There are some desirable names for girls and boys with very unfortunate meanings. Even the most popular names are not exempt from a possibly sad meaning. For instance, Emily, Mary, Calvin, and Kennedy, which are favorites, have unsavory implications. After learning the origins of a name and its meaning, some parents might want to reconsider and go with a moniker with a sunnier disposition.
Would you pass on a baby name if you knew it had a bad meaning, or would you pretend like that doesn’t matter? Most parents put little weight behind the meaning of a name when picking it. But you might want to reconsider a name that means “devil,” right? Let’s take a look at some wonderful names that don’t have meanings to match. Here are 50 good baby names for girls and boys with terrible meanings.
Good Names for Girls with Bad Meanings
Mary has Hebrew or Egyptian origins and means “bitter.” Mary, the quintessential New Testament name, was #1 for girls until the mid-twentieth century. Though still popular, Mary is used now mostly for religious or family reasons.
Name Emily, Emilia, and Amelia all share the same Latin root which can be translated to “industrious” or more likely, “rival.” Emily is one of the most popular names in America and has been since record-keeping began in 1880.
Sadly, this strong Celtic name often has “of the sorrows” attached to it because of the tragic character in Irish legend. The name literally means “sorrowful.” Don’t pin that on a baby with a whole life ahead of her!
Persephone is the esoteric name of the Greek mythological daughter of Zeus by Demeter, the queen of the harvest. That’s fine and well, but this name means “bringer of death.” Let’s not?
Sloane is a handsome gender-neutral name that’s been trending for girls recently. It has Irish origins and unfortunately means “raider.” No raiding, please.
In Greek mythology, Acantha was a nymph beloved by Apollo. This Greek name isn’t too popular perhaps that’s because parents learned of its meaning, “thorn” or “prickle.” We’ll pass on the prickle.
Aphra was originally a name for a woman from Africa that eventually became a given name, and was borne by several Roman saints. It can also be spelled Afra. Its Hebrew origins give the name a meaning of “dust.”
Bronagh, along with phonetic form Brona, is a popular name in Ireland. It’s not a female form of Brian, instead it’s got Irish origins and means “sorrow.” Sad!
Saskia is a popular Dutch name that’s more common in Europe with new parents in the UK favoring it today. While it’s seldom heard in the US, the name might appeal to you until you learn that it means “knife.”
Rue is a name that’s picking up steam in the US. It has origins and both Greek and English and can refer to an herb or mean “regret.” We don’t need any of that hovering over your little one’s head.
Portia is a zippy Latin name that’s come and gone from the top 1000 list several times now. We’re sorry to tell you that this name means “pig.” Perhaps a name with a little less hog would be best.
Mara is a name that’s found it many traditions, but for most of us, we associate with Hebrew appearing in the Book of Ruth. Mara is an ancient precursor to Mary and also means “bitter.”
Perhaps you should just avoid names that start with M altogether for little girls. Mallory is yet another name that actually means “unfortunate.” It’s a very popular choice and has French roots. How did this name even happen?
Kennedy is one of the most popular unisex name choices today. It’s the 67th most popular name in the country for new babies. This Irish classic means “misshapen head.” We like our heads shaped properly, okay.
Another popular choice for both boys and girls, Cameron has Scottish origins and means “crooked nose.” This name has been a favorite since the eighties and we don’t foresee it going anywhere even if its meaning is less than desirable.
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This name has a hauntingly appropriate meaning for its most famous bearer, Pakistani women and children’s rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousefzai. The name itself is derived from the more traditional Malalai, which was the name of a 19th-century female Afghan freedom fighter. This Pashto name means “grieved” or “sad.” No M-names okay?
We can’t believe we have to write this but the Spanish name Diablo, made popular by screenwriter Diablo Cody, means “devil.” Maybe, just maybe, this is not a wise choice.
In ancient Rome, Cornelia was considered the paragon of womanly virtue, making it a handsome name with an excellent pedigree. The name’s meaning does not match that vibe. The Latin name means “horn.” Horn!
Another Latin name, Cecily was more popular in the seventies and eighties but parents are still choosing the name for girls today. However, this name means “blind.”
The Etain of Irish mythology was a beautiful fairy turned into a fly by a jealous queen. The insect-Etain fell into a glass of milk and was swallowed by yet another queen, then reborn as a beautiful maiden. So, there’s that. Thus, this name means “jealousy.” Not cute.
Lilith is derived from the Akkadian word lilitu meaning “of the night.” Lilith is a top 500 name even though it refers to Adam’s first wife who refused to obey him. She was then turned into a night demon, as one does, to exact her revenge. Despite that, the name’s been on the rise since 2010.
Lyssa is such an old name that many confuse as a variation of Alice which means “noble.” Nope, this name actually means “fury.” You don’t want an angry little Lyssa on your hands, do you?
Leah is a Hebrew name with sad-girl vibes as it means “weary.” The Biblical Leah had a total of seven children so perhaps that’s why this moniker means “tired.” Give Leah the vacation she so desperately deserves.
Dolores is one of the many titles given to the Virgin Mary-Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, or Our Lady of the Sorrows, and was one of the Spanish names that really caught on in this country. Delores has an excellent sound but your kid will not like the “lady of sorrows” association.
Claudia was a common girls’ name in ancient Rome, borne by the wives of both Nero and Pontius Pilate. While it has a storied past, this Latin name actually means “lame.” It sounds like a sophisticated hit, but it’s actually a dud. The name is the least popular it’s ever been in the US.
