When a planned pregnancy goes off without a hitch, new parents rejoice at their good fortune. But they could spoil all of that luck with a terrible, no-good, lousy baby name. Before you start ordering monogrammed baby items, you may want to give your chosen name a second thought.
The worst baby names are those with negative meanings, associations, and spellings. Some of the worst baby names are also pretentious and potentially illegal. Corona, Jaxon, and Nutella are examples of terrible baby names that parents have tried to put on their child’s birth certificate.
In this article, we’ll discover what makes a baby name bad and which names are illegal. We’ll also explore some of the worst baby names for girls and boys and take a look at some of the most infamously lousy celebrity baby names. Hopefully, this information can help you avoid naming your child something truly awful.
What Makes a Baby Name Bad?
Before we dive into some of the worst baby names ever thought up, we need to discern what criteria determine a terrible name. After all, “good” and “bad” can be subjective. Figuring out what names qualify as bad requires a little research and forethought.
As such, we’ve managed to discover five traits often associated with the worst baby names. These traits are:
Though the worst baby names don’t always check each of these boxes, they tend to fall into at least one of the above categories. We’ve detailed each of the criteria points below to help you understand why they’re associated with the absolute worst baby names.
Meaning – could make it a bad baby name
The meaning of a name could make it a bad baby name. For example, the name Emily is a trendy girl’s name in many English-speaking countries. However, this name comes from the Latin word for “rival,” aemulus.
As such, the name Emily could be translated as rival or enemy. It may also be associated with a sense of jealousy or envy. These are emotions that you don’t necessarily want to saddle onto a newborn child.
Parents that have fallen in love with the sound of a particular name, especially one that is quite common, may not take the time to research the meaning of the name until after the birth and naming of their child. Don’t let this happen to you!
Association – could make it a bad baby name
Some names have excellent, positive meanings but horrendous connotations. One of the most well-known first names with a terrible association is the German boy’s name, Adolf. That name is associated with one of the most hated figures of the twentieth century.
Interestingly, before the 1940s, hundreds if not thousands of US-born and European children were given the name Adolf or Adolph. But since the end of World War II, only a handful of babies each year are given this name. Generally, it’s considered a terrible baby name.
Any name associated with a dictator, conqueror, or mass murderer is bound to turn a few heads, and for all the wrong reasons. As such, names like Caligula, Manson, Dhamer, and Stalin will likely remain awful baby names for the remainder of Western civilization.
The names themselves may have held initially beautiful meanings, but they’re forever tainted due to their associations with monstrous people. Before you finalize that perfect baby name you’ve been thinking about, you may want to make sure that other people with that name are generally outstanding citizens.
Spelling – could make it a bad baby name
Another thing to consider when avoiding bad baby names is spelling. Every parent believes that their child is unique and special, and to a certain extent, that’s true. However, parents don’t need to give their child a uniquely-spelled name to ensure that the rest of the world understands how precious and unforgettable their kid is.
For example, the name Ashley is a relatively popular name for both boys and girls. For generations, it was primarily spelled A-S-H-L-E-Y. Nowadays, you can find Ashleigh, Ashlee, Aschliee, Ashlie, Ashlé, and just about every other spelling your imagination can conjure.
The same is true of other trendy names like Madison, Emily, Michael, and Elizabeth. All have an astounding amount of permutations (Maddysen, Emellee, Mykel, Alyzzabaeth being some examples). When your child goes to school, they may find themselves consistently frustrated as new classmates and teachers fail to learn their name’s spelling.
Pretension – could make it a bad baby name
Pretension is a particularly challenging aspect to judge. That’s because a name that some might find pretentious, others may see as creative or cute. Names like Beatrice, Daphne, Giles, and Byron were once quite common, but they’re hardly popular among contemporary parents.
Choosing a familiar name from a bygone era could be perceived as pretentious. While this might not directly affect your child’s upbringing or at-school reception, it is bound to make other parents question your decision and child-rearing skills. A child’s peers may also eventually notice how strange or uncommon the pretentious name is, leading to bullying.
In short, pretentious names could make it difficult for parents to connect with other parents. Naturally, you could opt to befriend parents who have also named their children after deceased great-grandparents or 1920s silent film stars. Just be sure that the name you’ve chosen isn’t illegal!
