20 Shakespearean Names You Should Never Give Your Baby
Shakespeare is famous for inventing hundreds of words (he also wrote a few plays, I think). And he's well known for popularizing a lot of beautiful names: Olivia, Miranda, Ariel, Juliet, and Beatrice are all lovely names from lovely characters in lovely Shakespeare plays. So if you're looking to name your bundle of joy, you should just flip through the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and pick out a name, right? Wrong. Here are 20 Shakespearean names you should NEVER give your baby.
I mean, look, if you really want to name your baby Coriolanus, I'm not going to stop you (but I am going to ask that you think long and hard before you give a living human child a name that ends in "anus"). We all love Shakespeare. And we all love literary names that will make our infants sound well-read. But there are some Shakespearean names that simply should not be touched. So, by all means, name your baby Rosalind, Imogen, or Cordelia. Name them Bertram, Antonio, Portia, Hero, or even Hamlet for all I care (except please don't name them Hamlet, that name is reserved for mini pigs).
But please, please do not give your baby (or dog, or cat, or turtle) any of these... less attractive names from Shakespeare:
The name Imogen from Shakespeare's Cymbeline has been growing more and more popular lately. That's great! Name your kid Imogen. But please don't name them Cloten. Not only is Cloten's name Cloten, he's not a very nice character in Cymbeline. He sets out to abduct and assault Imogen, but winds up fighting with some of her newfound friends and gets himself beheaded. So... not a great role model...
Everyone's favorite fish-monster! Caliban (whose name anagrams to "cannibal" if you misspell "cannibal") is a character from The Tempest. He's a sympathetic character in many ways, since Prospero has enslaved him on his own island. But... he's still a fish monster who attempts to assault a little girl so... maybe an OK name for a really ugly dog.
Don't name your kid Pistol. In Henry IV Part II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, he's a pretty grimy drunk. And his name is Pistol. And there are a lot of puns about his tendency to "discharge" so... just no.
Dogberry is the confused constable from Much Ado About Nothing. He's not a mean character so much as a clueless buffoon, but the name "Dogberry" should speak for itself.
5. Doll Tearsheet
Doll Tearsheet is a prostitute from Henry IV Part II. Yeah. Moving on...
Bardolph hangs out with Pistol and Doll Tearsheet. He's an alcoholic with a carbuncle-covered face (do NOT google image search "carbuncles"). I'll allow Bardolph as a name for a very fat cat name only, but not a human baby.
Bawd (as in "Bawdy") runs a brothel in Pericles, everyone's least favorite Shakespeare play (that Shakespeare may not have actually written). Most of her scenes involve her torturing a 14-year-old girl who has been sold into slavery. So not a great name, even for a fat cat.
To be fair to Shakespeare, no one ever says Clown's name out loud in The Winter's Tale. And he's a pretty decent guy: he rescues the baby princess after her babysitter is eaten by a bear. But still... don't name your baby Clown.
Mustardseed is one of the minor fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Other fairy names include "Peasblossom," "Cobweb," and "Moth." But Mustardseed is arguably the worst option. At least, you probably wouldn't want to be shouting "Mustardseed" across the playground.
Falstaff is a drunkard and a knight, usually flanked by his buddies Pistol, Bardolph, and Nym. He appears in the Henry IV plays, where he makes a lot of raunchy puns and convinces Prince Hal that being a king is lame and hanging out in the bar all day is cool. He's a lot of fun as a character, but maybe not the best baby name option (and yeah, his name is meant to be an innuendo).
11. Doctor Butts
Doctor Butts appears briefly in Henry VIII. I don't think I need to explain why it's a bad idea to name a baby Doctor Butts.
Dull is the constable from Love's Labor Lost. He is (unsurprisingly) not a very interesting character.
13. Aaron the Moor
Name your kid Aaron. By all means, name your kid Aaron. But please don't name them Aaron the Moor, because that's weird. Actually, maybe stay away from most of the names in Titus Andronicus , where almost every character cuts off at least one hand or head, and two men are baked into a pie and eaten by their own mother. Aaron the Moor is one of the cruelest, most violent characters in the play, but by the end he's killing people to save his own baby from being killed so... it could be worse?
14. The Bastard
OK, so "The Bastard" is a character's nickname in King John , and not his actual name, but... still. That's what he's called and it's not a great choice. Especially since his real name is Philip Faulconbridge, which is pretty cool in a Game of Thrones kind of way.
Of all the names in Hamlet, Polonius is probably the one to avoid. Even more than Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Polonius is Ophelia's dad, and he isn't the worst guy ever. But he is a windbag who likes the sound of his own voice and ends up stabbed behind a curtain. Plus, his name is Polonius.
At best, people will think you've named your baby after the racist villain from Othello. At worst, they'll think you've named your baby after the parrot from Disney's Aladdin.
17. Old Gobbo
Old Gobbo is an elderly man from The Merchant of Venice. His son's name is Launcelot, which is kind of cool, but Gobbo is... not so cool...
Mopsa is a shepherdess from The Winter's Tale with an unfortunate name.
Dorcas is Mopsa's friend, with an equally unfortunate name.
And of course, what list of questionable Shakespeare names is complete without Bottom? Don't get me wrong, he's a perfectly nice guy. And it's not his fault that he's transformed into a donkey-headed monster in A Midsummer Night's Dream. But just maybe don't... don't name your baby "Bottom."
Images: Fox Searchlight, Giphy (14), Johann Heinrich Ramberg, Henry Stacy Marks, Joseph Noel Paton, Eduard von Grützner, Hubert-François Gravelot, Charles and Mary Lamb, Edwin Henry Landseer/Wikipedia Commons,