10 of The Best Baby Names (And 10 of The Worst!) 

Naming your baby is one of the most exciting parts about being pregnant. I know that many people have names picked out for their future babies before becoming a parent is even a remote possibility.

I myself had Arabella’s name picked out since I was around 11 years old and I know I’m not alone in this. Most of my non-parent friends already know the first and middle names of their one-day children. 

But for as exciting as picking baby names is, it can also be crazy difficult. 

That’s why I’ve written this post. In it, I’ll be covering the importance of baby names and share some tips to keep in mind when picking one for your bundle of joy.

I’ll also be sharing 10 of the best and worst baby names, I apologise from the bottom of my heart if your name or the name of your future kid features in the latter.    

What’s In A Name?

If you ever want to know how many people you’ve had beef with in your life, start searching for baby names. You’ll very quickly realise just how many people you don’t like! 

Does picking baby names work the same way as it does with dogs, where what you name them has a huge impact on how they behave? Not that you’re planning on naming your baby ‘Terror’ or anything, but the point is still relevant.

There is a cute little backstory to Arabella’s name. I originally fell in love with the name when I first read it on a bottle of one of my grandfather’s favourite wines of all time. I loved the way that it sounded, I loved the femininity and romanticism that it brought to mind, and I loved that my grandpa loved it.

I had a deep emotional connection to the name and — though I feel bad about it now — I kinda sorta 100% pushed Daddydaims into loving it too. The moment I saw that name, I knew in my heart that one day when I had a daughter she would be called Arabella. 

In all honesty, I didn’t even bother researching what the name meant because it would have had no bearing on my desire to use it as a baby name. When I became a Christian, I was thrilled to discover the meaning behind Arabella’s name.

It means ‘yielding to prayer’. And her middle name, Jane, that I chose purely as a way to honour my best friend and Arabella’s godmother? That means ‘God is gracious.’

So without even meaning to, I chose a name that praises my God. And, given the life I aim to lead, I’m so incredibly happy about that.       

Tips to Keep In Mind When Picking Baby Names 

Before we dive into the best and worst baby names, you need to be prepared. There are a bunch of different things to keep in mind when you embark upon your baby naming journey.

Here are the biggies. 

The Meaning of The Name 

I personally believe that the meaning behind the name you pick is the most important factor to consider when researching baby names. For me, it is the tip that trumps all other tips.

A name that sounds beautiful, charming, unique, and exotic could have a meaning that horrifies you. Take the name Giselle for example. It is a German name that means ‘pledge’ or ‘hostage’. Or the super perky and wildly popular name Kennedy, which means ‘deformed head’. 

Um, yikes. 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, baby names that you may deem boring, overused, and uninteresting could have a meaning that resonates with your very being. I’ll use Liam, Alexander, Sarah, and Jessica as my examples. These names mean guardian, defender, princess, and foresight, respectively.

In a sea of websites, internet forums, and books dedicated to baby names, pick one that makes your soul sing.    

How Easy The Name is To Say and Spell 

When choosing your baby’s name, you need to remember that they are going to be a baby, and a toddler, and a young child for quite some time.

That’s why it’s important to pick a name that your sprog will be able to say and eventually spell on their own.

Names like Sibohan, Xavier, Azariah, Joaquin, Nikolaj, and Saoirse are all beautiful. But they’re a nightmare for me to spell and pronounce, and I’m in my twenties. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to a little one when it comes time to learn how to spell, read, and write their names.

And unless you want your kid to spend 99.9% of their life correcting people on the spelling of their name, I recommend sticking to the ‘regular’ spelling of the name you have chosen for them. I’m talking to you, parent who named their child Zhoiee.  

Who Else Has The Name 

We live in a world that has and has had many different people walking it, many of whom are likely to share a name with your unborn baby. I strongly suggest that you research your intended baby names to discover who else has that name. 

For example, Daddydaims loved the name ‘Riley’ and we thought ‘Riley Quinn’ sounded absolutely beautiful. And then we Googled it, and found out that someone else already had that name: an incredibly popular transgender pornstar.  

I recommend typing in your intended baby name into a search engine and check out the results that come up. The last thing you want to do is unknowingly name your baby after a problematic influencer or a serial killer, you know? 

You also have to be mindful of the fact that if there is someone in your life that has the same name as your baby, they WILL think you named your baby after them. If this is not your intention, it’s something to keep in mind.  

Possible Nicknames 

Whether you like it or not your child will, at some point in his or her life, be given a nickname. This is especially true for kids who have longer names.

While of course, you won’t have control over what your child’s future friends will dub them, you can make it a little easy on them by picking a name that has awesome nickname potential. 

