Baby Names That Have Been Banned Around The World

Governments have rejected requests and outright forbidden certain names.
Nutella, Messiah, Hermione and Princess are examples of names that government officials have rejected outside the U.S.
David A Land via Getty Images
Nutella, Messiah, Hermione and Princess are examples of names that government officials have rejected outside the U.S.

A lot of people have strong opinions about baby names. A lot of governments do, too.

Although the United States is pretty lax when it comes to baby-naming regulations, other countries are much stricter. In places like Italy, France, Malaysia and New Zealand, the government has the right to reject parents’ baby name choices, and in many cases, select more suitable alternatives.

Naturally, such cases have made the news over the years. HuffPost took a look and rounded up a number of interesting examples. Without further ado, here are 27 baby names that have been rejected or outright banned in different countries around the world.

1. Lucifer

In 2017, German officials intervened when a couple in the city of Kassel submitted paperwork to name their newborn son Lucifer.

The country gives parents the right to choose any baby name, but the government can get involved if the chosen name would endanger the child’s well-being by exposing them to mocking and humiliation or by being offensive. According to a court spokesperson, the parents changed their minds during a closed-door hearing and instead decided to name their son Lucian.

Other countries have banned the baby name Lucifer. From 2001 to 2013, six sets of parents in New Zealand asked to name their newborns Lucifer, but all six requests were denied. Iceland recently refused to add the name to its official register.

In the U.S., a whopping 26 newborn baby boys were named Lucifer in 2018.

2. Nutella

In 2015, a court in Valenciennes, France, ruled that a couple could not name their daughter Nutella. When the parents failed to show up on their court date, the judge renamed the then 4-month-old baby Ella.

“The name ‘Nutella’ given to the child is the trade name of a spread,” the court’s official decision read, adding that it is “contrary to the child’s interest” to be named Nutella, as it “can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts.”

3. Ikea

Another brand name that has come under fire is Ikea. The furniture giant’s home country of Sweden has laws forbidding names that may cause “offense” or “discomfort,” and apparently Ikea falls into this category.

In the U.S., the name Ikea peaked in popularity in 1989, when 72 girls and nine boys were named Ikea. In the U.K., baby name experts observed a trend of giving children Ikea furniture line names like Malm and Tarva.

4. Messiah

From 2001 to 2013, New Zealand officials rejected two separate requests from parents who wanted to name their babies Messiah. The name has also faced legal obstacles in the U.S.

In 2013, a child support magistrate in East Tennessee ruled that a 7-month-old boy named Messiah must have his name changed to Martin. “The word ‘Messiah’ is a title, and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person, and that one person is Jesus Christ,” she proclaimed.

The decision was overturned on appeal, and the judge was fired. In 2018, 1,983 newborn boys and 33 girls in the U.S. were named Messiah.

5. Robocop

A 2014 law in the Mexican state of Sonora forbade parents from registering baby names that officials consider “derogatory, pejorative, discriminatory or lacking in meaning.” Following the law’s passage, the civil registry circulated a list of 61 names from past registries that would no longer be approved. One of the banned names was Robocop.

“The objective of the list is to protect children from being bullied because of their name,” said civil registry director Cristina Ramírez. “We know that bullying can seriously affect a child’s personality and the development of social skills, and we want to do what we can from our area of responsibility.”

6. Prince William

A couple in Perpignan, France, wanted to name their son Prince William, but a local court denied this request, ruling that the name would bring the child a “lifetime of mockery.”

7. Mini Cooper

After the court rejected the name Prince William, that same couple in Perpignan asked to name their son Mini Cooper. This request was also denied.

8. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii

In 2008, a New Zealand family court took custody of a 9-year-old girl named Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii so that her name could be changed.

“The court is profoundly concerned about the very poor judgment that this child’s parents have shown in choosing this name,” the judge stated. “It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap, unnecessarily.”

9. Facebook

Another choice from the Mexican state of Sonora’s forbidden names list was Facebook. Twitter, Yahoo and Email were also on the list.

Other countries appear to allow the name Facebook, however. In 2011, an Egyptian father reportedly named his daughter Facebook as a nod to the role the social media service played in Egypt’s revolution.

10. Venerdi

In 2007, an Italian court ordered a couple to rename their son, who’d been baptized Venerdi (Italian for “Friday”). Officials argued that the name was evocative of the servant character in Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” and therefore violated legislation banning “ridiculous or shameful” names.

“They wanted an unusual name, something original, and it did not seem like a shameful name,” the parents’ lawyer said in an interview. “We think it calls to mind the day of the week rather than the novel’s character.”

According to the lawyer, the court ordered the boy to be named Gregorio because he was born on that saint’s feast day.

11. Lucía

In a 2002 opinion piece, San Francisco Chronicle writer Louis Freedberg lamented a California policy barring accent marks in birth name records.

“[W]hen I tried to record my newly-born daughter’s name Lucía on her birth certificate last week I was told I couldn’t,” he wrote. “At least not correctly. I was told I had to record her name without that pesky accent ― as Lucia (which would be pronounced LOOsha), rather than Lucía (as in LooSEEyah).”

