13 Pretentious Baby Names, Decoded

It goes without saying that the days since Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher's baby daughter came into the world have been an emotional whirlwind for all of us. For That '70s Show fan fiction writers and simple celebrity baby enthusiasts alike, this was surly a momentous week. But that thrill was tempered a bit today, when the pair announced the Kunis-Kutcher baby's name. And that baby's name is ... Wyatt.

I'd like to claim that baby Wyatt is an isolated case here, perhaps named after her parents' passionate enthusiasm for comedian Wyatt Cenac, but in actuality, little Wyatt has been punk'd by her parents, who are taking part in a pernicious baby-naming trend.

For babies with pretentious names are becoming an epidemic in this country, from Jessica Simpson's daughter Maxwell, to Gwyneth Paltrow's kids Apple and Moses Martin, to that girl from A Knight's Tale who named her baby Audio Science.

But this isn't a celebrity-specific ailment: the streets of any of the hipper corners of America's cities are lousy with tiny people named Byron, Hudson, and Odette. I personally have met two separate toddlers named Coltrane over past three years. We're hitting a critical mass here, people.

Of course, parents have always used the names of their children to communicate their values and aspirations to the world. A 2013 episode of the Freakonomics podcast episode dove into this exact question, delving into the issue of what parents attempt to communicate when naming children by noting that “educated, liberal mothers” often name their children after obscure cultural references to signal "their sense of cultural superiority." The episode also included an interview with college professor Dalton Conley (a man who committed the war crime of naming his own offspring E and Yo), who claims that having an unusual name "probably makes you more creative."

So, what are parents actually trying to get across when they give their wee babes names better suited for an English professor's OkCupid username? That they value creativity? Or uniqueness? Or owning a really solid collection of Anthropologie tea cozies? We have some suspicions. Here are some pretentious baby names I've heard IRL, and what I'm pretty sure they say about the parents.


Translation: We have more money than God, try to stop us from doing anything, seriously. You're lucky we didn't name her Ham Sandwich.


Translation: I either love the Beatles, or I love communism and I'm really bad at spelling.


Translation: I'll keep pretending my baby isn't named after the classic Lisa Kudrow-Mira Sorvino buddy comedy if you do, too, Sofia Coppola!


Translation: I am a dorky Caucasian graphic designer who lives in a part of Brooklyn that is now more expensive than Manhattan, but I want you to know that I am still down.


Translation: My name is Melissa/ Jessica/ Jennifer/ Sarah/ Sara/ Elizabeth/ Katherine, and I am irate about it.


Translation: I thought I was getting a dog instead of a baby, and then when I found out, I was just like "Ehhhh, it's fine."


Translation: I think that you and your baby are lousy phony sonuvabitch guys, goddamn it. Also, I read a book once, in high school. It changed me.


Translation: On some sick, secret, subconscious level of my mind that I am afraid to admit even exists, I am convinced that my kid will eventually meet Michelle Williams' daughter Matilda, and that this will give them something to talk about. I just think Michelle and I might have a lot in common, you know? We're the same age, and I've been following her since Dawson's Creek, and I think she might really appreciate my down-to-earth, real-mom perspective as a break from all that Hollywood claptrap, you know? But if anyone asks, I named her that because I studied High German in college and also I don't know who Michelle Williams is.

Also, I read a book in middle school once. It changed me.


Translation: I don't understand that my child will eventually reach an age when other children will be looking for reasons to kick his ass.


Translation: What am I even doing? Ferb?


Translation: I'm really sorry. I need therapy, but you seemed like the easier option at the time.


Translation: My daughter — oh, what? Yes, my daughter is named Silas. Yes, I made a hideous old man's name into a baby girl's name. Have I totally blown your petty bourgeois gender binary-loving mind? This is how I fight the power (while still living a pretty traditional lifestyle). How ya like me now?


Translation: I have a Goop complex. It's a real thing. Want some flaxseed avocado smoothie?


Translation: Sometimes, in the delivery room, you're under a lot of pressure, and you just say the first thing that pops into your head, and by the time you remember that this was the name of Jake Gyllenhaal's dog, you have all these monogrammed bags and stuff and it's just too late.

Also, I read a book in college once. It changed me.

Images: Mike Lewis/Flickr, Giphy (6)