Celebrity Names Blog

Jay Mohr Heavily Criticized For Giving Son A "Girl's Name"

Jay Mohr Heavily Criticized For Giving Son A "Girl's Name"
Sarah Cullen/Fame Pictures

Life should be complete bliss for Jay Mohr -- after all, the comedian welcomed his second son, first with wife Nikki Cox, last week. But instead of reveling in sweet newborn baby milestones -- first yawn! first smile! -- he's fighting off critics who are attacking him for giving his son what they mistakenly think is a "girl's name."

The comedian and the actress named their baby boy -- born on Cinco de Mayo -- Meredith Daniel Mohr. The name Meredith, which is both a girl's and boy’s name, is of Welsh origin and means “noted ruler” as well as “sea lord.” For Jay and Nikki, the name is also a family name: not only is her father named Meredith, but so is her brother.

Seems all swell and good, right? Wrong! Apparently critics -- including singer John Legend’s model girlfriend Chrissy Teigen -- were unaware that Meredith is a gender neutral name and poked fun of Jay on Twitter for what they determined to be a poor name selection. “Nikki Cox and Jay Mohr named their son Meredith,” the Sports Illustrated model wrote on Twitter following the baby announcement. “Their son, Meredith. Meredith is their son’s name. The name of their son is Meredith.”

Naturally, the new dad was defensive -- this wasn’t a name he was considering giving his child, this was the name he gave his child... and a family name at that. So a Twitter feud broke out as Jay defended his name selection, explaining, “Meredith = ‘God of the Sea.’ It was a man's name until WW1. He's named after his granddad." Adding: "Don't bag on what someone names their child. #low”

Chrissy didn’t take kindly to the e-scolding and tweeted a response, saying: “What do you count as 'making fun of your sons name'?? Saying it's feminine? It is. BIG DEAL. What have I said about this name that no one else has, much more evil-ly? It's feminine.”

The war of words continued and Jay addressed several other naysayers, including one who told him that the "worst thing about a boy named Meredith" was that there was no nickname it could be shortened to to make it less feminine. “Um… Mac?” the new dad shot back. Jay also said he felt Meredith was better than trendier names like Dakota, Montana, Zander, Tyler and Holden.

The bottom line -- according to the data -- is that Meredith is more popular today as a female name than as a male name. The female version currently sits at No. 603 on the Top-1000 popular name chart while the male version last appeared on the list in 1954 when it was at No. 958. However, like Jay noted, the male Meredith appeared on the Top-1000 list first -- back in 1893 – some 17 years before it became a popular name for girls. The male version peaked in popularity in 1951, when it was No. 582 on the list, but the female version made it all the way to No. 140 in 1980.

Further, gender neutral names like Meredith are in. Jayden, Madison and Aiden all appear on the newly-released Top-10 popular baby names list.

This Internet spat reminds us how subjective baby names are. It really comes down to personal taste. What’s great for one person is the worst thing in the world for another -- and that’s just the way it is. How you choose to express your dislike for a name is something else altogether.

Have you ever told a new parent that you didn’t like the name they selected? Did anyone ever say that to you? And what do you think about the name Meredith for a boy? Weigh in below.

--S.B.

Comments

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May 12, 2011 1:03 PM
By Zoe (not verified)

I do think the name is super feminine, especially due to the popularity of Grey's Anatomy. It's actually one of my favorite girls names. I think it might have been better as a middle name.

May 12, 2011 1:12 PM
By Alli (not verified)

I don't really see how Mac is a nickname for Meredith. It may technically be a gender neutral name, but it definitely is a more feminine name right now. It's silly for him to think that no one will find the name Meredith on a boy strange. He knew that ahead of time and should have been prepared for it.

May 12, 2011 1:15 PM
By Sabrina (not verified)

I would never tell someone that the name they picked is bad. However, Jay Mohr is a celeb. People always discuss/tweet about their choices. There was a lot of backlash when Gwyeneth Paltrow named her babies Apple & Moses. Mr. Mohr shouldn't take it too personal as a public figure. She didn't tell him in person. The name Meredith is a terrible name for a boy. I wonder if he discussed it with other people(besides his in-laws)? Does his brother-in-law even like his own name? Once a name has become popular with a girl it can never go back to being a boys name. I feel bad for little Meredith though. Who wants to find out that strangers thought you had a girl name?

