This article is part of our Community Questions feature, where our names expert answers YOUR questions about baby naming. If you have a question, please start a thread on our Baby Names Advice message board, where you can also get input from other name enthusiasts. We’ll let you know if we feature your question in a future column! 



Mario? Madonna? Miley? Can a name ever be so associated with a person, place or thing that it is rendered “off limits” as a viable choice? BabyNamesWorld community member childofthewaves asked the following:

“Some claim the name Katrina is now unusable due to the 2005 hurricane. What do you think?”

Although certain associations can cause a name’s popularity to wane momentarily, it is unlikely that it any name will be out for good. Here are some important factors to keep in mind when assessing a name:

1. Think about history.  History is your friend, especially when assessing a name for appropriateness. The name Katrina has been used world-over since the 4th century. Its pedigree is rich and long. Although the hurricane Katrina disaster was devastating, there is so much good in this name’s lengthy history, it would be a shame to condemn it because of one bad association.

2. Think globally. While a name like Katrina might take a dive in U.S. popularity, it is still plenty popular in countries that weren’t as affected by the disaster. Thinking of the “big picture” assures you’ll keep a healthy perspective about a name you love.

3. Apply common sense.  Listen to your gut: it’s usually right! Do you feel, in your heart of hearts, that Katrina is a no-no? I don’t, but it’s important that you be honest with yourself and establish your own boundaries of what is or isn’t acceptable. Then, be comfortable with your decision.

That’s my advice… what’s your advice for this user? Join the conversation on the boards!