Bad Baby Names

Q: Shouldn’t it be “Babies Named a Bad Bad Thing”?
A: No, it’s “Baby’s” as a contraction (short for “Baby is”). It’s a play on the Chris Isaak song “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing.”

Q: These are fake, right?
A: No, seriously, these are real and unedited. I don’t have time to do the work of a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters like this.

Q: But some are jokes. I mean, Timmy Tinkletop?
A: Alright, it turns out some are jokes. I’ve had some recent contact with some of the people who “infiltrated” one bulletin board after it was named Cruel Site of the Day in June 2000 (title: “It’s Never Too Early for Child Abuse”). And yes, the ones that are likely jokes are concentrated around that time. But I think the joke ones stand out, like Timmy, Scatman, and the person who says s/he was in England and liked the names Lou and Randy.

But at the same time, the ones that aren’t jokes stand out too. They have a certain unfocused quality, written like someone thinking as they write. Gennavieve Luaraleigh, for instance, and Jesus Dewey and Sivaunah, and all those damn Celticy names (Calaya Talwen???). Those I’ll stand by as entirely authentic.

Q: Where are these names from?
A: A lot are from the bulletin boards at BabyCenter, who deserve some sort of punishment for continuing to have that pop-up ad that says “See what your baby looks like now!” with a drawing of a mooshed, sopping fetus. (“Holy crap!” I think, “I didn’t even notice I’m 8 months pregnant, and have been for the last three years!”)

Plenty more are from Behind the Name, which at first was so packed with fodder I thought it was a gag site like mine. But, alas, no. And good ones from iVillage and a few other good “communities” are in there too.

Q: What about ethnic names? You shouldn’t make fun of other cultures!
A: I’ve cut most of the names that had clear ethnic/cultural roots, because while I may think the name Jawarharlal sounds kind of funny, it doesn’t to 1 billion Indians.

(Meanwhile, 1 billion Indians probably find the name Steve to be a laugh riot.)

I’ve left in ethnic names where 1) the parent-to-be was clearly, clearly knew nothing about that ethnic group (The folks aiming for Italian names and include Keanu; “We especially like Japanese names,” 2) someone took a common name, word, or concept and made a big deal about its “ethnic-ness,” or, alternatively, seemed to not know it has an ethnic connection at all (see: Ireland), or when someone encouraged others to appropriate other cultures via steps 1 and 2.

Q: Is the world full of rabid “Splash” fans all of a sudden?
A: Possibly. Or our fourth president has a much bigger following than I ever imagined.
As many people have noted, like increasingly popular Mac- and Mc- names like Mackenzie and McKenna, Madison is a male-line family name. It means “son of Maud.” Perfect for a little girl.

Just to ruin the gag for everybody, in “Splash,” when Daryl Hannah says she wants to be called “Madison,” it’s a joke. Because Madison is the name of an avenue, a signer of the Constitution and a city in Wisconsin, not a name for a pretty blonde lady. Not like Daryl.

Q: What the hell is a DH?
A: Apparently, loony boards have loony shorthand. DH is Darling (or Dear) Husband, DS is Darling Son and DD is Darling Daughter.

While I have no problem with shorthand, the “darling” part bugs me. It’s only needed if there’s an alternative it needs to be separated from, ie. BD (Bitch Daughter) or CH (Cheating Husband) or FSKS (Future Serial Killer Son).

Q: ur a terribl persin! u shouldnt make fun of kid’s!
A: I’m not, I’m making fun of the parents. These people’s priorities are WAY out of whack. I’ve cut from most entries the parts about teasing because it’s too repetitive, but most express some fear their delicate offspring will be teased as kids, and so they try to protect them by giving them “tease-proof” names. Only there’s no such thing, and by giving them weird names they guarantee not just teasing, but disbelief and laughter from adults and a lifetime of mispronunciations, misspellings and forgetfulness. They say they want their kids to have memorable names, but the truth is odd names are actually harder to remember.

Oh, and if you’re going to communicate in a written medium like the Internet, learn to freakin’ write.

Q: Do you have something against “breeders”?
A: Hell no! My own parents are breeders! I’ve got nothing against parents who have a lot of love and want to share it with a child and raise it to be a responsible, conscientious and productive person. To raise a good person is nothing short of a public service.

However, I worry a lot of people have kids either a) because you’re “supposed to,” b) they seek unconditional love, making them more pet owners than parents, or c) they seek the ultimate middle-class status accessory, making them more consumers than parents.

Notice how the girls get the weirdest names – some people are more interested in playing with dolls than raising future adults.

Q: What about sisterhood? Why are you knocking other women?
A: Because I’m so much of a feminist I spread blame equally. In this case, though, most goes to women because they’re (understandably) more preoccupied with their pregnancies. And because having babies is much more a loaded issue for women than men (again, understandably.)

And they’re giving the sisters a bad name. (Literally! Zing!)

Q: What’s the weird to normal ratio in names you find?
A: Weird beats normal by at least 2 to 1, increasing rapidly each passing year. In 2001, weird and normal were almost even; in 2003 there were usually 4 weird names for every 1 normal one. I’m guessing (hoping, praying) that’s because people giving their kids accepted names need to neither advertise it nor fish for validation.

