Is there a negative perception of boys whose names begin with C/K?

(70 Posts)
HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Tue 04-Feb-14 15:18:05

I've noticed in a lot of dramas etc. that naughty boys are often called something beginning with a C/K sound. The actual names change with fashion, so it used to be Kevin and Kieran and Craig, but now I see negative depictions of boys called:


The only escapees I can think of are Kit and Keith, but there aren't that many Keiths anyway.

Has anyone else noticed this? Is it an anti-Irish thing?

NadiaWadia Tue 04-Feb-14 15:22:59

Well I don't know. There are Charles and Christopher, which seem quite 'good boy' names!

NadiaWadia Tue 04-Feb-14 15:24:36

It could be that names like Kayden are perceived as lower-class? But I really like some of the names you list, like Connor.

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Tue 04-Feb-14 15:28:02

Christopher is not often perceived that way, that's true, though I've seen Chris for a naughty boy.

Charles doesn't start with a C/K sound, but Carl does and that definitely used to be used as a "bad boy" name.

MyPreciousRing Tue 04-Feb-14 15:28:48

You forgot 'kian'

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Tue 04-Feb-14 15:30:14

It's not that I don't like the names - though some of them I like more than others grin.

I've also noticed C/K names turn up with some frequency on those unpleasant "Teachers - tell us which names you judge" threads.

MrsHarryRamsden Tue 04-Feb-14 15:30:48

A lot of the boys with challenging behaviour in my docs school have names starting with C/K. Probably a coincidence but uncanny...

TrampledUnderfoot Tue 04-Feb-14 15:56:23

It's an anti 'lower class' thing.

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Tue 04-Feb-14 19:18:23

Why would a particular consonant sound be associated with "lower class"? That's why I wondered if it could be anti-Irish sentiment, because a lot of the names in my list are or sound like they're of Irish origin. Callum and Connor especially seem to be used a lot for naughty characters and I think they're both Irish names.

takingthathometomomma Tue 04-Feb-14 19:25:08

I've noticed that too. I can't say why but people seem to turn their noses up at these names. I know two lovely, polite Kaydens and one lovely Cai. I also know a Kye who's a nightmare. A nightmare Christopher too!

Oubliette0292 Tue 04-Feb-14 20:22:42

I'd counter with Clive, Casper, Conrad, Clyde, Crispin, Christian and maybe Colin for 'C' and Kenneth, Keir and Karl for 'K'. I also know some Kevins who are very successful.

Mintymoomoo Tue 04-Feb-14 20:28:37

In my experiance the naughty boys I know are called Harry, Jack and George (I actually like all these names but have family and good friends children who already have them

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Tue 04-Feb-14 20:30:04

A couple of those I would have said fit the stereotype I was thinking of, especially Karl, but I see what you're saying. I've never seen anything with a scampish Crispin on it grin Or indeed any Crispin. Sounds like something you sprinkle on salad.

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Tue 04-Feb-14 20:30:32

That was to Oubliette.

Oubliette0292 Tue 04-Feb-14 20:36:45

I have to confess I've never met a child called Karl, but the adults I know with this name are so dull that I just can't picture them doing anything naughty as children...

NadiaWadia Wed 05-Feb-14 01:03:42

I don't think it could be an anti-Irish thing. Because girls names of Irish origin like Siobhan and Orla etc are not stereotyped as 'naughty girl' names as far as I know?

A lot of those names you list are American really, like Corey and Cody. No I think it is probably a 'class' thing. But why so many are 'c's and 'k's I really don't know!

WorriedMouse Wed 05-Feb-14 05:16:40

I noticed this when I was pregnant the first time and teaching a difficult group of boys. Lots of names beginning with k/c. Coincidence probably but all those names were off our list because I didn't want to name a child after naughty boy I'd taught. Didn't need to worry as we had a girl!

bigkidsdidit Wed 05-Feb-14 05:31:52

I've always thought it was anti- Irish sentiment, you get the same reactions to names like Liam; not c /k names but Irish origin.

JapaneseMargaret Wed 05-Feb-14 06:46:30

It's a class thing - girls names starting with K are also, um, frowned upon.

Kayleigh, Kelsey, Kari, Karley, Katelyn (though not Caitlyn so much), Keira, etc. And then the K-afied C names - Khloe, Kourtney, Kandace, etc...

tammytoby Wed 05-Feb-14 14:35:10

Really? I know lots of lovely boys called Christopher, Caspar, Cornelius, Crispin and Conrad. And on the Continent names like Karl, Kaspar and Konrad are all normal names.

Equally, Caroline, Clementine, Catherine, Clarissa, Cornelia, Cordelia, Clara, Cecily are all lovely names imo, don't think they're all 'naughty' names.

So I don't think it is the letter 'C' or 'K' that makes these names naughty.

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Wed 05-Feb-14 14:37:34

Yeah, but that's real life, tammy grin TV is a lot less nuanced.

tammytoby Wed 05-Feb-14 14:40:33

Yeah, I guess that's true smile

NightCircus Wed 05-Feb-14 17:58:23

Ks Js and McKenzies

I work with challenging teens so I'd include the following as very frequent:-

ProfondoRosso Wed 05-Feb-14 18:06:06

Very sad if there's any anti-Irish prejudice to this.

I don't see how Charles/Cornelius/Caspar are better names than Callum or Connor.

But maybe that's because I'm in Glasgow and am just accustomed to growing up around boys and men with Irish names, because so many of us here are just one or two generations away from Irish families.

Celestae Wed 05-Feb-14 18:09:55

My son is called Conor.... I hope he isn't naughty... I don't have people telling me so, and I have met other people with children who don't listen to them as well as my boy listens to me.

NightCircus Wed 05-Feb-14 19:16:57

I really like Caleb which I think is somewhere between Kayden and Caspar.

Hullygully Wed 05-Feb-14 19:19:16

Statistically, 72% of all non-violent burglaries are carried out by men under 30 with names beginning with those letters.

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Wed 05-Feb-14 19:20:04

<snort> grin

Pigeonhouse Wed 05-Feb-14 20:56:41

The letter K doesn't exist in Irish, and the only names with any Irish origin on your list, OP, are Conor and Callum, and even then Callum is, I think, the Scots version of the Irish name Colm. Colm and Conor are plain, strong, traditional names, the equivalent of Thomas and James in Ireland.

The reason K names are looked down on in the UK is down to class prejudice. There is a perception that names like Kayden, Kayleigh and Kai are working class.

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Wed 05-Feb-14 21:20:17

It does seem like it may be a class thing, then - it seems so weird that there could be a class connotation to names beginning with a particular consonant sound.

There are quite a few common girls' names beginning with C/K that have no real class or behaviour sterotypes, as Tammy pointed out, but most of her boys' examples are pretty rare.

All very weird.

1944girl Fri 07-Feb-14 00:53:52

My name starts with a K but it is hardly ever used now.

I have a grandaughter with a name beginning with C and another with K.Neither of them are in the ''naughty'' list.

I do know a very naughty Kai though!

My father's name began with a K, also not on the naughty list.

The only Callum and Cole I've ever met are really clever, well behaved boys.

Just don't call your DS Gary.

DD1 had in in her class who lived in the corridor, 30 years before so did we.

aquashiv Fri 07-Feb-14 01:11:08

k is often a wron on due to the Kardashaians they are fecking ejits though who would bastardise all name so that they can begin with a K

aquashiv Fri 07-Feb-14 01:11:41

apologies for spelling

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Fri 07-Feb-14 01:21:55

The real life bad boys in my own primary class were Ricky, Simon and Leigh (yes, spelt like that) and Carl was lovely. I don't have kids myself but of those I've met I've never noticed a real-life correlation. But in fiction and the kids chosen for "documentaries" (ahem) - that's where I've seen the connection.

NightCircus Fri 07-Feb-14 08:40:25

I'll return to this thread next week. There's 100 kids at school, (all with v v high tier behaviour issues). I'll do a letter count!

pixiestix Fri 07-Feb-14 15:00:32

I've always thought it was anti-Irish as well as anti-working class when I have read it on here but Pigeonhouse's post has got me thinking now. Maybe that is a completely mistaken view.

ohhifruit Fri 07-Feb-14 15:04:54

We have a Christopher who shortens his name to Kit. My mother (a teacher) says similar to you - Conors/Callum/Kyle are the worst in her experience.

