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 12:53 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
updated 4:28 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
updated 2:47 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
updated 10:59 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT