Full List of the Outlawed Baby Names That Banned Around the World (2023/24 Update)
According to naming laws in the United States, there are often character limits and restrictions around obscenities, the inclusion of emojis, offensive language, numerals (within the name), and more.
While parents have to deal with the joy and drama of choosing a baby name, taking into account the most popular baby names along with whether or not the rest of the family will hate it, very few names are actually forbidden. Naming laws are actually set by the state, and some states have more requirements than others.
There are some commonalities: In most states, you can’t put a numeral in your name, for example, and there are often character limits to how long you can make a name. (In Minnesota, you’re limited to “only” 150 characters.) But if you want to name your kid something that’ll get them teased for the rest of their life, it’s your American right.
Many courts, however, have interpreted that the U.S. Constitution supports the parent’s rights to choose a name for the kid, so very few names are banned. As an added mention, going without a first name is not technically illegal, but for functionality reasons, you will need a first name to identify yourself in society. In addition, parents are often given 24 to 48 hours (sometimes up to 72 hours) to name a baby prior to going home.
New Jersey only bans names that include obscenities, numerals, or symbols, so the Campbells were totally in the clear when naming their children Adolf Hitler and JoyceLynn Aryan Nation. And no one could stop Penn Jillette from naming his daughter Moxie Crimefighter.
In other countries, though, that isn’t always the case, and there are much stricter naming laws. Some require parents to choose from a pre-approved list of names, or petition the government to add a name to the list. Others have laws protecting kids from the ridicule that would result from parents who choose terrible names for them. Here are more than 50 “illegal” names that have been banned or almost-banned — see if you think the governing bodies were right to strike them down, or if you think they were overstepping.
Other parts of the world aren’t as liberal when it comes to baby-naming. In 2017, the Swiss court in Zurich ruled against a couple who wanted to use “J” as one of their daughter’s middle names, as a tribute to her great-grandparents, Johanna and Josef. Their reasoning for the objection? That it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the child and that others would be prompted to put a period after the name when it wasn’t an abbreviation. (The court suggested the much-more-acceptable “Jo” instead.) Here are 37 examples of baby names that, for one reason or another, were deemed unfit for a birth certificate.
Now that you’re curious, explore some of the reasons for baby name bans below. You will not be surprised to see that names like Queen Victoria (banned in New Zealand), James Bond (banned in Mexico), Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii (banned in New Zealand), Nirvana (banned in Portugal), and Smelly Dog (banned in Malaysia) are not allowed.
Here are some common reasons for name bans, most of which are obvious:
• character limits
• obscene or unpleasant names
• brackets and blank spaces and symbols
• royal names, official titles
• product names, company names, superhero names
• controversial names
Each state, country, or jurisdiction will have slightly different bans. See the examples below to compare reasons for restrictions in the following U.S. states:
• California bans numerals, symbols, and punctuation marks
• Texas bans numbers, symbols, punctuation marks, titles, and ranks
• New Jersey bans obscenities, numerals, and symbols
• Michigan bans numbers, symbols, and punctuation marks
• Virginia bans numerals, symbols, punctuation marks, slurs, and epithets
These are just a few examples. Other countries will ban names for cultural or religious reasons or because a name contains letters that are excluded from their alphabet. Hyphens are generally allowed in most names in the United States, but the use of accents are not. Rules vary accordingly.
In 2015, a French couple apparently wanted to name their daughter Nutella because they hoped she could emulate the sweetness and popularity of the chocolate spread. One French judge wasn’t having it, and insisted that the name could only lead to “mockery and disobliging remarks.” It was ruled that the child’s name be shortened to the considerably more conventional-sounding “Ella.”
The case of baby Akuma, which means devil in Japanese, stirred such a frenzy in the early 1990s that it even caught the attention of the prime minister’s cabinet. The justice minister at the time spoke out against the government intervention, saying, “It is not appropriate to instruct parents to change children’s names without legal basis.” Regardless, naming your child devil eventually became illegal in Japan.
New Zealand has no time for anyone’s bizarre baby-naming shenanigans. Parents have to get all potential names approved by the government, and if officials deem something too wacky, it gets added to the ever-growing list of banned names. There were many questionable entries on the list they released in 2013, Anal being a particularly horrifying offender.
Norway is another country that regulates what parents can name their child. One Norwegian mother was sent to jail after failing to pay the $210 fine for using an unapproved name. She protested, saying that she had been instructed to name her son Gesher, the Hebrew word for bridge, in a dream she had.
