyse! You’ll all be happy to know that almost all the puppies, kittens and orphans survived. Go me.

    Great topic too. I think unusual names are cool but then, I have spent my entire life having people sing “I once met a girl named Maria” or “How do you solve a problem like Maria” to me. Seriously, people, consider the songs that are out there before naming your kid. It gets OLD.

  49. Weird middle names are okay, and in fact most of the time, expected….but Moxy? Are you calling for you dog at the local playground or your kid? Apple? That’s not a name, that’s a fruit. Are you implying your kid ‘haz a flavor’?

    I like different names…as long as they’re pretty and don’t sound like a pet name or named after an inanimate object…like Chair. Wtf.

  50. I like wacky, unusual and out of the ordinary names.

    I also really happen to love the name Francis, so if I ever have a kid and he happens to be a boy, I’m so gonna name him Francis. I will, however, give him a more tolerable middle name so he can go by that in school if he so chooses…hehe.

    I am in complete agreement about stupid spelling of normal names, too. I’m was eternally pissed off by this girl named “Torrie” when I was in high school. Can’t you just spell it “Tori” like a normal person, like me?

    The one that really pisses me off is this girl named Jelsea. Jelsea, people! It’s like her mom wanted to name her Chelsea but was all sick and plugged up with snot after giving birth and when they asked her the name she was like, “Well, leds name her Jelsea, alride?” I want to beat her up.

  51. @limedestruction:

    I also really happen to love the name Francis, so if I ever have a kid and he happens to be a boy, I’m so gonna name him Francis. I will, however, give him a more tolerable middle name so he can go by that in school if he so chooses…hehe.

    Ok, it’s your kid, and you get to choose, but please reconsider this one. Neither Francis nor Frances should ever be used as a name for anyone ever again.

    My mother was named Frances – went by her middle name.
    My grandmother is named Frances – goes by her middle name
    I had a high school physics teacher name Francis – went by “Frank” – gave suspensions to anyone calling him “Francis”
    An indeterminate number of other people I have known were named Franc*s – none of them voluntary went by this name. It’s a horrible name. Don’t do it.

    (Oh yes, apologies to any Franc*s’, but seriously, you know you hate it. No apologies to parent of Franc*s – what were you thinking?)

    I am a Hedge

  52. Aw, who cares what people name their kids? If the kid hates it so much, he/she can change it eventually. I agree with Draconius that as far as being teased, it doesn’t much matter what your name is – someone will come up with some lame spoof on it.

    Example: I am a Rebekah (almost, but not quite as awesome as a Rebecca, which everyone knows how to spell). In grade school, some git came up to me and yelled, “Rebuttah!” Now, I was an oft-picked-upon sensitive soul, but that was so lame that my jaw dropped and I said, “ReBUTTah? Is that the BEST you can do? Geez!” Said git just stuttered something and ran away.

  53. Everybody has names they like and names they don’t. I do think you have to be careful about thinking of the naming your child as an expression of your creativity.

    All of the Sarah Palen brood’s names make me blanch. “Track” and “Trig” are both completely dreadful. And the trouble with “Piper” is that it sounds great for a young girl, but doesn’t really sound like the name of an adult.

    I too really don’t get the made up spellings. Alternate spellings from various cultures I understand, but the made up “creative” spellings are just obnoxious.

    I know a couple who hyphenated their own names after they married, not just their children’s. The combined name is three syllables, and it sounds good, so more power to them.

    My last name has three syllables already, and as my handle indicates, is Slavic in origin, so trying to hyphenate it with anything would be ridiculous. In particular, with my girlfriend’s one-syllable English name, both of the resulting hyphenation options border on being a crime against nature. So that just ain’t happening.

  54. @TheCzech: There’s a terrific actor named Piper Laurie. She was fantastic in The Hustler opposite Paul Newman, and was fantastically freaky as Carrie’s mom in Carrie. And if I’m not mistaken, she chose that name!

    Palin’s daughter Willow’s name is pretty, but I can’t think of it without thinking of the movie. Goat voice: “Willoooow, you iiiidiooooot!”

  55. @TheCzech:

    Is it just me or is it unbelievably cruel to name a child with downs syndrome “Trig”… a child that will never be able to do advanced math. Or am I over-thinking it?

    I actually think the rest of her kids’ names are pretty cool. (See? I *can* say something nice about Sarah Palin!)

  56. @RoaldFalcon: No, I assure you that in the Google Era you want common name. There are about 100,000 hits on my name and you’re not going to find out what I did at that frat party in a hurry.

    As for Penn’s entirely uncalled for remarks equating the appellation “Dave” to child abuse, I would declare him an opinionated jerk but he’d probably take that as a compliment.

  57. Yeah, he’d take it as a compliment.

    He made that statement exactly in a context where he is explicitly, intentionally, speaking as an opinionated jerk. That’s his schtick.

    I’m sure that he’d be more genteel/subtle/whatever in a different context, like if he was speaking directly with someone who disagrees with him.

    Don’t be too hard on him. He’s just doing what he does.

