Are Names Too Unusual or Too Common? Which Causes More Baby Name Regret?

which types of names cause more baby name regret

Back in 2011, ABC News ran this segment claiming parents regretted picking names for their children that ended up being too common.

Yet that wasn’t the experience of UBN reader, Maddie, who had a case of unusual name regret.

And then this past week, I stumbled upon this article where the writer shares her regret for picking the unusual name Ransom for her son.

Over the past 4 years has the baby name pendulum swung the other way? Have parents gone from seeking unusual names to regretting them?

Or is there another aspect at play here?

After all, not all unusual names are created equal.

Ransom is a perfect example of a name that has other issues beyond being considered unusual. There is the obvious negative meaning of course, but also the similarity of other common words such as “random” and “rancid”.

Lara is an example of a name that might be considered unusual in the sense that its uncommon, and yet its sound is very mainstream and it is easy to spell.

One thing is apparent to me. I have heard conflicting reports in the media mostly based on anecdotal evidence.

I would like to hear from you. Which is more likely to cause more baby name regret, an unusual name or a common name?


  1. Ruth Lafler says:

    Although I’m not particularly fond of my name, I do appreciate that it has the perfect characteristics for a good name choice: “Ruth” is not common but is also not unfamiliar and it’s not hard to spell. Also, in combination with my very uncommon last name, it gives me the rare distinction of being the only person with my name on the internet.

  2. Loretta says:

    I’m guessing it depends on your definition of unique. Do you mean unusual or uncommon. I have an uncommon but not unusual name. I called my first son Jacob, but after discovering there were three other Jacobs in his class when he started school he changed it to Ottar and loves it. My second son had an unusual name from the beginning: Caelan. We’ve always loved it and never regretted it. Our third son got his name from a popular vote amongst family and friends from a list of ten names, running from popular to unusual. He ended up with the least controversial on the list, Lachlan. This was a very popular name in our state in 2001. He loves his name and doesn’t mind it being common at all. My fourth child I again went with uncommon but not weird and Freya loves her name as much as I do, despite the fact most Australians can’t figure out how to spell it. It’s very common in Denmark by the way.

    • Exactly. When I hear about “unusual” names in the media, most of the time they are referring to usage not style. Another reason I used unusual is because I almost used “unique”, and then I realized that wasn’t grammatically correct. Apparently using words like “more” or “less” in front of unique is not correct because unique is an absolute term. I didn’t always know this but I learned the hard way, from a grammar police commenter on another forum.

    • Oh and FYI–my daughter has a friend named Loretta. She’s 7 or 8. She was named after her great-grandmother. She’s an adorable tiny red-head girl and it suits her perfectly.

      • I love learning grammar rules!
        I knew two other Loretta’s in the town I grew up in, both Italian (like me), and one was a red head! What a funny coincidence. Mum named me after Loretta Swit, she watched a lot of MASH when she was pregnant with me, I’m guessing.

  3. Jennifer R. says:

    There is a difference between unusual and uncommon. And also common names with unusual spellings. I could easily see regretting using a name that you didn’t realize was popular (think Ava or Liam) or a common name with an unusual spelling (Jakob or Madisyn) because it creates more of a headache than its worth. I have a hard time imagining how someone wouldn’t realize the issues with the name Ransom before writing it on the birth certificate!

    My daughter is named Iris and I adore her name. It’s not unusual at all but quite uncommon in usage. Everyone can spell it and pronounce it correctly the first time. It fits in well with popular names like Ava, Bella, and Lilly but is still distict. Zero regrets here.

  4. I have regretted my daughter’s name should nice she was a baby and I wish I had changed it then. It’s a unique name. Her name is Atalie.

    • The one thing I can say though is definitely nt let the child know that you regret it. It gives them a lower self esteem I think

    • Maybe tweak Atalie to Natalie or Amelie? My mum is Amalia and she loves her name aside from the fact people call her Amelia sometimes. Personally, I like Atalie, reminds me of Atticus.

    • Hi Rosie,
      As you can see, Atalie is also my name. I’m curious how/where you came across it and also wonder why you regret the choice if I may be so bold as to ask. While I’m being nosy, how does your family pronounce it? My father discovered the name in a BBC production of “A Quest for Love” and therefore we say ah-tuh-lee, not att-a-lee.

      I’ve never minded having an unusual name, I’m pretty unusual myself. 🙂 I would rather be more unusual than more common but then that’s my personality too. Weird is too far, however. When a parent who isn’t a rock star bestows a cartoon character name on some poor innocent infant one can’t help but wonder if they’re thinking more of their own gratification than of the child’s future woe.

      As a social worker, the inevitable conversation (what? how do you say it? repeat please! how pretty! where did that come from?) actually serves as a terrific ice breaker with clients.
      Most people, even when they try, get it wrong but it doesn’t bother me – it’s an easy way to see who is really in my “inner circle”, those who get it right vs those who don’t.
      I adore Brits, Australians, South Africans, etc because they always pronounce it correctly the first time.

  5. I think parents who pick unusual names are more attached to their choice, be it cause they name their kids after a relative or for some other meaningful reason, so they wouldn’t regret it as much. Unless they pick an unusual name just so their kid would stand out and find out it’s one trending.

    People who want to stay on the “safe” side might get annoyed when people still don’t get the pronunciation or spelling righ and I imagine they could regret not going with a bolder choice if their kid is one among many or other kids around them got unusual or unique names without standing out or being teased for it.

    At least for the children I think a unique/unusual name is easier to bear, if they want to change it later everyone would be understanding that they’d pick a more down-to-earth or common name though someone with a plain name could get raised-eyebrows if they try to adopt a fanciful name they think fits them better.

  6. I don’t know why people go for common or unusual Baby Names. Well! I think I will choose a meaningful and sweet name for my little bud. Simple and suitable one! may get you some.

  7. I do not regret my sons name. It is Eli, and it fits him perfectly. I waited till he was born to really reveal his name, to see if it really fit him, and it did. He is that name.

    And I am choosing a more popular name for a girl, it is Elizabeth, yes Elizabeth. No they don’t match to me, the only similarities is the Eli and it ends there. I asked myself “Would I regret naming my daughter Elizabeth with my son being Eli?” thought about it for a few seconds, and had to answer “No”. It is everything in a name that I could ever want for a daughter.


  1. […] Back in 2011, ABC News ran this segment claiming parents regretted picking names for their children that ended up being too common. Yet that wasn’t the experience of UBN reader, Maddie, who had a case of unusual name regret.  […]

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