There are many factors to consider when choosing a name for a baby. One that might not come readily to mind is the global aspect.
Sometimes, for instance, a name that sounds lovely to a U.S. speaker might mean something inappropriate, silly, or simply unexpected when written or spoken in another language or another part of the world.
As a public service to U.S. parents, here are 19 baby names that have surprising associations in other languages and cultures. We’re not saying these names are bad ― just that, you know, it’s worth having all the information.
“Pippa” has a rather vulgar meaning in Italy and Sweden. In Italian, it can refer to masturbation or mean “hand job,” and in Swedish, it’s a crude term for sex. In Greek, the word πίπα, which is pronounced similarly to “Pippa,” is slang for “blow job.”
The Dutch word for buttock is “bil,” which sounds a lot like “Bill.”
“Kiki” means “vagina” in Tagalog/Filipino. Kiki also means “crisis” in Japanese.
This one is a matter of American English versus British English. While “Randy” may be an innocuous name in the U.S., it’s slang for “horny” in the U.K. Additionally, there are words in Hindi and Urdu that sound similar to “Randy” but are used to mean “prostitute.”
Like “Randy,” “Fanny” has a more crude meaning in British slang ― it’s a vulgar word for a woman’s genitals.
The name “Lisa” sounds a lot like λύσσα, the Greek word for “rabies.”
“Péter” means “to fart” in French, but fortunately it isn’t pronounced like the English name “Peter.” Apparently “Pete” can be slang for “fellatio” in Argentina, though.
“Cal” sounds a lot like the Russian word for “feces,” кал. The same word is Bulgarian for “mud.”
“Tod” is German for “death.”
“Sal” sounds like the French word “sale,” which means “dirty.”
“Mark” is Norwegian for “worm.”
“Dom” is Dutch for “stupid.”
In certain Italian dialects, “mona” is a crude word for a woman’s genitals, or an insult along the lines of “stupid.” It’s also Spanish for a female monkey.
A reader tells us the name “Gary” sounds a bit like the Japanese word for “diarrhea,” 下痢. Google Translate seems to bear this out.
“Bobby” sounds similar to “babi,” which is “pig” in Indonesian.
“Khara” is Arabic for “shit.”
While it’s obviously not as common as “Amanda,” it’s worth noting that the name “Manda” sounds like the Russian word манда, which is a very vulgar term for a woman’s genitals.
In French, “niquer” is a slang term meaning “to have sex,” and some conjugations sound similar to the name “Nick.”