Reclaim the name

I’ve long wanted to start a running list of names that need to be reclaimed from unfortunate or undesirable associations. These are the ones I’ve already blogged about:

And I want to add Lydia, because there are some people (my husband included, but I’ve seen it mentioned with some frequency on name boards) who won’t consider it because of the unlikable Lydia Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. (In fact, I added that to the Lydia entry in the Baby Name Wizard’s Namipedia, and the response was pretty funny:

My husband won’t consider Lydia, because of the unlikable Lydia Bennett in “Pride and Prejudice.”

Your husband read Pride and Prejudice? Kudos on snagging a literate one.

Gosh — have to agree — very impressive! I’d be willing to concede just for the fact he’d read it and made the connection! Well done, you! 🙂

😀

We do, however, love Lidia Bastianich, so maybe the spelling change would be enough? I’ll have to ask him and get back to you. (I wrote good things about Lydia here.)

Do any of you have names to add? I’m thinking more like traditional, established names (not Nevaeh-type names) that regularly receive a negative reaction, whether on name boards or in real life, rather than names you have a particular personal aversion to, but I’d actually love to hear those too! Actually — wait on that, I’ll do a different post about that. For now — what names would you add to a “Reclaim the name” list?

77 thoughts on “Reclaim the name

  1. Rosemary! My husband still refuses to consider it because of the book/movie “Rosemary’s Baby.”

    I would have associated Lydia with Beetlejuice instead of P&P, myself.

    I struggled with naming our youngest son Peter because I had a nightmare boss ~10 years ago named Peter. But I finally decided I wasn’t going to let a jerk from my past ruin a perfectly good name, and I’m so glad I relented. The name fits him perfectly!

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    • I had a terrible manager named John once upon a time, but still named my second son that. I actually wanted to name him Peter! But my husband vetoed it because of the phallus thing and our last name being a common nickname for other male parts. 😭😭😭😭😭

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  2. Can I ask what exactly is so awful about Lydia Bennett? Like yeah, she’s kinda a ditz, but what about that makes the name unusable? (Maybe I’m just not clearly remembering her character, it’s been a while since I read the book. I much prefer Emma by Jane Austen_.

    As for other names to add: Calvin!! Maybe Molly too because of the the unfortunate drug association.

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    • Well, she runs off with a terrible lout of a man that she’s not married to and causes her family’s name to be dragged through the mud, and then Darcy has to pay to bail them out and force the guy to marry her now that she has been publicly dishonored and had her reputation ruined. In those days you just did not go around having premarital sex without consequences rippling out beyond even your own reputation.

      She very much ruined the name Lydia for me, although I’ll admit it wasn’t a favorite anyway.

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      • Hmmm, maybe I just never put that much thought into her plot line or never really cared that much about it? I mean, I’ve read the book so I know it, but I guess I never put that much weight on her as a character? I read it for school and we very much focused more on Elizabeth and Jane.

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      • Weird…her plot line is inextricably connected with Elizabeth’s and directly contributed to Elizabeth ultimately getting together with Darcy…. His aid to Lydia is one of the major things that makes Elizabeth start to see him differently, even though it’s also humiliating.

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      • Yeah, idk. My English teacher my junior year was iffy. We only spent about 2 weeks on the book so we could move on to others. Which meant we didn’t really get to go into the second half very closely because he got caught up in the beginning then we ran out of time 😦 And he liked focusing on the sisterly relationship between Jane and Elizabeth. I wish we had had more time to deal with it. Maybe I’ll reread it over Christmas break and see how I feel about the character Lydia then.

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      • I definitely will! I do remember liking it even though we had to read it so quickly and being disappointed that we didn’t have much time to get into it

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      • It’s not so much what Lydia actually did that bothers me, as her personality. She’s thoughtless, promiscuous (for her day, at least), pushy, selfish, shallow, immature, rather stupid… That said, I have a little niece named Lydia and she is ADORABLE, and I never think of the Pride and Prejudice Lydia when I think of her, AND I read my copy so many times really good bits fell out.

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  3. A lot of people associate Damian with evil/the devil because of the movie The Omen but it’s a great Saint name! I really think it needs to be reclaimed!!!

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  4. Casper (ghost), Felix (cat), Peter (phallus), Fiona (ogre—though we did use this name during the Decade of Shrek and have pretty successfully shrugged off comments), Katrina (hurricane)….those are the main ones I’m thinking of, but I’m sure there are plenty more.

    Also, I agree, you have a husband who’s read P&P and formed a name opinion based on it? GO WITH IT. You are SOOOO lucky. 😉😂

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  5. Gwyneth (Paltrow, obvs). I love this name, but man, she OWNS it. Plus her two most famous exes are my secret boyfriends (Chris & Brad ☺️), so I feel it may not be very nice of me to use it. LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!! 😂😂😂

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  6. Harry!! It’s not a negative connotation, but I think if *I* named a baby Harry, everyone would assume I was naming him after Harry Potter. Kind of unfortunate for the many people who love the books but loved the name Harry (or Henry) outside of the series. This would probably happen with Hermione, too, but I think less people are inclined to name their babies Hermione in the first place (although, if Harry Potter wasn’t so huge, I think Hermione would be exactly the kind of name parents look for today).

    Also, Edward. I like the name (it’s classy and manly and so many good nicknames!), but I think we all automatically call Edward Cullen to mind.