Minicreamegg Fri 07-Feb-14 15:09:46

It's the very 1st time I've seen my DS name mentioned on MN and it's on the naughty list! Great lol

Pigeonhouse Fri 07-Feb-14 15:33:22

No, Pixie, I do think there is a distinct prejudice about names perceived to be Irish in this country - long before I had my son, I remember other Irish friends having children in the UK debating on names and whether their children would face discrimination if they had Irish names - but the names on the OP's list mostly aren't Irish.

But of course, what matters is whether a name is perceived to be Irish, not whether it in fact is. Perhaps the existence of Cillian, Colm, Conor etc means some people assume Kayden, Kai and the like are in fact Irish?

It's interesting also that the Irish name prejudice seems to be gendered. Lots of enthusiasm for Medbh, Niamh, Aisling and the like, but much more dubious about boys' names...

antiabz Fri 07-Feb-14 15:35:12

I always imagined Cedrick/ Cecil to be well behaved.

But then my dogs have those as middle names and they certainly aren't!

dozily Fri 07-Feb-14 15:42:16

We considered an Irish name (Liam) but were worried about the 'naughty boy' connotations. I agree it doesn't seem to apply to Irish girls' names though.

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Fri 07-Feb-14 16:50:44

antiabz, I've only noticed it with names that begin with the hard C/K sound, so not Charles, Cedric, Cecil, or Charlemagne grin

And only boys' names, really. I know people look down on Keeleys and Kellys and Kayleighs, but I don't think they're seen as naughty, as such, and there are lots of girls' names beginning with K and hard C sounds that are popular with all classes.

Pigeonhouse, that's spot on, about the perception, that's exactly what I meant. I know most of the names on my list aren't Irish, but to an English ear like mine many of them do sound kinda Irish-ish, which is why I wondered if that was the link. It seemed more possible that names beginning with a certain letter would be mentally associated with a foreign origin than with a social class, but I really don't know.

Lottystar Fri 07-Feb-14 17:38:04

What a silly thread - it's just making generalisations about certain names and being judgemental. It's certainly not anti Irish as lots of Irish names are very popular. I personally don't like americanised names which are misspelt or just made up but that's not snotty, just because I'd like to give my children names with a bit of history or tradition. Everyone to their own. But to suggest a child is naughty due to their name is preposterous.

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Fri 07-Feb-14 17:57:21

I'm so sorry to have so profoundly upset you, Lottystar, please could you provide a list of appropriate non-silly discussion topics? I can see that us discussing the reasons behind people's prejudices about certain types of names is ridiculous; as opposed to your quite sensible and totally unbigoted dislike for "Americanised, misspelt or made-up" names, which is of course completely un-snotty and nothing to do with classism, racism or xenophobia.

takingthathometomomma Fri 07-Feb-14 18:02:23

There was an interesting article in today's TES about names and stereotypes that made me think of this thread. Can't link as I have it in print, and I'm not sure if it can be read online unless you're a subscriber, but if anyone does subscribe to it do have a look!

mylittlesunshine Fri 07-Feb-14 18:10:19

I would agree there are a lot where I work who are slightly more naughty that begin with K not so many with C the Connors I know are lovely


Also always have some naughty Joshua's, Jacobs & Reece

NadiaWadia Fri 07-Feb-14 18:51:46

antiabz your dogs have middle names????

Lottystar I don't think you read the thread properly.

Lottystar Fri 07-Feb-14 19:33:43

As I said, everyone to their own in terms of taste.

I think labelling boys names that begin with C or K as naughty based upon a child in someone's class or whatnot is daft, sorry.

takingthathometomomma Fri 07-Feb-14 19:35:22

Lottystar I don't think the OP was labelling, she was questioning the negative perceptions (which, unfortunately, do exist). Other posters then continued to lightheartedly state whether they knew Cs or Ks who fit the stereotype or not. I think everybody on here is aware that it's daft.

Lottystar Fri 07-Feb-14 19:45:53

And that is the point I'm making, it undoubtedly leads to posters commenting on a child they know with the letter C. Or whatever being naughty, which makes me sad. I wasn't directly attacking you Op, although such threads always tend to go the same way. Children can be good, they can be naughty, it's more down to the parents, their natures and their environment (amongst other things) than a name. I'm certainly not classest, racist or anything else, I just don't particularly see the point of a thread where children will inevitably be labelled, whether that was the intention or not.

