Bizarre and whimsical baby names are certainly nothing new, and many countries even have lists of banned names in an attempt to quell anything that’s just too bizarre. Sometimes, kids are even allowed to change their own names to avoid being made fun of by other children. But what about here in the United States? Where’s the line for inappropriate baby names?
As Penn Undergraduate Law Journal explains it, naming laws in the US are more diverse than one might think, and that’s largely because they vary by state. Some states, for example, don’t allow numerals to be used in names, but in others those numerals are totally fine (rest easy, Joshua Smith III). But according to the journal, some states even allow children to be born without names, which is really really bizarre.
In any case, we’ve rounded up some actual American baby names that are profoundly inappropriate or otherwise quirky. One thing’s for sure, they’re all definitely eyebrow-raising.
What better way to learn your ABCs than to start with your own name? This quirky baby name has a bit of a Sesame Street appeal to it, which doesn’t really make it inappropriate per se, even if it is awkward. The catch, though, is that it’s pronounced “Ab-si-dee,” so the zaniness/charm, depending on how you choose to see it, is all in the spelling.
What’s more, though rare, Abcde is actually a name that parents have given their kid — for real. In December 2014, there was an unfortunate incident in Mission Viejo, California, in which an autistic girl named Abcde was turned away by a mall Santa because said Kris Kringle feared her service dog, which happened to be a pitbull.
However, the name is still viewed as being outlandish to the point to being comical by some, as evinced by its (hilarious) appearance in the You’re So Lucky! segment of the comedy show Studio C.
As the song goes, you would cry too if it happened to you — that is, if you had been named after one of the most monstrous figures in history. In 2008, the parents of little Adolf Hitler Campbell made headlines when a NJ bakery refused to write their son’s name on his birthday cake.
Though Adolf’s father tried to explain that he had only bestowed the name upon his son as a novelty, the names of Adolf’s two sisters, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie, painted an even more disturbing picture.
Not surprisingly, the Campbell children (along with their newborn half-sister, Eva Braun) were later removed from their parents’ custody — allegedly on grounds that had nothing to do with their names. But when their father showed up in court to try to argue for custody dressed in full Nazi regalia, the party was over once and for all.
Zen, Dharma, Peace — the hippie, new age movement has always been a big producer of spiritual names. However, some American parents have taken that ethos above and beyond.
Such is the case with Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer, who is actually a schoolteacher from Beloit, Wisconsin. According to Sawyer, who talked to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2009 (and had her story syndicated to the local news), growing up with the name was difficult. Her own teachers often didn’t quite believe what they saw on their class list, assuming that her name was an eccentric, or unfortunate, misspelling that was actually pronounced “Marianna,” or something similar.
Actually, marijuana related names are not that rare: the popularity charts for those like Indica and Sativa are actually things. But somehow, it’s the Pepsi aspect that’s the most puzzling. It’s one thing to name your child after a drug that can induce euphoria, but why soda?
Sometimes, truth is indeed stranger than fiction. As the saying goes, you can’t make this stuff up. Such was definitely the case in Portland, Oregon in 2017, when a man who was named Fellony went on to be accused of a string of felonies.
According to KOIN 6 news, 22-year-old Fellony Hudson was charged with three felonies and four misdemeanors related to assault and auto theft; moreover, he had previously been charged with four other felonies in the state of Washington. In addition to attempting to kidnap his ex-girlfriend (who tried to jump out of the stolen vehicle he was driving), he admitted to using meth on a daily basis.
Definitely living up to his name, so to speak. All of which goes to show: Don’t risk making your kid’s name into a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s probably a good idea to give your kid a name that’s worth living up to.
According to Nameberry, Merika is a spelling variation on the name Marika — a Dutch version of Mary meaning “bitter.” It’s actually a lovely name, melodically speaking. Parents magazine points out that the alternate-spelling version of the moniker even hit something of a zenith circa the late ’70s to the mid to late ’90s.
But those were more innocent times, one might say. In this day of American political unrest and growing controversies regarding immigrant childcare, the moniker Merika has considerably more ominous connotations, namely evoking images of governmental discord and a country that’s become increasingly divided. In other words, the name’s merit is subjective, but weird. Some may also remember the miniseries Amerika, starring singing/songwriting legend Kris Kristofferson, which was about the country being taken over by the Soviet Union.
