• Fri, Feb 28 - 4:10 pm ET

STFU Parents: Yoonique Baby Names To Avoid In 2014

For the past week, all internet signs have been pointing me in the direction of this column. Granted, I write a baby names post every year on Mommyish – updating, discussing, and yes, mocking, the latest trends in baby names — but for the past several days, I’ve felt like the whole internet was shouting at me, “The 2014 baby name column must be written NOWWWW!” Maybe it was the Toothpaste For Dinner comic strip that came my way at the top of the week, or the Someecards post ’8 Baby Naming Books That Should Totally Exist’ (seriously, most of these books SHOULD totally exist) that made the rounds mid-week that got the wheels turning in my mind — but mostly it was the messages I got on Twitter. For some reason this week I’ve received several tweets about baby names, and they all pretty much indicate that the naming trends apocalypse burns ever-brighter. To put it mildly, this shit is out of control.

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When I asked Ashley how she knows how the kids’ names are spelled (thinking that perhaps an employee gave their cups the “Starbucks name treatment”), she said, “They’re embroidered on matching lunch bags. I’d hoped they were brands of lunch bag, but was sorely disillusioned after hearing, ‘Phillie, share your latte with BrewBrew.” Soooo yeah that’s just about the most obnoxious thing I can imagine. Well done, Starbucks mom. You embody precisely what this annual column is about.

Before we take a look at just a few of the dozens of baby name submissions I’ve received since last year’s column, allow me to say that I know that making fun of a name is lowbrow humor. The world is full of a beautiful range of diverse people, and celebrating those differences is what life is all about, yoonique names included. That being said, this decade-long tide of absurd names (due either to the name itself, the spelling, the pronunciation, or some combination thereof) is awash with stupidity. The overeagerness some people display to have the koolest kidd on the blahk is more than apparent, and the difficulties those kids will have in life are far more punishing than any column I could ever write. And I’m not even talking about bullying — I’m just talking about the grueling exercise of having to spell out one’s name 10000000 times in a lifetime for any number of reasons, not to mention the 10000000 times someone else will read a roll call comprised of names that quite literally make no fucking sense. Yes, every name must originate somewhere, and no one is advocating for more Johns or Janes, but adding an unnecessary ‘x’, ‘y’, or ‘z’ to a name — or coming up with a new name altogether — doesn’t actually help a kid look good. It just makes his/her parents look bad.

Now, let’s get on with that roll call for a new generation!

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  • Barkybark

    Forgive me if this was mentioned before, but Jerzy is actually a Polish name. I doubt, however, that the mother knew that when naming her child.

  • http://twitter.com/Codename_Loki Badger

    Uh, Judah is just as valid a name as John. Both date back to Biblical times, they’re not exactly “yoonique”.

  • Lilly

    I’ll give a few of these a pass — River (River Phoenix), Judah, Zion (2 biblical names) and Jerzy (although I think it is probably silly parents it is a somewhat known Polish name so you might actually meet another)

  • LadyGwyn12

    Wow, where to begin…a friend named her son Psalm. I saw an embroidered blanket at the place my mom works for a Dayvie Elise…yup, a girl. I worked with a girl named Tenaj…named after her grandma Janet. A female named Sterling. My best friend nearly named her daughter Valkyrie. Luckily, the child was already born and named, so it never came to fruition. A couple named their child Nehemiah.

    • Romylove

      I have an uncle named Nehemiah.

  • Magrat

    I sort of wonder if Scar and Random aren’t the internet nicknames they use for their kids, sort of like Mommyish and Jezebel commenters do sometimes. I mean, that’s what I’m hoping.

    • Are you nuts

      That’s my highest hope. Like when people name “internet” name their kids Butter or Bubba or something.

    • spinster cat lady

      Be careful with that. Someone was referring to her unborn son as Thor for awhile and I thought it was a nickname. No…her kid is named Thor.

  • Ann

    I have a niece named Kaela, she’s been complaining her whole life about not finding her name anywhere. My SIL’s brother named his little boy Reef (as in the great barrier reef), a cousin named Jordyn (a boy), Ayse (which translates to Isha), and I always have to spell out my name “A-N-N, no E”

    • pixie

      My mom has the opposite problem as you. Her name is Anne and unless she says “Anne with an e”, it’s about a 50/50 whether they get it right or not.

    • Ally

      My mum is Carole and she always specifies that it’s Carole with an e. Someone once thought her name was Carol Withanee as a result.

    • Fluffy_1

      I feel sorry for Ayse; round here, people would pronounce it as “arse” and snigger.

