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After a couple finds out that they are about to bring a baby into their family, what’s the first thing that they do? Get started dreaming up baby names, of course. In fact, many people even have favorite baby names in mind before they are even anywhere near having a baby or bringing a baby home. But, there are such a thing as bad baby names. And some aren't just a matter of personal preference.
Naming a baby is one of the ultimate privileges and precious responsibilities you will ever get in life. Nothing asserts your freedom and independence more than the ability to name your child whatever you want, right? Um, well, wrong. Apparently there are actual laws about what you can and cannot name your baby. And some countries are even more strict than others. If you’re getting ready to name your baby or just stockpiling baby names away for the future, be sure to cross these banned and outlawed baby names off your list. Or suffer the consequences of knowing that you alone were responsible for naming your child “Anus.”
If you were hoping to slap a middle name that is just one initial on your child and you happen to live in Switzerland, odds are you will be SOL. A judge in Zurich recently ruled that a set of parents most definitely could not give their daughter a middle name of “J,” citing that it would not be in the child’s best interest. The judge wasn’t even moved by the parent’s explanation, which is that the “J” was in honor of their daughter’s grandparents, Johanna and Josef. That’s cold. Sure, it's a letter, but most people just use the initial of their middle name anyway, right?
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That’s right--Nutella. Two parents in France wanted to name their baby “Nutella,” after that chocolate-y hazelnut goodness. Really, can you blame them? That stuff could be sold on the street as drugs, it’s so addictive. But alas, despite the goodness that Nutella conjures up in our minds, a French court could not justify letting a child be brought into the world bearing the same moniker. A judge feared the child would be mocked and made fun of and suggested they name their daughter “Ella” instead. We think Ella is a lovely name, and she'll be able to avoid all of the "Nut" jokes in middle and high school.
French people love their food, apparently, because another French family tried to name their daughter “Fraise,” the French word for “strawberry.” Sadly, this too was banned. I’m just wondering how great it would have been for Nutella and Strawberry to meet and fall in love, because everyone knows there’s nothing better than Nutella and strawberries. The really funny thing is that someone in America could TOTALLY name their kid Fraise and no one would blink an eye. We think this one could possibly show up on some hipster baby name lists. It's not a terrible name! We have Apples running around, for crying out loud.
Sure, it was a rocking music festival in the 70’s, but German officials still don’t want anyone naming their kid after that free-spirited debauchery. Woodstock is banned from the German baby name registry. But what if they were big Peanuts fans? What if they just really liked the cute yellow bird who was Snoopy's constant companion? We don't necessarily think that Woodstock is a great baby name, but surely it's better than some of the others on this list. Woody is a great nickname, right? People with long or strange names often use a nickname, so perhaps some of these courts aren't looking at the big picture.
No, that was not a typo. Someone in China tried to name their child @, which apparently resembles the Chinese symbol for “love him.” @, however is not actually a Chinese symbol, so it got the kibosh. Why not just use the ACTUAL symbol, and not one that resembled the symbol? So odd. But honestly, we're a bit surprised that names like @ and # haven't caught on more. With social media as popular as it is, you'd think that some parents somewhere would have thought it was a good idea. Obviously, it's not a good idea, but when has that ever stopped anyone?
What’s wrong with Sarah you ask? Well, it’s that pesky “H” at the end, according to the Moroccan government. “Sarah” is just not Moroccan enough, but Sara, minus the H, is totally cool. Considering the H is silent, we're not sure what the problem is? Sara and Sarah SOUND the same. There is literally no difference. It's one thing to prevent parents from naming their children something stupid, but maybe policing how you spell a name is going a little overboard? Just seems like governments all over the world could find better ways to use their time and resources than banning a perfectly lovely name from having an extra letter. An extra SILENT letter, to top it off.
Hopefully, it’s clear why this is banned in the U.S. for obvious reasons, although sadly, recent events probably prove it’s not that obvious to everyone. Some banned bad baby names leaves us scratching our heads. But others make total sense. In fact, we wouldn't really be against banning people who would choose the name Hitler from even having children! Or owning cats or dogs or fish. If you think Hitler is an acceptable name for anything, let alone a child, then there's clearly a lack of common sense and decency happening. There really should be some kind of test to become a parent.