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    • I love the name Hermione. And Ariadne. And both are saints! But I think Hermiome has a really strong HP connection and I wonder if Ariadne has a strong connection to Inception? Or have people forgotten that already?

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      • I think you’re probably safe with Ariadne since it’s been a few years and Inception isn’t as… ingrained? in our lives as HP lol. At first I thought you said “Ariana,” which is another name that’s in Harry Potter (and I think sometimes Saint Ariadne is referred to as Ariana, though not sure) that maybe shouldn’t be on the reclaim list but might be harder to use for parents now because it’s associated with Ariana Grande – not a bad thing, just sort of frustrating if you like the name or chose it for other reasons. I have a newborn cousin named Ariana and another baby cousin with the middle name Ariana – not a family name, and the moms are on opposite sides of the family. But neither baby, as far as I know!, was named for the singer. 🙂

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      • I do think Ariadne and Ariana are variants of each other! Huh, Ariana Grande … I know next to nothing about her except she’s got that awesome ponytail … she wouldn’t be on my mind at all if I were naming a baby Ariana … good to know!

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    • Love, love Hermione, and yeah, can’t use it because of the HP association. And I’m not even a Potter fan!
      Ariadne is pretty too, but I always think of it in a Cockney accent (I read too many British murder-mysteries). “Ariadne.” “‘Arry ‘ad what now?” Pity.

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      • Well, as you know, we’re pretty stuck on middle names for Grace that don’t sound too vanilla. What do you think? Too crazy? Obviously all of our friends would know which Madonnna we were referring to, but not as sure about the rest of the people she’d run into in her life.

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      • I know! This is a tough one. I really really love it, and I definitely think Madonna needs to be reclaimed. I mean, Our Lady! It’s so beautiful! And that’s who Madonna-the-singer was named for too. I mean, you know middle names — they can be so hidden and secret, you know? Mine is fairly unusual (Morna) but only the people who know it, know it. Otherwise everyone assumes it’s Marie, because M is such a common middle initial for a girl. If you did Grace Madonna, she’d be Grace M., and I bet a lot of people would just assume Marie.

        This has made me think — what do you think of Magdalen(e)/(a)? It’s got a similar sound and rhythm to Madonna …

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  7. Honestly, I am so mad a main character from 50 shades of grey has the name Christian. So mad. Anastasia is also lovely (and often a part of mass in the litany), but nope.

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  8. Seconding Calvin and Damian. Probably much lesser-known, but I love the name Romola but my husband won’t consider it because he was (is?) a Trekkie and apparently there is some group called Romulans, and he doesn’t want to think of that every time he says his daugher’s name. I, on the other hand, having never seen a single Star Trek episode, still think it’s a beautiful and unusual name.

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  9. I was on a naming forum awhile ago where someone asked if “Lolita” was redeemable, because she thought it was really cute. Everyone–EVERYONE–said no, don’t do it, pleeeeeease don’t do it. I venture to say that that particular name is ruined for good and ever.

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  10. Many traditional German and Russian names have the problem of “fat opera singer” association: Olga, Hildegarde, Inge, Sigrid, Kostanze, etc. Greta actually seems to be recovering from that association quite nicely and becoming a sweet name again.

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  11. Felix and Simon were the first that came to my mind. I love Simon but the association with the Simon says game and Simon cowell (American idol) always eliminate it from our list.

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  12. Um, I know this is a Catholic naming blog, but I think Lydia is off of most people’s lists because it rhymes with a std. Perhaps people are using a high brow reason that sounds better at dinner parties.

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  13. Because I’m a weirdo who is procrastinating studying for finals, I went through my computer and reread my essay and notes from when I studied P&P four years ago (the power of Dropbox), because I wanted to know why I didn’t really get the name Lydia ruined for me from it.

    Through reading all of it, I think that while the character bugged me, I just never really connected her with her name. (I legit have “wow, this girl is awful, too bad she has such a nice name” written in my notes–yay 16 year old Grace for deep insights.) She wasn’t such an awful person to me, I guess, that her name and her “badness” connected. Maybe I just liked the name enough when I was 16 to disconnect her from it? Or maybe because I didn’t see her as a purposefully malicious character I never aligned her with characters like Iago from Othello or Estella from Great Expectations (although, weirdly, still love the name Estella), so her name wasn’t ruined?

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    • Huh, that’s really interesting — I don’t feel the same amount of negativity toward/associated with Estella as I do with Lydia and, even more so, Iago. Interesting! (I also LOVE that you had that written in your notes! Haha!)

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  14. Juliet and Romeo! I think people are staring to get past it with Juliet but I know some people won’t use them because of the tragic story. Same with Ophelia which is sad because I think it’s a great alternative to Sophia! Delilah has some negative connotation in the bible I believe but I’m not 100% sure what it is. These are all great names and should be reclaimed.

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  15. I must have had a picture book growing up about Penelope the pig, because as much as I would otherwise like the name… I can’t get past the fact it sounds like the name for a pig

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  16. My daughter is Lydia. More often than P&P, I get “the Tattooed Lady”, which almost turned me off the name. We love the name, and it totally suits our kiddo. The Biblical association of Lydia being the first European Christian and an independent sort makes it easy to embrace this name and shut down the haters.

    Regina (re-gee-na) is a name I’d like to reclaim from those who think it’s too close to a body part.

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