Celebrity Names Blog

Banned Baby Names: Is Your Name On The List?

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?



Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

July 29, 2011 3:48 PM
By Lane

Whoah, really? A ban on names that don't specify gender?

Wonder how they plan to measure that.

July 29, 2011 4:11 PM
By Suzy

According to reports, it's names like
Qeurida Pina (Dear Pineapple) and Tonton Ruiz (Dummy Ruiz) which get banned.

July 29, 2011 4:53 PM
By Faith (not verified)

Guess the Dominican Republic wouldn't like my oldest's name, Dusty, since it doesn't specify the gender...but it's always been a good name.

July 29, 2011 7:10 PM
By Caitlyn (not verified)

I understand some of the reasoning behind this sort of move (named like T and 89 must wreak havoc on official forms and teachers' sanities) but it seems silly to me to enact such laws. Aren't there more important things to do with our time?

(PS - your site is still using two captchas)

July 29, 2011 8:52 PM
By Rachel (not verified)

It is stories like this that make me so happy to live in America. Banning a baby name would be cause for court! I might not like names like 89 or Facebook or Mykaelah, but that is the beauty of freedom; you choose Pilot Inspektor and I'll choose Evelyn.

July 29, 2011 9:28 PM
By Amanda (not verified)

I lived in Japan for two years, and there is a list of around 2300 characters that are "approved" for use in names. There's a bit of a flap because the government is planning on expanding the list (by around 500+) and some of those on the list are controversial, such as "gan" (cancer) and "ji" (hemorrhoids). How these made the list, I have no idea.

July 29, 2011 10:50 PM
By Mo (not verified)

I personally am not a fan of masculine names for girls or creative spellings but....... the thought that comes to my mind is people have the right to name their children what they want, even if it creates a challenge for the child (always spelling their name or explaining it, etc.) However, governments regulating names? Seriously, tax payer dollars people, they could be much better spent.

July 30, 2011 3:17 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Sorry I can't help myself, I have to point out that a list of "banned names" in NZ has not been issued. Rather, the NZ Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages has released the list of names that were queried or not accepted over the last two years. Some of these names were accepted after an intial query (incuding Nevaeh and Fanny - Fanny has a different meaning in NZ than it does in the US).
Our laws have provided for a long time (at least 15 years) that a name can be rejected if it is "undesirable in the public interest" for someone to bear the name or combination of names. The legislation also provides examples of what might be "undesirable". This includes if the name is unreasonably long, may cause offence, or includes or resembles an official title or rank without a good justification.
The 102 names listed are not "banned" as such, and some of them were later able to be used after a query and explanation.
My guess is that the desire to avoid titles was originally to prevent people passing themselves off as a particular profession or rank and providing protection for people who had legitimately obtained that rank or title e.g. Doctor Jones, Major Smith.
As for it being a waste of taxpayers money, perhaps, but personally I'm pleased that a parent was prevented from naming their child "/" or "." or "89" - these were all "names" that were rejected.

July 30, 2011 6:21 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think keeping a lid on names is a good move. Is not about freedom of speech for the parent, its about protecting children from a life of ridicule, when parents obviously are not thinking about the childs future. Picking a name is not about self indulgence but an act of responsibility for a person too young to speak for themselves. When I name our children I am thinking about what they would want. Not about myself. Today I found a birth announcement for a " Clover L'Wren ". Yes clover like as in the weed, and L'Wren as a creative spelling of Lauren.
Now the question remains....How
Maori cesicles do you decide whats appropriate and what isnt.

July 30, 2011 12:59 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Who decides what's appropriate though? While there are some obvious words that should be on a list, where do we draw the line?

Eh, Clover has been used as a name for years, though not as popular as other flower names. L'Wren may come from the designer L'Wren Scott. While unusual, this name seems fine to me.

July 30, 2011 5:30 PM
By Ruby (not verified)

I'm glad I live in America. I'm rather against name banning, but if those other countries want to do it, that's their business. We'll keep our weird names and work on our politeness while being grateful that we can see into the parent's souls when they chose those names. The rest of the world can do what they feel is right, we'll do what we feel is right. It's not my place to judge them, nor them me.

August 2, 2011 11:51 AM
By Heather (not verified)

I think legislating against stupid names is a bad idea, but then, I really don't want anyone naming their kid Adolph Hitler, either.

Mostly I'm against the laws, though.