12. Chow Tow

In 2006, Malaysian authorities released a list of unsuitable names for newborns, including the Cantonese moniker Chow Tow, meaning “smelly head.” Other no-no names are Sor Chai (“insane”), Khiow Khoo (“hunchback”) and Woti (“sexual intercourse”).

The country doesn’t allow parents to name their babies after animals, insects, fruits, vegetables, colors, numbers, or royal titles, either.

13. Anal

The name Anal is on a list of prohibited baby names from New Zealand’s Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. It’s safe to assume the name fell under the category of “might cause offence to a reasonable person” ― a criterion for assessing the legality of baby names in the country.

14. Osama Bin Laden

German authorities prohibited a Turkish couple living in Cologne from naming their baby son Osama Bin Laden in 2002.

A court spokesperson noted that the name was rejected because it would not be allowed in Turkey and due to “the obvious association of the name with the terror attacks of 11 September.”

In the same vein, Germany has traditionally not allowed parents to name their children Adolf Hitler.

15. Fraise

In 2015, a couple in the town of Raismes, France, received a negative verdict after they tried to name their daughter Fraise (French for “strawberry”) because they wanted something “original, not common.” The judge argued that the name Fraise would lead to mockery, particularly in light of the slang phrase “ramène ta fraise,” which roughly translates to “get your ass over here.” The baby girl was renamed Fraisine, a 19th-century name that the judge approved.

16. Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116

Sweden’s naming regulations led courts to reject a couple in Halmstad’s wishes to name their son Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (pronounced “Albin”).

The parents described the name as a “pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation.”

17. Akuma

A major Japanese naming case in the ’90s revolved around parents who wanted to call their son Akuma, which means “devil.”

In Japan, officials can intervene if names don’t use the approved characters or are inappropriate. In this case, the father reportedly relented in the end and chose a different name.

18. Gesher

A mother in Norway spent time in jail in 1998 for refusing to change her son’s name ― Gesher, which is Hebrew for “bridge.” Her local county office had rejected the uncommon name, and her choices were to change it, pay a fine or spend two days in jail. She said the name had come to her in a dream, but it was not on the government’s list of acceptable names.

The country has since loosened its naming laws a bit.

19. Princess

Although authorities in New Zealand received 28 requests between 2001 and 2013 from parents wanting to name their children Princess, the country rejected this name because it is an official title.

Similar title and rank names that have been banned include Prince, King, Queen, Duke, Major, Bishop, Saint, Sir, Lady, Constable and Baron. In the U.S., 370 baby girls were named Princess in 2018.

20. Jihad

A few cases of parents in France wanting to name their babies Jihad have made headlines in recent years.

In late 2018, a court in Dijon ruled against a mother who wanted to name her son Jihad, but she was allowed to call him Jahid instead. A similar case in Toulouse earlier that year led to the same outcome, as did another one in the northern city of Roubaix back in 2016.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., 26 baby boys were named Jihad in 2018.

21. Blu

Authorities ruled that an Italian couple in Milan had to give their daughter Blu (Italian for “blue”) a different name in 2018. The decision followed a 2000 presidential decree noting that “the name given to a child must correspond to their sex.”

A summons ordering the couple to appear in court noted, “Given that this is a modern name based on the English word ‘blue’, and that it cannot be considered unequivocally attributable to a person of the female sex, the birth certificate must be rectified by inserting another female name that the parents may propose during the course of the hearing.”

Meanwhile, in the U.S. in 2018, 28 boys and 16 girls were named Blu.

22. Linda

In 2014, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry shared a list of about 50 names banned by the government. The ministry’s Civil Status Department reportedly said the names were chosen based on religious connections, foreign origin or because they broke from “social traditions.”

The foreign origin criterion seems to be the case for Linda, one of the more Western-sounding names on the list.

23. Hermione

Both Hermione and Harry Potter appeared on the forbidden names list in Sonora, Mexico, which apparently considers Wizarding World-themed monikers potential grounds for bullying.

Other character names on the list include Batman, James Bond, Terminator, Rocky and Rambo. Just north of the border in the U.S., 79 baby girls were named Hermione in 2018.

24. Pluto

In Denmark, parents can choose from a government list of about 7,000 approved names. Those wishing to pick something outside the list must receive official approval.

An assistant professor for the Department of Name Research at Copenhagen University told The New York Times in 2004 that he advised authorities against approving the name Pluto. Other rejected names in Denmark include Anus and Monkey.

25. Cyanide

In 2016, a mother from Powys, Wales, faced obstacles when she tried to name her daughter Cyanide.

“This is one of those rare cases where the court should intervene to protect the girl ... from emotional harm that I am satisfied she would suffer if called ‘Cyanide,’” the judge declared.

26. Babar

In 1993, French officials rejected a couple’s request to name their daughter Babar ― the title character in the series of popular children’s books about a royal cartoon elephant.

27. Harriet

There have been multiple high-profile cases surrounding Iceland’s strict baby-naming rules. In 2014, an Icelandic girl named Harriet made headlines when the national registry refused to recognize her name, which was not on the country’s list of 1,853 female and 1,712 male approved names.

For names not on the list, the parents must seek the approval of a committee charged with preserving the traditional language. Harriet’s British-born father noted that her name was turned down due to an incompatibility with the Icelandic language. Similarly, names with the letter C, which isn’t in the Icelandic alphabet, have typically been rejected.

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