Is Olga a Horrible Baby Name?

In a Dear Prudie chat from November of 2012, an expectant mother asked this question about naming her baby Olga :

My husband and I are expecting our first child, a girl, around Christmas. We thought nothing could sadden us during this happy time, but were shocked last week to hear that my husband’s mother was taken from us in an auto accident. In his grief, my husband asked that we name our daughter after his late mother. The problem is that my mother in law’s name was Olga, and I just can’t fathom giving my child such a horrid name. I had been thinking something along the lines of Virginia or Lou Ann. I told my husband I would think about it, but he’s pressing the issue, and I need to tell him something. Am I being selfish for not wanting to name my child Olga, even under these circumstances?

This was (most of) Prudie’s response:

I think Olga is a lovely name, and if you used it your little girl would surely be the only one in the class. Your husband, and you, have had a shocking loss, so please tread lightly on the “Olga is a horrid name” line. You have a number of options. One, Olga becomes your child’s middle name, or you have an Olga Virginia, and she’s universally known by her middle name. In Jewish tradition children are named after deceased relatives, but that often mean that late Grandpa Saul is honored with a grandson named Steven. So you could possibly convince your husband that Olga can be morphed into Olivia or some such. There are many ways to include a remembrance of the grandmother tragically she will never know into your daughter’s name without making you cringe.

How do you feel about the name Olga?

If this expectant mother had asked you for advice about her baby’s name, what would you have said?


9 thoughts on “Is Olga a Horrible Baby Name?

  1. I love the name Olga, so I’d have an easy time making a case to use this one.

    But I wonder if the mom-to-be is reacting most strongly to the idea that she’s losing the ability to choose. Imagine if the reason were different: “My husband’s family names the first daughter born in every generation Olga.” Or even something as simple as: “My husband really wants to name our daughter after his mom.” I think we’d be telling her that she has to choose a name that’s right for her and her husband, and tradition or honoring family members isn’t necessarily the top priority, unless they mutually agree …

  2. I don’t love the name Olga. I don’t like the sound or how it feels when I pronounce “Olga”. I’m wondering what the current perception of Olga is in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

    I just looked up Olga on BNW.com: “Origin of the name Olga:Feminine form of Oleg (holy), a name derived from the Scandinavian Helgi, which has its root in the Old Norse heill (hale, hearty; blessed, holy).”

    And an Olga born in the 1980s in a former Republic of the USSR said that the name Olga was very popular there when she was born, but not so today. She likes the uniqueness of her name in the US.

    I would advise the expectant mother NOT to name her daughter a name first name that she considers “horrid” but to consider Olga for the middle name in honor of her late MIL: something like Virginia Olga or Louanne Olga.

  3. Olga is “off trend” at the moment, which makes it hard to use if you don’t love it. And it doesn’t morph easily into another name, like Edna could become Dena or Edwina or whatever. So I’d suggest the “use the letter” or “use it as a middle” tricks to honor without using the exact name if she could persuade her hubby to go along with that.

  4. I don’t think the name Olga is horrid, but if the mother does, then she shouldn’t use it (but yeah, be tactful and don’t tell her husband that his recently deceased mother had a horrid name).

    I’m actually not a big believer in using the name of someone who has only recently passed away, especially if it is still very raw and painful. (Different for a great-great grandma who was 103 and had been hanging on by a thread for 20 years).

    I think it’s still too fresh, and still “belongs” too much to the person. Out of respect, I think the name deserves a little “rest”, the same way most people wouldn’t immediately start wearing MIL’s clothes.

    Not to mention that it could still evoke painful memories, and that the grieving person is hardly able to think clearly on the issue at this stage.

    I would advise putting it in the middle position, especially as a second middle name.

  5. I don’t think Olga is a pretty name. I am sorry about his mother passing but as “C in DC” put it, it is off trend and she will probably get teased in school because of it. The name just sounds old. How about Olga as the middle name instead of the first so you can still pay respect to his mom. Please don’t name her Olga! You may regret. Olga was a nice name back when his mom was growing up but in the 21st centrey it doesn’t belong. Your baby girl will be coming home crying from being teased. Btw I like the two names you picked out

  6. Olga is my mothers name. I LOVE IT!
    If I have a daughter I plane to name her “Olga Rose” it’s my mothers name along with her favorite flower.
    Also the name has faded just like every other name used in the past.

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