In our case, Daddydaims couldn’t stand the thought of Arabella being nicknamed ‘Bella’, purely because he had 99 dogs growing up and thus associated the name with dogs. I was deadset on the name Arabella Jane, and Daddydaims loved it because of the nickname it presented: AJ.    

What The Name Rhymes With 

There’s no getting around it: kids can be straight-up mean. I reckon it would be best to make sure that your possible baby names don’t rhyme with any words that could be bullets in a bully’s verbal gun. 

I’ve always gone by Tash, and I love that. But I didn’t love it so much in primary school when it was discovered that ‘Tash’ happens to rhyme with trash, rash, harass, and pantie-flash. Fun times. 

The name ‘Kyle’ rhymes with smile. But it also rhymes with vile and pedophile. 

Listen, not everybody is a poet. And if you’re one of those people that know it, simply Google “words that rhyme with” followed by your intended baby name. Let the process of elimination begin!    

20 of The Best Baby Names

Let’s kick things off with a look at the best baby names of all time. I came up with this list based on the meaning of the names as well as my personal feelings towards them. 

There are a couple of baby names that I came across during my research that I reeeeally don’t like for one reason or another, so I chose to keep things real and keep them off this list. 

1. Abigail

Origin: Hebrew

Meaning: Joy of the father 

Possible nicknames: Abs, Abby, Gail, Abster, AbbyG

I absolutely love the name Abigail. The meaning is so beautiful and can apply to the biological father as well as the heavenly one. I’ve never met an Abigail that I didn’t like and I’ve found that girls with this name radiate positivity and kindness. 

2. Aidan 

Origin: Irish 

Meaning: Little fire 

Possible nicknames: Aid, Aids, Addie, Denny 

Daddydaims and I absolutely love the name Aidan! The meaning is open to interpretation and we choose to interpret it as a burning passion for life rather than the start of a veld fire. Of course, in South Africa where AIDS is a huge problem, the possible nicknames that come with this name are problematic. 

3. Ava

Origin: Latin 

Meaning: Like a bird 

Possible nicknames: Av, Avy, Ave, Avocado, Avalanche  

How romantic does the name Ava sound? I absolutely love it and — even though I know it’s a popular name — I’ve never met anyone with this name in real life. Also, just look at the possibilities for quirky and adorable nicknames! 

4. Benjamin 

Origin: Hebrew 

Meaning: Son of my right hand or son of the South 

Possible nicknames: Ben, Benj, Benjie, Benny, Jam, Jamin  

The name Benjamin is such a classic that makes me think of strength, safety, and stoicism. I have no idea why this name makes me think such things, but it does. Every Benjamin I’ve ever met has been, quite frankly, a wonderful person.  

5. Amelia 

Origin: Latin

Meaning: Work 

Possible nicknames: Millie, Ames, Mia, Lia, Melie, Amy 

Should Daddydaims and I be blessed with another daughter, her name will be Amelia. I love how soft, feminine, and romantic the name sounds. Plus, while I don’t love it, I like the meaning as it makes me feel that she’ll be a hard worker who throws herself into whatever she does.  

6. Callum 

Origin: Scottish 

Meaning: Dove 

Possible nicknames: Cal 

If being a parent to a son is in our future, his name will be Callum. Daddydaims absolutely loves this name and so do I. The symbolism of the dove is peace, faith, devotion, and purity. Plus, with the surname Elder, we could call him CalEl which is THE coolest nickname ever as Superman fans will agree. 

7. Charlotte 

Origin: French 

Meaning: Free 

Possible nicknames: Char, Charl, Charlie, Lottie 

So, I’m not totally in love with the meaning behind the name Charlotte, but I love the name in general. In terms of prettiness, pronounceability, and possible nicknames it’s a definite winner in my baby names book.  

8. Daniel 

Origin: Hebrew 

Meaning: God is my judge 

Possible nicknames: Dan, Danny, Niel  

The name Daniel is one of my personal favourites. Sure, it’s pretty common so it doesn’t score any points for uniqueness but the meaning speaks to me so loudly. Also, the name has Irish roots and means ‘attractive’ which couldn’t hurt my future’s son’s future future. 

9. Farah 

Origin: Arabic, Irish, English  

Meaning: Joy, beauty or pleasant, ironworker  

Possible nicknames: Fay, Fifi, Fairy  

I love this name and how unique it is. I think the meanings are beautiful — except perhaps the English meaning of the name — and so is the name itself. I’ve never met a Farah, but I’ve met approximately 902 Sarahs. 

10. Gabriel 

Origin: Hebrew 

Meaning: God is my strength 

Possible nicknames: Gabe

Here’s another name with Biblical meaning (this mini-theme wasn’t on purpose, I promise!) that I find so beautiful. In the Bible, Gabriel is an archangel who was God’s messenger. I love the name because of its meaning, but also because every Gabriel I’ve ever met has been a honey. 