Another name banned from New Zealand is Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. The New Zealand government hated it so much they assumed guardianship of the 9-year-old girl who held that moniker in order to ensure that a more appropriate name was found for her.
Around a year after 9/11, a Turkish couple living in Cologne, Germany, felt inspired to name their child after Osama Bin Laden. German officials declined to let that happen, citing the section of their naming guidelines which states that all names “must not be likely to lead to humiliation.” What’s more, German law prohibited foreign names that are illegal in the parents’ home country, and this particular moniker is illegal in Turkey.
Officials in Sonora, Mexico released a list of names that were rejected by the government because they could lead to bullying, and these three were on it. (But who would have the guts to bully Robocop?)
In 2014, officials from Sonora, Mexico, compiled a list of banned baby names taken straight from the state’s newborn registries. While citizens are no longer allowed to give this name to their children, there’s at least one kid out there named Robocop.
Max is usually short for something, so why not Chief Maximus? Unfortunately, this name was banned by Australia.
Sweden has notoriously strict naming laws. In 1982, a law was passed to prevent non-noble families from bestowing their children with noble names. Today, the law vaguely states that “first names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name.” In protest of the restrictions, one couple decided to make their child’s name a captcha code from hell. The name, pronounced “Albin,” was rejected. The parents later submitted the name with the same pronunciation but rewritten as “A.” That was rejected as well.
According to Mental Floss, this name was also rejected in China because symbols are not allowed in names. The parents initially chose it because “@ in Chinese is pronounced ‘ai-ta’ which is very similar to a phrase that means ‘love him,’” Mental Floss notes.
In 2014, officials from Sonora, Mexico, compiled a list of banned baby names from the state’s newborn registries. One of the unfortunate names that made the cut was Circuncisión, Spanish for “circumcision.” They made the decision to ban the name from that point forward.
In 2014, a family in Iceland was told they couldn’t renew their 10-year-old daughter’s passport. The problem? It listed her name as Stúlka, Icelandic for “Girl.” The family had a similar issue with their 12-year-old son’s passport, which listed his name as “Boy.”
Icelandic parents must name their children an approved name in the National Register of Person. In addition to not being a potential source of humiliation, the name must also meet criteria that’s more specific to Iceland. It can only include letters in the Icelandic alphabet and must be able to conform to the language grammatically.
The name “Harriet,” which is what “Girl” actually went by, fails on that second front. And there’s no letter c in the Icelandic alphabet to correctly spell “Duncan,” her brother’s given name—hence the passport that listed his name as “Boy.” Or, more accurately, its Icelandic equivalent: Drengur. After an appeal, however, it was decided that they could get passports under their real names because their parents were both foreign nationals.
In 2007, a baby girl from Sweden was baptized under this heavy metal name, but tax officials deemed it inappropriate. Eventually, authorities came to their senses and let the little girl rock out with her unique name. Unique for a while, at least—apparently there are now a few Metallicas running and/or crawling around the country.
By naming their child Chow Tow, which translates to “smelly head,” two parents in Malaysia were basically doing future bullies’ jobs for them. The country published this in a list of banned monikers after receiving an influx of people applying to change their given names.
What was once the most popular name in the United States is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. In that country, certain names are “banned because they were not in line with ‘social traditions,” The Washington Post reports. Maya, Emir, Yara, and Laureen were also on the list.
The New Zealand government thankfully stepped in before some poor child had to spend the rest of their life with the name Sex Fruit. (Though being raised by parents who thought that was a smart idea in the first place probably presents its own set of challenges.)
Denmark is another country that requires parents to choose baby names from a pre-approved list. Parents need permission from the government to choose outside the list of approved names, and each year approximately 250 are rejected. In addition to Monkey, the names Pluto and Anus also didn’t make the cut.
Italy has the jurisdiction to reject baby names when they are “likely to limit social interaction and create insecurity.” Judges claimed the name Venerdi, meaning Friday, would make the young boy in question the subject of mockery. The parents were forced to change the name, but in response threatened to name their next child Mercoledi, the Italian word for Wednesday.
Portugal has a whopping 80 pages dedicated to listing which names are legal and which are not. Nirvana is among the more than 2000 names that are included in the banned section.
When a couple attempted to name their child after a strawberry, the French courts intervened. The judge claimed that the name Fraise would incur teasing due to its connection to the idiomatic phrase “ramène ta fraise,” which means something like “get over here.” The parents insisted that they were only trying to give their daughter an original name, and eventually went with Fraisine instead.
Among New Zealand’s 2013 list of banned names that people apparently tried giving to their children is the symbol “.”. The name would have been pronounced “Full Stop.”
