Name associations? Are they a deal breaker?

My mother worked as a preschool director for many years while I was growing up, and after school I always went to the school age class. So I have met a lot of people between school and preschool, and of course my mom has met even more.

I’m not TTC yet, but I have always been a name nerd. [name_f]My[/name_f] mom and I were chatting online the other night and the subject of names came up. I mentioned how I loved the name [name_f]Olivia[/name_f], and she said, “Oh please don’t use that name! [name_m]Don[/name_m]’t you remember that horrid little girl in your third grade class who was always being sent to the principal’s office for pushing little kids off the playground equipment?”

I remember her now. And now that I do, I have a little trouble with the name, but not enough to ruin it for me, I don’t think.

Have any of you been able to overcome an aversion to a name based on associating it with someone you didn’t like? Or does it pretty much ruin the name for you?

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Ruins the name.

I wonder if I don’t have the same aversion my mother does because [name_f]Olivia[/name_f] was afraid of me? I wasn’t a mean kid at all, but I did yell at her once when she pushed my little cousin off a swing. After that, she was nice to my cousin and never acted like that when I was around.

When I was in daycare in elementary school, there was a nasty little girl named Maebel. Her mom had worked at the daycare for a long time so none of the teachers felt like they could discipline her (or either of her younger siblings, both of which acted like brats sometimes in their own ways). One time, my sister and I were playing a board game, and Maebel demanded that we let her join, even though we were almost done, and offered to let her join in the next game. She claimed that the game was donated by her family (“my mom paid fourteen dollars for this game!”) so we had to let her play whenever she felt like it, and when we told her that she wouldn’t want to join in because we were almost done so she would lose, she packaged the box and stuck it in her cubby to take home.

That association stuck with me for years, which was sad because I actually liked the name [name_f]Mabel[/name_f]. I have the name on my list now though. A few years later, Gravity Falls came out, and featured a lovely character named [name_f]Mabel[/name_f]. Now, it’s been at least eleven years since my last encounter with Maebel, so the association with her has faded into [name_f]Mabel[/name_f] Pines from Gravity Falls. I wouldn’t spell the name Maebel because of that girl from daycare (I don’t like that spelling as much anyways) but I have gotten over the association, and would use [name_f]Mabel[/name_f] despite her.

I’ve also asked my sister, since she also had encounters with Maebel, whether she would associate that name with her if I used [name_f]Mabel[/name_f] on a child. She said no, for the same reasons as me ([name_f]Mabel[/name_f] Pines, and years removed from daycare).

It’s a case by case thing for me. Sometimes an association ruins the name, sometimes it doesn’t. In your case, I don’t think the [name_f]Olivia[/name_f] you knew as a child would bother me if I were in your shoes. [name_f]Olivia[/name_f] is such a common name, so I’d associate it with a bunch of girls not just one. If you feel like you can get past it, then I’d say use the name. I don’t let any associations my parents have with my favourite names ruin them (although they’re not personal connections like yours, just cultural ones - my dad hates [name_m]Theodore[/name_m] bc of the chipmunks and he hates [name_f]Phoebe[/name_f] because of friends).

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Oh…I feel for your mom. I have in child care for over 20 yrs and some kids (good or bad) just stick with you. All us daycare teachers have a horrible time naming our own kids because of this.

Personally, I could not get over the association and had to veto a lot of good names because of it.

I like the name [name_f]Charlotte[/name_f], but I know a [name_f]Charlotte[/name_f] who is not the kindest person, and even though I still like the name, I would never be able to name my child [name_f]Charlotte[/name_f].

I think I may save [name_f]Olivia[/name_f] for a goldfish or something. Because I really don’t want my mom (with whom I am super close) to think of a horrid little girl every time she hears the name [name_f]Olivia[/name_f]. I know she wouldn’t after a while, of course, but I do understand it. I never met either a [name_u]Benjamin[/name_u] ([name_m]Ben[/name_m]) or a [name_u]Jordan[/name_u] in person who wasn’t awful, and my mom to this day can’t stand the names [name_f]Debbie[/name_f] or [name_f]Norma[/name_f] because of a hateful aunt and cousin.

For me, it just really depends. Some names, I could never use because of associations, sometimes not. [name_f]My[/name_f] brother’s friend that I don’t like is named [name_u]Peyton[/name_u], but for some reason, I still like it for a girl. Other names, if I knew someone many years ago with a certain name, I could never use. However, if your mother hates it, I probably would try to find something else.

It depends on the strength of the association for me! [name_m]Adolf[/name_m]? Entirely unusable, obviously, to most of the world. [name_f]Zoe[/name_f]? Name of a girl who was pretty horrible to me when I was younger, and it’s hard to fully get over that, but someday I might. [name_f]Nola[/name_f]? Name of a girl I did not get along with, but I didn’t know her that long, so I’m mostly over the association.