  • brebay

    I’m guessing Scar is Scarlet, but really, people, you have to think about potential nicknames ahead of time. My ex really liked the name Dylan for our first son, but I like nicknames and knew I would end up calling him Dil or Dilly…which inevitably would spawn dill-hole, dill-weed…..I vetoed that. It is his middle name, though.

  • whiteroses

    It’s reaching the point where the kids named Tim, Debbie and Joe are the ones that stand out. I don’t get the “unique names” thing- if your kid is truly special, having a name like, say, Susan isn’t going to make them less special. If you want to be creative, name your cat Henderson McFlufferbutt Ylneveah Jones and name your child something they can actually put on a resume that other people can pronounce.

    I remain convinced that for the last ten years all these parents have been trolling us and using Klingon to name their kids.

    • LawGeekNYC

      I am named something very normal. I turned out to be a unique character. I coasted on reputation just fine, but when I wanted my name to suit my personality, I just started using a nickname. It wasn’t that difficult, and I am glad that I got the choice instead of having it forced on me.

  • Surfaces

    Actually McKinstray (different spelling, same pronunciation I assume) is a surname. A friend of mine’s to be exact.

    • manderspanders

      And… that makes it a suitable first name because??

    • Surfaces

      Oh it doesn’t, just commenting that it is in fact a name because B’s implication seemed to be that it was completely made up.

    • Williwaw

      I think a lot of how we feel about names is contextual. These days, girls’ names starting with Mc and Mac are very common (Mackenzie, Mackenna, McKiley, etc.) and are often spelled in unpredictable ways. That means if you use a name like that for your kid, people will probably assume you’re following the trend, even if you’re simply reusing a family name. If you met a sixty year-old woman named McKenna, you’d
      probably assume it was a reuse of a family name, not the following of a trend. I don’t think it’s a problem either way, if the name is special to you, although I admit that I find the Mc-Mac trend in girls name a bit tiresome, especially when yoonique spellings are thrown in. I guess most of us want to give our kids names that are special to us and not merely fashionable (which is why we keep seeing weird spellings pop up). I admit, I like the yoonique name postings because it is highly entertaining to hear the weird names people choose (and because these posts are free of bodily fluid images), but I can’t truthfully find a logical reason to object to a kid’s name unless it’s crazily spelled or so weird that the kid might get mocked for it.

    • LawGeekNYC

      I think a lot of mothers who try to be trendy in naming their kids (and with the trendiest strollers, etc) give the impression they’re in it for the wrong reasons.

  • simoneutecht

    I went to high school with a Cherry, Strawberry and Peaches and this was the late 80′s. I’m still waiting for Dryel and Febreeze.

    • Allyson_et_al

      I think Cherry, Strawberry, and Peaches are what happen when you name your kids after the flavor of wine cooler you were drunk on when they were conceived.

  • Nat

    Zhyrhyla seems like it would rhyme with gorilla.

    • spinster cat lady

      It seems like someone had an accident in potions class.

  • arrow2010

    I’m sensing racism and classism going on here.

    • Dee

      I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    • LawGeekNYC

      White mothers are some of the worst offenders here… especially when it comes to the Brayden Braydyn Spraynerd kind of names.

  • Allyson_et_al

    I named my daughter Carter after my grandfather. She’s 13 and likes her name. Am I a horrible mother? I swear I wasn’t trying to be yoonique– it really is a name that shows up in every generation of our family at least once.

    • manderspanders

      Carter is a boys name.

    • Allyson_et_al

      Actually, it can be either, although it is more traditionally a surname. (An occupation name, to be exact).

    • Williwaw

      I think Carter is a great name, especially if you’re naming her after a relative. A lot of names that were previously limited to boys (especially occupation names) have become common for both boys and girls (or have even shifted to girls-only). (If you’d spelled it Khar’ttyhr, I might try to be a smartass, but I think Carter’s a great name [and she won't get mixed up with the nine girls in her class named Mackenna, all of which will be spelled differently].)

    • Allyson_et_al

      Thanks! I really do love the name, and I gave her a very classic feminine middle name (Ann) in case she wants to go to something more common when she’s older. And I totally agree about the spelling. Kharrturr or Q’artyhr, anyone?

    • LawGeekNYC

      I happen to think that connecting the generations is a good reason for the name – it shows you’re thinking about more than your own preferences. Plus, it isn’t hard to spell. I think the issue is with mothers who pick something ‘unique’ and ‘creative’ to show off how original they are or to follow the trend of words that sound a certain way. Those parents don’t seem like they’re really preparing to raise a human being into adulthood.