Theonlyoneiknow Fri 07-Feb-14 19:54:23

Good point lotty. I know that's not what the OP was commenting on either but it is inevitable on mumsnet that it will be about naughty or unruly children whose names start with those letters. My DS has a name starting with K and it gets very tiresome having it referred to negatively on these threads.

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Fri 07-Feb-14 21:13:08

TheOnlyOneIKnow, I am genuinely sorry if the thread has upset you, as it wasn't my intention to denigrate these names - if anything, I'd hope that finding out why some people have these ideas about certain names would help us see where previously unnoticed class/race/other prejudice was colouring our perceptions.

I'd hate to feel that I was prejudging or discriminating against anyone based on their name - I try to be conscious of my prejudices so I'm not beholden to them. I know naming actual examples of the types of names I'm thinking of is risky and could upset people but it's tricky to talk about otherwise and I hope this thread hasn't made you feel too angry or upset.

There is always a risk threads will derail but posters can't control what others post. If threads discussing this kind of thing almost always tend to devolve into discussions you don't like, you could always avoid reading/posting on them.

Lottystar, do you really feel it's not worth exploring the usually unspoken assumptions and underlying attitudes that are all over these naming boards and elsewhere in society?

For example, your dislike for made-up names. I don't know why you don't like them, but it might be worth asking yourself whether the names you object to are those quite commonly used for urban African-Americans, who are often very negatively portrayed in lots of American media we have access to, and whether that's affected your feelings without you knowing it. Maybe it's nothing to do with that at all. But for me, I'm interested in where my assumptions have come from so I would ask myself that question.

mylittlesunshine Fri 07-Feb-14 21:15:26

I mentioned names that begin with K that I have known to be slightly naughty, doesn't mean every child with that name will be. People do and will always be put off names for some reason or other, whether it's because they have a mean aunt with it or they know a naughtier child with it or an ex partner etc there will always be something that will trigger it for that person. I certainly don't pre judge children on the name they have been given

well, I have two boys who both have C names with a hard k sound.

Both names are on here but one of them is on with a K spelling instead of a C. Neither are naughty and I don't think their names would be considered particularly lower class - we were going for classless Scottish names though we went for a Gaelic spelling for one and think it ended up Irish instead.

I don't think it is do much the names that have a k sound in their original spelling that has the negative connotation so much as the ones where people have changed the C for a K in the form that the Kardashians have taken on board.

I know people shouldn't judge, but of course they do, you have a certain perception in mind when you hear a name and an expectation of what that person may be like or what class they come from. As long as you allow yourself to be open minded when you actually meet them then what you think inside your own head is your own business I guess.

Lottystar Sat 08-Feb-14 19:44:03

Should we explore this issue? Of course you can if you like. I just don't really see the point, especially when it leads to some posters and responses making negative associations with certain names. Generally we all know we are capable of judging others, we can do it unwittingly everyday. That's life alas and I try to guard against that with every best intention. For all you know I may be of African heritage or background, you're making assumptions about my prejudices which I pointed out was simply my taste and inclination, nothing more, nothing less.

GimmeDaBoobehz Sat 08-Feb-14 20:57:17

It's strange isn't it.

There was a Christian at my primary school who was the naughtiest little bugger in the world. The teachers felt so harassed by him and he'd throw chewing gum and brambles into us girls hair [little git - I threw a spider on him but my name doesn't begin to a K or C].

Carrianne was a girl who was pretty cheeky and naughty at that school too. She wasn't horrible but was very, very spoilt.

Kieran was a bloke I knew who had a delusion of grandeur and was quite 'everything is about me'.

Craig is a guy I know who was a womaniser and a general all round ass really.

Cameron is a bloke I knew who had a drug problem and was also a bit up himself (common theme?)

Karl is my exes name and lets just say he's an ex for a few very, very good reasons.

I have no idea why this is as it must be coincidence.

But I have met some nice:


HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Sat 08-Feb-14 21:37:07

Thanks for the permission, Lottystar. It's interesting that you mention that I don't know your heritage. It's been shown that people can be affected by negative stereotypes even of groups they themselves belong to - black American children, for example, were shown to have a bias towards preferring white dollies, and feeling negative towards the black dollies. Girls who are reminded of the stereotype that girls are bad at maths just before a maths test will perform worse than girls who aren't reminded of the stereotype. It's very sad. I made no assumption about your prejudices; just used your stated dislikes to demonstrate the kind of questions I would ask myself to try and determine whether my brain and my culture are combining to give me prejudices I'd rather not have.

