May 18, 2010

What not to name your baby.

Don't pick something popular... especially something that you think seems unusual, but actually is terribly popular -- like Isabella. And don't fancy up a plain-seeming name and bumble into a more common name. For example, you might think "Ann" is a ridiculously plain name, but it's much less common than fancier variations, listed below with their rank among names given to baby girls in the U.S. in 2009:
Ana    182
Anahi    458
Anaya    471
Ann    926
Anna    29
Anne    544
Annie    382
Anya    363
"Ann" is by far the least popular. Way behind even Anahi, a name I can't recall ever seeing. Basically, "Anna" has become the Ann-name of choice.

"Annette" is 869. "Annabelle" is 156! Annabelle! When I was a kid, it was considered a patently absurd name that I had a friend who called me "Annabelle" when she wanted to annoy me:



themightypuck said...

What is wrong with common names? Michael, John, or Mark will never cause any trauma to their bearers in this country.

Scott said...

"...I had a friend who called me "Annabelle" when she wanted to annoy me..."

And how many hours of therapy did that grind up?

Rialby said...

Anahi is popular in the US for the same reasons Muhammed is popular in Britain.

Scott said...

Ahi Ahi is popular in Hawaii.

mesquito said...

Hi! I'm Bob, and this is my wife, Emily! And my kids, Milosz and Fatima!"

Cosmopolitanism, American-style.

themightypuck said...

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

Rialby said...

Apropos of this post and of a post from earlier in the year:

Family Guy on songs named after a girl: Family Guy on Youtube

Gabriel Hanna said...

In the classes I taught, I invariably had a Heather, a Megan, and an Ashley.

Then there's the Kyles, Dylans, and Brandons, and the Mackenzies and Madisons.

Trendy names date you.

My own name only became somewhat popular a few years ago. I moved a lot growing up and I was always the only Gabriel. For some reason no one can spell it.

rdkraus said...

My wife works in Barnes and Noble. One day a Jewish family was in her section (children's area) and she overheard the mother addressing the kids.

David, Rebecca, Robert, Helen and Schmoey.



So, we named our dog Schmoey. Luckily for him, he's an imaginary dog.

Wonder what Schmoey did to deserve that?

Fred4Pres said...

Anabelle? Yeah, that is annoying.

Beta Rube said...

Maybe Titus will start calling you Annabelle instead of Mary.

My daughter named her son Atticus (of Finch fame). I like the name but I worry that it morphs too easily into asskiss for playground taunt purposes. He's only 3 so I'm only speculating.

Scott said...

From the same site, the most popular female and male names for 2009 are:

1. Isabella
2. Emma
3. Olivia
4. Sophia
5. Ava
6. Emily
7. Madison
8. Abigail
9. Chloe
10. Mia

1. Jacob
2. Ethan
3. Michael
4. Alexander
5. William
6. Joshua
7. Daniel
8. Jayden
9. Noah
10. Anthony

MadisonMan said...

If you think you're being clever when you name a child, you really aren't.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Bertha was a trendy name once. QED.

former law student said...

Reading Althouse's posts on her given name invariably remind me of my sister's Anne of Green Gables book, with the stress the lead character put on being "Anne with an e."

Puck: an article I once read said that boys with unusual names were mocked growing up, while girls' unusual names were tolerated. Puberty brought on considerable feminine name experimentation in my neighborhood: Cynthias became Cindys, Cindis, or even Cyndys.

tim maguire said...

My daughter is named Jane--which I at first thought was much too common. Turns out there are very few Janes and she will nearly always be the only one in her group.

Meanwhile, I wanted to name her Anabelle, which I thought would be an unusual name but of the six girls in her music class, two of them are Anabelle. And from the looks of it, every group she is in will have more than one Anabelle.

Joaquin said...


former law student said...

"Jane" is common among Social Security recipients, as is "Helen."

chuck b. said...

Getting pregnant and having a baby turns sane intelligent people into raving idiots.

campy said...