10 of The Worst Baby Names 

Now, the moment you’ve probably been waiting for: 10 of the worst baby names! The last thing I want to do is offend anyone, so please take this list in the way I intended it. 

I came up with the names on this list based on their meanings and declining popularity. Nothing more, nothing less. 

1. Brennan 

Origin: Irish 

Meaning: Tear or sorrowful 

Possible nicknames: Bren, Brenny, Nan 

I actually love the name Brennan as I think it’s unique, classic-sounding, and it reminds me of Bones which is always a great thing. But I can’t get past the meaning. I simply can’t imagine naming my son something that means tear or sorrowful.

2. Deirdre 

Origin: Irish 

Meaning: Sorrowful 

Possible nicknames: Dee, Didi, Dre

Much like the boy name above, the name Deirdre just makes me feel plain sad. Baby names that have anything to do with sorrow or sadness make me feel just that. Although, I’ve only ever met one Deirdre in my life and she was a phenomenal person. Special shoutout to Miss Beagly! 

3. Cameron 

Origin: Scottish 

Meaning: Crooked or bent nose 

Possible nicknames: Cam, Cammy, Ron, Ronny, Caz 

I never expected the name Cameron to pop up in my research for the worst baby names for boys, but man, did I chuckle when I discovered its meaning! If your child is born with a perfect little sniffer — like most Camerons that I know — then you’re fine. But if not, your sprog will not enjoy living up to his or her name. 

4. Leah 

Origin: Hebrew 

Meaning: Weary 

Possible nicknames: Lee, LeeLee

Leah is such a pretty name that was incredibly popular not so long ago. Like most of the names I’ve mentioned, its unfortunate meaning is what landed it on this list. I’ve met about 15 Leahs in my lifetime so it’s also not the name to pick if you’re looking for something unique. 

5. Randy 

Origin: English 

Meaning: Diminutive form of Randall or Miranda

Possible nicknames: Andy, Ran, Ranny 

The name Randy is just…no. Firstly, we all know what the word randy means (you can thank Austin Powers for that!) and secondly, there is no real meaning behind the name itself. It’s no wonder why its popularity has decreased significantly over the years. 

6. Lillith 

Origin: Assyrian, Sumerian

Meaning: Night monster, ghost 

Possible nicknames: Lilli, Lil 

The name Lilith sounds dreamy, romantic, and ultra-feminine. But the meaning behind the name Lillith gave me actual goosebumps! The name is derived from the word ‘lilitu’ which translates to ‘of the night’. That’s a hard no from me. 

7. Tristan 

Origin: French, Welsh 

Meaning: Sad or sorrowful, noise

Possible nicknames: Tris, Tristy, Triscuit 

Before anyone comes for me, no, this name is not on here because of one of my ex-boyfriends. I don’t have anything against the name itself (nor people who have the name Tristan), I actually quite like it, but the meaning behind it makes me sad. Plus, babies are noisy enough as it is and I wouldn’t want to jinx anything. 

8. Mary 

Origin: Hebrew 

Meaning: Bitter, from the sea, beloved  

Possible nicknames: May, Mare, Ree, Maz 

Okay, so I know that only one of the meanings of the name Mary is ‘negative’ but I also feel like — at one point — everyone and their mother, sister, and aunt was called Mary. I must admit that the nickname possibilities are awesome though. 

9. Portia 

Origin: Latin 

Meaning: Pig or hog 

Possible nicknames: Tia, Po, Porsche 

I cannot imagine naming my baby something that translates to pig or hog — bullies will have a field day in school with the poor child! The name Portia sounds exotic and unique, but the porcine links outweigh how pretty it sounds. 

10. Mallory 

Origin: French 

Meaning: The unfortunate one or the unlucky one 

Possible nicknames: Lory, Mal, Mally, Lo

Eish… The meaning behind this name is enough to make me think twice! I love the nickname potential, and the way the name sounds, but I think there’s a reason why we don’t often meet people called Mallory.

Something To Think About

And there you have it: 20 of the best and worst baby names you can think of! While I urge you to take the latter into consideration, naming your baby is an intensely personal decision that should be yours (and that of your baby-making partner!) alone. 

I hope you enjoyed this post and I REALLY hope that your name or your baby’s name didn’t appear on that second list. Naming your baby should be more fun than stressful, and the process should fill you with joy and excitement rather than dread and anxiety. 

Put as much effort into picking the right name as you do in decorating your nursery or detailing your birth plan, if not more. Once you find the perfect name for your perfect child, you’ll know.

Keep the tips you learned today in mind, and your future kiddo may just thank you for it one day. 

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