You’re expecting, congratulations! The first of many life-changing decisions you’ll make with your new bundle of joy is what to call him or her.
It is up to you (and your partner sometimes) to make this all important choice, your child’s first impression to the world. No pressure.
You may think it’s entirely up to the parents, you’d be wrong though. There actually are names that you cannot legally put on a birth certificate.
First, a short anecdote. The idea for this post came about when a family member (whom just gave birth at a hospital here in Nevada) told us the name of another baby born the same day as hers. The mother recuperating next door and her husband decided on Your Majesty as the first name for their child.
This is a true story.
With that said, here are ten names banned around the world…
If the aforementioned child, Your Majesty, was born in Saudi Arabia his parents would be facing legal action. Any names with royal connotations such as Prince, Princess or Your Majesty are banned.
2. Elaine, Linda and Alice
Last year Saudi Arabia added a slew of Western names to their list of banned ones, including Elaine, Linda and Alice.
Swedish parents tried to give their child this name. Apparently they claim it is pronounced “Albin.” Sweden has strict naming laws and this request was ultimately turned down (surprise, surprise). Other banned names in Sweden include: Metallica, IKEA, and Staalman (Superman).
4. Tom, Alex or any nickname for that matter
Portugal has a massive government document that actually clearly states what you can and can’t name your child. Their biggest issue is with nicknames. Tomas or Alexander are perfectly legally but try putting Tom or Alex on a birth certificate and you’ll get a talking to. Oh and don’t think about naming your daughter Mona Lisa either, that’s a no, no as well.
5. Friday (or Venerdi in Italian)
Most people love their Fridays but according to an Italian Court, Venerdi, is associated with “subservience and inferiority.” The parents who tried donning this name on their newborn claim they were inspired by a character from Robinson Crusoe but they ultimately lost that fight with lawmakers.
Apparently Europeans are very serious when it comes to naming future generations. Up until 1993 France actually had a list of official pre-approved names for parents to choose from (Denmark still does). Since then one couple tried naming their daughter Nutella. Ultimately a court ruled she would end up being teased and the name wasn’t in the best interest of the girl so the judge (NOT the parents) legally changed it to Ella.
This does not stem from the social media platform as you may think. The Mexican state of Sonoro released a list of 61 banned names after going through birth certificates from the last few years. Facebook, happens to be on that list which deems the banned names as, “derogatory, pejorative, discriminatory or lacking in meaning.” For the girl already named Facebook in Mexico, she gets to keep it, but any future children will not share her name.
8. Robocop, Terminator, Rambo, and James Bond
Sonoro, Mexico again. Officials there feel so strongly against parents naming children after these fictional characters that they have made them illegal. Lady Di (Diana is ok though) is also banned in Sonoro, along with the “names” Traffic and Circumcision.
One couple in China thought the symbol looked similar to the Chinese symbol for “love him.” Authorities disagreed and banned the use of that name.
10. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii
A little girl from New Zealand actually lived with that name for nine years, that is until her parents separated and a judge heard the child’s name. The judge scolded the parents for its silliness and made her a ward of the state so that her name could be legally changed. It’s now illegal to name your child, Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii in New Zealand.
Notice anything strange? No mention of any illegal names in the U.S. right?!
About three years ago a San Francisco couple named their child Hashtag. They received some backlash, but in the United States you can name your child pretty much anything.
Many experts say that’s because we follow a “common law” tradition rather than the “civil law” tradition that many European countries do. This basically means the U.S. has a more hands-off approach to this subject.
Freedom of speech baby.
Currently most states only forbid obscene names, those with numbers, pictographs and names without surnames. Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, South Carolina, and Washington claim to have no restrictions at all.
So what are your thoughts on naming new human beings. Should parents have restrictions?
Zachariah B. Parry is an attorney and founding partner at the law firm Parry & Pfau and is an adjunct professor who teaches torts, contracts, and Nevada practice and procedure for UNLV’s paralegal program. He can be reached at 702-912-4451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.