We gave our younger daughter a retro name: Darlene. (She was born in '84.)

Lance said...

That SSA site is awesome. My wife and I especially like the "Popularity over time" search for seeing the overall trend. Let's us avoid the soon-to-be-overused names as well as the currently overused ones.

And btw: one in 100 baby girls was named Isabella?! I'm sure there are hospitals that had multple Isabellas born on the same day.

Sea Urchin said...

My husband and I have recently been trying to pick out names for our first (that we just found out is on the way). We've had fun making fun of all the odd spellings and trendy names that other people seem to pick. I have a friend that was THIS close to naming her daughter KateLin (with that spelling) but fortunately came to her senses before going through with it. Naming a child that with ANY spelling is going to be a disaster, since there are so many variants (Caitlyn, Katelyn, Kaitlyn, etc.) Plus, it's super trendy and there will be eight of them in all the elementary classes.

We've got a name all picked out already if it's a girl, but I'm finding it's a lot harder to get a boy's name that resonates.

Bob Ellison said...

My parents really wanted to name one of their sons Maximilian. I'm grateful that they settled on my boring name. (I float, and when nailed to a wall, become Art.)

chuck b. said...

If I ever meet an Anahi, I will refer to her as Ann to her parents. How is Ann? Ann so intelligent and creative, isn't she? You must be very proud of Ann.

John Burgess said...

I suspect the offensiveness of 'Annabelle' at that time and place was a leftover from Howdy Doodie's Clarabelle.

I know many Latin women who happily wear their names of Annabelle, Clarabelle, and Isabelle, with many spelling variations.

Sea Urchin said...

Also, there's a fun chart here to see when names were the most trendy and how they change in rank over time.

The name we picked if it's a girl was most popular in the '20s and '30s, but has dropped off fairly dramatically in modern times.

chuck b. said...

The boy names on that most popular list are perfectly fine, except for Jayden. It's just daughters that make people crazy. People know boys get teased more than girls and they want their boys to fly under the radar. Faux-individuality is for girls.

themightypuck said...


The gender distinction makes sense. I've alwasy shortened my name to its simple form while many women I've known have altered their names slightly. Karen to Karin for instance. Or insisting on Catherine and plotting death to anyone daring to use Cathy.

edutcher said...

The Bible, names of the Saints, and the Classics can give a good selection (most Islamic names are Arabic variants of the Old Testament), but parents need to think about how the name is going to sound on a playground ten years later. Or being given to a cop pulling said infant over ten years after that.

(If your last name is Bond, for example...)

Isabella is also the name of the color of the lightest of the Palominos, BTW.

Scott said...

Ahi Ahi is popular in Hawaii.

So is mahi mahi.

PS If that's you, the attitude reminds me of my sister. She was named Margaret, after my mother, but we all called her Nipper.

Yes, I know...

PPS Mom flirted with the idea of calling her Nefertiti Valerie, but we talked her out of it.

LarsPorsena said...

Twenty five years ago we named our daughter Anna. It's an old family name and we thought it was distinctive without being trendy.
Her first day of kindergarten there are three other Anna's. So there are four Anna's in the class. To confuse the teacher even more they became a inseparable clique whose only other member was Savannah. I can still hear the teacher in the lunch room calling out for the attention of "Anna, Anna, Anna, Anna, and Savannah".

Strange but true.

Gabriel Hanna said...

My grandmother's generation was partial to Doris and Ruth, and before that you had Ethels. I think the Ethels are long gone now. And in what decade would you guess a Morty was born?

Don't give your kid a name that dates them.

As for me, I am trying to convince my wife to go with Hephzibah for a daughter, but she has some kind of unreasonable prejudice.

Sarah said...

I never had a class growing up where I was the only Sarah. Usually there were at least three of us. Sometimes more.

And, even though it's an extremely common name, especially for women my age, people spell it incorrectly on a regular basis.

