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Baby Names
Names and Name Meanings

What are ugly names?


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February 03, 2013 6:42AM

Every day 2,16,000 babies are born worldwide; that means 78,840,000 babies born every year. All newborns, in any country, require a given name not only for record keeping of births but also to create the unique sense of personal identity as a baby matures through life. Even babies who die shortly after birth need first (and often middle) names. And although many parents do not name stillborn infants (probably because a name is not required for non-live births), many other parents do give an honorary name for their stillborn child.

Pregnant women often begin daydreaming about baby names in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, if not earlier. Parents discuss names, research Baby Name Books and websites, and think deeply about beloved persons in their own families. In fact, most baby names are chosen to honor or show respect or love to an ancestor or living family member. First born boys often inherit the names of their fathers, and become Jr. or the II (the second), or the III (the third). Baby girls are often named for a grandmother or great-grandmother.

For centuries, families followed 'naming patterns', so an ancestor's first name was carried on whether a boy or a girl infant. The first born boy was named after the father's father, the first girl named after the father's mother, then the next boy and girl were named after the mother's parents. Since families in the 1700s, 1800s, and early 1900s had large families (5 to 13 children), naming patterns could extend to honoring great- aunts and great-uncles too. Many of the names used prior to 1940s have gone out of popularity, much like we change the kinds of fashions we wear throughout a century or difference in how slang words develop from one generation to another. As one example, Flora used to be popular in 1800s USA, but that name is rarely used for a girl now. For a time, Walter dropped in popularity, but comes and goes in parents' choices of baby names.

Only in the 1900s did parents begin to freely choose names without attachment to family members-though most parents still picked an ancestor's name. Many families used a religious naming preference; for example, Catholic parents picked first and middle names after saints, as one example 'Judith Anne' after St. Judith and St. Anne. These naming patterns meant classrooms filled with children named Peter, Paul, John, Thomas… and Mary, Margaret, Judith, Ann/Anne, etc. I think in my 3rd grade class we had 16 girls named Mary out of 37 students!

Parents' preferences again began to change post-1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s, parents picked names that held more personal meaning, not just to honor a family member. This trend matched the ideals of the 1960s that every person was entitled to be unique and individualistic. Since 1980, parents have become more creative (and in the opinion of some people more outlandish) in what baby names they make up. One well-known example of individual creativity is spelling a common name of an animal or place backwards, such as heaven becoming the name Nevaeh for a child.

In addition, adoptive parents often opt to choose their adopted baby's name themselves.

What this boils down to is :

  • 78,840,000 babies every year need named

  • One or two parents give considerable thought - and love - in choosing a particular name.

  • Parents test out not only the spelling, but the sound of a name.

  • Parents fall in love with the sound of a particular name-they wouldn't want to call out the name of a child if they disliked their own child's name!

  • Therefore, ALL children's names sound lovely to the parents and family of that child.

  • A name represents "an identity" to the person with that name.


The only opinions that matter, therefore, are the parents' opinion about a name. Most children go through several years when they "hate" their own name… but eventually, every person feels a strong identity and connection to their own name. If they still hate the name as an adult, some people take on a new name and even have courts legally change the name.

Ugly versus Nice or Beautiful - or in other words -Bullying!

When we pick on someone else's name, that is bullying. When we say a name is ugly or horrible, we are discriminating against another human being. Think about it… How would you feel if I told you your name was 'ugly'? You wouldn't like it-no one likes being singled out and made to feel badly.

Of course, every young adult, as they prepare to have their own kids, begin to think about names they like. They try out names, just like their parents did to pick a baby name. It is okay to have your own likes, dislikes, and preferences. But… it is NEVER okay for anyone to question whether someone else's name is "ugly".