Is Kevin the World’s Most Unattractive Baby Name?
January 7, 2012 § 14 Comments
If not in the world, Kevin certainly is the most unattractive baby name in Germany. Two studies in less than three years have cited Kevin as the most unattractive name imaginable. A quote from a study done in 2009 cites one teacher’s feelings on the name Kevin – towards her own students: “It’s not a name, it’s a diagnosis.” (Unfortunately, the study didn’t elaborate on such an opinion, even though it’s fascinating and sounds, to me, pretty freakin’ rude. Do teachers everywhere treat or view their students differently based on how they perceive their students’ names?)
The latest study involved sending messages to 47,000 members of Europe’s top dating website, eDarling, from fake profiles for people with the following names: Alexander, Kevin, Chantal, Mandy, Dennis, Marvin, Jacob, Charlotte, Emma, Hannah, Max, Justin, and Celina, with all other profile information remaining the same for each sex. The goal was to determine which names got the most clicks, or which ones got the least, and release their hypothesis that “bad baby names” could make you sad and lonely.
Clearly, it’s too late to surprise you that Kevin was the name that got the least clicks (they said “It would seem that people would as soon remain single than date a Kevin”), but read after the jump to see how each name fared with European tastes.
Justin can’t get clicks in Europe, but the noted ‘bad boy’ association in the study to Justin Bieber (who, as much as I actually think this kid has a future and I’m proud he’s a good Canadian kids with Canadian values, can still be a little teenage boy sh*t disturber sometimes) hurts the name with eDarling users. Typical popular choices make up the ‘most clicked’ list, and it would seem that Marvin is out of style simply everywhere (I’m wearing my ‘not shocked’ face.)
But as far as I’m concerned, like the recent film starring Tilda Swinton, based on the novel by Lionel Shriver, we need to talk about Kevin – primarily because Kevin has always been a name on my personal dislike list, and I know quite a few non-Europeans for whom it’s also deemed among the world’s worst names. I knew a Kevin in school who was a bully, and as I got older the only Kevins I saw were at least a decade older than me, or presented in the form of Kevin Federline. Had you forgotten KFed’s foray into rap? If so, fear not, here’s his video for “Popozao!” which means “it’s 2005, and you have no clue that eventually I’ll be the solid one in this relationship.” (Actually, it’s a Portuguese slang term that means “big butt” – at least it’s butt in a PG world.)
I also know a Kevan, but that’s, potentially, an entirely different story. Are people inclined to click on unattractive names with intriguing spellings? The study didn’t find that out. However, makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin has inspired an unsurprisingly few parents – Kevyn looks and feels feminine by today’s standards, anyway.
Not every Kevin is automatically a negative association – Kevin Bacon, for example, is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and ensured his legacy long past his filmmaking career by introducing the world to the game “The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” So far, his theory that he’s had such a storied career that he can be connected to every actor in Hollywood in six associations or less hasn’t been proven untrue. NBA star Kevin Garnett helped lead the Boston Celtics to the Championship in 2008. Actors Kevin Kline and Costner don’t necessarily hurt it (though Kevin Costner can’t create a hit these days to save his life), but one particularly negative association is Cousin Kevin – the total $#!^$&@ from The Who’s rock opera, Tommy. Kevin sticks pins in the hands of his deaf, blind, mute cousin Tommy, locks him outside in the rain, burns his arm with cigarettes, and pushes him down the stairs, all while gleefully prideful of his ‘school bully’ status.
But still, Kevin has it’s supporters – it’s well within the US Top 100 for boy’s names today, though the very height of its popularity was when it was Top 15 in the 1960s and ’70s (and even cracked the Top 1000 for girls in the ’60s). It’s been slowly falling ever since. In Canada and Australia, Kevin lives outside the Top 100 (just 5 Kevins were born in British Columbia in 2010). Meanwhile, the name is currently Top 5 on the tiny Dutch-colonized island of Aruba, off the northern coast of Venezuela, and also Top 5 in the small eastern European nation of Estonia. It’s Top 100 in Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, and Spain, and Top 50 in Chile and Sweden.
Maybe Kevin’s biggest downfall is that it’s too common, almost everywhere. Throughout the ’90s, Kevin was actually the number one name for boys in France. France! (Maybe this is why the Germans have a negative association; there’s such history between these two countries, and very few French names succeed in Germany.) German pop star Sarah Connor welcomed a daughter named Delphine Malou in 2011, and there was apparently little support from German media despite an instant affection from numerous folks in the English-speaking world – German media immediately noted that Connor’s boyfriend’s surname is Fischer, which means that the name, essentially, reads in English as “dolphin fisher.” If you’ve seen The Cove, a doc about dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan, you cringe like I did when I read about the German reaction, even though it didn’t dawn on me when I first heard the name.
It’s not like Kevin’s origin and meaning are to be shied away from – it’s of Irish Gaelic origin and means “handsome beloved,” despite the fact that modern association with the name is basically the opposite. Root name Caoimhín/Caoimhghín is believed to derive from coem (“kind, honest, and handsome”) + gein (“birth”), to honour a son born with these physical and emotional qualities. Though the assumption is there, the name is not connected to Kelvin or Calvin, but it is related to Cavan, which is actually gaining some ground these days. Feminine Caoimhe (pronounced, and sometimes seen as, Keva) is also viewed in a better light than Kevin.
What do you think about Kevin?