May 12, 2011 1:26 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Love it. Makes me think of Meredith Willson - a hero in our household.

May 12, 2011 1:28 PM
By C, C & B's Mom (not verified)

It is much better to name a baby after family than to go with something completely off the wall (like some celebrities) Not to mention that if the Mohr baby had been a girl given a "boy's" name no one would even blink an eye.

I say leave the new parents alone!

May 12, 2011 1:54 PM
By mk (not verified)

Of all the craxy names people are using, they are criticizing someone for naming their child after his grandfather because it can also be a female name? Stupid.

Meredith sounds a bit more masculine to me anyway. And it's also a common enough surname that plenty of men are walking around with the name.

May 12, 2011 1:58 PM
By Amanda (not verified)

This is the biggest issue I have with naming in our culture; it's perfectly fine (even encouraged) to give little girls a masculine sounding name but the second someone names their son something that is considered even remotely feminine, they are a horrible parent who is going to ruin their son's life. I hate hearing parents complain that they can't name their son Riley or Cameron now because "its been taken over by girls". This just reenforces the idea that men can't be "real men" if have any feminine characteristics or interests.

Yes, Meredith does sound feminine in 2011 but that's only a problem if people make it one; there is no reason why this child can't grow up to be happy and well adjusted. Mohr and Cox seem smart enough to realize this and I'm glad that they didn't let it get in the way of naming their son after men that they care about. I think they were prepared for it (why else would he know that it became popular for girls after WWI?) but it's hard not to get kind of defensive when people tell you that you picked a terrible name, especially when that name was meant to honor someone.

May 12, 2011 2:27 PM
By Rowelin (not verified)

How about the nickname "Red" like the dad on That 70's Show

May 12, 2011 2:30 PM
By Amanda (not verified)

You rock Amanda! I love how concisely you stated a great opinion. I'm so sick of people imposing their own rules about naming kids. If you don't like it, then it's your problem.

Obviously, if anyone had made an effort to actually LOOK UP the reason why they named their child, then there wouldn't be a problem. And besides, some people don't even actually call their children by their first names but by their middle names.

And believe me, there are worse names they could've named their child and I think Meredith is just fine. I hope I'm that comfortable naming my child.

May 12, 2011 3:16 PM
By BekahJane (not verified)

This is such a problem I have with people, I think it's so rude to tell someone that you hate their baby's name AFTER they've decided on it, or named their child! What good can possibly come of that? Unless I am asked specifically during the naming process how I feel about a particular name, I always tell people I like the name they decided on, even if I think it's not the best choice. Maybe it's a touchy issue for me because, being 4 months pregnant, I plan to give my child an old-fashioned but seldom-used name (haven't found out the sex yet, but have both boy and girl names picked,) and I anticipate people having questions about the origin of the name, as well as why my husband and I would pick it. I understand that everybody has different tastes, and I certainly won't like every name, but what's the purpose of telling gushy and thrilled new parents that they're doing a disservice to their child with what they already named him/her?

As for Meredith, I think it's a great name and I actually like it better for a boy than for a girl. If you take the name itself and look at it objectively, I don't see any particularly feminine qualities. Not to mention, Meredith was a boys name far before it was given to girls. Just because people decided to start using it femininely doesn't make it exclusively a girl's name. I feel the same about Spencer. I love it as a boy's name, and the fact that people have started using it as a girl's name doesn't make me think it's any more feminine or like it less for boys.

May 12, 2011 5:50 PM
By Jennie

One of the first questions the Name Lady ever answered was "Did I Give My Son a Girl's Name?" http://www.namecandy.com/name-lady/2009/07/29/did-i-give-my-son-a-girls-name

Very different set of circumstances, but definitely a hot-button issue.

