Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Don't name your kid Siri

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 12:02 AM EST, Sun December 2, 2012
Sometimes a highly individualistic name for a baby is not good news for a kid, says Dean Obeidallah
Sometimes a highly individualistic name for a baby is not good news for a kid, says Dean Obeidallah
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: A new list of popular 2012 baby names includes Siri, Mac, Luna
  • He says it's not just celebrities with offbeat baby-naming now; it's spreading to the rest of us
  • He says studies show distinctive names can spur teasing and mistreatment
  • Obeidallah: Parents, think twice on names; it could have long-term effect on your child

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy

(CNN) -- Siri, Mars, Mac and Luna. I'm not talking Apple products or planetary terms. These are baby names. And not just any baby names but ones that have jumped in popularity in 2012, according to Baby Center.com's just released list.

Baby Siri? Seriously, who would name their bundle of joy after a frustrating Apple product that hardly ever works? And speaking of Apple (see daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin,) that name moved up a whopping 585 places on the list of names for girls born in 2012. So there could conceivably be a family out there with a daughter named Apple and a son named Siri. (Hope that entitles the family to a discount on an iMac.)

There was a time when bizarre baby naming was something only celebrities did to their kids (as if being the child of a celebrity wasn't challenging enough). There's Beyonce and Jay Z's Blue Ivy, Penn Jillette's son, Moxie Crimefighter, Bono's daughter Memphis Eve, actor Jason Lee's son Pilot Inspektor, and the list goes on and on.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

But now this "condition" is apparently spreading to the rest of us. In addition to the offbeat names above, 2011 saw babies sporting such names as: Moo, Draper, Graceland and Tequila.

There are even media reports that this past weekend some parents allegedly named their newborn daughter, Hashtag. That one may turn out to be an Internet hoax, but after last year's story of a child in Egypt being named Facebook (in praise of the role Facebook played in the Egyptian revolution), we can't be too far from babies named Retweet and Spam Blocker anyway. It truly is only a matter of time until you meet a kid named DVR or Playstation 3.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Apparently some parents believe that giving their child a jaw-dropping name will make him or her more distinctive. News flash: it's not the name that makes your child stand out, it's his or her achievements.

While I don't want to rain on creativity, let's be honest -- these weird names are more about parents showing off their "cleverness" than about finding a name that fits the child. It's not like the parents got to know the child first for a few months and then said, "You know this baby really is a little Siri."

Beyonce, Jay-Z welcome baby Blue Ivy
Jolie: We are all Malala

And do these parents even consider that a baby's name can cause consequences for the child that the parents never imagined, and in many areas of the child's life? When I reflect upon my own name, I realize that my life could have been far different if my parents had followed their initial instincts when naming me.

My Palestinian father wanted to name me Saladin after the famous Muslim leader, while my Sicilian mother wanted to name me Dino. Instead they compromised on Dean.

Growing up in North Jersey, Dean was not a common name. But it actually made me feel different in a good way being the only Dean in my class. And even today in looking at the list of baby names for 2012, I was actually happy that Dean was not in the top 100.

Still, the truth is, if I'd been named Dino, I would have certainly been viewed as more ethnic by teachers, potential employers and co-workers. I would have been required to continually overcome cultural stereotypes.

And if I'd been named the very Arabic Saladin Obeidallah, you could just imagine all the "fun" I would have had in post-9/11 America. I would have likely volunteered for "random" security checks at the airport to make it easier for all involved or simply got used to taking the bus cross country.

But there's a difference between a name that isn't overly common and naming your child after your favorite appliance. A name is a big part of a kid's identity. It can trigger impressions about a child even before we meet him or her -- a particular problem among the closed-minded of the world, but this is the world your child will have to navigate.

For example, studies have found that children with names that linguistically sound like they come from a lower socioeconomic status are less likely to be recommended by school officials for gifted classes and actually more likely to be labeled as learning disabled.

Other research has revealed that boys with feminine sounding names -- such as Shannon or Ashley -- have had more disciplinary problems in school because of their response to teasing. Still other studies have found a link between how much people like their own names and their level of self-esteem.

So, parents, keep in mind that your choice of name will have a lasting impact on your child -- both for good and bad. And if you insist on picking a bizarre name for the baby, then I propose that your child be empowered to rename you with any name he or she chooses. At least then it's fair that a child named Hashtag has parents named Angry Birds and YouTube.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:12 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
updated 2:04 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
updated 5:56 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
updated 3:11 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
updated 8:45 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
updated 10:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
updated 12:59 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
updated 9:58 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
updated 4:41 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
updated 8:21 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
updated 7:16 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
updated 11:07 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
updated 8:21 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
America will have its hands full in the Middle East for years to come, writes Aaron David Miller.
updated 11:17 AM EST, Sat November 15, 2014
Gene Seymour says it's part of our pioneering makeup to keep exploring the universe
updated 12:42 PM EST, Fri November 14, 2014
Sally Kohn says the U.S.-China agreement to cut carbon emissions is a big deal, and Republicans should take note.
updated 4:29 PM EST, Sat November 15, 2014
S.E. Cupp says the Obamacare advisor who repeatedly disses the electorate in a series of videotaped remarks reveals arrogance and cluelessnes.
updated 5:00 PM EST, Fri November 14, 2014
Reggie Littlejohn says gendercide is a human rights abuse against women, with bad consequences for nations.
updated 11:57 AM EST, Thu November 13, 2014
The massing of Russian forces near Ukraine only reinforces the impression that Moscow has no interest in reconciliation with the West, writes Michael Kofman.
updated 9:55 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
It takes a real man to make the moves on the wife of the most powerful man in the biggest country. Especially when the wife is a civilian major general.
updated 8:47 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
Proponents of marriage equality LGBT persons have been on quite a winning streak -- 32 states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage.
updated 8:58 AM EST, Thu November 13, 2014
It has been an eventful few weeks for space news.
updated 3:14 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
It's too early to write the U.S. off, and China's leaderships knows that better than anyone, argues Kerry Brown.
updated 1:21 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
"How can Jon Stewart hire you to be 'The Daily Show''s senior Muslim correspondent when you don't even know how to pronounce Salaam Al-aikum?!"
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT