Choosing a baby name is hard. There are so many questions to ask yourselves.
Do we pick something classic? Do we pick a unique baby name? Will people be able to pronounce it properly? Will it go out of fashion soon? Do we pick a gender neutral baby name? Will our child actually like the name when they’re older?
Assigning a name to another human for (usually) the rest of their lives is a huge responsibility. And yet, we live in a society where social media is ingrained in our daily lives - and how many of us can say they haven’t judged the name of a baby we’ve seen on our socials? I know I have! That probably starts to play on our mind, even subconsciously. ‘What will people think of our baby’s name?’.
That can sometimes create an extra pressure or expectation to be different. ‘Ooh I like that name. It’s really different’. We’ve heard that before, haven’t we? Maybe you’ve even said it! But sometimes the search for uniqueness can lead down a dark path, towards….ugly baby names!
While we’re not going to help you pick a baby name, we’re here to bring you 111 ugly baby names you need to avoid. First, let’s dive a bit deeper into this.
Why it’s so important to get the name right
Your name is usually the first thing you learn about a person (unless you’re Sherlock Holmes and learn everything there is to know about a person by the loose thread on their button).
Our names often carry deep personal meanings, whether it’s cultural, historical or familial. But our names aren’t just significant looking back, it appears they’re also incredibly important in steering where we go in life.
There are numerous studies collated in this New Yorker article that show a name can influence a plethora of moments in your life - your grades at school, whether or not you get accepted into a college or university, whether or not you get offered a job, the career path you choose, who you marry, and where you live. One study even showed that you’re more likely to donate to a disaster relief fund if you share an initial with a hurricane or a storm.
There’s also a concept called ‘implicit egotism’, which suggests that our names (or initials) are such an important part of our identity that we automatically associate ourselves with things of the same name or initials. I used to love seeing JD Sports when I was a child because we shared initials.
One study conducted in 2000 found that people who dislike their own name are more likely to have “poor psychological adjustment”, suggesting a higher likelihood of self-esteem and other mental health problems. The authors claimed that in some cases a lack of self-confidence contributed to a dislike of their name, and vice versa.
So basically, the name you give your child could change their destiny. No pressure!
What makes an ugly baby name?
Some baby names are just plain ugly, aren’t they? But what makes an ugly name?
Sometimes the meaning behind them isn’t very positive, maybe they’re too unique or don’t roll off the tongue nicely. Sometimes they might just be horrendously old fashioned. Take my grandad, for example. His name is ‘Granville’. I love him dearly, but I can’t ever imagine in my wildest dreams looking down at a newborn baby and thinking ‘Granville’! But I’m sure in the early 1900s, it was a lovely, cute name…
Our perception of names (and even names from certain cultures) are often shaped by history, society, current affairs, and stereotypes. For example, a study conducted in the US after 9/11 using identical resumes found that people with Arabic-sounding names were less likely to be invited for interviews than those with white-American sounding names - a clear example of current affairs creating society-wide stereotypes.
Another obvious example is ‘Adolf’ - on the face of it, Adolf is a great, German name. It means ‘noble’ or ‘wolf’ - heck, my son’s name means wolf in the old Norse language! But anyone who has studied history for more than five minutes will automatically associate that name with Hitler. Suddenly, you’ve got an ugly baby name for the rest of time.
Then there are personal experiences. I remember a girl called Alice from when I was in school - she just wasn’t a very nice person. So I don’t like the name Alice - cue awkward conversation when it turns out my sister-in-law’s middle name is Alice!
What I’m trying to say here, is that it’s certainly not an exact science.
So, here we go, here are 55 ugly girl names and 56 ugly boy names you should avoid. And if after reading this you’re still struggling on naming your child, we’ve got a brilliant mini book designed to help you out.
55 ugly baby names for girls
This one is always on lists of ‘crazy’ or ‘unique’ names. The dash isn’t silent. It’s pronounced ‘Ledasha’. Yep. I wonder how many she’s been called ‘Leah’ or ‘Le-ah’ (like the French ‘le’) or ‘Leia’ (like the Princess).