Moral: if you do opt for this name, it might be best to spell it the original Dutch way, with an A, thus avoiding bestowing a life of unnecessary controversial associations on your little one.
We all know that Lucifer is synonymous with the devil, and most of us know that he’s a fallen angel. But what you surely don’t know, and will probably be shocked to learn, is that Lucifer was the 372nd most popular name in America as of 2017, according to Nameberry.
As Behind the Name explains it, Lucifer means “light-bearer, or “bringing light.” It was also originally associated with the morning star. All of which is beautiful symbolism, of course. But when Lucifer, who was once God’s “chief angel,” rebelled against God and was cast down, everything changed, as recounted by John Milton in Paradise Lost.
But it’s true that the name did start out with a virtuous meaning, so if you can get past the fire and brimstone associations and reclaim its original associations, you can probably do a lot worse than Lucifer. None of that, however, explains the name’s recent vogue.
“Da da da da da, Inspector Gadget,” you’re probably thinking. On the other hand, you could be thinking of the band Granddaddy’s song “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot,” which so impressed actor Jason Lee that he named his son Pilot Inspektor in honor of it.
According to Time magazine, Lee (known for My Name is Earl, Almost Famous, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, among other indie and mainstream film and TV projects) wasn’t alone in picking out the name. “[The song] absolutely blew my mind when I first heard it,” he recounted to Entertainment Weekly. “It was from this track that my wife, Beth, came up with the name Pilot for our son.”
Pilot, by itself, is actually a pretty hip moniker. It’s also the name of Rochester’s dog in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, so there’s some sophisticated literary references there, as well.
When most people hear the name Brutus, they probably think of Shakespeare’s play, and by extension of Marcus Junius Brutus, assassin of Julius Caesar. Or, more whimsically and nostalgically, they might think of Brutus and Nero, Medusa’s two diabolical pet alligators in Walt Disney’s The Rescuers.
But either way, Brutus isn’t exactly an advisable, or a promising, name to give a child. According to Nameberry, it means “heavy and dull,” and of course its similarity to the word “brutal” is impossible to overlook. Nevertheless, some parents are opting for it — it was Nameberry‘s 983rd most popular name in 2017 (say what?) and the 83rd most popular name for dogs in the same year (yes, they actually included canine statistics).
Behind the Name gives Brutus a (slightly) kinder definition, describing its meaning as merely “heavy” instead of “heavy and dull,” but it’s still probably a good idea to just not.
“Pistol” is, admittedly, rather cute and spunky. It evokes a mischievous childlike ebullience, a plucky kind of free-spiritedness, not to mention an association with the childhood summer fun of water pistols. However, it also unfortunately calls forth images of school shootings and the country’s gun controversy in general. So, depending on your point of view, it may or may not qualify as “inappropriate.” And even if you are in the former category, you have to admit that the moniker probably works much better as a quirky nickname than a first name.
Nonetheless, a handful of parents apparently like it. According to Nameberry, the unisex name was given to nine infants of both genders in 2013. There are some literary references, too: Pistol is a character in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. He also appears in Henry IV, though not in what one would call a complimentary context.
Though it’s a bit of an antiquated insult these days, there was a time when the derisive cry, “You Nimrod!” echoed across schoolyards all over America — due largely in part to Bugs Bunny, who used to hurl it at Elmer Fudd.
Bugs’ use of the term was ironic, meant to highlight Fudd’s dimwittedness by comparing him to a figure who was far from be”fudd”led. As Nameberry explains it, Nimrod is actually an heroic Hebrew name that means “we shall rise up, we shall rebel.” In the Bible, Nimrod was said to be a great grandson of Noah, and was “the first on earth to be a mighty man… a mighty hunter before the Lord.”
So if you really want to go with Nimrod for its historical meaning, bear in mind that your child will probably have to ward off a lot of “hunting wabbits” references. Or, at minimum, a few other misinformed cruel jokes. Do kids even still watch Bugs Bunny, though?
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