August 2, 2011 12:43 PM
By CB (not verified)

How sad! Duke is on our short list to name our little boy who will be born in November. We also really like Rex (which is probably our first choice). And Miles is our third choice. Our first son's name is Leo and we think any of these three names sound cute together. If we lived in NZ, then, we would be "forbidden" to name our son something that we love? Sad, sad, sad! Just makes me, yet again, so grateful to be an American!

August 2, 2011 1:07 PM
By Courtney (not verified)

that is nuts there's always ben strange names in the world and what about names that are naturally unisex like Ashley Carol Courtney Joey Kelly Kim & Lynn. correct Joey is a common diminutive form of Joanna Joanne Johannah Josephine & Joseph for example academy award winner Joanne Woodward's nickname is Joey or Academy award winner John Wayne's nickname was Duke so you're saying his nickname would've had to be Johnnie or bobby as his given middle name was Robert

August 2, 2011 1:28 PM
By AMW (not verified)

I wish we had something like this here in the States, to prevent people from giving their kids ridiculous names like Breigherleigh and Mykynzee. People who give their kids ridiculous names with even more ridiculous spellings are setting their children up for a lifetime of ridicule. The only job little Chardonnae Dyammond La'Belle is ever going to have is going to involve taking off her clothes.

August 2, 2011 2:10 PM
By Stephanie (not verified)

So glad I live in America, and hope our country NEVER puts a ban on names (talk about FREE SPEECH?). Our son's name is Bishop, and I happen to think it's too cool to be banned. :)

August 2, 2011 2:45 PM
By C. Andrews (not verified)

I don't really have a problem with this. I don't blame the governments as much as I blame the people who are so selfish as to give their children unpronounceable or plain embarrassing names. If people didn't bestow such horrid names on their children, there wouldn't be a need for such a law in the first place. It would be nice if people thought more about the person who had to bear the name for the rest of his or her life, instead of worrying about how "creative" or "unique" they think they look.

August 2, 2011 3:43 PM
By Top 10 name of the 70s (not verified)

Bah ha ha ha ha!

Really?? Something like this is enough to make you wrap yourself in the flag and pronounce "This is WHY I live in America!".
Well, the rest of the world IS always impressed/bemused/acutely aware of your overt patriotism, but declaring that this is some kind of human rights breach seems a bit OTT.

Personally - I wish Govts WOULD have intervene more in baby naming. Like the good old days in France when there was an approved list of names that citizens had to abide by. This preserved the French language and culture.

Personally - I think naming your child "Bishop" IS setting him up for a lifetime of awkward misunderstandings. You may think it funny the first time he gets addressed as "Your Grace", but I am telling you now - the majority of people will presume that is a TITLE to be followed by a real name. I imagine people will refer to his middle name a lot. Imagine spending your whole life explaining that you are not a religious minister after all, but rather the local realtor/maths teacher/dry cleaner??

Duke - meh, whatever. No-one is going to think an American is a real Duke.
Judge Reinhold? Born "Edward" (duhhh - as if anyone born in the 50s would be dumb enough to NAME their kid "Judge"?? I am guessing that the majority of 50s parents were more like the NZ Govt).

These name smack of being aspirational.I think it is sad though. A bit like - "We wanted him to be a Bishop - but he only made vicar."

August 3, 2011 6:12 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

John Wayne's birth name was Marion Robert Morrison then for some reason his parents decided to name his younger brother Robert E. Morrison so they had his named legally changed to Marion Mitchell Morrison. Talk about confusing.

August 3, 2011 6:19 AM
By Jane (not verified)

I understand those Portugese and Swedish name bans - names like Tom and Elvis might seem common/normal to you as an American, but they are rare and unusual in other countries.
As for New Zealand... well, I think you've misconstrued their law. Kingston, Barron and Seven would all be fine.
Freedom of speech/expression is all very well, but personally I'd like the law to have intervened if my parents had tried to name me 89 or / or . X or Lucifer!!! What about my rights to not have a name that is stupid and/or offensive? The law is about protecting the babies' rights, not impeding the parents rights.

August 3, 2011 8:14 AM
By E. (not verified)

I agree with the previous poster, that banning certain names is for the protection of the child rather than the "rights" of the parent to name their child a stupid name.

Why is that Duke, Rex, Dusty, Judge are seen as children's names now, when I always associate them with Dogs or Horses?

