In a world where celebrities have extended the boundaries of baby naming, people would assume that there are no restrictions when it comes to registering names. The truth is, various jurisdictions around the world do in fact have the legal ability to squash the name a parent chooses for their child.
In recent years, the rich and famous have selected baby names such as, Apple, Blue Ivy, Heaven, Free, Cashel, Atticus, Ocean, Buddy bear and Bear blu. In case anyone can’t tell, the first three names are girls and the rest are boys. As far as we know, there were no problems registering these names.
While most countries will insist they are very liberal when it comes to baby names, there are instances where government officials put their foot down. In many cases, they argue that a name could be offensive to the public at large and in other situations they indicate that the name is not good for the emotional well being of the child, especially as he or she begins to grow-up.
Naming a child is not an easy task; after all a name is something a person has to live with for the rest of his or her life. If the name has been used in pop culture, for example in a song, then that person can expect to get serenaded throughout their lifetime. Initials are also an issue since they do get used from time-to-time. Who wants to be P.M.S or B.U.M for short?
In an effort to protect children some governments do put serious thought into whether or not they should accept certain names that are submitted for registration. Here’s a look at 15 baby names that various governments refuse to register.
Nutella is the name of a sweetened hazelnut cocoa spread. It was first manufactured by the Italian company Ferraro back in the mid 60’s but it has become a very popular food item in recent decades. Nutella lovers consume the spread in various ways: on crackers, in a sandwich, inside muffins or cookies, and even on slices of apple. Over the last couple of years, well-known food companies have been creating their own Nutella infused treats, such as Nutella filled donuts.
There are even some far-out combinations like Nutella and bacon pie, but what about calling your baby Nutella? Not happening – at least not in France where they have banned the name Nutella. A French court simply declared that this name is “not in the best interest of the child”. One judge suggested that a couple who wanted to name their child Nutella, change it to “Ella”. It seems that some fruits are also out of the question in France as well. For example, when someone wanted to name their baby “Fraise”, which is Strawberry in English, authorities in France said, it would be “mocking” the child. Fraisine, a popular name in 19th century France is however acceptable in this area of the world.
When you say the word Metallica people around the world think of the U.S based heavy metal band that was formed back in 1981 and became one of the biggest selling groups in American history. The band became known for it’s unique style of trash metal, which could send some parents into full blown anxiety attacks due to what was perceived as anti-religious overtones. Fast forward to current day and you find some parents at the opposite end of the spectrum; parents that is who want to name their baby, Metallica.
If you live in Sweden, you might have difficulty when it comes to registering the name Metallica. Swedish authorities have said the name is associated with “metal” and is “ugly”. In Sweden all baby names have to be approved by the Tax Authority. There is at least one woman living in Sweden who has Metallica as a middle name, but so far it appears to be banned as a first name. As a matter of fact, some may conclude that Sweden has something against American music, since government officials in the country have also banned the name, Elvis.
Matti is short for Matthew, but in some cultures it is quite acceptable to register your child as Matti and not Matthew. Matti Ensio Nykanen of Finland is a former ski jumper who won five Olympic medals and nine World Championship medals, but if he lived in Germany, chances are he would have a different name. Germany does not allow for the registering of names that don’t automatically reveal the gender of the child. Also if you come up with a first name that sounds like a last name, it will also be rejected in Germany.
Officials in this country have said their system of name registration, which is handled by the Office of Vital Statistics, is based on how the name will impact the well being of the child. When deciding on names, the Office of Vital Statistics or as it is commonly referred to in Germany, the Standesamt refers to a book which translates to the international manual of first names. They also consult with foreign embassies about non-German names.
12 King Or Queen
Queen Latifah is a stage name for actress, singer, comedian Dana Elaine Owens, but chances are she would have a very hard time using her professional name in New Zealand. The government of New Zealand takes name registration very seriously and the name Queen is banned. So is the name King, Princess, Duke, Barron, Majesty, and a whole lot of names that don’t refer to royalty. Some of the names banned in this country are actually names that we have become accustomed to in North America.
For example, you can find people in the United States and Canada with the first names, Lucifer, Master, Royal, Major, Justice, and Honor, but not in New Zealand. We can all be thankful that New Zealand has clamped down on the name Anal so we won’t find anyone with that name living in this area of the world. I know, who would want to name their child Anal? Believe it or not, it has happened. The name has been submitted for registration is several jurisdictions around the globe.
