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Baby Names That Have Been Banned Around The World

13 min read

By Katherine George

Parents are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to choosing a baby name. While some parents prefer to stick to more traditional names, there are others who like to bend the rules with either a gender neutral name, or by creating something totally new and obscure. Most of the time, their originality works and can be seen as fun and playful, but not all countries find it amusing. There have been parents in the past who’ve tried to name their child something so far outside the box it gets banned by government officials! There are also some rejected names on this list that might come as a surprise.

Check out this list of 26 baby names that have been banned around the world…

26. Gesher (Norway)

A woman in Norway tried to name her son Gesher which means “Bridge” in Hebrew. The name was rejected by government officials and she was given three choices: change the name, pay a $210 fine, or go to jail for two days. Surprisingly, she chose jail! She said she felt so strongly about the name which came to her in a dream, she would rather sit in jail than change it.

25. Ambre (France)

While Amber is a perfectly acceptable name, French officials put a stop to a lesbian couple naming their little boy “Ambre” (the French version of Amber) because they considered it to be too traditionally feminine which risked being “confusing for the child in a way that could be harmful.” Therefore, the government deemed the name inappropriate. According to reports in the French Press, “Ambre” dates back to the 1950s when it was considered to be the feminine version of the word Ambroise meaning “immortal.” It’s a rare name in France, even for girls.

A similar situation occurred a few years earlier when a pair of French parents were banned from naming their little girl Liam.

24. Linda (Saudi Arabia)

Linda seems like a pretty traditional, non-assertive name, but in the country of Saudi Arabia, it goes against “social traditions,” according to the Civil Status Department. Linda joins a list of 50 other names that have been banned by the Saudi state. Some of the other names on this list were banned due to religious connotations (i.e. Basmala is banned because it means “in the name of God”) or foreign origin, but some of the names on this list are for other reasons. For example, the name Abdul Nasser is included on the list and was said to be banned due to its link with Gamal Abdel Nasser, the famous nationalist leader in Egypt.

Other names that are banned in Saudi Arabia are Malika, Maya, Randa, Rital, Aileen, Laureen, Sandi, Rama, just to name a few.

23. Hermione (Mexico)

Bad news for Harry Potter fans, in the Mexican state of Sonora, the name Hermione is on the banned baby name list. This name was made popular after it was used for one of the lead female characters in the hugely successful Harry Potter book series which was later adapted for film.

Despite the reader’s British background, the name is actually Greek and means “well born.” While you might not have heard it prior to reading J.K. Rowling’s book series, this name long predates the fictional character. So why is this name banned? Well, Sonora has determined that modern pop culture connotations make the name unsuitable for kids.

22. III (New Zealand & Most Countries)

Most countries do not allow parents to use numbers as a name for their child. One specific case that made the news was in New Zealand when two parents tried to name their child the roman-numeral “III” which the parents argued would be pronounced “three.”

A similar situation occurred in the United States when a man tried to change his name to “1069.” The North Dakota Supreme Court (1976) and Minnesota Supreme Court (1979) both argued that numbers cannot be used as names. Names consisting solely of numbers are also banned in Malaysia where someone tried to change their name to the famous James Bond code number, 007.

21. Prince William and Mini Cooper (France)

Both names were submitted by the same parents, one for their son and the other for their daughter, but their request didn’t make it very far. French officials denied their request to use “Prince William” and “Mini Cooper” as first names for their children. They later adapted the one to “Minnie Cooper” which was also denied.

While these two names have not been officially banned in the country of France, they were rejected by court judges under article 57 in civil law that allows judges to overrule a parent’s choice for their child’s name “in the interests of the child.”

20. Saint (New Zealand and Australia)

This name became popular after Kim Kardashian and Kanye West used it as the name for their son in 2015. While it’s totally fine and legal in the United States, other countries do not share the same opinion. New Zealand and Australia have banned parents from using this name because these countries do not want parents using names that include or resemble an official title or rank.

Former Home and Away actor Tessa James and her husband Nate Myles’ found this out the hard way. They tried to name their son Saint Myles in 2018, but since it’s on Australia’s list of banned names, they were forced to change the spelling to Saynt Myles. Other regal-sounding names that have been banned are Prince, King, and Royal which were the most commonly rejected names in New Zealand in 2018. Others include Majesty, Duke, Emperor, Queen, and Royalty.

19. Fraise (France)

I kind of like the name Fraise! It’s sweet, just like a strawberry! Unfortunately, the courts in France don’t agree. Parents who wanted to name their baby girl “Fraise” which translates to “strawberry” were denied. The courts argued that it could be construed as a slang word for a**. To get around this ruling, the parents choose the name Fraisine instead.

