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Cohen is vs. Offensive?

I have a two month old baby boy named Cohen and I just heard that some people are offended by the name? I don’t understand why? One of my friends said that her mom was super offended when she heard I named my baby Cohen because she is Jewish. Can anyone explain to me why Cohen would be offensive to someone? I still love the name, but it’s weird to me that people think this. -Celeste

The Top Baby Name is...



Cohen Is


Poll created: Apr 18, 2014
Total Votes: 1


Many Jewish people find the baby name Cohen offensive because the word "Cohen," in Hebrew and in Judaism, signifies a priest of the holy temple. It’s a hereditary position and still carries certain ceremonial privileges. Reactions you’ll get are similar to reactions you’d get for naming your baby Rosary, Pope, Allah, Christ, or PriestOfTheHolyTempleInJerusalem. As the daughter of a Cohen, I’m not particularly offended when I hear of people using it as a baby name, although I am inclined to think it shows a certain ignorance. Enjoy the name and enjoy your baby!
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:13 PM | report
It’s not like Christians get offended when kids are named Jesus! That’s so dumb.
Thanks for explaining it though
posted by Celeste :: Apr 18, 2014 12:16 PM | report
My friend used Cohen as his son’s middle name as he is a fan of Leonard Cohen. So if you’re worried about offending anyone use that reference.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:22 PM | report
It’s not like naming your kid Jesus, it’s more like naming your kid Reverend or Bishop if you’re not even a Christian. Ignorant and insensitive.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:26 PM | report
I also know kids names Bishop and no one is offended by that.
posted by Celeste :: Apr 18, 2014 12:28 PM | report
The families who name their kids Bishop are probably Christian, or it’s a family surname. I doubt you will meet Jewish, Hindu, or Muslim parents who want to name their kids Bishop or Reverend.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:33 PM | report
It really is offensive. Cohen is a Jewish surname, and to this day, it still signifies a lot to people who bear it, be them Jewish or not.
It is not like naming a child Jesus, because Christians are not offended by that. But to name a child Cohen is something else. Out of ignorance, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t research the name before giving it to your child. And insensitive when you fail to put yourself in those people’s places and understand their situation.
It’s not about if YOU think it’s dumb, it’s what the culture the name belongs to thinks.
What is done is done, I suppose. I don’t think you’re considering renaming your child?
(for the record, there is a Dutch name Koen, unrelated, that could be pronounced the same in English)
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:33 PM | report
There’s also Rowan and Bowen as alternatives.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:35 PM | report
My mother in law is Jewish and she says it’s offensive because it shows a lack of care for someone’s religion. Please don’t use Jesus as an example. Most Latin Americans are extremely religious and they’re not using something important from someone else’s religion, they are honoring Jesus. You look extremely ignorant right now and I’m surprised you didn’t bother to use something called google before naming your child. Not much thought obviously.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:36 PM | report
What it comes down to is whether you want people (not just Jews, but other educated people as well) to know that you are ignorant and/or insensitive every time they meet your son.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:39 PM | report
Yeah I googled the meaning of Cohen and none of this came up. Sorry that I don’t know every surname in every religion that could possibly be offensive to someone else. I don’t have a religion and I am only 16 so I am not to knowledgable about that kind of stuff.
Cohen is very popular on the ssa charts so it’s not like I’m the only one who didn’t know this. And no I’m not renaming my baby because a few people are butthurt.
posted by Celeste :: Apr 18, 2014 12:40 PM | report
I was about to say that ^
What offends the most isn’t Cohen in itself, but the action of naming your child it, completely disregarding others.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:41 PM | report
People make judgements based on a kid’s name, even subconsciously, because it tells them something about the family background from which the child comes.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:43 PM | report
You asked why people would be offended. People answered.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:43 PM | report
I didn’t think people would attack me because I didn’t know. Literally only one person in real life was offended by it. Everyone else loved it and obviously didn’t know it was some special Jewish person
posted by Celeste :: Apr 18, 2014 12:45 PM | report
It’s okay you and your child will just be seen as ignorant and insensitive for the rest of your life. Nbd
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:45 PM | report
"And no I’m not renaming my baby because a few people are butthurt."? I don’t think any of us are telling you to rename that child, but this? Now this shows your true lack of care. With that attitude, you are not getting very far. Now this is a life advice, start listening to others and above all, respect differences and religions.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:47 PM | report
^ In this case, their judgements are probably correct: a teen mom who did nothing more than a cursory Google search and doesn’t care if people from other cultures are "butthurt" (great vocabulary usage) by the name she gave to her child. No one is asking you to be knowledgeable about every name that could possibly be offensive to anyone, just to pay attention when MANY people are offended by a name, and for good reason.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:47 PM | report
Ignorance only goes so far. It’s understandable, but not always excusable.
You are now acting completely insensitive and continuing to disregard what we’ve told.
I am not telling you to rename you son, we’re just trying to get you to understand. But apparently you don’t want to.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:50 PM | report
Well people are giving me name suggestions, that makes me think they are wanting me to change Cohens name.
posted by Celeste :: Apr 18, 2014 12:52 PM | report
Okay, so you originally didn’t realize it was offensive, due to your own scant research - well, now you know! Change it before he gets any older! Prove your maturity, sensitivity, and intelligence! Don’t sit around whining that you can’t be held accountable because you’re sixteen. You’re apparently old enough to take care of a baby instead of giving it up for adoption. Take care of his name too. Best of luck.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:52 PM | report
Now that you know this information, why would you even want to keep his offensive name? Laziness?
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:54 PM | report
Cohen sounds kinda like "cone" anyway.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:57 PM | report
What happens when you or he child moves into an area with a high Jewish population? You okay with offending almost everyone you meet because of ignorance? Would you name your child Allah with the knowledge it’s offensive to Muslims?
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:57 PM | report
I don’t see how she will be seen as ignorant for naming her son Cohen?? Just because it’s a surname? I’m reading these comments and it really makes no sense why someone would be offended. Basically, you’re saying they’re offended because it’s a last name and she didn’t know it was a last name before she used it?? So if I name my son Smith they’ll be offended???
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:58 PM | report
Yeah pp it’s not even an attractive name for a child...
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 12:58 PM | report
Pp on your comprehension
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 01:00 PM | report
It’s not because Cohen is a -just- surname. It’s not like naming your child Smith.
If you actually read and ´pay attention to the comments, you’ll understand. Not only the meaning of Cohen, but the others reasons why people are offended.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 01:04 PM | report
Almost 1000 baby boys were named Cohen in the US in 2012 alone! All of them should change their name too then?
Yeah I’m lazy because I don’t want to change my two month old sons name, which I love, because *some* Jewish people are offended by it! Haha you guys are insane!

