25 Once-Great Baby Names That Are Ruined for Everyone Else
"Alexa, are you ready for your playdate with Gwyneth?"
Like all trends, baby names go in and out of style. (Remember when it felt like everyone you knew named their newborn “Madison” in the aughts?) But every now and then, a cultural force comes along so powerful that it essentially makes the name off-limits for everyone else. (No, we’re not saying you can’t name your child Oprah, but talk about some big shoes to fill… Would you want to put that sort of pressure on your little one?)
Such is the case with the 17 baby names we’ve included right here. Whether it’s due to a popular rock song, a name for a ubiquitous new tech device, or an outsize personality that you may or may not want your child associated with, here are the names that you’ll be very hard-pressed to encounter among infants or toddlers in 2019. And for more great tips for parenthood, don’t miss the 30 Worst Parenting Mistakes Everyone Makes.
A beautiful name for a girl… if you want her to be forever hounded by people asking random questions. “Alexa, what’s the weather outside?” “Alexa, what’s a good recipe for chicken?” “Alexa, do you pass the Turing test?”
Katrina is a beautiful name, and it’s a shame that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration decided to give it to a category-5 hurricane, one of the deadliest in a century, that struck the Gulf Coast in 2005 and left thousands dead and caused $125 billion in damages. Alas, the memory of a flooded New Orleans will forever be connected to the name Katrina.
She doesn’t have to be a cute red-headed kid with ponytails for people to connect the dots between her name and the popular fast food franchise. Sadly, this name is guaranteed to elicit one annoying question for much of her life: “Where’s the beef?!”
Kids love Frozen, and a girl named Elsa will likely be thrilled by her name for at least a few years. But then she’ll grow up to become a woman, and she won’t be entertained by friends and family singing “Let it go, let it goooo” at the drop of a hat.
The comedian Hannibal Buress is working hard to save this name. But he may never undo the damage of the 1991 movie Silence of the Lambs, where “Hannibal the Cannibal” Lector (played brilliantly by Anthony Hopkins) gave basically everyone nightmares for years.
Nope. Not unless you want her friends to be telling her, “That’s hot,” for all eternity. The name Paris doesn’t evoke the romantic French city anymore. It evokes a reality TV star who happened to be born with bottomless cash reserves.
If your kid isn’t bookish and doesn’t want to be tied to a bushy-haired know-it-all, she’s out of luck. Yes, both Shakespeare and Homer used the name before Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling did, but—for better or worse—Hermione will forever be tied to Hermione Granger.
As a child, he’ll be associated with a famous Duck. As an adult, a certain president and businessman—the Donald—who brings out some really heated emotions in people.
By the 1,000th time he’s asked about his brother Luigi (the L-man!) or if he still has a rivalry with Donkey Kong (it ended years ago!), he’s going to officially resent you.
Nope—not unless you want that kid to grow up to become a very irritated adult who’s so over having to ask strangers to stop tickling him.
All it took was one song by The Police. Thanks, Sting.
Tell us you can hear this name without thinking of a bucket full of pig’s blood dumped onto some poor girl’s head during prom. Even if you’ve never read Stephen King’s novel, or seen the 1977 movie adaptation starring Sissy Spacek, that image is ingrained in pop culture forever.
Of course you weren’t thinking of the terrorist organization when you considered this name for your daughter. You think it’s beautiful, and it reminds you of your great-grandmother, and it embodies feminine strength and the Egyptian goddess Isis, and… Stop. There’s no way of winning this battle. At least for now, Isis will always mean ISIS.
It doesn’t matter if he never wears glasses, a beanie, and a red-and-white striped sweater, people will point at him and say, “I found Waldo!”
Why do fictional serial killers have such distinctive names? First it was Hannibal. Now, thanks to Dexter, the Showtime series starring Michael C. Hall, Dexter will always sound like a serial killer’s name. A charming serial killer, sure. But still, somebody who murders other people, which isn’t something most parents want their child associated with.
It’s been more than 40 years since the 1976 horror movie The Omen first ruined this name forever. And the name continues to get a bad rap. There might come a time when Damien doesn’t automatically mean “spawn of Satan,” but we’re not there yet.
Maybe it’s just us, but we find it really difficult to say the name Hannah without adding “Montana” at the end. Hey, it’s not our fault! Go blame Miley Cyrus if you don’t like it. It was her long-running Disney channel show that took possession of the name Hannah for at least another decade.
Some iconic movie lines will never go out of style. Like “Play it again, Sam,” or “May the Force be with you.” And, of course, from the 1994 movie Forrest Gump, there’s this indelible line: “Run, Forrest, run!” No one should subject his or her child to such easy abuse.
It might not have been Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov’s intention to ruin the name Lolita for countless future generations of parents, but that’s what happened. His 1955 book is so infamous that Lolita has become shorthand for “the last thing any father or mother wants their daughter to become.”
Forever this was a beautiful Hebrew name for girls signifying royalty. Today, it either instantly calls to mind the surname “Cruise” or the digital assistant made famous by the smartphone in your pocket. (We know, that’s “Siri.” But spoken aloud, they’re easy to mix up.)
If you came of age in the ’80s, the song “Come On Eileen” is ingrained in your subconscious. And it’s nearly impossible to meet someone named Eileen without immediately humming that catchy melody. No kid deserves that synth-pop legacy.
Honestly, you might as well just put a backpack on her, because she’s going to be called “the Explorer” by friends who think they’re being clever for the rest of her life.
Even if you picked the name because you’re a history buff and fan of the legendary Greek storyteller responsible for The Iliad and The Odyssey, that’s not the association most people will make. They’re going to think of Homer Simpson, the dim-witted, junk-food-loving father of The Simpsons cartoon.
It’s almost saved by that lovely song in West Side Story—“I just met a girl named Mariaaaaa!”—but lost much of its good reputation because of Hurricane Maria, the 2017 storm that devastated Puerto Rico. That’s not a reputation any kid should have to worry about living down.
Once a perfectly normal name of Welsh origin, now “Gwyneth” is permanently associated with one person: Avengers: Infinity War and Iron Man star Gwyneth Paltrow. We’re not knocking the Goop founder. We’re just saying that when one person is so wholly attached to a name, it makes it really hard for others to use it, too. And for more ways parenting has changed throughout the years, check out these 30 Things Parents Have to Worry About Now That They Didn’t 30 Years Ago.
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