On the plus side, when I am out, I hear my name all the time. It's a minor ego boost.

Mark said...

My son Aden is the fourth generation with that name.

Unfortunately for him, this is the generation where it gets popular.

Paul Zrimsek said...

The best thing you can do for your daughter is give her a name that's going to become trendy in about 10 years.

Scott said...


"She was named Margaret, after my mother, but we all called her Nipper."

Does she drink a lot?

Erich said...

The Name Voyager over at produces interactive graphs of name popularity over time. If you type in the first few letters of a name, you can see the relative popularity of slight variations.

Scott said...

From having lived there in the '90s, I remember that in Malaysia, if you convert to Islam, the mullah usually gave you the name Ahmed.

Scott said...

I love fake Swahili names. Anticipating that some new mother somewhere has named their daughter "Inersha".

Lance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
former law student said...

Does she drink a lot?

Or listen attentively to the gramophone?

Lance said...

parents need to think about how the name is going to sound on a playground ten years later.

A friend suggested a good rule-of-thumb for selecting a name. When you think you've got a good name, step out on the front porch and shout it at the top of your lungs, followed by "It's time for dinner!"

If it sounds goofy, or if you can't bring yourself to shout it, consider selecting a different name.

halojones-fan said...

My mom used to work in labor & delivery; she swears that a new mom named her daughter "Placenta" because she liked the sound and didn't know what the word meant!

Joe said...

A fun site:

We discovered after the fact that our oldest daughter's name was more popular than we thought, though there have been relatively few classmates with her name given it's ranking.

Joe said...

Oh, and both my boy's names spiked in a huge way in the 90s when they were born. Oddly, I'd come up with both in the early 80s, years before I'd even met my now wife.

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lyssalovelyredhead said...

My three baby name rules:
1) Gender specific: I don't care if it's sexist or something; it's a huge pain to look at the name Jamie on a form and try to figure out whether to address it to Ms. or Mr.

2) Simple enough that a reasonably intelligent person looking at it can pronounce it and a reasonably intelligent person hearing it can spell it.

3) Not so common that the kid will likely have a dozen in his/her class: the comments here indicate that that's harder to predict than I would have expected; I'm still thinking of the names that I grew up with as being really popular, but now they're not, as much. My husband and I both have names that were in the top 10 of our birth years, and I found it really irritating to constantly have to clarify which one I am. (Lyssa's a variation of my given name!)

My two first kid names: Clark and Willow.

- Lyssa

LarsPorsena said...

"My mom used to work in labor & delivery; she swears that a new mom named her daughter "Placenta" because she liked the sound and didn't know what the word meant!"

I heard a variation of this story but the name used is "Urinal".
Quite possibly urban legend.

Kirstin said...

There were seven girls named Debbie (with various spellings) in my second grade class.

Jacob means "he deceives," but I like the name anyway.

Irene said...

If I am on the telephone and tell someone my name, the person usually assumes that I am in my 80s or 90s. "Irene" is right up there with "Harriet," "Edith," and "Martha."

My parents chose the name because it has a variation in almost every language. As people who were displaced from a small nation during World War II, they had peculiar names that did not translate well in the United States. They wanted their children to have names that could be understood easily in any country. That way, if we had to flee and relocate, we would have fewer problems assimilating.

* * * *

In the 1970s, my Mom had a patient named "Caprice." When she asked the parents about the origins of the child's name, they stated that they had named her after the popular Chevrolet model.

My Mom then inquired, "Is that where she was conceived?"

Too many jims said...

Paul Zrimsek said...
The best thing you can do for your daughter is give her a name that's going to become trendy in about 10 years.

By that measure we did great (the jury is out on other measures of our parenting). 11 years ago we named our daughter Abigail which has risen from 18 ish into the top 10. 9 years ago we named our second daughter Isabella, which was not in the top 25 at that time.

themightypuck said...What is wrong with common names? Michael, John, or Mark will never cause any trauma to their bearers in this country.

