What are the most pretentious baby names?


Several years ago, Gawker readers decided that Dillinger was the most pretentious baby name ever.

Certain surname-names do seem pretentious to me, but I don’t know about Dillinger. It makes me think of criminals.

I think names stolen from intellectuals (e.g., Aristotle, Einstein, Kierkegaard, Socrates, Voltaire) are more pretentious than surname-names.

What types of baby names do you think of as being pretentious?

Source: The Most Pretentious Baby Name Ever

Image: Adapted from Peacock Plumage by Jatin Sindhu under CC BY-SA 4.0.

51 thoughts on “What are the most pretentious baby names?

  1. What a great question. I think names stolen from icons totally rank up there. One that I’ve come across in my own life, at a small private (think $$$) school where I used to teach always made me roll my eyes privately when the parents weren’t there. It wouldn’t have been pretentious, maybe, in another situation, but the little boy’s name was Atticus.

    I also think the name Ivan, pronounced american style (Eye-vin) with a WASPY last name like “Miller” or something, is pretty pretentious in a way that Ivan (EE-vahn) with a slavic last name is not.

    And the other name I’ve run across that made me think “how absolutely over the top is that?” was Taliesin. A little girl named for Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer home. It made me hope she’d grow up to be a very very happy person with the most run-of-the-mill job and husband and 2.5 kids possible.

  2. Heard of a Spartacus the other day. That has to be up there. I know a little Aristotle too. It’s not as bad as Voltaire.

  3. I’m seeing more and more parents contemplating names like Harper and Flannery – not because they are huge fans, but because they think it sounds smart and sophisticated.

    I consider surnames as first names pretentious on a case by case basis.

  4. my grandparents are friggen loaded and they live in florida in a subdivision that is totally spaced out. like every lot has a few acres and a HUGE house. (i love visiting them ahh) and one of there neighbors has four daughters. these are their names-
    the oldest daughter is- Porsche (yes, like the car)
    the middle daughter is- Mercedes (again like the car)
    the second youngest is- Lamborghini (they always called her Ghini [jean-y] but i didnt actually know her real name until a few years ago)
    The youngest daughter is- Bentley
    to just add the icing on the cake their last name is DAVENPORT.
    wow. they are pretty nice but those names KILL me!

  5. Some of the most pretentious names I hear in the South come from middle-class families who seem to be hoping that giving their child a unique and annoying name will ensure its success. Real-life examples of these names are Huntley, Brecken, Brentley, Grayson, etc.

  6. @Madi-

    I googled “pretentious baby names” to see if I was the only one puzzled by the naming convention in the south, and your comment was spot-on. I spent many of my childhood years in Alabama and now live in LA, thank God, but many of my friends and facebook friends still live there. If I have to hear another “Baintlee” (Bentley) again I just might scream! It makes it a billion times worse if someone has a horrible, whiny accent when they say their child’s name, but simultaneously funny because they named their child after a car. Just like half his/her kindergarten class will be. Boys and girls alike.

  7. I think the names themselves aren’t pretentious if the are used for the right reason. For example if the parents have a special connection to the name Silvia that’s one thing but if they are naming their daughter that just because they think it looks sophisticated and smart and their daughter will grow up to be a lawyer then I think it’s very pretentious.

  8. Hands down, ancient Greco-Roman names. Names like Ariadne and Julius, which are known only because they’re “classic”. I just don’t understand why people idolize the Greeks and Romans so much. Of course, this includes some of the intellectual names you just mentioned (Aristotle, Socrates). Note: this doesn’t include names like Diana or Alexander, which have connotations further than just being “classic” names.

  9. And people who get angry when I can’t pronounce un-Anglicized names. =( The names themselves are fine, but naming a kid “Siofra” (SHEE-fra) and then getting all self-righteous when others can’t pronounce it upsets me.

  10. Alison my cat is named Silvia; i think cats are able to carry pretetious names quite well, unlike kids

  11. I have a five-year-old second cousin named Apollo. So over the top that it’s cute. But my vote for most pretentious are “Henri” pronounced “on-ree” by the non-French-speaking parents and that whole class of ugly-on-purpose names like Hazel, Enid, Ethel, Gertrude. I know that they don’t have pretentions to grandeur, but they do pretend that down is up and up is down, and that those little girls are going to be reading chapter books and riding horses and taking transatlantic cruises rather than being addicted to iPhones and texting and really bad pop music.

