What makes an uncool name cool??

I have been lurking about nameberry for the past week or so trying to decide on my twin names. There have been several posts that have got me thinking and wanting to defend some names.

Whats so wrong with [name]Doris[/name] and [name]Shirley[/name]?? Why are they not being used, but names like [name]Matilda[/name], [name]Adelaide[/name], [name]Mable[/name], [name]Ava[/name], [name]Eleanor[/name], [name]Harriet[/name] and [name]Imogen[/name] are? 10 years ago, I would have said [name]Ava[/name], [name]Harriet[/name] or [name]Eleanor[/name] were old lady names that would sound ridiculous on a child. [name]Ava[/name] and [name]Evelyn[/name] have all of the sudden become very popular names. [name]Beatrice[/name] seems to be a buzzing name too. [name]How[/name] can [name]Beatrice[/name] be “cute”, and [name]Doris[/name] be horrible? (BTW, I don’t think [name]Beatrice[/name] is cute). [name]How[/name] can [name]Ava[/name], [name]Greta[/name] and [name]Harlow[/name] be cool glamour girls, but [name]Doris[/name] [name]Day[/name]'s name be an outcast??

And doesn’t [name]Shirley[/name] bring to mind a little girl with ringlets?

I know names come and go in cycles and taste, but how long are the cycles? In ten years will [name]Doris[/name] and [name]Shirley[/name] be off their probation period?

I really love the name [name]Shirley[/name], [name]Dot[/name]'s Mom, and I love every name you listed (except for [name]Harlow[/name]). I grew up with ringlets just like she had, and I loved being compared to her (and [name]Annie[/name]). :slight_smile:

My reason for not liking [name]Doris[/name] has nothing to do with it being an out-of-style name, but is simply due to my not liking the -oris sound. I love [name]Dorothy[/name], [name]Dora[/name], and [name]Theodora[/name], though, as well as the nickname [name]Dory[/name]. (I think [name]Doris[/name] [name]Day[/name] is great, by the way.) :slight_smile:

I can only speak for myself, but for me, it’s about a name’s sound that makes me decide if I like it or not. For example, I don’t like the sound of [name]Gertrude[/name], so I’d never use it, even if it someday became fashionable. [name]Myrtle[/name] is another one that I’d never use because it rhymes with girdle. :slight_smile:

A lot of people think it’s awful, but I really love the sound of [name]Cordelia[/name] (I hope to use it someday…[name]Cordelia[/name] [name]Blythe[/name], [name]Cordelia[/name] [name]Jane[/name], or [name]Cordelia[/name] [name]Pearl[/name]), as well as musty names like [name]Louisa[/name], [name]Beatrix[/name] (not [name]Beatrice[/name]), [name]Eloise[/name], [name]Henrietta[/name] (love it but not for me), [name]Hazel[/name], and [name]Mabel[/name]. (For the record, my favorite names at the moment are: [name]Eliza[/name], [name]Genevieve[/name], [name]Rose[/name] (first name), Annbelle, [name]Cordelia[/name]/[name]Cora[/name], [name]Beatrix[/name], [name]Felicity[/name], [name]Louisa[/name], and [name]Eloise[/name].) :slight_smile:

Along with what I was saying about sounds, I think that when a name with a particular sound becomes popular, like [name]Isabella[/name], that opens the door for older names with similar sounds like [name]Ella[/name] (now wildly popular), [name]Eleanora[/name], [name]Mirabelle[/name], [name]Della[/name], and other names containing elle or [name]Ella[/name].

The popular of [name]Addison[/name], for example, opened the door for [name]Adelaide[/name], [name]Adelia[/name], [name]Adela[/name], [name]Ada[/name] (due to [name]Ava[/name], I think), and other [name]Addie[/name] names.

Likewise, the popularity of [name]Madison[/name] opened the door for [name]Madeline[/name], and the [name]Maddie[/name] nickname opened the door for the [name]Addie[/name] names.

I also think that when a celebrity gives their child an underused name like [name]Matilda[/name], it’s rediscovered, and if people like the sound, it will fall into favor with parents.

