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?



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April 4, 2013 2:47 AM
By Not Brainless (not verified)

Do you not see the potential mental stress for a child named Lucifer? Not every child would care, but many would. It's people like you that make me sad to live in America.

June 12, 2013 3:53 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

but...my name is Lucifer. And I love my name. I think its catchy with a zing to it.

June 12, 2013 3:55 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

actually i love my name and the fact that no one else has it. Im quite mentally healthy as well thank you.

April 16, 2014 6:18 PM
By Davey of Cornwall (not verified)

There are LOTS of words that have different meanings in American English and British English. One old chestnut is "I'm mad about my flat!"

I knew someone who had to visit the US in order to do a course on a piece of military hardware. Allegedly it was a tough course and the bloke made a mistake in his notes. He was surprised to get strange looks when he said "Cor I could do with a fag" (cigarette) but when he said "Anyone got a rubber?" (eraser) he got some really funny looks.

Before the days of international subscriber dialing one had to phone the operator. One English bloke put a considerable sum into the phone box but nothing seemed to be happening at first. Eventually he did get connected but the US operator then came on the line and said "Are you through?" When he replied that he was (meaning that he had got through) the operator cut him off! Divided by the same language?

June 11, 2014 8:05 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

You know, I have read a great deal of these comments and have to say, I'm glad some countries are putting limitations on names.

I was named for a woman 30 years older than me. My name was outdated and in addition, spelled in an uncommon manner. It only got more complicated for me when the Simpsons cartoon hit big in America. My name, Marjorie, got shortened to "Marge". Finally, my sister and brother who had rather common names for the late 60's and early 70's gave me the nickname "Midge", and I have been going by that for over 20 years now.

I thought about how I would name my children, based on my own name. Although my daughter has an unusual name "Kassia" (pronounced "kuh-sigh-uh") she also carries middle names of my grandmother and great grandmother showing her lineage. If she had been a boy, the same would have been true, she would have been "Kolton" instead and carried the names of my great grandfather and an uncle who only lived a few hours.

This thinking was also influenced by my brother's ideas for kids names. He and his wife, wanted and had three children. Although I don't agree with how they named their sons (Shane and Shawn) it was definitely better than my brother's original idea, Ace (first son), Queenie (daughter - which this was also the name of my mom's dog growing up) and finally, Jack (youngest son). My brother thought it would be great since his dog was named King! Ultimately, we ended up with Shane, Brandi and Shawn which are all acceptable names and fit their generations.

As a parent you have a responsibility to your children to name them appropriately. Mother's know their children even before they are born. What kind of person do you think your child is going to be? Is the name you chose going to make them stand out for the better?

If you're going to be asinine about naming your kid, just do what the Jackson's did and start naming your kids for objects like BLANKET! Really? I feel for that child like you wouldn't believe.

So ultimately, use COMMON sense. If you don't have a brain, borrow a couple pennies from a stranger in the street and get some.

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May 28, 2015 1:27 PM
By Will (not verified)

How about "Shithead" (shu-thade) and "Shitonya" (shu-tonya)?

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