  • Normal Name Jane

    When are we going to get over this? OMGS People have weird kid names!!! The horror!!! So? It’s not your kid and it’s really not a new thing. And clearly they won’t be alone either. I dunno, I’ve been working in the school system and I’m past the shock of it all. I’m usually just happy when I can pronounce it right the first time. The funny thing to me is when parents get upset that someone else named their kid Random or Ranzom cause they “stole” their name. Nothing is unique anymore. Besides, isn’t this exactly what we were expecting in the future? Kids named Zero and Xenon and crap like that? Welcome to the future, guys.

    • Rachel Heuer

      Who cares if the kid’s getting neglected? It’s not YOUR kid. See how pluralism works? It doesn’t. Next.

  • cabecb

    My parents did not give me a unique name but they did give me a name that is 27 letters long when it includes my first, middle, and last name. Without my middle name, my name is 17 letters long. It is a pretty name but it took me forever to learn how to spell. My last name was not common to the areas that I lived in so it was often misspelled. Even my first name was misspelled even through it uses the traditional and common spelling. I got used to it growing up so it makes me happy when it is spelled correctly in programs.

  • Dgently

    Scar may be short for “Scarlett”

  • Charlie

    When I was younger, my friend Jade (fairly normal name) had a sister called Topaz and a brother called Jet. If only I’d know how NORMAL their names would sound 15 years later.

    • Charlie

      Also, kids I’ve known through work in recent years:

      Jaydenhh
      Tobbius
      Hanskard
      Gaybryel
      Antoniouos (yes, it was spelled that way)
      Emily-Katelynn-Lynette
      Jorgiana

      WOW.

    • Pappy

      I really, really hope our culture has gotten less homophobic by the time Gaybryel goes to high school. Otherwise, I hate to say it, but he`s going to be called `faggot` (or pick your gay slur of choice) every day for years. I feel genuinely sorry for that kid.

    • Geogirl

      Someone needed to inform Emily-Katelynn-Lynette’s parents that if they like so many names and wish to apply them all to one child there is already a way to do this without involving a series of hyphens. It’s called giving the child middle names.
      Aside: the lynn in Katelynn followed immediately by the lyn in Lynette, really?! Did anyone bother to say this name combination out loud before applying it to a child?

    • Angi Gray

      Tobbius. Old and normal (diminutive = Toby). Jorgiana = Latin (ie Latino/a) spelling of an old name. Before making fun of people for using “trendy” names, perhaps learn what is and is not “made up” or “trendy”.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    1. Blanch. Isn’t that a cooking technique?

    2. McKinstry Marynn… *shaking head* And I know, I know, it’s only going to get worse from here on in.

    3. Zhyrhyla. How do you even…?

    4. Jerzy and Jerny. I just died a little inside.

    5. That’s… random. And incredibly stupid. (Also, what are “Justin square toe boots”?)

    6. Scar. SCAR. Please, by all things light and fluffy, let this be a nickname!

    7. Lync. Zion. Judah. River… well, okay River isn’t too bad a name, and Lync could have been cool… but Judah and Zion? Unforgivable.

    8. …Tyden. What is he, a rejected JRPG hero?

    9. Rylynn. Huh. This sounds downright normal compared to the rest.

    • aliceblue

      #1. Blanch – what my face did when I read those names
      #7. Please, PLEASE let his mom lose this kid at the mall so people can run around looking for the missing Lync.
      #8. A new laundry detergent?

  • jsterling93

    River isn’t really that strange and I like it. Judah is a very traditional name and not weird at all.

  • Dee

    While I agree that all these names are pretty absurd and potentially annoying if not debilitating to the kids’ futures,

    “Words! Aren’t they fun? Jumbling them up, rearranging letters and pronunciations, or simply yanking new ones out of the clear blue sky is what modern society is all about.”

    …language changes. It’s what happens to any language in any society at virtually any point in time. It’s a given that names are a pretty small subset of language, and these names are ridiculous, but they reflect larger trends, namely that English spelling is fucked. :P

  • Grammar Warrior

    Please learn how to use “comprise.” A list comprises things, a list is composed of things. There is a difference and it matters. You’re welcome!

  • My Oubliette

    I give Mary props for telling Sarah what it is. If having your face puked on is “what motherhood is all about”, who in their right mind would reproduce?

  • Justme

    I once worked at a daycare where there was a child named Dimple.

  • ScienceGeek

    My parents did this before it was cool, I’m 34 now and I feel like I can talk on behalf of the kids with yoonique names.
    It sucks.
    To be fair, I was named after the Swedish relative who first immigrated to Australia, and my middle name has been passed down through six generations. So in that respect, it’s nice.
    BUT my name is also juuust different enough to a common ‘English’ name that it is regularly miss-spelt. Like on my son’s birth certificate, the voting registry, my tax file, bank accounts, various bills, and what I think is Australia’s version of Social security (or welfare, maybe? Though I think it’s much more integrated into everyday life here than welfare is). And that’s just the official stuff.
    I have spent so much time correcting this kind of thing that I had one non-negotiable when I fell pregnant: our kid was getting a common name.

