Are any baby names illegal?

Are any baby names illegal?

Are Any Baby Names Illegal? Naming Laws in the U.S and Beyond

Imagine this – you are about to welcome your new bundle of joy, and you find yourself grappling with the momentous task of choosing a name. It may seem simple enough, but when you realize that the name you choose will be a massive part of your child’s identity for their entire life, there is suddenly a bit of pressure.

You want something unique. A strong name that commands attention yet carries a dash of whimsy.

You want something with longevity too. Names that are very popular at the moment may not be as appealing as your child goes into adulthood and their senior years.

are any baby names illegal

A History of American Names

To give you some context, here are some interesting name facts from the Social Security Administration.

In 1923 – a century ago – the top boys’ names were John, Robert, James and William. The names that dominated the girl’s list were Mary, Dorothy, Helen and Betty.

In the ’60s, John, James and Mary kept their positions in the top five, but Michael, David, Lisa, Susan and Karen replaced the others.

Fast forward to 2022, and the list is vastly different. The three most popular girls’ names are Olivia, Emma and Charlotte. Topping the boy’s list, we have Liam, Noah and Oliver. The only name still in the top five and on the previous lists is James, at number four. It’s just one of those names, I guess.

Many of us don’t want to name our child a name that has every kid in the playground yelling ‘Yes” when you call out because they were all given the most popular name of the time. It’s a fine line between being unique, but feeling confident when their name is called at roll call. Kids are mortified if their name is constantly mispronounced, miss-spelt or can be used as fuel for mockery.

It’s a veritable journey through the thesaurus and a trip down the lanes of You dream of hearing their chosen name echo in school corridors and shine on graduation certificates. But then, while surfing a wave of names like ‘Kale’ or ‘Starshine’, you may find yourself stumbling upon a surprising truth – some names are as off-limits as a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign.

Yep, it turns out naming your kid can be a legal minefield.

The Name Game

Welcome to today’s baby-naming landscape, where the quirky often rubs shoulders with the traditional. Do you think I’m pulling your leg? Here’s a fact to sit up and notice: a whopping 28% of parents today are choosing to tread the path less taken by giving their kids unique names. But amidst this wild carnival of creativity, a line is sometimes drawn. It’s the line that separates the imaginative from the downright illegal.

More trivia post: Why do they take baby’s footprints?

Are Any Names Illegal in the U.S.?

are any baby names illegal

The land of the free and home of the unusual baby names has no national naming laws. There’s still a playbook of rules you’ve gotta follow. Sure, they switch things up from state to state, but one rule that sticks pretty universally is this – digits in names are a no-no.

So if you were dreaming of your baby girl standing out with a name like “Mon1ka”, you’re out of luck. And before you Star Wars fanatics get any ideas, this law means that R2-D2 or C-3PO won’t pass muster either.

Some states also have a character cap on names, probably to prevent your child’s name from turning into a novella. Then there’s the ban on emojis, symbols, foreign characters, and anything that screams ‘obscene’. And let’s not forget about offensive language – that’s a big no-go.

Some states even put the kibosh on accents and non-English letters. Why, you ask? Their computer systems throw a fit when handling such ‘exotic’ inputs.

Take California, for instance. They’re not fans of accents but cool with hyphens and apostrophes. You might recall how Elon Musk and Grimes managed to twist the rules and come up with a real jaw-dropper of a name for their kid – “X AE A-XII”. Now, isn’t that a mouthful?

Is There Anything You Cannot Name Your Child?

In the U.S., there aren’t many names that will get you in a pickle. This wide berth in the naming world is thanks, in part, to certain Constitutional interpretations.

Of course, it’s not all naming anarchy. Some states have tighter rules, while others, like Kentucky, play it cool with zero restrictions. But even with these easy-peasy laws, a few names have landed on the naughty list. Here are some of the names that got a thumbs-down from Uncle Sam:

  • King
  • Queen
  • Jesus Christ
  • Santa Claus
  • Majesty
  • Adolf Hitler

In the wild roller coaster ride of baby naming, there are still a few hills too steep to climb. But hey, there’s still plenty of room for creativity, right?

What’s in a Name: Consequences of a Bad Choice

are any baby names illegal

Choosing an unusual name isn’t just about standing out. Such decisions carry far-reaching impacts. A name, after all, can significantly influence a child’s social interactions, job prospects, and even self-esteem. Studies have shown that children with non-traditional names can sometimes feel ‘marked’ by their unique monikers.

And don’t forget the paperwork problems! A name with symbols or unusual characters can cause technical glitches or bureaucratic nightmares. One Swedish couple learned this the hard way when they named their child ‘Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116’, pronounced as ‘Albin’. Unsurprisingly, the name was rejected by the authorities.

Related post: Here are our top choices for the coolest names that you can choose from!

