Today’s Name of the Day is more of a curiosity than a moniker we’d actually suggest bestowing on your baby-to-be. But he’s ever so timely, and so we couldn’t resist talking about Aoyun.

If you’ve caught Olympic fever, you’re not alone. And we’ll admit it – we watch the games with an eye for the names of foreign athletes.

It turns out that the event itself has inspired some baby names in China. According to the BBC, more than 4,000 babies have been called Aoyun – the Chinese for Olympic Games. The pronunciation is widely given as owl yoon; we’re not certain about emphasis.

It’s no secret that a lot of babies are born in China and every last one of them needs a name. We’ve dug up some other interesting factoids about Chinese naming practices:

  • Children are rarely named after historical figures or ancestors, and being named after a parent is even less common;
  • Traditionally, some families adopted a generation name – usually a single character that every sibling and cousin would wear. It seems like the rough equivalent of giving all your kids names that start with J. We’re not clear what’s happening to this custom as the one-child policy means that fewer and fewer families have siblings and cousins to make up a generation;
  • Speaking of sharing, the Chinese share a very small number of surnames. About 40% of all Chinese share one of the Top Ten names; tally up the Top 45 surnames and well over 70% of all Chinese people are included. Odds that a child will share a name with someone else; for example, there are well over 5,000 Yao Mings – but only one playing for the Houston Rockets.
  • Little wonder that there’s a strong drive for individuality with given names! For Chinese parents, this can mean using less common characters, numbers and symbols and even letters borrowed from other alphabets. The @ sign – pronounced Aita, which translates to “love him” is one such innovation.
  • While professionals from Japan and other Eastern nations have long adopted Western names for business purposes, some parents are now simply bestowing these names on their children – Jenny, Lina and Lucy have all been registered in China.
  • Coming full circle back to Aoyun, adopting a phrase has long been one way to distinguish a child from his peers. You’ll meet kids called Civilization, Space Travel and now, Olympic Games. Kinda puts those wacky Puritans to shame, doesn’t it?
  • The Beijing Games’ official mascots are the Five Friendlies – Bei Bei, Jing Jing, Huan Huan, Ying Ying and Ni Ni. In an addition to the 4,000 plus Aoyuns, another 4,000 or so children have received the name of one of the mascots.

More than 90% of the Aoyuns are boys. No word on whether the Friendlies are shared by girls and boys in equal numbers or not.

While it is tough to see Aoyun wearing well on a boy in the US, it’s worth noting that the feminine moniker Olympia has been bestowed on daughters over the years – it’s charted in the Top 1000 five times between 1913 and 1925, and we know an Olympia born circa 1967.

The games next come to Vancouver in 2010 and London in 2012, so there could be a bunch of Olympias born north of here and across the ocean. Sochi is 2014 – wonder how you say Olympic Games in Russian?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Leonie, doubtless there will be a TON of Isabellas, Olivias, Mias and, yes, Kaitlyns, Katelynnes and Caitlyns competing for medals in the coming years!

    As for the misuse of the word unique? It’s probably my number one pet peeve, Lola! Short of naming your child X@*RAKeahr@!# I doubt you’d ever come up with something that no one the world over has ever worn before. And “kinda unique” makes steam pour from my ears. It’s like boycotting something a little – can’t be done.

    Okay, stowing my soap box now, but there might be a post in that at some future point.

    Laney, your list is eye-popping! She really spelled Vincent Vynsynt? That wins *some* sort of award. But there’s already a fabulous Hall of Shame over at Not Without My Handbag:

    I am planning on revising my Seven Deadlies series – which, as it happens, stopped at Six. (I know what #7 is – at least, what I think #7 is – but I need to recast a few of the earlier posts to include a few missing categories.) And I’ve been asked for more “Don’t Go There” posts, too – I think I could write a treatise on Reasons Not to Name Your Daughter Princess.

    Maybe the most interesting thing about Aoyun is that parents apparently landed on it hoping for an unusual name and ended up with one that will be shared by many – it’s not unlike all those little Kaydens with their, erm, unique names.

  2. I am usually all for unique names, but not too big on this one. It’s a bizarre nam and kind of hard for me to pronounce, although I have to admit it isn’t as bad as the names my friend is considering for her kids. You won’t believe some of the names she came up with. lol I also added some other weird names I’ve seen lately, either from people I know or they’re celebrity names. I wrote down my opinions of them too.


    Promyse Sy’rinyty – pronounced Promise Serenity. It sounds like a stripper name to me.

    Khassydy Nevaeh – Nevaeh=evil trendy made up name. It’s Heaven backwards, so isn’t that like naming your kid Hell?! Cassidy is cute, Khassydy is awkward.

