Baby names that mean something totally inappropriate in another language

If you've ever traveled abroad, you are probably familiar with the confusion that comes with trying to make yourself understood in a country where you don't speak the language. Fortunately, phrasebooks can help you find the bathroom or order food from the menu, but there are some things that they don't cover. With thousands of languages spoken all over the world, it's pretty much a given that some of the words you use every day will have different meanings in other languages.

It turns out that many of the names we consider to be common are also used as words in other countries that, unfortunately, have some pretty nasty meanings. You might want to check out what these baby names mean in other languages before deciding whether or not to give one of them to your own little one.


Chloe is such a cute name, right? In fact, it's trending all over the world right now and is ranked in the top 100 names for baby girls in several countries including the United States (where it's number 20) and Spain (where it sits at 57). 

Despite the name's popularity, it's not ranked in Germany and there's quite a good reason for this. It turns out the name Chloe is very similar to the name "klo" which is German slang for "toilet." Not exactly something you would want to call your baby no matter how tempting it is while changing their diaper!


Most people these days think of Apple's personal assistant when they hear the name Siri but it's actually a name in its own right. With its origins in Scandinavia, the name Siri is currently pretty popular in Sweden but you might want to be careful about saying it out loud in Japan where people might think you're saying the word "a**."

Technically, Siri doesn't mean anything bad since the actual term for "a**"  in Japanese is "Shiri." That technicality doesn't mean much, though, since when Siri is said out loud in Japan it would be pronounced the same as the offensive word.


There are actually a couple reasons that people might giggle at the name Randy. In English, the name is usually a form of Randall or Randolph but can also refer to feelings of sexual arousal. As if that weren't bad enough, in Hindi the word "randi" means "prostitute." People aren't letting themselves be put off the name, however. While it's not quite as popular as it used to be, it's still ranked 633rd for male baby names in the U.S.


The name Fanny is more or less regarded as old-fashioned in most countries these days (although it's still inexplicably popular in France). It's not hard to see why this name fell out of favor when you know what the word really means. In the United States, the word is used to refer to the buttocks which is pretty bad but nowhere near as bad as what it means in British English. Across the pond, the term is a pretty offensive slang term that refers to a woman's private parts.


Usually short for the name Peter, Pete is a very popular name throughout the world. The name dates back to Biblical times and has many variations in other countries that can all be traced back to the Greek Petros which means "stone." It's a strong name that has held steady for centuries, but in Argentina it has taken on an unusual and totally inappropriate meaning. There, "pete" is a slang word for fellatio.


The name Vaughn has remained fairly common in the United States for generations, coming from a Welsh surname derived from the term "bychan" meaning "little." Not exactly the best name meaning, but it's definitely not the worst. 

It makes sense that the name is most popular in America, because it could only be common in a country where people don't know Russian. In Russian, the word "von" means "stench." This news stinks for any Vaughns planning on traveling to Moscow.


The nickname Dom is frequently given to those named Dominic (or Dominique, the female variation of the popular moniker). It's cute and catchy, but it is definitely not a universally acceptable nickname. If you find yourself in the Netherlands, you might want to be careful. In Dutch, the word "dom" is more likely to be heard as an insult rather than as an affectionate shortening of a name. In that language, the word translates to "stupid."


If you think you can play it safe by giving your little Dominic or Nicholas the nickname Nick, you're wrong. While it's a popular and even a jolly name thanks to its connection to Santa Claus, it might make French people snicker thanks to the fact that it sounds quite a lot like the word "nique" which roughly translates to "f***." Saying that word will definitely get your kid coal in their stocking!


A shortened form of the name Rebecca, Becky seems like a fairly harmless name, right? In the Philippines, however, the name has in recent years become a slang word for a young, gay man. The word is often used affectionately and isn't seen as a homophobic slur, though, so while you might get a few giggles from your Filipino friends if you name your baby girl Becky, it will all be in good fun.


The name Cara (also spelled Kara) is a very popular name in the United States and the United Kingdom but it turns out thousands of people have been giving their baby girls a name that is quite the insult in Arabic. While the English version of the name comes from an Italian word meaning "beloved," the Arabic-speaking world has assigned a far less pleasant term to the word "khara." In Arabic, this lovely name actually translates to "s***."


Gil is used in a few countries as both a name and as a nickname. In the United States, it's usually short for Gilbert. In Europe, it is the Spanish and Portuguese equivalent of the name Giles. Gil is also a Hebrew name; in that language it translates to "happiness" or "joy." In Poland, however, Gil is not used as a name or as a particularly nice word. There, the name is a term that means "snot."


In the United States, the name Willy is a fairly innocuous nickname for the more formal William, a name which has been incredibly popular for centuries. Given the widespread use of the name, you kind of have to wonder how it became a slang term for "penis." Fortunately, this slang word is mostly used in British English so it's fairly safe to use in the U.S. You should definitely shorten the name to Will, though, if you plan on visiting England.

When in doubt, use a nickname

Of course, none of this means that you should necessarily refrain from giving your baby a particular name if you really like it (unless you are planning on living in one of the countries where their name is a taboo word). But it's always good to be culturally aware. If your child ends up traveling to a place where their name is considered to be an insult, they can always use a nickname or their middle name, although you might want to recommend they double check what those words mean in the countries they're visiting, just in case!