  58. @greenishblu: I used to agree until I began working with a “Bryan and Brian” and “Ryan and Rian” in the same office. What used to be an irritant suddenly saved me a great deal of time with the auto complete on my email.

    But that’s limited situation.

    And you should totally name your kid Zebulon Boy or Girl I don’t think it matters. :)

  59. Oh my, I have a whole list of weird names I’ve encountered in schools, including (but not limited to) Sparkle, Treasure, Precious, Diva, Samurai, Caress, Ransom, Champ, Treacherous… it goes on for a while.

    And yeah, kids are gonna make fun of you no matter what, but you might as well not HAND them the punchline. For instance, my last name is Vary (rhymes with “scary” and “hairy” and is Vary funny, haha, yes, I KNOW), but my parents knew better than to name my sister or me anything like Larry, Gary, Terri, Jerry, Carrie, etc. Of course, my great-grandmother on my paternal grandfather’s side was named Mary, though at least she married into the name.

    Oh, also she owned a dairy. I am so not making that up.

  60. SPARKLE?! Did anyone ever see that episode of Get A Life where Chris becomes a professional Male Model named Sparkles? Yuck.

    But, Samurai… I Like it! Ransom(e) or Randsome was a relatively common name here in the south a century or two back.
    I kind of have a thing lately for names of antiquity, Olive, Violet, Anges, Grace, Harland, Hazel, Muriel, thank goodness I don’t have kids of my own to name, huh?
    I went to school with brothers named Lemeul, Laughton and Lannie. Another girl was named Summer Camp (I swear) and her sister’s name was some other camp related pun i can’t currently remember. Oh, a girl named Kitten Sweet (also truth, I saw her school records, she asked to be called Katherine, smart girl), ooh and a very white girl named Chante with the little aigu over the E. My sister is named Felicia, which is okay, except that in 35 years she’s met maybe 2 ofther white girls with the same name, but in black communities it’s pretty common.
    (I met a very nice girl recently with the same name and couldn’t bring myself to ask her out, whereas if my sister had been named, say Amy or Melissa, e.g., I’m sure I’d have no problem dating someone with those names)

    Names that smack of fashion (i.e. the aforementioned Sparkles, Diva, Treasure) are revolting, as well as anything that can be remotely construed or contorted to be sexual/erotic (Caress, Tender, Quinn)

    I do love unique names, and Moxy (or Moxie) is a great one. I agree with Penn that it imparts a sort of self reliance and independence. Crimefighter is just funny. It seems to be made to incur criticism, but then if the first name holds true, it won’t matter.

    I have a dear friend whose son is named Courage (before there was a cowardly dog of the same name) and i think it’s great.

  61. Oh oh oh. I almost forgot. I have friends who named their son Temper.

    Now while in theory that is a cool name (they chose it from the metalurgy meaning) it also could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The kid is HIGHLY intelligent and creative, but at 10 already has an overly morbid sense of humor. I get along great with him but I’ve also worked with troubled kids for years, so he seems only slightly off to me

    Let’s hope for the best

  62. Jeebus, I’m going to do this all day. Last post today I promise…

    Tycho, i think Tycho is an awesome name both for childhood and adulthood.

    Niels
    Kempler (call him Kemp)
    Sophie

    I like science names
    and some sci-fi names, too

    Han
    Kal

    and I met a girl last night named Zopie or perhaps Zaopy (I’ll ask the spelling this week)

  63. There is something I refer to as “Homeschool Name Syndrome”, and I’ve certainly encountered it a lot first-hand.
    I don’t know if it’s just that homeschooling attracts a lot of weird parents, or if people figure “they won’t be teased in the schoolyard”, but I have noticed a much higher percentage of weird names among homeschoolers than the general populace. There are plenty of rare Biblical names in use, for example, but most of the people I know are on the newage side of things, so I see a totally different set.

    Starlie and her brother Cheyenne. Denmark (because it combines “Denise” and “Marcus”, you see!). Keyan and Penele. Wyllyam Daved (the past tense of to dave) and his brother Storm Beowulf have to be pretty high up there. I also know of a child named Seven Pacific.

    There is a difference between “uncommon/antiquated” and “weird”. I love older names and uncommon names. I just really prefer when one name – first or middle – is weird, and one is actually, well, a name.

    “People named Tinkerbell name their daughters Susan.”

  64. It should be noted, that not a single Franc*s has come here to defend the name, or even to say “it’s not that bad”. In the name of all that is decent, do not name your child Francis or Frances.

    And Hanes, if you like the name Fritz, then name the child Fritz. Fritz is a great name, and need not be short for Francis, which will always be in danger of become widely known and the source of misery for poor little Fritz.

    I am a Hedge

  65. @Detroitus: Thanks for adding yet another data point indicating the downsides of the name Franc*s.

    Think about it, future parents. Do you want your little girl to grow up as Frank?

    If you do choose Franc*s, for some unfathomable reason, please choose the middle name with great care, as it will probably end up being used as the primary name.

    I am a Hedge

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