18. Harriet/Duncan (Iceland)

Iceland is a country that is notorious for having strict naming laws. The Icelandic Naming committee has stated that any name can be outlawed if it cannot be conjugated in Iceland or if it includes letters that don’t have an equivalent in the Icelandic alphabet.

One known case where this law came into effects was for two parents who tried to name their daughter Harriet, a name that cannot be conjugated in Icelandic. These same parents also tried to name their son Duncan which was also rejected because the Icelandic alphabet doesn’t have an equivalent for the letter “C.” Another popular name that is banned in Iceland is Camilla, again due to the letter C. Harriet’s name was eventually changed to Stulka Cardew which translates to “Girl” Cardew.

17. Tom (Portugal)

Another country with quite rigid baby naming regulations is Portugal. One of the strangest rules in this country is that a given name cannot be a “nickname” or alternate spelling of a name. In Portugal, Tom is considered to be a nickname of Thomas. Parents who want to name their baby Tom will have to choose Tomas instead.

Portugal is also strict about non-Portuguese names and have provided an 82-page list of names that are banned in this country. Some examples from this list are Anthony, Abigail, and Bryan.

16. Nutella (France)

Two parents that are totally nutty for Nutella tried to pay homage to their favorite spread, but were shut down by a judge in France. The judge ruled that this name would not be allowed not only due to copyright laws, but also because it would “make her the target of derision.” The child was named Ella instead.

15. Akuma (Japan)

The average person might not know there’s anything wrong with this name, but in Japan, it’s well known that Akuma means “Devil.” This is why when parents in Japan tried to name their child Akuma, they were met with a lot of backlash. This name stirred up so much attention that the Prime Minister’s cabinet issued an official statement asking the parents to use a different name in fear that the child would be subject to ridicule and discrimination.

14. Cyanide (England)

Unlike some other European countries, England doesn’t actually have too many laws around baby naming. However, there is one known ban in effect. A British mother tried to name her daughter Cyanide, a well-known poison. She didn’t get very far as the courts decided to intervene.

The judge on the case ruled forbid use of this name on the grounds that in England, courts can deny a parent a name “in only the most extreme cases.” It seems naming a baby “cyanide” constitutes as an extreme case.

13. Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmn (Sweden)

That’s right, someone tried to name their baby that line of gibberish! Thankfully, they were not successful. Sweden has a Naming law that was enacted in 1982 which to stop non-noble families from giving their children “noble names.” The law has since been revised to include additional regulations about using names that can cause offense or discomfort. The law reads: “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.”

Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmn was submitted by parents in 1991 as a protest against a fine they received for not naming their child by his/her fifth birthday. They submitted this name and claimed it was to be pronounced “Albin.” It was rejected. They also tried to submit “A” as the child’s name, but it was also rejected.

Other names rejected by the Swedish government are Metallica, Superman, Veranda, and Elvis.

12. Ikea (Sweden and Australia)

Again in Sweden, two parents tried to name their child Ikea, but were rejected by the government. They later found out that the Naming law prohibited the parents from naming their baby after the famous Swedish company. That ruling still stands today.

But it turns out Sweden isn’t the only country who doesn’t allow this name! Parents from the Land Down Under also tried to name their baby “Ikea” but it was prohibited due to regulations that parents cannot name their child anything “obscene or offensive;” they can’t be “contrary to the public interest,” and also can’t be “established by repute or usage.” Ikea is considered an established public institution, therefore it cannot be used as a name.

11. Sarah (Morocco)

Sarah is such a sweet and “normal” name, so you’re probably wondering what could possibly be wrong with it! In most countries, this name is fine, but in Morocco, names must reflect “Moroccan identity.” The problem with this name is that it includes the letter “H” which is the Hebrew spelling of this name. Parents living in Morocco must follow the Arabic spelling which is “Sara,” without the “H.” Not too big of a problem for parents who have their hearts set on this name, but good to know in advance!

10. Messiah (United States)

Unlike many other countries, the United States is pretty lenient when it comes to baby names. However, it’s important to note that some baby-naming regulations can vary between states. Not surprisingly, some states do not allow parents to use obscenities, while others have banned the use of numerals. Kentucky is one state that has absolutely no rules or regulations on baby names. Parents have total free reign to do as they please!

In 2013, a pair of Tennessee parents caused a stir when they wanted to name their baby Messiah. A judge in this state ruled against it stating that they weren’t allowed to use a name that didn’t belong to Christ alone. This ruling was eventually overturned and there are currently no official laws banning any religious affiliated names. A chancery court determined that judges are not allowed to interfere on the name of a child based on religious biases.

9. . (New Zealand)

Any kind of punctuation for a name isn’t allowed in many countries, including New Zealand. Two brave Kiwi’s made an attempt at naming their son “.” which they claimed would be pronounced “full stop,” but the government intervened and put their foot down. The name was rejected and the New Zealand government swiftly added it to their list of banned baby names.

