Banned Baby Names: Is Your Name On The List?
Imagine picking the perfect name for your newborn, then being told that you legally aren’t allowed to use it. That’s what’s happening in New Zealand, where there’s a crackdown on parents getting too creative with baby names!
New Zealand’s Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages came up with a list of 102 names that are considered unacceptable for children. The interesting thing is many of the banned names have a long tradition in the United States and, frankly, aren’t that strange to us.
After approving such names as “Violence,” “Number 16 Bus Shelter” and “Benson” and “Hedges” (for twins) in recent years, the agency decided to crack down on some of the more "out there" names. Their new banned list includes Baron, Bishop, Duke, General, Judge, Justice, King and Knight, which they say are prohibited because they are considered too similar to titles. Lucifer and Messiah are unacceptable as well as is the number “89” and letter-only names like “C” and “T.”
If this type of ban was enforced in the United States, many celebrities would have to head back to the baby name database! After all, Gwen Stefani has a son King (birth name: Kingston), both Justine Bateman and Diane Keaton have offspring named Duke, Kelis and Nas have a little guy named Knight and Donald Trump’s youngest answers to Barron (with two “r”s). And if numbers aren’t suitable names, Victoria and David Beckham would have to pick out a new middle name for their daughter Harper Seven!
Further, in the U.S., Judge (like actor Judge Reinhold) has long been a common name -- it hit its peak on the Top-1000 popular name list in the 1890s at spot No. 344 -- and Justice has been rising as both a female and male name (Nos. 538 and 456 in 2010, respectively). Then there’s Messiah which is very fast rising here -- climbing from No. 904 in 2005 to No. 650 in 2010 -- which we detailed in this Name Candy column.
There’s frequently talk that today’s names are “weirder” than ever before, but parents have long been creative in coming up with names for their children. In a previous Name Candy post, we listed some of the names on the passenger manifest of the Mayflower which included Love, Desire, Oceanus and Peregrine. That was in 1621!
Countries other than New Zealand are also getting strict with names. In Portugal, there is an 80-page government document that tells you what names you can and can't use. (Unbelivably,Tomás is okay but Tom is a no-no.) In Sweden, there is a law preventing citizens from naming their children Metallica and Superman... but also the common name Elvis. And the Dominican Republic is working to enact a law that bans names that don’t specify gender, which is a controversial move. This article with 10 illegal baby names from around the globe is an interesting read.
What do you think about banning names? Do you find it outrageous? Maybe you think it’s necessary? Let us know. And if you do think some names should be banned here in the U.S., which types of names should be on the list?