What Reese Witherspoon can teach us about hard-to-spell baby names


Reese Witherspoon showed what happens when you give a hard-to-spell name to your baby. In an Instagram post, her son holds up a sign with his best attempt to write out his full name, Tennessee.  You can’t really blame the 4-year-old though. This state name is one even a lot of adults have trouble spelling out correctly, right after Mississippi.

The “Big Little Lies” star is sympathetic, posting, “When your name is TENNESSEE, it’s a bit tricky to learn how to spell it … ? #PreSchoolProblems.”

For baby name choosers out there, Witherspoon hits the trifecta of “don’ts” among some baby naming experts. Note: we don’t necessarily agree with these old-fashioned  guidelines, but they are worthy of consideration when you are choosing a name for your baby.

  • Avoid hard-to-spell baby names: Parents are all over the map about whether this creates challenges for a child who can’t write his or her name properly in kindergarten.
  • Avoid gender-neutral baby names: Some people like gender-neutrality. Others don’t want to keep answering the “boy or girl” question.
  • Avoid long (and uniquely spelled) baby names: If you have a long name yourself, you know it’s a pain spelling out all those letters. Anyone choosing a name like Tennessee knows that it will become “Tenn” or even “T.”  That’s cool just as long as you know abbreviation may be unavoidable. Of course, if having a long baby name is the worst life hands you, having to write out T-E-N-N-E-S-S-E-E really isn’t that bad.


In a long list of long and hard-to-spell baby names, Tennessee certainly isn’t among the most challenging. However, it does give new moms and dads food for thought as they mull over many possible baby names.

We wish you luck choosing your own baby’s name. Add your thoughts (and great baby name choices) in the comments below!

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