Baby name needed: Is Keefe too close to Keith?

A reader named John recently commented:

Just stumbled on your site on a quest to name our second son, who is now a week old. Have you ever heard of the boy’s name Keefe? We like it but think it is just too rare, and he will forever be correcting people who think he has a lisp or will assume it is “Keith”. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

I think you’re right to be concerned about the potential Keefe/Keith confusion. The first few times I said Keefe out loud, I couldn’t shake the feeling I was saying Keith incorrectly.

Once I got used to Keefe, though, I began to appreciate it. The name is simple, distinctive, masculine, and has a cool definition (it’s derived from caomh, a Gaelic word meaning ‘gentle’ or ‘kind’).

My only other worry with Keefe is that it rhymes with brief, chief, grief, thief, and several other words that could inspire schoolyard taunting (e.g. “Where’s the beef, Keefe?”).

I definitely don’t think Keefe’s drawbacks make the name unusable, but I do think that pairing a unique name like this with a more common middle (something that could be used as a backup, if necessary) would be wise.

I hope this helps, John!

7 thoughts on “Baby name needed: Is Keefe too close to Keith?

  1. I named my son Keefe William.
    I had seen the name years earlier in a book I was reading and really liked it. It was actually a male character’s surname, but his Christian name was never used. I thought the name was unusual, strong but not radically different. He was given the middle name William, after my father’s middle name.
    I have found different meanings of the name, which I hadn’t been able to find before he was named. It is Celtic in origin, and means handsome, caring, kind, enjoyment.
    Unlike John, I didn’t think about rhyming. He came home from football one day with the nickname ‘Strogga’. I asked him how it came about. The (male) logic was Keefe/Beef/Beef Stroganoff/Strogga!!!! Only a male could come up with something l ike that!!!! :)
    Regardless of that, I’m not sorry about the name I chose. I Have not come across another child with the same name, so it’s definitely not a common/popular/everybody’s got that name one.
    Good luck with your new family :)

  2. When I was younger we had a girl on our bus with Keefe as her last name..she got made fun of HORRIBLY by all the kids because it sounded like “queef”..I’m pretty sure she ended up moving schools because of this but I’m not positive. I still feel bad for that poor girl to this day :/

  3. My name is Keefe Alan B. , I’m 17. It’s alright being a Keefe… but the biggest problem is the Keefe/Keith confusion. Once you get that out of the way then comes the rhyming game. I haven’t heard any of the examples (except the “wheres the beef ?” one) said to me, however the only one that seems to stick is Queef… I wont bother to explain that one, just it. The only other downside to Keefe is its other definition

    The crystals that fall off really good marijuana.
    “After I shook that hydro, I had about a gram of killer keefe”

    Lol I get all kinds of BS for that one. But I suppose its alright, its pretty unique

  4. hey my name is Keefe C. Hirtle :) im 19 and i honestly love being a keefe. of course ive also had to deal with a bit of taunting here and there (queef being the most used insult), but i think my name is very unique and really cool! my name couldnt fit who i am as a person more perfectly! so please, spread the name Keefe all around :)

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