May 12, 2011 11:31 PM
By EllieB (not verified)

Several names are now gender free and I say if it works, use it. I happen to think Meredith for a boy is an outstanding name. It is very strong and sounds like old family (which in this case it is!) It isn't right to make fun of a name that parents have already given their child. If they ask for suggestions BEFORE or are looking for ideas, that is different.
But why say something negative after the name is established? What does that accomplish? Just hard feelings and possibly stress, which new parents don't need.

May 13, 2011 10:53 AM
By Michelle (not verified)

I would actually prefer names like Meredith, Ashley and Aubrey to trendy boys' names like the ones Jay listed.

May 13, 2011 6:47 PM
By Emily (not verified)

I second Michelle's comment- especially since it is a family name. I like that they are honoring family members, and that it is a LEGITIMATE name. Much preferred to made up, wackily spelled names in my opinion. While I personally wouldn't pick Meredith for a boy, I also don't have family with that name. And I think Mac for a nickname is pretty reasonable.

May 13, 2011 10:10 PM
By Sebalek (not verified)

Meredith is better than Moroccan.

May 13, 2011 11:12 PM
By Elizabeth (not verified)

I like the idea of honoring family, and that can make me "excuse" names I'd normally dislike. And yes, Meredith was originally a boy's name, and thus is technically unisex. And yes, I find the trend of girls "taking over" boys' names to be irritating. However, the plain fact is that the name is currently far more popular for girls than it ever was for boys. If you have to *inform* people that the name is unisex, then it really isn't anymore. What matters with name gender is not etymology but popular perception. This child was born in 2011, not 1951, and for his whole life will have to deal with having a girl's name. Certainly not the choice I would have made. But if they're planning to call him Mac, as the Twitter conversation implies, that will help deflect a lot of the damage and confusion.

May 14, 2011 6:59 AM
By Another British Laura (not verified)

I just told my brother about this story and he said that Meredith isn't a girl's name, it is gender neutral and he's not as into names as I am.

He also pointed out it could have been worse- the little lad could have been called Meredith Daniel Mohr-Cox.

May 14, 2011 7:15 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Meredith was #603 in 2010 for girls so I wouldn't even consider it popular for a girl today. Kids probably won't know anyone with that name, and therefore won't consider it a "girl's name".

I grew up with a boy named Kelly and we never thought anything of it, even though it was far more popular for a girl at the time. We only knew one Kelly, and he was a boy.

May 17, 2011 12:59 AM
By BritishBabyNames (not verified)

Meredith, and it's original form Maredudd, is still recognised as a male name in the UK. Although there are are girls given the name.

It's a name that has been borne by several notable historical figures - many of them medieval Welsh warlords who went to battle against the English.

The actual pronunciation of this Welsh name is 'mah-RED-uth' which makes it distinctly more masculine. The Anglicised pronunciation and spelling is used more for British girls.

May 17, 2011 11:58 AM
By nikki (not verified)

I think Meredith is a fine name for a boy. Meredith Burgess anyone? Shame on Chrissy Teigen and others for their horrible manners.

May 17, 2011 12:21 PM
By NameLove (not verified)

I went to high school in the 1990s with a girl named Meredith and honestly thought it was weird that she had a boy's name. The nickname "Mer" doesn't sound girly to me at all.

And honestly, it pisses me off that we have such male bullying in this country. Saying that it's such a sin to name boys anything even remotely girlish makes it sound like it's the adults who have a cooties problem. When are we going to relax and realize that if a girl does something once, it's not poisoned for the rest of time. Are we really that horrible that we can't even touch something without turning it bad for men?

May 17, 2011 12:24 PM
By Shadelit (not verified)

Meredith, particularly the way it's popularly pronounced in the US, is a more feminine name these days and in this country...but I still think of it as a gender-neutral name with longer roots as a male name. I also agree with the others who point out that nobody blinks an eye these days when a girl gets a traditionally masculine name, and with the poster who mentioned that "Red" makes a great nickname for Meredith, esp. considering the original Welsh pronunciation.

