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Why you shouldn’t call your kid Nimrod

September 21, 2010

Most people who move to Israel do so with the intention of living here forever. In order to ensure that their future kids can’t undo this decision, they talk about giving them names that sound awful in English or whatever language is spoken in their former homeland. Thankfully (or not, if you’re the kid) Hebrew presents so many options on that end that it’s possible to have a dozen progeny who would have to change their names if they wanted a normal life overseas.

Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny, the origin of nimrod as insultToday I saw an advertisement on the side of the road for a clothing store called Nimrod. While Nimrod is a mostly respectable Biblical figure known to be a powerful hunter, the nuance of the name was altered forever by Bugs Bunny when he referred to the bumbling Elmer Fudd as a “nimrod.” According to this article, calling such a hapless hunter “Nimrod” was intended to be akin to calling one’s golf caddy “Tiger,” but the joke was too obscure for the majority of Americans who weren’t in on New York Jewish humor, and therefore they assumed that the word itself must be an insult due to the context — as indeed it was, albeit not in the way everyone interpreted it. So that’s why you’ll find all kinds of respectable Nimrods in Israel but only doltish nimrods in America.

For much less culturally complex reasons, I can’t help but giggle on the inside every time I see the name פנחס (Pinchas, pronounced more like “PEEN-hahs” when Englishified), but that’s pretty obvious. The name אוסנת (Osnot, pronounced “oh-SNOT”) tickles two linguistic centers in my brain, as not only is “Oh snot” plenty unfortunate in English, but the idea of adding お (o, used as an honorific before nouns in Japanese) to a word like snot is equally amusing.

But no matter how many Hebrew names sound like body parts or insults or honorable body fluids, intentionally handicapping a kid with such a name is definitely getting off on the wrong foot with parenting. Don’t tether your kids to the place where you found (or hope to find) happiness by screwing them over, or you’ll just end up with resentful kids who can’t wait to get far, far away from you. On the other hand, the sheer enjoyment you can get from coming up with these names and then getting to legitimately call someone “Hey, Nimrod!” for years might be totally worth it.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kimberly permalink
    September 25, 2010 5:43 pm

    I have also heard of people named “Shlomo,” a name I often use to describe people who have a few screws loose ; )

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