I’ve had this with a few names and I think its depends on the extent of time you knew the person for or how bad the association is. For example, I love the name [name_f]Gwendolyn[/name_f] but I would never use it because it is the name of my sister’s ex-bestfriend who treated her really badly and its impossible for me to dissociate the name from her. Also, I liked what @futuremama said about how knowing multiple people with a name stops a specific association. For example, I love the name [name_m]Jack[/name_m] and have known multiple people with the name so can’t think of a specific association.

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Personally, it depends on how much I knew the person, and how strongly I associate the name with them. Someone I’d forgotten about wpuld not ruin a name for me. [name_f]Nor[/name_f] would the name of someone annoying/mean if it was very popular and I also knew several nice people with that name.
However, [name_f]Olivia[/name_f] personally is ruined for me. The only [name_f]Olivia[/name_f] I ever really knew bullied me throughout primary school, and occasionally was mean in secondary school. She is my one thought of the name, so I wouldn’t use it for my child. Additionally, a similar thong with [name_f]Ellie[/name_f], which knocks off names like [name_f]Elowen[/name_f] and [name_f]Elodie[/name_f], as I would hate for people to nickname my child [name_f]Ellie[/name_f].

I have found on here that I’m an anomaly in the baby naming world… while I have some names that I won’t use because of personal associations, it doesn’t extend to people I knew from school or work on a acquaintance level. For some reason, I seem to be able to separate out the name from the periphery people and societal opinion. What I mean by this is those who have hurt me personally, I won’t use their name for my future children. On the other hand, the names of those people I may have known through school, work, etc. but not on a more personal level, I will consider.

In the first instance, I won’t use Jämës because of an extremely negative personal relationship I’ve had with the name (not romantic), but I would consider Träcy (if I liked the name well enough) despite having a classmate with the name who did extremely odd and downright scary things in class because I can separate the name from the person.

The names I have a personal negative connection to I will never use, and I will never get passed these negativity due to the seriousness of the reason for the name being added to the “Not a Chance in H…” list. The names people consider negative in society or are on the periphery of my life, I tend to look at as another name open for use (if I like it enough).

It depends on the association, and how many other people I know with the name. I had a bad time with a few kids in school, and there’s some names I wouldn’t use because they’re my only association with those names. Others are more conmon, like [name_m]Jack[/name_m], which for some reason I’d consider because I know far more nice Jacks than that one mean one

It depends on the situation and the name, I think.

The fact that you hadn’t thought of the girl in your third grade class when you came up with [name_f]Olivia[/name_f], not before your mother mentioned it, suggests to me that the association isn’t that strong for you. So in this case I’d say you could definitely still use the name.

Some names I could never use or even like because of the association I have with them. When I was in high school I got bullied by a girl named [name_f]Ruth[/name_f]. She made my life hell for an entire year and hearing the name makes my stomach turn, so that’s definitely a no go.
In elementary school there was a rather nasty little guy in my class called Steinar. He never targeted me specifically, he just wasn’t a nice boy. I still love the name Steinar though, because it’s such a long time ago and didn’t have such an impact on me.

To me, it really depends. [name_m]How[/name_m] much do I like the name? [name_f]Do[/name_f] I still know the person? Is it not that I didn’t like the person, but that they kind of took the name from my imagination? There are few names that are completely ruined for me, and when I think about them, I have known maximum two people with that name. For example, [name_f]Kennedi[/name_f]. I can never use that name, with the fact of not liking many names beginning with k set aside, because of one person. She had her nice side, but still.

No, I don’t think associations with one person makes a name unusable for me. Only thing would be I wouldn’t name my kid the same as any ex boyfriend just because I think it’d be weird and I’d feel like I was tricking my hubby somehow into having a kid with my ex’s name lol.

It depends on the name and the association for me, but for my husband it ruins the name no matter what.

If it had a personal negative association (maybe that little girl kept pushing ME off the playground equipment as a kid) it would probably ruin it for me, but if it was just some person that I happened to go to school with I probably wouldn’t let it stop me if I absolutely loved the name.

For my husband it doesn’t matter if it’s negative or not. Any knee-jerk associations ruin a name for him.
For example: [name_f]Clarissa[/name_f]. For my husband, when he hears the name [name_f]Clarissa[/name_f], he thinks of that old show on Nickelodeon “[name_f]Clarissa[/name_f] Explains it All.” That’s enough to make the name an immediate “Nope.” For me, it briefly reminds me of the show (and also [name_f]Clarissa[/name_f] “[name_f]Clary[/name_f]” [name_m]Fairchild[/name_m] from the Mortal Instruments), but is still totally usable to me.

I dont think a little girl with behavior problems who you didnt really know should ruin a name. I’ve only had names ruined by people I actually know!

But if you’re looking for an alternative I’m obsessed with the name Olivienne, whichvis a variation of [name_f]Olivia[/name_f]!

I’m in the same boat. I’ve gotten to know a ton of people in my line of work, and there’s certain names that trigger a negative emotional response. [name_u]Day[/name_u]-to-day it’s not a problem, but naming my kid one of those names… Absolutely not.

But I tend to fall in love with names because of their association and meaning. TV shows, movies, and books that I’m passionate about definitely influence what names I like and don’t like :woman_shrugging:t2: