In 2017, a French couple took their love for the hazelnut spread a tad too far and asked to name their newborn daughter Nutella. In the past, French parents were expected to choose a baby name out of a formal list of legally acceptable options. But in 1993, the law was changed, and parents in France were given more freedom of choice regarding their children’s names.
However, registrars are still expected to inform the local court in case a baby's name seems to go against the child’s interests, and after inspecting the case, the court can ban the name. That is exactly what happened to Nutella. The court rejected the name Nutella as it “can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts”. The child was renamed to Ella by the court itself, after her parents failed to show up for the hearing.
Similarly to the case of Nutella, the name Ikea is forbidden in Sweden, among other names that may cause the child 'offense or discomfort’. The law was initially made to prevent families from naming their children after Swedish royalty and has since evolved to keep general name awkwardness to a minimum.
In the US, there is no restriction against using Ikea as a baby name; in fact, in 1989, 72 girl Ikeas and 9 boy Ikeas came into the world.
A similar law was passed in the northern Mexican state of Sonora in 2014, in order to prevent bullying in schools. The use of odd names is quite common in Mexico. With the passing of the new law, the authorities published a list of names that were used in the past and would no longer be approved. The list of banned names includes, among others, Batman, Terminator, and Robocop.
4. Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii
The story of this little girl made headlines in New Zealand in 2008. She was so embarrassed by her name that she never revealed it to family and friends, and went by the nickname K instead. Talula Does the Hula was temporarily put under the court’s custody and was given permission to legally change her name.
The judge severely criticized the parents, saying ‘The court is profoundly concerned about the very poor judgment that this child's parents […] It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap, unnecessarily’.
Apparently, more people want to name their child Lucifer than you would expect. In 2017, German government officials had to intervene and stop a couple living in Kassel form naming their newborn Lucifer. Despite the literal meaning of the word being ‘bearer of light’, the inevitable connotation to Satan and evil could harm the child. The parents eventually agreed to rename the child Lucian. Meanwhile, 26 newborns in the US were named Lucifer in 2018 alone.
This one is another forbidden name from the list published in Sonora, Mexico. Although no one in Sonora itself tried to register their newborn as Facebook, it was added to the list as a means of prevention. In 2011, an Egyptian man named Jamal Ibrahim named his daughter Facebook.
He explained his decision by saying how important of a role the social network played in organizing the Tahrir Square protests. That same year, Israeli couple Lior and Vardit Adler caused a stir as well when they named their baby girl 'Like' after… the 'Like' button on Facebook.
prxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (pronounced Albin)
The court had to reject the appeal of a couple from Halmstad in Sweden to have their son’s name legally spelled… like the headline above. The appeal was submitted as a response to a $750 fine the couple received for failing to register an official name for the child by his fifth birthday. All of these strange actions were apparently the parent’s way of protesting against the naming law in Sweden.
In 1998, Kirsti Larsen from Norway was so set on naming her baby Gesher – the Hebrew word for bridge – that she spent two nights in jail. According to her explanation, the name came to her in a dream.
Norway has quite a strict regulation of names, and there is a list of legally acceptable first and last names. Gesher, as you might have guessed, does not appear on the list. Larsen was given a choice between changing the baby’s name, paying a $210 fine, or spending two days in jail. She explains she chose the latter over the fine because she ‘couldn’t go along with such absurdity, on principle’.
The name was especially popular in the UK during the 1940s and made a comeback in the early 2000s with the publication of the Harry Potter books. The Hermione trend reached a peak in 2004 after the release of the first film of the series.
While it started off as just a regular name, after J.K Rowling made it famous it ended up on the banned names list of Mexico. The reasoning is that the connotation of it has the potential for bullying. Harry Potter is banned, too. In the US, on the other hand, 79 girls were named Hermione in 2018.
Official titles cannot be used as names in New Zealand. It doesn’t mean people don’t try anyway. Authorities in the country received 28 requests of parents wanting to name their newborns Princess, and they were all rejected. Other names that are banned for being titles are Prince, Major, Bishop, King, Queen, Saint, and Sir.
In 2016, a mother from Wales was prevented from naming her daughter Cyanide, after the poison that killed Hitler. The case was taken to court by a social worker who was in touch with the family, and the judge ruled that ‘naming a little girl after a famous poison is simply unacceptable’.
The girl’s twin brother had an unusual name intended for him, too – Preacher. Although not as bad as Cyanide, the name Preacher was also rejected by the judge. Interestingly, the court ruled that the twins be renamed by their older half-siblings.
In 2014, the authorities in Saudi Arabia issued a list of 51 names that were from then on banned in the kingdom. Some were outlawed because they are non-Arabic or non-Islamic, foreign-sounding, or contradictory to the country’s tradition. Others, like Amir and Malika (meaning prince and queen), were rejected on the grounds of being royal titles. Linda probably falls under the first category.
Other western names that were banned are Alice, Sandy, and Lauren.
Portugal forbids non-Portuguese names and names that are a reference to pop culture. There is an 82-page formal list that details all the banned names. For example, naming a baby Filipe is perfectly fine, but the anglicized version Philip is not allowed. The names Rihanna and Thor made it on the list for being pop culture related.
14. Harriet and Camilla
These ordinary names are banned in Iceland, which has strict naming laws. There is a list of 1,853 approved female names and 1,712 approved male names. Anyone wishing to name their child something that is not on the lists must seek special approval from a body called The Icelandic Naming Committee.
The Icelandic alphabet does not include the letter C, so any name that has C in it is usually denied. There was not even an exception for the former mayor of Reykjavik, who didn't get an approval to name his daughter Camilla. Another case that made headlines was that of Harriet Cardew. The authorities refused to recognize her name while her British born father refused to change it.
Until the age of 12, Harriet’s Icelandic passport said Stulka in the first name section – meaning simply ‘girl’ in Icelandic.