Yes, you read that right. This is an actual name used by nearly 400(!!!!!) parents in the US. Presumably they call them ‘Abey’ for short? Doesn’t make it any better.
It just doesn’t have good connotations, does it? We all know what you’re suggesting if you call someone ‘a princess’.
I get it, okay? Bunnies are cute, your baby is cute. Maybe acceptable as a nickname, but not a full on name!
This is a bit of an odd one. Quite a few people mentioned Angharad, but they all had trouble explaining why. What do you think?
I walked around the office building during my lunch and asked loads of people to name the ugliest name they can think of. I didn’t take tallies, but Gert or Gertrude was by far and away the most common.
Someone once said to me ‘Don’t you think Olga sounds like someone being sick?’
Following the theme, Gretchen literally has (w)retch. Why would you put ‘wretch’ in your child’s name?
Is it ‘Gir’ or ‘Jir’? That’s the first problem. It’s also linked to ‘grey battle’ or ‘dark battle’, which leads the mind to a strange place.
Someone described it to me, “I just think of a really horrible, angry auntie from Germany who hates everything. It’s like a German Karen.”
This is a German name, and I must admit I thought it sounded quite nice when I heard it. But it actually means "she whose singing lures men to destruction". Lovely!
Thankfully Ethel is incredibly outdated, and it’s showing any sign of coming back.
Same as Ethel…
It just doesn’t sound very nice, does it? ‘Mord’. Kids also likely to tease about ‘Mordor’.
Marvel’s Agent Peggy Carter has probably done the name some good in recent years. She’s a badass. But it always just felt like a very odd name. It’s not a classic name, it’s not cute, it’s not strong, it’s just a bit of nothing.
I don’t think Eastenders’ Sonia did the name any favours. It’s just a bit of a weird sound, isn’t it?
Okay, this one actually means “eternal ruler” or “ever powerful”. But quite a few people mentioned it to me, so I’m rolling with it.
I’ll admit, I raised an eyebrow at this one. But it turns out it actually means “lame”. You can’t subject your child to a lifetime of everyone calling them lame!
Remember we talked about names dictating the path your life takes? Your little Cecilia might just end up blind. Yeah, Cecilia means “blind” in Latin.
Emily is one of the most popular girls’ names in the world. Firstly, you’re trying to give your child a unique name while simultaneously giving them one of the most common. Second, you’re subjecting them to a lifetime of incorrect spellings. Third, it just looks fundamentally wrong. In Michael McIntryre’s words, “what a waste of life”.
Not only are people going to mishear it for Lara, Kara or Sara, it means “sorrow” or “bitter” in Hebrew. Mara is also a Hindu goddess of destruction. There is some reprieve if you’re Gaelic, though - where it means “sea”. That’s kind of nice.
Any Harry Potter fan will shudder at this name, and it’s really outdated AND, it means “lady of sorrows”.
I once named a puppy Lola. She was adorable. Turns out it’s actually a derivative of the name above.
*Names dictating your life klaxon*... There (and I’m genuinely struggle to type this without laughing) is a woman, called Fellony, who is a criminal. Fellony has committed felonies. You just couldn’t make it up.
“Lover of horses”, what’s wrong with that? Nothing. But in Swedish and Greek, Pippa is slang for a sexual act involving a penis and a hand.
Speaking of sorrow, Deidre is a Gaelic name meaning “sorrowful” or “sad one”. Besides, it’s difficult to say and sounds like ‘dreary’.
If you’re a lover of Harry Potter and daffodils, you might think that this is the name for your baby! But think again. There’s no bad meaning behind it, but it just sounds like ‘narcissistic’ and that’s not fun for anyone.
I didn’t want to go with the ‘weird spelling’ trope of Irish names, especially as someone who always makes an effort to pronounce other languages correctly.
A friend wanted me to include ‘Niamh’, but I wasn’t having any of it. It’s a beautiful name. Having said that, before I knew about Irish pronunciations, I called a Sinead ‘Sinn-ed’ and frankly it was embarrassing for everyone involved.
You might think this is a bit outdated nowadays but it’s one of those classic names that transcends time, especially with its religious roots. However, the mother of Jesus’ name actually means “rebellion” or “bitter”.
