Trends in baby names come and go and it makes sense that the names we fell in love with a decade ago (shoutout to Lily and Joshua, the bulk of whom are in 5th and 6th grade now) are no longer topping the lists. In 2021, that honour goes to Charlotte and Oliver – two names that have ruled the roost for nearly eight years now.
What goes up must come down
But it’s not just celebs and royal families that cause these baby name trends, cultural events can impact the popularity of baby names too, often in a less positive way.
Take Teddy for example – short for Theodore. It’s currently sitting at 13 in the top baby name lists this year. But Theodore was nowhere near the top 100 names eight years ago. Indeed, the last time it was popular appeared to be in the 1920s.
I know this because I named my son Teddy and was proud of its uniqueness. I named him after a character in my favourite book as a kid – Little Women. Theodore Lawrence was called ‘Teddy’ by his neighbour and bestie, Jo March.
But, as serial killer documentaries and podcasts exploded in popularity over the last five or so years, the reason the name had fallen out of fashion until very recently suddenly began to dawn on me: Ted Bundy. The man responsible for violently murdering at least 30 women across seven US states before finally being caught and then executed in 1989.
The man whom Hannibal Lecter was loosely based on. Yeah, awesome.
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No wonder nobody named their kid Ted in the 1980s, 1990s or even early 2000s. It took a generation to get over the trauma associated with the name.
All of which is to say, if you named your kid one of these names in the list below, or if it’s your name – you’re not alone. And it will probably come back around, as Teddy did, to the top of the charts in a few … decades!
Baby names you should probably avoid right now
Alexa is a gorgeous name for girls. Model and journalist Alexa Chung is beautiful and clever, so if that’s your association, I get it. But according to Amazon, since Alexa – the smart speaker that responds to voice commands – first launched in 2018, Australia has seen a huge rise in the number of households embracing it, with one in six homes now owning a smart speaker.
I’m not saying you can’t call your kid Alexa, I’m just saying it might get confusing in the future.
A lovely name that, according to McCrindle Research, was one of Australia’s most popular girl’s names for 37 years from 1950 to 1986. THIRTY SEVEN YEARS!
“The name dominated the baby girls name list for ten straight years from 1961 to 1970 when it was either the first or second most popular name. For five of these years (1963-1968), it ranked number one.”
So, it’s with deep sympathy I must inform you that the name Karen is now a synonym for middle-aged, racist, female entitlement. It began in 2018 when middle-aged white women in the US began calling the police on black people for no discernible reason. One woman called the police on an eight-year-old black child for selling water; another called the police on a black family enjoying a barbecue. Use of the name as shorthand for middle-aged ignorance has now spread to include any woman between 45 and 65 who refuses to wear a mask. Best put this name on the back-burner until at least 2040.
TikTok Mum explains kids’ names of the future:
Super cute! So cute, in fact, that it cracked the top 10 baby boys’ names list in 2016.
But then in 2017, both the New York Times and the New Yorker reported that more than 20 women, many of them famous actresses, were accusing then Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and rape. He was formally charged in 2018 and in 2020 he was officially convicted.
He’s currently in jail, but the name? Yeah, the name might not be your best choice right now.
It used to be that the worst association you could have to the name Delta was the highly emotional Australian singer, and some time TV host, Delta Goodrem. But all that’s changed in the last three months, since the Delta variant of coronavirus arrived in Australia in mid-June 2021, causing a nation-wide lockdown and a record-breaking number of cases and deaths.
A shame for this pretty name to be so maligned, but probably a baby name to leave off the list for a while.
Yeah, it should go without saying that this name is for a body part and not to be used for any other purpose. But apparently, there are parents out there who are naming their babies Vagina. I know the headline of this article is about baby names you may want to avoid ‘right now’ but I think we can safely extend this one to – not now, not ever.
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