Unbalanced: What not to name your baby girl

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Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Carol Schaal

Listen up all you Katelyns, Katlynns, Katlins, Kaitlyns, Caitlins, Caitlyns and even you Kaytlans. That’s a great Irish name, no matter how you spell it, but I give you about 25 years before you begin to call the parent who named you some not-so-nice names.

For at that point you should begin to realize that your name gives away your age. You won’t like that much.

I should know. My name, for instance, was the 19th most popular name of the 20th century. Sadly, for me, this is the 21st century, and Carol is on a downward trend. Most of the Carols I know are in the 45-65 age group.

The ToysRUs website makes the point: “History has shown that the [names] parents choose are strongly influenced by trends.” But, oh, once the trend becomes untrendy, there you are, with a name that shouts “I’m old!”

Some names, such as Moonbeam, shout other things, too, like, “My parents were unrepentant hippies, and I don’t even want to think about what they were doing at Woodstock.”

So, would-be parents of America, if a girl is in your future, do her a favor.

Don’t name her after a hot actress, singer or celebutante. If they misbehave, like Lindsay or Britney, it will just give her a bad rep.

Don’t name her after your mother, grandmother or great-aunt. Seriously. Gertrude, Cora Fern and Ida Mae may once have been cool, but they ain’t no more.

Don’t name her after a state or town. I hesitate to rule this out, because I do wish my parents had named me Madison. But if your chosen geographic name should end up as the most dangerous place to live in the USA, it won’t reflect well on your sweet baby girl.

Don’t be too clever. Apple’s okay because her parents can afford to pay for counseling. Well, not really. It’s just stupid. To be safe, avoid all fruit, vegetable and wine names. Oh, hell, just avoid stupid names in general. Your daughter will thank me.

Don’t be too extreme. I went to a high school graduation last week, and a lovely and talented young lady named Exquoteesha was among the graduating class. That name won’t fit on either a business card, a theater marquee or the many official forms the government always seems to want, so I suggest you try to come in at less than seven letters.

And, back to Exquoteesha, don’t name her something no one can figure out how to pronounce. I know a woman named Siobhan, another lovely Irish moniker, but I never call her by her name because it takes me too long to figure out how to say it.

Last, but certainly not least, remember that kids like to make fun of other kids. Any name generally will bring this about, because kids are creative in their bullying, but it’s best to avoid names that are easy pickings. And yes, that includes Charmin.

So after all these don’ts, what should you name your female bundle of joy? I suggest Carol. Start a trend. Make me feel young again.


Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine. Tune in the week of June 14th for tips on what not to name your baby boy. What’s your favorite disastrous baby girl name?


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