Just as many westerners like to take names from movies and television shows, some people living in Japan like to turn to comics and video games for inspiration when it comes to naming their newborns. In Japan, one given name and one surname is acceptable. It is only the imperial family members who receive just a given name. One of the most common names for a boy in Japan is “Hiroto” and a popular girl name is “Yui”. There have been requests for the registration of the name “Akuma”, which comes from a fictional character from the Street Fighter series of fighting games by Capcom. Akuma is also the name of a punk rock band in Quebec, Canada.
Japanese authorities have banned this name. They say it means, “devil” and therefore it is inappropriate to give this name to a child. Naming can get rather confusing in Japan because people often use Kanji, a set of Chinese characters that symbolize a specific name. Kanji has become popular in many cultures, especially in the form of tattoos. Recently one couple in Japan wanted to name their child Mizuka using the Kanji-like characters 水子. The parents thought it spelled out water and child, but the problem is that these characters actually mean abortion or miscarriage.
Pluto was the ruler of the underworld in mythology. In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Pluto was a symbol of the positive concept of god who presides over afterlife. Pluto is also the name of one of nine planets recognized in our Solar System. Today, it is considered a dwarf planet. Children around the world recognize the name Pluto as a loveable, yellow-orange colored, short-haired pup (cartoon character) created by Walt Disney.
In Denmark, Pluto is not considered a fit name. Strict laws on personal names prohibit anyone from naming their baby, Pluto. Parents have to choose from a list of about 7,000 pre-approved names. Why isn’t Pluto on that list? Officials in Denmark say they want to protect children from having odd names and names that suit their parents’ silly whims. It turns out that in Denmark, creative spellings of common names are also often rejected and you have to make sure that a name leaves no doubt to which gender the baby belongs. Every year, officials in Denmark say they reject anywhere between 15 to 20 percent of names that are submitted for registration.
9 Adam, Aaron, & Abraham
In the United States there are too many famous Adam’s to name them all, but there is Adam Sandler, the comedian, Adam Levine, the singer pictured here and Adam Scott, the professional golfer to name a few. The same goes for Aaron and Abraham. Aaron Rodgers is a household name. Rodgers is an American National Football League Star. Aaron Copland was an American song-writer and conductor who passed away in 1990 and was often referred to as the “Dean of American composers”. Of course the most famous Abraham would be Abraham Lincoln – the 16th President of the United States. Fame attached to name doesn’t really mean much to authorities in Portugal. Adam, Aaron and Abraham are all banned names in the country. While we can’t say for sure why these common English names do not get registered in Portugal, some people speculate it is simply a rule against any western sounding names and a desire to maintain tradition.
Two years ago a couple in Saudi Arabia wanted to name their baby, Linda, but officials in the country would not allow it. The interior ministry has stated that they will not register any names that might offend religious sensibilities, offend those who are associated with royalty or that are non-Arabic or non-Islamic. The name Amir, which means prince is no longer allowed to be used by new parents in Saudi Arabia. The same goes for Queen, Kingdom and Angel. The names, Abdul Nabi and Abdul Hussain are also banned. Once common among Shiites and Sunni Arabs, these names are now considered “controversial”. Abdul in Arabic means “worshipper of” and Nabi means “prophet”. Names are an important part of our identity, no matter what age we are and in this area of the world, a name is supposed to help define a person’s character so choosing the right name should involve a lot of thought.
7 Venerdi (Friday)
Who doesn’t like Fridays? It is the end of the official work-week and the beginning of the weekend - a time to relax and enjoy family, friends and fun activities. In Daniel Dafoe’s 1719 Novel, Robinson Crusoe there is a character named Friday. Robinson gave the man the name Friday because that is the day of the week that they met and he has difficulty communicating with him. Some people find this cute. Actress Susan Weld changed her name to Tuesday when she was just a young girl. It seemed to work because even those who are not familiar with all of her work, do recognize her name. Today Tuesday would be in her early 70’s. Italy is having no part of naming people by the days of the week. Not long ago an Italian couple were unable to register the name Venerdi, which is Friday in English. Italian officials in charge of baby name registration simply told the couple that they do not approve of names that could make a “mockery” of the child. There are many countries that do allow days of the week as first names, but keep in mind that some are for a girl and some are for a boy. For example, apparently Wednesday is a girl’s name. By the way, we believe that at least in western cultures, Friday is considered a girl’s name due to the term “girl Friday”. The couple in Italy had a boy.
