American Names · Opinions

Phelony: A Baby Name Rant

I love perusing lists of names.  My regular readers know that I obsess over Social Security Administration birth data, which I use for the basis for many of my posts.  Occasionally I also read lists of birth announcements.  My favorite source for these is a site called For Real Baby Names, which nowadays specializes in the more interesting and unusual American announcements.  I also mainly work with rare names on my own blog, but one I saw on hers still managed to shock me.  According to this post containing Nevada birth announcements, there’s a little baby named Phelony.  Phelony Rose.  Um…in the inarticulate words of my distracted generation, I “literally can’t even.”

At least her middle name is Rose, right?

Now that I’ve collected my thoughts, my response is actually “bah humbug!”  There are only a few names I will vehemently argue against, and Phelony is one of them.  This daring name is a felony in every way except that which matters: legally.  It’s America.  You have the Constitutional right to name your child almost anything you desire.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m proud of the fact that our naming laws are almost non-existent.  Naming freedom truly lends to diversity and strengthens the 1st Amendment; it is an American value. Indeed, it would be very boring if everyone were named from a tiny pool of accepted appellations.  That Calliope and Saoirse, and Godric and Alastair roam today’s playgrounds is fantastic. 

That said – I have to wonder about the parent whose aspirations for their child involve breaking laws.  Virtues generally connote goodness; in this case, ‘Felony’ isn’t so much a vice as perhaps an anti-virtue.  Sure, maybe Phelony’s parents were trying to distinguish it from the word by changing the spelling.  Unfortunately, creative spellings don’t change pronunciation, and we’re still left with a baby girl who’s been called a criminal by the person(s) responsible for loving and protecting her.  Even if that wasn’t their intention, it’s the practical effect. 😦

Phelony may very well grow up to be an upstanding citizen.  Names don’t define their wearers.  Though weirdly, someone named “Fellony” actually did commit one.  Again, I don’t know how much her name affected her actions.  If anything, it probably had more to do with upbringing or weird luck. 

Exhibit A

I don’t know if this is the same Phelony from the birth announcement, but my Google-fu indicates there are probably a few of them out there.  Not too many, thankfully, but one is enough to catch my attention. :/

Thoughts, anyone? 


  • In case anyone is interested, the screenshot was found via a College Humor post called 25 Parents Whose Baby Naming Privileges Should Be Revoked.”  Their words, not mine.  I usually don’t follow College Humor, but when I told someone about the birth announcement he said he’d seen the name recently and that there was a screenshot somewhere online!  I couldn’t help but look.  
  • Swistle (another name blogger) is my newest hero.  I just found a post from 2008 in which she helped steer a family away from naming their child Felony.
  • On the bright side, between Felony, Fellony, and Phelony, none have ever appeared in the SSA extended data.  The names exist, but it means there have never been 5 or more people given the name in the same birth year. (Don’t get any ideas)
  • Looking at the screenshot, and the way they spell ‘felony’ – I hope that doesn’t mean that ‘Arien’ is actually ‘Aryan.’  I pray they aren’t white supremacists. 


7 thoughts on “Phelony: A Baby Name Rant

  1. Honestly I can’t really judge, but perhaps it’s not pronounced “felony”? It’s unlikely that it’s pronounced any other way but it could be possible.

    That said though it’s not exactly the best choice name-wise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well now. Let’s not be too quick to judge without knowing all the facts. What if… what if this is a transcription of a favorite name, even a popular name, from another language? (I’m not saying it is, just what if?)

    When my daughter was in grade school, one of her friends was named Kannary. Pronounced “cannery” not “canary”. Her parents were Cambodian immigrants. Now, while I would never have named my own child Cannery, the name suited her friend and was a reminder of her ethnic background. For many years I imagined, in my ignorance, that it was spelled Kanari. Lovely, I thought.

    So why not Phelony?

    For a laugh, check out the video of Mr Garvey mispronouncing his student’s names. Let me warn you, there is objectionable language, which is why I am not including a link, but I found it by googling “substitute teacher mispronounces name”. I wonder how he would pronounce Phelony…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s certainly a possibility I didn’t consider, though the middle name in this case is Rose. The story about Kannary is cool!

      Usually I remain positive about names. Phelony is one of those rare times where I simply can’t…I can’t shake feeling offended (should I even be?). I don’t want to feel judgmental…but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have limits and acknowledge them.

      Liked by 1 person

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