The most hated baby names in America
Names that are hard to spell or were names that were originally used for another gender are among the least popular for newborns.
Fri, Apr 29 2011 at 9:47 AM EST
It turns out that in the case of names, love and hate aren't mutually exclusive. A new informal survey of the most disliked names in America finds that popularity often breeds backlash, as a quick track to baby-name fame seems to also trigger hate for that name. Among the most-hated "trendy" names are Jayden, Brayden, Madison and Addison.
The most commonly cited name that put people's teeth on edge was Nevaeh, or "heaven" spelled backward. That name didn't exist until the 1990s, but it took off in popularity in 2003, shooting from the 150th most common baby name in that year to the 31st most popular in 2007 (as of 2009, it stood at No. 34).
"Nevaeh in particular seems to stand as this symbol … for what people don't like in modern baby names," Laura Wattenberg, author of "The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby" (Three Rivers Press, 2005), told LiveScience.
The most hated baby names
Wattenberg did the informal survey of hated names for her blog, The Baby Name Wizard. She scoured general-interest message boards online, looking for conversations about baby names that make people cringe. She included only two message boards that were specifically for baby names, because name enthusiasts tend to know trends and might skew the results. The other boards included a motorcycle travel forum, a video game fan board and several parenting forums. The participants skewed female and under the age of 60, Wattenberg said. All told, more than 1,500 names were cited. Wattenberg calculated which names came up the most. [See the list of most hated boy and girl names]
Wattenberg is quick to point out that the survey isn't scientific, but it does have the advantage of capturing the names people spontaneously hate. A formal survey that gave people an option to rank names would likely bias people by putting ideas into their heads, Wattenberg said.
The survey also turned up a few interesting trends. The first is that people hate gender-bending names, particularly when a masculine name becomes feminine, as with Madison (which tied for second-most-hated for boys with 16 separate mentions) and Addison (which tied for sixth with eight mentions). They also hate names they can't spell, including Kaitlyn, which got eight mentions and tied for sixth. (People say "Caitlin" is fine because it's traditional, Wattenberg said, though the original Irish pronunciation of that spelling would be closer to "Kathleen.")