Choosing a baby’s name is one of the most tricky and lengthy decisions a parent can make. Will the name be cute enough for a toddler but still have the gravitas that a CEO might need? Is it easy to spell? Does it sound like a rude word? So many questions, and most parents spend their first pregnancy agonising over the decision (most spend subsequent pregnancies chasing the older children around, so less time to agonize).
But not all parents feel this way. Some choose to give their children names that they know will embarrass and confuse them for their entire life, so that’s where the authorities step in and tell them to think again. Marvel at all the mad monikers that were almost inflicted on some poor babies in our Top 10 Banned Baby Names.
It’s a Native American tradition that babies are named after the things the parents see around them when they give birth. So, if your baby is born in a certain way it could inspire the name you give it – like Sara Leisten of Gothenburg, whose baby was born with one arm in the air, in the manner of superman. So that was settled – baby Leisten would be “Staalman”, Swedish for “Man of Steel“. But sadly, the Swedish authorities are very strict on baby-naming (and there might be more on that later) and Staalman was rejected. In the more liberally-minded UK, “Superman” is perfectly acceptable and there have been two babies with the name since 1984. And there’s now one in New Zealand, but again…we’ll come back to him.
9. Mona Lisa
Now, this one seems a bit harsh – after all, Mona and Lisa are both legitimate names. But in Portugal, which has a few strict regulations on this sort of thing, the name is banned. Maybe because cruel classmates may associate it with the painting above. But maybe also because Portuguese authorities are very keen on regulation, and banning anything which doesn’t have a distinctly Portuguese flavor. In fact there is quite a list of outlawed names, most of them foreign but also some which have a connection to famous people – so Maradona is banned, as is Hendrix. There is some flexibility on the foreign names if the parents are foreign as well, but basically anyone giving birth in Portugal ha a fairly shallow pool of names to choose from. Ever wondered why there are so many Marias in Portugal? Now you know!
Damon’s a relatively normal name – famous Damons may be thin on the ground, but there’s the lead singer of blur and there’s a character from “The Vampire Diaries”, pictured above. Which is where the trouble started for one French couple, Lionel and Blandine Defontaine, when they decided to name their child after that character, only adding an extra “e” after the “a” to make it sound more French. However, the authorities decided that rather than sounding French, it sounded demonic and ordered them to change it. The case went to court, where the Defontaines insisted it had no Satanic overtones, and eventually they were allowed to keep the name. Hope little Daemon appreciates the trouble they went to.
Now, you can see the problems inherent in this one. Imagine trying to ever come up with a work e-mail address -it would cause the servers to melt down in frustration. But that didn’t bother one Chinese couple, who thought the Chinese symbol looked like “love him” and decided that was cute enough to saddle the poor child with these kind of worries his entire life. Naturally, the Chinese authorities banned it, as if there’s anything the Chinese authorities like it’s a good banning. They’re also keen on keeping Chinese affairs within China, which sadly means that we have little information of what other names might have been banned in the country. Maybe there’s a Baby # out there, to match the Baby Hashtag, born in San Francisco last year.
We’re back in Sweden, land of the lax attitude towards nudity but harsh attitude towards baby-naming, for this one. It’s perfectly legitimate to name a baby after a favorite movie star or character, but is it going too far if you try and name your baby after the band itself? The Swedish courts clearly thought so in 2007 when a couple chose “Metallica” as their name of choice, and appealed for their right to use it. Ironic that they chose that particular band, who had made their position on people using their name and material very clear in 2000 when they took Napster to court for copyright infringement. Metallica won their battle, and Baby Metallica won its own battle when the courts let the appeal stand. That’s sticking it to the man, tiny metal-head baby!