    On the other hand, my daughter’s name is Mary! And if I have another, I might name her Ruth. So I might just hate it when OTHER people do it, eh?

  12. I Named my babies:

    Sirhan Titan Agamemnon Gibralter (Sir Aggie)
    Castle Kendrick Sears Hedgefund Gibralter (King Hedgie)
    Roman Ugo Tolstoy Gibralter ( Duke Hugo)
    Victoria Malmsteen Gundrick Gibralter (Princess GunHammer)
    & Little Prince Hamilton Jupiter Luger Gibralter (Jupiters Neptune)
    ” Pretentiousness is God’s greatest gift.” Fred Phelps 1993

  13. Enid makes me think of the girl who got killed in a munitions factory explosion in the Maisie Dobbs series. It’s interesting to note that the name went from 0 to 682 from the 1880s to the 1890s, when the character would have been born. I like that it is a name in historical fiction that is NOT on the charts today!

    Hazel is actually having a resurgence after peaking in the 1890s. I like it; I have a friend who named his daughter that a couple of years ago. Of course, my mother-in-law hates it. :)

  14. I think that British sounding names are usually the most prententious. (No offense to any Brits out there.) i.e., Brighton, Wellington, etc.

  15. My first name is Joshua, but I always prefer Josh, except on my resume or something like that. The way I see it, if you can’t shorten the name into a one-syllable nickname, then you have a potentially pretentious name. One of the names I believe is around the top of the list is Maddox.

  16. Finn is a name that i truly detest….i mean really?? Finn?? and what about Yvonne? i wonder if parents even know 1. where the names come from, and 2. even pronunciation for the name that they will be sentancing their child to for the rest of their lives. especially the francais Henri (oh-(slight n)-hri) and they call him “Onree”…
    je le deteste! my name, Dante Raphael Vrankovich, is often SOMEHOW mispronounced or misused. i especially hate when someone names their child Raphael and calls him “Raf-ee-el”, when the proper italian is “Rah-fah-el”. Other names that really should be banned are Zane, Tristan, Cassia, Celynthia (forgive me if i misspelled it), Caroline (pronounced in french “ca-hro-leen”), and Desire (“des-uh-ray”).

  17. Maxamillion/Maximus/Maxwell (just name the kid Max & save him the turmoil), Jackson….please, his name will be Jack as soon as he realizes your folly, Samson, Athena, Neville, Nevaeh (heaven backward), Angelica/Angelika, Jessibelle (who cares how you spell it, you don’t do that to your daughter), also ANY celebrity name or naming your child after a place which celebrities love to do, pulling a name from a heritage that is not your own (i.e. cheyenne when you aren’t native american, alejandro when you aren’t hispanic, or anistasia when you aren’t russian) and lastly throwing a ‘y’ into your kid’s name in place of an ‘i’….you are not being original.

  18. My daughter goes to a private school, and there are some very pretentious name flying around!
    Isis, Elektra, Eunice, Tarragon (like the herb!), Hercula, Tristram, Sunshine and Havlok are just a few of the unusual names that I have encountered at my daughters parties and parent evenings. I named my daughter Freya, which was viewed as unusual when she was born but is now much more common in the UK. I balanced her name with the middle name ‘Catherine’ instead of Theodora, which was what my husband wanted!

  19. I think names with titles are more pretentious than any others. Siralbert (all one word), Queenie, Princess, King, Lord, especially when they’re smushed with another name (Queenanne). Second most pretentious is stuff like Ptolemy, Spartacus and Mercedes. Names like Hunter and Rider aren’t exactly pretentious, they’re just annoying, as are long overdone names like Roman Ugo Tolstoy. I see nothing wrong with Angelina, Theodora, Silvia, Cassia, or Hazel, though.

  20. I used to babysit for a family with 3 daughters called Faith, Hope and Chastity…pretentious? Maybe…

  21. my top pretentious horror names for boys is ‘brayden’ (gag me) and sawyer. i think sawyer is more popular in the south.

  22. Two names I’ve heard in the wild:
    Cartier (a boy)- uber-pretentious.
    Dasani — Yes, like the bottled water. A totally failed attempt to give a child a hoity-toity name.