I really think that it’s all about a name’s sound and its use by cool people who revive it.

So, my reason for not liking certain names has everything to do with sound, and little to do with if they’re presently considered stylish. (I hope that made sense!) :slight_smile:

Have a good night!


A lot of what you said made sense. I guess for me, 9 out of 10 times the names I like are because I associate an image to them. That is probably what attracted me to the names I like. I have loved the names [name]June[/name], [name]Ruby[/name], [name]Emma[/name], [name]Dorothy[/name], [name]Jane[/name]… etc for years!! [name]June[/name] was a family member and also associated with sweet [name]June[/name] Cleaver, [name]Ruby[/name] was a flapper dancer and a family name, [name]Emma[/name] - sweet old lady and family member, [name]Dorothy[/name] was a dear family member and [name]Oz[/name] and [name]Jane[/name] was so [name]Jane[/name] [name]Austen[/name].

So when I hear [name]Shirley[/name] and [name]Doris[/name], I don’t hear the actually words, the way they sound… I am a visual person and picture an image.

That being said, I do not like the names [name]Mildred[/name], [name]Barbara[/name] (probably my least favorite name of all), [name]Beatrice[/name], [name]Gertrude[/name], [name]Alma[/name], [name]Amelia[/name] (don’t understand this one’s new popularity) and [name]Bertha[/name] all based on sound and maybe a little on image.

That’s so true, [name]Dot[/name]'s Mom! Associations can totally define a name, making or breaking it for someone.

My reason for loving [name]Dorothy[/name] isn’t only it’s sound, but also my associations with the name. I love the [name]Wizard[/name] of [name]Oz[/name], and played [name]Dorothy[/name] in a musical growing up.

There are also some beautiful names I just can’t like due to negative associations with people I’ve known with those names. For example, while I love [name]Hope[/name] (and it would honor my grandpa), I also know a [name]Hope[/name] who is simply nasty. (I’d list more, but I’d hate for any of them to see this.)

Okay. So far, we’ve narrowed it down to sound, a clunky name being revived by someone viewed as being cool, and ones associations with a name. Some people focus more on sound, others on associations, and some focus on a mixture of the two.

Is there anything else? Hmm…What are we forgetting?

That’s so true, [name]Dot[/name]'s Mom! Associations can totally define a name, making or breaking it for someone.

My reason for loving [name]Dorothy[/name] isn’t only it’s sound, but also my associations with the name. I love the [name]Wizard[/name] of [name]Oz[/name], and played [name]Dorothy[/name] in a musical growing up.

There are also some beautiful names I just can’t like due to negative associations with people I’ve known with those names. For example, while I love [name]Hope[/name] (and it would honor my grandpa), I also know a [name]Hope[/name] who is simply nasty. (I’d list more, but I’d hate for any of them to see this.)

Okay. So far, we’ve narrowed it down to sound, a clunky name being revived by someone viewed as being cool, and ones associations with a name. Some people focus more on sound, others on associations, and some focus on a mixture of the two.

Is there anything else? Hmm…What are we forgetting?[/quote]

  1. Sound
  2. Someone considered “cool” thinking a clunky name is “cool”
  3. Image of name
  4. Association of the name
  5. Similarities to other popular names
  6. Fact that it is uncool makes it cool. ([name]Rebel[/name] in us all)

As a sidenote, I asked my Grandma a few years ago what names she liked because I have realized that I am liking her generation names, disliking my mom’s and am adoring my great grandmothers… Grandma said she always liked [name]Willa[/name]. From that moment on, I liked [name]Willa[/name]. And actually, she has been one of my favorite sounding post for the girl’s names. :slight_smile:

I wrote a bit about [name]Doris[/name] in particular a while ago when I first started posting. I understand where you’re coming from - to me, it has sort of an ideal sound. Unlike you, I do hear how a name sounds and see how it looks and associate it positively or negatively on that basis. If I can be swayed by an image or a person of that name, so much the better, but I don’t like names just because I love people in my family. Secretly, I like some names better but I’m not crazy about the person, let’s just say her “name” starts with M and ends with M. I love her but jeez, not enough to blatantly honor her, maybe TMI, but I don’t think she deserves it.

