Guilty pleasure names

Charlotte from To Harriet Louise mentioned her list of “guilty pleasure names” the other day and now I’m dying to know what they are! And yours too!

By “guilty pleasure” I mean names you kinda really love even though, for whatever reason, you could never see yourself actually choosing them for your own children. Mine include:


I know there’s a bunch more — I’ll add in the comments as I think of them. Let me hear what you have! I bet I’ll be adding to my own list after reading yours. 🙂

(Also — the Jennifer Fulwiler show went really well yesterday!! I was so nervous but once we started talking it was so fine. She’s a great host — she really directed the conversation and there weren’t any awkward pauses … she had great thoughts and questions … and I think she liked my ideas for her! If I make it into her highlights podcast, I’ll definitely post it when it’s available!)


61 thoughts on “Guilty pleasure names

  1. I have always wanted to use Thane. I love love love Thane Maximilian. It sounds a little too rhymey with our last name, though. Same with Tierney for a girl. I love it, but it doesn’t sound right!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I could totally deal with the syrup, but every time Jemima comes up on name boards at least one person mentions the “Mammy persona” issue — basically that to use it would be racist. What you all think of that?


      • Yup, I was going to comment on that but I completely forgot. There’s a big problem with Jemima being a racist name in the United States. Because Aunt Jemima was a “nickname” used for older female house slaves. And it was not a nice, loving nickname.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I guess when I say syrup, I’m really referring to the racist persona that the syrup uses, so kind of one and the same for me. It seems weird that a racist connotation from over 100 years lives on—I think it’s been partially perpetuated BY the syrup. 😒

        Liked by 1 person

      • If we get chickens this year, I might try to convince my crew to let me name one Jemima. It’d totally be ok for a chicken, right?!

        Though we’re only allowed 6 hens and I think 6 names have already been selected—Elsa, Anna, Featherwing, Lúthien, Nephredil, and Mike—but maybe they’ll sacrifice one of the Tolkien names (or one of the Frozen names) for mama?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So I don’t keep a written list of these and I think I only have girls’ names that qualify for guilty pleasures. If I think of any boys’ names I’ll add them later. My biggest one is Apple, though. I really love this name and wish there were a way for it to somehow move from guilty pleasure to a real contender, but let’s be real. Apple Martin is probably the most maligned of all celebrity names out there, even though I think it’s far from the worst!

    So, here’s my list:

    And, I suppose Gwyneth could be a guilty pleasure choice, too. I consider it not to be, and on my “real list”, but I don’t know how I could ever use it because of GP. I love it though, it has all these elements that are so beautiful to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Grace – I’ve seen you comment about Gwyneth before and had to chime in. I think it’s a lovely name, and if you love it, you should absolutely consider using it someday! I (obviously) know who Gwyneth Paltrow is, but honestly I don’t immediately associate the name with her. I would love to meet a little Gwyneth. Just my two cents 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for your encouragement! I may hang onto it. I am 38 though and the chances of my having very many more babies is probably low. Lol! It really is such a lovely name, though!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Grace- I wish I could message you somehow. I was just reading a nameberry blog post about girl G names and the author spoke very favorably about Gwyneth; I immediately thought of you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • OK – this seemed like a fun challenge. The Dictionary of Patron Saint’s Names often makes some interesting connections to names that don’t seem to have a saint. So if you are up for some saintly calisthenics, here is a little stretch the author shares on Brooks/Brooke.

      Brook means “stream” and bourne means “stream” – there is a Bl. Thomas Welbourne, English martyr (1605)

      Also, arroyo is Spanish for brook (or wash) and is a dry creek bed that fills when it rains. The aforementioned dictionary says this can lead to St. Joachim Royo, a Spanish Dominican priest who ministered in China and was martyred there in 1748 – part of the Martyrs of China canonized by JPII in 2000.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Faustina
    Gianna (maybe as a middle name someday, but I don’t want to use it for a first name because we already have a Gabriel and I don’t like to repeat first initials for labeling purposes :P)
    Benedict (I LOVE Benedict but my husband doesn’t… sigh)
    Therese (love the name but won’t use it due to a negative association)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I think my original comment got eaten but yes my list is looong:

    Girl names

    Which makes me think of Hedwig
    Lucretia (after Lucretia Mott)

    Boy names


    Gender-Neutral names


    The ones with a * next to them are only borderline guilty pleasure names, and I can see myself using them. Some, like Agatha and Miriam, were only on here because they were “old lady names” but I’ve gotten over that. (I also like Neville and Pepper, but don’t know if I’d use them or not!)

    I love Tennyson, Maple, and Gulliver!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charlotte, I’m so sorry about your comments! I was just looking through my spam folder and saw your attempts to leave this comment — I have no idea what that’s about! Anyway, you have a great list!!


  5. My husband isn’t a family-names namer, but I would *love* boys named Ellis Wilson, Kolbe Martin, and Michael Anthony. None of them (or any combo of those 6) make his list because they have grandparent/surnames/uncle names in them, and some annoying associations. Sigh. I keep them on my baby name list knowing they’ll never actually be used. Someone else, use them for me! Maybe because my husband has 3 brothers, but all the lovely, rather obscure girl names I think he’s going to squash because they aren’t mainstream (Mireille, Zelie, or Gloria, as example), have stayed on the list! I’d really, really like a little Zelie Collette or Zelie Catherine, which isn’t top of his list, but he’s not adamantly, “no child of mine can be named that” the way he is with those boy names. I also like the name Avery but not only is there no saint…there’s no MEANING that I’ve found, and as nice as a name sounds, it either has to have a meaning or a saintly namesake to make our cut. (We have Hanna Marie, Angèle Thérèse, Nadia Renée, Leo Sebastian & #5 on the way) So I think if I were an author, I’d have an Avery, Ellis & Kolbe somewhere in main characters just so I could interact with them. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Regarding Avery…some more saintly calisthenics from the Dictionary of Patron Saints’ Names. The author ties the name Avery to Alfred – listing it as a variation that comes from it. There are some saintly Alfred connections. There is St. Alfred the Great, king of Wessex (848-899). Also, Alfred is the given name of St. Andre Bessette, the Holy Cross Brother from Canada recently canonized. There is a St. Aelfeach, which is some variation on Alfred and the authors claims is sometimes called St. Avery though I can’t find anything to back that part up.

      The author also says Avery could have the patron Bl. Everard Hanse, English martyr (1581).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a fun topic! I love Polly, Pierce, Primrose, Pilar, and Paloma, but our last name begins with a P and I don’t love the PP initials. Plus, Planned Parenthood. Boo. I also LOVE Carmel (car-MELL) but I would cringe every time someone pronounced it CAR-mel. I like Rhys on paper, but not pronounced, and the same with Zelie. Anyway, these are all moot bc my husband would never go for any of them, but I still dream about Polly, and maybe could get over the initials, as long as we were careful with the middle one. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Oooo this is so fun!! I have so many!!

    Brayden, Caden, Mason
    Mackenzie, Skylar, Kennedy

    Esmeralda, Esperanza

    Maximilian, Benedict

    Ariadne, Athena

    I kind of tried to group them a little bit into categories just to keep my mind straight.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yes, Scholastica! That definitely counts as a guilty one for me too! Also, Crescentia!

      I love Esperanza too but don’t think I would ever use it, sigh.

      Anyway on with my list:

      Vincenza, I’ve loved this name since I saw it in a book with the nickname Enza, but I wouldn’t use it unless I lived in Italy, hearing it pronounced as Vin-sen-za or something instead of Vin-CHEN-za would upset me.

      Eirwen (Air-wen)

      Isabel. This probably shouldn’t count, loads of people use this one of course, but everyone around here, including me pronounces it Izzable if they’re not really concentrating, which I don’t like at all.

      Ina. This could be short for so many names I know, but my grandmother knows of someone named Archibaldina, called Ina, and now that occurs to me every time I hear the name.

