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Medical Monikers

NewannaAnna Burkhead -- Recently, two of the biggest movie stars in US pop culture celebrated the birth of their twins. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt added to their brood of children (twins make six!) with the delivery of a boy and a girl over the weekend in France. Their newborns' names: Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline.

Knox and Vivi join the cadres of celebrity babies with unusual names. But this trend is not limited to the rich and famous. When I was on my 3rd year OB/GYN clerkship, I witnessed and participated in many deliveries. Most of the names given to these precious newborns were unremarkable. However, of note, I did witness the christening of twins Mi'Angel and Mi'Joy, as well as a beautiful baby girl Taryntulla (you may need to say it out loud).

It made me wonder about the babies born every day with unusual monikers. Well, I did some scrounging around on the miracle that is the internet, and found more than a few names that are sure to make you furrow your brow. I was particularly fascinated with the medical-themed handles that have been reported on birth certificates.

First, two disclaimers: 1. Some of this is probably folklore. 2. Every baby is a precious gift, and even if the baby's name is Plantar Wart, Jr. he can still grow up to be a fine upstanding person.

Here are some gems I came across.

Enamel (pronounced EE-na-mul, like animal with a long 'e')

Urea (pronounced YUR-ee-ah, emphasis on first syllable)

Syphilis (pronounced suh-PHYL-us, like Phyllis with a –suh)

Eczema (pronounced as usual)

Ovary (pronounced oh-VAR-ee)

I'm not sure what the procedure of signing a birth certificate entails. However, I would think that a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional would be somewhere nearby and could potentially intervene, or at least verify, that parents know the meanings of these words, before they're inked in legal print.

Perhaps these words have ancestral or cultural meanings in particular families' cases. But in other situations, I could imagine these medical terms being chosen for baby names because they sound pretty, without actually knowing their meanings.

I'm sure there are some Labor & Delivery folks out there who keep lists of their favorites, either because they truly love the name, or they're truly fascinated by it. Let's hear 'em!

July 17, 2008 in Anna Burkhead | Permalink


It's actually sad: there is a poor soul out there whose mother named him "Fullydilated". And I treated "Samsung" today.

(On a slightly different topic: there is a Eastern European chocolate named "Melena". It tastes fine.)

Posted by: Elsje | Jul 17, 2008 12:22:33 PM

About the chocolate: I think in europe variations of that name are present as actual names, not made up, they have been around for very long. German ones that sound similar to "Melena" are for example "Milena" or "Melanie"

Posted by: flo | Jul 17, 2008 1:24:12 PM

Some of those names are not only folk lore, but racist fol k lore:


Posted by: Asal Sepassi | Jul 17, 2008 7:06:28 PM

I once had a patient named Candida. Never treated her for it, though.

Posted by: April | Jul 18, 2008 5:56:21 AM

Takes more than a reference on Snopes to make something untrue.

I worked with a girl named Infanta. If you've ever worked in a newborn nursery, you've probably seen that name a hundred time on one of a set of twins.

Posted by: kde | Jul 18, 2008 6:57:19 PM

but i think u can change ur name legally when u come of legal age...esp if u have a valid reason

Posted by: ninette_umpa | Jul 21, 2008 9:50:57 PM

I provide services for a child named Anakin Skywalker.

Posted by: ds | Jul 22, 2008 3:33:14 PM

I know that the docs where I'm working said that they have seen quite a few girls named "Female" pronounced "Feh mah lay" and kids named: "Nosmoking" pronounced "Nos-moh-king"

Posted by: Beth | Jul 22, 2008 3:34:34 PM

Here are some of my favs from my peds rotation in the newborn nursery:

1. L'shs
2. D'xre
3. Amazingly Beutiful
And all time oddest and kind of saddest name:
4. Abcde

1. Lushess
2. Desire
3. like it sounds
4. a-bee-si-de (or obesity)

It is a free world but I wish some moms would think a little bit longer before actually filling out that birth cert. I feel bad for the poor kids once they get into school (but I guess if its so popular to name kids odd names then most kids will have them)

Posted by: Kate | Jul 22, 2008 4:13:17 PM

You have to check out the Utah Baby Namer:
for a list of some of the world's most incredible names.

Have a look at the "Cream of the Crop" list - there is a Vulva Mae and a Clitoris. These names are verified!!! Somewhere in Utah.......

Posted by: Tania | Jul 22, 2008 6:12:23 PM

I can't believe people commenting on this article named Tania (Taenia) and Anna (An.l) are makig fun of kids names.

Posted by: Angelou | Jul 22, 2008 9:07:13 PM

Hm. My Ph.D. advisor and his wife have a litte girl named Hymena. Both are biologists in medical research. He is German, she is from Chile.

Posted by: CLI98 | Jul 22, 2008 10:24:43 PM


Thanks for the comment! If you read closely you'll see that I am, in no way, making fun of these names.

Also, why make fun of others' names if that very act is what you accuse? Just a thought.

What is An.I anyway? Something medical? This will be my learning point for the day :)

Posted by: Anna | Jul 22, 2008 10:28:49 PM

here in certain south asian country, there is a beautiful boys name thats quite common : "Anas" (pronounced Un-nas)..however, since this is not an English speaking country, I have come across this name being spelt as "Anus" ...unfortunate, but u cant blame the parents for this one.

Posted by: DrAS | Jul 23, 2008 10:34:02 AM

There's a brand of toothpaste in Switzerland called Candida.

Posted by: Linda | Jul 23, 2008 10:53:07 AM

Oh yes, and a couple of times I had patients whose first names were the same as their surnames:
William Williams
Hendrik Hendricks

And once there was a guy called Hitler

Posted by: Linda | Jul 23, 2008 10:54:34 AM

i have met a meleana and an ilius. my mum say s she met a kid called guy. not to odd but the mum pronounced it goo-ey. nice.

Posted by: lily | Jul 23, 2008 1:47:50 PM

I met Noah Hans and Thea Coffee on the neonates ward. I've also met Malena Black.

Posted by: Chris | Jul 23, 2008 6:05:56 PM

On my last rotation I worked with a surgical intern called Candida. She knew her name caused a bit of comment, but she felt that "Candy" couldn't be taken seriously as a doctor.

Posted by: Claudia | Jul 23, 2008 6:36:29 PM

One of my mom's friends named her daughter - Genna Taylor - say both names outloud together - poor kid and she's american, her mum writes children's books so there is absolutely no excuse!

Posted by: Imogen | Jul 25, 2008 5:49:25 AM

I once was unfortunately unsuccessful in talking a woman out of naming her beautiful baby girl "Meconium" even after explaining what that meant...

I also had a patient (she herself unfortunately named) who named her kids Milky Way and Fabulosa.

Posted by: Grace | Jul 25, 2008 10:19:10 AM

I'm surprised no one has mentioned orangejello and lemonjello.

Unfortunately, Anna, I don't share your "fascination" with parents labeling their children with words they picked up on a medical chart or a sign in front of the hospital.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 25, 2008 3:13:57 PM

And I, Brian, don't share your "sarcasm" or "fantastic wit". But I do admire your freewheeling use of "quotation marks".

Posted by: KDE | Jul 31, 2008 4:46:24 PM

La-a. Pronounced "Ladasha". And sadly, I've met two children named this. I still think the worse was baby Kabinet, pronounced "cabinet".

Posted by: TS | Dec 15, 2009 2:26:03 PM

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