Good Names for Boys with Bad Meanings
Kennedy is a classic Irish name that belonged to a President and very political family. What’s wrong with this name? It means “misshapen head.”
Another handsome time-tested name, Cameron started out as a Scottish surname before making the jump to given name territory. This name means “crooked nose.” This name is currently a top 100 name and we imagine not many of the babies with it have unsightly noses.
Calvin is another name that’s belonged to a President. While Calvin sounds cool, it actually means “bald” or “hairless.” There’s nothing inherently bad with baldness, but we thought we’d bring it to your attention.
One of the most beloved names worldwide, James, takes is meaning from the Hebrew name Jacob which means “supplanter” or “usurper.” Clearly, this knowledge is not stopping parents because the name has been in the top 10 in the US since record-keeping began.
Actor Viggo Mortensen certainly has an interesting name. Viggo is a beloved moniker across Scandinavia that dates back to Old Norse and the Vikings. It should come as no surprise then, that this name means “war.”
Tristan is a beloved Celtic name that’s popular for both genders. Although this name sounds romantic its roots can be translated to two meaning and neither one of them is great. Tristan means “sorrow” or “noise.”
Abaddon is an unusual Bible name that can be found in the New Testament. The name was given to an angel and means “destruction” or “ruin.” Maybe those meanings were a step too far for most parents as this name is seldom heard in the US.
Since 2003, Soren has been on these and now sits just outside of the top 500. This handsome-sounding name is the Danish or Norwegian form of the Latin name, Severus. The name means “stern.”
In Greek mythology, Ares was the blood-thirsty god of war and son to Zeus and Hera. Not off to a good start! Ares is one of the fastest-rising names for boys and entered the top of the charts in 2013. Ares means “ruin” or “bane.”
Another new addition to the top 1000 is Blaise. Saint Blaise, an Armenian bishop, is the patron saint of wild animals and those with sore throats. Perhaps that’s where the meaning of this name comes from. Blaise is a French name that means “to stutter” or “stammer.”
Brennan is a winning Irish surname name, more modern than Brian or Brendan, more unusual than Conor and Aidan. However, if you’re not a depressed parent you might want to avoid this one because it means “descendent of the sad one.” Despite that, this name has been popular in the US since the sixties.
Jabez might seem like an exotic name but it was exceedingly popular with colonist Pilgrims in the US. There have been no fewer than four congressman with the name. This jazzy-sounding Hebrew name means “borne in pain.” Not great!
Huxley is an attractive surname name. It debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2015. It must not bother many parents that this moniker means “inhospitable place.” We at MU, prefer friendly places!
Casimir, a traditional name of Polish kings, enjoys a robust history in Slavic tradition. However, this handsome name actually means “destroyer of peace.” If you’re a new parent, this might feel appropriate, but you might not want to stick your little man with a name like this forever.
A French classic, Claude was a top 100 name in the U.S. until 1922. It’s very popular in Europe and comes from the Latin name Claudius. While Claude sounds strong, it means “lame.” The same is true for its Italian cousin, Claudio.
Gulliver is an obscure Gaelic surname known almost solely through its literary Travels. However, we don’t see modern parents tripping over themselves to use this name. This name means “glutton.” But that did not stop actors Gary Oldman and Damian (put a pin in this name as well) Lewis from choosing the name for their sons.
In the Old Testament, Gideon was a judge called on by God to rescue the Jews from the Midianites, and the name was popular among the Puritans. Today, this old name is rising once more despite its meaning: “having a stump for a hand.”
Colby has been a favorite name in the US since the sixties. However, this fun-loving name has Old English origins and means “coal town.” Which isn’t so bad! But, we were surprised!
Damian has sidestepped its demonic horror movie overtones, leaving a basically friendly and charming Irish image. However, this name is not Irish! It’s actually Greek and means “to subdue.” That’s not a dealbreaker, but definitely, something to consider.
A unisex Nahuatl name with a strong and stylish sound, but a meaning that some might find off-putting. The name means “blood.” Although this name isn’t very popular in the US, we see new parents picking this name for its appealing sound.
The seventh most common surname in Scotland, once associated only with soup, is now being considered as a last-name-first choice. This Scottish gem actually means “crooked mouth.” A lot of crooked stuff from the Scots, apparently.
Sloan is an old Irish favorite that once was primarily used for boys, but now, the name is being given more often to girls. We think the name is suitable for any baby, but it does mean “raider.”
Originally an old Roman family name, borne by Marcus Junius Brutus, one of the assassins of Julius Caesar, who spoke those famous dying words to him, “Et tu.” Not only does this name sound brutal, it also has a meaning to match. Brutus means “heavy” or “dull.”
Though we usually think a name’s image in contemporary culture supersedes its ancient meaning, this is a case where the definition could undermine a child’s self-esteem. Hamill is an English name that means “scarred.”
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In Arthurian legend, Lancelot was one of the most dashing of the Knights of the Round Table who eventually had an affair with Queen Guinevere. It’s considered far “too much” for most parents who choose the shortened form Lance instead. Lance was not only a medieval weapon; it’s also a French name that means “servant.” This name has been in the top 1000 for the last 120 years.
There you go! Now you know all the baby names that have horrible meanings. This will not change every parent’s opinion about certain fashionable options, but it is worth considering.
- 1 Good Names for Girls with Bad Meanings
- 2 Good Names for Boys with Bad Meanings
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