      Joaquin. Has the similar issue to Vincenza. I’d only use this if I lived in a Spanish speaking country, otherwise the overwhelming association is Joaquin Phoenix, who I do like but…


      That list was fun to think of! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    • How do you say Cuthbert? I say CUTH-bert and I’ve never seen it pronounced any other way but my husband and I have a long-running conversation where he insists CYOOTH-bert is legit. I told him no one ever anywhere has ever said it his way (which I know is a ridiculous claim because how could I really know) and he says he *will* find someone someday who says it that way! 😀


      • Haha! I say it CUTH-bert like you, but I honestly have never heard it said by someone from that part of the world, so who knows? I feel like a lot of my imagined pronunciations for Celtic/British names have been shattered. 😉

        I am going off how they said Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert in the Anne of Green Gables movies. That part of Canada was largely settled by Scotch/Irish, after all.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I have love love loved reading all of your lists! So many amazing names on here!! I thought of a few more of my own:

    I know there’s more! I’ll keep adding! And please all feel free to add to this post whenever you think of more — it’s fun to have this big repository of guilty pleasure names!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Many of mine are only guilty because they repeat first initials/sounds which I just don’t care for because my husband + 3 sibs and all of their maternal cousins have sib groups with the same initials. It’s just a LOT (the sib groups have different initials, but Kathleen/Kurt/Karl/Kris…Barry/Brian/Bethany or Beth, Jake/Jill is nothing I/we want to carry on as a tradition) and then others we wouldn’t use because of people we know or pronunciation in US English:

    Agnes, Antonia, Beatrice, Camilla/Camille, Catherine, Cecilia, Constance, Delphine, Dominique, Eugenie, Frances or Francesca, Francoise (no option of accent marks on this device! WAH!), Frederique, Giovanna, Gisele, Graciella, Helena/Helene, Honor/Honora/Honore, Hyacinth, Isidora, Juliette, Justina (maybe a realistic possibility, but probably not with our other girls’ names although it was my great gram’s middle name), Katharine, Louisa/Louise, Lucienne, Maeve, Martina, Mathilde, Maude, Melanie, Mercy, Milana, Nadia, Natasha, Neve/Neva (great aunt’s name), Odile, Paschale, Paulina, Pearl, Petra, Phillippa, Philomena, Pilar, Priscilla, Renata/Renate, Roisin, Rose _____ (Rose Philippine, Rose Maria Benedetta), Sabine, Salome, Sebastienne, Severine, Therese (also with accents), Veronica, Virginia,

    Ambrose, Anselm, Balthazar, Boniface, Clement, Cyprian, Dermot, Desmond, Didier, Fabian, Felix, Gideon, Gilead, all the Gian_____ double names like Giancarlo, Gregory, Guillaume, Graham because our last name sounds a lot like cracker!), Ignatius, Irenaeus, James, Jameson, John_____ names (BIL and Nephew are Jon Andrew and Jon Andrew, Jr), Jonas, Laszlo, Leander, Linus, Louis, Martin, Peregrine, Pius, Sebastian, Severin, Soter, Tarquin, Theodore, Yves

    Liked by 2 people

      • It’s kind of a long list which, when I think about it, is partially a shame (like, why not?! on some of ’em) but pretty much sums up how much I love names! I forget if I already said this, but I did a LOT of babysitting before most people had cable and um, I didn’t love Math homework THAT much. Most families had a baby name book on the shelf in the living/family room so I would pore through those during those endless hours of kids sleeping!

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Ok wow, Hollyce basically has my whole list! Especially Delphine, Gisele, Ottilie, Ondine-type names. Fleur, Zelie, Mielle, any of those French names. ❤

    I've used a ton of names for animals that DH wouldnt agree to, or that I couldn't find a patron saint for.



    Mona (short for Mon Amie)

    I've also decided there are a few old man names that are too elderly, even for us. Chester, Ernest, Oscar, Orville, Leonard. There are a few more on my list that I'm not sure we will be able to pull the trigger on, but I'm not ready to give up on, like Linus.

    And I love Urban, but it seems oxymoronic for us to use Urban when we have devoted our lives to the Catholic RURAL Land Movement. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The French exchange student at my daughter’s school is Ottilie! A friend from high school named her daughter Mielle!

      Leonard is pretty old, as much as I LOVE Leonard Cohen! We had a friend in college named Leonard who was already such a grumpy old man he boycotted the City of East Lansing HAHAHA! Yeah, he lived in it and boycotted it.

      Liked by 1 person

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