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A Tennessee family was ordered by a judge to change their son’s name from “Messiah” to “Martin.” The mother was shocked and appealed the decision because she felt the judge was imposing religious beliefs on her. And, we sort of get that? But really, why would you want to name your son Messiah? Isn't that setting him up for a lifetime of impossible expectations that he will never be able to live up to? A name like Messiah implies greatness to some people. Messiahs don't fail out of college and spend their 30's sleeping on a couch in their parent's basement.
We ... have no idea where to even start with this one. A family in New Zealand (NOT EVEN HAWAII) named their actual child Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. It remains unclear why they chose such a terrible name for their kid, but luckily for the poor girl, the New Zealand government was looking out for her best interests. They actually assumed guardianship of the 9-year-old girl to insure a proper name was given to her. No word on what name she ended up with, but honestly the list of choices better than the one she had is very, very long.
If you’re having a baby in Denmark, you’re going to have to let the ever-popular “Anus” go for your top baby name. It remains firmly on their banned baby name list. I know you’re disappointed. If you're thinking, "hey, maybe Anus means something different in Danish!" Well, you'd be completely wrong! Turns out, the word for anus in Danish is ... anus. And anus in Danish means ... anus! So no matter who you split it, they're just trying to keep parents from naming their kid Asshole. Seems like a good idea in the long run, yes? Future kids who could've been names Anus are very grateful.
New Zealand. Come sit down by us, because we need to have a talk. What the hell is it with you and the highly inappropriate baby names?! Is it something in the water? Can you imagine if Tulula Does the Hula From Hawaii and Sex Fruit had kept their names, met one day, fell in love, and had their own hula-dancing sex fruit babies? In all honestly, they probably would have named them John or Jane or something completely boring and vanilla. Say what you will about Sex Fruit as a baby name - that kid certainly would led a very interesting life.
Seriously though, NEW ZEALAND. See, the thing is, NZ requires parents to get names approved before they can bestow them upon their poor children. So someone, maybe several someones, requested the right to name their kid ANAL. We don't even care if they pronounced a different way. It ain't right! Thank god for whatever branch of the New Zealand government it is that approves or denies baby names. If not for them, that country would be full of Anals and Sex Fruits. On second thought, that sounds like a pretty fun place to visit, if you're into that kind of thing.
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Listen, would you mess with a kid named Robocop?! We didn't think so! Sure, it's not a conventional name by any means. But plenty of parents choose names from their favorite movies or TV shows for their kids. It's certainly not the worst name on the list of bad baby names. But apparently, Mexico isn't a big fan of the hit sci-fi crime movie from the 80's. Officials in Sonora, Mexico added the name to their list of banned baby names. The funny thing is, those names are taken directly from the state's newborn registries. So while there won't be any more Robocops in Sonora, there is at least one.
You'll forgive me for not typing that name out again, but let me give you a little backstory. Sweden is super strict about their naming laws, and in 1982, they passed a law that basically said peasants and pleebs couldn't give their kids noble names. To protest the dumb law, one couple tried to name their kid ... that. We get the sentiment behind it, but like, what would they have done if the name was approved? What if the guy on name duty that day was just like, eff it, and red-stamped everything? Thankfully, the government put an stop to it. The best part is that the parents claimed that the name was pronounced "Albin".
Really, the people of Sonora, Mexico owe the bad baby names committee a debt of gratitude. If it wasn't for them, there would very likely be more than one Circumcision running around, which is too many. ONE is too many, but that family figured out how to game the system. It's got to suck to be the kid who got the name banned, right? They're the only Circumcision in all of Sonora, Mexico. They are Patient Zero. Hopefully that kid has a decent nickname, because there's just no saving the full name. Those foreskin jokes are going to follow them around for life.
As we've seen already on this list of bad baby names, people make some really questionable choices when it comes to naming their kids. A Turkish couple living in Germany wanted to name their baby Osama Bin Laden. This was AFTER 9/11, so it's not like they didn't understand the significance of the name. Luckily, Germany was like NOPE. Naming guidelines in Germany prohibit parents choosing names that were likely to result in humiliation, and this one fits the bill, sure. Furthermore, you can't use a name in Germany that is illegal in your home country, and Osama Bin Laden is outlawed in Turkey.
