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Nameberry Expert Reveals the Most Divisive Names of 2023

Nameberry Expert Reveals the Most Divisive Names of 2023


The most divisive baby names of 2023 have been revealed with Bodhi, Karen, and Cohen topping the list.

Emma Waterhouse, a writer from the US-based website Nameberry, has curated a list of baby names that have sparked controversy and mixed reactions among new parents this year. These names, considered by some as offensive, outdated, or carrying problematic connotations, have been causing quite a stir. In a TikTok video, Waterhouse shared the top contenders that emerged from a survey conducted among the site’s visitors.

Among the names that have raised eyebrows for boys are Azriel, Bodhi, Cohen, and Gunnar. Azriel, derived from Hebrew roots, signifies “God is my help” and has deep connections in both Muslim and Jewish traditions. While its trendy and attention-grabbing elements make it appealing, it’s worth noting that Azriel is also associated with the Angel of Death in both Judaism and Islam. Nonetheless, the name also holds a positive interpretation, signifying “Angel of God,” lending it a distinctive and impactful aura for a baby.

Bodhi, which experienced rapid popularity growth in the 2010s, bears a religious connotation. This Buddhist term refers to a state of enlightenment. Despite this, its adoption as a baby name doesn’t align with traditional Buddhist culture, as most parents who choose it are not part of that religious background.

Cohen, a name with a stylish sound, carries significant controversy due to its Hebrew origin, meaning “priest.” Many find it offensive to use Cohen as a given name, irrespective of religious affiliation, especially since the majority of those who have chosen this name are not of Jewish descent. Gunnar, a traditional Norse name meaning “bold warrior,” is also notable, particularly when spelled as “Gunner.” The latter variation can inadvertently evoke violence, a concern heightened by the prevalence of gun-related issues in the US. Consequently, parents seem to favor the more conventional spelling.

For girls, Waterhouse suggests avoiding the names Dixie, Karen, and Pippa. Dixie, once a popular name in the 1930s, has fallen out of favor due to its association with racism, stemming from its ties to the Confederate States. The name’s history and implications have led modern parents to shy away from it.

Karen, while an old-school name, has gained infamy as a pejorative term referring to a stereotypical oblivious middle-class woman who is unaware of her privilege. Memes popularized this use of the name in 2020, contributing to its decline in popularity as a baby name.

Pippa, a sophisticated nickname associated with the sister of the Princess of Wales, Philippa Middleton, may sound appealing but has linguistic pitfalls. Despite its elegance, the name Pippa carries vulgar meanings in Italian, Swedish, and Polish, making it an ill-advised choice for those considering international travel.

The TikTok video showcasing these divisive names has garnered over 12,200 views, prompting surprised reactions from viewers. Names like Cohen and Pippa, in particular, have sparked discussions about their unforeseen controversies. Many viewers expressed astonishment at the potential negative connotations tied to these seemingly innocuous names. It appears that today’s parents are becoming more attuned to the nuances and potential implications of their chosen baby names.

Check out the complete list below:

Popular girls baby names of 2023


1. Charlotte

2. Amelia

3. Isla

4. Olivia

5. Mia

6. Ava

7. Matilda

8. Ella

9. Grace

10. Willow

Popular boys baby names of 2023


1. Oliver

2. Noah

3. Leo

4. William

5. Henry

6. Jack

7. Theodore

8. Hudson

9. Charlie

10. Luca



Images: Tiktok & Pixabay

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Chrystal Lovevintage

Chrystal Lovevintage

Chrystal is a writer and blogger who loves nothing more than watching back to back episodes of crime shows. Should she ever find herself needing to cover up a crime, she'll know exactly what to do! Her dream is to one day live in Palm Springs where she can do her writing poolside while drinking endless gin and tonics. Mum to the cutest twin boys in the world, she loves nothing more than the sound of their laughter (usually heard when they're conspiring against her). Entertainment writer and pop culture junkie, she will be bringing you all the celebrity gossip and news that your brain can handle. You can follow her blog at and on Instagram at Chrystalovevintage

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