Legality – could make it a bad baby name
Finally, there’s the question of legality. In the United States, there are very few instances in which parents are ordered to re-name their children. However, there have been a few cases where the government has stepped in on behalf of poorly-named kids.
Still, in most of these cases, the parents prevailed. Children born in California were required to have names free of accent marks, but politicians and activists are working hard to repeal this ban. So long as parents choose a name without numerals, symbols, or profanity, they’re in the clear. All-in-all, American parents can name their children anything they’d like.
Unfortunately for two poorly-named siblings in New Jersey, this freedom extends to names with awful connotations and associations. Hopefully, most parents won’t be looking at history’s most hated figures when choosing a name for their child.
And while the United States is relatively lax about baby names, many other countries aren’t. For example, parents in Iceland must choose their child’s name from a list of pre-selected names. Babies in Italy must have gender-specific names that correspond to the child’s born sex.
In Saudi Arabia, parents are banned from giving their children names that are popular in English-speaking countries. If you ever plan on immigrating or traveling with your child, you’ll want to be aware of which names are illegal and which are perfectly acceptable.
Illegal Baby Names
Before we address the worst baby names for boys and girls, let’s explore some notably illegal baby names from around the world. After all, it could be awkward to travel with your child to a country that has made their name illegal.
Still, there’s often an excellent reason why these names were made illegal, so hopefully, you won’t have to cross any potential names off your list after reading this. To kick things off, we’ll start with China and their entirely understandable decision to make the name “@” illegal.
@ – Illegal in China
It might seem strange for most English speakers to name a baby @, pronounced “at” or “at symbol.” That’s because “at” is a preposition. A preposition is a short word used to describe the relationship between nouns. Prepositions don’t typically make for a great name.
However, in China, this symbol is pronounced like the Mandarin phrase “love him.” Naturally, a pair of loving parents thought that the phonetic meaning of the @ character would be the perfect name for their bouncing baby boy. The Chinese government did not agree.
Somewhat worryingly, China has also added a slew of names to their banned-names list. Nearly all of these recent additions are names associated with the Middle East and Islamic practices. As such, there’s not likely to be any Chinese children named Mohammed, at least not any time soon.
Robocop – Illegal in Mexico
In Sonora, Mexico, parents must be careful about the name they choose for their child. At least, they can’t use registered trademarks or franchised characters as baby names. Even the name Hermione, a girl’s name associated with the Harry Potter franchise, is illegal.
Still, some of the names that managed to make it onto the list are outrageous. It’s worth noting that many of the names banned in Sonora were made illegal due either to their ridiculousness, cruelty, or copyright infringement.
Some additional examples to ponder over include Batman, Robocop, and the Spanish words for scrotum and virgin (escroto and virgen, respectively). It’s challenging to think of a parent that would wish to name their child Scrotum or Virgin, but apparently, they’re out there.
Chow Tow – Illegal in Malaysia
In Malaysia, Chow Tow roughly translates to “smelly head,” which isn’t a charming name. The government had to step in to ban this name after parents (and grown adults) began gravitating toward it.
Perhaps there’s something lost in translation here, but it’s almost unbelievable to think that any parent would want to name their child Smelly Head. It’s even harder to believe that an adult would apply to change their name to that stinky moniker, but here we are.
“.” – Illegal in New Zealand
This name is meant to be pronounced as “full stop.” Fortunately, the New Zealand government put a “.” to a couple’s attempt to name their child this. They’ve also rejected other less-than-stellar names, including Lucifer and Mafia. Keep up the excellent work, New Zealand!
Ikea – Illegal in Sweden
Though Ikea is known worldwide for easy-to-build furniture and Swedish meatballs, it might not be the best baby name–at least, not in Sweden. Parents could name their child Ikea if living in the United States or the United Kingdom, but not in Sweden.
The reasoning behind this? The Swedish authorities have stated that the name may be too awkward for a child. While this reasoning might seem odd, it does make sense when you consider what it would be like to have the name “Walmart.”
Blu – Illegal in Italy
When Beyonce gave birth to her daughter, Blue Ivy, a world of fans and admirers fell in love with the name. However, one couple in Italy soon found out that baby naming rules differ from country to country.
When they attempted to name their daughter Blu, the Italian spelling for the color, the authorities rejected their choice. That’s because the color blue doesn’t have any concrete associations with a particular gender, something required of every Italian baby name. There likely aren’t many female Alexs’ in Italy.