Do I need to explain? If you've been living under a rock for the past five years, here's an explainer on 'The Karen'...
Too close to Karen. Sharons could give Karens a run for their money.
See above. Traceys fall into the category of Karen
Shirleys, Traceys and Sharons are ready to fight it out to take Karens’ mantle when a wave of wonderful, lovely, world-changing Karens change society’s perception.
Yes, I watched it on Netflix recently. Yes, I loved it. No, it’s still not acceptable to name your child a day of the week.
Rue probably spiked in popularity after Hunger Games (as did Katniss and Peeta and Gale etc), but it literally means “regret”. You’re going to regret picking that name!
I always thought Courtney was quite cute. You know where this is going… The English meaning is “court attendant” which is pretty self-explanatory. In French, it means ‘short nose’, and the Anglo-Saxon meaning has a somewhat creepier meaning - “dweller by the dark stream”.
I’m sorry to the Crystals (and Krystals) out there leading totally normal life, but it’s typically associated with prostitution and I imagine most parents don’t want their daughter associated with prostitution…
"Bitter". You’re subjecting your child to a lifetime of bitterness.
One for the Marvel lovers. There’s a reason Stan Lee gave his Scarlet Witch the real name Wanda - it has an association with witches.
It’s a biblical name that has stood the test of time but something doesn’t look right, does it? Yep, you’ve taken one of the most popular names in the world and just added an extra ‘b’. Why? Everyone who ever reads your daughter’s name will assume there’s been a typo.
Stemming from Greek mythology, Cassandra upset the Sun God, Apollo, who cursed her as a prophet that would never be believed. And so the name means “she who is ignored”.
‘Heaven’ backwards. Enough said.
Think is probably gender neutral, but it’s Arsenal backwards. Even if you’re an Arsenal fan, I hope you’re shaking your head right now.
Speaking of football, Chelsea. I’m a Chelsea fan and I’m saying no to Chelsea. Just no.
I think of two things when I hear the name ‘Penelope’. Penelope Cruz and Parker from Thunderbirds. The latter rather creeps me out when I think of a baby’s name.
I actually hope no one is calling their baby Veruca. But if they are, you immediately think of the spoiled brat from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Let it go, let it go! No seriously, let this name go. It’s a horrible cliche to name your baby after a wildly successful piece of pop culture. You might think you’re being unique, but 75 million other parents also did the same as you.
See above. Game of Thrones had a huge influence on ‘most popular baby name’ lists. It’s not the name that’s ugly… it’s the sheer number of babies of roughly the same age bearing the same name.
It’s so intrinsically linked to the evil, ugly sea witch character from The Little Mermaid. No one wants that!
Two things spring to mind when I hear ‘Bertha’. First is the German howitzer gun used during World War One, and the second is a range of golf clubs made by Callaway.
If you want your baby girl to come out of the womb with white hair, a pair of knitting needles and half-moon reading glasses, you go for it.
I’m being very careful here because my niece is called Seren, which is Welsh for ‘star’. Lovely. But seriously, who is calling their child ‘Serendipity’?!
This isn’t a partisan political point - I can’t hear that name anymore without thinking of the UK’s shortest serving, and widely regarded to be most useless, Prime Minister in history, Liz Truss.
Over to the genius of Michael Spicer for this one.
55 ugly baby names for boys
I’ve had a lot of misspellings of my name over the years. It’s Jonathan, by the way. I’ve had Jonathon, Jonothon, Johnathan, Johnathon, Johnothon, Johnathon. But by far the worst is ‘Jhonathan’, and worst still, there are actually some people out there with this name!
Doesn’t Eunice just sound like the most mind-numbingly boring old guy? Not an older gentleman who’s got plenty of interesting stories to tell, just really, really dull.
Everyone thinks of a hillbilly from the US Deep South. It’s a stereotype, sure. But you can’t picture a world leader called Cletus, can you?
Blythe is definitely friends with Eunice.
This one feels really sharp and harsh to say. Plus, is that final syllable ‘tin’, ‘teen’ or ‘tyne’?
