Baby naming laws vary dramatically around the world, and in some countries, certain names are not allowed to be given to children. These laws can be quite strict at times.
Banned Baby Names
In some countries, governments have outlawed certain baby names based on ethical, religious, practical, and cultural reasons.
Here are 16 banned baby names from around the world.
Cyanide: United Kingdom
Cyanide is a deadly poison, and a British parent was warned not to give their children this name for fear it would harm the child in the future. The mother, who tried to name her daughter “Cyanide” and her twin brother “Preacher,” was said to have a chaotic history of mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and relationships with abusive men, the courts were told.
The Naming Law in Sweden was enacted in 1982 to prevent non-noble families from giving their children noble names. The country also dictates that first names should not be offensive or cause discomfort and can only be changed once.
Names such as Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb111163 (yes, you heard that right), Metallica, Superman, Veranda, Ikea, and Elvis have been rejected by the law, while Google as a middle name and Lego have been accepted.
God: Victoria, Australia
In the state of Victoria, Australia, it is not allowed to give a baby a name that has religious connotations. This includes names such as “God” or “Jesus,” as well as interpretations of other spiritual terms like “Bishop.”
Osama Bin Laden: Cologne, Germany
In the wake of 9/11, a Turkish couple living in Cologne, Germany, attempted to name their child after Osama Bin Laden. German officials denied the request as it was against their naming regulations which state that all names should not lead to humiliation.
In Morocco, the spelling of Sarah is banned because it is seen as a Hebrew name. However, those wishing to use a non-Arabic name can do so by paying a fee. An acceptable alternative is Sara, which does not contain an ‘h’ and is seen as the Arabic version of the name.
In Denmark, the government has given parents a list of 7,000 allowable names to choose from, with special permission required to deviate.
Commonly rejected names include ethnic names and odd spellings. Around 250-odd names are denied yearly due to these regulations. Bizarre name choices such as Anus, Pluto and Monkey have been avoided.
In Hungary, there is a list of approved names that follow the native language. This means that Stefán can be used while Stephen is not allowed.
Parents may apply to have foreign or original names added to the registry, but they must adhere to Hungarian orthography when submitting them.
For example, if you wanted to name your child Juliette, you would have to write it as Zsüliett.
Messi: Rosario, Argentina
In the Argentine city of Rosario, where Barcelona player Lionel Messi is from, so many babies were being named after him that a law was passed specifically banning it. As a result, parents in Rosario can now not legally name their children “Messi.”
Linda: Saudi Arabia
In 2014, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry issued a list of 51 banned names that were seen as not following social traditions. These included religious-sounding names and foreign names such as Linda, Alice, and Elaine. This was done to help ensure that no inappropriate or culturally insensitive names were given to babies in the country.
Lucía: California, United States
In the state of California in the United States, parents are not allowed to use accents or special characters when naming their baby, only the letters of the English alphabet. This means that names such as Lucía, which contain a special symbol (the accent over the “I”), cannot be used.
X Æ A-12: California, United States
Most recently, Elon Musk wanted to name his son X Æ A-12. Although the Æ seem off limits, they got it passed on the birth certificate. However, Musk and Grimes had to tweak the name a bit and settled on X AE A-XII.
The popular chocolate hazelnut spread was banned as a baby name in France. The French government felt it would be too commercial and lead to teasing by other kids. In fact, the Prefecture of Montpellier even sent a letter to a couple in France informing them that they were not allowed to use Nutella as a baby name.
Facebook: Sonora, Mexico
In the Mexican state of Sonora, it is not allowed to give a child a name that has no meaning or a name that could negatively impact them later in life or may be seen as insulting.
Therefore, naming your baby after the popular social media platform, Facebook, is prohibited.
In Iceland, parents are not allowed to give their children names that cannot be written with the Icelandic alphabet or pronounced correctly in accordance with Icelandic grammar. Therefore, names such as “Carolina,” which contain a letter not in the Icelandic alphabet, cannot be used.
Malek: Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia, names that are reserved solely for royalty, such as ‘Malek,’ which means ‘King,’ are banned. Since the country is a monarchy, all kinds of regal names are prohibited for commoners. Other words include ‘Malika’, which means queen, and ‘Amir’, which means prince.
In Portugal, there is an 80-page guide about which baby names are allowed and forbidden.
Some foreign names, such as Aiden, Ashley, Bruce, Bryan, Charlotte, Dylan, and Mary Anne are not allowed to be used for Portuguese babies. Additionally, you cannot name your baby a nickname as an official name, so the name Tom is banned.
A French couple had the intention of naming their son MJ (all caps) in honour of Michael Jackson who passed away in 2009. However, six months later, they received a letter from l’état civil notifying them that they must change the name to a more acceptable one. Initials as first names are not allowed in France.
1069: North Dakota, United States
Michael Herbert Dengler, a short-order cook and high school teacher, attempted to change his name to “1069” in 1976, but the North Dakota Supreme Court denied him.
He claimed that each number represented something— for example, the number one meant that he stood as one individual among many forms of life, all part of the same whole.
Despite attempting to pursue the matter in Minnesota, neither state allowed a number to be used as a name. Dengler’s attempt at expressing his identity through numbers was unsuccessful.
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As seen from the above examples, many places around the world have laws and regulations governing what can or cannot be used when naming a baby.
While some of these restrictions may seem overly restrictive, they are in place to ensure that children are not humiliated or subject to mockery due to the names given to them by their parents.
It is important for any parent considering giving a baby an unusual name to research the relevant rules and regulations in order to avoid any potential legal issues.
This article, 16 Banned Baby Names Banned Around the World, was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.