Anyway, I am in my late 30s now so it could be all but too late to discuss this any way but academically. There are a lot of names I think should stay in the attic and would never endorse them that go about here. I’m not an “I like this kind of name” namer - I have eclectic tastes, and I just like the sound that [name]Doris[/name] has and turn it over and over and wonder why among so many “offbeat,” clunky suggestions that I just can’t figure out, why this doesn’t sound like a nice name to just about everyone.

I agree mostly with [name]Jill[/name] that some names just get put in the vault for the time being and gradually come out as people seek an alternative that just sounds better or less common than a name that’s already on the playground or in the children of the family. When [name]Jennifer[/name] got really tired and poor [name]Jessica[/name] tried and failed to keep the torch lit, people still liked those names. Enter [name]Emily[/name]: she gives permission to all to dare to scour the attic and the family tree. While you like [name]Dorothy[/name], I don’t really so much, and you don’t like [name]Beatrice[/name], but I think that one’s ok. [name]Genevieve[/name] takes up where [name]Jennifer[/name] left off, and then people take that -vieve to mind, and say, what about [name]Vivian[/name] now? I don’t understand the name [name]Sophia[/name]'s popularity, but I can definitely feel the vibe for [name]Olivia[/name] - that one just seems like, where’s it been all my life? It seems to emerge from the cocoon of [name]Alicia[/name]. [name]Just[/name] a day or so ago, someone proposed [name]Eartha[/name] and initially, I thought YUCK, but deliberated to discover how interestingly it sparks off [name]Ella[/name], [name]Emma[/name], [name]Ava[/name], and [name]Etta[/name]… I don’t think we’re all the way to [name]Irma[/name] yet. [name]Edna[/name], I can totally see, despite its honorary place in title to the list of names that will never ever be cool again. If people can like [name]Eugenia[/name] and [name]Edith[/name], I do think [name]Edna[/name] will occur to someone as cool sooner or later. It won’t be me, but I can picture the day.

I don’t tend to agree with the so-called 100-year rule about names. It may be because I am older and 100 years before my time is earlier than most young moms who post for advice and chatter here. I will mostly tend to listen to a name from any period of time, most often well under 100 years, and primarily associate the coolness of a name, or rather the niceness, on primarily how it sounds and fits a young girl. I still like my name and note that it is still in the top 200 despite peaking at 3rd in 1965. I think there are a handful of names over time that feel “just right” like my name has always felt to me, and [name]Doris[/name] is one of them.

I keep saying most of the coolest people I’ve met have a name that’s only about 20-30 years out of date, not cool enough for a mass revival, and as such, uncommon, which is a quality people seek in names. I think we may be changing schemes much faster since this has become more of a concern.

There are still some names that despite sounding almost perfect do not feel young enough (to me) for me to think that a child will appreciate much having it. I think people will like their name if it sounds nice and not think too hard that they ought to be featured in a poly-dent ad or driving their kid off to college in the reliable minivan.

Some names I like that not everyone likes or knows I like (some I have mentioned before), some of which I like despite aforementioned reasons I wouldn’t like them but do anyway:

Some names I will never understand (well I understand them a little):

*I used to understand [name]Hazel[/name] and now I don’t.
**[name]Daisy[/name] will always have to be my dog’s name and not a real name. I don’t now give my animals people names because.
***For some reason, people seem to avoid [name]Beverly[/name] in droves. I understand [name]Beverly[/name]. [name]Waverly[/name] happens to be the model name of my handbag, which is the only time I’ve ever felt true love for a handbag, and I think we will be mates for life.

As you can see, this is just a jumble from all over. I like a name or don’t like it, don’t care when it was popular, or if it’s just too popular now, as long as I think it’s a decent tag to go through life with. I’m not even trying to outhip the hipsters! I couldn’t care less. As long as I feel that a name is decent, it will hopefully serve well.