    Fyire Elektra – first name is said like “fire”. This is not feminine at all, and Electra is an ugly name on its own.

    Prynscezz Herminie – Hermione is spelled incorrectly, and Princess=WTF?! it sounds like a spoiled rotten dog’s name or a stripper.

    Kai’ Enna Fayth – what’s wrong with Faith? Too normal? lol And Kai’Enna sounds too much like cayenne to me.

    Zsai’Lyia Mhaddyszyn – pronounced zy-lee-ah. OMFG! Madison is bad enough but the spelling is the worst I’ve seen in my whole life and the first name sounds made up. Madison also comes across as masculine to me since it has SON at the end of it.

    Heavynleigh Alyzybyth – WTF is with all those y’s?! If you want Elizabeth, use it, don’t make up your own spelling. And Don’t even get me started on Heavynleigh/Heavenly.

    Abcde – pronounced ab-sid-ee. tacky!

    Remmington – One of the little girls at the daycare I used to work at. Her dad likes guns. Her sister is named Mackenzie (Nickname: Mackie)

    Alize- Another little girl from work. Pronounced exactly like the drink.

    Gay Call- One of my old 4th grade teachers. She was ok, but the name got made fun of all the time.

    Chlamydia and Syphilis – My sister had a friend who knew twin girls with these names. Not sure how they spelled their names though. Either way, these are torture.

    Moxie Crimefighter – Ummm…I don’t know what to think about this one.


    Caidyinse Anakyn – First of all, Cadence is a girls name and two, Anakin belongs in Star Wars movies, not on a baby. The misspelling is atrocious!

    Phuc – This is a really common boy’s name in Vietnam and it’s pronounced almost the same as f—. It means blessing. Nice meaning, bad name.

    Shithead- pronounced Sha-teed. Poor kid! I heard this on a video on YouTube.

    Urhines Kendall Icy Eight Special K – I saw this one in an online birth announcement. First name is pronounced “your Highness”. Keep Kendall, but drop the rest of the names.

    Audio Science – no comment

    Pilot Inspektor – It’s an occupation, not a name.

    Korbynn McKynzy – Corbin is a nice name, but hate the spelling. McKynzy is just plain awful.

    Kutter Jo’syah – poor kid! He’s gonna have some major problems when he’s older. Josiah is cute, Jo’syah is messy. Kutter is evil!

    Finleigh Mykyl – no comment.

    Zayhn Ryan – Zane Ryan looks alot nicer, but still not crazy about it.

    Khloudd Raycyr – stupid! enough said.

    Miller Lyte – Some celeb’s brother named his son this. Poor kid, being named after a brand of beer.

    Peanut Kai- Another celebrity baby name. Kai is nice, but Peanut is a food. It doesn’t belong on a baby.

    Harry Pitts- A mean old substitute teacher from HS. Harry is nice, but when you use it with Pitts, it’s trouble.

    I am not kidding either. These are real names. My friend has some weird taste in names, and she loves to come up with weird spellings for already existing names or she just puts random words together. I’d actually like to see some of these featured on here sometime, like on the “Don’t go there” posts. I need to show this site to my friend and hope this will change her mind on the names and come up with something nice. She already has a son named Vynsynt Xavier, which is a great name if spelled correctly. Vincent looks alot more professional than Vynsynt.

    You should make a Hall of Shame topic on here.

    1. OMG your list made me throw up in my mouth. Those are the ghettoest, most horrible names ever!
      I feel really bad for Vietnamese kids sometimes their names sound HORRIBLE in English. Phuc is a pretty bad one, but I knew a girl in h.s named Bich… she told me once that in her language its actually a very pretty name, but obviously she needs to get it legally changed just to make life in the US bearable 🙁

  3. I wonder, as the world popu;lation continues to rise, will that “strong drive” to individualise names move from China to the rest of the world? I think I’m beginning to see it now, actually. (especially with the misuse of the word “Unique”) *sigh*. Interesting post, V – thanks! (and sorry I missed it yesterday!)

  4. Australia’s top ten baby girl names are Ella, Emily, Mia, Isabella, Chloe, Charlotte, Olivia, Sophie, Lily, and Sienna. One in four girl babies are given one of these 10 names.

    But just to show that a lot of these names are pretty “new”, in our 400-plus Olympic team, there are only 2 Emily’s and 1 each of Olivia, Mia and Sophie (this includes common alternate spellings). It will be a different picture at the 2020 games I reckon!

  5. It’s just bizarre to me. I’m fascinated by naming trends in China, seriously. They make some parents around here look sane!