When naming their children, Moroccan parents must choose from a list of acceptable names that properly align with “Moroccan identity.” Sarah with an h is banned because it’s considered to be the Hebrew spelling, but the Arabic Sara is perfectly fine.
But, by far, the most disappointed parents in New Zealand are the ones who tried to give their children regal-sounding names: Prince, King, and Royal were the most commonly rejected names in 2018.
Unless the Prince of Wales is traveling to France, you won’t find any Prince Williams in the country. A couple from southern France was barred from giving the name to their child in 2015. According to a French court, the name would have caused harm to the child and been a heavy burden.
The same day that the would-be Prince William made his way into the world, a couple tried to name their newborn Mini Cooper. Since the court didn’t allow parents to copy the name of a notable human, you won’t be surprised to learn that they wouldn’t let them name a kid after a notable automobile, either.
IKEA is beloved around the world, but there’s at least one place where it’s illegal to name your baby after the furniture store: Its home country of Sweden. The name violates the nation’s strict naming laws.
Harry and Ron are acceptable names in many parts of the world, but in the Mexican state of Sonora, Hermione makes the banned baby names list. The Greek name, which means “well born,” predates the studious witch in the Harry Potter series. Nonetheless, Sonora has determined that the modern pop culture connotations make the name unsuitable for kids.
New Zealand banned a couple from giving this set of names to their newborn twins, marking a rare occasion when two names were banned as a pairing.
Also in France, a court ruled that a baby girl could not be named Fraise, which means “strawberry.” (Strawberries go well with Nutella – is this a conspiracy?) They said it could be construed as the slang word for a**. The parents went with Fraisine instead.
Not many people have positive associations with cyanide. A woman from Wales was one exception: She attempted to name her daughter after the poison, explaining that it was “responsible for killing Hitler and Goebbels and I consider that this was a good thing.” The Court of Appeals stepped in before the name became official.
If your name has to consist solely of numerals, you could do worse than 007. Sadly, James Bond’s code number is a banned name in Malaysia.
When France won the World Cup in 2018, two parents wanted to celebrate in a big way—they named their son Griezmann Mbappé after football stars Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé. French officials felt the child wouldn’t grow up to be appreciative of the homage, and they forced the couple to pick a new name for him.
Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé aren’t the only soccer stars who have had babies named after them. In Rosario, Argentina, the hometown of Barcelona player Lionel Messi, baby Messis were becoming so common that the town passed a law specifically banning the name.
Some names are deemed inappropriate not because of how they sound on their own, but because of who they’re given to. French officials stopped a couple from naming their son Ambre (the French version of Amber), arguing that having a traditionally feminine name risked “confusing the child in a way that could be harmful.” Another pair of French parents got into legal trouble for similar reasons when they tried naming their daughter Liam.
Many countries forbid parents and guardians from including numbers in baby names. There have been attempts to skirt this rule in New Zealand by using Roman numerals instead of Arabic numerals, but they were unsuccessful. The name III doesn’t cut it in the country.
Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy could have ended up with a different name if she was born in Italy. A couple in Milan tried naming their own daughter Blu (the Italian spelling of blue) and were ordered to change it. Naming laws in Italy dictate that “the name given to a child must correspond to their sex.” Because Blu is an unconventional name, officials argued that it doesn’t correspond to any sex and is therefore illegal.
Speaking of naming children after food: The name Spinach is outlawed in Australia. (For the record, the name Kale appears to be acceptable.)
As previously mentioned, most states in the U.S. don’t allow numerals in names. When a North Dakota man wanted to legally change his name to 1069, “The North Dakota Supreme Court (1976) and Minnesota Supreme Court (1979) both say: Names can’t be numbers”.
Also in Sweden, parents had to go to court for the rights to use the names Metallica, Lego and Elvis. They all won!
The name that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West chose for their second child may fly in the U.S., but, in New Zealand, where you can’t give your kids names that resemble official titles, disappointed parents had this name rejected by the government in 2019.
Also in new Zealand, this roman-numeral name didn’t fly. “There’s no problem if you want to give your child a spelled-out number or even silly name, but remember your child has to live with it!” says Jeff Montgomery, Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages.
Portugal also has rigid regulations about what it allows in names — and one of those rules is that you can’t use nicknames or alternate spellings. If you want to call your kid Tom, you have to name him Tomás.
Portugal also forbids non-Portuguese names, and it has an 82-page list of names that have been banned. Thor, Nirvana and Paris are included on the list.