Hey , John! Hey, let's go to the john.

save_the_rustbelt said...

My beloved saintly auntie was named Annabelle, may she rest in peace.

My rule on names is this:

...pretend the baby is grown up and is about to sign a business letter - is the name an embarrassment?

TerriW said...

Two things that are personally irritating about my own name that I made a point of avoiding with my own two kids:

1. An ambiguously spelled name that you will spend THE REST OF YOUR LIFE spelling out to anyone who has to write it down or type it in. The next generation is going to collectively lose millions of productive man-hours over this one, judging by the names my friends have given their kids.

2. A name that everyone calls you that is fairly different from what is on your government documents. Okay, this one is less annoying than #1.

My parents (who are *amazingly* -- as this story illustrates -- still married) argued at length over what to name me. I went unnamed, in fact, for 10 days. The hospital started to pressure them to just get it done. My mother wanted to name me "Amy" and my father wanted to name me "Ann," and there was no bridging that gap.

My mother wanted a feminine name. My father wanted, and I quote, "something you could call a Supreme Court Justice" -- and "Amy" was not that name for him.

So, finally, they compromised ... they chose a name that *neither* of them liked: Teresa Lynn, "tuh-RAY-sah."

But as my mother was still in the hospital bed, my father was the one who went downstairs to fill out the paperwork. So, he made it "Theresa Lynne," adding the H and the E, and changing the pronunciation to "ter-EE-sah."

And then they always called me "Terri."

edutcher said...

Gabriel Hanna said...


Don't give your kid a name that dates them.

As for me, I am trying to convince my wife to go with Hephzibah for a daughter, but she has some kind of unreasonable prejudice.

A lot of names come back, though. Jacob, very turn of the century, came back after 100 years because it was a good J name, but something other than Jason.

I like Hephzibah, but giving her a bit more prosaic middle name (Sarah, Elizabeth) and calling her by that would give her some breathing room until she's old enough to appreciate it.

Scott said...


"She was named Margaret, after my mother, but we all called her Nipper."

Does she drink a lot?

No. she calls herself Peggy, but, for me, she'll always be Nip. (yes, she doesn't like me to call her that where she works)

halojones-fan said...

My mom used to work in labor & delivery; she swears that a new mom named her daughter "Placenta" because she liked the sound and didn't know what the word meant!

The Blonde has the exact same story. Did your mom live in Akron?

Irene said...

If I am on the telephone and tell someone my name, the person usually assumes that I am in my 80s or 90s. "Irene" is right up there with "Harriet," "Edith," and "Martha.

A former co-worker's college age daughter is Irene, actually Irina; they're Russian immigrants, so that's another source of old names on young people.

WV "bewwoof" Old English poem or what Quantum says when she wants to go outside.

Bruce Hayden said...

I got lucky with my one kid. Used four last names (my last name is last, and my ex's is 2nd to last). So far, the first name is relatively unique, yet appears like an intentional misspelling. But now in college, the health center has that name.

Scott said...


"WV "bewwoof" Old English poem or what Quantum says when she wants to go outside."

Quantum is your daughter?

Kurt said...

I, too, am surprised that Ann does not rank higher. I would have imagined that it was one of the most popular of the "Ann" group of names. I guess that dates me a bit. Then again, I remember the Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, but I think even those were waning in popularity when I was a little kid (in the late 60s and the 70s). I also know that most of the folks who I know who have had children in the past few years have named them rather uncommon names.

Although I was familiar with the name Ann and that spelling, I can't think of many Anns who I actually knew. I remember a few Annes, but the only Ann that comes to mind is the mother of a friend of mine from elementary school, and she would most likely be at least in her late 60s now.

Regarding the Placenta/Urinal stories, I heard a similar one about two twins named Irene and Urine. That one is probably an urban legend. I also heard one from a friend whose daughter used to work at a state health department about a mother who named her daughter "Female" (pronounced Fah-mah-lee) because "that's what it said on the birth certificate," or something to that effect.