Q: Shouldn’t people have interesting names to distinguish themselves?
A: Would John Fitzgerald Kennedy be a more interesting person if he were named Dakota Ruger Kennedy?
Is “Marilyn Monroe” really more “unique” an individual than “Norma Jean Baker”?
Would John, Paul, George and Ringo (ne Richard) have been worse musicians than Maverick, Taybree, Kason and Tom (ne Anakin)?

The ones who take already interesting names and “special” them up with odd spellings are the ones that really get my goat. They’re hedging their bets too much. Funny part is, I’ve gotten some really nice comments from these same people, which, no joke, I appreciate.

Q: What should I name my kids?
A: I can’t give you the perfect name. I’m much better at cursing the darkness, anyway. But here are a few tips I’ve gleaned from digging around bulletin boards, books, and the tons of e-mails I get from readers:

  • Generally avoid nouns. You’re asking for trouble.
  • Do a Google search for your name ideas. If all you get are porn sites, white supremacist groups and pictures of My Little Ponies – it’s a bad name.
  • Look at lists of the most popular baby names for the last three years. Steer clear of the top 10, and definitely steer clear of any names that suddenly jump from #150 to #25.
  • No celebrity names. Your kids will immediately hate this celebrity, and be horribly embarrassed forever.
  • If you like a common name, but don’t like how it’s spelled, tough. Either use the usual spelling, or find a new name. Andrywe is NOT a name. If people can’t get it right on the second try, it’s not worth the hassle.
  • Most Americans are assimilated cultural mutts, without much connection to their ancestry. If you want to reconnect with your heritage, go to the library. Do not name your kid Bronwyn and think you are now in touch with your 1/16 Welsh side.
  • A stupid sounding name is still a stupid sounding name even if its meaning is “beloved queen” or something else nice.
  • Do not name your kid with elementary school bullies in mind. If it isn’t incredibly obvious (Gaylord, Fartoff), they’re going to get that little bit teased like the rest of us were, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  • Try these on for size: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’d like to introduce you to the new CEO of MultiGlobal Corp., [blank blank]” or “Also on the presidential panel is MIT’s chief biochemical researcher, Dr. [blank blank].
  • Assuming your child will live to age 70, s/he will spend 16% of their life as a child, 10% of their life as teenagers and 14% as senior citizens. The remaining 60% of their lives they will be adults. Plan accordingly.

Q: You just don’t like these names because they’re new! Get with the times! In 50 years, won’t names like Madison and Mackenzie be considered old fashioned!?
A:Yes, they’ll be considered old-timey pretentious names instead of new and fashionable pretentious names.

Q: So what are your kids’ names?
A: I don’t have any, and don’t have any names picked out for the future. Although I’m leaning toward a symbol that can’t be pronounced, or maybe a series of high-pitched screeches.

Q: Aren’t all names made up at some point? What makes old made up names better than new ones?
To a point, yes, all names are made up by someone somewhere, just like all words. But older names have the benefit of being road-tested by time, whereas Neveahlee does not.

Q: One of your forum members used a swear word. How do I get them banned?
A: This site is intended for readers above the age of 14, who should recognize when it is acceptable to swear and to what degree. Some bad names provoke a response that will include swear words – this is another sign not to give your kid that name. Other baby name sites ban swearing; they also ban free expression of contrary opinions. So I allow both. So cram it.

Q: Who are you and how can I send you piles of money?
A: My name’s Diana Goodman, and I’m from San Francisco. I enjoy long walks on the beach, candle-lit dinners and quiet evenings by the fire making fun of South American game shows.
When not shooting fish in a barrel, I’m a writer, editor and craft goddess. I am available for freelancing, also birthday parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs.

And yes, I was teased for my name at school and yes, due to the many variants and perversions of my name, it is misspelled on a regular basis.

Q:You are hysterical! Will you marry me?
A: Of course I will, my darling! I love you!
(Note to self: make another photocopy of boilerplate “I get everything” pre-nup.)

3 Responses to Bad Baby Names

  1. katiek says:

    Hi! I’ve just started a bad baby name blog, so I was searching for fellow terrible name aficionados and found you! I love your posts, any new ones planned? Thanks!

  2. Stephanie says:

    The site as it is now is wonderful. However, when I was pregnant with my son in 2004, the BBN was required reading, at least weekly.You had headings like “brought to you by the letter y” and a whole area for “J” names. (OK I admit, I haven’t been on this site in quite a while). Is there any way to view your site from way-back-when–I’d love to show my friend. Just thought I’d ask for the sake of nostalgia, not because there is a thing wrong with how you have it now. Anyone who can make people laugh is a gift to the world! And laughing at this site, more than pregnancy, has caused continence problems for me!

  3. Chaz E. Hamilton says:

    Hello!
    I ran across your website by accident today & find it very interesting. I have worked at a county social services agency for 3 decades and have come across many interesting childrens’ surnames. Recently, I interviewed a young family with an infant named ROTUNDA BUTTS. I kid you not. One family had a baby boy named BLUEBERRY BOY ROBBINS. And then a single mother had a year-old daugter named FANNY GASS. I love your website. Have a great day!

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