The Wild West of Baby Names

On the flip side, there are states like Kentucky and New Hampshire where laws surrounding baby names are either lax or nonexistent. These states have been the setting for some truly unorthodox christenings. ‘Danger’, for instance, has been documented as a legitimate middle name. And the award for the quirkiest name likely goes to ‘Moxie CrimeFighter’, the progeny of magician Penn Jillette.

International Perspectives: Banned Baby Names Around the World

are any baby names illegal

If you were thinking that naming restrictions are unique to the U.S., you’d be wrong. Around the world, many countries have their own set of naming laws that have resulted in certain names being banned. Here’s a list of 20 names that have been declared illegal, along with the reasons why:

Nutella (France)

The court prevented parents from naming their child after the famous spread, fearing undue teasing.

Anal (New Zealand)

It was deemed inappropriate and offensive (I can’t imagine why?).

Osama bin Laden (Germany)

Names associated with terrorists are not permitted.

Linda (Saudi Arabia)

Strangely, this well-known name (the number one girl’s name is 1948 –was found incompatible with local culture and religion.

Monkey (Denmark)

Names should show respect for the child and not lead to ridicule, as per Danish laws.

Facebook (Mexico)

Apparently, it was deemed inappropriate due to laws against names that are derogatory or lacking in meaning. It could also be deemed downright ridiculous.

Ikea (Sweden)

Swedish law bans names that can cause “discomfort”. Naming your child after a furniture store qualifies. I wouldn’t like to go through life names Wayfair or Pottery Barn .

Robocop (Mexico)

Sonora state prohibits names that could expose a child to bullying.

Metallica (Sweden)

Initially banned as it was associated with the heavy metal band. Still, the parents later won the case on appeal.

Rogue (New Zealand)

It’s considered offensive and likely to cause offence to a ‘reasonable person’, as per local law.

Mini Cooper (France)

It’s against French law to name your child after a car or product. I know a couple of Austins, Lincolns and Kia’s who may disagree.

Blue Ivy (Europe)

Unless you’re Beyoncé or Jay-Z, you can’t name your child ‘Blue Ivy’, thanks to their successful trademark application.

Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii (New Zealand)

Do I need to give a reason?

Akuma (Japan)

This name, which means ‘Devil’, was rejected due to laws that prevent parents from giving names that could lead to mockery or abuse.

Martian (Malaysia)

Malaysia prohibits giving children names that are objects, animals, or colors. It’s a very broad rule, if you ask me. It would rule out names like Amber, Violet, Drake, and even Joey.

Anus (Denmark)

Deemed offensive and likely to cause discomfort to the child (Same comment I made at number two).

Fraise (France)

Meaning ‘strawberry’, it was banned as it could lead to the teasing phrase ‘ramène ta fraise’ or ‘get your butt over here’.

Spinach (Australia)

Australia does not allow names that are also foods, diseases, or vegetables.

Mortgage (France)

French law doesn’t allow names that don’t align with the child’s best interests.

Gesher (Norway)

Meaning ‘bridge’ in Hebrew. It was refused because the mother chose it without the father’s consent and because Gesher is not a traditional Norwegian name.

Whether it’s a matter of cultural respect, societal norms, or just plain common sense, these banned names demonstrate how the naming game can be both intricate and mind-boggling. Naming your child can be an adventure in and of itself. You’d do well to remember that the naming laws of your particular locale can throw a wrench in the works of even the most creative or well-meaning names.

While these laws may seem stringent, they often exist to shield children from potential teasing or harm. Yet, parents have occasionally challenged such rulings, leading to fascinating courtroom battles. A standout case occurred in Tennessee, where the name ‘Messiah’ was initially banned by a judge. However, the decision was overruled by a higher court, reflecting the contentious nature of the baby-naming business.

The Future of Naming Laws

are any baby names illegal

With baby naming trends growing more creative and diverse, it’s intriguing to ponder whether laws will follow suit or take a more rigid stance. As we venture into a world where ‘Apple’ and ‘North’ are not just nouns but acceptable names, the future of naming laws might have to adapt to our evolving societal norms.

Another trend is taking traditional, familiar names and changing up the spelling to make it more unique. While it often works, sometimes it is just a ‘trad-je-deigh’.

Here are a few examples:

  • Mhaddysyn (Madison)
  • Khrystophyr (Christopher)
  • Zowey (Zoe)
  • Klowey (Chloe)
  • Emylye (Emily)
  • Phranzeska (Francesca)

We have a ton of name guides to help you find the perfect name for your baby!

Wrap Up – Are any baby names illegal?

The landscape of naming laws is a strange blend of amusing, intriguing, and thought-provoking regulations. Picking a name isn’t just a fun parental duty; it’s a careful balance between creativity and legality. So, soon-to-be parents, choose wisely! Remember, the name you give your child is their first adventure in the vibrant world they’re about to explore. And as tempting as it might be, ‘Batman Bin Suparman’ might not be the best choice for your little one.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top