20 Baby Names That Literally Mean Nightmare – Yikes!

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You’re expecting a baby and dreaming of the perfect name. But beware – some names literally mean “nightmare.” Yep, we’re talking names that translate to “bad dream,” “evil spirit,” and “goblin.”

We tracked down baby names around the world with nightmare meanings. Some may surprise you – like the lovely Japanese name Akumu, which unfortunately translates to “bad dream.” Other names on the list are a little more obvious, like Hebrew Alptraum – literally “nightmare” in German.

The Origins of Nightmare Baby Names

Ever wonder why anyone would choose a name meaning “nightmare” for their precious baby? Well, some of these ominous names actually have historical significance!

Old English And Germanic Roots

Some nightmare names like “Mara” or “Mora” originate from Old English and Germanic folklore. These names represented a spirit believed to produce feelings of suffocation in sleep. Yikes! While frightening, these mythological figures were thought to explain the phenomenon of nightmares.

Religious Figures

Other names like “Lilith” come from ancient religious texts like the Bible. In some Jewish folklore, Lilith was considered a dangerous demon in the night. Though a frightening figure, Lilith has become popular in modern times as a name representing feminine power and independence.

Modern Mystique

For some parents, nightmare names capture a sense of darkness or mystery they want to evoke. Names like “Raven”, “Shadow” or “Midnight” suggest a gothic mystique some find appealing.


Mara is a name with Aramaic origins that literally means “bitterness” or “sorrow.” If you’re looking for a cheery name, this probably isn’t it.

According to Hebrew tradition, Mara was the name Naomi chose for herself in the Bible to reflect her anguish over the deaths of her husband and sons. Not exactly an uplifting association.

While the name Mara has a long history and is popular in some cultures, many English speakers will find the dreary meaning off-putting. As a name, it seems to emphasize sadness, hardship, and suffering—not exactly qualities most new parents are hoping to impart!

Unless you have a personal connection to the name or culture, Mara may be one to avoid. After all, a name meaning “bitterness” doesn’t bode well for a joyful, carefree childhood. While the meaning of a name alone shouldn’t determine your choice, it’s still worth considering. There are so many lovely names with positive associations—why not choose one of those instead?


In Greek mythology, Morpheus was the god of dreams. His name literally means “shape” or “form”. As the son of Hypnos, the god of sleep, Morpheus was responsible for shaping and forming the dreams of mortals.

Morpheus would visit mortals as they slept and use his powers to construct dreams and visions in their mind. He was known as a kind and gentle god who often brought good dreams and omens to those he visited. However, when commanded by the gods, he could also bring nightmares and dark visions to mortals.

The ancient Greeks believed that the dreams Morpheus brought held important meanings and prophecies. People would often interpret their dreams in order to receive messages from the gods. They saw Morpheus as a divine messenger who could provide insight and guidance through the medium of dreams.

So while the name Morpheus may mean “nightmare” in a literal sense, the god Morpheus was responsible for shaping all dreams, both good and bad. His powers of prophecy and message were highly respected, even if his nightmares were feared. Clearly, the Greeks took their dream interpretations very seriously if they named their god of dreams after the concept of nightmares!


The name Gorgon comes from Greek mythology. In Greek legends, the Gorgons were three monstrous sisters with snakes for hair who could turn anyone into stone with just a glance. The most well-known Gorgon was Medusa. Giving your child this name is basically dooming them to a lifetime of hissing jokes and stoney glares.

While a bold choice, Gorgon certainly conjures images of a fierce and powerful figure. However, its mythological meanings of ugliness, horror and petrifaction are rather more nightmare inducing than most parents are looking for in a baby name. Unless you’re aiming to cultivate a particularly hardy and thick-skinned child, Gorgon is probably a name best left in the realm of Greek legends.


In Jewish folklore, Lilith was Adam’s first wife before Eve. However, Lilith was a feminist who refused to be subordinate to Adam. After a fight, she left the Garden of Eden. According to legend, Lilith took on the role of a sinister demon, and mothers would invoke her name to frighten children into good behavior.

The name Lilith was used during the Middle Ages and beyond as a name for evil spirits, demons, and monsters. So for a child, being named Lilith could be seen as a curse or a threat.

Today, some parents may see Lilith as a strong, independent female figure from mythology and embrace it. But for others, the spooky history and meaning of the name still lingers, giving it a rather nightmarish quality. If you want to name your baby girl after a feminist icon, there are other options with less haunting backstories to consider.


In Greek mythology, Hecate was the goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts, and necromancy. Hecate was often depicted as holding twin torches or a key.

Hecate was often associated with sorcery and the underworld. She was known as a mighty and formidable goddess, and was the only one of the Titans that Zeus allowed to retain her power in the new reign.

Hecate was a favorite deity of sorceresses and witches. As the goddess of the crossroads, she was believed to haunt places where three roads crossed. Food and drink were often left at the crossroads as offerings to Hecate.

It’s no wonder that the name Hecate has come to be associated with dark magic and the night. Any child with this name would have a lot to live up to – or perhaps live down! The name certainly evokes a rather spooky image.


