Names Ruined by the News

You’ve found the perfect name. Its sound is appealing, its meaning inspiring, and its popularity in that sweet spot of uncommon but not weird. Then, disaster- your perfect name is ruined by a news event! It’s happened for generations (Adolf, for example, ranked in the top 1000 for many years before 1928). No matter how much thought you put into a name, there’s never a guarantee that some news event won’t come along and create a terrible association. Below are some recent victims of the news.

Isis- The name that inspired the post! Isis was an Egyptian goddess who travelled the world in search of the pieces of her husband in order to bring him back from the underworld. It’s a great story and the goddess had a great name- had a great name, until the extremist group commandeered it. The terror group’s name is an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The Arabic name is Daesh.

Fidel- Fidel would’ve made a novel masculine spin on popular girl’s name Faith, and a great option for parents looking for a name pronounced the same in Spanish and English, but the Cuban dictator has squashed that possibility.

Reagan- Reagan hasn’t exactly been ruined (it’s in the girl’s top 100 and has many spelling variations) but it has picked up a political connotation that would give some parents pause.

Barack- The Democratic equivalent of Reagan- it’s a name so tied to the president that using it seems like a political statement. Barack has the additional challenge of never having been a common name in the US, though it is fairly common in parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Katrina- New Orleans is still, 12 years later, recovering from the devastating 2005 hurricane. The name was on its way up in 2005, but has since fallen off the popularity list. But I think Katrina has a chance for resurgence- because it was a fairly common name before the storm, I think there’s a possibility it could return in another generation or two.

Osama- Osama is a very common Middle Eastern name with unfortunate connotations for Americans. I know two Osamas, one Egyptian and one Lebanese-American, who go by Sam. They’ve mentioned the challenge their name poses and the unfortunate prejudice they have faced due to the infamous man with whom they share their first name.

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3 thoughts on “Names Ruined by the News

  1. Well, there’s Charlie (as in Hebdo). According to what I’ve found on Journal des Femmes, the name dropped for both genders (-40% for the girls and -54% for the boys), considering that it peaked the year before with over a thousand girls named Charlie in 2014.

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  2. Teresa was on our potential list for a long time, but since we have become pregnant, DH has vetoed it since the only context in which he hears the name now is Theresa May, whose name is constantly in the news now.

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