  23. Wanky names amongst my kids’ pals; Jaxon, Brock (after a race car driver, usually called broccoli at school), siblings Hunter and Archer, Poojani, Gaultier, mercedez, Amaranth (an ancient grain!) and a nice name but which has pretentious overtones, Elmarie, and an old fashioned, but surprisingly sweet and suitable for the child, Nellie.

  24. Hit you over the head names like Christian. German. Regina (rhymes with… you got it) – just plain cruel. Giving a girl a boy’s name. (I should know, my parents did it to me and after years of therapy, I had it shortened to an initial and use my middle name).

  25. There was a parent at my kids’ school who called her daughter Calliope (bad enough) but then insisted on pronouncing it Cally-OH-pee rather than Cal-EYE-opy. Tut.

  26. These comments crack me up when they list a host of unacceptable names and then share the name their own child has, which reads as though it would fit nicely with the list of those condemned. “My child goes to school with a Legend, a Loopdeeloop, a Ribbon, and a Navel Orange. So ridiculous! Her name Virgin Moonpie.”

  27. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly has named her children: Yates, Yardley, and That her. Doesn’t get much more pretentious than that, folks.

  28. Nigel, Godfrey, Kennsington, and worst of all Jordan. As if your kid is going to be anything like Michael Jordan. Stop it.

  29. …Maine, Dallas, Austin, Trenton, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Asia, India, London…

    And worst of all, Belarus… *shudders* Don’t name your kid after countries and/or places… That’s nonsense…

  30. My great grandmother’s name was Mary Tennessee (Tippins). I rather like it but then she was born around 1872 in Tennessee and back in those days they tended to use state’s names for middles a lot. I knew a little child, bless his heart, named Thornton Napolean (Pyles) years ago. I’ve often wondered if he survived.

  31. Why wouldn’t he have survived, Mary?

    I came across two Graysons within the last month. One was spelled “Gracian”, SMH. It seems like my wife’s friends and family like pretentious names. Eisley, Kaden, Aiden, Trinity(mom is a Matrix fan, not religious)

    I’m going out on a limb and blaming women for the onset of stupid and pretentious names. Men making the final choice didn’t get Edward, Jacob, and Bella to the top of the baby-naming list. When I was in HS, my english teacher was furious when someone on ‘Friends’ named their kid Emma. She just had a daughter and raved about how simple, beautiful, and rare the name is… then network Tv nipped that in the bud. It seems soft-headed people and poorly written sitcoms and teen novels are a bad mix.

  32. Well Kris, there was no way Thornton Napoleon could have developed into a cute nickname. I think he was probably teased unmercifully as a child. Would you name a kid Napoleon?? He did have a baby sister named Sena Rose which I think is very pretty. Unfortunately she was killed at three months of age in a car wreck. A friend of mine has a daughter who is about to name her soon to arrive son Bentley. Oh dear.

  33. Anything that ends with “er.” Grayer, Hunter, Fischer. etc. Nothing screams “middle class and trying too hard” quite like it. I think Biblical names are typically pretty safe. Matthew, Andrew, Jonathan, David, Elizabeth, Eve, Adam – all beautiful or at least reasonable names in my opinion.
    Personally, I love French names like Lucien and Anais, but I know they’re pretentious so I would only ever use them as middle names.

  34. Kris, I know several Brandons or Dillons because of 90210 that were born in the 90’s. How annoying is that?

    Miranda, I hate the name Tyler with a passion.

  35. My son is Joseph Nicholas, and we call him Niko (pronounced Nee-ko). I don’t think that sounds pretentious, but got accused of it right after he was born. He’s 9 now, and the person who said it was pretentious loves it. My friend has two daughters named Blythe Eleanor and Amelia Rose. Same person said those were pretentious too. I disagree. They’re old-fashioned, and lovely! Pretentious to me is Fifi and Bunny and names most people would use on an animal. Other pretentious names, in my opinion, are Brantley, Imogene, etc…

  36. Any name that begins with X!
    Xavier, Xander, Xayvion, Xyleena, Xanax… okay, that last one was a joke. The rest, omitting truly outrageous ones like Xoë (Zoey!), l found on a baby names website since I’ve never actually met anyone with an X name.

  37. Any name like Summit, Everest, Valor, Noble, Brave, Hero, Unique, Magnus… I don’t know… to me those are obviously pretentious. Maybe some last names as first names that are too long like: Jefferson.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.