Bishop is a daft name for a child as is Messiah or Lucifer. A Bishop is a Bishop in the Catholic Church for goodness sakes and your child will go through life feeling deadly embarassed when his name is called out at exam time, in the hospital waiting room for example. Did no-one think of this when christening him?

August 3, 2011 10:20 AM
By hillary (not verified)

I'm glad our country doesn't legislate baby names for a lot of reasons. 1) We do not have a single national culture to protect, but rather a conglomeration of cultures, each with its own naming traditions. 2) The U.S. has a large population and reducing the possible names for its inhabitants would add more confusion and inconvenience. 3) Americans value individuality and having the ability to use unique/unusual names fits that value. 4) It is relatively easy to change one's name as an adult, so children with wacky names can shed them as adults if they don't like them. 5) It's common for even traditionally named children to wear nicknames that persist their whole lives, so a given name may be meaningless. 6) There are no titles like "Baron" here so the possibility of someone "unworthy" being confused for titled nobility is low.

August 6, 2011 8:36 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

How horrible! I think cre8ive names are stupid, but would never tell someone they can't name their child what they want! God Bless America!

September 7, 2011 5:06 PM
By Barbara (not verified)

interesting written - good to know which names are banned there - in Germany we have an international handbook which names are banned (for example Satan)

September 10, 2011 2:40 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

None of u people who r jumping up & screaming "Thank God I live in America!" has ever had to deal with the cruelty of a vicious taunting 6-yr-old bully who just found out that your name is Velveeta, (actual name) or Pajamas (pronounced Pa(like pat)-juh-mus, actual name), & you have never had to clean the dirt and blood off a child who had to defend their parents choice of name for them & lost. And that's all before they get out of elementary school. I've seen boys and girls end up in the hospital because of stronger, even more vicious high school bullies who thought their name was weird. My name (Connie) is relatively normal compared with some I've heard and now read, and still there were nights I cried myself to sleep because a bully thought it cute to change it to "Con-Air Products" or "Connie Chung" or others I refuse to repeat, and I got off extremely light compared to some I knew. So before u bash those other governments for "interfering" with the parents' "right" to choose, consider a child's right to not have to defend and protect him/herself against cruelty every day of his/her life starting at age 5.

December 20, 2011 5:35 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Personally, I believe that parents should have the right to name their child what they want it to be. No, this doesn't mean that I believe names such as Jack Goff, Hitler, or Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (pronounced Albin) should be a decent name for a child, but it is the parent's decision. I have two friends with unusual names,Leif and Bonnie and although they get their fair share of crap from it i.e. "Is your brother named Tree?" and "My Bonnie lies over the ocean..." they do not mind it much. I personally like the names Bishop, Kingsley/Kingston, and Duke. My name was actually going to be Mykynzie. Also I have always wanted to name my baby Chandler, which would be illegal in some other countries because it is masculine. I am not trying to wave my American pride in everybody's face because of my stance on this subject, but I truly believe that freedom and individuality should be able to be expressed through names.

December 21, 2011 2:54 AM
By Donella (not verified)

I think that if people want to show their freedom and individuality, change their own name, a child has no freedom to change their name until they are an adult, by then they have already been harassed and tortured by other kids.
Nicknames dont help, what about roll call in school, filling in forms, or having an ID.
I think, at the very least, the banning of diseases and symbols is a must. Why should a child be forced to go through life called Chlamydia or Syphilis or even / (I mean how would you say that .. hi my name's, the symbol for backslash)?? And symbols arent names, at most they are logos.
This is to protect children from bullying, not stopping freedom of speech, there are lots of 'different' names out there that people can choose from. My names different, I've never meet another person with my name, yes I have to spell it alot but I love my name and I only got teased by my brother. I know alot people that have nice unusual names, they are out there you just have to look for them.

December 23, 2011 7:13 PM
By Heloise (not verified)

I wonder how many of the parents giving their children 'unusual' names have the experience of having an 'unusual' name themselves?

Let me tell you, it gets old having to remind people of your name at least 3 times after meeting them because it's so hard to remember, having to spell it out every single time someone asks your name, and having to sit at your desk all embarassed because the new teacher can't pronounce it during roll-call.

My name's Heloise (Eh-lou-ees/ice [there's a few pronounciations]). I wish my parents just called me Jane.

January 8, 2012 12:00 PM
By Cailean (not verified)

Well I think name banning is preposterous.
I happen to like a few strange names, for example 'Regret' and 'Phantom'.
And seriously, who's going to fuck with a guy named Phantom?

