10 illegal names


This week the Pope declared war on parents naming babies after celebrities, fruit or popular sports cars. In an address to parents, the ever-progressive pontiff pleaded with worshipers to ‘give your children names that are in the Christian calendar’. So Apple, Brooklyn and Ferrari are out, Francisco and Giulia are in.

But Benedict’s not the only authority figure to stamp down on one of the sillier by-products of celebrity culture. The following names have all been banned around the world for reasons of taste, decency or just plain daftness.

  1. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii (New Zealand)
    New Zealand law bans names which could cause offence to a ‘reasonable’ person. Good thing too - the country is a stupid name hotspot. We found a couple from the islands who tried and failed to call their son ‘4Real’, but nothing beats the ridiculous moniker above. It belonged to a 9-year-old girl before a judge had her renamed during a custody battle. ‘It makes a fool of the child,’ he said. It certainly made application forms a pain in the butt.

Has New Zealand banned any other names? Oh yes. The judge listed some that were also blocked: Fish and Chips (twins), Yeah Detroit, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit. Number 16 Bus Shelter and Violence were allowed.

  1. Venerdi AKA ‘Friday’ (Italy)
    Maybe this is what the Pope was talking about. Back in 2008 a court banned an Italian couple from calling their child Venerdi (translation: Friday). The judges reckoned the name - taken from ‘Robinson Crusoe’ - would expose the boy to ‘mockery’ and was associated with ‘subservience and insecurity’. The parents, however, might have the last laugh; they threatened to call their next child Mercoledi (Wednesday).

Has Italy banned any other names? Italian courts can step in ‘when the child’s name is likely to limit social interaction and create insecurity’. In Turin, Andrea was rejected (and changed to Emma) as it’s a boy’s name in Italy. Dalmata has also been rejected, as it means Dalmatian.

  1. Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (Sweden)
    No, we didn’t fall asleep on the keyboard. That is an actual name a Swedish couple tried to inflict on their son back in 1996. Apparently the name is pronounced ‘Albin’ (we’re not sure how), and the parents chose it as a protest against Sweden’s admittedly strict naming laws. Tax authorities must give their blessing to both first and surnames before they can be used.

Has Sweden banned any other names? Oh yes. Some favourites include Metallica, IKEA, Veranda and Q. Google was OK though.

  1. Gesher AKA ‘Bridge’ (Norway)
    Back in 1998 those nasty Norwegians threw a woman in jail (admittedly for only two days) when she failed to pay a fine for giving her son an ‘unapproved’ name. Eccentric Kristi Larsen said she was instructed in a dream to name her son Gesher (Hebrew for ‘Bridge’), but the court were having none of it. Kristi did have 13 children already though, so maybe she had just run out of ideas.

Has Norway banned any other names? Undoubtedly, though in recent times they have replaced their list of officially sanctioned names with a general ban on monikers featuring swearing, sex and illnesses.

  1. Chow Tow AKA ‘Smelly Head’ (Malaysia)
    Unlike many countries which are gradually relaxing name laws, Malaysian authorities have cracked down on unsuitable titles in recent years. In 2006 government killjoys published a list of undesirable names that weren’t in keeping with the religious traditions of the country ” such as Cantonese moniker Chow Tow ” which means ‘Smelly Head’.

Has Malaysia banned any other names? Lots more Chinese efforts such as Ah Chwar (‘Snake’), Khiow Khoo (‘Hunchback’), Sor Chai (‘Insane’). Malays should also steer clear of Woti, which means ‘Sexual Intercourse’.

  1. @ (China)
    With more than a billion fellow countrymen, finding a unique name in China is difficult. Perhaps that’s why one couple called their baby the ‘@’ symbol ” in Chinese characters it apparently looks a bit like ‘love him’. Bless. Unsurprisingly, however, the authorities were less sentimental and publicised the moniker as an example of citizens bringing bizarre names into the Chinese language.

Has China banned any other names? The police have control over all names given to children because they issue identity cards, but details of rejections are not widely circulated.

  1. Miatt (Germany)
    Country living up to stereotype alert! Surprise, surprise the Germans are somewhat officious when it comes to baby naming laws. Regulation-loving Deutschland has an entire department (the Standesamt) which decides if names are suitable. Miatt was rejected because it didn’t clearly show whether the child was a boy or a girl, but sometimes the decisions are somewhat arbitrary…

Has Germany banned any other names? The likes of Stompie, Woodstock and Grammophon were turned down, whereas the similarly strange Speedy, Lafayette and Jazz were allowed.

  1. Anus (Denmark)
    What is it about Scandinavian countries and name laws? The Danes are even tougher than the Swedes in this regard, with parents given 7,000-odd names to choose from by the government. Special permission is needed to deviate from the list, with ethnic names, odd spellings and even compound surnames forbidden. Luckily for him (we assume it’s a ‘he’), Anus was one of 250-odd names rejected each year.