WV: wrologra--seeing how the names trend increasingly towards the unusual and away from the common, I wonder how many years it will be before wrologra is a popular name?

Scott said...

There's a town in California named Placenta, I think.

If not, there should be.

Joe said...

Terri's post reminds me of what my son did. He changed the spelling of his name from the common to the uncommon for everything but legal documents. I'm the lone holdout.

I also knew (didn't know of, actually knew) a person whose parents waited to name them and forgot to fill out the paperwork. Girl turned 17, went to get a drivers license, needed a birth certificate and learned her legal first and middle names were "Baby Girl". Her siblings urged her to change her name to something very unusual, but she stuck with her own name.

On a tangent; I loathe my middle name. Damn tradition of using family names. Worse, it wasn't even my great-grandfathers real last name, his mother divorced and remarried, but he was never officially adopted.

Pogo said...

I wanted to name my daughter She-Ra and my son He-Man.

I was not permitted to offer further opinions after that quip.

Kirstin said...

Placentia is in Orange County, CA.

Bruce Hayden said...


1) Gender specific

My view is that it can be advantageous for girls to have more masculine names, esp. if they are going to be in business. Jamie would be fine with me, except that I believe that the American with the most personal responsibility for 9/11 already has that name, and then, as a reward, got to sit on the Board at Fannie Mae. And the rest is history.

I should note that that "Jamie" is an attorney, which is one of those places where I think that a too feminine name could be disadvantageous. (On the other hand, the attorney in the office next door just uses her initials, which works just fine).

2) Simple to spell - definitely, except that people are likely to misspell all those variants that everyone is so fond of.

As a note, I do know one kid who has used the more typical spellings of their first and middle name for an online id, which provides a certain level of additional privacy.

3) Not too common. Agreed. But the problem there is that you need to be looking ahead.

And keep in mind that misspellings count here. When the teacher is yelling for someone, they really cannot distinguish between the different spellings. They all sound alike. And, as a result, Emily, Emylie, etc. are treated as having the same name by their peers and teachers.

Timing is everything. I know two friends with both a Zach and an Emily. The children of friends from college are in their mid thirties now. When they named them that, I thought it weird. Who would use those names? In the second case, the Emily is in her mid teens. Both she and her brother have gone through life being confused with other Zachs and Emilys.

Another part of the timing is keeping in mind that names tend to move down through the social hierarchy. The first set of parents above are both independently wealthy. Not so the second set, and more likely as not, those naming their kids Zach and Emily today are likely to be even less affluent.

4) (New Rule) If you want your kid to do well in American society, don't use names that are too ethnic, unless that ethnic is Western Europe, and, in particular the UK.

I think that Blacks are especially guilty there. There are a whole number of "Black" names these days, and what they say to the White world is that their parents were into Black Pride. Not always the right thing to say to d'Man. I am talking about names that no White person would use, and not those with some cross-over. Names that sound like they have been harvested from Africa.

And, sorry, but if you are Muslim, I still wouldn't name my kid with a strongly Moslem sounding name. Not after all the attacks on us by Moslems over the last maybe 20 years.

I note that most of the Asian-Americans I know at least use a first name that sounds extraordinarily White. John, Jennifer, Katie. That says to corporate America that they are safe and trying to acclimate.

c3 said...

Looks like my name, not popular when I was born has ended its multi-decade run in the top 10.

Freeman Hunt said...

I would love to use the name Hector, but it sounds too cutesy with our last name.

First son's name is not in the top 1000. I didn't realize it was so uncommon. Second son's name is number two. Didn't know the popularity of either when they were chosen. Both came from film. Go figure.

Schorsch said...

I'm going ethnic for my baby girl(t-minus 10 days and counting...). Yes, she'll have to spell it, as my wife has had to spell her name for 30 years. It builds character. Everyone I've known with an unusual, yet pretty and not fabricated, name (Siobhan, for instance) is glad that they do.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

* I've heard the same urban legands about kids named Angina (which is kind of a pretty word, if you don't know it, I guess), Vagina (ditto, I think?), and Le-sha (pronounced "le-dash-sha"). Doubt any of them are true, but funny.