8. @ (China)

Another country that has put a ban on any kind of symbol or punctuation is China. There was a case of two Chinese parents who tried to name their baby boy “@,” which isn’t even a letter but rather a keyboard symbol. According to Reader’s Digest, the parents seemingly had a good reason for choosing this symbol as the name for their child. In China, the symbol “@” is pronounced be
“ai-ta” which sounds similar to a Chinese phrase that means “love him.” While the sentiment behind the name is sweet, it didn’t win the hearts of the Chinese government who put a ban on any names containing symbols.

7. Monkey (Denmark)

While our kids can be little monkey’s sometimes getting into mischief, parents in Denmark aren’t allowed to name their kid “Monkey.” Anyone living in Denmark and planning to grow a family should be well acquainted with Denmark’s list of 7,000 approved names. If you live in this country and want to choose a name that isn’t included on this list, you have to get the government’s approval!

Not surprisingly, the name “Monkey” was not included on the list and was rejected by officials in government. Worth a shot, I guess!

6. Robocop (Mexico)

There is a long list of names that have been blacklisted in Sonora, a state in Northwestern Mexico. These are specific names that cannot be given by parents to their own children. The state released the list of forbidden names in 2014 with the hope that it would “[protect] children from being bullied because of their name.” According to Reader’s Digest, many of the names on this list came straight from baby registries which means many of these names had already been given to some unlucky children.

While the names that have already been given are unable to be changed, at least not if the parent refuses, the state hopes to spare any future children from being given silly or embarrassing names. The list includes names like “Robocop,” “Facebook,” “Batman,” and “Panties.”

5. Chow Tow (Malaysia)

Chow Tow seems innocent enough but when translated this Malaysian phrase means “smelly head” which sounds more like a taunting insult than a given name from loving parents. Despite the obvious, there was one Malaysian couple who thought it would be a good idea to name their child Chow Tow!

Thankfully, the Malaysian government stepped in and rejected this name. In 2006, Chow Tow was added to a list of forbidden names by the Malaysian National Registration Department. This list was created due to an increase in Malaysian citizens applying to have their birth names changed. Other restrictions on this list are any names after animals, insects, fruit, vegetables, or colors. This means commonly used names like Violet, Bear and Rose are all off the table.

4. Venerdi aka Friday (Italy)

Unfortunately, even if Friday if your favorite day of the week, you cannot name your baby after this favorable weekday! An Italian couple once tried to name their son Venerdi which is the Italian word for “Friday,” but the courts ruled against it. The argument against this name was that it fell into the category of “ridiculous or shameful.” As a result, the couple was ordered to change the name of their baby.

NBC news covered the story and wrote, “they ordered the boy to be named Gregorio after the saint on whose day he was born.”

3. Muslim Names (China)

In a move that has received a lot of backlash and criticism due to its infringement on religious freedom, China has banned the use of any Muslim names in Xinjiang. It gets even worse! If parents choose a Muslim name for their child, the child is at risk of being denied education and government benefits. This decision seems like a strange one especially considering the western region of Xinjiang is home to nearly half of China’s 23-million Muslim population.

Names like Islam, Quran, Saddam, Mecca, and any names that reference the star and crescent moon symbol will be rejected. China justifies these extreme measures based on their belief that religious extremists are responsible for a slew of violent incidents in the past few years.

2. Blu (Italy)

This couple must be faithful followers of the Beehive, aka Beyonce’s fan club. A couple in Milan tried to name their baby girl “Blu” (which is the Italian spelling of blue) They got the idea from superstar Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z who welcomed their daughter, Blue Ivy Carter back in January 2012.

It turns out the megastars wouldn’t have been able to choose this name had they lived in Italy because the couple who wanted to name their child “Blu” was turned down. Naming law in Italy dictate that “the name given to a child must correspond to their sex.” Apparently, Italians view this name as unconventional and that because it doesn’t correspond to either sex, it cannot be used.

1. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii (New Zealand)

Okay, no surprise here that this name was officially banned in New Zealand. While the name “Talula” on it’s own might have gotten approved, a silly phrase for a name isn’t going to fly with the Kiwi officials! In 2008, two parents were taken to court after it was reported that their nine-year-old daughter was named “Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.” The courts were granted custody of the child after it was determined this was a form of child abuse. It was revealed during court that she had been telling her classmates her name was “K” because she was scared of being teased over her name.

While in the guardianship of the court, the young girl was allowed to change her name.

Senior Managing Editor

Katherine is the Senior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat and Childhood. She is constantly striving to live a more active and healthy life, from eating healthy, exercising, and just spending more time outdoors. She enjoys cooking (with wine), walking her dog, reading, and recently joined a yoga studio!