I think I’m an odd one here for not liking or thinking to suggest a lot of usable names, or names people would consider usable, actually is what I mean. I sometimes have a burst of inspiration, but mostly I take names already out there and figure out how I feel about them, and for the most part, there’s no harm in choosing a name I think might be awful. I think that’s the most interesting thing is that people have their own families and histories and experiences and preferences to combine with another parent, which is what names are useful for - calling one person something different than another person. Simple. It’s one of the most interesting things to me that your choice is different from my choice, infinitely more interesting than if we all thought the same name was cool or had the same reasons for picking from the same well-liked list of suggestions.

In the interest of balance, my favorite boy names tend to be dull like [name]Daniel[/name], [name]John[/name], [name]Timothy[/name], [name]Charles[/name]. [name]May[/name] go so far exotic as [name]Donovan[/name] or [name]Griffin[/name] or [name]Ethan[/name], not very exciting, old-fashioned, new-fashioned or ethnic. I might like something really rad once in a while, but I haven’t given it a lot of thought.

For me it’s mostly about the way a name sounds. I also consider it’s meaning but if I love the way it sounds I don’t care if the meaning is less than desirable. If a name has a history behind it such as an influential woman or has ties to mythology it will also appeal to me. The possibilities for a great nn helps too but isn’t a priority. I love the name [name]Bridget[/name] for it’s history/mythological tie and [name]Bri[/name] (bree) nn.

Names like [name]Myrtle[/name] and [name]Mabel[/name] were used in a humorous way when I was growing up by the older women in my family. I use to hear “get off the table [name]Mabel[/name]” and “fertile [name]Myrtle[/name]” (my mother had 5 girls) . Thanks to the brainwashing of my elders these names still don’t appeal to me 100%. Of course spending time here has helped me let my guard down embrace names I’d might not have ever imagined liking.

I love the name [name]Daphne[/name] but I only hear “it sounds like a duck” from my sisters. Obviously I watched much more Scooby Doo then they ever did :wink: and I have an interest in mythology so I can make that connection as well. I like to hear other peoples voices say names I like, it helps me to further decide it they’re the “one”.

I guess a cool name really translates into a trendy name loved by the masses of new parents either wanting to fit in or stand out. So an uncool name really is an undiscovered treasure or little known secret, that I personally hope never climbs to the top 10 with hopes to preserve it’s magnificence.

Here are some uncool names I love:
[name]Ardith[/name] - see [name]Kenneth[/name]. (th sound), whispery.
[name]Audra[/name] - I love to say “dra”. [name]Love[/name] it that it starts with odd.
[name]Clotilda[/name] - I love the shape of the word, the sound, the consonant blend at the beginning, and the unusual way to get nn’s [name]Tillie[/name] and [name]Tilda[/name]!
[name]Luella[/name] - It’s fun to say and it has three “l’s” in it! It’s short considering it has three syllables.
[name]Patricia[/name] - It starts with a “p” and I like to make that sound with my lips. That is a kinesthetic reason. I don’t think that reason is on your list, [name]Dot[/name]'s mom. I also love the nn [name]Tricia[/name]. I just enjoy saying it. The “sha” part is fun after the “tr” part.

[name]Bernard[/name] ([name]BERN[/name]-ard) - my grandpa’s name. [name]Love[/name] the two “r’s”. [name]Love[/name] the clunkiness.
[name]Kenneth[/name] - my father’s name. [name]Love[/name] it that it’s Scottish. [name]Love[/name] the “th” at the end. I love to say “th”. You can say it a little longer than necessary while you compose your next thought!
[name]Leonard[/name] - I love the “rd” at the end. So nerdy. Nerdy has the “rd” sound, too. What does that say?
[name]Paul[/name] - a secret pleasure. I love this name, but it is not fashionable. Starts with “p”. I think of [name]Paul[/name] [name]Newman[/name] who was very, very handsome. And interesting and fun.
[name]Roger[/name] - love to say [name]Roger[/name].

Hmmm. I think I mostly love names for kinesthetic reasons. I never realized that before! I love to pronounce sounds. Yes, that is very odd.