January 16, 2012 5:54 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I can't believe a parent would be cruel enough to call their child "Number 16 Bus Shelter"
A parent shouldn't have the right to call their child whatever they want if that means the kid is going to spend it's life being bullied for it.
Protect the poor kids right to a life without being bullied rather than the parents right to freedom of speech.

January 17, 2012 9:44 PM
By David (not verified)

Back in the 1980's, here in the US, a couple were not allowed to name their son 7 by the courts. The judge basically said that a number was not a name.
I think that the folks that believe it should be ok to name their kids something stupid, ought to be forced to change their own names first and live with those stupid names for a couple of years to find out just how "clever" they really are.
BTW - While reading this story I could not help but think of the 1983 movie The Outsiders which had a character named Sodapop.

March 6, 2012 9:01 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Actually, Leif is not an unusual name.. It's very traditional, dating back to (and before) Leif Erikson. And as for Bonni. e, that's also a very traditional name (think Bonnie & Clyde). You want to talk about weird names? Think about a kid named Espn. As in ESPN the sports channel. I met his mother at my son's pediatricians office and she gladly informed me of his name (which is pronounced Espin). Other than needing to point out those bits of info, I agree with the rest of your statement. It's ridiculous to ban what you can name your child, but the parents really do need to think about how it will affect their child in the long run.

March 16, 2012 2:35 AM
By Shana (not verified)

I'm not in favor a bans on what you can name children, but I do believe there should be guidelines. Example: no numbers, punctuation marks, or single characters. And the average 10 year old should be able to look at the spelling and pronounce the name. How would a kid named @ (apparently a name banned in China) be able to fill out their ISTEP forms or most of the other test forms in school.

March 20, 2012 10:49 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Haven't we learned anything about what kids go through when bullied. How many children need to comit suicide before we understand the torment they feel when bullied. Why as a parent would you want to start your child's life off by giving them a name that will obviously get them teased. Seems pretty selfish to me. Having a name spelled a little different is one thing but naming your child something like phantom or regret is a sure way to make your child's future more difficult then it needs to be. Times are tough lets not make it even worse

March 22, 2012 5:16 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

explain how "." is seeing into the parent's soul when they chose the name...

April 3, 2012 3:34 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

please go cry somewhere eles. you think just because you don't live in america you think we don't have the same problem with names and name calling and bullying? you not specail and stop trying to out american's because we don't publish are bullying or what ever. just so you know it's like that in america as well your not the only one. how about being a boy and haveing a girls name or visversa. well now a days terry isn't that bad but try being a boy and being called donna because you name is don. or being a girl with a name like bil or billy or dave. get real thats same shit is everywhere

April 24, 2012 7:23 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

This is horribly infringing on human rights in my opinion,sure parents can and do make up some pretty stupid name selections.That, however,is their responsibility as a parent(choosing a good name)and they do screw up on it the children can always change their names.

May 3, 2012 12:56 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My friend is a teacher and she knows a little girl named "La-ia" pronounced "Ladashia"... And I know of a little boy named "Shithead". There's creativity, and then there's cruelty. I know it's the United States and we have "freedoms", but I think that some names could be considered child abuse.

May 20, 2012 7:09 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Having read this article and all the comments i am proud to be a New Zealander , to live in a country where my government will protect the rights of the child. For those of you that see name bans as encroaching on a parents human rights take a minute to think about what the ban is actually trying to achieve the government is not trying to stem the flow of a creative parent they are trying to prevent the severe negative impact on a child forced to live each day with a reminder there parent saw them as a joke. Come on If your folks named you Talula does the hula from
Hawaii would you think they gave you that moniker with love? Also as was pointed out By one of the first commentors the list is not all names that have been banned some were simply quried prior to being accepted. So you can keep your precious traditional trailer park names such as Duke and Judge but children have rights too and certainly the right to not be named Bus Stop or trolley. Another reason I'm glad to be a new zealander? My government ensures every adult and child has free and unrestricted access to public healthcare we don't throw our dying and needy out of hospitals unlike the great states of America. I know where I would rather live.

June 12, 2012 2:47 PM
By abdul (not verified)

is mine one

June 17, 2012 10:04 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

i cant believe people do that. i mean i wouldn'twant to name my baby superman or tughg585rrhg545y5h54585 either. i think people have since enough not to name their baby certian names, an the only reason some one would name thier baby superman is cause you tell them not to!!!!!!!!!!!