6 Gesher (Bridge)
In Norway, there are strict regulations on what parents can name their baby. If someone uses an unapproved name in this country they can face fines in the hundreds of dollars, or even be sent to jail. One woman paid the price of a fine and jail time when she named her son Gesher, which is the Hebrew word for “bridge”. Norway’s strict naming laws date back to the 1800’s and were developed to protect children from names that look or sound odd. It is interesting that what many people in North America might think sounds odd is in fact acceptable in Norway. For example, Wenche is a popular girl’s name in Norwegian communities, but it is not pronounced the way you might expect. Wenche is supposed to be pronounced, Vehn-keh. Ase is another girl’s name. The names Dag and Odd are common boy’s names in Norway. Yes, that’s right, Odd is a first name.
If a name cannot be conjugated in Icelandic then it is not an acceptable first name in Iceland. This means Harriet is out. One family who went ahead and called their daughter Harriet anyway had a great deal of difficulty when they tried to renew her passport. It turns out she has a brother, Duncan whose name is also banned. There is no letter “C” in the Icelandic alphabet. In Iceland there is a national registry that includes all acceptable baby names. When parents in this country want to give their baby a name that is not on the national list, they have to pay a fee and have the name reviewed by the government. Authorities in Iceland have said that they want to make certain that a potential name is not going to be a source of “humiliation” for the child or his/her family. They also want to make sure that the name meets criteria that are specific to Iceland and it’s culture.
So what’s wrong with Sarah? It is one of the most popular names in many areas of the world. It is in fact an ancient name. The spelling Sara is a modern variation of Sarah. Americans, Canadians, Portuguese, Mexican, Italian, Irish, and Swedish people are among those who seem to like and want to name their babies Sarah. While there don’t seem to be any objections to the name or it’s meaning, which is essentially, “princess”, Moroccan parents are not allowed to spell Sarah with an “H”. They say it is because it is the Hebrew spelling, but the Arabic spelling, “Sara” is acceptable. In Morocco, parents are encouraged to choose from a list of acceptable names that align with the Moroccan identity and leave no room for confusion. Interestingly, “Sara” is one of the most popular names for a girl in Morocco. Salma is also very common. When it comes to boys, Mohamed, Youseff, and Omar rank very high.
No one can say for certain where the sudden urge to use the animal name Bear as a first name for our kids comes from, but perhaps it has something to do with Bear Grylls. He’s the British adventurer who was born Edward Michael, but now goes by the name Bear Grylls. Known for his television series Man vs. Wild, Bear has a massive following and seems to have opened the door for those who like unusual names. Bear Grylls has a child names Marmaduke. Canadian celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver used the name Bear as the middle name for his son Buddy – yes Buddy Bear. Actress Alicia Silverstone used it as a first name so her son is Bear Blu. Actress Kate Winlet has a child named, Bear Blaize. If you live in Malyasia though there will be no Bear or any other animal used as a first name. Authorities in this area of the world also will not allow people to be named after a fruit, such as Apple.
2 Marciana & Rambo
Over the last few years, the Mexican government noticed that parents were getting rather creative when it came to naming their babies so they decided to do a comprehensive review of names. The end result- over 60 names were pulled from the official Mexican name registry. This means that if your name is currently, Marciana, which in Mexican translates to “Martian” or you have the name Rambo from the Movie series based on a Vietnam war vet and U.S Army Special Forces Soldier, then you get to keep it. However, if anyone in this country plans on calling their child Marciana or Rambo in the future, forget it. The Mexican government also warns expectant parents to be careful when it comes to using two first names together. For instance, Juan Calzon was one request they received and when translated it means, “Juan Panties”. As you can imagine – it’s a no go as well.
Here in the western section of the world we first heard the name ICE-T when Tracy Lauren Morrow started using it as a stage name. Today few people refer to him by his birth name. The American rapper and actor began his career in the 1980’s and today he is well-known around the world, but not everyone likes the name. The Australian Government does not allow people to name their babies, ICE-T. The official statement from Authorities in Australia is that “names will not be registered if they are obscene or offensive, unreasonably long, contain symbols without phonetic significance or are not in the public interest for some other reason.” The names Hitler, Osama and Goose are off limits in Australia along with ICE-T. In recent years the country has had some rather outrageous name requests, including Thong and Spinach.
While many countries have strict rules when it comes to baby naming, in the United States, Canada and England almost anything goes. The stance is that it is the parents right to choose whatever they feel is appropriate for their child. A couple years ago a Tennessee Magistrate was replaced after she ordered a baby’s name to be changed from Messiah to Martin. Although we don’t know why the Magistrate ordered the change, we can tell you that she was accused of violating Tennessee’s Code of Judicial Conduct. The code stipulates that judges perform their duties without bias or prejudice based on religion. It is interesting to note, that the name Messiah is banned in some countries around the world, including in New Zealand.