I [name]LOVE[/name] [name]Ava[/name] for the meaning “like a bird” as well as for the beautiful and glamorous [name]Ava[/name] [name]Gardner[/name].

My parents named my younger sister [name]Barbara[/name] and I don’t think I’ve ever heard her called by her full, legal name. She goes by a slew of nicknames including [name]Babs[/name], [name]Barbie[/name] and Arabrab ([name]Barbara[/name] backwards, it really DOES suit her).

Dotsmom – I’m so glad you raised this issue, as I have often wondered about it myself. I think name associations may have the most to do with a name’s coming back or not, and that this also plays into the so-called century rule. For instance, when you mention [name]Shirley[/name], all I can think of is my Aunt [name]Shirley[/name], who was a lovely lady, but that will also be sort of an “old-lady” name for me. Then, there are certain associations that may be more prevalent in certain regions. For instance, I am from a more rural Southern area originally, and names like [name]Bertha[/name] (the term “Big [name]Bertha[/name]” comes to mind) or [name]Eula[/name] [name]Mae[/name] or [name]Ola[/name] [name]Faye[/name] or plain old [name]Edna[/name], will always remind of those big strong farm women that made you shell peas all day if they got a hold of you! And this is how I tie this back to the century rule – when you are naming your child, you probably don’t have many memories of your ancestors from 100 years ago, so you don’t have as many of these name associations with those names. However, names that were popular 30 years ago are the names of your mom and your mom’s friends and siblings, your teachers, etc., and chances are, you’ve made some sort of mental image of those names based on the people you knew with those names (probably those persons telling you what to do/what not to do . . . .). Maybe some are really positive and some aren’t . . . but overall the population may lean away from those names just based on all the people they’ve known with those names. Maybe they’ve just heard them too much.

What I think will be really interesting is what our kids name their kids! [name]Will[/name] they revert to names like [name]Linda[/name], [name]Diane[/name], [name]Judy[/name] . . . the names from our mom’s generations (I’m taking some liberality here – I realize we are all different ages posting here, and my mom is actually in her '70s, so for me those names might be [name]Nancy[/name], [name]Betty[/name], [name]Peggy[/name], etc.). [name]Will[/name] the 100 year rule win the day? We will see! Of course, there will always be new made-up names I think to balance out those using to more traditional names.

And this gets me to what I really love about truly classic names – they weren’t just used 100 years ago, but 200 years ago, and further back than that! When I defend my choice of names to family members who think they sound too out-dated, I mention the cyclical nature of names, and they say, well then, your kids’ names will be out of fashion in 20 years, and I may say, "Sure, they may . . . " but i’m always thinking to myself, if a name is truly based in history and has withstood the test of time already, how can it ever truly be outdated?

Finally, I have to say I love your daughter’s name! I don’t think we or anyone I know would have been brave enough to use [name]Dorothy[/name] when my 6 year old was born - she is named [name]Jane[/name] after her grandmother, [name]Dorothy[/name] [name]Jane[/name], but it seems so fresh and wonderful now - maybe it does just take hearing of another little [name]Dorothy[/name] to open one’s mind! And whenever I meet someone who has an “older” name for their generation – for instance, I know a [name]Betty[/name] in her late '30s and that’s pretty unusual, I just think that’s so cool and unusual. (Oh, and when I saw your post about almost naming [name]Dorothy[/name] [name]Violet[/name] [name]Dorothy[/name] [name]Jane[/name], I thought [name]Dorothy[/name] [name]Violet[/name] made both of these classic names sound so much more contemporary – just because [name]Dorothy[/name] [name]Jane[/name] sounds more common – more mid-century, midwestern U.S.)

And on my final final note, I have to say: I do NOT get how [name]Alma[/name] could come back! That’s my mom’s first name, and even she threw it out as soon as she could going by her middle name instead – it sounds guttural to me, like so many of those old farm aunt names – it has really really surprised me that this name is making “cool” lists. I do agree with [name]Jill[/name] and others here that sound has a lot to do with it – but sound is very subjective apparently because some names that I think sound really pretty, others think are horrible, and vice versa.