“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” a wise and lecherous drunkard once wrote. But I’m going to have to disagree with Ol’ Shakespeare on this one, because even though he was a legendary bard when it came to word-smithery, as an administrator of hospital-like things, I’m the one who is faced with the horrors of epic child-naming failure on a near daily basis. So I think I know.
It’s actually become one of my favorite hobbies during the day: chronicling the names of those poor wretched souls who were helplessly d*mned to a life of ridicule by the very people who should’ve loved and protected them from such torment.
Disclaimer: In certain cases—like being saddled with unfortunate surnames e.g. “Butts” and “Loser”—the parents can’t be blamed, for they’re as blameless and unlucky as the children they pass the curse of their name to. (However, there are times when I wonder why they don’t put an end to the madness, and pay the fee to have their last name changed to “Awesome” or something equally bad*ss.) But this post is not about that, and I digress…
Due to privacy laws, I unfortunately cannot tell you some of the worst combinations of first and last names I have witnessed. (Like E.T. Fonahoma or David Crockett…whoops. Bad Cordelia. Bad.)
I can, however, share with you some of the more horrid first names I’ve encountered, and the five simple rules I’ve created to prevent any of these cursed names from being passed on to future generations.
Top Ten Worst [First] Names Ever* (in no particular order):
6) Tara Bell (1st and Middle = Terrible)
10) Azchleigh /ash-lee/
Top Five Things you should NOT do When Naming your Kid:
1) DO NOT name your kid after a place or thing noun. Changing the spelling of the place/thing-noun still counts as breaking this rule, and it’s actually WORSE than naming your kid after the place/thing in its properly spelled form. (Examples I’ve seen: Canyen, Jurney, Peytience, Saherra, Cherrity, Englind (ouch), Affrica, Edan, Appel)
2) Combining two regular names into a new made-up name DOES NOT an exotic/cool name make. DO NOT do this. Shawn + Benjamen = Shenjamin = NO. Ashley + Michelle = Aschell = NO. Tara + Megan = Taegan = Hell NO. If you have any trouble remembering this rule, picture your kid’s sixth grade English teacher. “Hey there, Shenjamin. Where did your parents come up with that name?”
“Well, Mrs. Smersh, my parents liked mixing two things together to make one totally awesome but different thing.”
“Oh really, like Shawn and Benjamin?”
“No, I’m pretty sure it was more like ecstasy and marijuana. Cause being super high on both is the only reason I can come up with that anyone would think naming a kid Shenjamin was a good idea.”
3) DO NOT take a normal American name and change the spelling willy-nilly in an attempt to make that name seem more exotic. That’s not what’s going to happen. In actuality, what you’ve just done is curse your child to a lifetime of correcting people in the spelling of his/her name. People are either going to think your kid is a complete tool, or that he or she doesn’t know how to spell. (Examples: Azchleigh /ash-lee/, Kaeleigh /kay-lee/, Suzenn /susan/, Jayred /jae-red/, Vehronyka /ver-on-i-ca/)
4) DO NOT make a joke out of your kid’s name. However much fun it might be to picture yourself showing off your baby to all of your friends and saying “Guess what, our last name is Jarr so we named him Pickle!” and basking in their amusement, stop and THINK for a moment. First of all, kids grow up. One day, your adorable little “Pickle” is going to hit puberty and want to date. And if his name makes it so he can’t ever be taken seriously, that sucker is friend tracked for LIFE. Plus, being a teenager is hard enough as it is. WHY on earth would you subject your kid to more locker room torture than absolutely necessary? Seriously.
5) In today’s world, where diversity is encouraged and sharp contrast is often a source of mockery, you should probably try really hard NOT to pigeonhole your kid. For example, the name Thor might be well and good if he grows up to be the star tackle of the football team. But if he ends up on the skinny side and decides to be a professional chess player? Not so much. What if Rainbow Albright decides she wants to be a US Senator, or Billy-Bob wants to be a scientist? What if Bertha wants to be an actress? Natural selection might’ve given them all the traits they needed, but you stuck them in some pejorative societal category before they even had a chance to mold themselves. And that’s just unfair on a number of levels.
*All of these names were real names. I’d have changed them to protect the innocent… but that would pretty much defeat the entire point of this post. So sue me. (But please don’t!)