Caconomenology: The Study of Ugly Names

By Laurel Sutton

October 17, 2008

Catchword has not yet been paid to name a baby, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the expertise to do it. In fact, almost all of the Catchword team are parents. There are hundreds of websites devoted to baby naming, but we think this is one of the funniest: Baby’s Named a Bad, Bad Thing – A Primer on Parent Cruelty, put together by Diana Goodman. Here Ms. Goodman plucks actual postings from other baby naming sites and comments on them. The title of her site indicates her feelings on this topic.

The United States – unlike Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, and Jordan, among other countries – has no government body that oversees baby names. What this means is that the first-grade teachers of 2010 will begin their day calling roll thusly:

“Mackenzie, Mykenzie, Makynzi, McKayla, McKaty, Mackanzie, Mikayla, Makai, Mekenzie, Michaela, Mikayleigh, Makinzy, and Jennifer.”

(It should go without saying – but apparently doesn’t – that an unusual spelling does not distinguish a name in its most common form, spoken language. All these names were taken from examples at Ms. Goodman’s site.)

Of course we know choosing a new baby’s name is a decision of the heart. But professionally, we can offer a little advice: A baby’s name should meet the same standards as company names and product names – that is, it should be appealing, distinctive, pronounceable, and memorable. Oh, and it should be a name your child can spell before she’s 15.  If you want even more advice, here are more of our thoughts!

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