Burt is a slightly grumpy old man, with a white moustache and pipe. He wears a thick, red and black flannel shirt and a baker boy hat. He complains every time his son says ‘no’ when he asks if he can take his grandson out hunting, and argues that children are ‘too soft these days’. Burt isn’t a cute baby.
The person who mentioned this name to me said, “It just makes me think of stinking, manky feet”. And I had absolutely no argument against that justification.
You will only think of Jeremy Clarkson. You may well like Jeremy Clarkson, but you don’t want to picture that little curly afro of hair on your newborn baby.
This is quite a popular one, particularly in North America. But it actually means “bald” and we know by now that our names play a role in determining our life. So your child will end up bald.
Everyone knows Jason is spelled “Jason”. It’s not one of those names that is known for having different spellings. So no one will ever ask your son ‘Is that with or without a Y?’, and like a lot of the names on this list, he’ll suffer a lifetime of people spelling his name wrong.
I always think of Seth Rogen when I hear the name Seth, and so think of it as being funny, goofy, entertaining. Turns out it actually has a much darker meaning. It’s a derivative of Set or Suetukah, the Egyptian god of chaos, war and storms. Yikes!
I’ll admit, I thought of it as quite an old name. But I didn’t expect it to mean “stinking hair”.
Quite a similar name to Brendan, but there’s no smelly hair here. Instead, it’s sorrow and sadness.
I actually know of a child called Huxley. It actually means “inhospitable place”. That’s not what you want for your baby boy.
“Deformed head”. I don’t know what else to say. Kennedy means “deformed head”. What more do you need?
Another one of those long-lasting biblical names but it has quite a sinister meaning behind it - it seems Jacob is a “supplanter”.
I honestly don’t really know what to say with this one. Someone explained they went to school with someone called….Llewrehtom. Apparently the boy always thought it was Welsh. I’m Welsh - I’ve never heard of it before. My wife’s first language is Welsh - she’s never heard of it. We couldn’t even decipher how you’d pronounce it. I’m baffled.
Fans of WWE in the 90s may be drawn to legendary cult hero referee Earl Hebner when they see this name. Otherwise, it’s perhaps the single oldest sounding name in human history. I’m convinced there has never been a baby Earl. They simply spring out of the padding of their wingback chairs at age of 50.
Sure, you might think of Bruce Willis. And he’s cool, right? Unfortunately it’s just another one that’s a bit too old now.
Please just don’t do it. It is now impossible to hear the name Boris without thinking of another former UK Prime Minister. And frankly, I doubt any parent wants anyone to picture Boris Johnson when meeting their child, regardless of your political persuasions.
If you needed any sign that a parent has tried really hard to make their child REALLY cool from birth, it’s if they named him Dragon. Also, it’s really not cool when all I can think of is this nasally pronunciation from Friends.
Okay, you like The Hunger Games. Fine. But there’s just no need to spell it like this, especially when Jennifer Lawrence pronounces the ‘t’ very softly, almost like ‘Peeda’ for all four films.
The problem with giving your child the same, relatively uncommon name as a very high profile individual is that people are going to assume, or at least ask if, they’re named after said person. Add in the fact that said person is an extremely divisive figure, and you’re setting your child up for a lot of problems.
24. X Æ A-Xii
If you have absolutely no idea what this is about, this is Elon Musk’s child. It’s pronounced “X-Ash-A12”. According to his explanation, ‘X’ is “the unknown variable”, Æ is Elven (yep, we’re onto Elves now) spelling of AI, which is the word for ‘love’ in several languages. And finally A-12 is the “precursor to the SR-17”, a stealth reconnaissance plane used by the CIA during the Cold War, and Elon’s favourite plane.
I don’t know, either.
This seriously exists. Now I know Elon Musk has a cult-esque following, but imagine bringing life into the world and naming it after a car.
Thor feels like one of those ‘try hard’ names, like Dragon. You’re just trying to mould your child into a demi-god physique before they can say ‘hammer’.
The other side of the coin, Loki feels like you’re trying to be cool but not too cool by going for the ‘less cool’ brother. Plus he’s the God of Mischief. Kids get up to enough mischief as it is, without being intrinsically linked to the God of it for life.