What's wrong with the name Harriet?! Nothing at all, it's a lovely name. However, Iceland has some super strict criteria to meet when it comes to naming your baby. For example, you have to choose from a list of approved names, or apply for a different name and pay a fee to use it. Icelandic names must also only include letters in the Icelandic alphabet and fit into the language grammatically. Harriet apparently does not do these things. One family with a Harriet was unable to renew her passport because of the guidelines, and instead her passport now just says "Girl". So rude.
Image: South Park
Certainly, language differences matter when it comes to what constitutes good and bad baby names. A completely innocuous word or phrase in one language can take have a totally different (and inappropriate) meaning in another language. But when a word or phrase translates badly in any language, some governments feel it's necessary to step in to keep parents from choosing it as a baby name. Take Chow Tow, for example. It literally translates to "Smelly Head". Now ... why would you do that to your kid? Thankfully, Malaysian authorities have added it to a list of banned names, so hopefully there aren't a lot of Smelly Heads walking around.
We all have little cutesy nicknames for our kids when they're young. If you've got a toddler who climbs on everything (or shrieks or throws their poop), maybe you call them your little Monkey. It's a nickname, kids outgrow nicknames. No harm, no foul, right? But there's a big difference between calling your kid Monkey as a nickname and actually naming them Monkey. Expecting them to go through life as Monkey Smith, or whatever. Applying for a job with that name. It ain't right. Luckily, it's outlawed in Denmark, where parents need to choose from a list of pre-approved names. Monkey is not on that list.
New Zealand has their fair share of bad baby names, and as such has quite the list of banned baby names. One of the names on that list isn't a name at all. It's not even a word, in English or any other language. We use it quite a bit, everyone is familiar with it (and some Facebook commentors who like run-on sentences should probably use it more). It's "." That's it. Period. Not the word period, but an actual period. The best part? The parents who tried to use it claimed it was pronounced Full Stop. GTFO.
In the grand scheme of things, Chief Maximus isn't a terrible name! It's actually kind of cool, for the right kid. We actually know a few people named Maximus, who go by Max. Chief by itself and Maximus by itself - not names we would have chosen, but not terrible! For some reason, put them together and New Zealand says absolutely not. We wonder if Chief and Maximus are allowed. Seems weird that two slightly strange but generally inoffensive names suddenly become taboo when put together. Sorry for all the Chief Maximus's ou there.
As a general rule, it's a good idea to keep away from any name that is devil-adjacent. Devil. Satan. Beelzebub. Lucifer. You don't even have to believe in evil or the devil to know that choosing it as a baby name is a very terrible idea. A family in Japan wanted to name their baby Akuma, which means devil in Japanese. It garnered so much attention that the actual Prime Minister's cabinet got involved, with the Justice Minister saying it was inappropriate to force parents to change their kid's names with no legal basis. No word on whether Akuma got to keep their name, but the name is now illegal in Japan.
Gesher is the Hebrew word for bridge, which again, isn't necessarily our cup of tea. But it's not offensive, or mean, or terrible. It's a pretty basic name! We know plenty of people with weirder names than Gesher. But in Norway, parents are only allowed to choose from a pre-approved list of names. Gesher is NOT an approved name. The mother says she was instructed to name her son Gesher in a dream, so she did. And was actually jailed for refusing to pay the $420 fine she got for using an unapproved name. That's way harsh.
Some people who have twins are totally fine with using two separate and not necessarily matchy names. But other twin parents want to bond their twins together in every way, names included. There are things that just go together, like peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk, and fish and chips. All of these things are delicious, and none of these things are appropriate baby names. But a couple in New Zealand tried it, oh yes they did! Luckily they were shot down and were not allowed to name their twins Fish and Chips.
Image: Burger King
There are 24 names on the list before this one, and still, STILL, we are surprised by what parents will try to name their kids. Burger King?! Unless you are, in fact, the king of burgers, this is not a name for a baby. And how would you know if your baby would grow up to be a Burger King? Or even like burgers?! Naming your kid Burger King means they can't be vegan or vegetarian if they decide that's the way they want to go. It also means they can't go to McDonald's, which as we all know has the superior french fries. Thank you, Mexico, for banning this name. Bad baby names need to be stopped whenever possible.