Linda – Illegal in Saudi Arabia
Many American parents might avoid the name Linda due to its outdated nature, but parents in Saudi Arabia aren’t legally allowed to name their child Linda. That’s because Saudi Arabian parents are encouraged to give their children traditionally Islamic names.
Consequently, names associated with Western culture aren’t allowed. Names with any type of foreign connotation are also banned. Generally, only Arabic and Islamic names are allowed.
Worst Baby Girl Names
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the most illegal baby names in the world, we can begin to explore the worst baby girl names ever thought up. Some of these names are incredibly new, while others have consistently made the “worst” lists for decades.
With any luck, your future daughter will avoid all of the following monikers. After all, what little girl wants to be named after a global pandemic?
Believe it or not, Corona (meaning “crown”) has become a fairly popular name for baby girls, especially in 2020. The reason behind this boom in popularity has everything to do with COVID-19 but nothing to do with good tastes.
If folks don’t think about the coronavirus pandemic when meeting a child named Corona, they’re bound to think about middling-quality beer, and that might be a little worse. Just don’t go down this road.
If you don’t know what Game of Thrones is, then the rock you’ve been living under must be luxuriously comfortable. If you don’t know how Game of Thrones ended, then you likely don’t understand the outrage against this baby girl’s name.
Without sharing any spoilers, let’s just say that parents who name their child after a fictional television character might want to wait for the show to end before confirming their chosen name. Screenwriters and television show producers have a nasty habit of trying to “subvert expectations,” often to the detriment of the story or characters.
These alterations can significantly affect how a character is perceived by an audience, thus changing the connotation of their name. Interestingly, the name Khaleesi is a royal title given to a character, and royal titles typically make for lousy baby names.
Sure, every little girl is a princess in her parents’ eyes. That doesn’t mean that Princess makes a perfect name for a human child. Most people consider this name tacky, unappealing, and generally in poor taste. Still, Princess doesn’t generate nearly as much backlash as our next worst baby name.
Oh, Nevaeh. This name has been causing a stir since the early 2000s when it first appeared on the radar. Essentially, it’s the word “heaven” spelled backward. While that might seem like an angelic name to some parents, it’s not so lovely for some.
Spelling words backward or speaking words in reverse is something often associated with satanic worship or dark magic. Additionally, there’s some belief that writing a word backward indicates the opposite meaning of the word.
In that case, Nevaeh might be best translated as “hell” or “the opposite of heaven.” That’s just a mean thing for parents to do, even if they are tired of getting zero sleep and handling poopy diapers.
Some parents just aren’t satisfied with the traditional spellings of common English names, including the name Riley. That’s why they’ve taken it upon themselves to improve upon the original spelling. Unfortunately, this improvement process is often a messy and confusing one.
That’s why we now have girls named Riley, Reighleigh, Ryelee, Reighlee, Rilee, and just about every other permutation you can think of. Still, Reighleigh is one of the more extended and more annoying options, which is why it made this list.
Names relating to personality traits or virtues were popular during the Prohibition or Great Depression, but they’re less common nowadays. Still, you may be able to find the occasional girl named Patience, Chastity, Faith, or Charisma.
The name Cyncere is a permutation of the word “sincere.” Being sincere isn’t a virtue, though sincerity is often considered a positive trait. But being “cyncere” isn’t a thing at all, though this name may be a sign that mom sincerely needs some emergency spelling lessons.
Location-based names are typically hit-and-miss. Some are quite popular and positive, while others leave us scratching our heads and wondering what on earth parents are thinking. Naming your baby girl Vegas might seem fun at the moment, but it’s crucial to remember associations and how they impact our perception.
A little girl named Vegas might be bullied for her name, and an adult may perceive the child as being particularly wild or sinful. That’s because Las Vegas is also known as Sin City and is home to gambling, drinking, and nightlife. While this name is the opposite of virtue names, that doesn’t mean it’s a great option.
Harley Quinn might be popular among comic book lovers and lonely teenage boys, but the character isn’t the most positive role model for young girls. Naming your little girl after this infamous comic book character might not be the best idea, especially when you consider that children often imitate role models.
Should you name your daughter Harley Quinn and express a passionate love for the same name’s fictional character, your daughter may begin to idolize that character. Many of the things Harley Quinn does in the comic book universe are utterly deplorable and not something you’d want your daughter to be doing.