I personally prefer Meredith for a girl, but I really like the homage Jay and Nikki were making to her family. I also definitively prefer the name Meredith to names like Pilot Inspektor or Audio Science, two other little Hollywood boys.

Anyway, I'd never consider being so rude as to mock a baby's name to his parents, or to the world at large via technological bullhorn. Methinks this swimsuit model/girlfriend/whatever maybe needed a little media attention, a little stroke on her famewhore gland. Either that, or she was simply raised in a barn.

May 17, 2011 12:49 PM
By Nicholas Hentschel (not verified)

Meredith is my mother's name. So while I do think of it as feminine, I am inclined to defend Mohr anyway,

May 17, 2011 12:50 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love the name and considered using it for my son...if he had been born a girl. It's definitely a girl's name in my mind. By the same token, I think Leslie, Stacy, Beverly, and Dana are names better suited for girls (of course, that doesn't mean you won't occasionally hear of men with those names.) However, regardless of that, I think it's FAR better than so many of the cutesy, made-up names out there.

May 17, 2011 12:56 PM
By Pamela S (not verified)

Yeah, the point has already been made that no one makes a fuss about people giving boy names to girls (personally, I hate the trend), but I still can't bring myself to agree that Madison is a gender neutral name. It means "Son of Matthew" and is therefore a boy name... heavily applied to girls.

If I were in Jay Mohr's place, I think I'd just call all the people who are fussing about the "girl name" he gave his son ~ignorant~, and leave it that. If his dad and brother-n-law are both named Meredith, it certainly isn't going to sound like a girl name to him or his family, and since it isn't popular right now for little girls, it isn't going to sound like a girl name to his classmates either... unless their ignorant parents and grandparents can't stop themselves from saying something tacky and unkind about it.

May 17, 2011 12:58 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, Meredith is far better than Moroccan (which really should have been Morocco)! And it's lovely that they're using a family name, and no one should criticize them to their face for their choice after the fact. However, in the spirit of discussion, there's a reason you don't hear of too many boys today being named Beverly or Marion or Madison, as the trend has shifted and made them now predominantly girls' names. The boys that are given those now-highly-feminine names inevitably have to spend their childhoods explaining that their names used to be popular for boys. Better to use it as a middle name or at least opt for a nickname. Red could be a good nickname for Meredith. Or, with the initials M.D. (Meredith Daniel), you could even call him Doc...the actress Annie Potts has a son she calls Doc (though not his birth name). Anyway, this is all a matter for hypothetical discussion at this point. The child is named, it's apparently a well-thought-out name by the parents, it is what it is!

May 17, 2011 1:12 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

For some reason, when a child is first born, people feel they have more of a license to weigh in on the baby's name, as though it's somehow still negotiable at that point. After my second son was born, I got so many questions about his unique name, as though they wanted to say, are you sure you want to do that? (even though it was already a done deal)! Now that he's 6 years old, not even new people question his name, not with that same tone anyway, and it's still unique among others.

May 17, 2011 2:04 PM
By Perfumista (not verified)

My daughter is named Meredith, so naturally, I think this name skews feminine currently. However, it was a masculine name first and is still entirely appropriate as a given name for boys, esp. since it's a beloved family name for Jay Mohr's wife. I went to school with guys named Kelly and Shannon. After the initial wave of surprise and amusement, it was not a big deal and these are considered more feminine than Meredith.

Those who would criticize and ridicule Jay Mohr and his family over the name Meredith for a boy are merely showing their own ignorance or looking for attention.

May 17, 2011 2:26 PM
By Elisabeth (not verified)

I think of Meredith as primarily a feminine name. HOWEVER, it's not like they went out of their way to randomly name the kid Evelyn or Shannon (to pick two other names that have crossed over). It's the baby's granddad's name and his uncle's name, and he has a perfectly "normal" middle name he can use if he wants to. I think people do much much worse things to their kids, name-wise.

That said, Mohr should chill. Yes, it's a little tacky people are making fun of his kid's name on Twitter, but they should have known life as a male Meredith was not going to be entirely easy.

