There are some very attractive names for girls with very unfortunate meanings. Even the most popular names are not exempt from a possibly sad meaning. For instance, Emily and Mary which are two favorites both have unsavory implications. After learning the origins of a name and what it means, 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 simply pretend like that doesn’t matter? We think most parents don’t put too much 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 25 good baby names for girls with very 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.
There you go! 25 names for girls that sound great but you might rethink after kicking the tires a bit. Ultimately, if you love a name on this list, go with your gut. A name’s meaning is not a child’s destiny.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 25. Mary
- 2 24. Emily
- 3 23. Deirdre
- 4 22. Persephone
- 5 21. Sloane
- 6 20. Acantha
- 7 19. Aphra
- 8 18. Bronagh
- 9 17. Saskia
- 10 16. Rue
- 11 15. Portia
- 12 14. Mara
- 13 13. Mallory
- 14 12. Kennedy
- 15 11. Cameron
- 16 10. Malala
- 17 9. Diablo
- 18 8. Cornelia
- 19 7. Cecily
- 20 6. Etain
- 21 5. Lilith
- 22 4. Lyssa
- 23 3. Leah
- 24 2. Dolores
- 25 1. Claudia
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