In 2006, Malaysia tightened restrictions on what names would be allowed in that country, and Hokkien Chinese Ah Chwar, which means “Snake,” made the list. So did 007, Chow Tow (“Smelly Head”) and Sor Chai (“Insane”).
Also in Malaysia, in addition to animal names, they frown upon other natural names, like names that come from fruits or flowers — something that’s actually a huge trend in the United States. (Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Garner would’ve had to think up some new monikers for their kids if they lived there.)
Iceland’s Naming Committee requires names to be spelled and conjugated in Icelandic, so when a girl named Harriet Cardew (whose father was from the U.K.) applied for a passport, she was told she couldn’t get one because her name didn’t work with the language. She’s officially registered as Stúlka Cardew (“Girl” Cardew).
You know what letter isn’t in the Icelandic alphabet? “C.” So any C-names are a nonstarter in that country. Jón Gnarr, the former mayor of Reykjavík, called it an “unfair, stupid law against creativity” when he wanted to name his daughter Camilla.
Who doesn’t love Friday? Italians, in fact. When parents in the country named their son Venerdi, the Italian word for “Friday,” the courts ruled that it fell into the “ridiculous or shameful” category of names and ordered it changed. According to NBC news, “they ordered the boy to be named Gregorio after the saint on whose day he was born.”
In Denmark, parents get a choice from a list of about 7,000 pre-approved names, or else they have to request permission. Molli was initially rejected because of its unusual spelling, Monkey because I was an animal and not a name. The country also rejected Anus, for obvious reasons.
Officials in Western China cracked down on Muslim names in a move that was widely criticized as a restriction on religious freedom.
Brand names are also not allowed in Switzerland, so no matter how luxurious you find a name, if it’s already a car or a handbag, you have to find something else.
Switzerland also puts a stop to religious names that cause kids “undue harm,” which is why Judas gets rejected.
Similarly, parents in Germany tried this one, arguing that the word was Latin for “light-bringing,” but the Association for the German Language called it in appropriate.
Germany also rejects last names as first names, especially if they’re as popular as Schmitz. That runs counter to the trend in the United States, where names that were once traditionally only last names (Cooper, Jackson) are popular.
Germany vetoes names on a few other grounds, too. Pfefferminze (“Peppermint”) was rejected because it might cause ridicule, and Stone because “a child cannot identify with it, because it is an object and not a first name.”
The current trend in baby names here is to have fewer and fewer letters, but how short is too short? In Switzerland, one letter is not enough. When parents tried to honor two grandparents, Johanna and Josef, with the name J, a Swiss court suggested Jo instead.
Parents in Spain were so riled up when the name they picked for their son, Lobo, meaning “Wolf,” was considered offensive that they started an online petition in their defense. After receiving more than 25,000 signatures, the Spanish officials relented.
A mother in Norway was told she was not allowed to name her son Gesher, which means “Bridge” in Hebrew. She felt so strongly about the name that, when she was given the option of changing the name, paying a $210 fine, or going to jail for two days, she chose jail. The mother was set on the name, she said, because it came to her in a dream.
Here, we barely notice the difference between Sarah and Sara, but in Morocco, one letter makes all the difference. ”Sarah” is banned because the spelling is too Hebrew — parents would have to opt for “Sara,” the more Arabic version.
A mother in Wales thought Cyanide would be a good choice for a name because it had a positive aura around it, since Cyanide was the poison that killed Hitler. The courts disagreed. In a very unusual ruling, the judge decided that the baby girl — and her twin brother, who was given the less-poisonous name Preacher — would get to be re-named by the twins’ older half-siblings.
When you think of the name Duke, people like Duke Ellington or Winston Duke may come to mind, but in Australia, that name is a no-no. It sounds too much like a title.
Hungary also maintains a list of approved names, and each month receives request for between 30 and 40 new names, of which 10 to 15 are accepted. The Hungarian word for “Diamond” (“Gyémi”) and Jinx were requested, but didn’t make the cut. Names that were accepted in recent years include Lotta, Bentli and Zev.
In the late ’90s, parents in Quebec were asked to change their baby’s name because it was too similar to Ivory soap. The parents appealed, and they won.
Guess where this name is banned? Technically, California! California does not allow accent or diacritical marks on its vital records. José would officially be Jose. Legislation has been introduced to change this law.
There are countless baby names out there that have yet to be discovered or created. So if you are considering a special or “extra” name for your baby boy or baby girl, think about choosing a unique name rather than one that is likely up against a ban. Gender-neutral names are actually trending and pretty cool, so check them out.
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