May 17, 2011 2:26 PM
By Kira (not verified)

Good for Jay and Nikki. I think it's about time the tide turned. Why does the act of giving a name to a girl, invalidate the name for boys? As a previous poster said, if they had a girl and named her Charlie or George or Tyler, no one would blink. It's an imbalanced state of affairs and I hope little Meredith's arrival marks the beginning of a shift.

May 17, 2011 4:03 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

"Once a name has become popular with a girl it can never go back to being a boys name."

This isn't necessarily true, lots of boys names that become popular for girls remain solidly in the boy's camp. For instance:

Terry, Alex, Alexis, Kendall, Rowan, Drew, Micah, Jordan, Dylan, Quinn, Hayden

To my mind Meredith is a lot like Sidney. While recently Sidney has been given to more baby girls, it's still a "feels" masculine to me. I'll assume Sidney Crosby feel the same.

May 17, 2011 4:24 PM
By Tiana (not verified)

I'd name 10,000 boys Meredith before I named one Moroccan (vomit).

May 17, 2011 5:35 PM
By Rachel (not verified)

I think Chrissy Teigen is showing her cultural ignorance, Meredith is a Welsh name and is considered masculine in Wales - I'm guessing the family members honored have Welsh heritage?

It's extremely rude to tell a new parent that you don't like their baby's name and it's hurtful too - whoever you are. My MIL told my husband that she didn't like our daughter's name when he called her from the hospital just after she was born. He was so angry and so hurt and to be honest, still hasn't really forgiven her for spoiling such a special moment. We don't mind that she doesn't like it, she just shouldn't have said anything.

I think with baby names the old rule of "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" should prevail.

May 17, 2011 8:22 PM
By Jane (not verified)

I actually love the name Meredith for a boy, although years ago it was on my list of girls names. I think the problem these days is that people are giving girls "masculine names" more than ever, but perhaps in reaction, we also tend to avoid "feminine" names for boys. I say bravo to parents of boys who go for names like Meredith, Valentine, Gabriel, Taylor, Blair, Leighton, etc etc. For anyone to tell them that they are feminine names is just ignorant - no gender "owns" a name, and the perception of a name's masculinity or feminity changes constantly.

May 17, 2011 9:09 PM
By Diana (not verified)

Silly me! Showing my age! When I first saw this post, I thought it was going to be connected with Don Meredith, the great Dallas Cowboys quarterback of the 60s, and later a highly entertaining commentator on Monday Night NFL games, and that it might also be connected to another example of the increasing popularity of last names as first names, even though as a first name Meredith has been used for centuries. You can't get more coolly and truly macho, while funny, than him. I bet over his lifetime Meredith Mohr will get more comments such as "Like the quarterback?" than any heckling about having a supposed feminine name. "Dandy Don" (see the previous posting about celebrity-nicknames-a-dying-breed) would probably find this whole topic raucously humorous.
http://www.tributes.com/show/Don-Meredith-89979080

May 18, 2011 5:55 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I still like some now-mostly-girl-names for boys...such as Ashley, Cary, Dana, Stacy, and Tracy. But others just don't work anymore, IMO...such as Meredith or Beverly. To me, even Brooklyn now belongs to the girls. But hey, we've all gotten used to Hazel and Apple, even when at first some had hesitations about them! Maybe the Mohrs will help turn the tide.

May 18, 2011 7:37 PM
By Cabo (not verified)

I agree with you on people's bad manners nikki, but it's Burgess Meredith... not the other way around.

May 19, 2011 2:29 AM
By Karma (not verified)

I hear "Meredith", I think Dr Meredith Rodney McKay (a main character in Stargate Atlantis), who goes by his middle name Rodney.

*shrug* Before I watched SGA, Meredith to me was a girl's name - I'd never heard of it as a male name before. Now I look at the middle name (assuming there is one) before assuming male or female.