Gimme, you have a point about coincidences - I wonder how much confirmation bias comes into it, too. I think in real life those two factors probably have a big impact, which could then be what feeds into the drama writers' choices for "naughty" characters.

Lottystar Sat 08-Feb-14 22:02:26

Oh dear. Well, I'm not going to continue this discussion with you. I made my point, that's all.

takingthathometomomma Sat 08-Feb-14 22:07:41

Aside from C/Ks, I wonder what Katie Hopkins-types think of children with foreign names that sound not-that-foreign. Would they be upset if their children were playing with Aaliyahs or Jamaals?

TiggyOBE Sat 08-Feb-14 22:08:32

A typical Carl/Karl

Some K names seem to be chosen by types of people who have certain philosophies on rules/bounderies/discipline which are interesting.

I'm leaving it at that.

TiggyOBE Sat 08-Feb-14 22:09:52

No reading anything into that clip! I just love the clip and it happened to have a Carl/Karl in it.

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Sat 08-Feb-14 22:19:30


That video. That video is… well. Ahem. Gosh.


Purplelooby Sat 08-Feb-14 23:22:01

Personally I think it is a prejudice born of class rather than Irish-ness. I'm from Salford which (until recently) has been considered very deprived. I'd guess that 95 % of us long-term Salfordians have at least some Irish heritage and names like Liam and Conor have been very popular here, but I think stereotypes of Salfordians (and all of the other similar) have been caused by being 'working class' and not because many of us are 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation Irish - IMHO the same thing applies to the names.

Incidentally, I've never taught a naughty Liam or Conor, but I've taught a Hugo who was a right little &%£$.

MrsT2007 Mon 10-Feb-14 11:47:38

I've taught a couple of Georges who are proper little £#%^ too. And a Rose, and Charlottes, Emmas etc.

It doesn't follow that names starting with letters have any bearing but in my experience (I'm not saying generally, just my experience!) messed about name spelling have been trouble. So Aymee, Jeorge (not Spanish!) we're not the best behaviour wise. Not the worst either (that belongs to a Daniel, a David and a Sam!)

NightCircus Tue 11-Feb-14 18:36:39

100 children with statements for behavioural issues in a midlands school. Approx 85% male.
A 8
B 7
C 13
D 1
E 1
F 1
G 1
H 2
I 0
J 17
K 11
L 10
M 3
N 2
O 1
P 2
Q 0
R 4
S 4
T 4
U 1
V 0
W 4
X 0
Y 0
Z 1

Most frequently occurring names
6 Joshuas
5 Liams
3 of Bradley, Ben, Cameron, Jordan

2 of Thomas, William, Sam, Jack, Jamie, Daniel (traditional?)
2 of Connor, Callum, Ashley, Kyle,

A selection of Kian, Keenon, Keedan, Kailums

Overall 24% have C/K names
17% J names
10 % L names.

No idea how this would compare with a same aged peers without behavioural issues, but there's your stats!

nkf Tue 11-Feb-14 18:45:52

I thought the thread was about TV names, not real life children.

NightCircus Tue 11-Feb-14 18:54:31

Most of the responses were around what people had experienced in their working or personal lives.
I expect TV will reflect that.

nkf Tue 11-Feb-14 20:02:06

Or the other way round. If a TV writer is trying to think of a name for a bad character, they probably reach for a stereotype and that it turns perpetuates the stereotype. I thought that was the OP was trying to say. I know it has become a I know a whoever and he was lovely type thread, but the original post wasn't really that.

NightCircus Tue 11-Feb-14 21:21:58

Fair enough, I thought I might have something to add, as to whether there was a genuine basis to the c/k stereotype in a population of 'naughty boys'. Or if indeed it was unfounded.
Again it's a tricky topic and easy to offend.....

I personally dislike the terms 'bad' and 'naughty boys' as both are rather reductive. I can see why they'd be used for ease though.
I think the c/k names are probably more common in certain sections of community and those children face their own challenges. However, like I said it may be that names beginning with c/k sounds are just frequently used in English.

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