July 2, 2012 12:08 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

my daughter's name is a bit unusual nowadays. i named her Linda, after my grandma. and my son...i try not to get TOO annoyed when people call him Lucas. it's not easy, especially when the person calling him Lucas is someone who's known him awhile. then i just want to shout "it's LUKE you idiot!" but maybe that's just me.

July 14, 2012 9:38 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

yea.... its LUCAS you idiot.... lol

September 3, 2012 6:21 AM
By Salome Rayburn (not verified)

This includes if the name is unreasonably long, may cause offence.

September 10, 2012 12:36 PM
By Sarah (not verified)

Actors Rex Harrison, and Rex Smith. Dusty can be short for Dustin. Bishop is a surname and people sometime use surnames as first names. I've never met anyone named Judge. When I think of Duke, I think of John Wayne. I have a very common name and hated having to share it with at least one other girl every year in my class. Now I love it, but I'm planning on giving my children unusual names. I like Justice, and Hudson for boys, and Serenity and Persephone for girls. I also love the name Hermione, but I don't think I'll use that one.

October 3, 2012 3:09 AM
By Ema Laster (not verified)

The interesting thing is many of the banned names.

January 7, 2013 10:17 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with a lot of you. I mean even when we pick normal names that have been used for hundreds of year's we still get ridiculed from our families and others about what we chose, but come on some of the names people are using today are crazy. We do need to stop and think about the playground can your child's name be used to tease them. They already have so many other thing to worry about be teased about. why would you want to give the other kid more ammo, also what do wish them to grow up to be? I would hope that we don't want our children's names to prevent them from doing anything. I mean come on who wants a president, or doctor named " 89 " , or even " Lexus". If your wanting a unique name pick up a name book there are plenty out there, and you don't have to use a car magazine to get them. I read something years ago that in the U.K. you can only name your child a name's that has been used before.

February 1, 2013 8:12 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The NZ thing may be due to inheriting basis of their legal system from the UK. In the uk, having a title means something (potentially entitlement - I'm not well read on regal matters) but it's something bestowed upon an individual by a monarch or pope etc. having a title for a name was classed as a form of impersonation, and in some cases fraud (some laws date back centuries).

Interestingly, in stating a betrayal of human rights, you imply the child is not yet legally human. So...why do we have social services? Child abuse can take the form of neglect, psychological abuse, emotional abuse etc. once the child reaches adulthood, whilst they can simply change their name, they cannot erase the long-term effects of any abuse suffered from fellow students. The national court has to intervene as legal representative of the child to assess the case. Americans, you profess how you want to preserve your freedom of speech. An integral part of your society and culture. In other countries, they too do this. By preserving their heritage. it's about cuisine, art, dance, language. in many languages, the grammar makes it complicated for bizarre names. Masculine feminine and neuter nouns for punctuation for example. In english a "." Is called a full stop, in the states, a period. We call brackets parentheses. How doescommon man distinguish between a hyphen and a dash

In irish, an example of grammar...when addressing them, the name becomes genitive case not nominative case.the initial consonant lenites because of this, and final consonant becomes slenderised

Seán (shahn) (john) A Sheáin (a hah-in) (hey john!) (origin of Ian)
Séamas (shaymas) (james) A Shéamais (a haymash) (hey james - origin of Hamish/Haymish)
Pádraig (pahdrig) patrick - A Phádraig (a fahdrig)

Most slavic languages like russian and polish, celtic languages like scottish irish welsh cornish breton manx, african languages like Zulu, Xhosa, asian languages etc, all have grammar quirks that mean regular names within reason are required. Chinese has like 50,000 letters. "ma" is represented by like twenty letters. One "ma" means horse, another means question mark, another means mother. When you name children in chinese you need their to be letters in existence. I could name a child the sound of a sneeze, but how is a sneeze spelt? I could name a child "CEO of Mc donalds" if in the ACTUAL ceo's contact that phrase is used, he could argue that that applies to him, as his passport proves he is the ceo. In places like iceland, they name they children after themselves, in their surname s. Björn Karlsson has son, Leif Björnson. Leif has daughter, Björk Leifsðöttir /Leifsdottir. They can trace easily to the first ever human settlers more than a thousand years ago. Who is H7 going to trace bank to? R2-D2?

February 1, 2013 8:15 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Oh and by the way...for all you Americans...fanny is an incredibly vulgar term for the vagina so refrain from using it when visiting here

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