10 naming mistakes you can avoid

Written by    Last updated: March 8, 2007

Even smart mums and dads make mistakes when it comes to naming their babies. Learn how to avoid these moniker disasters…

Naming in a hurry

Since names have an impact throughout life, to do it without much thought could lead to a lifetime of misery for your child.  A name that sounds perfect may not seem so appealing after a few weeks and you will need to have considered all the possible nicknames and associations with the chosen name.

Letting others decide

While it is important to consult family members and friends for ideas, it is ultimately your responsibility as a parent to choose a name that your child can live with.  Allowing older siblings to name the new baby is also perhaps not a wise choice. Keep the final name a secret until after you’ve registered it, there’ll be little point in arguing about it then.

Following trends

Choose the most popular name of the moment and you are likely to discover that on her/his first day at school, there are another five children with the same first name. The teacher has no choice but to refer to each by her/his last name, causing your Olivia to be referred to as Smith for the rest of her life in education.

Chance to be ‘creative’

With all the excitement of creating a new life, parents can tend to get carried away with the whole idea of creativity. Coining brand new names, blending the names of the parents to form a new name, converting places and fruits into first names, are a few of the naming disasters in recent times.

Being over ambitious

Most parents have high aspirations for their little darling, but some take it further by picking a name that carries it further.  By giving your son a name like Einstein, you are making it impossible for him to live up to it and creating endless opportunities for sarcasm through schooling.  Sometimes a powerful name such as Oprah can overshadow the individual, making it difficult to either live up to or shake off the association.

Not testing it

By not asking others their opinion on the chosen name, you could miss something that is obvious to everyone else.  It may be an unpleasant association like an infamous celebrity with the same name, a commercial product or an obvious nickname.  Friends, children and baby forum members are just some sources for a second opinion on your favoured moniker.

Picking a random foreign name

In the effort to be different and to convey their globe‐trotting credentials, parents pick an exotic foreign word that they may have heard while on holiday abroad.  Before rushing down to the registry office with the ‘unique’ name, it would be useful to find out what possible meanings could be associated with it.  A word in one language may have a completely different and perhaps unfavourable meaning in another.

Giving a ‘cute’ or amusing name

Your adorable bundle of joy will grow up one day to become a part of the adult world.  A name like Honeybee or Candybar is unlikely to win much respect in serious professions and may not seem as cute or amusing to your child as an adult.

Not checking what it means

Did you know that Cameron means ‘bent nosed’ or that Cecil comes from the Latin word for ‘blind’?  If you have chosen an historical, biblical or mythological name, do check what associations it has and whether you’re still happy with it..


While it is understandable that every parent would wish to attract the most auspicious associations to their child’s name, it can be taken a step too far. In numerology, for instance, in order to get the name to add up to the right number, parents sometimes add an extra letter or swap a ‘C’ for a ‘K’, like Kristine for Christine or changing the ending of a name, with ‘ie’ instead of ‘y’. It has to be proved whether the change attracted better luck, but there’s no doubt about its leading to greater confusion.

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