Bye (:
posted by Celeste :: Apr 18, 2014 01:21 PM | report
If their parents really cared, they would change their names, yes.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 01:26 PM | report
Oh yeah, we’re all just insane and you’re perfectly reasonable... sounds likely.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 01:28 PM | report
Now when I meet a Cohen, I’ll probably think of this annoying poster.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 01:41 PM | report
There’s always Owen, too.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 03:54 PM | report
I personally don’t find it offensive. And I honestly don’t see why anyone would, regardless of its religious connotations.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 05:48 PM | report
I agree with the poster. I’m by no means am a teen or uneducated, but I had no clue that Cohen was considered so offensive. Granted, I don’t have a child with that name so I’ve not researched it, but I never would’ve guessed. You’re never going to please everyone and it is a fairly popular name, so I wouldn’t worry too much about offended others. If they take offense and don’t like his name, oh well, that’s their opinion. What matters if you like the name. I would imagine that most people, without googling, would have no clue about this name.
posted by guest :: Apr 18, 2014 05:54 PM | report
Im a fairly educated woman and I had no idea it was offensive either. Its a shame people find it offensive cause I actually like the name cohen.
posted by guest :: Apr 21, 2014 04:57 PM | report
I’m a religious Jew and I don’t think it’s offensive. Extremely odd, but not offensive.
Cohen does mean priest, yes, but I don’t think it’s particularly rude or anything. I could possibly see something about the name being a status symbol or something which is now being randomly taken and used, but I don’t know. The reason I think it’s weird is that for Jews Cohen is only a last name, never a first name.
Honestly, though, whenever I think of the name Cohen being used as a first name I think of Cohen the Barbarian from Discworld, so...
posted by Hannah :: Apr 30, 2014 09:46 PM | report
I knew Cohen was a Jewish surname but had no idea of it’s religious connotation. The name isn’t offensive to me but I am not Jewish. In fact, I am atheist and even though I would not choose it for my own son, it is a name I rather like.
posted by Christina :: May 13, 2014 11:19 AM | report

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