* Bruce, re: gender specific names being good for girls- I think you're probably right, and a girl can usually carry it off well, too. But it still bugs the heck out of me.

As an aside, in college, I knew a girl named "Travis." Apparently, she had been premature, and her parents hadn't picked out the girl's name yet. (she had a perfectly normal girl's middle name, so I don't know why they didn't just promote it). Fortunately for her, she was cute as a button and tiny, so she was able to wear it well- we often called her "Trav," something I've never heard applied to a male Travis. On the other hand, I can't remember her ever dating throughout college, although she was quite attractive- I wonder if the boys weren't comfortable with it?

* I completely agree on the ethnic names- even though it's not the kid's fault, it really leaves an impression that the kid will refuse to assimilate (not fair, but true). My sister teaches in an inner city school, and she says every kid has a different, unheard of, and unpronouncable name. Even if they do rise above their roots (unlikely, from the other stories she tells about them), I'm sure those names will be a point against them on their resumes.

In his autobiography, Justice Clarence Thomas mentioned that he named his son Jamal, back when choosing afro-centric names was really popular, and indicated that he really regreted and was kind of embarassed about it.

- Lyssa

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

I've been called Toni, Tori, Tay, Jay, Joy, Troy, Mr. Tony___, Toby, and variations I can't remember. I often forget the name of someone I'm introduced to for having to repeat, "Yes, it's my real name, yes, it's on my birth certificate no, T-O-Y; well, it was my aunt's nickname. My father wanted to name me after her and my mother didn't want to name me Gladys." I would have been called by my more reasonable middle name if the relatives hadn't shortened it to a nickname that I didn't like. So, when I was 2-1/2, I got mad and made at them and made them call me Toy. I haven't been taken seriously since.;-) My then future in-laws thought I must be Japanese and were surprised to see freckes. One of my African- American students told me I have a black girl's name. On a lark, i looked it up on Facebook and I do! I get mail from a satellite dish company in Chinese.

I'm partial to traditional names, but ones that ARE NOT in the top 100. None of my 3 kids have had another student with their name in class--actually, not even in the school--even though there is nothing bizarre or even unusual about them. There are plenty of beautiful names that everyone else isn't using. I suggest trying Senator, Judge, or Reverend in front when trying them out. I'd like to retire Tiffany and several others. There was something in Freakonomics about how weird names burden a kid.

That said, I grew up with girls named Morri, Duff, Clyda, Kavin, and Bedouin, and have girl cousins named Lloyd, Michal, and Sue Clay (Southern double name). These were all real given names. My sister's middle name is a family name, but it's a family we aren't kin to.

As you can see, I've thought about naming issues a lot. I'd probably have picked Penelope or Daphne for myself, but, in spite of the confusion, I've probably gotten more mileage out of being


Irish Coffee said...

Freakonomics has a great chapter on names. You should check it out if you haven't already done so.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I bet Inersha has a sister named Kenosha.

Meade said...

I'm naming our second child...


As my whimsy leads me.. said...

I used to know a woman named Arizona. She had a sister named Kansas. My husband's great-aunt was named Australia. A patient in a hospital years ago was named Naitpyge (pronounced Nite-a-PIE-gee). That's Egyptian spelled backwards. No joke.


Salamandyr said...

I'm kind of happy that none of the names we're considering for our daughter is even on the list op most popular names.

Meade said...

Funny names, Toy...


Sara (Pal2Pal) said...

My Aunt's (Mother's sister) name was Annalene. I always thought that was a pretty name.

I gravitate to Biblical names more than the trendy names. When I was in high school, we had a cheerleading squad of 8 girls, 4 of whom were named Karen. Kathy and Elizabeth, mostly Liz or Liza, seemed to be the other most popular names in my class.