May 22, 2011 6:46 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, new parents can name their child whatever they want and the Mohrs did have a good reason for choosing the name they did. However, regardless of what anybody feels about the name, little Meredith will have a "disclaimer" on his name his whole life. He will never be able to just introduce himself w/o questions or comments. It may have been a boy name in the past; there was a man named Ashley in "Gone With the Wind," but no one names their boy Ashley today. I'm glad Meredith has family around him that also has this name, it might make it a little less awkward for him. But I think that it is important to realize that society gives names certain connotations that parents may not intend when choosing that name, but nevertheless have to deal with.

June 1, 2011 7:54 PM
By Cori Lynn (not verified)

Well SOME people are naming their sons Ashley still, because we just named our son, born 10 weeks ago, Ashley Caleb. My (very masculine) husband named our sons. He named our first Milo after the lead singer of his favorite punk band, The Decendents. He named our second Ashley, we actually call him Ash, after Bruce Campbell's character in the horror flick, Evil Dead. I wasn't wild about either name at first, but I was impressed that my husband, who was quite skiddish when it came to both pregnancies, chose names that were special to him... though some might not think punk rock and horror are acceptable baby name sources. My family put up a bit of a fight, but now when they meet/hear of a man named Ashley they think it's cool, like they are apart of a little club. We have actually had a lot of compliments! And to those who say "he'll be teased" ...we almost all get teased! Whether we continue to get teased is about WHO we are and not what we are named. I know Johns and Davids that were teased in school. I feel proud that our sons' names have meaning, I would never let society take that from us... and when Ash is bullied at school over being named Ashley, we will just have to show him a quick (not too scary) clip of the bad ass character with a chainsaw arm that he was named after... and I think he'll feel pretty cool about it :)

June 5, 2011 12:34 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I like the name Meredith for a guy. It even sounds better as a guys name than as a girls name. Also who cares about how much more popular it is for girls than boys, it is a family name and they like it. It was their choice on what to name the baby not the public or fans or anyone but the two of them. They already named their baby it is done and over with why would people go and stomp all over this poor baby's name. Has the baby ever done anything to those people. In a like 15 years that kid will be on the internet looking at stuff and find crap like this all over the internet and imagine what he will think and how bad he would feel.

April 24, 2012 11:23 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think naming a child a family name is a personal decision and should not be commented on by anyone else. I wish Jay and family well and hope the silly comments stop.

November 13, 2012 8:03 AM
By 954-691-1102 (not verified)

Mohr had a recurring role in the first season of The Jeff Foxworthy Show as Jeff Foxworthy's brother, Wayne. Mohr's first major film role was in 1996 when he played the conniving Bob Sugar.

April 28, 2013 11:39 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I'm sorry, "Meredith" would not be the name of a gender-neutral character in an SNL skit like "Pat" was, because "Meredith" will always be deferred as a FEMALE.

This poor kid! He's gonna be the subject of ridicule and confusion from anyone who reads his name without knowing he's actually a BOY.

Parents who don't consider how their children have to deal with their odd decisions need to understand the implications they're bestowing on their child.

OMG. Meredith. I can't believe they did that to this poor little guy. He'll change it for sure.

May 6, 2013 2:27 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love how people are using male names like Elliot, Ryan and Noah for their daughters, and no one gives any criticism. In fact, more often than not, 100% masculine names on girls are "cute" and "unique". But if someone gives their son a name that is legitimately unisex, everyone is in an uproar!

So what if the boy's name is Meredith? Jessica Simpson named her daughter Maxwell Drew and I didn't see half as much criticism towards her than I do here! Ridiculous! I'm so tired of these sexist double-standards!

January 5, 2014 7:42 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Interesting. When I saw the full name, I thought they'd given their daughter a boy's middle name.

May 27, 2015 9:43 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Seriously?! W celebs naming kids like Coco, Apple, Morracan and Blue Ivy...people r upset at the name Meredith? At least its a name you can pronounce it. Its a strong name for boy or girl. Kids prolly won't even know until he graduates and they announce name. People will just know him as Mac or whatever nickname they give him.

August 24, 2015 12:01 AM
By Jodha Akbar (not verified)

I think it is a good name.
Desain Interior Rumah

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