Here’s a wild statistic for you: according to Social Security records, parents in the United States invented over 1,000 brand new baby names in 2017.
As in, people whipped up more than a thousand names in some sort of alphabet soup blender, and then gave those names – sorry “names” – to their actual human children.
As if to add admin to injury, these records are only kept when a name is given to 5 or more kids in a year. That means there are AT LEAST five tiny humans out there at any one time with names like Novahlee.
Yes, Novahlee. And Novahlee if you are reading this we are sorry. So. Very. Sorry.
Some of the names appearing on the list aren’t invented, just newly popular in the US – and they’re brilliant to see.
The Nigerian name Iretomiwa made the list, as did the Ethiopian version of Theodore, Tewodros.
There were 12 babies named Arjunreddy, presumably after a 2017 Telugu-language film called Arjun Reddy, and 9 babies given the Hindu name Dhanvika.
But then there are the… not so brilliant.
I’m not even talking about the occasional badly spelled bogan name or the kids themselves – I’m talking about the middle-class hipster parents who insist on jamming as many ‘y’s or ‘eigh’s into a name as possibly so that their kid will be ~special~.
I’m talking about the kids named Khyza, because Kaiser wasn’t bad enough already.
Or Lakeleigh, because the sound my geriatric cat makes when she’s hungry is great baby name inspo.
Digging through the list is an interesting ride. Some of these names are established names that have been given the ‘I love this normal name, but I want my kid to be unique’ treatment.
Dawsin for example, because for some reason the idea of dooming your child to a lifetime of saying “it’s like Dawson’s Creek but with an i” seemed like a good plan.
Or Iveigh, because Ivy was just too simple I guess. (It’s good enough for Beyonce, but too plain for you?)
And then there’s the pop culture references. There were eleven sets of parents last year who looked down at their tiny, innocent bundle of joy, and named them Cersei.
Even worse, eight sets of parents did the same thing, except instead of Cersei, they named their kid Renessmae. Yes you read that right, a badly spelled version of the name given to the hybrid vampire child from Twilight.
I actually have some expertise in this particular area. As a person with the first name Tess, I’m asked pretty often if I’m named after the McLeod’s Daughters character (despite already being five years old when it first aired). As a person with the last name Connery, I’ve heard every damn James Bond joke on the planet. That’s a double whammy even with a fairly straightforward Anglo first and last name.
I can assure you with confidence that your daughter Khalleighseigh will not enjoy having the same conversation with every single sales assistant, barista and customer service representative they come across.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise then that when a survey was actually done, it found that almost a fifth of mums regretted the name they saddled their kid with – 18% of them to be exact.
The most prevalent reason for name regret is “it’s too common”, as well as “it’s not distinctive enough” – which honestly I assume translates to “I met someone else with a son named Caiden” – but reasons like “it causes him/her problems with spelling/pronunciation” make up a big chunk of the regret pie, too.
It’s been proven in studies that when identical resumes are sent out, a resume with an Anglo-sounding name attached to it will usually be chosen over a resume with a non-white sounding name.
I couldn’t time travel to the future to find a particular study that had done the same with the trendy names of people that will be hitting the workforce in about fifteen years’ time, but I have to imagine that the outcome will be similar.
Who knows, maybe in a few years Kayzleigh and Atticus will start losing out on jobs to normal, properly-vaccinated-sounding names like Jamal or Priyanka. HR execs turning the tables, wouldn’t that be fun to watch?
But that’s the problem: at the end of the day, it’s the kids that will have to grow up with these names and suffer the real effects in their everyday life.
I read about a boy named Mangum (named for Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff) who had a speech delay, and couldn’t say his own name until he was nearly four years old.
A kid named Ahlix who has already given up correcting their teachers on spelling.
A girl named Aurora Borealis who is only a few months old, but has already copped enough Simpsons jokes to last a lifetime.
After all, a rose by any other name might smell as sweet – but a Rowze might end up wishing you’d given them a simpler name, and the room to grow into someone unique on their own terms.