They say that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it—but could they also be dooming their children by picking a certain baby name?
That's the question coming up as the name Aryan continues to trend among expecting parents, with about 300 boys and 20 girls in the U.S. getting the name each year. On the surface, it might seem like a good name. It has roots in India, where it's the Sanskrit word for noble or honorable. And for Game of Thrones fans, it feels like a nice, unisex alternative to the bold (and increasingly popular) name, Arya, after the Stark daughter who became a fierce warrior and savior of mankind.
But there's a very definite—and serious—dark side to even considering Aryan as a potential baby name.
Understanding the definition of Aryan
Aryan was the name originally given to an ancient tribe of people who lived in Iran and India. In the 19th century, though, the designation "Aryan" began to be associated with a white supremacist movement in Europe led by people who believed that Europeans were superior to people of color. It was a movement that reached its apex in Nazi Germany, where Hitler believed the "Aryan ideal" were the Nordic and Germanic people. And those who didn't fit the mold—such as Roman and Jewish people—were to be exterminated. The Aryan concept resulted in the death and torture of millions of people.
And today, the word Aryan is still associated with the white supremacy movement, with hate groups scattered throughout the U.S. wearing that name.
In other words—it's not a name that's going to win your child friends and admirers, and it could prove extremely problematic when they're entering the workforce. I'd like to believe that most of the people giving their sons and daughters this name are simply unaware of its troubled past. But this is something a simple Google search (or even a quick review of the baby name in a baby name book) should have alerted them to.
Other baby name options
Consider Ari for a boy, and Arya or Arianna for a girl if you're looking for a similar name beginning with the letter A sans the negative definition. And no matter what name you've set your mind to, take the time to do your research before you put it on the birth certificate. Your child deserves a name that's free of offensive baggage—and Aryan is definitely not that.
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