In Germanic legends, an ‘Alp’ was a malevolent spirit that caused nightmares. The Alp would crouch on a sleeper’s chest, causing feelings of suffocation and terrifying dreams. Some believed the Alp was a transformed witch or sorcerer.

Parents who named their child ‘Alp’ were likely not aware of these sinister associations. The name may have appealed to them for its similarity to the word ‘Alpine’, evoking images of snowy mountains. However, for a child today bearing this name, the connection to nightmares and dark spirits would likely not inspire pleasant thoughts!

The name ‘Alp’ is rarely used today, for good reason. While the Germanic myth of the Alp has faded, the unsettling connotations of the name remain. No child wants to be associated with night terrors and creatures of darkness. Choosing a name with a more uplifting meaning and history is a gift that will inspire your child for life.


The name Strix comes from Roman mythology and refers to a screech owl. In legends, the strix was a sinister bird of ill omen associated with witchcraft and the night.

Some parents may be drawn to dark and mysterious baby names, but Strix is a bit too grim. Its malevolent mythological connections and meaning of “screech owl” don’t bode well for a little one’s identity or self-esteem. While unique names are appealing, a baby’s name should enrich their life, not haunt them!

There are plenty of unusual but uplifting names to consider instead. Names like Luna, Aurora and Lucinda capture the beauty of the night sky without the frightening folklore. Or for a darkly romantic name, Damien, Draven or Rhys have a mysterious charm without the malevolent mythology of Strix.

Your baby’s name is their first gift in life. Choose one that celebrates their light, not their darkness. A name should inspire them to nurture their best qualities, not feel doomed to some sinister fate! Strix may seem stylishly spooky, but for your baby’s well being, it’s better left as a mythological relic. Focus on names with a more positive meaning and spirit. Your little one will thank you for it.


In Greek mythology, Phobetor was the personification of nightmares. His name literally means “frightener” or “fearful one.” Each night, Phobetor, the son of Nyx (the goddess of night), would emerge from the dark Underworld to spread terror and frightening visions as people slept.

Talk about a namesake you wouldn’t want! The notion of naming your child after the sinister deity who brings nightmares and panic seems rather twisted. Then again, some parents do choose powerful or edgy mythological names, perhaps as a way to convey strength or individuality. But personally, Phobetor seems a bit too dark and disturbing for a baby name.

The poor child would have a lot to live up to – and could face teasing over such an unusual, grim name meaning. Not to mention, the symbolism and history behind the name might give some people the creeps! While uncommon ancient mythological names can be intriguing, Phobetor may be taking it a bit too far into the realm of nightmares.


In Greek mythology, Keres were female spirits of death and destruction. The name literally means “doom” or “death spirits”. Not exactly a name you want to bestow on your newborn!

The Keres were depicted as dark, winged creatures who fed on the blood of the dying and dead on the battlefield. They were the personifications of violent death in battle. The Keres would hover over the slain, gorged on blood and reveling in human suffering.

No doubt any child named Keres would have a difficult time living that namesake down. Kids can be cruel, and a name meaning “death spirit” or “doom” seems like prime bullying material. Some names are better left in ancient mythologies and not bestowed on real children. Keres is definitely one of those names that inspires more nightmares than sweet dreams.


The incubus is a male demon in European folklore that lies on sleeping women in order to engage in sexual activity with them. Stories of incubi and their female counterparts, succubi, have been told for many centuries in traditional Christian demonology. The incubus would supposedly drain energy from the woman during intercourse in order to sustain itself.

The word incubus comes from the Latin word for nightmare. Indeed, tales of the incubus were used to explain the occurrence of unexplained nocturnal arousals and strange dreams in women. Some even claim that the incubus is responsible for nocturnal emissions in men.

Other Names That Mean Nightmare

  • Nocturne – Nocturne comes from the Latin word nocturnus meaning “of the night.” It refers to something that occurs at night, like nightmares.
  • Erebus – The Greek god of shadows and darkness and shadows. His name could be suitable for someone who has frequent dark dreams.
  • Meridian – Meridian comes from the Latin word meaning “middle of the day.” However, it can also refer to the middle of the night when nightmares often occur.
  • Alptraum – Alptraum is the German word meaning “nightmare.” It literally translates to “elf dream.”
  • Koschei – Koschei is a character from Russian folklore. He was an evil wizard known for giving people nightmares.
  • Pesadilla – Pesadilla is the Spanish word for “nightmare.” It derives from the word pesar meaning “sorrow.”
  • Cauchemar – Cauchemar is the French word for “nightmare.” It comes from the Old French cauchier meaning “to tread” and refers to the sensation of being trodden on during a bad dream.
  • Kardia – In Greek mythology, kardia was a spirit that caused night terrors and disturbing dreams.
  • Yumekui – In Japanese folklore, a yumekui is a nightmare spirit that torments people at night.
  • Nyctophobia – From Greek roots nycto meaning “night” and phobos meaning “fear.” It refers to the fear of the night or darkness.
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