Sara (Pal2Pal) said...

My Mother told me that she and my Dad were considering Sylvia (a name I can't stand) or Victoria Europa, since I was born on VE day. I thank the stars that they came to their senses and named me Sara Leslie. Sara after my Grandmother and Leslie because it flowed well and my Mother's college mentor was a Leslie.

I didn't start using my first name of Sara until well into my adulthood. All thru school and with my family, I was always called by my middle name. I didn't like Sara anyway because it seemed so old-fashioned. Then, I started hearing it again and again for toddlers and realized that the name had a big resurgence in the late '80s and thru the '90s.

Ann said...

I have always found it interesting that male names migrate to the female (Ashley, Leslie) but we rarely see the reverse.

About ethnicity, one of my best friends from college is an Anglo woman named Comeka. She once shared an office with Carla, who was African-American, and invariably people who didn't know them assumed each one had the other's name.

(I'm an Ann, but gratefully so given my long German maiden name.)

former law student said...

The story in my wife's family was that my mother-in-law's father celebrated her birth too much and forgot the name that they had picked for her. So he just gave them the first girl's name that came into his head.

bearing said...

I bet the Annabelles are easily explained: They really want an Isa/Belle/a but they know it's popular and are looking for an alternative.

I have a Mary Jane. Sounds ordinary, but isn't at all.

Sara (Pal2Pal) said...

My Dad's family were into the letter "M." Marshall, Miriam, Marie, Martha, Maurine, Marcia, Marian, Meredith, Morgan, Melanie, and MaryLou, etc.

jgm said...


Your name seems more of a 40s or
50s sort to me.

Now my grandmothers (both born in the 1890s) had old names: Ida and Alma.

My eldest sister's name is Sabra (old family name), which I think is lovely.

Me? Just plain John. A handshake is my bond.

wv: folain. Do not name your child "Folain."

Irene said...

@jgm I looked on the Social Security site, and it looks like "Irene" was popular for girls born between 1900 and 1920.

I never liked the name because people teased me about it. I tried to use "Renee" as a nickname, but it never stuck.

A classmate in law school started calling me "Reenie," and unfortunately, that did stick. There is a small group of about 21 people that call me that and live to see another day.

Fortunately, my first name is better than my middle name, which sounds very close to the Italian word for "ugly": brutta.

Bob Ellison said...

What about the J families? I knew a Jennings clan that had Jason, Jared, and Jenny. The letter J is a strange thing; people who go there tend never to come back.

Be said...

Was baptized Ann. Made me totally unemployable except in not for profits or companies who look for African Americans because they need to for state contracts. (Oh the stories I could tell.)

Ann Althouse said...

I guess people don't click on links. At least 2 commenters have linked to the same page where the first link in the post goes!

Jana said...


The famous Duggar family children (they of 19 children and TLC Channel fame) have all "J" names.

Amusingly, they got to 17 children without ever using Jennifer.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Sara: My Dad's family were into the letter "M." ...

My parents named their first three M names, then the fourth and final starts with a V. Go figure.

Bob Ellison said...

Ann, it's humbling, no? People didn't click on your link. They liked what you wrote, though, and like me, they commented and read other commenters.

< link >this thing shows I'm brilliant< /link >

mic_comte said...

Just don't give him a dog name!

John Richardson said...

Very interesting. My grandmother was Anne and her daughter, my aunt, is Ann. Aunt Ann didn't want to be known as Annie like my grandmother.

Studly said...

Speaking of fake Swahili names, how about:

The mo' ridiculous the spelling of one's name, the more apt the appellative is to:
1. Fail spelling
2. Be incarcerated
3. Be an expert in the Byzantine intricacies of the modern welfare state
4. Axe questions
5. Be a red neck in a black wrapper

Richard said...

I would recommend against Ann or Anna for girls. If they take their husband's names it can lead to weird combinations like "Ann Fish" "Anna Graham", etc.