  • Boots

    I really hope Jerzy’s family is polish – it’s a common & boring name There pronounced ‘yeh-shi’ (that’s as close as I can write for you!). It’s similar to John or jerry.

  • doodlebug2

    I honestly feel bad for these kids :( It’s a terrible burden to have such an absurd name.

  • Christina Telles

    There was a guy from my hometown a few years older than me named Randomm. Also, There was a girl in the grade above me, whose parents were hippies (well, hippy-lite), named Air And Sea. She went by Erin all through school. Her little sister’s name is Day By Day. I think she mostly went by her full first name, or sometimes just Day. Also, my youngest brother’s best friend’s name is Powder. I didn’t believe him until he showed me his Driver’s License. Luckily, his parents gave him the completely normal middle name of Nicholas, so he goes by Nick officially, even though all his friends call him Powder.

  • sorryjustme

    my boy’s name is Jacek Reed. I absolutely love it

    • BENGHAZI

      How do you pronounce that? Jace-K?

    • Betty Martin

      Jackek? Like jacket?

    • eh

      You’re a shitty shitty person.

  • Amanda B

    Ok. I totally read “rylynn” to sound like chillen. Almost sounded like a slang version of ritalin… RILLEN.

  • airbones

    My daughter has one of the most popular names in the world for many decades at least. Fine with it. Actually, happy about it. Her name does not distinguish her, she distinguishes her.

  • Hey there

    My pets have more normal names than any of these kids.

    Come to think of it, my pets have more normal names than me too. Hmm…

  • kitten

    Every time I read one of these I feel a little better about telling people my kid is Alek, and not Alex. cause that’s kinda normal. And the “k” isn’t us being hip or whatever, Aleksadnder (or without the last e) is they way you do Alexander in Russia, Poland, etc.

  • Cassy

    On #1, it seems as though Blanch might be the last name. Like, they haven’t picked a first name yet, but found out they’re having a boy, so right now, he’s just baby boy Blanch. Yes?

    • Ikabod

      God I hope so.

  • Betty Martin

    I knew a lady once who named her babies for what she craved while pregnant with them. She had Pepsi and a few years later, Pizza. A few years after that, she had another baby and named him something I can never remember…it was 3 names that each started with Z…but not names like Zachary, names like Zeryn Zerox Zorhn.

  • http://maitribathbody.com/ Maitri

    Oops I mean boy … boy, boy, boy.

  • Pixx

    Aww, River is actually one of my favorite girls’ names. I like nature names a lot, and I don’t think it’s weird. The rest, though, are pretty ridiculous.

  • Sarahstired

    As a Sarah growing up in the 80s I vowed never to have a kid with a common name. I however also married a man who wanted a Jr more than anything so now I have a John. I have found through the last few years, my kid actually has the most unique name. It isn’t weird or unprounceable and shockingly haven’t had another John in a class yet.

  • Ikabod

    My best guess for Zhyrhyla is Zeer-hi-la.

  • Fluffy_1

    I once encountered, at a mall, two kids named Foxy and Corduroy. I know they were called that cuz their mum was calling their names, but I am only guessing at the spelling. Poor Foxy is destined to become a stripper with that name, and Corduroy? Maybe he could work at Gap or something.

  • Kaela Wyles

    I think Zhyrhyla or whatever is like Gorilla with a Z. When I try to sound it out I keep hearing Zorilla lol.

  • Izzy Wasserstein

    Why are all these people naming their kids after Great Old Ones?

  • 0katykate0

    I have to post this SOMEWHERE. … My SIL is pregnant with twin girls. She’s has a daughter named Mya, twin A is Zoey, and poor twin B… Sofya…. Like Sophia… But with a Y… Because they all HAVE to have “Y” … Why??

  • Caroline

    Jerzy is actually a real name–it’s the Polish version of “George.” Maybe try to be a teeny bit culturally aware before you start mocking.

  • J-Mo

    I saw a true crime show where the mother and (adult) daughter were both named Tonica, but the mom’s name was pronounced “ta-NEE-ka” while the daughter’s was “TONIC-ah”. Hee heee heeee.

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  • http://www.greatestescapist.com/ Kate @ GreatestEscapist.com

    I used to know a kid named Seven with a sister named Trillion.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      *facepalm*

  • Zhyrhyla L Elias

    I’m actually the original Zhyrhyla, I want to know how they found my name lol. Wish I would have copy writed it(;