As we know, I am 35 (and 49 weeks…) so most of my contemporaries have entered the wild world of child-rearing.  One of the most important decisions faced during those nine months (after, of course, the big “should we or shouldn’t we?!” plunge-taking step) is what you are going to name that child.

Do you opt for a family name or something more contemporary?  Popular or fringe? Androgynous or no?  Presidential (Harrison, Madison, Reagan) or soap opera (Brandon, Tanner, Dawson)?

As my wise cousin @blathering once said: “When naming a child, especially a girl, couple that name with ‘Dr. ______’ and ‘President ______’ and chuck anything that sounds ridiculous.” Dr. Destiny, for example, might not inspire confidence in someone getting their first colonoscopy.

There is a list, however, that most parents can feel fairly safe in avoiding.  In some cases, for completely opposite reasons.  Maybe in 50 or 100 or 500 years we’ll see these names crop up in elementary school classrooms again, but not until Olivia and Sophia and Ethan and Jacob have had a damn long run at the top.

12. Jeeves. Before its second life as an oft-mocked pre-Google search engine, Jeeves became known as the go-to stock name for butlers. Certainly, a butler is a noble profession (one that can segue into Lieutenant Governor, no less), but perhaps not one to which parents want to preordain their little boys.

11. Casper. He’s a ghost!  And he’s friendly!  See the irony?  He’s also a super creepy rapist (spoiler alert!) in the harrowing and indelible movie KIDS, which haunts me to this day 15 years after the fact.  Casper the ghost haunts far less than this movie, as a matter of fact.

10. Dora. The Dora the Explorer cartoon may have elevated this name for a brief period, but the show’s ongoing popularity and guerrilla-style marketing is so prevalent that the name is becoming hard to associate with anything else (just like a few more names on this list). 

9. Grover. Yes, this name has Presidential flair and your kid might find tremendous success on two non-consecutive occasions. But in this day and age, more people think “accident-prone skinny blue monster” when they hear this one.  Hail to the Chief, indeed.

8. Linus. So many blankets would be given at this baby shower. So. Many. Blankets. Why “Charlie” and “Lucy” and “Sally” haven’t met similar fates is beyond me; probably because those names were so much more common to begin with?  How many “Schroeders” have you met in the last 40 years?

7. Barney. Terrifying (and strangely fey) purple dinosaur, bumbling deputy sheriff, embattled Congressman, or notorious sitcom Lothario?  Pick your reason why this name should be avoided.  Though I’d name my hypothetical son “Neil Patrick [Glib]” in a hot minute.

6. Homer. “Fat, bald, and stupid is no way to go through life, but my son is already off on the wrong foot.  What, there’s a chance he’ll turn out to be a brilliant scribe of epic poetry?  Hah!  No way.  Pass the doughnuts.”

5. Oral. Oral Roberts, may he rest in peace, made few friends during his 91 years on this earth as a spiritual “healer” that failed to save even one person from his or her wheelchair despite fistfuls of cash thrown into the coffers each week. Throw in the fact that “oral” has become short-hand for “blow job” and you’ve got a pretty freaking bad name here, Oral Hershiser notwithstanding.

4 and 3.  Kermit and Elmo. Lovable, affable, and strong in their own ways, these A-List Muppets have but one weight upon their furry little shoulders: they ruined these formerly legitimate names, potentially for decades.

2. Gay. I know both a man and a woman named Gay.  The man is in his 90s, the woman in her late 60s. Born before this term meant something other than “Happy.”  Not likely to be a first name again – not that there’s anything wrong with it.

1. Adolph. So back in the day, this was a perfectly fine, strong, German name. And one failed artist and successful sociopath managed to take it down along with much of the free world. I can’t ever see this name being used except by those insane white supremacists who do it out of shocking tribute. And even those a’holes won’t keep it up forever.

What names are on your no-no list?

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