Madeline and Madison are two baby girl names that were exceptionally popular during the 1990s. The name written above seems to be a dark combination of these two names, and it’s bound to confuse every kindergartner who is learning phonics.
Mattel is the name of a major toy company, not the name of a child. Still, this name managed to pop up more than once over the last several years, which begs the question: Does Mattel cut parents a check for the free advertising they get?
Worst Baby Boy Names
Hopefully, you’ve survived the onslaught of the worst baby girl names and are now ready for some of the worst baby boy names. Just as with the girls’ names, we’ll kick things off with one of the most recent terrible names: Kovid.
Don’t name your child after a virus. Period.
Danger was once a popular fictional middle name, but it’s becoming a trendy first name for boys. While this name might be cute at first, it can become annoying over time. Imagine calling your child on the playground.
It would sound like “Danger! Danger!” Children and parents alike may begin to panic, wondering where the danger is and what it might be. Now imagine that your son is older and attending a sleepover. You call the parents chaperoning the sleepover to check in on things. “How is Danger?”
The chaperones might grow concerned at the question before realizing that your child’s name is Danger. These are the types of hypothetical situations you should consider before assigning a name to your baby.
Every princess needs a prince, but no child named Prince is going to have a comfortable life. Aside from the royal associations, there are cultural connotations to think of. Even if your baby boy is the little prince in your life, you might not want to name them Prince.
They’re bound to get a ton of “artist-formerly-known-as” jokes for the entirety of their lives. That’s just cruel and unusual punishment. Still, if you’re between Prince and Adolf, choose the former.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the name Adolf is not an excellent option for baby boys. We likely don’t need to explain why.
This name is a surname that has been reappropriated as a first name. Surnames don’t necessarily make terrible baby names, but this surname is one of the worst first names you could give your baby.
That’s because most folks associate Manson with Charles Manson, a man who committed terrible atrocities during the 1950s and 1960s. He’s infamous for ordering the murder of Sharon Tate, a once-famous actress married to Roman Polanski.
Tate was eight and a half months pregnant when Manson’s followers entered her rented home on Cielo Drive. They had no respect for life, including the life of an unborn child. As such, the name Manson should never be given to a child.
This name is a permutation of Jackson, which is traditionally a surname or patronym. However, it’s a bit worse of a first name than the standard Jackson. That’s because children will naturally pronounce this name as “jack’s-on” rather than “jack’s-un.”
You can imagine the type of ridicule a group of middle school boys could inflict when tormenting a boy named Jaxon. That’s not a fate any parent should want for their child.
Naming your child Flash might not be a bright idea. Sure, it’s an excellent name for a comic book hero, but it’s also the name for an inappropriate act. Think twice before you Flash your child.
You may not believe that parents are naming their male children Cletus, but you’d be wrong. Though this name has been in steady decline since the 1920s, it still makes the occasional appearance, especially in the South.
While this name is often associated with hillbillies and uneducated Southerners, it originates from the Greek for “illustrious.” Still, modern associations ensure that Cletus will never again live up to its original meaning or hype.
There’s nothing quite like naming your little bundle of joy after petroleum distillate fuel oil, a German engineer, or a bald-headed actor. When you call your baby boy Diesel, that’s precisely what you’re doing. Is it a smart move? Probably not.
Funnily, this name is the combination of two of some of the most hated baby boy names: King and Messiah. Less humorously, there is more than one Kingmessiah in the United States right now.
Worst Celebrity Baby Names
Celebrities are known for giving their children unique (and often awful) names. This trend extends beyond first names, as most celebrity babies have at least two titles: A first name and a middle one.
Interestingly, many famous parents choose to use both names when addressing or referring to their children. This practice essentially equates to more surface space for terrible naming.
So, while many people may remember Gwyneth Paltrow’s choice to name her first child after a fruit (an apple, to be exact), she’s not the greatest celebrity offender when it comes to baby names.
Some of the worst celebrity baby names include:
- Harley Quinn
The worst baby names are typically those with negative meanings, unfortunate associations, complicated spellings, pretentious connotations, or government bans. Avoiding them requires a little planning and research, though many of the worst names are easy to ignore.
Naming your baby after the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the worst trends of recent years, though copyrighted characters are also making appearances in registered baby name lists. Most parents want the best for their child, so hopefully, these names will disappear in time.