This spelling makes no sense. Okay, with the traditional spelling of “Alexander”, you usually end up sounding a “Z” sound. But if you wanted to spell it that way, you’d do “Alekzander”. This way you actually end up with “Alex” and “Zander”. It’s just plain messy.
The Omen = Damien = the Devil. In fact, Only Fools and Horses did a whole long-running storyline/gag where Rodney believed his nephew Damien was the Devil.
Similarly to Veruca, nothing says ‘I love my child’ like naming them after a fictional character notorious for being a spoiled little brat and all-round horrible person.
I was genuinely shocked when I found people called Lucifer. But, believe it or not, some parents have literally named their child after the Devil.
People already have a hard enough time pronouncing Xavier as it is, so why throw in another spelling to the mix? You get ‘Ek-zay-vee-uh’, ‘Ek-zay-vee-air’, ‘Zav-ee-uh’, ‘Zav-ee-air’, ‘Zay-vee-uh, ‘Zay-vee-air’. Adding in a rare spelling just adds to the problem.
Another name that spiked in popularity thanks to Game of Thrones. My wife actually wanted to name our son Theon - but there are three major problems. First, it’s overused. Second, GoT is super tainted after the final season. Thirdly, the character (spoiler alert) HAS HIS PENIS CUT OFF!
It comes from a Gaelic word meaning ‘crooked nose’. It’s not the worst meaning in the world, but who wants to answer “crooked nose” when talking about name meanings.
Okay, we get it. You want your son to grow up to be A MAN. Nothing screams toxic masculinity more than naming your child after a loud, powerful, gurgling, dirty fuel.
Blake is another one of those names that is quite popular (particularly in the US) but has a dark meaning. No, literally, it means “dark”.
Plus it makes me think of this legendary Key & Peele sketch (if you haven't seen this before, please please make time to watch it).
Exactly the same reasons as “Princess”. No one should ever be called Prince unless they’re an actual Prince, and even then, that’s up for debate depending on your stance on the monarchy!
Are we talking ‘Michael’ or ‘Mikel’, here?
Let me guess, you like the spelling ‘Kristoff’ (a very normal, Scandinavian name) but like the longer ‘Christopher’. Combine the two and you’ve got your perfect name! Except when most people see ‘off’ or ‘offer’, they’re going to pronounce it that way. And suddenly you’ve got yourself a little baby ‘Krist-offer’ which is horribly jarring to say.
Among the many drawbacks The Kardashians have brought to modern society (personal views definitely coming out on this one), the unnecessary switching of Cs to Ks is infuriating. Not only that, but this is the spelling of a turtle character from the Mario world!
On that note, unless you’re Italian, your son is going to spend their whole life listening to “It’sa me, Mario!”, or jokes about plumbing, or ‘Where’s your moustache?’ jibes.
Everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE, pictures and hears one thing when they hear the name ‘Homer’.
Presumably the parents of little baby Arson gave him that name because it sounds like ‘our son’, and weren’t aware that the act of arson is to DELIBERATELY SET SOMETHING ON FIRE!
I’ll admit, I’d never heard of this one before. But it turns out five boys were named Carrion in the 140 years leading up to 2019. I just think of carry-on luggage, like most would nowadays. But it actually means “decaying flesh of dead animals” which is just lovely.
Why? Just why!? Please someone explain it to me.
47. Uncle Sam
Presumably the parents were chanting ‘USA! USA!’ when he was born. And instead of crying, Uncle Sam left the womb singing ‘Star Spangled Banner’ as he was wrapped in the Stars and Stripes instead of a blanket. Plus, what happens when he becomes an uncle? Do his nieces and nephews call him Uncle Uncle Sam?!
48. Number 16 Bus Shelter
I’m actually lost for words. I have no idea if it was a boy or a girl (it feels more boy) but some parents in New Zealand were actually allowed to register their child’s name as “Number 16 Bus Shelter”. You know some people name their child after where they were conceived; perhaps ‘Paris’, ‘Victoria’, ‘Sydney’ or ‘Florence’? Maybe that’s what these parents were going for.