Has Denmark banned any other names? Well, Pluto and Monkey had lucky escapes…

  1. Ovnis (Portugal)
    Before naming your child in Portugal, best consult this mammoth, 80-page government doc (and have it translated to English) that tells you which names you can and can’t use. It’s pretty strict (and random) ” Tom”s is OK but Tom isn’t ” and celebs can forget about the likes of Apple and Brooklyn, which aren’t even on the banned list. Essex girls rejoice, however ” Mercedes is allowed!

Has Portugal banned any other names? There are more than 2,000 names on the reject list, including Ovnis - Portuguese for UFO.

  1. Akuma AKA Devil (Japan)
    Here’s a name the Pope definitely wouldn’t approve of. In 1993 a Japanese parent called his son Akuma (which literally means Devil). The authorities decided this was an abuse of the parent’s rights to decide a child’s name and a lengthy court battle ensued. Eventually the father backed down and junior got a new, less demonic name.

Has Japan banned any other names? Lots. Names must use one of the 2,232 ‘name kanji’ characters decided by the government.

I agree wholeheartedly. There should be some creativity in the baby naming process but it should come with a dose of common sense and responsibility. Some parents really need to be “reined” in from giving their children names that will only cause heartache throughtout their lives. Giving a child a name is a parent’s first gift. It should not turn into a curse of ridicule or embarrassment . I think more countries should impose new rules for naming children. I might sound harsh but I really can’t think that parents who name their twins [name]Fish[/name] and Chips are dealing with a full deck. Sex Fruit and Number 16 Bus Stop are even more ridiculous. God help those children as they grow up! I saw this on the Internet but thanks for posting!

First reaction: It shouldn’t be the government’s job to regulate taste.

Second, don’t bureaucrats have something better to do with their time?

Also, I don’t like laws that rely too much on precedent and not enough on clear written rules. Most naming laws require judgment in every new case, since not every conceivable name can be on a list. And, as seen in New Zealand, Germany and [name]Sweden[/name], they don’t even use precedent. You may say parents can abuse their authority in giving names, but this shows that regulating names just leads to abuse of authority by the bureaucracy.

Aside from that, naming laws are often culturally insensitive. For example, banning [name]Andrea[/name] on a girl in [name]Italy[/name] or [name]Alexis[/name] on a girl in Germany. In English, both are considered female. Naming rules like this could be offensive to immigrants. My demand is You can’t require everyone in the country to have a name from the official language.

That was fascinating, but I’m conflicted about what side I’m on.

I would be livid if someone attempted to stop me from naming my child anything I wanted to name them. I wouldn’t intentionally name my child devil or sex fruit, but naming my child [name]Apple[/name], [name]Plum[/name], Ferrari or [name]Brooklyn[/name] is my choice.
I think the worst is the pope wading in on this… get a life.

First thing: The pope was hideously misquoted. He did not declare “war on parents naming babies after celebrities, fruit or popular sports cars.” He made a passing comment, less than a sentence, about the blessing of [name]Christian[/name] names- what Catholics call the given name (as opposed to confirmation names or surnames) and made absolutely zero mention of celebrities, fruit, sports cars, or taste in general. http://www.babynamewizard.com/archives/2011/1/pope-benedict-on-baby-names-a-global-game-of-telephone

[name]Just[/name] wanted to get that out of the way.

Portugal is ridiculously strict- even [name]Monique[/name] and [name]Aidan[/name] aren’t allowed. I don’t agree with naming laws because taste is taste, and like a pp said, don’t these beauraucats have anything better to do? However, it does scare me when parents try to name their kids things like “[name]Adolph[/name] HItler”- I really don’t think that bodes well for your parental ability, and it brings up quite a few other, much bigger conflicts.

I disagree with you. I don’t think the point of these laws is to have everyone in the country having a name from the official language, rather to protect the children whose parents name them ridiculous names, often to show off how eccentric or different they themselves are.

I also think it’s pretty much impossible with naming laws to have clear written rules, rather than relying on precedents. If there were clear written rules they’d have to be adapted constantly due to the new wacky and plain ugly/cruel names that parents are giving to their children these days. It’d also give rebellious parents scope to go around the rules and find a way to name their child something that was technically legal, but still unfair for the child.

I really don’t see how stopping someone from naming their child “Devil” or “Anus” is an abuse of authority by the bureaucracy. I’d like to believe that my government helps to keep me safe and happy. This is just another way that they do so. I definitely wouldn’t say that this is a matter of taste, it’s a matter of not giving your child a horrific and damaging name.

I’m generally a proponent of “nanny state” laws - those designed to protect people from themselves. The exceptions (and they’re huge ones) are censorship laws and laws to control culture. Naming laws fall under the latter, whatever their stated purpose.

This does carry the question beyond names, but this was really about more than names from the start. I hope I don’t have to say anything more on this.