I wish you could see me writing this. I stared at the screen for a good three minutes with my head in my hands. I have nothing for this name, no witty remarks. Just the question ‘why?’.
Imagine sitting in class nearly every day of your childhood for the register and hearing, “Bobby? Here. Jessica? Here. Sam? Here. Vagina?”
WHY?! WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY!? What possible justification could you possibly have for naming your son (and I checked, it was a boy) VAGINA?!
Well, there’s nothing like showing your baby love than LITERALLY CALLING HIM ‘MISTAKE’.
This is actually a relatively common Arabic and Muslim name, with a very nice meaning - ‘Smiling moon”. But it appears to have been picked up in western, English-speaking countries and it meaning gets totally overridden for obvious reasons.
Abie is a dog’s name, right? I’ve never not met an Albie that isn’t a dog, usually a white labrador…
What, after the sixth child you just couldn’t be bothered to think of any more names?
…and the Chipmunks. Nothing different will ever follow the name Alvin.
Nothing screams “I’m rich” like giving your son the name of one of the most expensive and luxurious cars in the world. Ironically, some argue that Bentleys are commonly associated with football players in England now, and as a result have lost a bit of their ‘class’.
What do you think?
Have we missed any glaringly obvious ugly names? Maybe you’ve got one of these names and you didn’t know its meaning (we’re looking at you, crooked-nose Camerons!). Let us know in the comments below.
How did we choose this list?
As you may have guessed, this has been an entirely unscientific process!
We asked just about everyone we could. Colleagues, friends, family, online community groups - this writer even spent a day working at the BBC in Cardiff and walked around the entire building during lunch. We didn’t just ask them for the name, but their reason why where that range of influence factors showed up. Some said it was their childhood bully, some liked the name but not the spelling, some just didn’t like how it sounded, some offered up stereotypes of the name, and some came up with fairly comical reasons.
We also spent plenty of time scouring the internet for the meanings of names - especially some of the more common and popular ones! And that’s where some of the more mythological tales came into things.
Where possible, we’ve tried to avoid insulting stereotypes and instead focus on the meaning behind the name. For example, one person we spoke to suggested a name (we won’t say which name!). When asked for their reason, this person said “I’ve never, ever met a nice ___. They’re just total bitches and most of them are sluts.”.
Are there more negative meanings for girls’ or boys’ names?
Interesting you mention that.
We spent a lot of time researching the meanings behind names. It was really fascinating to see some of the sometimes haunting meanings behind even some of the most popular names. Like Rebecca has links to “noose”... you know, that thing used to hang people!
But one thing was noticeable in that research - there were more girls names with clear (and varied) negative meanings. That could actually be a really interesting historical social commentary, whereby women have historically been treated as second class citizens and therefore their names were more likely to be tarnished with negative meaning.
Interestingly, there were quite a lot of boys’ names that mean “dark” or some variation, but it didn’t feel overly interesting to keep saying ‘this means dark, this one also means dark, and this one too’.
If you’re interested, here are some of the dark boys names…
Cary, Darcy, Donahue, Donovan, Douglas, Doyle, Duncan, Kieran, among others.
Why are some baby names considered ugly?
Names are entirely subjective and so there’s no definitive answer for what makes a bad name. As we’ve seen in the list, some names are really popular and considered to be lovely, but have sinister connotations.
There’s a whole range of things that influence our perception and feelings about certain names. Religion or cultural beliefs, current affairs, history, heritage, popular culture, personal experiences, and more can all impact your opinion on names.
Which baby names should be avoided?
Again, this is purely subjective but there are perhaps some things we can suggest.
Avoid anything that increases the risk of your child being bullied. Ie. All those little boys called Theon are probably going to experience their entire teenage years facing ‘jokes’ about not having a penis. Or, Vagina!!!
Don’t try to come up with something unique just for the sake of it. You might end up with something truly ridiculous (Elon Musk, I’m looking at you). And the science shows truly unique names can sometimes lead to lower performance in education.Try to avoid names influenced by trends or popular culture. Granted, plenty of names go in and out of fashion. But trends end and popular culture will not only be oversaturated, but will also probably turn unpopular at some point.